Daily Devotion May 2022

5/25/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/6EpaGJOIsao



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd I will never again turn my face from them, for I will . . . (completion at the end)



Ben Panner is one of the associate pastors at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Today we will begin a recap of his message “Signed, Sealed, Delivered; We’re His!” based on Revelation 7:1-17: 


After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:



5       12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,


12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,


12,000 from the tribe of Gad,


6       12,000 from the tribe of Asher,


12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,


12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,


7       12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,


12,000 from the tribe of Levi,


12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,


8       12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,


12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,


12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.



9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”


13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.



15     “Therefore they are before the throne of God,


     and serve him day and night in his temple;


     and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.


16     They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;


     the sun shall not strike them,


     nor any scorching heat.


17     For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,


     and he will guide them to springs of living water,


and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”



Life can be full of discouragement, difficulty, hardships, and headaches. When I am having a particularly difficult day, I will go to a box where I keep encouraging cards/notes/letters people have sent me. After reading a few, I become encouraged. It puts wind back in my sail. 


God has given us some encouraging words in the form of pictures. These pictures are for weary, worn down, discouraged, and troubled people. This passage of Scripture gives us two pictures to gaze upon when we face those difficult days we all experience. These pictures can put wind in our sails to continue following Christ. 


In Chapter 6 we see time ticking down to the final judgment. Judgment is unfolding as the seals are being broken. When the sixth seal is broken we read: Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17).


Who can stand? This is the question we want to explore today. Chapter 7 is coming off of this question and says God will cause his Church to stand. John is writing to Christians who were tempted to turn away from Jesus and potentially compromise their faith. John writes to spur them on to continue in the faith. We, too, are tempted to compromise our faith. The two pictures we are given are meant to give us confidence in the faith we have in Jesus Christ. 


We have the temptation of compromise, but we also have the danger of complacency. Sometimes we lose focus of our purpose. The two pictures should bring clarity of our mission in life. 


When John wrote Revelation he was in prison on the island of Patmos. The Church was weary from all the persecution. John gave two pictures for the tempted, wearied, and downtrodden, in order to give confidence, clarity, and comfort to those whose faith is in Jesus. 


Verses one through eight paint the first picture. It’s of the whole family. The four corners depict the entirety of the earth. The four winds are the final judgment that is still yet to come. The winds of judgment are being restrained because God is still sealing his own people. 


What does it mean to be sealed by God? Ancient kings had a signet ring with a seal that provided a mark that gave a symbol of ownership or belonging. When a person was sealed, they now belonged. 


For the next two days we will continue this recap of Pastor Panner’s message from Revelation 7.



Verse Completion. . . pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. Ezekiel 39:29 (NLT) 


5/24/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/_UREG0ZRhlY



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “The Boldness of Ruth” based on Ruth 3. Naomi had a plan for how Ruth could persuade Boaz to marry her. Ruth was told by Naomi, “Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”


Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions carefully. Now we come to what Boaz said to Ruth:


And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 


Boaz is telling Ruth he will marry her because she is a woman of standing—noble character. 


Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I.


There could be a legal problem. The law said the closest eligible relative was to be the guardian-redeemer. This was the person who had first right of refusal. Boaz knew there was a guardian-redeemer that was a closer relative than him. Boaz could not legally marry Ruth unless the first in line said he wasn’t interested in Ruth as a wife. 


 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”


Boaz let Ruth know that he would marry her as long as the other kinsman redeemer said it was okay. 


14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”


Boaz wanted to protect Ruth’s reputation. He didn’t want anyone to think she was one of the prostitutes who hung around the workers at harvest time. 


15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.


It’s likely that neither of them got much sleep. They had a lot on their minds. They had a lot hanging on the decision of the first kinsman redeemer. What if he said he wasn’t interested in marrying Ruth? That would mean Boaz could legally marry Ruth. How would their lives change? What if the first kinsman redeemer did want to marry Ruth? There was lots to think about! 


Boaz provided barley for Ruth and Naomi. It also gave Ruth an excuse for being up so early—getting some barley. 


16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”


Not only did Boaz and Ruth get little if any sleep, Naomi didn’t sleep well either wondering how everything went for Ruth. 


Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”


Boaz is telling Naomi that he got the message. He’s letting her know that he is in on the plan—he will gladly marry her daughter-in-law. 


18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”


The last verse echoes the first: One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.”


A home of rest has been found for Ruth where there will be peace, fulness, provision, and protection. Ruth can rest now while Boaz takes care of the legal matters. 


The book of Ruth began with Naomi leaving Bethlehem in fulness and returning in emptiness. She left with a husband and two sons, and returned with one daughter-in-law. Ruth left Moab with emptiness after losing her husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law. She is now beginning to experience fulness.


What is the point of this story? It’s not “Five Sure Ways to Get a Man”. It’s not “Three Principles for Being a Good Mother-in-Law”. It’s not “What to Do when Looking for a Husband”. We can’t make this story prescriptive. It’s descriptive of what happened with Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. It’s also descriptive of God at work. God is at work ordering, giving design, healing, helping, providing, protecting, and giving hope. 


God is at work in your life. If you were to write down a description of your life, underlying it all you would need to write: God is at work. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, God is at work. He’s at work because he loves us and cares about us. God wants what’s best for us. God is at work in the highs and lows of your life. He’s given his life for you. Find rest for your soul in Jesus. He will not rest until he gives you his rest. 



