Daily Devotion May 2021

5/31/21


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


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



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth; 


·      But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Provision of Oil” was based on 2 Kings 4:1-7. It’s interesting how this story fits in with the story of Elisha we had last week where Elisha was dealing with kings. The king of Israel really wasn’t interested in following God. He was interested in what God could do for him. He thought he could manipulate God. Because he didn’t fully follow God, the king only received a partial victory. The story of the kings sharply contrasts with the story of the widow: riches and power versus poverty and humility; partially following God versus fully following God; a partial trust in God versus fully trusting God. 


The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” (verse 1)


Evidently, a family of four moved so the father could attend Bible school. We similarly did this when we moved to Vancouver B.C. so I could finish my master’s degree. We had two young girls that Val attended to while I was in school. We still had bills to pay: rent, gas, insurance, food, and so forth. Since I didn’t have a job on top of being a student, we got a loan. It looks like the husband in this story involving Elisha did something similar. Unfortunately, the husband died at some point leaving behind a widow, two young boys, and a school loan that needed to be paid back. 


One way a debt could be paid back was for the debtor to become a servant of the one who loaned the money for a period of seven years. Since the debtor had died, the two boys could become servants of the man who had given the loan in order to pay off the loan. This reveals the spiritual state of Israel at this time. It would be acceptable for a person to take a widow’s two sons away from her and leave her with nothing in order to pay back a loan. The widow would not be able to provide for herself and with her boys gone, she wouldn’t have the emotional support she needed to keep her going. The widow is probably wondering if she’ll ever see her boys again if they leave with the one who made the loan. She is at the end of her rope. She has seemingly run out of options. There doesn’t seem to be any hope for her.


What do you do when you run out of options? What do you do when you lose your job and there are no jobs to be found? What do you do when you are told you have an incurable disease? What do you do when there appears to be no way out of your dire situation? I can tell you what this widow did; she cried out to God and went to see Elisha. She is probably confused and doesn’t understand why God would allow her husband to be taken from her. She might even be bitter over what has taken place in her life. She desperately needs God to break into her world.


Elisha wants the widow to know God is with her even when it doesn’t seem like it. Elisha wants her to understand that God hears her when she cries out to him. God sees what’s going on in her world. God understands her emotions. God is with her now in all the pain, despair, lostness, bitterness, anger, understanding, and misunderstanding. 


Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”


“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a little oil.” (verse 2)


A debt counselor will always ask, “What are your assets?” He/she wants to know what can be sold to generate some money. Unfortunately, she has already sold everything of value. She has nothing left except one small jar of olive oil. Clearly, society is not out to help her. Her neighbors aren’t there to assist her. Israel is not following God. Compassion and love for others is not high on the list of priorities. What’s high on the list is self. “I lent you money, and I want the money back now. Pay up or the boys belong to me.” 


There are some parallels with this story and the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in John 6:1-15. Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 


Philip answered, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”


Andrew found a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but wondered how that little bit could be used to feed so many.


How could a little oil pay off a huge debt and provide for so many needs? Nevertheless, she was willing to give the last thing she owned of any value to Elisha. 


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



Verse Completions:


·      . . . where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.


·      . . . where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal. Matthew 6:19-20 (NASB)


5/29/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/PQdZt-77KT8


Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for . . . (completions at the end)


Dr. Josh Moody is the senior pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of his sermon “How Big Is Your God?” that was based on Daniel 1:1-21. What follows is a recap of the second half of his message. It includes the vision for the church for the coming year.

Sometimes I am asked, “What brought you to America?” The answer is “God brought me here.” When we first flew out of the United Kingdom, we had a laptop, a printer, and three suitcases. We had no place to stay. We went to a church of twenty to thirty people that had a long history of conflict. One of the local pastors said to me when I arrived, “When I heard you were coming, I thought: Oh no! Another pastor for them to chew up and spit out!” There was no place to meet other than in a Seventh-day Adventist church. I had read that for a church to grow, it needed one parking space for every 1.5 people. When I looked out the window, I noticed we had no parking spaces—not even one. We had no budget for advertising, and yet God grew the church. Recently I received a Facebook message from a man we baptized in that Seventh-day Adventist church who is now a leading Christian in Florida.

How big is your God? Is he big enough to deal with King Nebuchadnezzar? Is he big enough for you to actually take a stand and get off the bench and into the game and say, “Thus far and no further! I’m not doing that sin any longer! I’m doing away with it! I’m taking a stand for Jesus!”? How big is your God?

2 Timothy 2:14 says:Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. What was going on in Ephesus at the time was there were various kinds of false teaching. The temptation, when you are faced with a Nebuchadnezzar pagan philosophy, is to spend all your time attacking. The temptation is to get on Twitter and engage in a war of words. Don’t do that. Instead, teach, pray, and evangelize. Don’t curse the darkness; light a candle instead. How big is your God? Is he big enough that the gospel can actually lead to the change that you long to see in your family and neighborhood?

Daniel didn’t start criticizing the pagan philosophy of his day. He didn’t attack Nebuchadnezzar. He simply took a stand and said, “This far and no further.” God gave Daniel fame, success, and influence. How big is your God?

This past year has been the most challenging time for churches across the world in the last hundred years. Church is about gathering, and COVID-19 completely disrupted that. Be kind to pastors. They have soaked up the pressure you have felt. They have tried to be peacemakers between any number of conflicts surrounding COVID.

When we look at the vision for our church, we rely on tools: Scripture, prayer, planning, surveys (church and neighborhood), and data.

When we looked at where we are as a church we found the following:

·       We feel we understand the Bible

·       We are less good at discipleship and evangelism (in theory we know how to evangelize, but in practice we don’t do it as often as we could)

·       We are anxious and busy (feel pulled in many different directions)

·       We are reaching more people

·       We have less frequent attendance

Where are we going as a church? Our vision and our mission are the same. Our vision is:The God centered gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed in us as a church and through us to the world by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We are a God centered, gospel centered, Jesus proclaiming, global vision, and Spirit empowered kind of church. Our mission is proclaiming the gospel.

How are we going to get there? We have five initiatives:

·       Pathway: The hero of the story is the people we are called to serve—the congregation and beyond.

o   Discover: When people come to our church they should have the opportunity to discover Jesus.

o   Grow: When people come to our church they should have the opportunity to grow in their faith.

o   Impact: When people come to our church they should have the opportunity to impact the world—to make a difference.

·       Hospitality: As a church we need to do a better job of being warm, engaging, shepherding, and caring for each other.

·       Discipleship: We need to connect the dot between what we know and what we do.

·       Crossings: Reorganize the use of our buildings.

·       Planting: We want to do multiple church plants over the next decade.

What does this mean for us individually? In order for people to have the opportunity to discover Jesus, each person needs to invite someone:each one invite one. If we are to grow in our faith, each one should engage as one: each one engage as one (be engaged, committed, excited). In order to impact the world, each one needs to serve the one: each one serve the one (children’s ministry, disability ministry, church plants, mission trips, financial support).

How big is your God? This is a call for courage and commitment. Perhaps you are saying, “I’m not sure I can invite one.” Corrie ten Boom was used by God to rescue Jews during WWII. After the war she went around speaking to people telling them that God can use anyone. One of the stories she told was about a woodpecker who was busily pecking away at a tree when a bolt of lightning struck the tree and split it in two. The woodpecker flew away saying to itself, “I never knew there was so much power in my beak.” It’s not about how big you are; it’s about how big God is.

Let’s pray this prayer: Here am I; use me, Lord. Fill me with your Spirit. It’s not about my power, it’s about your power. It’s not about how big I am; it’s about how big you are. Help me to be like Daniel and take a stand of courage and commitment. You are such a big God! In Jesus name, amen.



Verse Completion. . . the judgment is God’s. Deuteronomy 1:17 (NASB)


5/28/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8kvFtXphmMU



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



Dr. Josh Moody is the senior pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently preached the sermon “How Big Is Your God?” that was based on Daniel 1:1-21. What follows is a recap of the first half of his message.


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god to Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.


Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.


Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.


But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”


Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.


At the end of ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.


To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.


At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.


And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.


Parents play games with their young children and say something like, “How big are you, Johnny?” Johnny then responds with his arms spread apart and in a singsong voice says, “Sooooooo big.” How big is your God? Are you able to show his size with your thumb and index finger, or do you need both arms spread out as far as they can go?


Daniel was so brave because his God was so big. The text emphasizes this in a repeated refrain: verse two—Andthe Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand . . .; verse nine—God gave favor and sympathy to Daniel . . .; verse seventeen—God gave knowledge and understanding.


The Judeans have been taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and placed in exile in Babylon. Daniel and his friends were taken into the court of the king to learn the special pagan educational philosophy of Babylon. But God gave . . . God gave . . . God gave. This is the secret to Daniel’s bravery. Daniel took a stand and said, “Thus far and no further.” He drew a line in the sand. It wasn’t the food as such; it wasn’t like he was making a commitment to vegetarianism. He was saying, “Thus far and no further.” He drew a line in the sand because he knew that God was with him. He knew that God was in charge. He knew that even in exile God was in charge.


When we think of the almighty power of God, we tend to think of the stupendous scale of the universe, and yet there is a greater comparison still—in the midst of the evil of this world, in the midst of the challenges of your life, God is still sovereign; he’s still in charge. Even at the crucifixion of the Son of God, God gave . . . God gave . . . God gave.


God is calling us to be like Daniel. God is calling us to live a life of courage and commitment. God is calling us to get off the bench and into the game. God is calling us to take a stand and make a difference.


Before a rugby game there is something called a psych-up. It’s a rallying cry to get out in the game. Those locker room talks can be quite vigorous. I recall one player who would bang his head against the wall to get himself ready for the game. I don’t think God is asking you to do that, but he is asking you to get into the game.


While on the mission field, our mission team traveled between one country and another in the former Soviet Union. We traveled in third class through the night on a dilapidated train that was very crowded. There were windows that were broken, and it was very dark. We had been given a rather expensive suitcase to transport from one country to another to give to another missionary. It had in it various supplies and money. In those days money could not be wired, so it had to be hand carried. In this atmosphere it was like the expensive looking suitcase was saying, “Rob me. Rob me. Rob me.”


We sat across from a man who looked to me to be a member of the Mafia. When my two team members fell asleep at about 1:00 a.m., the Mafia man pulled out a long knife. He had the hairiest back of his hands of any man I’d ever seen, and he began to shave the back of his hands with this knife. He said to me, “You’re tired. Go to sleep.” God protected me.


How big is your God? Big enough to go on the mission field? Big enough to give to the mission of the church? Big enough to trust him with your provisions? Big enough to tell someone about Jesus and take the risk of rejection?


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



Verse Completion. . . he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:24 (NASB)


5/27/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8kvFtXphmMU



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we looked at a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on the godly character quality of friendliness. Pastor Del spoke about friends and friendship in the Bible. He defined friendship. Today we will continue with a recap of the second half.


What are the ingredients of friendliness?


·       Loyalty. Proverbs 17:17a says: A friend is always loyal. A friend loves at all times—not just when things are pleasant. That means a friend doesn’t say things about a person that they wouldn’t say to that person. Negative things about a friend are not repeated to others. When someone says something negative about a friend, the friend is defended. When we’re loyal friends, we don’t terminate the friendship because we discover a weakness or flaw in our friend.


·       Trustworthiness. Friends don’t turn on friends (see Psalm 41:9). A friend carefully guards what a friend confides: questions, pains, disappointments, struggles, failures. A friend will pray for anything a friend desires prayer for.


·       Honesty and Courage. Proverbs 27:6 says: Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Sometimes we need to say honest, upright, and forthright things to a friend that might result in the friend being wounded. Courage is required to do this. We want our friends to be courageous with us as well telling us what we need to hear.


·       Sacrifice. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). A friend gives of themselves for the sake of another person. True friendliness is built on grace. Grace is freely given, not looking for anything in return. There are many sacrifices we can make for a friend: time, money, support when they are attacked. Friends love at all times. Friends remember what friends share with them, and they remember what was prayed about with their friend.


