Daily Devotion June 2021

6/30/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/j2aFGPeX3rM



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. In April he started a series of sermons titled “Believing and Living.” The first sermon in this series was titled “Behold,” and was based on John 19:16-27. The sermon was given on Good Friday. Today will be a recap of that message.


So [Pilate] delivered [Jesus] over to them to be crucified.


So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews’.” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”


When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (ESV)


When you think of Good Friday, what do you see? Some see a heroic man or an exemplary man—a man who lived a heroic moral life. Some see a man who stood against the corrupt powers of his age and was unjustly treated. Some see Jesus as they see Nelson Mandela, a great man. Pilate reflects that attitude. When he brought Jesus out he said, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5) Many people look at Jesus as a great human hero, and he was that. However, when we look at Jesus as merely a man, we miss who Jesus was. He claimed himself to be the Son of God. He turned water into wine. He performed many miracles. 


When you think of Good Friday, what do you see? A man? Pilate saw a man: “Behold the man!” But later in the story Pilate said, “Behold your King!” (John 19:14) The chief priests rejected that idea, with: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) They wanted to make it very clear to Pilate that they were not in any way in rebellion against the Roman Empire. Caesar was their only king. By doing so, the chief priests were declaring that God was not their king. 


Many people do look at Jesus as a king. Christians say he is the King, the Christ, the Messiah. He has all authority. He has all power. Is this how we should look at Jesus on Good Friday? After all, if Jesus is the King, why is the world in the state that it is in? Why has COVID happened? If Jesus is the King, why is there so much suffering in the world? What kind of a King would allow all the evil that goes on today?


Some people seem to gather around the idea of Jesus being the King as a sort of replacement for their own assertion of their power. The kingship of Jesus becomes a tool to claim religious power and authority.


There are others who don’t look at Jesus as merely a man or look at Jesus as merely a king in a human, authoritarian way; they look at Good Friday as an example—a moral example. Presumably, few will want to deliberately be crucified themselves. The example they see on Good Friday is giving your life for the good of others—to help others, to sacrifice for others. It’s a moral example. This is the way we should live. We should be giving our lives for other people. There’s something to this idea as well, in this story. Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” To John, Jesus said, “Behold, your mother!” The cross is an example of doing the right thing—taking care of your family, looking after those who are widowed or lost a son or are lonely. It’s a moral example.


When you look at Good Friday, what do you see? Each of these “beholds” has something to them: Jesus was a heroic, great man; Jesus is the King; the cross is setting us an example of living for others. On their own, each of these is not only inadequate, on their own they are dangerous. If when you look at Good Friday you see just a man, why follow Christianity? There are many other heroic figures in the world. If when you look at Good Friday you just see a kingly authority, then how do you explain the suffering in the world? If you look at Good Friday merely as a moral example for how we should do good, then isn’t that just legalism—just another set of moral rules you must follow to be a good Christian?


When you look at Good Friday, what do you see? Right at the beginning of John’s gospel there is a phrase, another “behold,” that is to shape our whole way of looking at Good Friday. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) That’s how to look at Good Friday. The message of Good Friday is that your sin, my sin, and the sin of the whole world is taken away. It’s gone. It’s defeated. It is no more. Yes, Jesus is the man who took the sin that we, the human race, deserved in his own body. Yes, Jesus is the King, the ruling, great King, but also the Lamb, the sacrificial Lamb—the crucified King. Yes, there is power—power to live for Christ; power to love those around you; power to heal relationships with those around you. 


When you look at Good Friday like this, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”—when you look at the cross as the place where your sin was paid for . . . “Behold!”



Verse Completion. . . fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NASB)


6/29/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it . . . really rejoice since it’s not going to be 110 degrees today like it was yesterday.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/zmPyPIyoxhA


Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Kindness” that was based on 2 Kings 6:1-7. Today we will recap the second half. Yesterday Pastor Michael was saying it’s the little things in life that count. We left off with his ice fishing story and the loss of a borrowed iron bar that was used to make the hole in the ice on the lake.


The Bible school student felt terrible when the borrowed axhead was accidentally lost at the bottom of the Jordan River. He wondered how he was going to face the person who had lent him the ax. Afterall, he had assured the person he would take good care of it. He couldn’t afford to buy the lender another ax either. He tells Elisha his sad story.


The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it (verses 6-7).


Since God, through Elisha, had already parted the Jordan River on a different occasion, perhaps the college student was hoping God would use Elisha to part the waters again in order to retrieve the axhead. However, the waters were not parted. Elisha threw a stick into the water at the point where the axhead sank into the river, and the iron axhead rose to the surface of the water. 


What do we do with a story like this? This story shows that God broke into that college student’s world and did something only God can do. 


This story follows right after the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy. That’s huge! Prior to that was the story of twenty loaves of barley bread (twenty dinner rolls) feeding a hundred men. That’s huge! Prior to that was the story of Bible school students being saved from death due to a poisonous stew. That’s a big deal! Prior to that was the Shunammite’s son being raised from the dead! That’s HUGE! Prior to that was the oil miracle that saved the poor widow’s sons from being sold into slavery. That huge! Prior to that was the story of how God delivered the Israelites from the Moabites. That’s huge! Earlier the bad water was turned to good water. That’s huge! But is the story of the floating axhead huge? A student loses a borrowed axhead. It gets found. Is that huge? 


It’s the little things in life that matter. Borrowed rototillers don’t have to be returned cleaner than they were to start with. Nice notes don’t have to be written. A treat from the store doesn’t have to be bought for a friend. Elisha didn’t have to make the axhead float. God could have said, “Oh well. Accidents happen.” Instead, God said, “I’m going to break into your world.” Little things matter to God. 


What kind of emotions do you experience when someone does something nice for you? Does it make your day? Does it make you feel like you are worth something? Does it bring you comfort? Does it make you feel loved? Does it make you feel like somebody cares about you? 


This axhead story is in our Bibles because God wants us to know he cares about us—he even cares about the little things in life. It’s the little things in life that count. Don’t you think it’s okay to ask God to show you where there’s a parking spot in a busy parking lot? Don’t you think it okay to ask God to lead you to your misplaced keys? God cares about us. 


Jesus said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)


God wants to give us good gifts, because God loves us and cares about us. 1 Peter 5:7 says: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. We shouldn’t be saying, “I don’t want to bother God with this little issue.” What you care about, God cares about. Let God bless you in the little things—even the axheads in your life. Talk to God about the little things. God is the God of big things, and he’s the God of little things. He’s the God over all things. 



Verse Completion. . . shall find it. Matthew 16:25 (NASB)


6/28/21


Good morning. Welcome to the longest weekday of the year. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gpLsLuuVmtk



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Kindness” was based on 2 Kings 6:1-7. You’ve heard it said: It’s the little things in life that count. It could be a card that’s not given on a special occasion, but a card that’s given just to let the person know you care about them. It could be a small gift that isn’t worth much but it shows the receiver that you have paid attention to their likes and dislikes. It could be something as simple as opening a door for another person. It could be someone gave up their seat for you in a crowded place. It could be returning something that was borrowed in better condition than it was before it was borrowed. It could be adding oil to something so it doesn’t squeak. It could be an encouraging word. They’re little things, but they count for something. They bring joy. 


It’s the little things that count in today’s story involving Elisha:


The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live.”


And he said, “Go.”


Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”


“I will,” Elisha replied. And he went with them.


They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees (verses 1-4).


It’s not surprising that we find Elisha with a company of prophets—Bible school students. There are three main Bible colleges: one in Jericho, one in Bethel, and one in Gilgal. It’s likely Elisha is in Jericho since it’s close to the Jordan River. Fortunately, God’s work is flourishing, and a larger Bible college needs to be built. They decide to go to the Jordan and cut trees down in order to expand the college. 


It’s the Bible school students who are going to do the work. They invite Elisha to join them. They want to insure they are following God’s direction every step of the way in their building project. They want to honor God in all they do. They want to expand the college so more Bible students can attend and God’s word can go out to more people. Their prayer was: “God, we want what you want.”


In a sense, we are doing the same thing here at NCCU. We want to reach more people for Christ. We aren’t going to do that by building another building. We feel it’s the right time to pay off the building we are in. We owe approximately $500,000 on it. By paying off the loan, we would have more money available for ministries designed to draw people to Jesus. On August 28, Dan’s group will perform which will be the start of our fundraising program. Like the Bible school students in Elisha’s day, we want God’s kingdom to grow. 


Whenever God’s people move to expand God’s kingdom, the gates of hell will try to prevail. That’s what happened in our story:


As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh, my lord,” he cried out, “it was borrowed!” (verse 5)


The iron axhead is now in the Jordan River at a place where it can’t be reached. The student cried out to God. It’s a small thing, but it’s important to him. The axhead was borrowed. The word borrowed here means begged. The poor college student couldn’t afford to go out and buy his own ax, so he begged a neighbor to loan him his so he could help cut down the trees to build God’s kingdom. 


As a kid around 12 years old, I remember going ice fishing with my dad and brother. We didn’t have an ice auger, so my dad went to our neighbor to borrow one. He didn’t have one either, but he loaned my dad a heavy iron bar that was pointed at the bottom. It wasn’t the best tool to make a hole in the ice, quite a labor-intensive device, but it was all we had. As Dad pounded away at the ice with the iron bar, chunks of ice went flying in all directions. On one particularly hard thrust of the bar, it slid through my dad’s fingers, broke through the ice, and went to the bottom of the lake. We had no way of retrieving the bar from the lake. After this incident, our family’s relationship with our neighbor never seemed to be quite as good as it was before the incident. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . He who is giving you power to make wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17-18a


6/26/21 


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Ei84uOUI2SY



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him . . . 


·      But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him . . . (completions at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The fifth and final sermon in this series was titled “The Mountains Will Drip Sweet Wine” and was based on Amos 9:11-15. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of this message and left off with Dr. Moody saying injustice is my responsibility. I need to take ownership for myinjustice—my sins of injustice. Amos used Edom as symptomatic of nations in rebellion against God and said that Edom will be called by his name. The nations will now inherit the blessing given to Abraham.


God long ago said that one day that blessing to Abraham wouldn’t just be for the Jewish people but would be for all nations. On that day, the day of the mission of the New Testament church, it will happen. What will that day be like “ . . . when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it”? Amos was from a peasant background. He was aware of the rhythm of agriculture: sow, wait, reap, wait, sow, wait, and so forth. Amos is saying that in that day there will be no waiting. The sowing will be so fruitful that the reaping will immediately take place, and there will be so much reaping that by the time the reaping is drawing to a close, it will be time to sow again. It’s a time of extraordinary abundance. 


“. . . the mountains shall drip sweet wine.” The mountains with less fertile soil on them than the valleys, will grow an abundance of grapes that will be harvested quickly. The sweet wine is the fresh crush of the grapes. It’s like Amos was saying, “You will be up to your ears in this sweet wine. You will practically be drowning in it; there will be so much blessing.” 


In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, there were people from every nation hearing their own language spoken by those who were not from their nation. Verses 12-13 say: And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” This is the sweet wine Amos was speaking of. Amos was talking about being filled with the Spirit and loving others no matter what nation they are from. It’s easy to do when we realize Jesus first loved us. When the mountains will drip sweet wine, there will be an abundance of love for all, regardless of their ethnicity. The barrier of hostility has been broken down and the body of Jesus raised up. Jesus has abolished the wall of hostility between nations.


Perhaps you say, “Well, I don’t see much of that. How can we have more of that?” In the Biblical vision, that day is now and it is also not yet. As the church gets on with the mission of the church proclaiming the gospel to all nations, it advances that final day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth and there will finally be no more weeping or crying for the old order will have passed away and all things will be new. How can I be a part of that? God tells us: “In that day I will raise up . . .” It’s something God does. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them.” This is something that only God can do. 


What is the solution for the anger and hate between Arab and Jew? What is the solution for anger and hate between black and white? What is the solution for the anger and hate between indigenous peoples and colonial peoples? What is the solution for the anger and hate between the Hutu majority and the Tutsis minority in Rwanda? What is the solution for the anger and hate between Chinese and Uyghur peoples in China? The answer is not my ability nor our ability nor our social ability. The solution is one Middle Eastern Jew who was born of Mary, lived the perfect life, died, rose again, and in him is the healing of the nations. It is God and God alone. It is in Christ Jesus. 


