Daily Devotion March 2020

3/31/20

Good morning, Room Travelers.

Song for the Day: Agnus De

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not . . . (completion at the end)

On Thursday, Pastor Michael gave his second fireside chat based on Philippians 1:3-8. When Paul wrote Philippians, he was in prison in Rome. He was socially distanced from his friends and not able to interact except with Epaphroditus who had gone to Rome to be with Paul. Philippians 2:25 says, “Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true believer, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need.” The church at Philippi partnered in the gospel with Paul. Now that he is in prison he misses the church at Philippi. Philippians 1:3-8 says:

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

The church at Philippi became interested in how they could be a part of spreading the gospel to others. Partners walk along side of you; they are going the same direction you are going. A partner is supportive in time and resources. Paul is thankful for the partnership he has with the church.

Joy is a key word in the letter. Paul is joyful he has this partnership. He prays for the church. We can pray for those we typically sit close to in church during this period of time when the church doors are closed.

Lydia was a participant and a partner in the gospel. Acts 16:13-15 says,

On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Lydia gave what she had because she wanted to partner with Paul in the gospel.

Acts 16:16-34 recounts the story of Paul and Silas casting out the demon inside the slave girl who told the future and made a lot of money for her owners. When their chances of making money were destroyed, they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities at the marketplace. Paul and Silas were severely beaten and thrown into prison. They prayed and sang hymns, and at midnight an earthquake opened the prison doors and the chains of the prisoners fell off. The jailer was going to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. Paul and Silas told him all the prisoners were still there. The jailer said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He was told, “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” The jailer and his household got baptized, and he began to wash the wounds of Paul and Silas. He brought them into his house just like Lydia. The jailer’s life was transformed. The jailer not only became a participant with Jesus that night, but he also became a partner with Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 says:

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all the blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sometimes we wonder and fret, but God says He will keep us firm to the end. You are a participant and a partner with the gospel. He is faithful to keep us in fellowship with Him. 1 Timothy 1:12a says, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work.” God is strengthening us in this time of uncertainty. 2 Timothy 1:12 says, “That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.”

Paul loves the people in the church at Philippi. He longs for them. He wants to see them again. We are the family of God. It’s difficult when we can’t be with those we love. We are made for community, so it’s difficult for us to keep our prescribed six foot distance away from each other.

Galatians 6:9-10 says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” We are a family of believers. We are partners in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the same Holy Spirit living in us. We need to be good to each other. Let’s be unified.

Social distancing is teaching us how much we need each other. Pray for each other. Send a note. Make a phone call.

What Scripture verse does Dr. Josh Moody say is worth every parent memorizing? Serve God


Verse Completion: . . . gather with Me, scatters. Luke 11:23 (NASB)

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3/30/20

Good morning, In & Out (in the house and out to check the mail).

Song for the Day: I'd Never Known

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For everyone who exalts himself shall be . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “The Parable of the Mustard Seeds and Yeast” to an empty church . . . building. However, many were in attendance over Facebook. His text was Matthew 13:31-35:

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of all the other kingdoms. Satan is out to destroy the Kingdom of Heaven, but it will never happen.

Matthew wants us to know that Jesus is the Messiah—God with skin on. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He came to Earth to save people from their sins.

The average height of a mustard tree in Palestine is about 12 feet—a significant size. It’s the largest of all plants in a garden, and yet it started from the smallest of seeds. Matthew 17:20-21 says:

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

The start of the Kingdom of God was insignificant—a baby in a manger. It grew to the point where Jesus had 12 followers and from there grew to become the most dominant kingdom in the world. It’s growing, and it’s unstoppable.

The principle of the mustard seed is revealed in what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Three times I begged the Lord to take [the thorn in my flesh] away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The mustard seed starts out weak but ends up strong. We don’t build the Kingdom of God through our wisdom, knowledge, finances, or power. Jesus builds the Kingdom of God by His strength. The weaker we are the stronger Jesus can show Himself to be. Don’t be discouraged by smallness or by weakness. Jesus is stronger than the forces that go against Him. 1 Corinthians 1:25-31 says:

This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”

The Kingdom of Heaven didn’t start because of our strength, wisdom, or intelligence. The Kingdom of Heaven is all about Jesus, and it’s only when we humble ourselves that Jesus enters our lives. The Kingdom of Heaven grows because of Jesus in us.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast. Yeast changes things. Yeast makes things grow in size. The Kingdom of Heaven is like that; it’s transformational. It changes lives. It makes a difference.

In Matthew 16:6, we see a negative use of the word yeast: “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Yeast transforms—for good or bad.

Yeast transforms lives. One person gets saved and has his/her life transformed. Another watches that transformed life, and wants his/her life transformed, too. The transformation continues and spreads throughout the community.

Acts 17:5-6 says: But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too.” The silversmiths in Thessalonica would make idols, but when people started following Jesus, the Christians got rid of their idols. This was damaging to the business of the silversmiths, and they wanted the gospel spreaders stopped in their tracks. There can only be two responses to the gospel: accept or reject. You can’t serve God and money.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going. It only takes one person radically changed by God to start changing the world. The gospel changes churches, communities, cultures, decisions, habits, families, friends, and how we live. The gospel changes you, and it changes me.

Everywhere Paul went people opposed him. They tried to punch him down, but he always sprang back just like dough with yeast in it always rises back up when it is punched down. Whenever the church is persecuted, it grows. The coronavirus will not destroy the church; it will expand the church. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

We are faced with a decision: Will I walk with Jesus or go against Him? Will I join Jesus or try to destroy Him? Are you part of the Kingdom of Heaven?

In Numbers 13 and 14, the Israelites were faced with a decision: Go into the land of milk and honey with giants and fortified walls and conquer it or not.

We may be small, insignificant, and weak, but it is in our weakness that God can use us. Jesus is refining our church and refining the nations. The Kingdom of Heaven is built in weakness and persecution. It’s built in humble hearts submitted to God. The Kingdom of Heaven is unstoppable, and we are part of that kingdom if we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior and asked Him to forgive our sins.

Dr. Moody give five principles to guide leaders at this time of crisis with the coronavirus:  Biblical Principles to Guide Leaders in this Time of Crisis


Verse Completion: . . . humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted. Luke 14:11 (NASB)

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3/28/20

Good morning to everyone held captive by COVID-19 but not by the devil.

Song for the Day: First

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might . . . (completion at the end)

On Thursday we were taking a look at the lyrics to the “Song for the Day” by Lauren Daigle. We expounded on the first two lines. Today we will take a look at the remainder of the song. To review, here are part of the lyrics to First:

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

Before I lift my cares

I will lift my arms

I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

And seek You

First

I wanna seek You

I wanna seek You

First

I wanna keep You

I wanna keep You

First

More than anything I want, I want You

First

Before I speak a word

Let me hear Your voice

And in the midst of pain

Let me feel Your joy

Ooh, I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I speak a word

I will bring my heart

And seek You

You are my treasure and my reward

Let nothing ever come before

You are my treasure and my reward

Let nothing ever come before

I seek You

Before we talk to God about our needs, we should get our hearts right with God. Before we tell Him about our cares, we should lift our arms in praise. Acknowledge who you are talking to—the creator of the universe, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Jesus is the only one qualified to forgive sins and give everlasting life. We give Him praise for what He’s done in the past for others—mighty acts from the Bible, mighty acts done for our family and friends, and mighty acts done for us personally. We can join Isaiah in saying, “O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.” (Isaiah 25:1) We can join David in saying, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

“I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.

“Praise the LORD! Let all that I am praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

“Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 63:3-5; 145:1-3; 146:1-2; 150:1-2, 6)

Lauren continues with,

I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

And seek You

First

In the prayer of Jesus, He said, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” How do you get to know people? You get to know them by spending time with them and by becoming a student of them—learning what they like and don’t like. You get to know them through building a relationship with them. That’s how it is with God, too.

Paul understood that knowing a person in a close relationship has positive and negative aspects. He said, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11) A close relationship with Jesus means everlasting life, but it also means persecution and suffering even to the point of death. Knowing Jesus has a high cost, but Lauren wants to know Jesus, and so do I!

God isn’t difficult to find, but it does take some effort on our part. Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.” Acts 17:27-28a says, “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.” Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “But from there you will search again for the LORD your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” Jeremiah 29:13 says something similar: “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Lauren then sings of seeking God first. We have to get the priorities in our life in their proper order. Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33) Jesus cares about our needs, but He wants us to focus on Him and not our needs.

Prayer is more than us talking; it’s also us listening. A great way to start a prayer is by listening—asking God what He wants to say to you and giving Him time to respond. It may take a while. We have expectations of instant gratification, but that’s not how God typically operates. We want Him confined to our time of prayer, and since we don’t have much time for that, we need to hear from Him now. Jesus doesn’t want to spend five minutes with us or 15 minutes with us; He wants to spend time with us all day. We are to never stop praying (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17). God doesn’t want us to compartmentalize Him. He desires to be part of every aspect of our lives. If we don’t want Him in some of our compartments, then we shouldn’t have those compartments.

Jesus is our treasure. We need to be like the man in the parable He told about: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.” (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus is our reward. Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Romans 8:38-39 says, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Listen to the song once more, and allow the words be your words to Jesus as you worship Him.

Many people today think that Christianity only has superficial answers to today's problems. If we as Christians are not persuaded that the greatest answer to our most difficult problems are found in Jesus, then we'll go elsewhere to find the solutions. We must be convinced that in Him is all beauty, love, and knowledge, and then we'll find our resting place in Him. Listen to Dr. Moody preach on “The Depths of Truth.” Here is Part 1: 1 Corinthians: To the Church of God #4 -- The Depths of Truth, Part 1

 

Verse Completion: . . . have life, and might have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NASB)

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3/27/20

Good morning, Warriors.

Song for the Day: My Life is in Your Hands

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, my wife and I ventured out to the grocery store. We got there before it opened and people were standing outside waiting to get in, but they weren’t congregated around the door in a normal fashion; they were standing with at least six feet between them. I was sitting in my car watching everything and thinking about how the coronavirus has changed life for everyone in the whole world. Here is something that is so small it can’t even be seen, and yet it is holding people everywhere hostage. It’s really difficult to take it all in.

I started thinking about the similarities between the coronavirus and the devil. Both are invisible. You are not sure if they are present or not, because you can’t see any evidence of them around you. They both have the power to take you down and destroy your life if you don’t have anything to combat them. You know you are vulnerable to an attack, but you’re never quite sure where the attack will come from. The attack could come from the handle on the grocery cart. The attack could come from something somebody said. The attack could come from someone coughing. The attack could come in the form of a lie that is wrapped in attractive packaging. It’s tough when you can’t see your enemy!