It’s heartwarming to hear someone greet you with, “Good morning, Friend.” Just hearing the wordfriend is an encouragement.


We need to pick our friendships wisely.Proverbs 22:24-25 offers some advice: Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. We, too, should we good friends who are not angry or hot-tempered. 1 Corinthians 15:33b says: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Evil friendships corrupt good morals, good manners, and good habits. Associations with bad people will ruin decent people. If you listen to them you will start acting like them.


Friendly people make friends. We should be friendly people that will attract others to pick us for a friend. Dale Carnegie wrote the bookHow to Win Friends and Influence People. Maybe we need a book titled How to Be a Friendly Person and Influence People. It’s more important to be a friend than win a friend.


There’s a balance between listening and talking. We should listen a lot. James 1:19 says:Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). We need to listen a lot, not talk too much, be careful about what we talk about, and be interested in what the other person is interested in. We need to talk about things they know something about. There’s the tendency for us to talk about the things we know something about: our travels, our likes, our dislikes, our ideas. We don’t get to know the other person when we talk about ourselves. As we listen to a person talk, we shouldn’t be looking for an opportunity to jump in and tell our story. We should be asking ourselves, “What will interest my friend?” When both people are looking out for the interests of the other, no one person will monopolize the conversation. Ecclesiastes 11:1 says: Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. If we send out friendliness to others, it will return to us.


Sometimes you will hear people say, “I don’t have any friends.” The question is not: How do I get friends? The question is: How friendly am I? Do I have the character quality of friendliness?


Friendliness pleases God. It enriches other people. Our friendliness can help others and bless them. Friendliness enriches ourselves, too. It builds character into the kind of person I can be and the kind of person God wants me to be.


Do you have the character quality of friendliness? When you go to the grocery store, do you speak to people? When you go to church, do you speak to people? Do you speak to your neighbors? Friendliness is a wonderful character quality to have. May God enable us to build the character quality of friendliness.



Verse Completion. . . not lacked a thing.” Deuteronomy 2:7 (NASB)


5/26/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/U1VfFLqiTB8



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of friendliness. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, self-control, contentment, joyfulness, and dependability.


To have godly character qualities we need to have friendliness. What does the Bible have to say about it? 2 Chronicles 20:6-7 says: [Jehoshaphat] prayed, “O LORD, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? Abraham was a friend of God. This is repeated in James 2:23: And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. God looked for a man to be his friend, and that man was Abraham. However, Abraham wasn’t the only friend of God. Exodus 23:11a says: Inside the Tent of Meeting, the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Moses was God’s friend. Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up” (John 11:11). Lazarus was a friend of God. Jesus was called the friend of tax collectors and sinners. Mark 2:15-17 says: Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”


When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Jesus was friendly to people, even to those whose lives were a contradiction to who he was and what he taught. Jesus said: “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for using my name. This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:12-17). 


Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 18:24 says: There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Psalm 41:9 prophesies that Jesus will be betrayed by a friend: Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely; the one who shared my food, has turned against me.


What is friendship? The root word is friend—one who is attached to another by affection or esteem. A friend is a favorite companion. A friend is more than an acquaintance. An acquaintance is someone who is not close while a friend is close. Other words for friend include: buddy, chum, comrade, pal. A friend is someone who is on our side or is favorable to our side. A friend comes along side of us. To act as a friend is to befriend someone. 


Friendliness is characteristic of, or have the behavior of, a friend. A relationship is involved. Friendliness involves being outgoing and pleasant in social situations when we are around people. Hermits wouldn’t have many opportunities to demonstrate friendliness. Friendliness involves being favorably disposed and not antagonistic, hostile, cranky, rude, or belligerent. The opposite of a friend is an enemy or foe or someone who is aloof. A friend is someone who cares and relates to us. 


As I walk in the park I meet friendly people and people who are not so friendly. When I say “Hi” to some people, they just ignore me. Some apparently do not enjoy my company. It makes me wonder if they enjoy other people’s company. 


A person with the character quality of friendliness is cordial, congenial, pleasant, and warm. They are approachable, easy to meet, and easy to talk to. They are marked by gentleness and kindness. We need to cultivate and nurture friendliness into our lives.


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



Verse Completion. . . enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Acts 14:22 (NIV)


5/25/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/xqdkQ-DgcRg



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Rescue” that was based on 2 Kings 3. Today we will recap the second half. 


An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.” (verse 11b) Here is imagery of a servant. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to demonstrate servanthood. Elisha is the servant of God. He has taken the place of Elijah. The kings figured out that the only way they were going to get water was to go to the one who used to pour water. 


Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. (verse 12). Jehoshaphat knows Elisha. Jehoshaphat who is in the southern kingdom knows Elisha who is in the northern kingdom. It’s interesting that the kings didn’t summons Elisha to appear before them; they went to where Elisha was. Three kings humbled themselves before Elisha. 


Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”


“No,” the king of Israel answered, “because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab.” (verse 13) Elisha calls Joram on trying to play the God-card. He calls Joram a  hypocrite. Joram isn’t interested in getting to know God and follow God; he just wants to use God for his own advantage. The partial obedience is just to impress God. Elisha is telling Joram to go back to Baal because that’s who his parents served and that’s who he really serves, too. 


Joram is quick to try and look spiritual to Elisha. Partial obedience always looks to be fully spiritual. Satan always tries to look spiritual. Satan always tries to get his followers to look spiritual. People who try to use God to get their way always want to make it sound like God is their best friend: “God told me . . .”; “We had a great prayer meeting today”; “In my devotions today . . .” Elisha calls them on it. Their hearts aren’t in tune with God. They’re phonies. 


Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you.” (verse 14) He was saying to Joram, “You don’t have any relationship with God, so don’t try and make it sound like you do. If it wasn’t for Jehoshaphat I wouldn’t even be here.” 


“But now bring me a harpist.” (verse 15a) He was saying, “If you want me to hear from God, bring me a harpist and leave me alone.” The right kind of music can bring peace, quietness, and calmness. It can help set the right atmosphere to tune in to God. As the mind is calmed one is able to focus on who God in all his beauty and glory. 


While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha and he said, “This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” (verses 15b-19) Elisha was telling the kings they were going to have a full victory, and God was going to provide water for them.


God was saying he would fill with water all the holes dug by the armies. God was giving a command to start digging because every hole that was dug would be filled with water. He would fill the holes supernaturally. They wouldn’t be filled with water by rain. Baal couldn’t fill the holes, but God could because he is the one and only true God. 


The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.


Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood. “That’s blood!” they said. “Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!” (verses 20-23)  Since it hadn’t rained, the Moabites mistakenly thought the water was blood. They concluded the three kings with their armies must have fought each other and everyone was dead. There would be plenty to plunder.


But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it as well.


When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed. (verses 24-26) The king of Moab figured that the king of Edom was the weakest link of the three links, so he went after Edom. The attempt to overthrow failed so the king of Moab retreated.


Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed his as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land. (verse 27) 


In desperation, the king of Moab took his firstborn son—the son he had been mentoring and grooming to take over the kingdom at some point—and sacrificed him hanging his dead body on the outside of the city wall for all to see. 


When the troops of the king of Moab saw what he had done, it infuriated them against Israel. Now Moab is all in. There’s no partial commitment for them at this point. If the king would give up his firstborn son, there’s nothing the troops aren’t willing to sacrifice in order to gain the victory. 


When the three kings and their armies saw Moab’s level of commitment, they decided the cost of battle was too great. They were content with the partial effort they had put into the battles. They were ready to go back home. Elisha had said, “You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down everygood tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” When it came to overthrowing this city it got tough. It wasn’t like the other cities. This was more difficult. Since their leader, Joram, wasn’t committed to the task at hand, the troops weren’t committed either. 


Joram had a partial commitment to following God. Partial commitments don’t hold up when times get tough. When we have a partial commitment to God, we receive a partial victory from God. The only way we get full victory in life is with a full commitment to God. Joram was partially committed to God. He decided he could pick and choose the areas in which he would be obedient to God. He decided he would follow God on his terms and not God’s terms. He would follow God as long as God didn’t cause discomfort to him or inconvenience him in any way. Joram didn’t want to have to change his lifestyle. 


Israel had a chance to win the victory, but the price was too high. They would have to deny self, and there was the chance of death. They were satisfied with their partial victory. 


Sometimes we are partially committed to God. We want to do just enough to impress God. We like what’s comfortable and convenient. We’re content with our worldview and don’t want to change. We’re content with partially following God. Like Joram we say, “Where’s God in all this?” Partial commitment equals partial fulfillment. We need to be fully committed to God. When we give God our whole heart, God gives us his heart, and we receive full victories. We need to be fully committed, fully devoted, fully given over to God and his ways, his words, and his will. Are you fully in?



Verse Completion. . . fear or be dismayed.’ Deuteronomy 1:21 (NASB)


5/24/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/vqSvTJeGU0k



Complete the Verse & Name the BookI know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Rescue” was based on 2 Kings 3. As parents we try to teach our children to do their best in all they do: school, chores, sports, etc. It’s a biblical principle found in Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. We are not to be putting out a partial effort in what we do. We are to be all in. This principle applies to our spiritual lives as well. When we become disciples of Christ, we are to be all in—fully engaged with our best foot forward. Half-efforts don’t count for anything. 


Why do we need to put a full effort into serving God? What happens when we follow God partially? We find the answers to those questions in today’s passage of Scripture:


Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years (verse 1). Joram is the son of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was killed in a battle so his eldest son, Ahaziah, became king. Two years into his reign he died and Joram became king. 


He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them (verses 2-3).


Ahab and Jezebel were Baal worshipers. The sacred stone was a stone or stones that represented their tribute to their god or gods. Joram removed the sacred stone from the temple, but he still clung to the sins of Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. When a rock climber climbs a rock wall he clings to the rock—he holds tightly to it. Jeroboam set up idols throughout his kingdom and encouraged people away from God—Jehovah.


Joram is partially following God by removing the sacred stone, but he is still a Baal worshiper. The stone is not destroyed. That happened later and is recorded in 2 Kings 10:26-27: They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day. Joram was a partial follower of God.


Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to supply the king of Israel with a hundred thousand lambs and with the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized all Israel (verses 4-6). Moab had been defeated by Ahab and was required to give Ahab his demands. However, after Ahab died Moab began to test the strength of his sons. Joram wants to intimidate Moab so he flexes his muscles, but he doesn’t have many muscles to flex. He doesn’t have a strong army like his dad had. 


He also sent this message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?” (verse 7a) Joram needed more muscle—more fire power. Isa had built up the southern kingdom of Judah and his son, Jehoshaphat, worked to keep Judah strong. Joram wants Jehoshaphat to join him in going against Moab. 


“I will go with you,” he replied. “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” (verse 7b) This is the second time Jehoshaphat becomes allies with the northern kingdom of Israel. In 1 Kings 22:4 we read: So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”


Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” It’s surprising that Jehoshaphat would want to join the northern kingdom again because the first time it didn’t turn out so well. In 2 Chronicles 18:1 we read: Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. Jehoshaphat married one of Ahab’s daughters. One reason Jehoshaphat joins Ahab is because they are family. However, he was almost killed the first time he joined with the northern kingdom. 1 Kings 22:30-33 tells what happened: The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.


Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him. 


After the first experience you would think that Jehoshaphat would not be interested in joining Joram. Jehoshaphat was rebuked by a prophet for teaming up with Ahab. The prophet said in essence, “What does light have to do with darkness?” This is found in 2 Chronicles 19:1-2: When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you.”Nevertheless, Jehoshaphat agreed to help Joram out.


“By what route shall we attack?” [Jehoshaphat] asked.


“Through the Desert of Edom,” [Joram] answered. (verse 8)


This is the southern route which is a long journey. The northern route is shorter and better, but they can’t go that route because Syria has taken over. Syria has been a long time enemy of Ahab. 


So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them. (verse 9)


It’s a serious problem when you are in the desert, and you have no water particularly when you are planning to go to battle. The plan hadn’t been thought through very well. 