So does that mean I sit back and do nothing? No, not at all. Let’s see what else Amos says: ”. . . and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.” At our church we describe that through discover, grow, and impact. We want you to discover Jesus and discover a church that’s following Jesus. We want to grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus together. We want to have an impact on the world. We rebuild, plant, and make gardens. What that means is each one invites one. 


Due to COVID-19 this past year or so, we have been relationally starved and relationally malnourished. Now we have an opportunity to be together to make the most of that so we can grow spiritually and impact the world by each one serve the One through: missions, church planting, children’s ministry, disability ministry, parking lot worker, etc. It’s Christ who does it. By his Spirit he forms the New Testament people of God—the church—and they remove unnecessary ceremonial barriers to include people of all nations around Christ and him alone. 


 Every message that has grasped the hearts and minds of people has always acknowledged the reality of our pain and at the same time described the picture of the promise. “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. said. Amos also has a dream. These days there are competing eschatological visions. John Lennon described his vision in the song “Imagine”—imagine a world of no pain, a world where we all live as one; it’s easy if we can. He also imagined a world where there’s no religion. 


But if you follow Jesus, you don’t have to imagine. I’m not preaching to you religion; I’m preaching to you Christ and a relationship with him that breaks down the dividing wall of hostility between different religions, and in him you don’t have to imagine. That day is now—the day when all nations bow before the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. If you join in that mission, that day is advanced as we do our part in the global community of the true church to break down the dividing walls of hostility, to deal with the injustices of our day—all in Christ and Christ alone. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . before My Father who is in heaven.


·      . . . before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB)



6/25/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/MbWOM4wc9bo



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The fifth and final sermon in this series is titled “The Mountains Will Drip Sweet Wine,” and is based on Amos 9:11-15. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, declares the LORD who does this.


“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (ESV)


It was November 19, 1863, when a tall, thin Illinois lawyer stood in front of a large crowd in a cemetery and began his speech with the words: “Four score and seven years ago.” One hundred years later, at the memorial for Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC, another man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stood before a large crowd of people and declared, “I have a dream.” 


Throughout the history of the world, those who have captured the attention of their hearers have always described a dream in the midst of a painful reality. It is the combination of those two things that thrill us—an acknowledgement of the pain and yet a description of the promise. Amos has done exactly that. He has spent eight and a half chapters describing the pain of injustice in his day, and it is resonated with the pain of injustice in our day. But there is a good news to his description now of justice and of the promise. In a sense we could say that Amos also has a dream. It is a thrilling and exciting dream: the mountains will drip sweet wine. We naturally ask, “When will this dream occur and how do we become a part of this dream?”


In verse eleven Amos tells us “In that day I will raise up . . .” and in verse thirteen: “Behold, the days are coming, . . .” So it is a specific day. Scholars say that this is one of the most dramatic changes of tone in the whole Bible. Up until this moment, the days described by Amos have been days of darkness and dismay as God is saying that his people are going to go into exile for their injustice. But now Amos says that day will be a day of promise. When will that take place? We find the answer in Acts 15 where another speech takes place. God’s New Testament people have been wrestling with whether they need to lower the barrier for the inclusion of all nations and ethnicities or keep the ceremonial barriers up between Jews and Gentiles. 


They have known the promise of God that he would reach all nations. They have received the Spirit of God when Peter preached in Acts 2. The question they had was: “Shall we lower the barrier ceremonially to make it easy for all nations, regardless of color, to be included in God’s promise, or shall we keep the ceremonial barrier high?” James addressed the Jerusalem Council and said: “And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,


“ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ [quoted from Amos]


Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God (Acts 15:15-19). James wanted the ceremonial matters removed to make it easy for them. 


The day when the mountains will drip sweet wine is the day of the mission of the New Testament church. That day is when the New Testament church removes barriers so that allpeople of all nations can easily be included in the promise of God for all nations. That is the day! In other words it is our day. It is this day. It is the day of the mission of the New Testament church. 


What will that day be like? Amos tells us: “In that day I will raise up . . .” It will be a resurrection day. What will be raised up? “. . . the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old.” Notice that it is no longer the house of David—that palatial, impressive, stone edifice—it is a tent that we rebuilt. Why? Because God’s New Testament people are no longer bound ethnically but are people for all nations on the face of the planet. We are now a pilgrim people who have, as it were, a tent that is being rebuilt for we go on mission to reach all nations. 


“. . . that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, declares the LORD who does this.” Why does Amos mention Edom? He mentions Edom because at the beginning of the book, Amos went around all the different nations who had injustice and finally landed on the people he was preaching to who also had injustice. He declared to them that the problems of the world are my problems and our problems and as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states (countries), nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.” It’s my responsibility. It’s my injustice. It’s my sins. As Amos preached that at the beginning of the book, he used Edom as symptomatic of nations in rebellion against God. Amos is saying that in that day Edom, or nations in rebellion against God, will be called by his name. The word possess used here does not mean dominate or repress. It has the sense of inherit. The nations will now inherit the blessing given to Abraham. 



Verse Completion. . . the good land which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:10 (NASB)


6/24/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/P-Zp586pvZg



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWherefore, accept one another, just as . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The fourth sermon in this series was titled “Let Justice Roll Down like Waters” and was based on Amos 5:21-24. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of that message and left off with Dr. Moody saying worship at Bethel was not about God at all. Their worship was all about them and what they wanted. They had defined their worship. Worship was for them, and it was about them. They had become inclusive allowing the worship of God and Moloch.


Have you seen the bumper sticker that says: Coexist? It has all the different symbols for all the different religions, all together and all the same size. Ironically, the way for all of us to get along with each other is to get God. Christians are to love their neighbor regardless of their faith or no faith because of their love for God. The coexist philosophy will only accept you if you agree with its philosophy. Otherwise, it will cancel you and may even deny you your right to exist. Afterall, baby sacrifice happens today. This is what God does not want—a kind of fake piety that is the portal to hell. 


What does God want? He tells us in verse 24: But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. He wants justice and righteousness. But what does that mean because there are so many different definitions of justice today, and there are so many different ideas of what righteousness might be? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). “You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD” (6:18a) And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he commanded us (6:25). “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18b).


This justice and this righteousness in the Old Testament expresses the covenant responsibilities of God’s people. God’s people are in a special relationship with God, and because of that special relationship they have covenant or relationship responsibilities. Those covenant responsibilities expressed over and over again in the Old Testament are justice and righteousness. They’re almost synonymous terms—justice and righteousness. They are what God said to Abraham. “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (Genesis 18:19). 


When we think of justice, we tend to picture the statue of Lady Justice that is outside of court. She has a blindfold over her eyes, a sword in one hand, and balancing scales in the other hand. This symbol of justice is designed to indicate that the court is blind to bias, will punish wrongdoing, and will establish what is fair and equal with the scales. 


When we think of justice and righteousness in the Old Testament, we should picture something slightly different. Justice is the judgment and order to protect the vulnerable and punish wrongdoing. Righteousness is doing the right thing for the vulnerable. They are close but have slightly different meanings. If we were to make a statue of Lady Justice that would represent the Old Testament, we would have her standing with one arm extended and hand up to push back evil, protect the vulnerable, and punish wrongdoing. The other hand would be reaching down to the vulnerable to lift them up. This is what God wants for his people: You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Justice—pushing back evil, protecting the vulnerable, punishing wrongdoing. Righteousness—reaching down to the vulnerable and lifting them up. 


We have to be honest: Even the New Testament church and even the Christian church today have not always lived up to that ideal. But one person did, and he, too, opposed fake worship. Jesus went to the Temple and cleared out the moneychangers, saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13). He opposed the Pharisees and lifted up and healed the sick and the poor. One day he was crucified and he took upon himself all the injustice and unrighteousness of the world so that in him you might be just and righteous. 


But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. The setting is a desert. Justice is not to be like a spurt of water that’s momentary or a well that can dry up, justice is to roll down like waters and righteousness be an ever-flowing stream. Jesus used this image when he spoke to the lady at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14). 


“Friends” is still a popular show on TV, but over-the-air TV is being watched less and less. What’s becoming more popular is online gaming and video gaming. With video gaming, you have the opportunity to create your own world. You are able to defeat the bad guy and establish a new world of peace and order. Of course, it’s a fantasy . . . or is it? Deep within each of us is that desire for home—a place of justice and righteousness. You can be a part of it. All you need to do is receive the righteousness of Jesus. 


Let’s pray. Lord, may our worship always be about you and not our preferences or desires. As we encounter you, we pray that you would renew us that we might reflect your character more in the world. May we be people of love, mercy, kindness, justice, and righteousness. We pray for those who don’t yet know you. Lord Jesus, show yourself to them as the king of love and the one who can establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness. We bow before you in love. In Jesus name, Amen. 



Verse Completion. . . Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (NASB)


6/23/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ggXEvYwlMF8



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The fourth sermon in this series was titled “Let Justice Roll Down like Waters,” and was based on Amos 5:21-24. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (ESV)


The comedy show, “Friends,” had a character called Fun Bobby. He was always a lot of fun, but as the show continued one came to the realization that Fun Bobby was fun because he was always tanked up on alcohol. When Fun Bobby realized he was on his way to becoming an alcoholic, he stopped drinking and became a lot less fun. He was even referred to as Ridiculously Dull Bobby. Sometimes things can seem more fun than they really are. 


God’s people at the time of Amos had the most amazing worship experience. It was dynamic with music to die for. There were extraordinary sacrifices and drama. Yet God said their worship was hateful. What would cause God to declare about a gathering of his people, “I hate it!”? The answer is injustice. 


Bethel was the center of worship in the Northern Kingdom and had become idolatrous. Amos is there and sees an amazing worship experience going on with drama and dynamism, but in the middle of this experience God speaks. Amos had been speaking for God, but now God speaks directly. There must have been pin-drop silence when God said, “I hate.”


What is it that God hates? God said, ”I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in yoursolemn assemblies.” The word solemn, when it was translated into the King James Version, did not mean what it means today. It meant religious or sacred—not a political assembly or a family assembly but a religious assembly. Today solemn means serious or heavy. Their assemblies were not like that; they were filled with drama and excitement. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. The word accept is a technical word from the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament. God is saying that he is operating as his own priest, and these sacrifices are not acceptable; they are not kosher. 


God went on to say: and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. God is saying that their worship is their worship. Their worship is not about God at all. Their worship is all about them and what they want. They have defined their worship. It’s for them and about them. It’s so easy for worship gatherings to become like that: “My worship experience.” “Our church.” 


Because their worship experience has become so centered on their own preferences, it has become idolatrous. Let’s remember what idolatry is—the reversion of the created pattern: we are made in the image of God; idolatry is making God in our own image. 


God’s direct speaking continues in verses 25-27: “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.


Because their worship was all about them, inevitably, their worship became idolatrous. 


This is the only place in the Bible where Sikkuth and Kiyyun appear so we don’t have a lot of information on them. In Stephen’s masterful sermon found in Acts 7:1-53 and given right before his stoning to death, he referred to this passage in Amos. Stephen changed Sikkuth to Moloch and Kiyyun to Rompha because in the Greek translation of the Old Testament those are the names given. In ancient times idols were branded as one name in one country and by a different name in a different country, but everyone knew they were the same thing. If Sikkuth was Moloch, we do have information on this idol. Moloch was the idol of the Phoenicians and Ammonites. From them Moloch spread to become popular throughout the Middle East. Moloch was the fertility god that always needed to be appeased. Idols always demand sacrifice from you, whereas God, in his graciousness, sacrifices himself for you. Moloch demanded sacrifice from its followers, and the particular sacrifice that Moloch demanded to appease him and guarantee a good harvest was child sacrifice. 


There was a valley in ancient Israel called Hinnom. It was the same valley Jesus referred to as Gehenna which was symbolic for hell. This was the place where children were sacrificed by fire. Now we start to see why God hates it. 


Worship is meant to be the gateway to heaven, and it had become the portal to hell. How is that possible? How can people pervert their worship to the extent they end up at Gehenna? The answer is found when God says: Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings. They were sacrificing to God, too. They were being inclusive. What’s wrong with appeasing the different gods? Include all of them. This is known as syncretism, polytheism, or pluralism. It had been the temptation of Israel for hundreds of years. When Moses took too long for their tastes up on the mountain hearing from God, a golden calf was made and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4b) 


They were saying, “This is just another expression of the same experience. What could be wrong with that?” Solomon had done the same. He worshiped God, but by the end he also set up sacred shrines and idols. Why not include everyone? The same thing had happened in the Northern Kingdom at Bethel. Once we understand that’s the apologetic for this kind of devolution of worship, once we understand that’s the argument for it, let’s all get along. It’s sobering how close we are to it today, and in some places we’re already there. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Dr. Moody’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . walk in His ways and to fear Him. Deuteronomy 8:5-6 (NASB)


6/22/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/AQ5ze1SzDYM

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Instructions” that was based on 2 Kings 5:1-27. Today we will recap the second half. We left off yesterday with Naaman following Elisha’s directions and dipping himself in the Jordan seven times and being healed of his leprosy. 


Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant” (verse 15). 


Not only did Naaman receive physical healing, he received spiritual healing. He received salvation. Physical healing takes place so people will be open for spiritual healing—to come into a right relationship with God. Naaman now knows God. His eyes were opened. Notice how he refers to himself as a servant of God now. He is no longer a proud man; he is a humble man, the kind of man God can use in his kingdom. 


The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused (verse 16).


Naaman offered and even encouraged Elisha to take four million dollars for the healing, but Elisha refused. You don’t have to pay a penny for salvation. Salvation is a free gift. Salvation is all by grace. The physical healing and the spiritual healing that took place were all by God’s free grace. We can’t pay God to bless us; it’s all by his love and grace. 


“If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD (verse 17).


Naaman wants the dirt to make an altar. He wants the altar to be constructed using dirt from the place where he was healed. He wants to worship and serve Jehovah alone. Naaman is a transformed person. 


But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this” (verse 18).


Naaman now has a problem. He is used to accompanying the king to the temple of Rimmon, a false god. Now that he has been transformed, what is he supposed to do? Should he keep going to the temple of Rimmon or not?


“Go in peace,” Elisha said (verse 19a).


Elisha is telling Naaman not to worry about it. He knows Naaman’s heart is right with God. He wants God to lead Naaman’s life. He wants Naaman to start leaning on God. He wants Naaman to seek God in all things. God is not going to take away Naaman’s salvation if he makes the wrong decision. Naaman needs to develop a relationship with God and let that relationship guide him in different situations he is faced with. Answers to tough questions are found in a relationship with God. They are not found in black and white statements. 


It might be that at some point Naaman will share his heart with the king and make him aware of the inner conflict he is experiencing when he goes to the temple of Rimmon with the king.


After Naaman had traveled some distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him” (verse 19b-20). 


Gehazi is Elisha’s servant. He is not happy about Elisha not taking the gift of four million dollars that Naaman offered him. Gehazi does not have the heart of God. He uses a derogatory term for Naaman. Gehazi’s treasures are on earth. The salvation of Naaman is not what he was interested in; he was interested in Naaman’s money. Not only does Gehazi ignore God’s words; he goes against them. 


So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.


“Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’ “(verses 21-22)


Gehazi lied to Naaman. 


“By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left (verses 23-24).


Gehazi hid what Naaman had given him. Gehazi didn’t care about what Elisha had said. He wasn’t listening to Elisha or God. His eyes were on the money. In his mind he justified his actions. Deceiving a man of God, telling lies, and hiding things from Elisha reveal Gehazi’s heart. It’s clearly in the wrong place. Ignoring the word of God is never a good idea. 


Then he went in and stood before his master Elisha.


“Where have you been, Gehazi?” Elisha asked.


“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered (verse 25). 


Gehazi’s answer was: “I’ve just been hanging out; not really doing anything. Just doing this and that; going here and there. You know—same ol’, same ol’.”


It’s like when parents say to their child, “So where have you been?” knowing their child went somewhere he/she was instructed not to go. 


Remember when God said to Adam after he had eaten the forbidden fruit, “Where are you?” 


Adam answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 


But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow (verses 26-27). 


Gehazi chose to not come clean. He didn’t care about Naaman; he cared about his money. In the end Gehazi lost everything. Gehazi’s greed and his disregard for the words of God lost him his place with Elisha, lost him his health, and possibly lost him his relationship with God. Naaman’s leprosy became his leprosy. 


Does the word of God make a difference in life? We better believe it does! Whether we accept God’s words, whether we ridicule God’s words, whether we ignore God’s words, God’s words make a difference in people’s lives. God’s words are powerful. God’s words are truth. God’s words make a difference in the outcome of our life. God exists. Just because someone says God doesn’t exist doesn’t make it true. God will always exist. His words are true. God’s not just an end game. He’s not someone we manipulate for blessings. 


Both Naaman and Gehazi learned that God’s words make a difference. We are not to fit God’s words into our lives; we are to fit our lives into God’s words. Galatians 6:7-8 says: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.


God’s words cannot be mocked. They are real, they are true, and they make a difference. Where are you at with God’s words? How do you view them? How do you treat them? 



Verse Completion. . . full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NASB)


6/21/21


Good morning. Welcome to the longest weekday of the year. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/pM3DCuDVafY



Complete the Verse & Name the Book:  “And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Instructions” was based on 2 Kings 5:1-27. It seems like many today hold the belief that an interaction with God and his word doesn’t really make a difference in our lives. Some doubt his words while others ridicule them. There are those who don’t even believe that God exists. We, as disciples of Christ, know that God’s word does make a difference but sometimes live as if they don’t make a difference. Sometimes we have the attitude of “I want God for the end game. As long as I’m good at the end, it’s all good.” We live a life of cause and effect: we’re the cause, and we want God to bless the effect. We do what we want to do, and we want God around to make sure the effects are good for us. We seek God for his blessing. 


Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy (verse 1). 


Aram was Syria. Naaman is second only to the king of Syria. Naaman has great power and influence. In a sense, Naaman was even more powerful than the king because he was the only one who had the power to overthrow the king. Sometimes the kings didn’t trust their army commanders, but that’s clearly not the case here. Naaman was highly regarded by King Ben-Hadad. He had worked his way up through the ranks. He didn’t have his position because of money, politics, or influence. He had worked for everything he had. 


Naaman had wealth, power, influence, and was used by God. Who wouldn’t want to be Naaman?! The answer is nobody wanted to be Naaman because Naaman had leprosy. In those days leprosy was a deadly disease with no cure. Leprosy primarily affects the nerves of the extremities, the skin, the lining of the nose, and the upper respiratory tract. At this time in history, people with leprosy often didn’t have toes because rats would chew them off since there was no sense of feeling in them. Severe burns were common with those who had leprosy. Those with leprosy were ostracized from the rest of society. People believed that if a leper breathed on you, you could get leprosy.


Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (verses 2-3). 


At this time in history, Syria is in a war with Israel. Naaman and Syria are fighting Israel. In one of the battles, a young girl was captured and given over to be the servant of Naaman’s wife. Even though Naaman is responsible for the servant girl’s plight, she cares for Naaman; she is concerned for him. She wants to see Naaman be healed. She wants Naaman to know the true and living God through salvation. She could have said, “What goes around comes around,” but she doesn’t because she has the heart of God. She wants her master to go see Elisha. 


Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy” (verses 4-6).


King Ben-Hadad wants Naaman to be healed of leprosy. He doesn’t want to lose the commander of his army. The whole balance of power would be shifted if he lost Naaman. 


It is estimated that in today’s money value, Naaman took with him four million dollars. This is twice the amount that kings would typically give each other for favors. 


They don’t go immediately to Elisha; they go to the king of Israel, Jehoram, who is the son of King Ahab. Notice his response:


As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” (verse 7)


Jehoram serves Baal. He doesn’t know God, so he takes the letter as a threat—if Naaman isn’t healed, then Ben-Hadad is going to attack Jehoram. Isn’t it interesting that Jehoram doesn’t say, “No problem. Baal can heal Naaman.” He knows Baal has no power to do anything. 


When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed” (verses 8-10).


Elisha was saying to Jehoram, “What’s your problem? There’s no reason to be tearing robes! Just send Naaman to me.” When Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house, he is met by a messenger who tells Naaman to go wash in the muddy, dirty Jordan River seven times.


But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage (verses 11-12).


Naaman can’t believe that the second man in all of Syria is being treated in this manner. Elisha didn’t even have the courtesy to talk to Naaman personally. Naaman was looking for a grand display of God’s power as Elisha healed him, but instead he’s told by a messenger to wash in a dirty river seven times.


Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” (verse 13)


They don’t say it, but the servants see the pride in Naaman. They encourage him to do the simple task Elisha has asked him to do. Naaman recognizes his only hope of healing is following the words of the prophet. 


So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy (verse 14).


God performed a miracle. When God healed Naaman of his leprosy, he restored his flesh to being better than it was before he got the leprosy. 


Tomorrow we will finish this recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.Deuteronomy 8:3 (NASB)


6/19/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/AS6tQYJVO80



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The third sermon in this series was titled “Seek Me and Live” and was based on Amos 5:4-7. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of that message and left off with Dr. Moody quoting John Calvin: “The human heart is an idol-making factory.”


How do we know if we have any idolatrous tendencies? It all comes down to what we seek. Take a look at where you put your time, talent, and treasure. Take a look at what you invest your time in—time being your most valuable resource. Take a look at what you give your life towards using your talents. Take a look at where you invest your treasure. These are the things you are seeking. These are the things that are idolatrous.


An idol always demands sacrifice from you. An idol always demands a pound of flesh. The person who is fundamentally seeking success and gives all of their life to their working career is worshiping their work. They work at their play, and they play at their worship. The person who has given all their life to their working career will come to the end of their days and survey the wreckage of their family and their personal life. An idol always demands sacrificefrom you, whereas God sacrifices himself for you. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Therefore, we seek him.


What are we to do about it? Amos says to stop seeking Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba, and instead “Seek the LORD and live.” The consequence of seeking the Lord is fulness of life now and eternal life later. How do we seek the Lord? When Jesus taught on seeking, he said it was a matter of priorities. He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). All the things you worry about (food, clothes, money), instead of seeking these things, seek God and his kingdom making that your priority, and all those other things will be added to you. 


We may be asked, “What are your priorities?” That’s the wrong question to ask because we can’t have priorities. You can only have a priority, because a priority is what comes first. There can only be one thing first. The question needs to be: “What is your priority?” Jonathan Edwards interpreted Matthew 6:33 in this way when he spoke to a group of businessmen: God is offering you a contract. Look at it practically: God is saying, “If you put first my kingdom and make it the first thing for you (the kingdom of God, evangelism, church founding, missions, discipleship, the church), the contract is I will take care of everything else. The God of the whole universe is offering you a contract: If you put him first, he will take care of everything else. It’s a matter of priority. 


It’s also a matter of persistence. Jesus said, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). It’s not a one-time event or a one-time decision; it’s a matter of persistence—not giving up: asking, seeking, knocking . . . over and over . . . pursuing God, pursuing what is right. It’s not about reading the Bible once; it’s about reading the Bible each day. It’s not about coming to church occasionally; it’s about coming to church in a committed way. It’s not about asking one time that God will bring revival; it’s about asking over and over again and seeking and knocking. It’s a matter of persistence. Ask, seek, knock; don’t give up! Ask, seek, knock; don’t give up!


So it’s a matter of priority and persistence, but most importantly, it is a spiritual matter. Paul said, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2). It all starts with being raised with Christ—a spiritual resurrection, new life, regeneration, being born again, a new work of Christ in your life. Then we are to seek the things that are above. It’s a spiritual work, and only God can do it. 


There’s a promise in God’s words through Amos: Seek the LORD and live. It’s something God does—only he can give us new life. What we don’t want to miss is the urgency in his words: Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire


As we are driving in our cars and we notice we are in need of fuel, we can pull off the road and get gas at the first gas station we see, or we can continue down the road and hope there’s another gas station within the next few miles. But what Amos is saying is not like that. Amos is saying, “This offer to seek the Lord and live has a time-stamp on it. It’s good for today, but who knows about tomorrow.” Jesus could return at any moment. Since the offer is good for today, we need to seek the Lord and live.


Let’s pray. Father God, we thank you for your word. May we deal with the idolatry in our lives and instead experience the fullness of life and joy that comes from seeking you. We pray this in Jesus name, amen.



Verse Completion. . . thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.Revelation 19:20 (NASB)


6/18/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/RlS5L7-hpuQ



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The third sermon in this series was titled “Seek Me and Live,” and was based on Amos 5:4-7. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


When you are driving a car and you notice you are getting low on gas, the logical thing to do is go to a gas station and fill up on fuel. Somewhat similarly, it is a basic spiritual truth that we human beings are made to be filled with God. Augustine of Hippo said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” We have a God-shaped hole within us. We are made to be filled with God. Unfortunately, the Israelites had forgotten this truth. 