There are things we can do to reduce the chance of being taken down by the virus or by Satan. We can practice social distancing—standing at least six feet away from another person. We can pray. We can wash our hands regularly. We can read and meditate on God’s word. We can isolate ourselves in our houses. We can be fed by our pastor. We can sanitize our surroundings. We can share Jesus with others (right now that might mean with a phone call, email, or over social media). We can wear face masks. We can put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 says,

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Currently, there is no antidote for COVID-19. Scientists are working on it, and they will likely come up with a vaccination that will protect oneself from the deadly virus. On the other hand, we have had an antidote for the devil since the beginning of time—the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Call on God, and the devil will flee. James 4:7-10 tells us how the antidote works:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The devil is a much greater threat to our lives than the coronavirus, and yet people ignore the threat. They do nothing to protect themselves. They don’t even want to hear about the Antidote that has been proven 100% effective against the devil. Isn’t it interesting how people are willing to live on the edge spiritually, but physically they don’t want to take any chances? Jesus exposed the devil when He said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)

The more scientists can learn about COVID-19, the better advice they are able to give people so they can avoid getting sick. Peter learned about the devil and offers us some good advice:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

We are waiting for the coronavirus to get crushed under our feet. The devil’s days are numbered. He may be the ruler of the world now (see John 14:30), but God will destroy him. Revelation 20:10 says,

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

What we can’t see is to be feared much more than what we can see. Let’s join David in saying, “I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

Which sermon from Dr. Josh Moody will you be challenged by today? Broadcasts

 

Verse Completion: . . . upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 (NASB)

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3/26/20

Good morning to everyone held in captivity by microscopic matter that’s not even alive. Let’s try that greeting again: Good morning, Humble People.

Song for the Day: First

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day . . . (completion at the end)

I was listening to the “Song for the Day” by Lauren Daigle. Here are part of the lyrics to First:

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

Before I lift my cares

I will lift my arms

I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

And seek You

First

I wanna seek You

I wanna seek You

First

I wanna keep You

I wanna keep You

First

More than anything I want, I want You

First

Before I speak a word

Let me hear Your voice

And in the midst of pain

Let me feel Your joy

Ooh, I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I speak a word

I will bring my heart

And seek You

You are my treasure and my reward

Let nothing ever come before

You are my treasure and my reward

Let nothing ever come before

I seek You

Lauren Daigle packs a lot into a few words. She starts off with, “Before I bring my need, I will bring my heart.” When we go to prayer, it’s so easy to begin with our needs. We have important things going on in our lives, and we need God to step in and help. Sometimes those needs are finances: we don’t know where the money is going to come from to pay for bills—rent, house payment, electric, water, car payment, etc. We wonder how we will pay for gas, food for us, food for our pets, clothes, shoes. These things are staring us right in the face, and we don’t see how our few meager dollars are going to stretch to cover everything that needs covering. Then there’s relationship issues that are going on. We know there’s a problem, but we don’t know how to fix the problem. We need God’s help. Lauren doesn’t say these things aren’t important; she tells us to not make them our top priority—what we talk to God about first. Jesus said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:7-8) There’s nothing on the list God doesn’t already know about.

Before we bring God our list of needs, we should bring Him a heart of surrender. Job 11:13-18 says:

“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.”

Jesus said,

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

Proverbs 23:26 says,

O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Galatians 2:20 says,

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 Peter 1:18-19 says,

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a says,

You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.

When we go to God in prayer, we should come with a heart that is humble, thankful, and pure. If there’s anything in our heart that needs to be taken care of, this is the time to do it. Before we proceed, we want our hearts to be pure.

Tomorrow we will continue to look at how God’s word is reflected in Lauren’s song, First. If you have time, listen to it once again.

Dr. Moody continues to look at true power and wisdom with an illustration from pop culture–the Jonas Brothers: We are continuing to looking at true power and wisdom with an illustration from pop culture–the Jonas Brothers. Power Part 2


Verse Completion: . . . is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8 (NASB)


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3/25/20

Good morning In & About.

Song for the Day: Alpha and Omega (notice the social distancing demonstrated . . . well, at least part of the time)

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, President Pastor Wedman began his fireside chats using Philippians. Here is Episode 1: Let’s begin with a verse from 3 John 2:

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.

Philippians begins with the words:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a look at five words:

· Servants. This is not a word that is used much these days. We look at a servant as one who is low, someone who serves, someone who hasn’t measured up to those who are not servants. Yet Paul and Timothy classify themselves as servants or slaves to Jesus. They do what their master asks of them. Their will is put aside so they can do Christ’s will. A bond servant is a servant for life, and Paul refers to himself as such in other places. Does my life reflect servanthood to Jesus, or do I have the attitude, “I’m still in charge of my life and I’ll embrace the will of Jesus when it fits with mine?” We wonder how we can do the will of Jesus our way. Paul is interested in doing God’s will His way.

· Saints. Paul and Timothy are saying, “We are servants of Jesus, and we are here to serve you saints in Philippi.” Saints here means that they are perfect before God. They are without blemish, because they are in Christ Jesus. A person can’t be a saint without Jesus. The reason a person is a saint is because that person has received Jesus as his Lord and Savior and has been forgiven of all unrighteousness. Before God, we are saints. When God sees us, He doesn’t see us as sinners; He sees us as His children whom He has perfected, called, and set apart for His good purposes.

· Together. This is a theme of the book: togetherness, unity, community. This is countercultural. In our society, we tend to separate common people with uncommon people (blue collar and white collar; first class and coach). We make those distinctions, but God does not. We need to relearn what it means to be together. This starts with the understanding that there’s no separation of one person being better than another. We’re all servants of Christ.

· Grace. This is a word we probably don’t understand. It means undeservedfavor. It is a gift not based on works. The favor we receive from God can’t be gained, worked for, or manipulated. There’s nothing we can do to impress God so we can receive more grace. Grace comes from the heart of God who loves us. God favors you. You’re one of His favorites! We are justified freely by grace. Grace can’t be worked for; it can’t be earned. Grace is completely free. Grace is based on the gracious and loving character of God. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” When something is lavished, it is way over the top. God gives us grace that is way over the top. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God is gracious to us even through our times of suffering. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We are in times of need, and God’s grace is ready to be lavished on you. Call on God.

· Peace. This is a sense of calmness and security; being able to rest. It’s the calmness of soul, mind, heart, and body. It’s an absence of fear in times of uncertainty. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus is the one who can give us peace and leave us with peace in our hearts. We live in troubling times. We don’t know what the future holds. A few verses later in 33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God is in control. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer is connecting with God, and anytime we connect with God, we are secure. We are safe. We don’t have to be afraid. We sit in His presence, and we enjoy His company. God is our strong tower. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” When we allow Jesus to be the master of our lives, he gives us His peace, and that peace is allowed to rule in our hearts. You can be safe and secure in Christ.

Meditate on these five words today. Let them resonate in your mind and heart. Remember God reigns. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The great questions that many people in Christian circles are asking are, "Where is the Christian influence that we once had in society? What are we to do with this secular agenda?" Paul encourages us that the Church has faced opposition before, and we have the power of God to help us. Listen to the first half of Dr. Moody’s sermon Power 


Verse Completion: . . . loves himself. Ephesians 5:28 (NIV)

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3/24/20

Good morning to everyone confined to an area but free in spirit.

Song for the Day: I'm Free

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and . . . (completion at the end)

Do you know where in the Bible God told someone to be strong and courageous three times in just four verses? Here is the passage:

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9)

This is what God told Joshua as Joshua replaced Moses as the leader of the Israelites. It was a command to him. Joshua had a task that was far larger than him. There was no way he was going to be able to do it in his own power. However, because God was with him, he would be able to accomplish all God had for him. A big part of Joshua’s job was to be strong and courageous.

The dictionary defines courage as the ability to do something that frightens one. Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. Do you think David was frightened as he contemplated a fight with Goliath? Do you think policemen are frightened as they approach a dark house where there has been a report of someone with a gun? Do you think soldiers on the battlefield are frightened? Do you think I was frightened when I jumped from a bridge in South Africa with a bungee cord attached to my ankles and the river water over 700 feet below me?

When we are frightened, it gives us the opportunity to exercise courage. We have to conquer our fears. Fear is there because the danger is real. We’re not sure how everything is going to turn out. If we knew we’d be fine on the other end, it wouldn’t be so frightening. When we don’t know the outcome of what we are facing, it is frightening.

For every task God gives us to do, we know He will be with us, and we know what the ultimate outcome will be. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before [the people living in the land you are going to enter]. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” God equips us to do the job He has for us. He’s not going to be with us part way through the task and then bail on us. He will never abandon us, and we should never abandon Him. Soldiers on the battlefield depend on each other. Abandoning a fellow soldier is unthinkable. Abandoning God and the task He has given us to do is unthinkable. He if faithful; we need to be faithful.

In light of the coronavirus, what is this telling us? Where it says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go . . . to the living room, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, back to the kitchen, off the living room again . . . oh, wait. I don’t think we’re supposed to add or subtract from the Bible, so scratch that last part. Seriously, with the coronavirus we are to be strong and courageous. We may be frightened but we can face that fear with courage. We may need to be strong and courageous for someone else. Where does our strength come from? It comes from the LORD. Psalm 121 is a comforting psalm:

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

God hasn’t abandoned us; the thought hasn’t even entered His mind. He’s with us now in this life, and He will be with in the afterlife. We have nothing to fear. What can separate us from the love of God? Romans 8:35-39 says,

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Dr. Moody shares the second half of his sermon on unity: Unity Part 2


Verse Completion: . . . heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 (NIV) 

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3/23/20

Good morning, Isolated Yet Free.

Song for the Day: While I Wait

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: for bodily discipline is only of little profit, . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave the sermon “The Parable of the Weeds” based on Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. The sermon was delivered to an empty church, but the congregation watched online from home in their comfortable attire.

We are moving into a series of parables that show what the kingdom of heaven is like. Jesus wants us to know something about this kingdom. John the Baptist preached, “The kingdom of heaven has come. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 13:24-30 says,

Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

“ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

“ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’ “

Parables are extended word pictures, metaphors, to help us find one main point. In this parable there is an enemy who plants weeds right next to the grain. The intent is to diminish and destroy the good crop by choking it out. The workers are willing to pull the weeds, but the farmer tells them not to because some of the wheat will be pulled up as well. At harvest the weeds and the wheat will be separated.

Verses 37-40:

Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

“Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.

People who are following Jesus as their Lord and Savior are the good seed. They are the ones who were planted to bear fruit. These people have an enemy—Satan. Satan is an enemy of God and all God stands for. Christians are the ones who are to grow up and bear fruit by promoting the Kingdom of God. Satan comes along and plants seeds (people) who will destroy the fruit in our lives. This means there are people who will do all they can to keep you from following God. Matthew 7:15-16 says,

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.

Sometimes the enemy shows up in the church. They are wolves pretending to be sheep. Wolves are not playmates of sheep. Wolves kill sheep. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 says,

Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Satan takes people captive to do his will. He is out to diminish and destroy the fruit of Christ followers.