“What!” exclaimed the king of Israel. “Has the LORD called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?” (verse 10) God hadn’t said to attack Moab. What Joram is trying to do here is play the God-card. It’s like he’s saying, “I partially obeyed God by getting rid of the sacred stone. God should be impressed with me. He should bless me.” Joram was simply trying to use God to get his own way. Joram pretended like he served God. He pretended to follow God. Partial obedience to God reveals a heart that has not been changed. Joram was attempting to manipulate God. He was trying to blame God for the armies running out of water. Joram is saying, “God, I did my part, but you didn’t come through for me and do your part.” 


Partial obedience is trying to impress God so God will let us have our way. Partial obedience says to God, “I’ll do this if you’ll to that.” Partial obedience says, “God, I’ll never do that again as long as you come through for me on this one.” Partial obedience says, “God, look at all the good things I have done. Don’t you think I deserve this reward?”


But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?” (verse 11a) This is the question Jehoshaphat should have started with. Joram had tried playing the God-card, but Jehoshaphat wants the real deal. 


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



Verse Completion. . . you were either one or the other! Revelation 3:15 (NIV)


5/22/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/FQbt9ADhCJc



Complete the Verses & Name the Book“If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the . . . (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the senior pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently preached the sermon “A True Testimony” that was based on John 21:20-25. Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of his message. He said that the words of John can be trusted because John was a close, personal friend of Jesus.  


Another reason it can be trusted is there are multiple testimonies. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John testify to the same events but from a different perspective. It’s the same Jesus throughout the gospels, but the authors look at him from different angles. The testimony is not monocultural. It’s not monochrome. It’s not mono-personality. It’s not biased. There are multiple testimonies. 


It’s tempting for those of us who follow Jesus to spend an inordinate amount of time wondering how other people are doing in their discipleship. Peter is reminded that it’s not his job to wonder how John is doing. It’s not my job to wonder how someone else’s Bible study is doing. It’s not my job to determine if someone else is sound or not. It’s not my job to interfere with someone else’s ministry. It’s not my job to wonder if someone else is giving enough money to the kingdom of God. It’s not my job to see if someone else is doing the right thing. Jesus said to Peter, You must follow me.” Peter was not to worry about John. 


One of the reasons people put a stamp on the Bible that says “This book is disputed,” is because there are so many interpretations of the Bible. People ask, “Who am I meant to believe?” There are so many Bible scholars, and they all don’t agree with each other. How am I supposed to understand it? It seems very complicated. The way we understand the Bible is by going back to the source and seeing what Jesus actually said. Jesus said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” The first principle of Bible interpretation is to actually read the Bible for yourself. The Bible is primary literature; everything else is secondary. See what the Bible says. We don’t just listen to sermons about the Bible, but we read the Bible for ourselves. We don’t just read devotionals that are related to the Bible; we read the Bible for ourselves. We don’t listen to the sayings that are spread abroad; we read what Jesus actually said. When we read the primary literature of the Bible, we find that it is reliable. 


In verse twenty-four John is saying that the one writing these things is the person who Jesus loved, who was close to Jesus, who knew Jesus personally, and who walked with Jesus along the beach. He is the one who leaned back against Jesus at the last supper. Therefore, it is a true, reliable testimony. He’s saying, “I know this is what Jesus said because I was there when he said it.” 


Verse twenty-five is a hyperbole, an exaggeration. The ministry of Jesus lasted approximately three years. What is recorded in John is a summary of two of those years. There was much more that could be said, but John was very selective in what he chose to write down. He chose what he did to show readers in every possible way that Jesus is Lord, that you may believe him and find life, and be persuaded that this is a reliable testimony. 


How can we change the Bible from being taken as a disputed claim to a verified account? The older criticisms of the Bible tend to have said that the Bible is made of many different sources that were editorially put together over many years, so you can’t rely on it. If you use the same techniques these critics use on the Bible on their own writing, you can conclude that their own books are written by many different people over many different years with many different styles. Some critics have said that Isaiah had three authors. A student at Cambridge University wrote a paper that concluded that Isaiah had ten authors. There is no end to that approach. 


More commonly today it is said that the interpretation of the Bible is entirely subjective. The reader and the reader’s response to what is written shapes the interpretation. In this view, my own lived experience as a part of a particular group shapes the meaning of the text of the Bible. That means if I am Asian, I have an Asian interpretation of the Bible. If I’m 60% Scotts-Irish and 40% Anglo-Saxon, then I have that approach to the meaning of the Bible. The meaning of the text is radically multiplied so there’s no one claim. The trouble with this approach is you can do the same thing with the people who make that claim about the text. When someone believes there are many interpretations to the Bible, you can say, “There are many interpretations to the claim that there are many interpretations.”


There are different applications to the truth. Peter and John needed to follow Jesus in their own way with their own personality. We do need to have a nuanced view of applications to different cultures and different backgrounds. What we can’t forget is that there is one Lord, one faith. We all in our own personality and culture need to apply that truth so we follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior. 


Oscar Wilde once said, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” It can be complicated, but the Bible is a reliable testimony. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize winner, once said, “One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.” We who follow Jesus follow him according to the reliable, true testimony found in the Bible. What that means is we have a rock, a solid foundation. We have someone to base our lives upon. Read the Bible. Believe the Bible. Share the Bible. It’s a true testimony so we can confidently follow Jesus. We don’t know the future, but we know who holds the future. We don’t have all the answers, but we know who does. 



Verse Completion. . . the testimony of one witness. Numbers 35:30 (NASB)


5/21/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/6qUPAI-VVhY



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face . . .


·      because you know that the . . . (completions at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the senior pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently preached the sermon “A True Testimony” that was based on John 21:20-25. What follows is a recap of that message.


Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”


Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”


This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.


Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:20-25)


John has been writing and telling us to follow Jesus. At the beginning of the book we read: The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 1:43) At the end of the book Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me” (21:19b). The issue of following Jesus is rooted in John’s claim that the words he wrote were true. His words are trustworthy. They are something which can be relied upon. The question we ask today is, “Is it? Is it a true testimony?” Many people today believe the Bible is not reliable, and if they are interested in following Jesus, the Bible is not the first place many people would turn to. 


When Twitter sees a tweet that it does not agree with, it will stamp on that tweet: This claim is disputed. When people today hear a preacher say, “Follow Jesus through the words of the Bible,” in their minds they stamp underneath that statement the words: This claim is disputed. Is this really a reliable testimony? Arthur Schopenhauer, the nineteenth century German philosopher, said that all truth goes through three stages:


1.   It is ridiculed.


2.   It is violently opposed.


3.   It is accepted as self-evident. 


Schopenhauer would know because during his lifetime his philosophy was not widely accepted, but by the time it came to Albert Einstein, the German-born theoretical physicist, Einstein viewed Schopenhauer as the greatest of philosophers. 


The claim that the Bible is reliable is disputed, opposed, or ridiculed. In fact we might add a fourth stage to Schopenhauer’s three stages: There is no ultimate truth. All we have are our “lived experiences”. Today, any claim that Jesus is Lord and that we are to follow him and not other gods or other paths, and that his claim on our life morally has ultimate authority, will receive the stamp: This claim is disputed


In church we may hear that God’s word is truth, but when we leave the church we find those who say God’s word is not truth. If we don’t have an answer for them, we may find ourselves as sheep among the wolves. Can we follow Jesus according to the Bible? 


At the end of the book of John we find Peter walking along the beach with Jesus. He’s heard from Jesus that following him means self-sacrifice. No doubt there is some quiet reflection going on with Peter. As he’s walking and thinking, he hears the footsteps of someone behind him. When he turns around to see who it is, he finds it is John. 


John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. This is part of the true testimony. What John is saying is that the written words of John’s gospel, and by extension the rest of the New Testament and by further extension the rest of the Bible, are put down by someone who knew and followed Jesus personally. John was a friend of Jesus. That means that his words are a reliable testimony. When a biography is read, what is written is validated when the author personally knew the person he/she is writing about. John is saying that he knew Jesus very well—“I was his close, personal friend. You can trust what I write.” Therefore you can trust that the book of John is a reliable testimony.


There’s another lesson here: If Jesus had friends, so should we. Do you have friends? Many men do not have friends. They may be friendly people, but a friend is someone who allows you to let down your guard. A friend is someone you can share your heart with and not receive judgment or criticism. You can be straightforward with a friend; you don’t have to sell your personality with the person. You can be yourself with all your confusion and brokenness and all your happiness and joy. Do you have a friend? 


Different cultures make friends in different ways. In England it is traditional for middle-aged men to go to a pub and have a beer and talk. When a man says to another man, “Let’s go to the pub and have a beer,” that means “I want to talk.” 


I was a missionary to a country and was struck by the depth of their friendships. When a person was late to an important meeting (which happened quite often), the excuse was often given: My friend needed me. Once that was said, there were no further questions. Do you have a friend? 


There are predictors of spiritual health. Number one is trusting the reliability of the Bible. Number two is a real, godly, spiritual friend. Do you have a friend? The next time someone extends to you a hand of friendship by saying, “Let’s go grab a cup of coffee,” or “Let’s go for a walk and a talk,” don’t resist it. We all need friends. Jesus needed a friend. 



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . trials of many kinds,


·      . . . testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3 (NIV)


5/20/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7tElvdnId4Q



Complete the Verse & Name the Book‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we looked at a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on the godly character quality of dependability. Pastor Del elaborated on four statements regarding dependability that are listed below. Following them is a recap of four additional statements regarding dependability.


1.   It’s important to understand dependability.


2.   God is dependable.


3.   Believers should be and can be dependable.


4.   Dependability is often lacking.


5.   Dependability is needed in many areas of life. Maybe we can even say dependability is needed in all areas of life. In raising our children we want them to learn to be dependable. We want to have positive responses to challenges in our family. With our spouses, we need to be dependable with our love, respect, honor, and support. We need dependability in our careers. Those who advance in their careers are often moved ahead of others because of their dependability. Dependability is needed in church life. Those who volunteer to do a job need to be depended on to do that job. We need to be dependable with our relationships with one another in the church. Can we be depended on to be true, honest, and right with other people in the church? Dependability is needed in the neighborhood in which we live. Can our neighbors depend on us to respect their wishes and to be there for them when they need help? 


Dependability is needed in the area of truthfulness. People need to be able to depend on us to tell the truth. Have you heard people say, “And I really mean it!”? They are insinuating that sometimes they don’t mean what they say. Have you heard people say, “To tell you the truth . . .”? It insinuates that sometimes what they say is not the truth. We are to tell the truth all the time. That’s why Jesus said, Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’, anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”  (Matthew 5:37) We shouldn’t have to take a vow every time we tell the truth. Sometimes people will even use profanity to back up a statement they’ve made.  


Dependability is needed in our Christian walk. When we become believers we agree to certain things. To receive the free gifts from God, we agree that we will trust him. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). We agree to love him and others. Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). We agree to obey him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). We agree to turn from sin. Jesus said, “Leave your life of sin” (John 8:11b). We agree to repent. Jesus said, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3b). There are two elements of conversion: We turn from sin; we turn to Christ. We turn from idols; we turn to the lordship of Jesus. We agree to do that. Can we be counted on to do that which we have agreed to do? 


6.   Dependability has many great benefits. One example is credibility. We gain credibility by being dependable. People believe in us. People learn to trust our words and actions. As we become credible people we are given more opportunities to prove we can be trusted. People stand with us if we have proven ourselves as dependable people. People confide in those who are dependable.


Another benefit of dependability is the lessening of frustration. When we are not dependable, we frustrate ourselves. When we don’t do something we have agreed to do, we get frustrated. It also frustrates the people in our circle. 


Dependability provides an accumulative effect. It builds character into us. God’s glory will be magnified in us. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.


We learn to be more capable and effective when we develop dependability in our lives. 


7.   The lack of dependability is costly. It hinders relationships. When a person is consistently late for appointments, it hinders the relationship with that person. Trust is hindered. When we feel we can’t trust a person in one area of their life, we begin to wonder if we can trust the person in other areas of their life. When we aren’t dependable on the job, we can be fired. A lack of dependability eats away at the support people give us. It eats away at the love people have for us. It can even cause people to give up on us. A lack of dependability is like water dripping on a rock; after a period of time the rock will be worn down. 