In the time that Amos was writing, not only were they not filling themselves with God, they were filling themselves up with other things such as idolatry. It would be a bit like going to the gas station and filling your car with diesel fuel when your vehicle wasn’t made to take diesel fuel. Amos is comparing what happens when you fill up your life with God, or you seek God, versus what happens when you fill up your life with idols, or you seek idols. 


For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.” Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, O you  who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth! (Amos 5:4-7)


All three of these places were known for their idolatry, but it hadn’t always been like that. Bethel means the house of God. For years it had been the center of devotion to Biblical faith. This is the place where Jacob had his dream of heaven when he saw angels ascending and descending on the stairway to heaven and afterwards said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (see Genesis 28:10-22). 


After Israel split into the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, the kings of the Northern Kingdom didn’t want their people to go to Jerusalem to worship God in the Temple, so at Bethel they set up idols in order that the people would have a place of worship. 


It was similar with Gilgal. It had originally been a place of devotion and memory of what God had done. Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites had finally entered the Promised Land and celebrated their first Passover here at Gilgal. Their reproach had rolled off them, so they named the place Gilgal which means rolled off. It was a symbol of God’s gracious kindness to rescue them. However, both of these places have become centers of idolatry: “Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; (Amos 4:4). What they were doing was idolatrous. 


Beersheba was the place where Abraham had struck a deal with the pagan king, Abimelech, that there would be water and provision for Abraham and his family. Beersheba means either the place of the oath, or the place of the seven wells. It was symbolic of how God had protected and provided for his people as they wondered through the land. And yet Beersheba had become idolatrous, too: ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives’, they shall fall, and never rise again (Amos 8:14b). Amos is saying here that having idols in your life or having idolatrous tendencies has consequences just as putting diesel fuel in a vehicle that isn’t designed for diesel fuel will have consequences. 


A type of alliteration is used here. Although it is difficult to translate Hebrew figurative language into English, this might be translated: “Gilgal, get going! Bethel, be evil! You are going to come to nothing.” This is what idols do to us. We suffer the consequences of them. If we worship sex, which is an idolatrous tendency of our culture today, why are we surprised when there is the consequence of sexual abuse? If we as a culture worship money, so prominent today, why are we surprised when there is such a wide gap between the rich and the poor? It is a natural consequence of an idolatry of money. If we as a society worship power, where we deny ultimate truth and say everyone can have their own truth, why are we surprised when there is so much injustice? 


Amos is speaking out against injustice: O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth! Wormwood is a particularly bitter plant that can become poisonous when a strong enough dose has been taken. Amos is addressing those who have turned justice to poison or at the very least made justice bitter. He is saying that the injustice of his day, and by application our day too, is ultimately a worship problem. The reason why in his day there is prominent injustice is because of prominent idolatry. 


How do I know if I have an idol or not? We first have to know what an idol is, and it’s not a little statue. The essence of idolatry is a reversion or inversion of the creation pattern. We are made in the image of God. Idolatry is making God in our image. “I like to think of God as this: . . . not like the Bible describes him but as I imagine him to be . . . in my own image. The God I create is the God I like.” Once you understand what idolatry is, you begin to see idolatry tendencies all over the place. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol-making factory.” 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Dr. Moody’s sermon with the second half. 




Verse Completion. . . worship Him, and swear by His name. Deuteronomy 6:13


6/17/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ik-XOVZcwow



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member  . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The second sermon in this series was titled “You Only Have I Known, Therefore . . .” and was based on Amos 3:1-2. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of that message. Pastor Moody was saying that Amos wouldn’t have preached such an unpopular message if God hadn’t told him to do it. Pastor Moody went on to say . . .


I was asked in an interview for a leadership Podcast, “How do you get out of bed the first thing in the morning?”


I answered, “I have an alarm on my phone that plays a clip from a Keith Green song that goes like this: ‘Jesus rose from the dead, but you can’t even get out of bed’.” 


The lyrics to Keith Green’s song, “Asleep in the Light,” are as follows:




Do ya see? Do ya see?

All the people sinking down?

Dontcha care? Dontcha care?

Are you gonna let them drown?

How can you be so numb

Not to care if they come?

You close your eyes and pretend the job's done




Oh, bless me Lord, bless me Lord

You know, it's all I ever hear

No one aches, no one hurts, no one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds

And He cares for your needs

And you just lay back and keep soaking it in

Oh, can'tcha see it's such sin?




Cause He brings people to your door

And you turn them away

As you smile and say

"God bless you, be at peace"

And all heaven just weeps

Cause Jesus came to your door

You've left Him out on the streets




Open up, open up

And give yourself away

Ya see the need, ya hear the cries

So how can you delay?

God's calling and you're the one

But like Jonah, you run

He's told you to speak

But ya keep holding it in

Oh, can'tcha see it's such sin?




The world is sleeping in the dark

That the church just can't fight

Cause it's asleep in the light




How can you be so dead

When you've been so well fed?

Jesus rose from the grave

And you, ya can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead

Come on, get out of your bed




How can you be so numb

Not to care if they come?

And You close your eyes and pretend the job's done

You close your eyes and pretend the job's done

Don't close your eyes, don't pretend the job's done




Come away, come away, come away with Me my love

Oh, come away from this mess

Come away with Me my love




Come away from this mess

Come away with Me my love




Come away, come away

Oh, come away with Me my love




Source: Musixmatch


Songwriters: Keith Green


Asleep In The Light lyrics © Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publ., Birdwing Music, Ears To Hear Music




Keith Green asks the question, “How can you be so dead when you've been so well fed?” It’s a good question! We are calling the church to be more like Jesus. The church can disappoint non-Christians when we are not as much like Jesus as we should be. Our special relationship with Jesus leads to a special set of responsibilities to which God will hold us to account. Romans 12:1-2 says: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Matthew 28:18 says: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


As God’s people we have to choose our therefore. God will hold us to account for how we make the most of all he has blessed us with. He will discipline us if we do not repent. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” That’s a potential therefore. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. I appeal to youtherefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. You have to choose your therefore. Which therefore will it be? 


Let’s pray. Father God, we pray that you would, by your Spirit, graciously convict us of our sins. How are we able to be so dead when we have been so well fed? Lord, would you draw your people back to you, your word, and faithfulness to you? Would you avert your hand of discipline from your people, but for that to be the case, we know we have to repent. Lord, help us in our desire to hear nice things to avoid the clear teaching in your word that there is a therefore that is a consequence to our privileged relationship with you. Help us therefore to offer our bodies as living sacrifices in service and in love to our neighbors and families. Help us therefore to make disciples of all nations including our children, our spouses, our neighbors, our friends, our churches. Grant us repentance unto life we pray. In Jesus name, amen.




Verse Completion. . . is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26 (NASB)


6/16/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/z4K9JFs9o-Q



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The second sermon in this series was titled “You Only Have I Known, Therefore . . . ,” and was based on Amos 3:1-2. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” 


The movie “American Gospel” purports to describe various unhealthy heresies being taught in the American church today under the umbrella of the so-called prosperity gospel. So far in the book of Amos we have seen that the issues of injustice are issues for which we all need to take responsibility. We need to take a look at ourselves. It’s us! The line between good and evil runs down the heart of every single human person. The pushback to that is: “Surely, it’s rather different for God’s people. Surely God’s people have a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. We are saved by grace, so surely God overlooks our faults. Surely, we are not held to account for our failures, mistakes, and sins.”


In Amos’ second sermon that goes throughout Chapter Three, he answers that pushback. Unlike his first sermon which was a slow burner that gradually built to a shocking conclusion, this second sermon is summarized in a very short “tweet”. It’s a very brief aphorism, a proverbial saying—a tweet, found in verse two: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”  In our terms, this tweet would have blown up the Internet and immediately gone viral. What God was saying through Amos was shocking. Amos goes on in the rest of the chapter defending his tweet.


This tweet was an extraordinary thing to say! God is saying he has a unique relationship with his people. This is the anti-universalism text. God does not have the same relationship with all the peoples of the earth; he has a unique relationship with his people. You would think that the follow-up to this would be blessing, encouragement, kindness, protection, preservation, but instead it’s punishment. What on earth is God saying through Amos? 


When he said, “You only have I known,” the word known can have a broad meaning in Hebrew such as intellectual knowledge or familiarity with something, but it can also mean intimacy. It’s the same word that is used for marital intimacy. God has a special intimate relationship with his people; there’s a special connection to his people. It’s also the same word God used for his relationship with Abraham and the covenant God set up with Abraham. All of God’s people and the blessing of the covenant with God’s people comes from that covenant with Abraham to the people of Israel but also to all nations. God’s blessing through Christ goes to all nations. 


Amos is appealing to their unique relationship with God that goes back to Abraham: you only have I known; you only have I chosen; you only have I elected—grace, special relationship. We would think the corollary, or consequence, to that special relationship would be blessing, encouragement, kindness, protection, and preservation. How shocking it must have been to have this tweet sent out that said: therefore I will punish you. 


The word punish is literally visit which could have positive and negative connotations. When you visit someone you could be coming alongside them to be next to them in a positive sense, or you could visit them in a negative more discipline kind of sense. The word visit used here was actually the same word that God used when he visited his people in their slavery in Egypt to rescue them—he visited them. The rescue from Egypt would have been in the forefront of their minds because in verse one he said: Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt. God’s people were in difficulty, and he heard their cry. He visited them. 


Put yourselves in the minds of the original hearers as they heard this message given for the first time: “You only have I known . . . Abraham, covenant, special relationship, promises of God’s preservation and protection . . . of all the families of the earth; . . . a unique relationship . . . therefore I will punish you . . . visit you, rescue you, redeem you from slavery, bring you up out of Egypt . . . for all your iniquities . . . only at this point, with the very last word, do they understand what God is saying through Amos. What a shock! It was the opposite of what they expected to hear. 


The New Testament teaches the same thing. Hebrews 12:5b-6 says: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”


One of the ways we as parents express our love for our children is by training them, correcting them, and pointing them in the right direction. It is hard work to train a child whether it’s in baseball, mathematics, or trying to shape their character morally and spiritually. It’s not an easy task! It’s far less stressful to just let them be. One of the ways that our children know that we love them is we show them we are willing to do the hard work of coming alongside them with correcting and training. We don’t just let them run ragged in the streets. 


Similarly, God is saying that this special covenant relationship with him means that we have a special responsibility—one to which he will hold us to account. The reason why God’s people in Amos’ day had so many difficulties, the reason the services were so flat, the reason they were immoral . . . the reason why the church in the West suffers in similar ways is not because of technological change, is not because of the intellectual challenges of postmodernity and critical theory, is not because of the sociological, medical, and relational challenges that accompany COVID, the reason in Amos’ day and our day is our sins and God’s discipline. 


Amos defends what he has said in two ways. In verses 3-6 he introduces many questions that have an obvious answer to them. Then in verse 7 he says: “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” In other words, Amos is saying that he would not be preaching such an unpopular message if God had not told him to say it. In verses 9-15 he introduces witnesses to back what he is saying.  What’s interesting about this is he brings in witnesses from the pagan nations—secular society. Amos is saying in verse 9 that even Ashdod and Egypt can see their iniquities . . . there’s even a movie on Amazon Prime about it—“American Gospel”.


Tomorrow we will conclude the recap of Pastor Moody’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . love Him and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 (NASB)


6/15/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/l0xhhG1Hyos

Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not merely look out for your own personal interests, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Cure” that was based on 2 Kings 4:38-44. Today we will recap the second half. We left off yesterday with Elisha adding flour to the poisonous stew and making it safe to eat.


The Bible students learned that day that God can be trusted. The times in our lives when we ask, “God, are you going to save me?” are times of difficulty. Our faith isn’t challenged when everything is going smoothly; our faith is challenged when times are tough. It’s often the case that when God saves us from one tough situation, we find ourselves right in the middle of a different tough situation. The Bible school students had been saved from the poisonous stew, but they hadn’t been saved from the famine.


We are not the ones in control. We don’t have a “God pitcher” where we just pour some God on the situation and everything turns out wonderful. It’s true that God saves, but we’re not the ones who determine when and how God saves. 


A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said (verse 42). 


During the famine people were wondering where their next meal would come from, and now a man shows up with twenty loaves of bread. He is from Baal Shalishah. During this time of Baal worship, even cities were renamed to honor the god Baal. It’s out of this city that a man came with food for Elisha. Perhaps this man was a former Baal worshiper who came to know the one true God, Jehovah, through the prophet, Elisha. 