Verses 41-43:

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

The world is trying to get rid of words like sin, Satan, evil, and hell, but they are a reality. Something else that is a reality is the return of Jesus. There is going to be a harvest where some people will go to everlasting life and others will go to everlasting death. God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Revelation 20:11-15:

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

This is what Jesus was talking about. The lake of fire is hell which is eternal separation from God.

But there is also everlasting life. Revelation 21:1-7:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

This is the promise of good seed bearing good fruit. This is the promise of Jesus to those having a personal relationship with Him. It’s only a matter of time until Jesus comes.

We are in a pandemic that started in the Garden of Eden. Without the cure, there is no hope. It affects every single person who has ever lived on Earth. You don’t have to wonder if you’ve been infected with the disease; you have the disease. The disease is called sin. What are we doing about it?

With the threat of the coronavirus, we isolate ourselves. We want to protect ourselves and others from the virus. We don’t want to die or cause anyone else to die. But all of us are going to die in our sins unless we do something about it. We have the cure for sin—Jesus! Have we rushed out to give people the cure? What are we doing to tell others about Jesus? There’s something far more dangerous than COVID-19; it’s ROM-323 and ROM-623A: “For everyone has sinned; we all far short of God’s glorious standard. For the wages of sin is death.” There is no recovering from the pandemic of sin, unless you have the cure—Jesus. ROM-323 is far more dangerous than COVID-19.

The cure for ROM-323 is found in Romans 5:8 and Romans 10:9-10: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” We need to be handing out the cure to ROM-323. Who are you going to share the cure with? When are you going to share the cure?

If you have never received the cure for sin, pray this prayer:

Jesus, I recognize the sin in my life. I recognize that it’s a virus that’s going to kill me, and I don’t want eternal death. I ask you for everlasting life. Jesus, come into my life. I believe you died on the cross for me. I believe you were raised from the dead on the third day. Jesus, I invite you into my life. I receive you as my Lord and my Savior. Give me everlasting life, and help me to follow you. In your name I ask this, Jesus. Amen.

There were celebrity preachers who had developed a following in the Corinthian church. We are susceptible to this today, too. We have a tendency to follow someone we admire, and sometimes this creates division within the church. Learn what Paul has to say about this by listening to Dr. Moody’s sermon 

Unity Part 1 


Verse Completion: . . . but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)

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3/21/20

Good morning to everyone who belongs to Jesus or wants to belong to Him.

Song for the Day: I Belong to Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said . . . (completion at the end)

After Mary was given the news by the angel, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God,” she went to visit Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with a baby who would turn out to be John the Baptist. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped within Elizabeth. Elizabeth told Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Mary responded with a song of praise. Here is part of that song:

For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. (Luke 1:49-54)

Mary states that God is mighty, He’s done great and tremendous things. Let’s review some of the mighty and tremendous things God has done in the past:

· He created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

· God created animals. (Gen. 1:24)

· God created human beings in his own image. (Gen. 1:27)

· Abraham (at the age of 100) and Sarah had a baby—Isaac. (Gen. 21:5)

· After Joseph was sold into slavery by His brothers, God raised him to be the ruler in charge of the entire land of Egypt. (Gen. 41:41)

· God sent plagues. (Exodus 7-11)

· God opened up a path through the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross on dry ground. (Ex. 14:21-22)

· God closed the path through the Red Sea destroying the entire army of Pharaoh who were pursuing the Israelites. (Ex. 14:26-31)

· God provided manna and quail for the Israelites. (Ex. 16)

· God turned bitter water into drinkable water. (Ex. 15:22-25)

· God provided water from a rock when the Israelites were in the wilderness. (Ex. 17:1-6)

· God put a stop to Korah’s rebellion by having the ground open up and swallow Korah and all his followers, and then God closed the ground. (Numbers 16:31-34)

· God sent a fire that destroyed 250 men who were offering incense. (Numbers 16:35)

· God sent a plague that killed 14,700 people. (Numbers 16:49)

· God opened a path making it possible for the Israelites to cross the overflowing Jordan River near Jericho. (Joshua 3:14-16)

· God brought down the walls of Jericho so the Israelites could charge straight into the town and capture it. (Joshua 6)

· God caused the sun and moon to stay in place until the Israelites had defeated their enemies. (Joshua 10:13)

· God struck King Uzziah with leprosy. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21)

· God made enough flour and olive oil to be in their containers so the widow at Zarephath could feed Elijah, her son, and herself. (1 Kings 17:8-16)

· God raised the poor widow’s son back to life. (1 Kings 17:17-24)

· God kept Jonah alive inside a great fish for three days. (Jonah 1:17)

· God provided horses and chariots of fire for Elisha. They were invisible to Elisha’s servant until God opened his eyes and made it possible for him to see them. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

· God struck the Aramean army with blindness. (2 Kings 6:18)

· God fed 100 people with a sack of grain and 20 loaves of barley bread. There was plenty for all and some food was even left over. (2 Kings 4:42-44)

· God raised a dead man to life when he came in contact with Elisha’s bones. (2 Kings 13:20-21)

· God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from a fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:19-30)

· God delivered Daniel from the lion’s den. (Daniel 6)

· God sent fire from heaven to destroy fifty army soldiers who had come to arrest Elijah. (2 Kings 1:9-10)

· God sent fire from heaven that burned up the bull, the wood, the stones, the dust, and even the water in the trench. (1 Kings 18:1-40)

These are some of the amazing things God did prior to Mary’s pregnancy. Notice that Mary didn’t specifically identify any of these. However, she listed some accomplishments that are amazing in their own right:

· God showed mercy to those who fear Him.

· God scattered the proud and haughty people.

· God brought down princes from their thrones.

· God exalted the humble.

· God filled the hungry with good things.

· God sent the rich away empty handed.

· God helps His people.

· God is merciful.

We serve an awesome God. Nothing is too difficult for Him. He is sovereign over everything. He is the God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings. Let’s worship the LORD—the only one worthy of our worship and praise.

I would encourage you to listen to Part 2 of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon “How Faith Can Free Us from Fear.” 


Verse Completion: . . . “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (see Deuteronomy

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3/20/20

Good morning, People of Faith.

Song for the Day: O' Lord

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Let your speech always be . . .(completion at the end)

Today I was listening to the “Song for the Day.” It is Lauren Daigle singing O’Lord. It’s a song of hope. We have one sure hope, and that is in Jesus. We can hope the coronavirus will end soon. We can hope the economy will not crash. We can hope our health will be good. We can hope our marriage will be strong. We can hope we won’t lose our job. We can hope our kids will follow hard after God. We can hope our team wins the game. We can hope in many things, but there’s just one sure hope--Jesus!

When I was a kid and would do the knotheaded things kids do, my grandmother would look at me, shake her head, and say, “No hope . . . no hope!” Fortunately, with Jesus there’s hope and hope we can be sure of. We hope we will spend eternity with Jesus, and as long as our faith is in Him and Him alone, we will certainly spend eternity with Him in his glorious kingdom.

Part of the lyrics to Lauren Daigle’s song are:

Though times it seems

Like I'm coming undone

This walk can often feel lonely

No matter what until this race is won

I will stand my ground where hope can be found

I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O'Lord O'Lord I know You hear my cry

Your love is lifting me above all the lies

No matter what I face this I know in time

You'll take all that is wrong and make it right

You'll take all that is wrong and make it right

Your strength is found

At the end of my road

Your grace it reaches to the hurting

Still through the tears and the questioning why

I will stand my ground where hope can be found

I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Romans 5:1-5 says, Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

A little later in Romans 15:13 it says, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 71:5-6 says, O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!

Psalm 43:5 says, Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Psalm 130:5 says, I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.

1 Peter 1:13 says, So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.

1 Corinthians 15:19 says, And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

Hebrews 10:23 says, Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Let’s join Lauren Daigle in singing, “I will stand my ground where hope can be found.” Nothing can take that hope away from us: the loss of a job, the coronavirus, persecution . . . nothing! Our hope is in a secure place—Jesus!

We serve an amazing God. Even though I shouldn’t be amazed by His acts because it’s normal for an amazing God to do amazing things, I’m still amazed. I subscribe to a monthly magazine called Tabletalk. Each month has a theme. The theme for this month is fear! The theme for this month was put together long before there was any talk of the coronavirus, and yet the magazine came out the same month the virus got national attention. I will attach an article from the magazine that has something to do with fear for the next few days.

Dr. Moody preached the sermon How Faith Can Free Us from Fear, Part 1 I will share Part 2 tomorrow.

Verse Completion: . . . with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 (NASB)

Freedom From Fear

3/19/20

Good morning, Sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Song for the Day: Sinner Saved by Grace

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God . . . (completion at the end)

Today’s devotional was sent to me by a friend. I thought it was excellent, and I’d like to share it with you:

We find ourselves in a time of unprecedented trouble. Faced with a global pandemic, we need to take a moment to think biblically about our response to COVID-19.

I only have one thought that I will repeat in today’s devotional: Be afraid, but don’t give way to fear.

That statement may seem contradictory, so let me explain.

Fear is one of God’s good gifts to us. I think there are three types of spiritually healthy fear:

1. Fear of God. This is a holy reverence of the Almighty, living in awe of, and submitting to, the King of the universe.

2. Rapid Response Fear. This is our instinctual ability to react in a moment of danger. Think of a parent who spontaneously leaps into action to protect their child right before they hurt themselves.

3. Appropriate Concern: This allows us to be sobered by what we are facing, and with our God-given ability to analyze, we make wise and planned choices to protect ourselves and those we love.

God designed us with the ability to be afraid because he loves us and wants to protect us.

Be afraid, but don’t give way to fear.

Giving way to fear is characterized by meditating on the trouble we are facing and forgetting God in the process. This fear reveals itself when we allow our minds and hearts to be controlled by what was initially appropriate concern.

Is the pandemic (or anything that makes you afraid, for that matter) all you think about, all you read about, and all you talk about? If any type of trouble consumes your meditation, the larger it will loom, the more impossible a solution will seem, and the more frightened you will become.

In this world, you will face danger, so ignoring that reality is not wise. God has given you the ability to be concerned, so acting as if there is no reason for concern is not the solution.

The problem is that your meditation has been consumed by the trouble you are facing.

Whenever trouble consumes our meditation, it’s because we have ultimately forgotten God. We have forgotten that there is a Lord of glory, wisdom, goodness, power, and grace who sits on the throne of his universe. No difficulty of any kind - no person, place, or pandemic - can negate his good and glorious promises to his children.

As you look horizontally, things may seem entirely out of control. But when you look vertically, this world is under careful supervision.

Do I claim to understand the pandemic? Not at all. Until we’re on the other side, we may never fully understand why God would allow this trouble to enter our lives.