8.   God’s grace enables people to be dependable. The grace of God equips us to be dependable. We can’t do it without God, and God won’t do it without us. Philippians 2:12b-13 says: Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposeGod calls us to do his will, and he enables us to do his will. 


God wants us to be dependable. James 1:16-17 says: Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Dependability is a good gift. Dependability helps us to be like Jesus. Someday we are going to appear with Jesus in glory, and we want to appear as dependable people. Jesus receives glory when we are dependable and keep our word and hold true to that which we have committed ourselves. As dependable people we do what we say we’ll do, and we do what we should do. 


Let’s ask God often to build dependability into our lives. Let’s work to be people that God can depend on and other people can depend on. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:21-23). The words we want to hear from Jesus are: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).



Verse Completion. . . trouble you in the land in which you live. Numbers 33:55 (NASB)


5/19/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Z2qUoZKxC9s



Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of dependability. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, self-control, contentment, and joyfulness.


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made some intriguing and challenging statements concerning character and character qualities. Here is one example: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’, anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37). The word simply indicates a character quality. 


Dependability is a godly character quality, and it is needed by us if we are going to have godly character. Let’s take a look at eight statements regarding dependability:


1.   It’s important to understand dependability. The base word for dependability is the word depend which means capable of being counted on. We can be counted on to do what we should do and what we’ve agreed to do—consistently, generally, normally, usually. A person is trustworthy and reliable when he/she is dependable. As parents we want to raise our children to be people that can be counted on—when they say they will do something we’ve asked them to do, we don’t want to have to follow up and see if they actually did it. A dependable person does what he/she consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice. If I’m dependable I will do what I have agreed to do no matter what it costs me. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’ “ (Luke 14:31-33). 


2.   God is dependable. Usually the way we see it translated in Scripture is with the word faithful. God can be counted on. Hebrews 10:23 says: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. We can have confidence and assurance that God is dependable. If God says he will do something, he can be depended on to do it. Dependability is one of God’s attributes. Being dependable is part of God’s nature. Psalm 89 is a wonderful psalm about the nature and character of God. It starts out: I will sing of the LORD’S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. At least six times this psalm tells us that God is faithful. The summation of his faithfulness is found in Revelation 19:11: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. We can depend on Jesus coming again. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says: The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. We can depend on God. We can count on God. 


3.   Believers should be and can be dependable. Jesus taught us to be dependable. He said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.


“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions” (Matthew 24:42-47). 


In the parable of the talents, the servants who duplicated their talents were rewarded. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “ (Matthew 25:21). Notice how the dependable person gets more. 


When Jesus told the parable of the shrewd manager he said: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). 


4.   Dependability is often lacking. Often we are faced with the opposites of dependability. Inconsistency is an example of this. An inconsistent person is not dependable; they may be able to be counted on one day but not the next day. They might show up for work one day but not show up for work the next day. 


Incomplete is another example. This is the person who struggles to complete a task. Tasks are started but not finished. Often what accompanies incomplete tasks are tasks that are poorly done. A dependable person can be counted on to take pride in their work and strive for excellence. 


The adult world is filled with people who are evasive. They can’t be counted on. They always have an excuse for their failures. They break promises and substitute alibies for performance. They never face their weaknesses and failures but put them on someone or something else. They evade the issue by finding a scapegoat on which they can put the blame. They search for answers in life going from one situation, one relationship, one counselor, one church to another but finding no solutions. Instead, they blame the one they left for their problems. 


The world is filled with people who are evasive—excuse makers who can’t be depended on.


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



Verse Completion. . . have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)


5/18/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/0pHbRxuHMu8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you had sent to me, saying, ‘Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Scott Frisbie’s sermon “The Mark of the Believer” that was based on John 13:34-35. Today we will do a recap of the second half.


Centurions were used to seeing people die. However, the death of Jesus on the cross was not typical: the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, there was an earthquake, the tombs shook and bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Matthew 27:54 says: When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” In Luke’s account we read: The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). 


In James 2:14-19 we see the connection between faith and deeds: 


What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.


But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”


Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 


What we believe has to be reflected in our actions. When we bought some property years ago, there were trees on the place, but we didn’t know what kind of trees they were until they started producing fruit. It was by their fruit that we were able to identify them. Galatians 5:19-26 says:


The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 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, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. 


The sinful nature branches in our life need to be withering and dying off. The fruit of the Spirit needs to be evident in our life. People are watching what we do and say to see if it matches up with what we profess. When we blow it they say, “See, he’s no better than me.” Christians aren’t perfect people; they are forgiven people. God loves us in spite of our failures. 


Acts 4:13 says: When [the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law] saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.Wouldn’t it be great to have someone walk up to you and say, “I can tell you’ve spent time with Jesus.”


If we saw a person healing and casting out demons, we would probably say the person was a Christian, and yet we read these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23:“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “ If we saw someone driving out demons and performing many miracles, we would probably say the person was the real deal. We look on the outside, but God looks at the heart. 


Are we working to build God’s kingdom or are we working to  build our own kingdom? Are we praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” or are we praying, “My kingdom come, my will be done”? We can be following Jesus for all the wrong reasons. Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.


“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4). 


Some of the last words spoken by Jesus are recorded in John 13:33-35: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going you cannot come.


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


We’re not just to love those in the church; we’re to love even our enemies. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).


Love should ooze forth from us. Have you met anyone that had love that just oozed out from them? Tony, a retired minister, is a person like that. When his wife died many people commented to Tony about how much he had influenced them by all the love he had given his wife and them. 


One reason people watch Christians is they know this world is messed up, and they are looking for hope. Christians are people with hope. When they see a Christian go through a rough experience, like the death of a spouse, and the Christian demonstrates a strong faith that provides comfort and hope, they are interested in knowing more about that person’s faith. The kind of person we are on the inside will eventually come to the surface. 


A natural response to being around a person like Tony is, “I wonder what church Tony goes to. I want what he has.” Our goal is to be transformed by God. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). May we be people of light for this dark world.



Verse Completion. . . LORD speaks, that I will speak’?” Numbers 24:12-13 (NASB)


5/17/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gxrblK9vfvQ



Complete the Verse & Name the BookNow But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Scott Frisbie’s  sermon “The Mark of the Believer” was based on John 13:34-35. We live in perilous times with believers in parts of the world being persecuted, COVID-19, vaccine passports, and so on. Years ago the question was raised: If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? As Christians we hope there would be plenty of evidence to convict us. What are some things that could be used to convict us?


There is one clear mark that identify us as Christians. Today’s passage has the following words of Jesus:


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


There are different ways we let people know who we are. Hindu women will often have a red mark on their forehead between their eyebrows called a bindi. It’s a tradition that dates back to the third and fourth centuries. The bindi is worn for religious purposes or to indicate they are married. Catholics can be seen with ash on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent that starts a forty-day period when Catholics are asked to devote themselves to seeking God through prayer, reading Scripture, giving alms, and fasting. South Sea Islanders are able to identify each other by their tattoos. 


Our clothing can identify us with a certain group: saffron robes worn by Hare Krishna devotees; abaya, jibab, dupatia, niqab, and burka worn by Islamic women; straight-cut suits and coats without collars, lapels, or pockets worn by Amish men; turbans worn by Sikh men; the clerical collar worn by Christian clergy; clothing that displays a particular sports team; motorcycle jackets with badges that identify riders as belonging to a particular group; green jackets worn by elite golfers; jewelry that identifies someone as part of a group, and so on. People will put out flags, signs, or place a bumper sticker on a vehicle to identify themselves with a group. 


Coca-Cola advertised themselves as the real thing. How can we identify real Christians? We want people to say of us, “He’s the real deal.” What we don’t want said of us is, “He’s one of those phonies. He’s a hypocrite that goes to church on Sunday and lives like the devil the rest of the week.” 


The mark of a true Christian is his love for God and love for others. However, sometimes what Christians are perceived to be is much different than what true Christians are. For example, this is what Wikipedia had to say about a particular church: Westboro Baptist Church is an American hyper-Calvinist hate group. It is known for engaging in inflammatory homophobic and anit-American pickets, as well as hate speech against atheists, Jews, Muslims, transgender people, and numerous Christian denominations. It is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination and has been denounced by Baptist conventions, including the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention, and by other mainstream Christian denominations.


Christians are sometimes labeled as the people who hate people which is completely contrary to what Jesus said identified his followers. 


Scripture marks people. Cain was marked. Genesis 4:11-16 says:


[The LORD said], “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”


Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”


But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’S presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.


In Revelation we find a different mark: After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:1-4). 


Some cults have said that they are the 144,000, but they run into a problem when their membership exceeds 144,000. 


There’s another mark mentioned in Revelation and that is the mark of the beast that has received a lot of attention. Revelation 13:16-17 says: 


He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.


Some people are saying that the vaccine passports are the mark of the beast. There’s been talk about having vaccinated sections and non-vaccinated sections at sporting events. It could be that we aren’t far away from the mark of the beast, but we’re not there yet. Know what God’s word says about the mark of the beast. 


It would be nice if we received a visible mark from Jesus when we accepted him into our lives to be our Lord and Savior. It is nice we have baptism to show others that we have committed our lives to Jesus and have become followers of The Way. 


People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”


What’s in our heart comes out through our actions in the way we live. The love God puts in our hearts for other people is going to come out. It’s this love that makes us different. We stand out. We don’t fit into society, and we’re not supposed to. 


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



Verse Completion. . . resist or contradict. Luke 21:14-15 (NIV)


5/15/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/vAz9C100O5A



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, . . . (completion at the end)



Today we will continue the recap of Dr. Wedman’s lesson “The Fate of the Ungodly” from Jude 3-11 with a recap of the second half. We left off yesterday with Jude reminding his readers about what happened to those who did not follow the truth. His first example was when twelve spies were sent to explore the Promised Land. Ten returned with a negative report, and the result was the Israelites wandered around in the desert for forty years.


 The second example Jude provides is found in verse six when Satan and his angels were thrown out of heaven. They chose to not follow the truth of God, and they suffered the consequences. Isaiah 14:12-15 says: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Isaiah 24:21 says: In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). 


  Verse seven is a reference to Genesis 19 when the people of Sodom and Gomorrah followed their own truth and lived in sexual immorality and perversion. 


In verse eight Jude brings it back home. There are people in the church doing the same things the people in Sodom and Gomorrah were doing—rejecting God’s authority. They practiced Gnosticism claiming to have dreams that gave them special revelation. Cults today often have those who claim God spoke to them in a dream and revealed hidden truths. When they are confronted with how their special revelation contradicts Scripture, they say, “This is new truth.” Unfortunately, many people fall for the falsehood. They like the idea of being allowed to sin and suffer no consequences. 


Ungodliness always involves rejecting authority. Romans 13:1 says: Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. When we have a rebellious spirit against authority, we are rebelling against God. A rebellious spirit says, “Who are you? I don’t have to do what you say. I reject you as authority.” It happens in churches today. Hebrews 13:17 says: Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Verse nine points out how the archangel Michael did not slander and speak abusively about Satan and his demons; Michael simply said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Michael was acknowledging the authority of Jesus. He was saying we need to be careful about how we speak of God’s kingdom. We need to be respectful, and acknowledge that God has all authority. Ungodliness is rebellion against God. Godliness is submission toward God. 


Verse ten refers to people who put themselves as the authority. If they can’t understand it, then it can’t be right. They are unteachable. They slander that which they don’t understand. Their truth is all that matters, so it’s not necessary for them to try and understand God’s truth. They are not open to what God has to say. When people refuse to hear the truth, refuse to try and understand the truth, and refuse even to take steps toward trying to understand the truth, they are being closed-minded. 


If you meet an irrational person, their irrational thinking is not from God. God is rational. God is orderly. God is by design. God is not about confusion or disarray. The irrational people become like animals that live by instinct. 


Verse eleven is saying to stop what you are doing because you are going in a direction that leads to eternal damnation! Hell is the ultimate woe! Remember Cain killed his brother Abel. Genesis 4:6-8 says: Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”


Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 


Cain’s way was not to listen to God. He wanted his own truth, not God’s truth. When we leave God’s truth we leave life, morality, and rationality. We must stay in the truth. 