This man was probably able to irrigate his land using water from the Jordan River. Likely, he was not able to grow as much as he had grown before the famine hit, but he still continues to give to God from the first fruits of his crops. He gives to Elisha because he knows Elisha promotes God’s kingdom. Elisha stands upon the word of God as truth. This man desires to give to the God of truth. 


Since everything planted didn’t ripen at the same time, what was supposed to happen in Israel was the first ripe grain was to be used to make bread and present it to the priest at the Temple. It was given in a spirit of thankfulness recognizing that it is God who made the crops grow. The gifts were given so the kingdom of God could grow. The gifts provided for the priests and the spiritual well-being of the nation. This man gave even when he didn’t know what the future held. He gave even when times were tough. He had learned to put God first in his life. He’s a generous man who takes joy in giving. 


God’s cupboards are sometimes in strange places. God’s provision for us sometimes comes from places we wouldn’t expect. People and places we wouldn’t expect support from sometimes surprise us with the greatest gifts. Why? Because we tend to limit God. We think we know more than God. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Why should we be surprised? Why should we think God can’t provide for our needs? 


The man gave the twenty loaves of bread to a place where he knew God’s word was being proclaimed and promoted. As disciples of Christ, where should we give our money? We invest in places where God’s truth is being proclaimed and God’s kingdom is being promoted. There are many worthwhile causes that we can give to: fighting cancer, saving animals, saving forests, and so on. It’s not wrong to give to places like that unless we are not giving to God first. We’re disciples of Christ. Whose kingdom should we be investing in first—man’s or God’s? Our first desire and motivation is that Christ is preached, that Christ is promoted, that Christ is proclaimed so people can come unto salvation. 


Here is a story of a man who gives to God first. He only had twenty loaves of bread which would be equivalent to twenty dinner rolls by today’s standards. How are you going to feed a hundred people with twenty dinner rolls? Yet Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” 


“How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked (verse 43a). He’s embarrassed to put twenty dinner rolls in front of a hundred men. He’s skeptical. How is that little bit going to feed so many?


Luke 21:1-4 tells the story of the widow’s offering: As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” This is an example of true generosity. We don’t have to give to meet the whole need; we just have to give what God is asking us to give. If it’s not enough to meet the need, God is able to multiply it. 


God needs our gifts to multiply. We need to show up so God can show up. God can’t multiply what we don’t give: 0 X 100=0. God can’t multiply a life that isn’t given over to him. We need to make ourselves available to God because it’s in those times that he multiplies what we give him to provide for those around us. 


But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: ‘They will eat and have some left over” (verse 43b). Elisha wants his servant to release God from the box he is holding him in. 


Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD (verse 44). Elisha is telling us to add God to our lives. Not only does God save us and give us salvation, but he also breaks into our physical world and saves us for our physical well-being. God will be there for us. We need to believe that. We believe God for the spiritual realm; why don’t we believe God for the physical realm? Healing doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s not going to happen if we don’t ask him. Give God a chance to meet your need. Add God to your world and watch him multiply your gifts. 


Ephesians 3:20 says: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. You can’t imagine how much God is able to do when we ask him. Add God. He is powerfully at work within us and wants to be more at work within us. It’s time to start asking, and it’s time to start imagining. 



Verse Completion. . . but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 (NASB)


6/14/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7m40LNq6o6Y



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is . . .


·      “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your . . .


·      “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall . . .


·      and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Cure” was based on 2 Kings 4:38-44.


The “Watch Me Grow Dino Toy” is something to watch. Place the toy dinosaur in a jar, add water, and in 48 hours it will grow 600%. When the dinosaur is removed from the water, it will shrink back to its original size. When in India, I was given a washcloth the size of a Rolaids tablet. In order to grow the washcloth to normal size, all I had to do was add water. In 1971 Nissin began manufacturing Cup Noodles which was a cup of instant ramen. It looked like there was enough food to feed a small chipmunk, but once water was added, everything expanded and filled the entire cup with food. It’s similar with cooking rice. All that is needed for the rice to expand and fill the container is to add water and cook.


Something similar is found in our next story of Elisha. It isn’t water that is added, it’s something else, and then something amazing happens. 


Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men” (verse 38). Elisha is retracing the steps Elijah and he took. On the last day of Elijah’s life on earth, they started at Gilgal, went to Bethel, continued on to Jericho, and crossed the Jordan River. Elisha has traveled in the opposite direction and is now back at Gilgal where there is a Bible school. He is checking up on the school, doing some teaching, and praying with the students and faculty. 


The famine referred to here is written about in 2 Kings 8:1: Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” Famines were significant events. The ancient mindset was that any cosmic event was caused by the gods who were displeased about something. Changes to behavior had to be made in order to appease the gods. 


Israel’s God was Jehovah, the one true God who created the heavens and the earth. Jehovah had made a covenant with Israel: I will be your God, and you will be my people. You will serve me and me alone. You will be in a relationship with me. 


Part of the agreement was if Israel remained in a relationship with Jehovah, their crops would grow well, families would grow in number, animals would grow in number, and so on. However, if they chose to leave that relationship and go after other gods, one of the consequences would be famines. Famines meant God was not happy with what was going on in Israel. At this time in history, Jezebel was still alive and Baal worship was common. 


The famine is affecting the prophets at the Bible school. Elisha told his servant to make a large pot of stew so everyone could forget about the famine for the time being. Unfortunately, because of the famine, there wasn’t anything of substance to put in the stew, so the servant sent one of the Bible school students into the fields to gather what he could find.


One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were (verse 39). Not knowing what they were was not a good sign. It’s like sending someone out to collect mushrooms to eat. Not every mushroom is edible. Some can kill people. 


The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it (verse 40). Evidently, the gourds in the stew were poisonous. They were bitter to the taste and functioned as a laxative. They often resulted in death. These Bible school students were in a stew. What were they to do? They called on Elisha. Elisha couldn’t call 911. He didn’t have any syrup of ipecac. What could Elisha do?


Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot (verse 41). Flour? This story is similar to the one found in 2 Kings 2:19-22, where the water was bad and Elisha put salt into the water. The flour and the salt, in and of themselves, have no healing power. Elisha didn’t have any magic flour or magic salt. The flour and the salt were symbols of God at work.


Would you have had more of the stew knowing it had the potential to kill you? The only thing different now is some flour has been added to the stew. It would take a lot of faith to have another bowl of stew.


It takes a lot of faith to trust the word of God. What do you do when your eyes and your stomach tell you one thing, but the word from the Lord is telling you something different? Adding God to the equation changes everything! God saves! 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . one!


·      . . . soul and with all your might.


·      . . . be on your heart;


·      . . . sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NASB)


6/12/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/w_gCSJI6DKM



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhat good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The first sermon in this series was titled “For Three and for Four,” and was based on Amos 2:4-5. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of that message. Pastor Moody was talking about Amos’ sermon where Amos passionately spoke against the injustices taking place all around them. As he condemned what was happening around them, the audience was giving Amos their full support by saying things like: “You’re right, Preacher! They should be locked up for the wrongs they have done!” Now let’s continue with the second half of the sermon.


Amos is deliberately boxing the points of the compass. He starts northeast. “It's Boston's fault.” And then he goes southwest. “It's Los Angeles’ fault with all those Hollywood types. That's the problem.” Then he goes northwest. “It's San Francisco and the big tech companies. That's the problem—Silicon Valley.” And then he goes southeast. “Miami and all the drug trade; that's the problem!” And then in his most appealing rhetorical move yet, his coup de grace, he says: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem” (Amos 2:4). 


Judah was the Southern Kingdom. It was the Bible Belt. That's where the law was; it was the Law Belt. The Northern Kingdom would have been very pleased to hear this preacher go after the Bible Belt. Why? What have they done wrong? Because they're hypocrites. They have rejected the law of the Lord. They have the Bible, but they don't follow it. They've not kept his statutes. Their lives have led them astray. They are hypocrites. They're living a lie. They're not really following what the Bible says. They don't really love their neighbors as themselves. Those Bible Belt people are a bunch of hypocrites. 


The northern followers of God are cheering Amos on: “For three and for four, lock them up!” And then in a moment of great shock for his hearers, Amos says: “This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath (verse 6a). This is right where Amos is preaching. Bethel is the religious center of Israel! Is it wrong, right, or woke? It’s us?! How could that be? Amos tells them: They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. Their justice system is fundamentally corrupted by financial incentives. If you can’t bribe a judge, you can get the kind of justice you want by paying enough lawyers. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. There is so much money, and there is so much poverty. The rich turn a blind eye to the poor. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. Sexual immorality has become so bad that they are no longer content with mere adultery. They have become so depraved it is a scandal. The sexual revolution has become profane. 


What about all the religious services and ceremonies at Bethel and all the religious work that was going on in the Northern Kingdom? Amos said: They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines (verse 8). The people are enthusiastic about going to religious services, and they are frequent in their sacrifices on the altar. They show up at church, but what they are wearing reveal the injustice to the poor. Impoverished and abused people are gathering the grapes that are being used to make the wine that the rich drink. The audience is not cheering now! 


“For three and for four, go get Boston with all their Harvard intellectuals who compromise the gospel. The truth used to be there, but now they have turned their back on it. You call them out, Preacher! Go get them! And Los Angeles with all the entertainment corruption that spews fifth through the media . . . go get them! Lock them up! Go get Silicon Valley that is responsible for canceling religious freedom. Go get Miami with all the drug craziness down there. Stand up to the cartels, Preacher! Go get all those religious hypocrites in the South that were all about slavery and opposing the civil rights movement! But us? We were the Abolitionists! The Underground Railroad came through here! We have the Bible. We preach the Bible. Us? Really? Us?”


Yes, us! The injustices of our world these days are shocking. There are eye-witness accounts of how the Ukrainian Jews were treated by the Nazis. Here is one of those accounts: “I questioned the neighbors who were spared by some miracle. I discovered the whole truth. My kinsmen were tortured for a long time. The ghetto was set up near the bazaar, sectioned off by a high barbed wire fence. People there were starving. On 20 August 1942, everyone was taken to the train station. They had to walk four kilometers, and rifle butts were used to drive children and decrepit old people. Everyone was ordered to undress. I saw scraps of clothing and underwear. In order to economize on their bullets, the Nazis stood people four deep and then shot them. Those still breathing were buried alive. Small children were torn to pieces before being thrown into the pit. That is how they murdered my little girl. Other children, including my little girl, were shoved into the pit and covered over with earth. Two months later my wife was among those who were taken away from the village. There was a concentration camp there. The people there were humiliated, and then they were all murdered. There are two graves next to each other. In them lie 1500 people: adults, old people, and children.”


The challenge is that kind of righteousness and that kind of speaking is all too easy for us to speak. What we need is to stop virtue, and start being honest about our own sins. One of the greatest observers of the debauchery of injustice, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, said the following in his book The Gulag Archipelago: “The line separating good and evil passes not through states (countries), nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.

Thanks to ideology the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing calculated on a scale in the millions.

Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth. Yet, I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all, to learn from the experience of other people without having to go through it personally.”     

What do we need to learn? Amos tells us: For three and for four, it’s us! It’s not them! It’s me. Until we embrace that, we won’t be able to forgive people (“It’s their fault! What do I have to do with it?”). The line separating good and evil goes through every single human heart. That is good news, because on the third day Jesus rose from the grave. Thatthreewas followed by a four—the giving of his Spirit and new life and the renewed family of the church which is the great hope for this world.      

Let’s pray and begin by confessing that corner of evil in our heart to God. Lord, help us to stop blaming other people and start owning our own sin. Lord, that seems like a frightening thing to do, but you are the same Lord whose nature is to always have mercy. We come to you knowing that on the third day you rose again and sent your Spirit that all who repent and believe might have new life. We turn to you in Jesus name. Amen.


Verse Completion: . . . yet lose or forfeit his very self. Luke 9:25 (NIV)


6/11/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/kDYjn-YdnD4



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series of sermons titled “Wrong, Right, & Woke: The Good News of God’s Justice.” The first sermon in this series was titled “For Three and for Four,” and was based on Amos 2:4-5. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem (Amos 2:4-5).