But we know who he is. We know what he can do. We know what he has promised. We know that he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

In this moment of global pandemic, don’t let your meditation be dominated by fear so that you become God-forgetful. Don’t ignore the reality of the situation, don’t be embarrassed by your instinctual ability to respond rapidly when needed, and make wise plans out of appropriate concern.

Most of all, never stop fearing God.

Be afraid, but don’t give way to fear.

God bless,

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Reflection Questions

1. What makes you most afraid of the pandemic? Why is this fear a God-given gift?

2. Besides the coronavirus, what else are you afraid of currently? Have you allowed this trouble to capture your meditation?

3. What happens to you spiritually when horizontal trouble consumes your thoughts and time?

4. How can you practically take steps to fear the Lord in this moment of crisis? Be specific.

5. Who do you know who is afraid at this moment? How does the Bible address their fears? Contact and comfort them today with the gospel!

The following sermon was also sent to me by a friend. Timothy Keller gives a stirring sermon “Blessed Are the Poor.” 


Verse Completion: . . . lives in him and he in God. 1 John 4:15 (NIV)

3/18/20

Good morning, Loved by God.

Song for the Day: You are Holy

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice . . . (completion at the end)

When I was raising a family, the obedience of my kids was a very high priority. I wanted them to follow my instructions because they loved me, respected me, and wanted to honor me by their obedience.

When I laid out the rules I wanted my kids to follow, I tried to make the rules for their own good. I wanted them to prosper. I wanted life to go well for them. I felt like the rules would guide them to the right path for their lives. If they would do what I asked, their lives would prosper. At least that was the plan. However, being an imperfect parent, my rules were imperfect, too.

God is perfect, and His rules for our lives are perfect. The rules are designed for our prosperity. As we follow them, we show God we love Him, respect (fear) Him, and want to honor Him and bring glory to His holy name.

One of the themes of Deuteronomy is obedience and what happens when we obey and also what happens when we disobey. Let’s take a look at some of times when God told the Israelites to obey and what would happen if they did:

· This verse is soon after the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. It is the LORD speaking to Moses about the Israelites: “Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.” Deut. 5:29

· Just a few verses later, Moses tells the Israelites: ”Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (verse 33)

· “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:1-9

· “Do what is right and good in the LORD’S sight, so all will go well with you.” Deut. 6:18a

· “Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him. Therefore, you must obey all these commands, decrees, and regulations I am giving you today.

“If you listen to these regulations and faithfully obey them, the LORD your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he promised with an oath to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you, and he will give you many children. He will give fertility to your land and your animals. When you arrive in the land he swore to give your ancestors, you will have large harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and great herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. You will be blessed above all the nations of the earth. None of your men or women will be childless, and all your livestock will bear young. And the LORD will protect you from all sickness. He will not let you suffer from the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all your enemies!” Deut. 7:9-15

· “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors.” Deut. 8:1

· “You must love the LORD your God and always obey his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands.” Deut. 11:1

· “If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!” Deut. 11:9

· “If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the LORD your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil.” Deut. 11:13-14

· “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.” Deut. 11:18

· “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.” Deut. 11:22

· “There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession. You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today. The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.” Deut. 15:4-6

· “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” Deut. 28:2-6

· “If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head, and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.” Deut. 28:13

Obedience to God is important. Over and over He tells His people to listen to His words and obey them. It was true for the Israelites, and it’s true for us today. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15) Let’s show our love to Jesus by obeying Him. Ponder this thought today as you go about your business: To the degree I obey the words of Jesus is the degree I love Him.

See how Dr. Moody completes this statement: What matters in terms of salvation is not the ability to speak or write or think or perform miracles; what matters is . . . Strange Blessing and Atonement


Verse Completion: . . . of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15 (NASB)

3/17/20

Good morning, Loved by God.

Song for the Day: You Are Holy

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice . . . (completion at the end)

When I was raising a family, the obedience of my kids was a very high priority. I wanted them to follow my instructions because they loved me, respected me, and wanted to honor me by their obedience.

When I laid out the rules I wanted my kids to follow, I tried to make the rules for their own good. I wanted them to prosper. I wanted life to go well for them. I felt like the rules would guide them to the right path for their lives. If they would do what I asked, their lives would prosper. At least that was the plan. However, being an imperfect parent, my rules were imperfect, too.

God is perfect, and His rules for our lives are perfect. The rules are designed for our prosperity. As we follow them, we show God we love Him, respect (fear) Him, and want to honor Him and bring glory to His holy name.

One of the themes of Deuteronomy is obedience and what happens when we obey and also what happens when we disobey. Let’s take a look at some of times when God told the Israelites to obey and what would happen if they did:

· This verse is soon after the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. It is the LORD speaking to Moses about the Israelites: “Oh, that they would always have hearts like this, that they might fear me and obey all my commands! If they did, they and their descendants would prosper forever.” Deut. 5:29

· Just a few verses later, Moses tells the Israelites: ”Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (verse 33)

· “These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:1-9

· “Do what is right and good in the LORD’S sight, so all will go well with you.” Deut. 6:18a

· “Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him. Therefore, you must obey all these commands, decrees, and regulations I am giving you today.

“If you listen to these regulations and faithfully obey them, the LORD your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he promised with an oath to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you, and he will give you many children. He will give fertility to your land and your animals. When you arrive in the land he swore to give your ancestors, you will have large harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and great herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. You will be blessed above all the nations of the earth. None of your men or women will be childless, and all your livestock will bear young. And the LORD will protect you from all sickness. He will not let you suffer from the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all your enemies!” Deut. 7:9-15

· “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors.” Deut. 8:1

· “You must love the LORD your God and always obey his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands.” Deut. 11:1

· “If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!” Deut. 11:9

· “If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the LORD your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil.” Deut. 11:13-14

· “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.” Deut. 11:18

· “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.” Deut. 11:22

· “There should be no poor among you, for the LORD your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession. You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today. The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.” Deut. 15:4-6

· “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the LORD your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.” Deut. 28:2-6

· “If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head, and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.” Deut. 28:13

Obedience to God is important. Over and over He tells His people to listen to His words and obey them. It was true for the Israelites, and it’s true for us today. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” (John 14:15) Let’s show our love to Jesus by obeying Him. Ponder this thought today as you go about your business: To the degree I obey the words of Jesus is the degree I love Him.

See how Dr. Moody completes this statement: What matters in terms of salvation is not the ability to speak or write or think or perform miracles; what matters is . . . Strange Blessing and Atonement


Verse Completion: . . . of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15 (NASB)

3/17/20

Good morning, Strong & Courageous.

Song for the Day: Be Strong and Courageous

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or . . . (completion at the end)

This past Thursday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture titled “The End of Nineveh” based on the book of Nahum. Compared to the other minor prophets, Nahum is straightforward. He is not apocalyptic. He writes in poetry, but it’s not difficult to understand.

BACKGROUND:

Nahum means “comfort” or “compassion.” He’s from Elkosh, from the southern kingdom of Judah. The time is 722 B.C., after the fall of Israel. He is writing during the height of the Assyrian Empire under Ashurbanipal (668-627 B.C.). The Assyrian Empire began to collapse after his death.

Assyria was destroyed in 612 B.C. Nahum 3:8 indicates Thebes had been destroyed. It was 300 miles upstream from Cairo and was destroyed by Assyria in 663 B.C. Nahum wrote between 663 and 612 B.C.—most likely during the middle years of Ashurbanipal (668-627).

The book Is an oracle against Nineveh (Assyria). The downfall of Assyria has been characterized as one of the greatest riddles of world history. The country seems to have fallen with appalling suddenness into obscurity. It’s the greatest, sudden destruction of a world empire ever! Nahum was the prophet who prophesied its destruction.

The book is divided into two sections: Chapter 1 and Chapters 2-3. Chapters 2-3 are a more detailed exposition of Chapter 1. The message is given to Judah to encourage them through the hard times of oppression from Assyria. They were to look to God for their deliverance. As we are faced with the coronavirus, we are to look to God for deliverance.

Judah was never taken captive by Assyria. Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon and rebuilt. Alexander the Great destroyed everything around him, but when he arrived in Jerusalem, he bowed down to the high priest and recognized that God is sovereign.

Even though the Assyrians were God’s instruments for disciplining Israel, they are being judged by God for their excessive cruelty and for a failure to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their rise to power.

CHAPTER 1:

Verses 2-8 are a hymn of praise to God as the “divine warrior.”

Verses 9-15 is a courtroom scene of verdicts—both judgments and acquittals. There’s good and bad depending on what side you are on.

This hymn of praise is based on God’s justice and righteousness. The people are reminded to do what is just, right, and fair. This hymn praises God’s sovereignty over the whole world. God is jealous for His covenant people. He will discipline His people as necessary to get them to walk with Him once again.

The chiasm form of poetry is used here in Chapter 1:

The Lord pours out wrath

The Lord is patient

The Lord judges

The Lord is sovereign

The Lord judges

The Lord is good

The Lord destroys

Verses 9-11 have the charge against Nineveh.

Verses 12-15 are the verdicts:

· Nineveh is guilty—verses 12a, 14

· Judah is acquitted—verses 12b, 13, 15

CHAPTERS 2 and 3:

There is a more detailed description of the destruction of Nineveh. There is a poetic description of the final battle in 2:3-6, 9-10; 3:2-3. Verses 11-13 of Chapter 2 are a metaphor of a mighty lion that no longer has any strength. The lion has now become the prey.

3:1—a woe usually denotes destruction and mourning. A woe is never a good thing.

3:4-7 is a metaphor of a prostitute (Nineveh). Nineveh was completely destroyed and never rebuilt. Note the similarities between 2:13 and 3:5.

3:8 is another rhetorical question (see 2:11). The question amplifies the judgment. It involves a recognition of guilt. It’s just like the fall of mighty Thebes. Nineveh will fall the same way.

3:12-15 show the uselessness and powerlessness of Nineveh’s army and defenses.

3:16 shows the uselessness and powerlessness of Nineveh’s economy.

3:17-18 show the uselessness and powerlessness of Nineveh’s leadership.

3:19 is the final verdict. The hymn closes with another rhetorical question. There’s one other minor prophet that ends with a rhetorical question—the prophet Jonah.

CONCLUSION/SUMMARY:

Nahum prophecies of the Assyrian collapse in order to encourage Judah to trust God. God is sovereign over all the nations. God will judge according to His righteousness and justice. God will make all things right in His timing.

We ask God for more faith, and He takes away some of the things we have been trusting in: people, finances, etc. He takes it away and refines our faith. When our faith is pure and we’re in the right spot with God, He pours out His blessings on us. God knows we are not going to take the blessings and make them idols because our hearts are right with Him. The blessings will be something we use instead of being used by them.

How does the snake Moses lifted up in the desert relate to Jesus? Dr. Moody explains: Blessing from an Unexpected Direction


Verse Completion: . . . persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35 (NASB)

3/16/20

Good morning, Chosen by God.