 The second part of verse eleven says: they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error. The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24. Balak is the king who summons the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. Under protest of the donkey, Balaam goes to see the king. However, every time Balaam goes to curse the Israelites, he is stopped by God and blesses them instead. Balaam’s plan to get money from the king failed because he was unable to curse the Israelites, but Balaam told the king if he wanted to destroy the Israelites, he would tell the king how: have a big party where everyone gets drunk and have a big orgy. Immorality leads to destruction. Balak took the prophet’s advice, and that is exactly what happened. We see the end result in Numbers 31:8, 16:


Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.


“They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people.”


Balaam’s error was to entice the Israelites to leave the truth.


The third woe is Korah’s rebellion found in Numbers 16. Korah opposed Moses. Korah had an ungodly, rebellious spirit. His attitude was, “Who made you leader?!” Korah convinced a lot of people to follow him instead of Moses. Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.”


As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (Numbers 16:28-33)


We’ve been given six examples of those who didn’t follow the truth: 


·      those who listened to the negative report given by the ten spies instead of the positive report given by the two spies


·      Satan and his angels 


·      Sodom and Gomorrah 


·      Cain


·      Balaam


·      Korah


All of them rebelled against the truth, and they all ended up as examples of eternal destruction. We are to contend for the truth. We are to stay with the truth in spite of the agony we experience because of what people say and do against the truth. Truth leads to morality and everlasting life. The truth is God. When we leave the truth we are following falsehood which always leads to immorality which always leads to destruction. The wages of sin is death. Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. We are to be the pillar and foundation of the truth. Remain in the truth. 


If you’re not in the truth, repent of your sins, invite Jesus into your life, commit to following him as your Lord and Savior so that you will have everlasting life. 



Verse Completion. . . he lived. Numbers 21:9 (NASB)


5/14/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/L6XMSPJzfEU



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from Jude 3-11 with a lesson titled “The Fate of the Ungodly” as he continued Fireside Fellowship. Last week we looked at the background of the book of Jude. 


Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 


Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.


In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.


Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.


Jude wanted to write to those who had received salvation and encourage them in the faith. However, faith was being threatened by the entrance of falsehood. Faith in Jesus was being changed and perverted. This falsehood could not be allowed. Faith had to be defended. 


When Jude urged his friends to contend for the faith, he was using a Greek word from which we get the English word agony or agonize. Pain is involved when we contend for the faith. There’s an emotional, mental, and social cost to defending the faith. The cost shows up when we refuse to compromise the truth. Socially, people turn against you. You become an object of slander and gossip. Negative motives are ascribed to you. People don’t want to hear truth because they prefer their own “truth”. You are attacked by those who don’t want to hear the truth. 


We live in a world that is attempting to destroy truth. The world says that truth is no longer objective; it’s subjective. They say truth is whatever you want it to be. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We live in such a conflicted society that we can no longer agree to disagree. Those who don’t hold the beliefs of the world are labeled prejudiced, bigoted, exclusive, simple-minded, or closed-minded. A disciple of Christ finds himself opposed by the world. 


The foundation of truth is Jesus Christ. Truth leads to the right way of life. Falsehood leads to death. All have sinned. Sin has a penalty, and it’s death. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin with his death on the cross. All who believe in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life. We are to agonize and contend for this truth. 


God’s word is truth. His words don’t change. There’s no new revelation. If anything contradicts that which is already written in God’s word, then it’s not truth; it’s falsehood. Isaiah 40:8 says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” 1 Timothy 3:14-15 says: Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. As disciples of Christ, we are part of the foundation of the truth. It’s only through the truth of God’s word that we can receive everlasting life. 


In verse four we see that certain men have secretly slipped in. These are unobtrusive people who try to blend in with everyone else in the church. They try not to stand out, but they should stand out because they are ungodly people. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (Titus 1:16) These people pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality. They falsify the grace of God to excuse their life of sin. This is classic antinomianism: there are no laws that need to be kept because God’s grace covers all sins. This is in direct opposition to the word of God that says: 


Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.


Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)


Grace is given to us so we can stop sinning. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Peter said, But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). As disciples of Christ, we are new creations—the old has gone; the new has come. We have been transformed. 


When falsehood entered the church, people said God wasn’t fully God and fully man. The foundational truth was denied. The result was  they denied how people of the truth should live. People were being led astray. They needed to understand truth so they could identify falsehood. 


Verse five is a reference to Numbers 14. The Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. As they approached the Promised Land, twelve scouts were sent out to explore the land. Ten spies said it was impossible to enter that land, but two spies said, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (verses 7b-9). The people rebelled against God and God’s leaders, and the result was God made the Israelites wander around in the desert for forty years. Jude is telling the people to remember this story. 


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



Verse Completion. . . disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16 (NIV)


5/13/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/R8jFKe9XppY



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“Aaron shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because . . .(completion at the end)



Yesterday we looked at a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on the godly character quality of joyfulness. We left off with Pastor Del talking about the applications of joyfulness


·      Philippians 4:4 says: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  We rejoice in who he is and all that he is. God is hallowed. We rejoice in his nature. We rejoice in his character qualities. We rejoice in his attributes: omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all present), omnipotent (all powerful), love, light, a consuming fire, holy. I can’t help but be filled with joy when I think that the God of the universe is my God. He is the one who reached down from heaven and took hold of this sinful man of the earth and made him a child of God so I can now pray to my Father who is in heaven. My Father created me, regenerated me, adopted me, transformed me, took me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. I have much to rejoice over. I can be filled with joy for who God is and what he does. 


·      1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 says: For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. We can rejoice in those we have led to Jesus. We can rejoice that the day is coming when there will be no more crying, mourning, complaining, depression, or darkness.


Who and what are the enemies against joyfulness


·      Satan. 1 Peter 5:8 says: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Satan attempts to turn all of us into basket cases. He wants us to be miserable people who are constantly on the dark side. He is our adversary. He is opposed to us. He opposes joy. 


·      Demons. Ephesians 4:12 says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Demons are against light and against joy. 


·      Humanity itself. Take a look at any period of history, and it is a history of pain. Pain is everywhere. Human nature is an enemy to joy. 


·      Sin in our lives. Sin will rob us of joy. After David sinned, he prayed: Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Psalm 51:12). 


·      Apathy. Joy is a positive character quality; it’s not neutral. People who do nothing to insure joy in their lives will not have joy. Apathy is failure to seek joy. 


Now let’s take a look at the magnificent provision for this joyfulness of which we speak. 


·      It is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.The Holy Spirit is a spirit of life—he gives life. Part of the life he gives is joy. When the life of the Holy Spirit is running through us, there will be fruit just as nutrients from the soil run through the trunk of a tree out into its branches and produce fruit. We need to make sure we are filled with the Spirit and are walking in the Spirit. Romans 14:16-18 says: Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. 


·      When God rules and reigns in our lives, there is joy. Joy is there for us to draw on. Let the King of joy give you joy. 


·      It’s part of our spiritual life. 1 Peter 1:8-9 says: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. There is joy because salvation is at work in our lives. We get to experience deliverance from the power of sin. 


·      God’s joy. God is a joyful person. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). God’s joy is planted in me; joy doesn’t originate in me. 


The joy of the Lord is brought into our lives as we walk with him, as we’re filled with the Spirit, as we abide in Christ, as we study the word of God, as we dialogue in prayer with God, and as we walk in obedience. It’s God’s joy that is put in our hearts. It’s by the grace of God that we can grow as a joyful person. 



Verse Completion. . . you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah. Numbers 20:24 (NASB)


5/12/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/R8jFKe9XppY



Complete the Verse & Name the Book(Now the man Moses was very . . .(completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of joyfulness. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, self-control, and contentment.


Character is the accumulated qualities that individual men and women acquire from years of doing the right thing over and over again even when they don’t feel like it. People with godly character understand that their lives are filled with events and choices that are significant, not because of the short-term success or failure of the search for money or position, but because the choices we make are actually making us into one kind of a person or another. Our life of choices is a life-long labor to make ourselves into the person who has begun to respond adequately to the awesome gift we receive from God when he made us in his image. 


Character qualities are those aspects of character that constitute what a person is. There are godly character qualities and ungodly character qualities. There are positive character qualities and negative character qualities. Today we are going to look at the godly character quality of joyfulness. On a scale of one to ten, what is your level of joy?


Joy is the feeling of well-being or contentment. Pleasure and happiness are part of joy. Joy is an emotion; it’s not something physical or material that we can touch. Joy is internal; it’s in our soul. Joy can be delight or elation. Joy is also a choice. 


Rejoice means to feel or show joy. When we rejoice we are delighted about something and express that delight. It’s an experience that comes out in thoughts or words, and it can produce a physical response such as a “jump for joy”. 


Joyfulness is a state; it’s not an act of rejoicing, and it’s not a quality of joy. It is a state of living in that joy. It’s an abundance of joy. It’s internal. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says: Be joyful always. In other words we are to be constantly full of joy. Philippians 3:1a says: Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! We are to express in word or action the joy that is in our heart, soul, or inner being. 


The opposite of joyfulness includes fear, anxiety, and worry. Usually our fears, anxiety, and worry involve material things: money, houses, body, etc. There’s also the fear of a person, and that fear can take away our joy. There’s fear of the future as we worry if something bad is going to get worse, or if something good is going to stop. There’s a fear of failure because people lack confidence. These things can affect our feeling of well-being and can curtail our rejoicing. 


The opposite of joyfulness can also include doubt, unbelief, disbelief, and doublemindedness. Joy doesn’t fit with these words. However, joy and trust do fit together. Trust is an application of the word faith. We live by faith. Joy and faith go together. We are called to believe and trust—to have faith. Romans 4:3b says: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Hebrews 10:38a says: But my righteous one will live by faith. Unfortunately, there is a war against faith, and that war seems to be increasing. Ephesians 6:12 says: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 


Another opposite of joyfulness is self-pity. Complaining, griping, and bellyaching always accompany self-pity. Have you ever seen a joyful person feeling sorry for themselves? The two just don’t mix. Some of the joy-killers include: sorrow that we don’t take to the Lord, sadness that we don’t take to the Lord, disappointments, complaining. 


Now let’s take a look at the applications of joyfulness


·      1 Thessalonians 5:16 says: Be joyful always. No matter what is happening, we can choose joy by the grace of God. We don’t have to wallow in self-pity. We don’t have to complain. We don’t have to be filled with anxiety or fear.  


·      Romans 12:15a says: Rejoice with those who rejoice. There are rejoicing people around. Find them and associate with them. Share joy with them. 


·      Romans 5:1-2 says: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We rejoice in the hope of seeing the glory of God in its finality. We see it now in our own lives as God touches us and blesses us and heals us. We also see it in the lives of other people. Hope is expectation and anticipation.


·      Romans 5:3-4 says: Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. If our hope is in Jesus, we will not be disappointed. Habakkuk 3:17-18a says: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. If there’s no food in my refrigerator, no clothes in my closet, no money in my bank account, no room on my credit card, no gas in the car, and no electricity in the house, I will still rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. Why? Because I’m trusting him. God is always faithful. 


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of this lesson with the second half. I hope you are able to join us.



Verse Completion. . . humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)  Numbers 12:3 (NASB)


5/11/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/YEZGj__Qb4Y



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, . . . (completion at the end)



     Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Words” that was based on 2 Kings 2:1-15. Today is a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Michael saying that in the first of three short stories that show various responses to the word of God, we see that the company of prophets’ response was that of doubt. Now we will look at two other responses.


The second story is found in verses 19-22: The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”


“Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.


Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ “ And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.


The people of Jericho are giving Elisha the same honor they had given Elijah. Jericho had an ideal location in a beautiful valley near the Jordan River. To the east were the rolling hills of Moab. Jericho had rich soil. It just had one problem—bad water. The bad water caused the crops to wither and die. The bad water caused the fruit trees not to produce fruit. It was the same story with grapes. 