The hit musical, Hamilton, portrays King George as a narcissistic dictator and for good reason. Historians through the ages have tried to figure out what exactly was wrong with George. Clearly he had some mental issues. He went through bouts of depression. In the 1960s a book came out, The Madness of King George, that claimed that contemporary medical science concludes that King George suffered from a genetic blood disorder known as porphyria. In more recent years other scientists have determined he was bipolar or manic depressive. Because King George’s doctors didn’t know what disorder he had, they treated him with some strange medical techniques that included arsenic. The right diagnosis matters! 


Our society is showing symptoms of a disease—massive divisiveness; injustice. We agree that our country is showing symptoms of social disease, but we don’t agree on the cause. In Amos’s day, there were widely agreed symptoms of social disease as well. It was a time of urbanization, wealth, and prosperity. People were flooding to the cities. What accompanied that wealth and prosperity was a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. There was widely, common injustice. 


Amos is preaching his sermons in the northern part of the country. He is basing his sermons in a place called Bethel—the main, northern, religious center. His first sermon starts: “The LORD roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers” (Amos 1:2). Amos is saying this sermon is going to be a roaring sermon. Some sermons are gentle, pastoral. Some are very practical, applicable to daily life. Other sermons are sermons about justice and truth and righteousness. All of Amos’s ministry is about justice, truth, and righteousness. His first sermon is a roaring sermon. He is going to speak truth to power. No doubt the people listening to his sermon in Bethel were very enthusiastic. This was not going to be some boring sermon. This one was going to have some passion behind it. 


Their enthusiasm would have built as he went through his sermon because Amos is picking out all the enemies of the people he is preaching to and he is calling their enemies to account. Those are the kinds of sermons people like to hear. “You’re right, Preacher! Those people are wrong! You tell them!” Throughout his sermon, Amos uses a rhetorical technique, something like a poetic refrain. Over and over he repeats “For three sins, even for four.” It’s a kind of Hebrew parallelism. What Amos is saying is “Enough is enough! No more! Injustice has to stop!”


One technique parents will use with their children to get them motivated to get to bed is they say, “I’m going to count to three . . . one . . . two . . . three” and when the child still isn’t moving the parent says, “. . . FOUR!” At that point the child moves. It’s as if the parent is saying, “Enough is enough!” when they have to say “four”. 


Amos starts with one of their worst enemies, Damascus. In verse three he says: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth.What Amos is pointing out is that when Damascus engaged in warfare, they committed war crimes. At this point the audience would have been saying, “Go get them, Preacher! Lock them up!” 


In verse six Amos goes after Gaza: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom. Amos is hitting hard the slave trade that is going on in Gaza. The audience is chanting, “For three and for four. Go get those disgusting slave traders, Preacher!”


Tyre is next in verse nine: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood. Tyre was involved in the slave trade as well, but what they had done was even worse than Gaza because Tyre had traded into slavery their own family, their own relatives. The audience is getting worked up: “Finally, someone is calling out these horrible people! Finally someone is speaking truth into power! For three and for four, lock every single one of those scoundrels up!” 


Edom is next in verse 11: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked. Edom had acted with animal-like ferocity as it tore perpetually at its prey. Edom was like a particularly violent version of the Game of Thrones. “Go get them, Preacher. That is wrong!”


Amos goes after the Ammonites next in verse 13: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Ammon, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders. The Ammonites have conducted genocide. If you want to take over a country and make sure the people in that country never have a chance to turn against you in the future (assuming you have no moral boundaries whatsoever), you need to kill the people in the country and their children. If the children are killed, one never has to worry about them seeking revenge at some point. Killing all the children includes the unborn children. The audience responds with: “Thank goodness someone is calling out genocide! Well done, Preacher! Finally, someone is brave enough to call the sin out!”


In Amos 2:1 Moab is singled out: This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because he burned, as if to lime, the bones of Edom’s king. In the ancient world, the feeling was that your physical remains after you died needed to be taken care of in the appropriate way because otherwise your life after death was in jeopardy. They had a very close connection in the physical bones and what would happen after you died. If you wanted to kill your enemy and insure that they would be dead in the life to come, too, and suffer eternal damnation, then you would burn their bones. The audience chimes: “Finally, we have a preacher who stands against injustice! For three and for four, go get them! Lock them up and throw away the key!” 


Tomorrow we will recap the second half of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon.



Verse Completion. . . turn aside to the right or to the left.” Deuteronomy 5:32


6/10/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/EhSOnw8a_AI

Complete the Verses & Name the Book


·      Do not be anxious then, saying, “What shall we eat?” or . . .

·      For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your . . . 


·      But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; . . .  (completions at the end)



Pastor Mike Lombard is the pastor of Kommetjie Christian Church in Kommetjie, South Africa. He recently gave a sermon titled “The Struggle against Moralism” based on Ephesians 2:4-10, Hebrews 11:6, Matthew 22:34-40, and Galatians 2:16. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Mike’s sermon. Today we will recap the second half. Yesterday Pastor Mike defined moralism as the belief that changed behavior comes about through the adherence of being good as opposed to being evil. In other words, a high level of ethics must be maintained in order to earn favor with God and merit some form of reward. He showed how this belief opposes what is in the Bible. 


In contrast to the moralistic definition of sin, sin can simply be defined as unbelief. Sin in its essence is first of all a relational failure. In Genesis 3, Eve believes the word of the serpent over the word spoken by God. Sin is first and foremost unbelief, and out of that unbelief flows rebellion and disobedience. Sin is first a relational problem; it is never first a moral problem. Imagine God looking down on Eve and seeing her believe the words of the serpent over his word, the word of the one who created Eve. What is that doing to the relationship between God and Eve? It breaks their relationship. Why? Because Eve is calling God a liar. She is saying God can’t be trusted. The result is a relational breakdown. Sin is first unbelief that the word of God can be trusted. 


If sin is relational, then the solution to the problem is relational. If sin is moral, then the solution to the problem is moral, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that high moral values are what we need to deal with sin. Instead what is found in the Bible is a call to faith. Faith is a relational response to God. Faith says, “God, in spite of all that has happened with humanity, I actually believe that what you have said is true, and you will do what you say.” This is not the response Adam and Eve had. 


Too many Christians view sin as a moral problem rather than a relational problem. They are more concerned about whether somebody has stolen something as an act of moral failure than being concerned that the act of stealing is a rejection of the words God has spoken and goes against his personal will and desire. If you are more concerned about the act than you are about the offence against God, then you are being moralistic. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be concerned about the act, but we must remember that sin is born out of unbelief. If we don’t orientate ourselves around that fundamental truth, then we will be prone to moralism. 


John Wesley defined sin as follows: The sin of Adam was unbelief. He chose to believe Satan rather than God. 


Faith is the positive human response to all that God speaks. Faith believes what God speaks. Faith believes God will do what he speaks. Faith believes God will do what he promises. The mercy and grace of God make it possible for humans to be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


The fundamental problem we have is a relational one, so we need reconciliation with God. The love of God provides us with a Savior, a Redeemer. He isn’t rescuing us from moral failure; He is rescuing us from a broken relationship with God. The tragedy of sin is that it results in relational brokenness. Our biggest problem is not our sinful nature; our biggest problem is a broken relationship. 


Are we saying that morality doesn’t matter? No, not at all! However, our morality must be born out of a faith relationship with God. If our morality isn’t born out of faith in God, then it is futile—as worthless as filthy rags. It is of no consequence. It is not pleasing to God. 


Jesus had some encounters with the Pharisees who were prone to moralism. Matthew 22:34-40 says: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”


Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


The expectation was for Jesus to unpack morality, but that’s not what he did. Jesus said the heart of the Law was relational. If you love God and love your neighbor, you will be following all of the Law. All of morality is rooted in relationship. If the relationship doesn’t exist, the morality is futile. It’s more about relationship with God and relationship with people than it is about being right or being good. In our desire to be right or good, we fail to see that this desire results in us breaking relationships with people and breaking our relationship with God. 


The solution to sin is not a moral one; it’s a relational one. The solution to sin is to respond relationally with faith to the God of promise who has fulfilled his promises in Jesus Christ. It is through this relationship of faith that we are justified. Justification means to be declared righteous by God. On what basis will God declare you to be righteous? Galatians 2:16 says: A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.


Morality must be a consequence of a relationship with God. No one is justified by following a set of rules. Moralism justifies no one. There is no room for moralism in Christianity. Moralism is not the gospel. We must give people the true gospel. We must never depend on morality to determine favor with God. 


When you are under severe pressure, do you ever depend on your own morality, your own ability or your own strength, or do you cast yourself upon the grace and mercy of God? Relational faith will cast itself on the grace and mercy of God and seek how to respond to what God has spoken with faith. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . “What shall we drink?” or “With what shall we clothe ourselves?”


·      . . . heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.


·      . . . and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33 (NASB) Also see Luke 12:29-31.


6/9/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/wc2xGXONv4I



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Mike Lombard is the pastor of Kommetjie Christian Church in Kommetjie, South Africa. He recently gave a sermon titled “The Struggle against Moralism” based on Ephesians 2:4-10, Hebrews 11:6, Matthew 22:34-40, and Galatians 2:16.


We are able to discover where our relationship with God is at when we come under extreme stress and pressure. When our world shrinks and we are just trying to survive, we ask ourselves, “Where is God?” It is at moments like this that we need to determine what role God plays in our lives. Some would cry out to God, “Why aren’t you helping me, Lord? Why have you deserted me in this moment?” Others would cry out, “Lord, I place myself in your grace and mercy.” Trials reveal the nature and status of our hearts. 


As I observe what is happening in our local congregation and beyond, I notice there is a dependence on moralism rather than a relationship with Christ when we come under stress and pressure. When we are in a crisis and given over to moralism, our prayers go something like: “Lord, am I good enough for you to help me? Lord, I need your help, but I’m not sure I’m good enough.” A prayer like this doesn’t come from a relationship with Christ. 


A common way people call on God for healing is by praying something like this: “Lord, you know ________ is a really good guy. If anyone is deserving of your healing, it’s ________, so I ask you to heal him.” What is driving a prayer like this? It’s moralism. Moralism is the belief that changed behavior comes about through the adherence of being good as opposed to being evil. In other words, a high level of ethics must be maintained in order to earn favor with God and merit some form of reward. Some people even believe that being good merits salvation. Moralism is the belief that a person is acceptable to God because of his/her high moral standards. Moralism is a dependence on morality for favor with God. 


The message of the gospel is that nobody is good enough. Everybody falls short. All are sinners. This is a basic truth of the Christian message and is in opposition to moralism. Everybody is in need of being rescued by a savior regardless of their moral standing. Every single person is dependent on the grace and mercy of God. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve (judgment); grace is getting what you do not deserve (salvation). We are beneficiaries of the grace and mercy of God. The only way we can approach God is on the basis of his grace and mercy. Nobody can do anything to earn favor with God. Moral purity is of no consequence before God. This is something that non-Christians struggle to understand because to them, Christianity is all about moralism. 


Ephesians 2:4-10 says: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


We depend on God’s grace now, and we will depend on it in the ages to come. One of the key messages of the gospel is that salvation is by grace through faith. Salvation is not possible on the basis of moralism. Many Christians accept that salvation is by grace through faith, but a problem arises when their ongoing relationship with Christ is dependent upon their works—their morality. They turn to Christ for salvation, but then they turn to moralism for their ongoing relationship with Christ. We can tell we have fallen into moralism if when we sin (and we will sin), our response is something like, “God, I failed you. Am I still good enough to make it to heaven?” We may have turned to Christ for salvation by grace through faith, but we are continuing our relationship with Christ on the wrong basis. We wrongly believe our sanctification is dependent upon our morality and the extent of our good works. 


The gospel truth is that our relationship with Christ is established by grace through faith and it can only be maintained by grace through faith. There is no alternative. Does that mean good works and morality don’t matter? Not at all. What we have to remember is that the central heartbeat and essence of our relationship with God must be grace and faith. Hebrews 11:6 says: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. What God looks for constantly in his people is faith. When God sees faith he acts on your behalf, intervenes in your life, blesses you, and provides for you. Why does God do this? Is it because you are a good person? No! It’s because you have faith. Moralism does not draw on a faith relationship; it draws on a belief in ethics. 


Why is it that moralism plays such a big role in Christianity? Why are we prone to being moralistic? It’s because we don’t have a clear view on what sin is. A well-known evangelical preacher who is also an author defines sin as “any lack of conformity to the moral character of God or the law of God.” If sin is a lack of conforming to the moral character of God then what must we do as Christians? We must avoid sin. We must attain to high moral standing. When we think like this, sin is a moral failure.