Song for the Day: Halleuyah, Salvation and Glory

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For everything created by God . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael delivered the sermon “Come to the Table” by way of video. It was based on Job 36:16.

The corona virus has changed the way we do things. There’s a lot of fear going around not only here but around the world. There are two kinds of fear: healthy and unhealthy. A healthy fear keeps us from running off of a cliff. A healthy fear tells us that if we have a compromised immune system, we need to stay away from contact with others.

Unhealthy fears are often called phobias. The list of fears is endless: bugs, spiders, flying in planes, elevators, going on bridges, being in confined spaces, etc. These are the kinds of fears we don’t want to have; fears that cause us to stop living life. When considering the corona virus, what we fear is likely death. As disciples of Christ, we don’t fear death.

One of the themes in the minor prophets is God’s sovereignty. God is in control of everything. God is in control of the corona virus. This virus didn’t shock God or catch Him off guard. The virus can only do what God allows it to do. Habakkuk 1:5 says, The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” God is in control of the nations; He is in control of the leaders of nations. He knows the outcome of everything that happens. Nothing happens outside of the control of God. The corona virus has to be obedient to God.

We tend to fear things we can’t control. Unhealthy fear is all about our fear of not being in control. An unhealthy fear says, “I’m not sure God is really in control. Since I can’t control God, I’m not sure I can trust Him.”

What should our response be to the corona virus? Job 36:16 says, “God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food.” (NLT) There are three parts to this verse:

1. God is wooing you from the jaws of distress. (NIV) When a man woos a woman, he does nice things for her. God woos us. He speaks kindly and lovingly to us. God wants us to know Him, because it’s in knowing Him that we learn to trust Him. We all go through the jaws of distress: loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of health, etc. The jaws of distress could also be the corona virus. But God comes along and says, “I don’t want you to get chewed up with fear from the jaws of distress wrapped up in this virus.” God woos us to Himself and says, “Come to me.”

2. To a spacious place free from restriction. (NIV) Our world becomes smaller and smaller as we focus on the virus. God wants us to see the bigger picture. God wants to open our eyes to see the amazing world He has created.

3. To the comfort of your table laden with choice food. (NIV) I’m reminded of Christmas Day and a table full of delicious food—comfort food. God wants us to enjoy the comfort food of His presence. God doesn’t want us to live in the jaws of distress of the corona virus.

We need to be wise when dealing with the corona virus, but we also need community. Your community might look different from someone else’s community based on your health conditions. It’s not a time to hide away; it’s time to: talk on the phone, stay in community with the church through videos, gather in small groups. Let’s not live in fear. God is sovereign. Focus on God. Let’s hear His wooing. Come to the table. Eat with God. Know God.

God is not a tribal deity; He is the God of the whole earth. God's way is the way for all people. This is a portion of what Dr. Moody says in his devotional Sacrifice and Authority


Verse Completion: . . . is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude. 1 Timothy 4:4 (NASB)

3/14/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

Song for the Day: Here's My Heart

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through . . . (completion at the end)

After reading Exodus 5-10 and Matthew 17-18, the following prayer was prayed:

Father in heaven, I know you like a humble spirit. Pharaoh was arrogant and proud when he said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice . . .?” There are many today that have that same attitude. Check me to make sure I don’t have the minutest seed of this kind of attitude. Pharaoh’s arrogance started small and grew to what it became. Father, may I always be a humble person.

Our wisdom is foolishness compared to your wisdom, Lord. Anything good I might possess came from you. If I boast, it only makes sense to boast in you, God.

Your people were slaves in Egypt. The taskmasters had high expectations for the number of bricks that were to be made each day. The Pharaoh then said to keep the same quota of bricks but made the Israelites get their own straw to make them. This was an unrealistic expectation. Your people had a very difficult life. You have not promised your children an easy life, but you have said you’ll never leave us or forsake us. That’s good enough. As long as we have you, that’s all we need. You are sufficient. You are our all in all. You are LORD. You can be trusted. When you told the Israelites you would deliver them from bondage and redeem them with an outstretched arm, they could rest assured it would be done. Your word is truth. You can be trusted 100% of the time. May I not look at circumstances around me, but look to you.

You are the one who brought nine terrible plagues to Egypt and Pharaoh giving Pharaoh the opportunity to let the Israelites go into the wilderness to make sacrifices to you. Pharaoh suffered but would not let the people go. God, you gave Pharaoh many chances to go along with your plan, but Pharaoh hardened his heart against you. Lord, I pray that you would give me a soft heart. I want to be pliable, so I can be shaped into whatever you desire. Make me a useful vessel in your kingdom.

When Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh, it became a serpent. This was to show that you were behind them. However, the sorcerers did the same. In the end, Aaron’s staff swallowed up the sorcerers’ staffs.

Later the waters of the Nile were turned to blood, and the magicians of Egypt did the same.

The second plague was frogs. Aaron stretched his hand over the waters of Egypt and frogs covered the land. The magicians did the same.

The sorcerers and magicians did some impressive things. However, they were not from you. If we are not careful, we could be fooled by worldly people. Jesus, you said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible even the elect.”

There were deceivers in the days of Moses, and there are deceivers today. Give us a discerning spirit that is able to see through deceivers. We want to see you and be led by you. We want to be led by truth.

The third plague (and all the rest of them) could not be duplicated by the sorcerers and magicians. They couldn’t make gnats come from dust. They acknowledged this was your finger. LORD, you are the one true God. In the end, you are victorious. We know you are returning to Earth for your children. We want to be ready for that day.

Jesus, you proved there is life after death at your transfiguration when you spoke with Moses and Elijah. We know after we die that you will raise us to life again when you return to Earth and defeat death.

Jesus, we need more faith. You said if we only have a little bit of faith we can move mountains. We ask you for that kind of faith, so we can move mountains for you. With you, nothing is impossible. Lord, increase our faith.

Jesus, you predicted your death and resurrection on the third day many times while you were here on Earth. What you say will happen always happens. Your words can be trusted even when they don’t seem possible. Lord, we believe; help our unbelief.

Jesus, keep us from causing one of your little ones to stumble. Rather, may we encourage them and help them grow in you. It is not your will that a single one of your little ones perish.

Help us to follow your direction for church discipline. May we follow this sequence hoping for a good outcome after each step:

1. Private talk

2. Two or three witnesses go over every fact with the one who sinned

3. Tell the church

4. Treat the sinner as an outsider

Jesus, have your way in me today. May I bring glory to your name with the way I behave and the words I say. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Does God exist? In the church, we think the answer is obviously yes. But when you engage with people outside the church, you find many people who wrestle with that question. We need to formulate an engaging, biblical response to that question that helps people who think there’s not enough evidence. Ironically, Psalm 14 is a hymn to the atheist. Listen to Dr. Moody’s audio on The Existence of God, Part 1


Verse Completion: . . . the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)

3/13/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

Song for the Day: I Got Jesus Medley

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for . . . (completion at the end)

Today we finish the review of Thom S. Rainer’s book I Am a Church Member.

Our own family members aren’t perfect, so how can we expect the members of a church to be perfect? We can find joy in serving our family at home and our family at church.

The leadership of a church needs prayer. Pray:

• For spiritual protection.

• For protection from moral failure.

• For the preaching of the Word.

• For their families.

• For encouragement.

• For physical strength.

• For courage.

• For discernment.

• For wisdom.

Christ is the bridegroom, and the church is the bride. My commitment is to love that bride with an unwavering and unconditional love.

Unconditional love is not always easy. If someone is perfect and meets our every perceived need, it’s easy to think we love that person. But such love is one-way. It’s all about me and my needs. Unconditional love means I will continue to fall more deeply in love regardless of the response. It means my love for the church will grow even as I may disagree with something or encounter disagreeable people.

Unconditional love isn’t easy, but we’ve been given a good role model—Jesus. He loves us sinners so much He gave His life for us on a cross. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

If we approach church membership as we would membership at a country club, we would be joining a church to see what we can get out of it. Our attitude would be:

• It’s the pastor’s job to feed me sermons that make me feel good.

• I have determined what an acceptable length for a sermon is.

• The music needs to fit my style of music.

• Deviations from what I have determined is best cannot be tolerated.

• Programs and ministries should benefit me.

• Members will determine what they want and don’t want.

• As members, we expect perks, privileges, and service.

• When asked to serve, we use the excuse, “I’ve done my time” or “That’s the pastor’s job.”

If we look at biblical church membership, we see membership as a gift, something valuable that should be treasured. It’s an opportunity to serve and give.

When we receive the gift of salvation, we become part of the body of Christ. To become part of body we need to acknowledge:

• That I am a sinner. (Romans 3:23)

• That I don’t deserve salvation; I deserve death. (Romans 6:23)

• That Jesus took the punishment for me, and He died in my place on a cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

• That I need to repent of my sins. (Acts 3:19)

After we repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus, we receive the gift of salvation, and we become part of the body of Christ. (see Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

Here’s how we arrive at being members of a church:

1. We receive the free gift of salvation that includes eternal salvation, forgiveness of sins by Jesus, adoption into the family of God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

2. We become part of the body of Christ. Membership in the body of Christ, the church, is a treasured gift from God.

When we are thankful for something, we don’t have time and energy to be negative. It’s natural to want to reciprocate when we’re given a gift. Service to God is a gift we can give Him. Service gives us joy. We consider it a privilege to serve Jesus. Matthew 20:26-28 says, “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When we see life, salvation, and church membership as gifts, our whole perspective changes. We don’t have any sense of entitlement or expectation. To the contrary, we want to be last and receive the least because that’s the way Jesus did it. And we want to be more like Him.

Paul says the number one reason people reject the reliability of the Bible and choose false teaching is not because there is some great, secret, intellectual problem with the Bible’s teaching. As much as the controversial authors today want to persuade us that they’re discovering something new, really they are just rehashing questions that have been asked and answered many times, and then putting them out in popular form. Listen to Dr. Moody’s audio of The Reliability of the Bible, Part 2


Verse Completion: . . . God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)

3/12/20

Good morning, Vessels of the Holy Spirit.

Song for the Day: Yet Not I, But Through Christ In Me

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because . . . (completion at the end)

Today, we will continue with a review of the book I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer.

Members of a church need to have forgiving spirits. Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) Each one of us is imperfect including the pastor. We need to be quick to forgive. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

When a person joins a church, they give up their personal preferences, because they recognize they are in the church to meet the needs of others. We’re there to serve, give, and sacrifice for others. Mark 9:35b says, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Churches that are largely self-serving have the following behavior patterns:

• They want music to be the way they like it.

• Meetings deal with inconsequential items.

• There’s a high priority on the protection and preservation of the building and grounds.

• The programs become an end instead of a means to greater ministry.