When we go back in history, Jericho was never supposed to be rebuilt. It was the first city the Israelites destroyed after they crossed the Jordan River. For six days they marched around Jericho. On the seventh day they marched around the city seven times with the priests blowing their trumpets. After a loud shout the wall of the city collapsed, and they entered the city and burned everything in it (see Joshua 5:13-6:27). Joshua 6:26 says, At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates.” 


Joshua said that those who would attempt to rebuild the city would lose their oldest and youngest sons. Jericho was to be a reminder to everyone that this is what happens to those who don’t follow the LORD. However, because of the beauty of the surrounding area and its ideal location, people desired to live there. King Ahab was the king when Elijah and Elisha were prophets. 1 Kings 16:34 says: In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun. 


Ahab set about to rebuild Jericho because Ahab didn’t care about the word of God. Hiel learned the hard way that God’s word means something. Joshua’s words were true words. 


It’s often the case that one person can labor in God’s kingdom and preach the word of God but nothing visible happens. Nevertheless, the foundation is being laid so that the next person who comes along laboring in God’s kingdom has the opportunity to speak God’s words with visible results. We need to be ready to follow the Spirit’s prompting when he tells us to witness to a person. You may be called to be the one to lay the foundation, or you may be the person who is called to go into the harvest field and bring in the harvest. We always need to be ready to sow or reap as the Spirit leads. 


Elisha is asked to do something about the bad water in Jericho. Notice that Elisha didn’t say, “No, I’m not going to do anything about the bad water. The city of Jericho never should have been built in the first place after the fall. Too bad for you. There’s no way I’m helping you.” Instead, Elisha said he would do something about the water. Elisha was a person of grace. They had paid the penalty for their sin with the death of Hiel’s oldest and youngest sons. 


Elisha asks for a bowl of salt, and the people of Jericho comply. They trust him as a prophet. They know his words are God’s words. They recognize their only hope for good water lies in God. Elisha throws the salt into the spring, and God healed the water. Wouldn’t it be nice if we never doubted God? Sometimes we waste time spinning our wheels in unbelief. When we stop saying, “This doesn’t make sense, so I’m not doing it,” and we start saying, “This doesn’t make sense, but I’m going to follow you, Lord,” then we start to gain some traction and move in the direction God is leading us. Our job is to obey God, and the result is healing, wholeness, wellness, and productivity in our life. We become productive when we take God at his word. 


The third story, or third response to the words of God, is found in verses 23-25: From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.


What are more than forty-two boys doing together? What are they doing hiding in the woods? They are definitely up to no good. They are a gang. To call someone a “baldhead” was a terrible insult. It was being very disrespectful. They knew he was Elisha, a prophet of God. Nevertheless, they jeer at him and mock him. 


Bethel, which means “house of God” had become a center of Baal worship, a center of falsehood. These boys had grown up in Bethel without a care for the one true God, Jehovah. This gang of teenagers weren’t some young kids up to a little mischief; they were a hardcore gang who intended on robbing and/or killing travelers who came to Bethel. 


Notice how they attacked from behind. How would you feel if you were Elisha surrounded by around fifty teenagers who intended to do you harm? The gang wanted Elisha to know they were the ones in control of the situation. However, when Elisha spoke two bears appeared and mauled forty-two of the boys.


Elisha had said, “God’s word means something. Jehovah is God. His words mean everything. He cannot be mocked. He cannot be destroyed. He cannot be hidden. He cannot be tucked away. He cannot be threatened. He is God! So, gang, if you think you are going to beat me up, think again. If you think you have power over Jehovah, think again. Here come a couple of bears. You are in trouble!” The response of the gang was to reject God, and they paid dearly for that rejection. 


We have three stories that each reveal a response to the words of God. When Elisha spoke would his words be accepted as the words of God as Elijah’s words were, or would they be rejected? In each of the stories we see that Elisha’s words are backed up by the authority and power of God. 


The company of prophets doubted God’s words. They wasted their time and energy. They could have spent their time building God’s kingdom, but because they doubted they wasted their time building their own kingdom. The people at Jericho accepted Elisha’s words. They trusted and believed his words and were healed. The third group rejected God’s words and received destruction rather than salvation. 


The question for us is: What are we going to do with the words of God? Are we going to doubt, accept, or reject them? Do we believe God is sovereign? Do we spend our time building our own kingdoms or do we spend our time building the kingdom of God? 


God’s word is God’s word. It’s not up to us to like or dislike his words. It’s up to us to accept or reject his words. God’s words are always truth. Whether or not you believe God’s words doesn’t change the fact that they are truth. We need to obey and follow his words as truth. Let us be people who accept and trust God’s words and hold his words as the utmost authority in our lives. May we be productive people who are involved in building the kingdom of God by promoting and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. 



Verse Completion. . . pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6 (NASB)


5/10/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/LB3un06HUSY



Complete the Verse & Name the BookNow the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Words” was based on 2 Kings 2:15-25. Elijah has been taken to heaven in a whirlwind, and Elisha is the new prophet, the spiritual leader of Israel. He is God’s voice for the nation, and the people need to respond to his voice. The company of prophets (i.e. Bible school students) knew how Elijah went about his business, but now they have to learn how Elisha operates. Elijah (which means “Jehovah is God”) had changed the nation for good. What would Elisha do as Elijah’s replacement? Is the Spirit of God going to work in the life of Elisha in the same way He did in the life of Elijah? When Elijah spoke people listened because what he spoke was truth. Would Elisha speak truth? Our passage of Scripture for today has three short stories about Elisha. The first is found in verses 15-18:


The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”


“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”


But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”


The company of fifty prophets have been watching Elijah from a distance. They may have seen some commotion with the chariot of fire, the horses of fire, and the whirlwind, but they probably didn’t see any details. What they did witness was Elisha striking the water of the Jordan River with his cloak and watching the water divide and Elisha cross to the other side. 


The company of prophets bowed down before Elisha to show him respect. It looks as though they are going to give Elisha the same honor they gave Elijah. However, they volunteer to look for Elijah. That’s peculiar because earlier they had been bragging that they knew this was going to be Elijah’s last day. Why would they look for someone they knew the LORD had taken away? Elisha told them not to look for Elijah because he had watched Elijah be taken to heaven. 


That’s not the answer the prophets were looking for, and they refuse to take “no” for an answer. The prophets kept hounding Elisha until finally he relented. It’s like when kids keep pressing their parents for something they desire. The parents keep saying “no” but because of the kids’ persistence, the parents out of exasperation finally give in to their kids. It’s also similar to the story Jesus told in Luke 11:5-8: And He said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’


“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” (NASB)


The fifty prophets set out to find Elijah, but of course they do not find him. It appears the prophets did not believe God when he told them that it was Elijah’s last day. Perhaps the prophets said, “Maybe we got it wrong. Maybe that wasn’t God’s voice we heard after all,” even after Elisha told them not to waste their time looking for Elijah. They don’t trust Elisha’s words.


After three days the prophets return, and Elisha said, “See, I told you you wouldn’t find him.” The prophets waste three days and a whole lot of energy for nothing. They could have spent three days doing God’s work, but instead they do their own work. Sometimes we waste years doing our own work instead of God’s work because we doubt God’s word. We say, “Maybe I didn’t hear God after all. The situation I read about is a little different from my situation. I don’t understand why God would tell me to do this, so maybe it wasn’t his voice I heard.” The result is we don’t do God’s will for us. The consequence is we waste our time, energy, gifts, talents, health, and wealth on our kingdom instead of using everything God’s given us to build his kingdom. 


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



Verse Completion. . . the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. Numbers 11:1 (NASB)


5/8/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7QCn2Jn1sPY



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,. . . (completion at the end)



Today we will continue the recap of Dr. Wedman’s lesson “The Blessings of the Godly” from Jude 1-2 with a recap of the second half. We left off yesterday with Dr. Wedman speaking about antinomianism: the belief that we can sin as much as we want to since all of our sins are covered by God’s grace. Dr. Wedman pointed out that is a perversion of God’s grace, and he is proving it with Scripture.


1 Peter 1:15-16 says:But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” God has expectations from those who have been set apart from the world. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. A transformation has taken place. We aren’t like we used to be. We don’t live in sin any longer. 


Sin has serious consequences. Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. We can’t pretend that sin doesn’t exist. We can’t rename it. We can’t have our own truth. God is truth, and we need to follow that truth. Sin separates us from God, and sin has a penalty. It’s true that God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:8-9). This grace translates into a transformed life, not a life of immorality, not a life of licentiousness, not a life of sexual immorality, and not a life of perversion. As transformed people we are no longer grumblers and faultfinders; we are no longer those who flatter others to our own advantage. 


Not only have people brought into the church a perversion of grace, they have also denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. These people deny that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. They accept Jesus as a good teacher and example, but they do not accept him as God. They deny Jesus as Savior and Lord. 


If Jesus is not fully God and fully man, then there is no forgiveness of sins. If Jesus wasn’t fully God and fully man, then he couldn’t pay the penalty for sin. Mankind sinned so it was mankind’s responsibility to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus was fully man. Jesus was also the only man to never sin. He was perfect. It took a perfect, sinless sacrifice of mankind to satisfy the penalty for sin—only Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. When we deny Jesus is fully God and fully man, we deny our own salvation. 


This is what was happening in the churches during Jude’s time, and it’s still happening today: antinomianism—the denial of Jesus as Master and Lord, and Gnosticism—the belief that a “special revelation” has been given to a select few; it claims updated Christianity; it claims a version of Christianity that’s more relevant to the times. The bottom line of Gnosticism is the belief that says, “I am my own god.” All the cults today are a type of Gnosticism. 


God does not change, and his word does not change. Hebrews 13:8-9a says: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. False doctrine and false living always go together. Where you have an erosion of truth, you will have an increase in immorality. Where the absolute truth of God declines, you will have an increase in immorality. Falsehood comes from Satan. There are no morals with Satan. Only the truth of God leads to righteousness—right living. Truth is not relative. The truth of God’s word is absolute. God’s word shows us how to live right before God and others. Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll obey my commandments,” not change my commandments, not pervert my commandments, and not subvert my commandments.


Now that we have a background for the book of Jude, let’s begin reading:


Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,


To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:


Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.


Jude could have started out the book with: “Jude, a brother of Jesus,” in an attempt to draw attention himself and try to impress others with his significance as the brother of the Messiah. However, Jude wasn’t interested in playing drop-the-name card. He wasn’t into pride and arrogance. He was into being a servant of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was committed to being a bond slave of Jesus—one who is committed to serving Jesus for his whole life. 


To those who have been called—to be called means to be summoned. It means you have been called for a specific purpose. You have been chosen to perform a duty. You are important. God knows you by name. God wants you. God desires your company. God is calling you into his service, his kingdom, and his family. God is calling you to his banqueting table. The calling includes duty and responsibility, but it also includes festivity—a celebration of his kingdom. There’s joy, happiness, feasting, and wellness in the festivity. Jude is telling those in the church that they are desired and loved by God. 


God’s love involves him sending his Son to die for the sins of all so that whoever believes in him will have everlasting life. God’s love for you is not less than his love for someone else. 


Not only are we called and loved by Jesus, but we are kept by Jesus—guarded by Jesus. What are some of the things you keep? You keep the important things—those things that have significance. You keep things you treasure. God keeps those things that are precious to him, that which has value to him, what he treasures. God keeps you. 2 Timothy 1:12b says: [Jesus] is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 


The blessing at the beginning of Jude includes: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. On special occasions we might set out an abundance of food. That means there’s far more food than we need. Mercy is the goodness of God. It’s similar to grace but it’s more the guidance and help of God. Mercy reaches down and helps us in our time of need. Mercy is “God with us.” An abundance of mercy means God’s mercy will never run out. We will always have more than we need. 


The peace being spoken of here is soul peace—peace with God. Romans 8:1 says: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.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) God’s peace far outweighs any conflict that comes our way. We are to bask in his peace.


The love being spoken of here is agape love—love that has no limits. Love so strong it will die for another person so that person can live. We are to swim in God’s all-encompassing mercy, peace, and love. May we know the worth we have in Jesus.  