In contrast to the moralistic definition of sin, sin can simply be defined as unbelief. Sin in its essence is first of all a relational failure. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Mike’s sermon with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . it may be well with them and with their sons forever!’Deuteronomy 5:29 (NASB)


6/8/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/XlyDIaOVliA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThey claim to know God, but. . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Provision of Life and Death” that was based on 2 Kings 4:3-37. Today we will recap the second half. We left off yesterday with the mother placing her dead son on Elisha’s bed and shutting the door (see verse 21).


She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return” (verse 22). She doesn’t tell her husband that their son has died. 


“Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”


“It’s all right,” she said (verse 23). It’s unlikely that she has peace about the situation and is saying, “Everything is going to be fine.” In our humanity this is not what comes naturally. When incredible grief strikes us we don’t shrug it off as if it’s nothing. Perhaps she doesn’t want to alert her husband quite yet as to what has just happened.


She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me unless I tell you.” So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. 


When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! Run to meet her and ask her, “Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’ “


“Everything is all right,” she said (verses 24-26).


She told her servant to put the pedal to the metal and get to Elisha quickly. When Elisha recognizes her, he knows something isn’t right because this isn’t the Sabbath or some other special occasion. He sends his servant to find out what’s wrong. Again she says, “Everything is all right.” Is she in denial, or does she just have great faith?


When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”


“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”(verses 27-28). She wasn’t the one who had approached Elisha years ago about being barren; Elisha was the one who told her she was going to have a son. She wasn’t about to bring up old wounds of barrenness, but it was Elisha who had brought it up. Now her grief over her lost son is more than she can bear. Unlike his servant, Elisha recognizes the grief.


Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt (in other words, “Get ready to run”), take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face” (verse 29). Gehazi has seen miracles happen before that involved Elisha’s staff. He knows the power of God is in the staff. He is to move quickly.


But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her (verse 30). Elisha had not planned on going to see the son, but the mother was not going to leave Elisha’s side, so Elisha gave in and went. 


Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened” (verse 31). Can you imagine the disappointment when the staff didn’t work? Gehazi ran to tell Elisha what hadn’t happened. Elisha is confused, too. Why didn’t the staff work? God suddenly seems very distant. 


When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes (verses 32-35). 


Elisha learned to do this from his mentor, Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:17-24). After he stretched out on the boy as Elijah had done and nothing happened, Elisha began pacing and praying. “God, why didn’t you restore life? God, we really need you to show up!” The second time Elisha stretched out upon the boy, the boy came to life.


Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out (verses 36-37). God broke into their world in a miraculous way!


What do we do with this story? Not all stories end this way. If we were to graph this story on a line graph, there would be a lot of ups and downs, probably similar to our own lives: times when God showed up and times when God seemed to be so distant. Contrary to what the preachers on TV say, we do not always receive blessings. Just because we do what’s right does not mean we will receive blessings. When bad things happen to us, it doesn’t mean we are cursed. 


Generally speaking when we honor God, God honors us. However, sometimes we have to wait until after we have died to receive honor from God. We live in a fallen world, and Satan is always trying to destroy us. Because of Adam and Eve bringing sin into the world, we have sickness, disease, earthquakes, famines, and death. Honoring God doesn’t mean he’s going to erase the bad things from our lives. Honoring God does mean he will erase all sickness and death in eternity. He does honor us many times in this life, and we are thankful for that. When we honor God, God honors us with eternity. 


God loves you and will never abandon you. He desires to honor you in his time and in his way. Sometimes his timing and his ways are very confusing to us. Don’t give up on God. Be like this Shunammite woman who tenaciously grabbed hold of the ankles of God and wouldn’t let go. She knew God was her only hope. Even in our pain, confusion, disappointment, and depression we can honor God. 


To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25)



Verse Completion. . . by their actions they deny him. Titus 1:16a (NIV)


6/7/21


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2fwUWAZQMrQ



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Provision of Life and Death” was based on 2 Kings 4:8-37. 


One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat (verse 8). Elisha is on the road a great deal. He travels to Bible schools, meets with influential people, and shares God’s word wherever he goes. Shunem is southwest of the Sea of Galilee. It’s along the Jordan River in a lush, green valley. Elisha’s travels take him through Shunem on a regular basis. 


This story is quite a contrast from the story we had last week about a poor widow and her son. This story involves a married, wealthy woman who had no son. The widow wasn’t able to provide for Elisha, but the wealthy family does much to provide for Elisha. 


She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”


One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?”


She replied, “I have a home among my own people” (verses 9-13).


Elisha has been blessed by this wealthy Shunammite woman, and he contemplates what can be done to bless her and her family. He knows the king and other influential people who may be able to help her with whatever she wants. However, she turns down his offer to pull strings for her. She says she is content with her life as it is. 


“What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.


Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old” (verse 14).


After she left the room Elisha said to his servant, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. Now what?”


The servant reminded Elisha that she didn’t have a son and her husband was getting up in years. That was a problem in this culture. People looked at couples without a son as not being blessed by God. They were a wealthy family, but they didn’t have an heir. 


They were living in a time when Israel was not serving God as they ought. Baal worship was still in place. God was not the centerpiece in their society. They didn’t value the word of God or the will of God. Their attitude was: “God, if you want to come along with me and bless me, that would be great. I don’t want to do your will, but I’d like for you to bless my will.”


Our society is very similar to this. God is not our centerpiece. As a country, God’s word is not something we value and seek to follow. Sadly, God’s word and will do not appear to be the centerpiece of many churches today. We have plans, and we want God to support and bless those plans. However, we are not interested in God’s plans if they are out of sync with our plans. We need to change our attitude to: “God, not my will but your will be done.”


God honors us when we honor him. It’s not the other way around where we honor God when God honors us. In this story we have a lady who honors God by making provisions for his prophet. Lamentably, she doesn’t have a son. She would have traded her wealth for a son. She was considered cursed by God because she didn’t have a son. She was looked down upon as someone who had done something very bad; she had displeased God and consequently had been made barren. We have the idea that if I do good, God will do good to me; if I do evil, God will do evil to me. However, God always wants what is best for us. 


Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms” (verses 15-16a). What a statement! What a bold promise! You would expect her to demonstrate exuberant joy, but look at her response.


“No, my lord,” she objected. “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” (verse 16b) She didn’t want the prophet of God to promise her something of this magnitude that wouldn’t come to pass. She had come to accept her barrenness and didn’t want to have the topic brought up again only to face more disappointment. Her hope for a son was gone. 


But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her (verse 17). There is much celebration over this remarkable event. 


The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. “My head! My head!” he said to his father.


His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died (verses 18-20). Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. Why would God hold off giving a son to a woman for so long, and then allow the son to die after such a short life? What a rollercoaster of emotions! Now she is in a worse place than she was before her son was born. 


She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out (verse 21). She didn’t put her son on her bed; she put her son on Elisha’s bed. She was going to the one place she knew where God would show up. If anyone can do something for her son, it’s God. She sticks with God. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon with the second half. 



Verse Completion. . . the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 (NASB)


6/5/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/WcZqMeQmOZ8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd when  they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to . . . (completion at the end)



Today we will continue the recap of Dr. Wedman’s lesson “The Character of the Godly” from Jude 20-25 with a recap of the second half. Yesterday we heard that the godly are people who know the truth and grow in the truth. They are humble people who seek the will of God. They are people of obedience and service to God.


The fourth godly character quality is patience. Jude said to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. The godly stand firm while they are waiting for Jesus. Living a godly life in an ungodly world is difficult. Many are against us. Living a godly life takes endurance, strength, patience, and perseverance. 


Mercy and grace are very similar to each other. Grace is undeserved favor. Mercy is being pardoned when we deserve punishment. As the world progresses it will become more and more ungodly. Nevertheless we are to remain godly people. 2 Peter 3:8-14 says: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.


Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.


So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 


Christ is returning. Eternal life is almost here. Wait for it. It’s worth waiting for.


1 Corinthians 15:50-58 says: I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”


“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”


The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 


The godly are also merciful to those who doubt. We have been shown mercy by God, so we need to be merciful to others. When people are beginning to doubt the truth, we are to help them get back on track. We are to teach the truth and live the truth. We need to extend kindness rather than judgment. We need to be committed to making disciples.  


The godly also snatch others from the fire and save them. The godly go after those who have walked away from the truth. They are gracious but firm. They don’t want any to perish. It’s likely that there are those we come in contact with who have never heard the truth, and they need to be snatched from the fire. Godly people promote the gospel. They want everyone to have a relationship with Jesus. The ungodly only care about themselves but the godly care about the salvation of others. The godly are engaged in evangelism. 


The godly show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Scoffers need to be shown mercy. Godly people care about the eternal destiny of others no matter who they are or how opposed to God they are. As we show mercy we are to fear being influenced by the ungodly. We don’t want to become involved in activities with the ungodly that will take us away from God. We need to make sure we remain in the truth. Leviticus 13:47-52 could be what Jude has in mind when he said hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. There was a procedure for people with a skin disease to go through. Depending on the outcome of the procedure, they were to wash their clothes or burn their clothes. 


We are not to be stained by sin or corrupted by sin. In our goal to bring people to Jesus, we are not to laugh at off-color, dirty jokes and tell our own in order to fit in with the ungodly so they will listen to us when we witness to them. We are not a witness when we have clothing stained by corrupted flesh. We don’t go to strip clubs to witness to the ungodly in the strip clubs. We’re to hate the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. We are not to get involved in sin; we’re to hate sin. God hates sin. Godly people hate sin. God loves the sinner and so should we. 


In summary, the godly are:


·      People of the truth, learning and growing in the truth


·      People who are humble and seek the will of God


·      People of obedience and service to God


·      People who are patient and rely upon the mercy of God


·      People who show mercy and kindness to others rather than being judgmental. They are committed to making disciples.


·      People who promote the gospel and desire others to come unto salvation. They are engaged in evangelism.


·      People who hate sin but love the sinner


Jude concludes his book with a doxology: To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.


This is similar to Romans 16:25-27: Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.


It’s also similar to Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Only God is able to develop these godly character qualities in us. We don’t learn them on our own or work really hard for them. These qualities come from God. If we are going to be godly people, we must have Christ in our lives. These qualities only come after we have spent time with God. Only God is able to keep us from stumbling. He is the one who guards our life. He has set boundaries for us to stay in, and we are to stay in those boundaries. God is the one who helps us stay in those boundaries he has set for us. The last thing we need is to stumble and fall away from Christ. God keeps us sure footed like the sure-footed mules who walk the precarious trails of the Grand Canyon. 


Jesus is the one who proclaims us righteous before the Father. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. We become right before God when we receive Jesus into our life. Romans 8:1-2 says: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. It’s the righteousness of Christ in us that makes us righteous. 


In the last verse of Jude we read: to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Glory is the splendor of his radiant light (see Revelation 4). Majesty refers to kingly exultation. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Power is the means to do what needs to be done. God is omnipotent. There’s no limit to his power. Authority, or dominion, refers to total sovereignty. There is no greater force or significant being. God is sovereign over all. 


The difference between the ungodly and the godly is God. The godly humble themselves before God, seek him, and serve him. The godly desire to grow in Christ and know him more and more. Godly people spend time with God.  


This concludes the study of Jude and Fireside Fellowship for this season. Dr. Wedman will lead us in the study of a different book of the Bible in the fall. 



Verse Completion. . . speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31 (NASB)


6/4/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/0T-M9iPZfMk



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from Jude 20-25 with a lesson titled “The Character of the Godly” as he continued Fireside Fellowship


But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.


Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.


To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.


When we started the book of Jude, we started with a look at the blessings of the godly. We moved to the fate of the ungodly and on to the character of the ungodly. We will finish with the character of the godly. 


The ungodly do not reflect the character of God in the way they act, interact, and react to the world around them. The godly are different—they do reflect the character of God as they act, interact, and react to the world. It’s possible to be different because of the Holy Spirit who abides within the followers of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! We have a new nature in Christ, and it’s out of that new nature that we live. 


Jude mentions four godly character qualities to start with. The first is making sure we are growing in the faith: build yourselves up in your most holy faith. It involves maturing—looking more and more like Christ. The most holy faith involves the teachings of Jesus and that of the apostles—the truth of the gospel. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We are to know the truth. We are to know the words of God. 


Paul writes about building on the foundation of our faith in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.The apostles help us understand the truth of God’s word. 


Ephesians 2:19-21 says: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. Acts 2:42 says: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. The foundational truths of God’s word wanted to be heard and understood. 