• The budget is inwardly focused.

• There are unreasonable expectations for pastoral care.

• There’s an entitlement attitude—a sense of deserving special treatment.

• They care more about change than the gospel.

• People are angry. They criticize the church staff and others.

• Few share their faith with others.

In contrast to this is the church that is all about servanthood, giving, and putting others first instead of everything being about me, myself, and I.

In Philippians 2:5-11 we are told to have the same attitude Jesus had:

• He “did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.”

• “He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave.”

• “He humbled Himself.”

• He became “obedient to the point of death.”

When we feel we have come to the end of our rope dealing with difficult people, we need to remember the cross.

We need to lift up our pastor in daily prayer. Pray:

• That God would give him wisdom, insight, and preach the words God gives him to preach.

• That he would not neglect his family.

• That he would be above reproach, faithful to his wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy, and that he would manage his household competently. (see 1 Timothy 3:2-4)

• That the devil’s traps that are set to take the pastor down will fail.

• That the pastor would have physical and mental strength to carry out his responsibilities.

• That the pastor would experience the peace only God can give.

God works through the prayers of believers. Even just a five minute prayer for the pastor can make a difference in his day.

There’s an unfortunate pattern that often takes place in many churches:

• A person gets excited about a church.

• The person gets involved in a church.

• The person gets more involved in the church.

• The person starts to see imperfections in the church, the pastor, the staff, and other members.

• The person gets discouraged about the church.

• The person leaves the church.

What we have to remember is no church, pastor, or church member is perfect. We have to remember we are not perfect either. We aren’t part of a church to see what we can get out of it. We’re part of a church to serve and care for others. We’re to look for opportunities to be givers, not receivers. When we are frustrated with others, that’s an opportunity to pray for the person. Jesus put things into perspective when He said, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

Influenced by the fantastical myths of Greek culture, teachers were encouraging young Christians that if they really wanted to grow spiritually, they must have a mystical “buzz”–some kind of lightning-bolt experience. In contrast, this passage encourages us to place our confidence, rationally and spiritually and with good reason, in the truth of God’s Word. Listen to Dr. Moody’s audio on The Reliability of the Bible, Part 1


Verse Completion: . . . love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)

3/11/20

Good morning, Son Worshipers.

Song for the Day: God

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And the disciples were continually filled with . . . (completion at the end)

The Home Team groups have been studying two books this year. The first book used was I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer. For the next three days, we will take time to review this book.

Membership in a country club has perks. There are privileges. It means other people will serve you while you enjoy a life of leisure since you have paid your dues. Unfortunately, sometimes people think church membership works the same way. For them, membership is about receiving instead of giving, being served instead of serving, rights instead of responsibilities, and entitlements instead of sacrifices. This wrongful view of membership sees the tithes and offerings as membership dues that entitle members to a never-ending list of privileges and expectations, instead of an unconditional cheerful gift to God.

The body of a church is comprised of people that are very different from each other, but they are all united in their love for Jesus. There is diversity in the midst of unity. 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” When one part of the body doesn’t function well, the whole body suffers. 2 Corinthians 12:26-27 says, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

If everyone would follow the principles of the love chapter, our churches would be very healthy. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

We shouldn’t encourage and pray for our pastor only when he is doing things we like; we should encourage and pray for him even when he does things we don’t like.

When we give money to a church, we give with no strings attached.

A physical body needs all its parts to operate smoothly: feet, hands, ears, eyes, etc. What would happen if the feet decided not to function? What happens when a church member decides not to function in a church? Every person in a church has a role, and its important that they fulfill that role. We need to ask ourselves, “How can I best serve the Lord through my church?” In a typical church, about one-third are functioning members. Can you imagine what it would be like if one-third of your body parts were functioning parts? Each person in a church has an important function.

Love in a church is critical. Mark 12:29-31 says, Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Each of us must contribute to the unity of the church.

Ephesians 3:2-3 says, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” We are to love those in our church unconditionally. We should never do anything that would cause division. We have to be willing to sacrifice our own personal preferences in order to keep unity in the church. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful!” (Colossians 3:14-15)

Gossip is destructive in churches. It tears down unity. James 3:6 says, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” When a person tries to share gossip, the person should be gently rebuked.

We live in a world similar to

the world Hosea lived in 2,750 years ago. Dr. Moody explains with this audio

Love, Sex, and God, Part 2

Verse Completion: . . . joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52 (NASB)

3/10/20

Good morning, Radically Changed.

Song for the Day: Radically Saved

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, . . . (completion at the end)

Today, I’d like to share a sermon from my brother-in-law, Dr. Herb Ireland:

Jesus Inaugurates an Upside-Down World

When I say the two words “true greatness” what immediately comes into your mind? Was it the Super Bowl champions—the Kansas City Chiefs? Was it super hero Spiderman? Was it your favorite singer or musical group? We all have our own ideas of true greatness, but I want us to consider true greatness from the perspective of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God the Father

Centuries before Jesus Christ came to this earth, God the Father spoke these words through the statesman prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let these words sink deep into our hearts and minds.

God the Son

One day Jesus told his disciples a second time about his coming death and resurrection from the dead. Right after that the twelve disciples began to argue among themselves about who was the greatest. Can you believe how off base they were in their thinking? Their rabbi is telling them about his coming death and they are scrambling for first place in the group of twelve.

Mark 9:33-37 says,

After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, an said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

Jesus took this opportunity to teach the disciples the pyramid principle. The world sees greatness as a pyramid where the closer a man or woman is to the peak of the pyramid, the greater he or she is honored, the lighter the burden, and the more people he commands to serve him and honor him. This was typical thinking during the time of Jesus and is still the same today.

But when Jesus came to this earth He challenged this type of thinking and presented a radical reversal of earth’s way of looking at things. He ushered in the Kingdom of God as an upside-down world.

With an upside-down pyramid, the closer a man or woman gets to the inverted “peak,” the lower his prestige, honor and glory. With this new approach the burden gets heavier and the more people he or she carries in love.

Think on these words from the lips of Jesus and how they turn everything up-side-down in life:

· “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35).

· “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

· “Whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

· “Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45).

God the Holy Spirit

The Apostle Paul wrote about the third person of the Holy Trinity and contrasted the way the world works and the way of the Holy Spirit: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:19-23)

Once again, we see the sharp contrast between the way the world works under the control of the evil one and the inauguration of a new way to live and work in the kingdom of God. Thankfully, the Holy Trinity has given us specific instructions on how to live a life that pleases Him and helps people. The authentic mark of this life is that it is up-side-down compared to the way the world lives.

We live in a world similar to the world Hosea lived in 2,750 years ago. Dr. Moody explains with this audio “Love, Sex, and God, Part 1”:  Biblical Answers; Love, Sex and God part 1


Verse Completion: . . . the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 (NIV)

3/9/20

Good morning, Salt & Light.

Song for the Day:  Trading My Sorrows

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “The Parable of the Sower” based on Matthew 13:1-23.

Even though this passage of Scripture has been labeled “The Parable of the Sower,” the main point is not about the sower. The main point is not about the seed. The main point is about the soil.

Matthew 13:10-17 says,

His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Parables are stories that relate a point to a spiritual truth. A parable makes one point. They can reveal the truth, but they can also conceal the truth. To some who heard the parables, the truth was revealed. To others who heard the parables, the truth was concealed. They didn’t get the point Jesus was making. When we hear truth, we have a choice to accept it or reject it. We have to pursue Jesus to understand the meaning of what He said. If we understand, we gain wisdom or enlightenment. If we ignore what Jesus says, we remain ignorant. It behooves us to accept the words of Jesus and apply them to our lives. Those who want more of God will be given more.

Matthew 13:18-23 says,

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

There are four types of soil:

1. Hard soil. This is the soil that was used as a path. It gets packed down as people and animals use it, and it doesn’t give seeds a chance to sprout. The seed is the Word of God. The Word of God never gets a chance to get started before Satan takes away the seed.

2. Shallow soil. This is a shallow layer of soil. It’s good soil, but it’s only an inch or so deep, and then there’s nothing but rock. The seeds have an opportunity to sprout and start to grow, but the roots aren’t able to go deep. A person receives Jesus into their life, but their roots don’t go deep, so they end up falling away.

3. Weedy soil. If a person doesn’t get rid of the weeds in a garden, the weeds will take over the garden. They will choke out the good plants. We need to be weeding the soil of our souls. Bad soil produces no fruit. As Christians we are to bear fruit. In order for a plant to be healthy, it needs soil where it is not choked out by weeds. It’s our job to keep the weeds under control. However, if we concentrate on the weeds too much, our focus turns to them instead of the plants we are trying to grow. We can’t forget to spend time on what’s important. What’s important in our lives is Jesus. We have to get rid of the weeds that choke out Jesus. Galatians 5:13-23 shows us how to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to get rid of the bad weeds that start to take over our spiritual garden: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and the like. Once the weeds are gone, we allow the Holy Spirit to plant His seeds in us that will produce fruits of: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The soil of Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit.

4. Healthy soil. We need to check the condition of our soil. We may need to add fertilizer. Not all fertilizers are the same. Each fertilizer has a purpose. We need to determine what we are lacking, and find the fertilizer that will attack the problem. For example, if the soil is lacking nitrogen, then we add nitrogen. We wouldn’t add iron if nitrogen is what it needed. As nutrients are added to the soil, the soil becomes healthy. One nutrient our soil needs to stay healthy is the reading of the Bible so we can know truth. The soil may need Bible study. The soil may need the application of the Bible to our lives. Weeds can be idols we’ve allowed to stay in our soil. They need to be removed.

Hosea 10:12: I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

The longer you allow weeds to grow in your life, the more they will choke out the good things in your life. It may be time to plow up the hard ground in our hearts. It may be time to get rid of the shallow soil places in our life. It may be time to do some weeding. We want soil that will produce thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as what was planted. Jesus is asking, “How’s your soil? How’s your fruit? It’s time to seek the Lord until He comes.

What should we look for in a church? Dr. Moody shares his thoughts: Big Church - Small Church, Does Size Determine Health?


Verse Completion: . . . complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2 (NIV)

3/7/20

Good morning, Follower of Christ.