Verse Completion: . . . “Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.”  Revelation 18:21 (NASB)


5/7/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Zsts7SMag7M



Complete the Verse & Name the Book

The LORD bless you, and keep you; 


The LORD make His face shine on you,


And be gracious to you;


The LORD lift up His countenance on you,


And . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught from Jude 1-2 with a lesson titled “The Blessings of the Godly” as he continued Fireside Fellowship. The book of Jude is not commonly studied, but it is very relevant for our society today. 


Jude was written around 65-80 A.D. There are some striking similarities with 2 Peter 2. Both books were written around the same time frame. The author of Jude is Jude, a half-brother of Jesus. Jesus had four half-brothers. In Matthew 13:55 we read: Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.” Jude is a shorter version of Judas. 


James was very prominent in the early church. At the Council at Jerusalem, James said, “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”


Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. The men chosen were two of the church leaders—Judas (also called Barsabbas) and Silas (Acts 15:19-22).


We learn about the family of Jesus in Mark 3:20-35: One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.


But the teachers of religious law who had arrived from Jerusalem said, “He’s possessed by Satan, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to cast out demons.”


Jesus called them over and responded with an illustration. “How can Satan cast out Satan?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive. Let me illustrate this further. 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.


“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” He told them this because they were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”


Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”


Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”


Early in the ministry of Jesus, his brothers did not believe that he was the Christ. John 7:1-5 says: After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Before the crucifixion and resurrection, the brothers of Jesus did not believe he was the Messiah, the Son of God.


At some point after the resurrection, the brothers of Jesus came to believe he was the Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:5 says: Don’t we have the right to bring a believing wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? The brothers of Jesus changed from mockers to disciples. We have two books in the New Testament that are written by two of the brothers of Jesus—James and Jude. 


Jude is writing to a church that has been around for approximately fifty years, and falsehood has started to enter the church. Truth is being shifted and manipulated. There are people in the church who claim to be disciples of Jesus, but they don’t follow the truth of Jesus. They claimed falsehood as truth. They had embraced antinomianism which means “against the law”. Their position was: Law is now over. We no longer follow Old Testament law; we follow grace. Since we are under grace, sin no longer matters. What one does with their body doesn’t matter because grace is about spiritual salvation. A person can sin all they want because they are covered by God’s grace. Moral laws no longer matter. God has to forgive because he’s a gracious God. Part of the antinomianism belief was that truth is relative. In other words, if you want something to be true, then it’s true. If you prefer your own truth over God’s truth, that’s okay, because grace will cover any of your wrongs. Do whatever you want. There’s no such thing as living rightly. 


Antinomianism is a perversion of grace! When we receive grace and the forgiveness of sins, grace helps us to live a transformed life. 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! We are to walk in the Spirit—in our new nature. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Antinomianism says there is no absolute truth you have to follow; follow your own truth. By holding this belief, they are in direct opposition to Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Antinomianism is also in direct opposition to the word of God that says:Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.


Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God (1 John 3:4-10).


Tomorrow we will continue the recap of Dr. Wedman’s lesson from Jude with the second half.



Verse Completion. . . give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 (NASB)


5/6/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/G2GOlOv05YY



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut no one can tame the tongue; it is . . .(completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Del McKenzie’s lesson on contentment. Today we will complete the lesson with a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Del talking about proper contentment.


Now let’s take a look at improper contentment. We shouldn’t be content with some things such as our spiritual progress. Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Paul wasn’t content with his level of spiritual maturity. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I as mature spiritually, emotionally, and socially as I should be?” If we are content with where we are at in these areas, we are improperly content because there’s always room for growth. Peter said in 2 Peter 3:18: You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We always need to be in a state of spiritual development; we are a work in progress. 


Improper contentment has to do with our ability to care for other people. Am I satisfied with how I care for other people? Is there room for growth in this area? Ephesians 4:28b says: Give generously to others in need. In our culture the efforts people put out to get more money are not so they can give more money to people who have needs. Titus 3:14 says: Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Are we content with our level of production, or are we unproductive as far as God’s kingdom is concerned and helping other people is concerned? Is my involvement in world missions at the level it should be? We can become content with what we are doing for other people when we can and should be doing more. 


The opposite of contentment is dissatisfaction. We can be dissatisfied with our job, our house, the location where we live, our family, our neighbors, our country, and many other things. Another opposite of contentment is greed: the desire for more than is needed. We live in a very affluent culture. It wasn’t always like this. The fur trappers who lived before us had a difficult life compared to ours now. Greediness often leads to envy and jealousy as we want what others have. Greed is an obsession. Greed is idolatry. A third opposite of contentment is fear, anxiety, or worry. We can be fearful that we won’t have enough. We can be fearful that God won’t take care of us. 


Not being content with what we have can lead us to ingratitude. Expressing thanks from a heart of filled with thankfulness is a great remedy for discontentment.  


There are practical reasons for me to be content:


1.   Material possessions don’t satisfy. We always want more no matter how much we have. Material things don’t last. When we die we leave everything behind. Job 1:21 says: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” 1 Timothy 6:7 says: After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. Material possessions don’t last, and we don’t last. Why invest our lives in something that isn’t going to last? We need to invest in that which is eternal. 


2.   Material possessions distort values. Material things take us away from spiritual things, mental things, and social pursuits. We can spend a lot of time with our recreational possessions. We can spend a lot of time on a mountain home. We can spend a lot of time on a boat. These things can distort values. What is really important in life? What is our purpose in life? Some of us become workaholics while our families suffer for it. 


3.   Material possessions disrupt our priorities. Have you made a list of priorities in value order? God should be our first priority. Paul said, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:21). We also need to make ourselves a priority. Sometimes we get so busy we don’t take time to take care of ourselves, and the result is our mental, emotional, and physical health suffers. Our spouse needs to be a priority. How much of our time, energy, attention, and affection do we give our spouse? Our family needs to be a priority. How much do we give to our biological family and our spiritual family? 


Contentment is an answer to things which hurt us. Discontentment hurts. Those who are fearful and anxious will have their physical health affected detrimentally. There are people in hospitals with emotionally-induced illnesses. Fear, anxiety, worry, and self-pity lead to complaining which leads to discouragement, despondency, despair, and depression. Dissatisfaction can lead to apathy, and people sleep their lives away. Sometimes people turn to eating because of their dissatisfaction. Food becomes their comfort. 


How do we build contentment into our lives? 


1.   Spend time alone with God. Jesus said, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Read his word. Psalm 1:2 says: But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. God needs to be included in the best time of our day. Early morning people need to give God some of their early morning time. 


2.   Cultivate true worship. Worship the true God, not a counterfeit or an idol. Jesus said, “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Psalm 96:9 says: Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. Psalm 95:6 says: Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God.Psalm 24:3-4 says: Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. True worship involves: awe, wonder, admiration, adoration, affirmation, appreciation, confession, submission, contrition, petition, praise, and thanksgiving. We praise God for who he is, and we thank God for what he does. 


3.   Reject cultural pressure. You might hear, “Everyone is doing it.” “Everyone has one.” To combat the pressure spend time in God’s word, spend time in prayer listening to God, and spend time in true worship. 


Contentment is a godly character quality that God wants us to have so we will be transformed and conformed to the image of Jesus. 



Verse Completion. . . a restless evil and full of deadly poison. James 3:8 (NASB)


5/5/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gshu9c73Qjc



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make . . . (completion at the end)



On Monday, Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series on “Godly Character Qualities” with the topic of contentment. So far he has taught on gentleness, humility, integrity, endurance, responsibility, thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance, generosity, loyalty, honesty, flexibility, sincerity, orderliness, thoroughness, discernment, decisiveness, punctuality, respect, graciousness, deference, truthfulness, commitment, initiative, submission, diligence, and self-control.


Character is what we are. All the things we do add up to our character. There is a difference between having character and doing good character things. God extends grace to us time and time again. God’s grace comes out of his graciousness. He gives us gift after gift, and he does it joyfully, willingly, and bountifully because he is a gracious God. God also extends mercy to us. Every morning his mercies are new. We can’t begin to calculate how many times he’s shown us mercy. The wages of sin is death. We should all be dead, but because of God’s mercy we aren’t. 


God doesn’t extend mercy to us when he’s feeling good or having a good day; he extends mercy to us out of his nature, his character. He’s a merciful God. The same goes for God’s love. God could send us love occasionally and still not be a loving God. We can extend love to people occasionally and still not be loving people. God extends love consistently because he is a loving God. Love is part of his character—who he is. God’s desire for us and his working in us is to change us from what we were and are to what we can be. God’s wants to do a work in us to change our character. He desires to bring about a transformation.


Romans 12:1-2 says: I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)


2 Corinthians 3:18 says: But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (NASB)


Transformation involves an internal change, a character change. This is real change; it’s not a surface change. Transformation is depth change, divine change, and lasting change. 


As God works to bring about transformation in us, he also works to conform us into the image of Christ. Romans 8:29 says: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (NASB) The end result of being transformed and conformed is having the character of Jesus.


God is the potter; we are the clay. Romans 9:19-24 says: Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”


No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. (NLT)


The lyrics to the first verse of the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” as are follows:


Have Thine own way, Lord


Have Thine own way


Thou art the potter; I am the clay


Mold me and make me after Thy will


While I am waiting yielded and still


We are to be transformed and conformed so others are able to see Christ in us. 


One of the character qualities we need to be transformed and conformed to is the character quality of contentment. Proper contentment is being happy with what we have—not wanting more; not being irritated, agitated, or disgruntled because we don’t have something. It means being satisfied with what we have. Contentment is realizing God has provided everything I need for my present happiness. It’s saying, “Right now I have everything that I need. God has provided it for me.” Everything I have has been given to me by God. It all comes from his free grace. If it wasn’t for God’s grace I wouldn’t have anything. All that I have accomplished God has done for me. Isaiah 26:12b says: All we have accomplished is really from you. 


Material things include bank accounts, property titles, buildings, vehicles, and so on. God has entrusted us with what we have, and he wants us to manage them for him. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says: Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. Jesus was content with what he had materially even though it wasn’t much.


Hebrews 13:5 says: Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” If we have God with us we can be content with what we have. In Philippians 4:11-13 Paul said: Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Contentment comes out of trusting God.


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



Verse Completion. . . restitution in full for his wrong, and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged. Numbers 5:6-7


5/4/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5bpgmJGkQbs



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Double Portion Blessing” that was based on 2 Kings 2:1-15. Today is a recap of the second half. We left off with Pastor Michael pointing out how they followed Elijah and Elisha at a distance. They wanted to see what would happen next. When Elijah rolled up his cloak and struck the water, the Jordan River divided and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.


When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” (verse 9a) Remember that Elijah is the prophet who has stopped the rains, brought fire down from heaven, stood against the nation, stood against Ahab and Jezebel, been Enemy #1 of the state, has set up Bible schools, and yet he is the one who asks Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for youbefore I am taken from you?” 


You might expect Elisha to ask for protection or more comforts of life, but he says, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit” (verse 9b). Rather than asking Elijah for that which he wants, Elisha asks for what he needs—more of God. Elisha knows he’s going to be the mouth for God. He knows he’s going to work to change a nation and bring it back to God. Elisha asks for more of God in his life. He knows he can’t do any kingdom good without the Spirit of God, so he asks for a double portion. It’s the Spirit of God in Elisha that will enable him to accomplish that which God desires from him. 


Elisha asks for what is indispensable. Elisha knew, and we should know, that we can’t do any good for God without his Spirit in us. We need a double portion of God’s Spirit these days. We can’t be people of truth, salt, and light without his Spirit in us. We can’t promote and partner with the gospel without the Spirit of God. Sometimes we act as though God’s Spirit is optional, but it is indispensable. It is impossible to build the kingdom of God without the Spirit of God. 


Elisha asks not for the things God can give, but he asks for the Giver of all things. He’s not after the gifts; he’s after the Giver. Elijah’s answer is, “You have asked a difficult thing, yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.” (verse 10)


Elijah is not in charge of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit isn’t something Elijah could give. Elisha is the one who is going to have to receive the Spirit of God directly from God. What Elisha wants can only come from God. He needs to pay attention. Elijah is interested in the degree of thirst Elisha has for the Spirit of God. Elijah wants to know Elisha’s level of commitment to the Spirit. The question facing Elisha and all of us is, “Are you going to give all that you have to pursue God?”