Learning and growing are part of the most holy faith, too. 2 Timothy 2:15 says: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. We are to know truth and understand truth. Hebrews 5:11-6:2 says: We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 


As disciples of Christ we need to be growing, learning, and maturing. We need to move beyond the simple truths into the deeper truths. We need to have a teachable spirit. One of the character qualities of the ungodly is that they are unteachable. They don’t want to learn about the truth of God. They feel they have their own truth. 


Godly people are people of the truth. 2 Peter 1:21 says: For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. God’s truth is separate from any other truth. 


The second godly character quality mentioned by Jude is praying in the Holy Spirit. Praying reveals a dependency on God. When we pray, we are saying, “God, I need you. I recognize that you are far greater than I am. You are God and I am not. I need you because you are God, and you are far superior to me. You are able to do things that are way beyond my abilities.”


Ephesians 5:15-18 might help us understand what praying in the Holy Spirit means: Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. We are to be controlled by the Spirit. We are to search out the Holy Spirit. We are to be careful how we live our lives. In order to please God with how we live, we need the Holy Spirit in us. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us as we pray. We say, “Holy Spirit, what is it that you want me to pray? What is it that you want to see happen in my life and in the lives of those around me?” 


We pray for God’s will to be done. We humble ourselves and put God’s will over our own will. Galatians 5:16-18 says: So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. We don’t do whatever we want to do; we do the will of God. We get to know God’s will through the Holy Spirit. The second godly character quality is humility—people who are humble and seek the will of God. 


The third godly character quality is keeping oneself in God’s love. How is that done? John 14:15 has the following words of Jesus: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Keeping ourselves in God’s love is following him, serving him, and remaining in him. 


In John 15:1-17, Jesus speaks about what it means to stay in his love: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.


“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”


When Jude says keep yourselves in God’s love, he is saying to follow Jesus; obey Jesus; remain in Christ. The godly are people of obedience and service to God. 


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Dr. Wedman’s message with the second half. 



Verse Completion. . . take away from it.” Deuteronomy 4:2a


6/3/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/f5C0Zg5C2Us



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication . . . 


·      And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall . . .(completions at the end)



Yesterday we looked at a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on the godly character quality of holiness. We left off with Pastor Del talking about the call to holiness that is throughout Scripture.


In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: To all in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be saints (Romans 1:7a). We are called to be holy. We are called to be saints. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 says: May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. We are called to be holy people, people who are sanctified. We are called to be different. We are called to be set apart. We are called to be alive in Jesus. We were once lost, but now we have been found. We were once dead in our transgressions and sins, but now we are alive in Christ. We are called to faithrepentance, and holiness.


When you read about all the rules, regulations, and procedures in Leviticus, remember that God was calling them to be separate people. They were to be different from those around them. They were to be morally pure. 


What is the case for holiness? Leviticus 11:44a says: I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy


There is quite a list of clean and unclean foods found in the book of Leviticus. Certain animals could be eaten and others were not to be eaten. Part of the reason for this was to keep the Israelites healthy and strong. In addition, God was trying to teach them about holiness. They had been living in Egypt for four hundred years—a nation full of idolatry. God got them out of Egypt, but many didn’t get Egypt out of them. When Moses went up Mount Sinai and was gone longer than expected, Aaron made a golden calf—an idol made from gold earrings worn by the Israelites. When Moses returned from the mountain, he said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”


“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:21-24). 


The people were told to be holy because God is holy. They were to be a holy people—set apart for God’s service. They were to be set apart from moral decadence. They were to separate themselves from the idolatry that surrounded them. 1 Peter 1:14-16 says: As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” We are to live separate lives from the world. We are to live for God’s glory, not our own glory. It’s possible for us to be holy people. God has made that possible. 


The church is to be a holy priesthood. 1 Peter 2:4-5 says: As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Great High Priest, and we are priests under him. We are the go-between between ungodly people and God himself. We are the light of the world. We are the salt of the earth. God’s message to the world travels through us. The church is to be holy—set apart. Jesus is building his church. 


We are to chase after holiness. Hebrews 12:14 says: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. The picture here of making every effort is that of hunting dogs chasing after their prey. They are determined to get their prey. They are not going to be deterred. We should have that same kind of determination to be holy.


Making every effort to be holy is seeking holiness with all of our hearts. We are to seek personal holiness, practical holiness, and moral holiness will all of our hearts. We’re to chase after it. We’re to pursue it. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says: Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Is it possible to perfect holiness? Yes, it’s God commitment to us to do a work in us to produce this holiness. We can’t perfect positional holiness, but we can perfect personal and practical holiness. We do it by cleansing ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit. 


Hebrews 12:10 says: Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. All the suffering, struggles, trials, and difficulties that come our way as children of God are so we can share in his holiness. Any measure of holiness that we have is God’s holiness implanted in us. It’s God’s work of grace. 


Viktor Frankl wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946. It tells of his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He said that the way to survive those times in life when it seems unbearable is to have a purpose in life. God’s purpose in life for us is that we would share in his holiness—that we would become holy as he is holy. Out of his great love and compassion, he made it possible for us to be holy. God has us on a journey to perfect our holiness and have us share in his holiness in greater and greater ways. 


May this character quality become more and more yours as you walk after Jesus and walk with Jesus. 


This concludes Pastor Del McKenzie’s series of messages on “Godly Character Qualities.”



Verse Completions:


·      . . . with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


·      . . . guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)


6/2/21


Good morning. Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/JtZ2sVZeKkk



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie concluded his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the quality of holiness. The previous topics he shared with us are: gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, self-control, contentment, joyfulness, dependability, and friendliness.


All of these qualities reflect the character qualities of God. Of all these qualities which is the primary character quality of God? Perhaps it is holiness. If love had been listed, it might be argued that it is the primary character quality. 


The word holy was first used in Exodus 3:5: “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Holy is used as an adjective in many places in Scripture: holy Sabbath, holy nation, holy gifts, holy crown, holy meat, and so on. In the song of Moses and Miriam it says: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) This is the first time in the Bible that holiness is applied to God. Holy appears many times in Leviticus. The nation of Israel is referred to as a holy nation. 


Holiness is an absolutely needed character quality. It is essential. There’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about holiness. What is holiness? There are two words in the Bible that refer to it: holy and sanctification. Sanctification is a gift of grace we need to be thankful for. 


There are two major aspects of holiness: imputed and imparted. To have something imputed to us is to have something put on our account. Holiness is imputed to us when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Other words for imputed include ascribed and accredited. We are holy in Jesus. As children of God, we have imputed holiness. It’s a marvelous gift. Holy ones are saints. This kind of holiness is positional: in my position in Jesus, I am a holy person. 


Imparted holiness is when God puts holiness into our lives. He implants it in us. It is personal holiness. It is experienced holiness. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says: Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Holiness is implanted in us by the Holy Spirit. We are made holy by the Holy Spirit. Holy means to be set apart—to be different. We are different from the world around us. We are different from those who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ. We are set apart to God. We are declared holy. 


Holiness includes moral holiness where we are set apart from sin. Some people seem to be more set apart than others. We are to stand out from the world behaving differently from those who haven’t been regenerated. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17a says: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”


“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord.


Ephesians 2:1-5 says: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 


In his prayer for his disciples Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:15-19) Sanctification and revelation go together; God’s word is revealed to us. Jesus set himself apart from the world around him. He set himself apart to be the Redeemer of the world. Jesus wants us to be set apart from the world and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 


The call to holiness is throughout the entire Bible. Israel was called to be a holy nation. They were called to be different—set apart for the glory of God. They were to be set apart from the sinful nations around them. Followers of Jesus are called to be holy—set apart from others. Paul starts out his first letter to the church in Corinth with: To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2). 


Tomorrow we will continue a recap of Pastor Del’s lesson on holiness with the second half. 



Verse Completion. . . be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NASB)


6/1/21


Good morning. Welcome to June. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tWeXVnRm6R8



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is  . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Provision of Oil” that was based on 2 Kings 4:1-7. Today we will recap the second half. 


Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” (verses 3-4)


What kind of debt counseling is this? The widow is already in debt over her head, and Elisha is telling her to go borrow more—jars this time. Sometimes it seems like God doesn’t make sense. How are five loaves and two fish going to feed five thousand? How are borrowed empty jars going to solve a huge financial debt? God’s sense of things is not our sense of things. How we make sense out of things is to list our options, and chose the best option. However, God sees things we don’t see. God knows things we don’t know. God wants to know if we are going to trust him. God wants to know if we’re going to be all in or are we going to hold back and only partially follow God. 


The widow and her two sons set out to borrow as many empty vessels as they could find. Eventually, they exhaust all their resources, and their house is full of empty jars. The door is shut so the curious onlookers can’t see what Elisha is going to do next. This is a private undertaking that involves only the widow, the sons, and God. The world is not part of this.


We are not to allow the things of this world to distract us from God. God says to us, “Follow me. I have a plan for you. I’m going to break into your world. I have gifts I want to give to you. Focus on me. Let’s do this together. Are you all in?” Instead of listening to God, we listen to the voice of the world that is loudly calling to us. The voice of the world says, “Does that make sense? What is everyone else going to think?” We have to shut the door to the world. What God is telling you is between him and you, and it doesn’t involve anyone else. Are you going to get the jars or listen to the world? 


After borrowing a few jars they could have said, “This is embarrassing. People are asking too many questions. Some of these pots are heavy. It’s too hot outside to be doing this. I hate to borrow things. What we have is probably good enough.” They could have been like the kings in the previous story who said, “This is inconvenient. This is getting costly. This is making me sweat. Partial obedience is good enough.” However, the widow and her sons were all in. They asked for as many jars as they could possibly get. 


She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”


But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. (verses 5-6)


Can you imagine the boys’ eyes when the little jar filled a larger jar. Can’t you see them taking one of the largest jars to their mom to see if the little jar would run out of oil before filling the big one? The mother is just as amazed as her young sons. She knows it’s not physically possible but with God all things are possible. God just became very real. God stepped into their lives in a very real way. Every single jar they had collected was filled to the brim with oil. Only when the last jug was filled did the oil run out. 


Now the family is glad they worked hard to collect as many jars as they possibly could. They are glad they didn’t settle for three or four jars. They are glad they followed Elisha’s directions exactly. They’re glad they didn’t slack but were diligent. They weren’t saying, “We wish we wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble.” They weren’t saying, “We wish we’d only partially done what we were told to do.” They were saying, “We serve an amazing God! We were all in for God, and God was all in for us.” 


She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”  (verse 7)


They had gathered enough oil that could be sold to pay all of their debts and more to live on. Incidentally, this was not the season for oil. It was the off season for olive oil. This is why there were so many empty jars available for collection. The price of oil was at a premium.


Can you imagine the one who made the loan pondering how the widow had come up with the money? He had likely made arrangements as to where the boys would be put to work. Can you imagine the talk that went through the town? 


They got the oil because they trusted God. They got the oil because they were all in with God. Even though God didn’t make sense and what they were asked to do seemed crazy, they were obedient. 


When we fully follow God, he gives us full victories. When we partially follow God, we get partial victories. God wants us to trust him completely, even when what he says to do doesn’t make sense. When we trust God completely, we trust his words completely. There’s no saying, “Well, I like this part of Scripture, but not that part of Scripture.” We need to put God’s will above our will.  We need to put God’s way above our ways. When we follow God completely, some things don’t make sense: we have peace when we shouldn’t have peace; we receive grace when we shouldn’t receive grace; we receive mercy when we shouldn’t receive mercy.


Following God completely doesn’t mean we no longer have a will. It doesn’t mean we sell everything we own and give the proceeds away. It doesn’t mean we wear robes and learn a spiritual lingo. It means we listen to God, and we live the way he asks us to live. It means accepting God’s words as truth and following them as truth. When we are fully in for God, God is fully in for us. 


When we hear, “What kind of a God would allow terrible things to happen?” we need to remember that sin has entered our world and Satan is very active. The day is coming when the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur and will be tormented day and night for ever and ever (see Revelation 20:10). Meanwhile, God is being merciful and patient not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9).


In this story Satan would have loved to take those two young sons away from their mother and destroy their lives knowing the life of the widow would be destroyed as well. None of that happened because the mother and her sons decided to follow God even when he didn’t make sense. They made the choice to follow God. They fully followed God.


Are we willing to fully follow God? If so, we can experience full victories. God has a full plan for each of us. Are you all in?



Verse Completion. . . the one fighting for you.’ Deuteronomy 3:22 (NASB)


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