Song for the Day: Lord I Need You

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: and having been freed from sin, you became . . . (completion at the end)

When God places a shepherd to be in charge of a flock, that shepherd has a tremendous responsibility to look after the spiritual well-being of those he is taking care of. The shepherd desires for those who don’t know Jesus, to come to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior. He has a responsibility to those in the flock who already know Jesus, to mature them in the Lord—to help them understand God’s words to us and put them into practice. Let’s take a look at some of the responsibilities of a pastor:

· Conduct worship services

· Prepare and deliver sermons

· Address the needs of the hearers

· Base sermons on Scripture

· Conduct public prayers

· Make visitors feel welcome

· Minister to those with needs and problems: counseling, hospital/home visits

· Deal with conflict situations

· Promote an atmosphere of growth and learning

· Teach classes

· Encourage and guide leaders of different ministries

· Live out in his personal life what he preaches and teaches

· Reach out to all age groups

· Reach out to the community to show evidence of a biblical vision

· Motivate those in the church to be active in outreach

· Promote missions abroad

· Lead the church board

· Lead the elders

· Put people in leadership positions that will be able to use their strengths to build God’s Kingdom

· Provide training for leadership positions

· Delegate responsibilities

· Maintain a close relationship with God

· Listen to God

· Value his marriage and family

· Evidence a sense of calling regarding his ministry

· Take time for reflection and study

· Avail himself of opportunities to continue education

· Cultivate good working relations with leaders in the church

· Relate to other shepherds in neighboring churches

This is not a complete list of responsibilities, but I hope you can start to grasp the magnitude of the weight carried by pastors.

Soulshepherding.org reported that:

· 75% of pastors report being “extremely stressed” or “highly stressed.”

· 91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry and 18% say they are “fried to a crisp right now.”

· 70% constantly fight depression.

· 80% believe their pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families, and 33% said it was an outright hazard.

· 80% of ministry spouses feel left out and unappreciated in their church.

· 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.

I would encourage you to read the article “10 Ways to Protect your Pastor from Burning Out” by Dr. Jenny McGill, Dean for Indiana Wesleyan University and adjunct faculty member at Dallas Theological Seminary: 10 Ways to Protect Your Pastor from Burning Out

Knowing all this, why would people be quick to criticize a pastor, a shepherd of an entire flock? Unfortunately, it happens now, and it happened in the past. Probably the shepherd with the largest flock was Moses. Numbers 12:1-9 reveals an incident involving criticism:

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the LORD heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)

So immediately the LORD called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So the three of them went to the Tabernacle. Then the LORD descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. “Aaron and Miriam!” he called, and they stepped forward. And the LORD said to them, “Now listen to what I say: “If there were prophets among you, I, the LORD, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?”

The LORD was very angry with them, and he departed.

We need to treasure our shepherd. We need to pray for him. We need to encourage him. The last thing he needs to hear is criticism. Of course, pastors are not perfect, and they sin and make mistakes just like the rest of us. If one feels like a criticism needs to be made against the pastor, I would suggest you preface the criticism with at least three positive things you see the pastor doing. Let him know how much you appreciate all he does. After that has been done, gently address the area of concern you have. Remember, God was very angry with those who criticized Moses. We shouldn’t take criticizing our pastor lightly.

Let’s close today with these Scriptures:

· Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29

· Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:6

· So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

· So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.Romans 14:19

· You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23b-24

· May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:5-7


Verse Completion: . . . slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18 (NASB)

3/6/20

Good morning, Praise Singers.

Song for the Day: Lord Reign in Me

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave the lecture “Promise and Restoration” based on Micah 6 and 7.

The book of Micah is made up of three sections: the summons to hear, the oracle of doom, and a statement of hope.

Summons to Hear—Micah 6:1-8:

“Listen to what the Lord says . . . “ The first two verses are put into a legal format. The Sinai Covenant was a legal contract and was witnessed to. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” In Deuteronomy 32, Moses turns the Sinai Covenant into a song because songs are easier to remember. Isaiah 1:2 says, Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me.”

Micah is to present the case. The mountains are the witnesses and jury. The mountains have witnessed the actions of Israel over a long period of time.

In verses 3-5 we have a witness impact statement. God is asking, “How have I wronged you? How have my actions led you to do this?” God’s actions have been only good. God has brought blessing upon them, not harm. They received redemption from Egypt with godly leadership. No one could curse them; they could only be blessed. There was the crossing of the Jordan and the defeat of Jericho. God has kept His part of the covenant. He has acted rightly and justly toward them.

In verses 1-5 it was God who spoke. In verses 6-8 it was Micah who spoke. We have his expectation: How do we worship our God? Do we do it with choice sacrifices. Do we do it with many sacrifices? Do we do it with the most precious of sacrifices? In verse 8 we have the answer: By giving justice toward others. By giving mercy toward others. By having humility before God. By living rightly before God and others!

Justice has to do with how we treat others. James 1:27 says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Mercy is hesed love toward others. It includes faithfulness and kindness.

To walk humbly with God means to live in conscious and constant relationship with God—recognizing who He is and who, then, we are: He is God, and we are not. It’s the opposite of, “Look at me!” God wants our heart and a relationship. Sacrifices don’t mean anything when the heart isn’t right. Micah is contrasting religion with relationship. God has no interest in the multiplication of empty religious acts. See Jeremiah 17:19-27 and Psalm 51:16-19.

Oracle of Doom—6:9-7:6

There’s mistreatment of the poor, false scales and weights (cheating and deception), violence against others, and lying and falsehood is the common language. They were having no consequences for their bad behavior because they were using bribes to pay off those who could inflict consequences on them.

God has begun to destroy them with famines, war, and the loss of crops. Another sin is mentioned—following after false gods. Omri was the father of Ahab of the famous Ahab/Jezebel pair. Another judgment is mentioned—the nation will be ruined and made to be a scorn of the other nations. Leviticus 26:31-33 says, “I will make your cities desolate and destroy your places of pagan worship. I will take no pleasure in your offerings that should be a pleasing aroma to me. Yes, I myself will devastate your land, and your enemies who come to occupy it will be appalled at what they see. I will scatter you among the nations and bring out my sword against you. Your land will become desolate, and your cities will lie in ruins.” Israel is no longer the head, and is now the tail.

Chapter 7 is Micah’s lament. There is no one left who is righteous. There’s no one left for him to fellowship with. There’s no one righteous, no not one. See Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3. There is murder, evil practices, the distortion of justice for their own gain, false righteousness, and there’s confusion and disorder of societal relationships. There’s no trustworthiness or faithfulness including the members of a family. Even the marriage relationship has no trustworthiness or faithfulness. Contrast this with Malachi 4:5-6.

Statement of Hope—7:7-20

Micah turns the focus onto hope—hope in God. The godly will look to their Savior in times of distress and destruction. There is an expectancy of salvation and restoration. God is still faithful. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more! Romans 5:20-6:4 says, “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Sin always results in death, but grace always results in life. However, grace does not give us a license to sin.

The Israelites and the inhabitants of the earth will be judged for their sin. The day is coming when all will be made right. The Shepherd is coming to lead His people. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” Jesus is the One spoken of in Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” The nations will be ashamed but the righteous will rejoice.

There is no God like our God! Our God forgives sin. Our God is faithful. Our God shows His hesed love to His people. Exodus 34:6-7a says, The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

Conclusion/Summary

God will restore the rightful order of creation when Jesus returns! Wait for God. Trust in God. Be faithful to God, because He is faithful to you!


Verse Completion: . . . teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

An Apologetic for the Local Church pg 1

An Apologetic for the Local Church pg 2

3/5/20

Good morning, Holy Spirit Followers.

Song for the Day: One Way

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And by this we know that we have come to know Him, . . . (completion at the end)

After reading Genesis 46-Exodus 4 and Matthew 15-16, the following prayer was prayed:

Dear Heavenly Father, your hand was on Jacob’s family and 70 of them moved to Egypt so they wouldn’t starve to death during the famine. We take food for granted here in America, and we think we are the ones who provided it, but we know it’s you who provides food for us. We want to give you thanks for your abundant provisions. You deserve all the praise and glory, and we give it to you now.

When the famine was so severe, the people exchanged their livestock for food. When that food was gone, they gave up their land for food and were willing to be slaves to Pharaoh. Thank you for watching over the Israelites and guiding their every step including being sold into slavery. When bad things happen to us, as your children we know we are not forsaken. Your hand is still upon us. May we feel your hand and be comforted.

Tradition held the oldest son would be the one that received the inheritance and blessing. Lord, tradition doesn’t get in your way. You upset the apple cart several times: Isaac receiving the blessing instead of Ishmael, Jacob instead of Esau, Joseph instead of Reuben, and now with Joseph’s sons—Ephraim instead of Manasseh. If you choose to bless a person, that person will be blessed in spite of what tradition dictates. We don’t need to try and manipulate circumstances so we get the blessing. If you want to bless us, you will. You may choose not to bless us, and that’s okay, too. Regardless of what happens, may we be content with what you have in store for us.

Father God, life seems to have its ups and downs; times when things run smoothly and times when things are rough. For the Israelites, things were running poorly—life was tough. The new Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph, and the Israelites were afflicted with hard labor. In addition, every son born to a Hebrew woman was to be put to death. Yet you were there, and you were working to deliver your people. You allowed Moses to be adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and nursed by his own mother.

God, you called Moses into a leadership position. He did not see himself as a capable leader. He did not feel adequate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God, you said, “Certainly I will be with you.” When you call us to do a task, it’s not us but you working through us that makes it possible for us to accomplish the task. You don’t have to have gifted people to work with. What you need is a willing spirit. May I have a willing spirit to accomplish all you have for me to do.

Father in heaven, you revealed yourself to Moses through a burning bush that didn’t consume itself in the flames. You told Moses, “I am Who I Am.” Moses was to tell the people, “’I Am’ has sent me.” God, you are LORD, Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah. You are the Creator of the Universe. When you speak, we need to listen, and you have spoken much through your words found in the Holy Bible. May your words be important enough to us that we take them to heart and follow them.

When Moses tried to get out of being your spokesperson by saying he was not eloquent and was slow of speech and tongue, you said, “Who has made man’s mouth? . . . Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” If you, the Creator of our mouths tells us to use them for you, we need to be obedient. You will make sure our mouth gets the job done. No task is too difficult for you, and if we are called by you, no task is too difficult for us because you will be working through us.

Jesus, you showed the people in Tyre and Sidon you are God by healing the demon-possessed daughter. By the Sea of Galilee you healed the lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and others. When 4,000 men (not including women and children) were hungry, you fed all of them with seven loaves and a few small fish. You truly are God’s Son, and we worship you today as the healer of our body and soul.

May we remember your words, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” We don’t seek signs and wonders from you because we have everything we need when we have you. May we seek to do your will rather than seek signs and wonders.

There were false teachers back in your time on Earth, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and there are false teachers today. Help us to spend time daily in your word and be led by the Holy Spirit so we can identify false teachers, so we won’t be fooled by them.

Jesus, you revealed to Peter that you were the Christ. Thank you for revealing yourself to us, too. Jesus, we declare you are the Christ.

Jesus, we see that in order to be one of your children, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow you. If we want to save our life, we’ll lose it, but if we lose it for you, we’ll gain life. If we have a great life now but lose our soul, it’s all for naught. Help us to have our priorities right and follow you no matter what the cost—even the cost of our lives. In your precious name, amen.


Verse Completion: . . . if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3 (NASB)

3/4/20

Good morning, Fellow Christian.