As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (verse 11) Artists have sometimes drawn Elijah going to heaven in a chariot, but the chariot of fire is what separated the two of them, and a whirlwind is what takes him to heaven. 


Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. (verse 12)


Elisha is grieving. Elijah has become like a father to Elisha after having Elijah mentor him for the past twenty years. 


Chariots and horsemen are weapons of war. Ahab had the most powerful army in the land. By calling Elijah the “chariots and horsemen of Israel,” he was calling Elijah the guardian and protector of Israel. He was saying, “It’s not by the power of horses. It’s not by man’s strength. It’s by God’s strength.” The real protector of Israel, or any nation, is the Spirit of God, the truth of God, the word of God. Elijah has been protecting the nation by speaking the truth of God. It’s only by God’s Spirit, power, will, and determination that any nation stands. Elisha rightly calls Elijah the “chariots and horsemen of Israel.” Elijah is the one who is causing the nation to be revived and stand before God. Before Elijah came Israel was a nation of Baal worshipers with less than one percent of the people worshiping Jehovah. Now the people are returning to worshiping God. 


America has arguably the strongest military in the world, but it’s not the ships, planes, bombs, missiles, guns or any other weapons of war that will keep the nation on its feet. The Armed Forces will not keep our country from falling; it’s God’s Spirit that will save our nation. Without God’s Spirit and truth, a nation will fail. We need an Elijah in America and in every other nation. We need someone who has the Spirit of God in him proclaiming truth. 


He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. (verse 13) This is the same cloak that was placed on Elisha by Elijah. Elisha has the symbol of God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit, and God’s power. He steps up to the Jordan River for the first test to see if Elisha has the Spirit of God in him. This will be the test to see if he inherited a double portion of God’s Spirit. The fifty men of the company of the prophets are watching to see what happens. 


Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. (verse 14a) Elisha is saying, “God, are you here with me now? God, am I the new prophet? Have you anointed me? Are you going to part the waters? Are you going to give me the sign that I have received a double portion of your Spirit and can do the work you’ve given me to do?” 


We think double portion means twice as much as what Elijah had. He wasn’t asking for that. He was asking for God to fill him with his Spirit, his presence, and his power so he could complete his duties as the spiritual leader of the nation. The eldest son of Israelites received a double portion inheritance. That didn’t mean he received twice as much as his siblings; it meant he became the leader of the family after the father died. The eldest son had a huge responsibility and needed a double portion of the Spirit of God in order to carry out that responsibility well. Elisha wanted all he could get of God (his power, his authority, his presence) to lead the nation closer to God. 


When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. (verse 14b) Elisha knew at that point that the Spirit of God rested upon him. He knew the presence of God was in his life. He knew he had the authority of God to lead the nation as the next prophet of God. 


The company of the prophets from Jericho who were watching said, “The Spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. (verse 15) They recognized Elisha’s authority as the next leader who would continue the work to lead the nation back to God. 


Both Elijah and Elisha wanted more than anything else to be in the very center of God’s will. Their passion was to pursue God as much as was possible. Their prayer was: God, give me every speck of the Spirit that you have to give so I can give every speck of me to your word, will, and ways. They were fully invested. They were fully committed to doing all God asked them to do. 


You and I have been called by God to use our gifts, talents, abilities, health, and wealth to build his kingdom. We are called to invest our lives in his kingdom. We are called to serve God with all the passion we have. Our work of promoting and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people is just beginning. When we are told to stay, as Elisha and Ruth were told to do, we can stay and be satisfied with the past, or we can be like Elisha and Ruth and join Paul in saying, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press ontoward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)


We need to be saying, “I want to know Christ more deeply. I want to know Christ crucified. I want to know him in suffering. I want to know him in resurrection power. I want to know Jesus as much as I can possibly know Jesus. I want to be overwhelmed by Jesus.” This is our calling. We have work to do. We’re not called to retire from the work of God in our lives. Let’s move forward with Christ. Let’s pray: God, I need more of you so I can do more for you. 



Verse Completion. . . mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13 (NASB)


5/3/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/gNec8rH1KmU



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael’s sermon “Elisha’s Double Portion Blessing” was based on 2 Kings 2:1-15. Last week we saw where Elijah called Elisha to be a prophet. Elisha left the security of his wealthy family’s farm to answer the call of God on his life. The next time Elisha appears in Scripture is twenty years later in 2 Kings. Elijah is nearing the end of his life here on earth. He has been a prophet for over 25 years. Elisha has been traveling with Elijah for 20 years. Let’s begin reading about Elijah’s last day on earth:


When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”


But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.


The  company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”


“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”


Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”


And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.


The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”


“Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”


Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”


And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. (verses 1-6)


Elijah and Elisha has been traveling together for 20 years and have been involved with schools for prophets (Bible college). On Elijah’s last day of life, he says to the one who is going to take over for him, “You don’t need to come with me today.” That seems rather odd that Elijah would say that to his traveling companion of the past 20 years. 


We’re reminded of the story of Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Naomi is an Israelite who moved to Moab. She had two sons who ended up marrying Moabite women. As time passed Naomi’s husband died, and her two sons died as well. Naomi decided to return to her native land, Bethlehem. She told her two daughters-in-law to remain in Moab since that was their native land. Orpah decided to do that but Ruth insisted on going with Naomi. 


But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18)


Naomi was saying she didn’t have much time left on earth, and she was returning to Bethlehem to die. Ruth was determined to go with her to Bethlehem. The story of Elijah and Elisha, and the story of Naomi and Ruth are very similar. Elijah and Naomi were the ones going off to die while Elisha and Ruth were determined to stick with their dear friend no matter what. Three times Elijah told Elisha he didn’t have to go with him. Three times Naomi told Ruth she didn’t have to go with her. Elisha’s reply was, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” Ruth’s reply was, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Both Elisha and Ruth loved their mentors who were their dear friends. But their relationship with each other went beyond mentor and friend; there was a connection with God as well. Ruth told Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth and Elisha wanted the same kind of relationship with God that Naomi and Elijah had. Elisha and Ruth felt like they were in the center of God’s will for their lives when they were with their mentors. They knew that following their mentors was following God. They didn’t just want to hear about God, they wanted to know, see, experience, and feel God in their lives. 


Elisha and Ruth were determined to follow God, and to them that meant staying close to Elijah and Naomi. Both Elisha and Ruth didn’t have to go with their mentors. On their own they made the decision to go with their mentors. They wanted to go with them because they wanted to experience God to the fullest. They didn’t want to hang out on the fringes of God’s will; they wanted to be in the very center of God’s will. 


Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. (verses 7-8)


Why did this company of prophets, this group of Bible school students, say in verses three and five: “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”? Did they think Elisha, their professor who has been teaching them, didn’t know? No, the company of prophets want Elisha to know that they know God is going to take Elijah away today. God had revealed it to them as he had revealed it to Elisha. For the company of prophets, it was all about knowledge. 


Pastor Michael tells about the time he returned home after attending Bible college. He had gained a lot of knowledge about the Bible, and he was eager to share that knowledge with family and friends. He could be heard saying, “Did you know . . .?” It wasn’t that he wanted them to know God more, he wanted them to know that he knew a lot about God. It was a pride thing: “Look at what I know! Look at what I’ve learned! Look at all this knowledge I have!” The same thing is happening here with this company of prophets. They are proud that they have this knowledge. They aren’t using their knowledge to help Elijah and Elisha make this transfer of power and authority happen as  smoothly and painlessly as possible. They aren’t using their knowledge to bring comfort. 


Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3: Now about food sacrificed to idols. We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.


Paul was saying that knowledge can actually diminish relationships rather than build relationships when pride accompanies the knowledge. Arrogance and pride repel people rather than attract them. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The company of prophets were puffed up with the knowledge they had. They hadn’t matured to the point where their knowledge was translated into love for others. The knowledge we have of God is supposed to bring other people closer to God. Our knowledge is to help build relationships rather than damage relationships. The company of prophets don’t do anything to help Elijah and Elisha. 


Notice how the company of prophets follow at a distance. They just want to see the show. They want to be witnesses to what happens. They are there to be entertained. They see Elijah take his cloak, roll it up, and strike the water. The result is the Jordan River divides and they cross over on dry ground. 


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



Verse Completion. . . leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 23:22 (NASB)


5/1/21


Good morning. Welcome to May. If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? (answer at the end)



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Michael Wedman’s lesson “Faithfulness in Discerning and Doing Good” from 3 John 9-14. Today we will do a recap of the second half. 


Diotrephes is not walking as a disciple of Christ. He’s not loving Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Diotrephes is gossiping maliciously about John and his messengers. He is spreading wicked words about them. He’s slandering them. He’s saying spiteful and baseless things about them. He’s speaking evil against them. He’s trying to bring suspicion on the person and character of the apostle John. Perhaps he’s saying, “I think the old man has lost it. He’s definitely old school and out of touch with the times. He’s far too conservative and old fashion. I don’t even think he’s aware of the new truths that have been revealed. John doesn’t see that the culture has changed, and we need to change our message for the culture.” Diotrephes is attempting to undermine and draw suspicion to the authority and position held by the apostle John. By doing so, Diotrephes is undermining the truth of the gospel. 


Power people, those who love power, typically accuse others of wanting power. Power people want to be first. They want to be the ones in control. They want to be in positions of authority. It’s likely that Diotrephes said something like, “John is just power hungry.”


Not only is Diotrephes rebellious to authority, loves to be first, is self-centered, puts himself before Christ, and gossips maliciously, but he even refuses to welcome other believers. He doesn’t want the church to grow. Newcomers won’t know about all of his accomplishments. Newcomers won’t know about his impressive history in the church. Diotrephes doesn’t want the truth John is spreading getting in his way. Diotrephes has his group of followers, and he convinces them to oppose the newcomers and oppose those who support welcoming newcomers. Diotrephes is doing all he can to make newcomers feel uncomfortable in the church. He wants them to sense conflict in the church and leave. 


Diotrephes is living a life of sin but trying to make his life look righteous. He’s working hard to compromise the truth. 


In verse eleven John addresses his dear friend, Gaius. John senses that Gaius needs to be reminded that he is loved by God, John, and many others. John wants to give Gaius words of encouragement. Gaius has it tough. He’s in leadership and having to deal with Diotrephes and his band of supporters. Gaius is trying to do what’s right and remain faithful to the whole truth. John is telling Gaius to not give in to Diotrephes. Gaius is to discern the truth and be faithful in doing the truth even though it’s more difficult than giving in to pressure. 


John said, “Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” We know that the person doing evil in the church is Diotrephes. 1 John 3:7-10 says: Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.


Diotrephes is not walking in love, and he’s not walking in truth. He’s walking in sin, and he’s making a habit of it. It’s his lifestyle. Gaius needs to know that. 


In contrast to Diotrephes we have Demetrius who is well spoken of by everyone. He’s walking in truth and obeying Jesus. Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20). When there’s no faithfulness to love, no faithfulness to truth, no faithfulness to doing what is good, then it’s a bad tree. Demetrius is a good tree. He’s doing what is right. He’s preaching the whole truth. The fruit of Diotrephes show that his words are false. His fruit includes: rebellion, self-centeredness, lack of love, and malicious gossip. His fruit doesn’t line up with the words that he is right before God. 


John closes 3 John similarly to how he closed 2 John. Gaius needs to feel the peace of Christ. 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). John is telling Gaius, “Let the peace of Christ remain in you, and know that you have friends. There are lots of people of the truth. Greet them. Welcome them. Love them.”


In 2 John, John says to walk in the truth, walk in love, and walk in discernment. In 3 John he says to remain faithful in the truth, remain faithful in love, and remain faithful in discerning and doing what is good. 


May we continue to walk in the truth and remain faithful to the truth even if others do not. May we continue to walk in love and remain faithful in love even when others are not. May we walk in discernment and remain faithful in discerning and doing what is good even if others do not. May your life be spoken well of by the truth. 



Verse Completion. . . forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25 (NIV)


Answer: Pilgrims


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