Song for the Day: Once and for All

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: If anyone will not work . . . (completion at the end)

Our lives have milestones. To name a few, we have: the day we were born, the day we started school, the day we finished school, the day we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the day we got married, the day a loved one died, and the day we die.

I was listening to Lauren Daigle’s song Once and for All (today’s song), and some of the lyrics jumped out at me. Here are the lyrics:

God I give You all I can today

These scattered ashes that I hid away

I lay them all at Your feet

From the corners of my deepest shame

The empty places where I've worn Your name

Show me the love I say I believe

Oh Help me to lay it down

Oh Lord I lay it down

Oh let this be where I die

My lord with thee crucified

Be lifted high as my Kingdom's fall

Once and for all, once and for all

There is victory in my Saviors loss

And In the crimson flowing from the cross

Pour over me, pour over me yes

Oh let this be where I die

My lord with thee crucified

Be lifted high as my Kingdom's fall

Once and for all, once…

Notice those words placed in bold print. As I listened to the song, I pictured a person laying down their life—dying. It made sense with the next line of “let this be where I die.” I pictured the place where a person would die. I made it personal making we wonder where the place would be where I would die. Would it be in a hospital, at home, or somewhere else? And then there’s the line, “My Lord with Thee crucified.”

As Christians we hear a lot about being born again. We are born naturally with our mother, and then we are born again when we are born into the Kingdom of Heaven when we repent of our sins and go to Jesus for forgiveness. After listening to the song, I started thinking we as Christians die twice. The first time we die is what is in bold print above—when we die to self; when we allow ourselves to be crucified with Jesus. When we become a follower of Christ, maybe we should be having a funeral service for ourselves because we are dying to ourselves. The old us is gone, buried, cremated. A new life begins. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Galatians 2:20 says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Mark 3:34-38 says, Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, [Jesus] said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Big events in our lives deserve special recognition. On that day when we are crucified with Christ and we die, a funeral needs to take place. Life will never be the same. It’s the most important day of our lives. It’s the only milestone day in our lives that has eternal ramifications.

A funeral is often called a celebration of life. It’s a happy time in the sense that we remember many good times with the person who is deceased, and we rejoice that as Christians they have entered into a new life with Christ. They’ve entered the realm where they get to live with Jesus and there are no more tears, no more death, no sorrow, no crying, and no pain. All these things are gone forever (see Revelation 21:4). However, a funeral is a time of sorrow for those left here on Earth. We miss the person who has departed and we will continue to miss them until the day when we are reunited.

If we had a funeral for ourselves when we were crucified with Christ, there would be sorrow on that day as we remember our sins and repent of them. There would also be sorrow for not dying with Christ earlier than we did. But it would also be a day of great celebration. We freely received; now we can freely give (see Matthew 10:8). We are no longer slaves of sin. Philippians 3:8-9a says, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.”

Romans 6:5-11 says,

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

We celebrate because we get to spend eternity with Jesus, the one who died for us. That’s something we can celebrate every single day of our lives.

If you have the time, listen to Lauren’s song one more time and thank Jesus for the privilege and honor of dying alongside of Him.


Verse Completion: . . . neither let him eat. 2 Timothy 3:10b (NASB)

3/3/20

Good morning, Jesus Only Worshipers.

Song for the Day: Only Jesus

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, . . . (completion at the end)

Who are your current day heroes? One of mine is Alex Honnold who climbed the 2,900 foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in three hours and 56 minutes free solo (without any ropes or special equipment). He’s the only one to have ever accomplished this. What I admire in Alex is his mental strength coupled with his physical strength to accomplish something of this magnitude. Here is a photo of him in Yosemite climbing free solo:

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Another hero of mine is Dan Schneider, a pharmacist in a small town in Poydras, Louisiana. His 22-year-old son was killed while in a bad part of New Orleans. He was likely trying to purchase drugs there. Since the majority of murders of this nature go unsolved, Dan decided to go after the murderer himself. He put his life on the line to figure out who had murdered his son. After a lot of hard work, he found his son’s killer.

Dan didn’t want this to happen to other people’s children, and he set out to fight the drug problem. He discovered a “pill mill” doctor in New Orleans who was handing out opioids like it was candy. Dan did his own investigative work and was instrumental in having Dr. Jacqueline Cleggett’s practice shut down. The qualities I admire in Dan are his courage, persistence, and his tenacity to make sure what is right gets accomplished. Here’s a photo of Dan:

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Another hero of mine (although he’s not a current day hero) is Balaam (sorry—no photo available at this time). The qualities I admire in this man are his courage, integrity, loyalty, and inner fortitude.

Balak was the king of the Moabites, and he feared the Israelites. Numbers 22:3-4 says, And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!” King Balak wanted the Israelites stopped, so he sought the help of a non-Israelite prophet by the name of Balaam. The king wanted Balaam to curse the Israelites so he could conquer them and remove them from the land. Verses 7-8 say, Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse on Israel. They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him. “Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the LORD directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.

Verses 12-13 say, But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!”

The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The LORD will not let me go with you.” I suppose that kind of pressure would be similar to the President of the United States sending a delegation of officials from Washington D.C. to your house with money to get you to put a curse on people you are not a part of. That’s some pressure! But Balaam didn’t fold.

But that’s not the end of the story. Verses 15-18 say, Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time. They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me. I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!”

But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the LORD my God.

Balaam decided to go with the king’s messengers to see the king of Moab. The king said to Balaam, “Didn’t I send you an urgent invitation? Why didn’t you come right away? Didn’t you believe me when I said I would reward you richly?”

Balaam replied, “Look, now I have come, but I have no power to say whatever I want. I will speak only the message that God puts in my mouth.” (verses 37-38) The pressure is intensifying on Balak. It would be like us speaking directly to the President face-to-face with his many officials surrounding him. Everyone around you feels one way, and you alone feel differently. It’s difficult for me to imagine the pressure Balaam felt.

Numbers 23:7-12 reveals what Balaam told the king and the king’s reaction:

This was the message Balaam delivered:

“Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel’s doom.’ But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the LORD has not condemned? I see them from the cliff tops; I watch them from the hills. I see people who live by themselves, set apart from other nations. Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust? Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people? Let me die like the righteous; let my life end like theirs.”

Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!”

But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the LORD puts in my mouth.”

You would think Balak would give up at this point, but he continued to apply pressure. Balaam said, “Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!”

Balak replied, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them at least don’t bless them!” Notice how if Satan can’t get you to do his will, he will attempt to have you compromise what you know you should do.

But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the LORD tells me?” (see verses 13-26)

Surely, Balak will leave Balaam alone now, but no! King Balak takes Balaam to the top of Mount Peor. There more pressure is applied. But the Spirit of God came on Balaam, and Balaam gave a message inspired by the Holy Spirit that culminated with these words: “Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.”

King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the LORD has kept you from your reward.” (see Chapter 24:1-11)

Finally, Balak gave up trying to break down Balaam. That’s what I mean by courage, strength, integrity, and loyalty. So many great qualities are in the man Balaam. He is truly an inspiration!


Verse Completion: . . . just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)

3/2/20

Good morning, Former Rebels.

Song for the Day: Who's Side Are You Leanin' On

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael delivered a stirring message titled “Whose Side Are You Leanin’ On?” based on Matthew 12:22-50. Matthew wrote to show the Jews (and everyone else) that Jesus is the Messiah. He wanted them to pick which side of the fence they wanted to be on—the Lord’s side or Satan’s side. There’s no middle ground.

Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?”(verses 22-23)

Having a demon was worse than losing one’s sight or ability to speak. Satan is out to destroy our lives. This demon-possessed man had no ability to see, no ability to speak, no friends, and no hope. 1 Peter 5:8 says,

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Satan looks for someone to devour while Jesus looks for someone to heal, to restore their sight, to restore their ability to speak, to give peace to a life of turmoil. What did the man do when he was healed? He praised the One who delivered him—Jesus.

But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” (verse 24)

The Pharisees can’t deny the miracle, so they deny the One who did the miracle. The Pharisees don’t love others. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says,

[Love] does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

The Pharisees aren’t concerned about justice; they are concerned about power, influence, position, being known as the pillars of the community, being known for long prayers and generous giving. What the Pharisees didn’t understand is that money should be used to worship God and not oneself. The Pharisees wanted to get rid of truth because truth would expose them for who they really were—self-servers. In an attempt to get rid of truth, they tried to get rid of the Messenger. They weren’t interested in the Kingdom of God; they were interested in the Kingdom of Self.

Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house. (verses 25-29)

Demonic activity is not logical; one cannot arrive at truth when involved with demonic activity. As soon as truth is being approached through logic, the demonic activity will find a distraction. A house divided against itself cannot stand. In verse 29, the strong man is Satan.

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

“So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (verses 30-37)

Whose side are you leanin’ on? There’s no sitting on the fence. There’s no pretending. What’s in your heart? You are either for God or against Him. Jesus is always challenging us to change—to be transformed. Good does not come from an evil heart. God knows what’s inside your heart, and you know what’s inside your heart.

Verses 31-32 reference what has been called the unforgiveable sin—blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Look carefully at the context of this verse. Jesus has just cast out a demon, and the Pharisees have said the power to do it came from Satan, the prince of demons. The Pharisees rejected what came from God and called it from Satan. The works of Satan have been labeled as works of God. This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. John 16:8-9 says,

“And when [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.”

The Holy Spirit convicts us and regenerates us. Titus 3:3-7 says,

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

If we reject the Holy Spirit, we reject salvation.

One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

“The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”(verses 38-45)

Jesus had just finished healing a man of being possessed by a demon, healing his eyes so he could see, and making it possible for the man who was dumb to speak. Now in verse 38 the Pharisees are asking for a miraculous sign.

Verse 40 has a prediction of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Verse 41 tells of the people of Nineveh repenting of their sins when they were preached to, but God with skin on is preaching to the Pharisees, and they are not repenting.

The Queen of Sheba recognized God, but the Pharisees do not.

Verses 43-45 deal with a demon being cast out. When this happens, the person has a choice—go back to having demons or continue with God. The Pharisees had a choice: whose side would they lean on? When we reject Jesus, we open ourselves to Satan. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 says,

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

If we stop following God, we start following Satan. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says,

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears what to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

Myths are falsehoods. Falsehood is the language of Satan. Ephesians 4:25-26 says,

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

If we hold on to anger, we are giving Satan a foothold; we are opening the door of our lives to Satan. Whose side are you leanin’ on? Deal quickly with anger.

As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”

Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

Whose side are you leanin’ on? If you’re doing your own will, you are leanin’ on Satan’s side. If you are doing God’s will, you are leanin’ on God’s side. Jesus is even more important than family. Take a look at your words, your actions, and your heart. Whose side are you leanin’ on? Jesus is the Savior of the world. Believe in Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior.


Verse Completion: . . . of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

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