Verse Completion. . . show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7, 8 (NLT) 


5/23/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ie-qC5eobwo



Complete the Verse & Name the BookI will save them from their sinful apostasy. I will . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “The Boldness of Ruth” based on Ruth 3. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


This chapter is the most challenging in the book of Ruth, because it may say what we don’t want it to say. The book of Ruth is descriptive rather than prescriptive. The story tells how things were rather than showing us how things should be. Rarely does the book say, “Thus sayeth the LORD.” Since Ruth is not prescriptive, you won’t find “Ten Principles for Godly Living” or “How to Be in Better Relationships” or “Five Steps for Being a Better Mother-in-Law”. We like to be prescriptive, but Ruth is descriptive. It tells a story.


One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.”


Naomi once again takes the lead. She’s beginning to experience healing after the loss of her husband and two sons. She’s looking towards the future, and she has hope. 


The word home is closely related to the word shalom which here means peace; rest; fulness; provision; protection. In 1:9a, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Naomi wants Ruth to find a husband, and Naomi has a scheme to make it happen. 


Naomi continues to talk to Ruth: “Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.”


Boaz is a relative of Naomi; he’s a kinsman redeemer. He has a legal responsibility to take care of the family. 


When Naomi said this to Ruth, it was approximately six to eight weeks after Ruth met Boaz. Winnowing involves refining the barley. After the barley is threshed, it is tossed up into the air allowing a breeze to blow away the chaff so just the grain remains. Naomi points out that on this night, Boaz will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 


Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”


Naomi has a plan for how Ruth can get Boaz to be her husband. First, Ruth is to take a bath. Baths were not taken on a daily basis back then. Baths were taken for special events. Second, Ruth was to put on perfume to smell attractive. Third, Ruth was to put on her best clothes so she would look attractive. Naomi wants Boaz to find Ruth attractive and irresistible. Naomi wants Ruth to show up and be a head-turner who catches the eye of Boaz. Ruth needs to let Boaz know she is interested in him for a husband. 


Naomi doesn’t want Ruth to make an appearance until after the eating and drinking has been completed. Why? She wants Boaz to be feeling good from the food and wine. Ruth is to pay attention to where Boaz goes in order to sleep. She is then to enter that area and “uncover his feet”. Almost always this means to expose the person. Naomi wants Boaz to know that Ruth is there with a specific intention—make Boaz her husband. 


5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.


7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!


What startled Boaz in the middle of the night was Ruth going to where he was and exposing him. 


9 “Who are you?” he asked. 


“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”


The word servant here means handmaiden, not slave. She was telling Boaz that she was there for him personally and ready to serve him. By telling Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over her, Ruth is asking Boaz to marry her. By spreading the corner of his garment over Ruth, Boaz would be inviting Ruth into his life. Ruth was being very bold by asking Boaz to marry her.


10 “The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 


Boaz is telling Ruth she could have any man she wanted. Because she was so attractive, she could have a younger man if she was interested. He acknowledges that Ruth is not a gold digger. Boaz sees that Ruth is not someone who uses men for her own advantage. Boaz blesses Ruth for all the kindness she has shown him.


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



Verse Completion. . . cleanse them. Ezekiel 37:23 (NLT) 


5/21/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/KaTKSQ1-fh8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBe tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Josh Moody’s sermon titled “Is the Bible Reliable?” based on John 20:30-31. The primary way to establish the reliability of the Bible is by hearing the voice of Jesus experientially in the text. It’s important to answer the question, “Is the Bible Reliable?” because Christianity is a religion of the book. There’s also been increasing waves of criticism against the reliability of the Bible in the last hundred years or so. Due to the criticism, there are those in Christian circles who are telling us to marginalize the Bible.


In our text, I’d like to point out four words. The first is the word written. The words in the Bible were not written to provide us with lots of information. The words were written to lead us to faith. 


The second word is you. The you here is us—we who have not seen the risen Christ but still believe.


The third word I’d like to point out is “believe”: these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah—the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah that would come to save us from our sins, and that Jesus is the Son of God. John 1:1-5, 14 tells us:


 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.


Jesus was fully God, and John, who saw Jesus, is writing this so we who have not seen Jesus will believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God. John gives us at least seven signs that Jesus is God, and the resurrection is signified by those signs. Jesus sent his disciples to write about what they had seen during their time with Jesus so we might believe. 


One of the seven signs that John gives us is found in John 4:46-54:


So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.


The sign is accompanied by the word. The written word points to the living Word. Jesus spoke and the man’s son was healed. When we read about who Jesus is and the words he spoke and the signs he did, it becomes difficult not to believe. The words were written so we might believe.


The fourth word is “life”: these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. What does John mean by life? At the beginning of the gospel, John says: In him was life (1:4a). In God was life. The kind of life that comes about through believing in Jesus is not mere existence. In God we find real life—ultimate life. In John 5:24, John quoted Jesus saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” That’s an extraordinary thing to say!


Jesus is teaching that not only is the life he offers different from mere existence, the life he offers is a new realm in fellowship with God through Jesus. Those who believe have passed from judgment and death to life. This is why as a Christian you can be assured of your eternal destiny; you are assured you will live forever. In that sense you already are experiencing that life. You have passed from the realm of death and judgment. You are no longer under the wrath and judgment of God. You’re now in the realm of life. You can have it now!


Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This life is the life that wells up into eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25b, 26a). Yes, we will have to go through physical death, but whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. He will live for eternity with Jesus. When we know Jesus we are already beginning to experience that life.


Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). We have a blessing that Thomas didn’t have because we didn’t see Jesus after he was raised from the dead and yet we still believed. 


Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30, 31).


This is how we establish the reliability of the Bible—by hearing the voice of Jesus in the text. 


In the poem The Collar by George Herbert, he wrote:


But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild 


     At every word, 


Methought I heard one calling, Child! 


     And I replied My Lord. 



Thomas simply said, “My Lord and my God!” when he encountered the Living Lord after Jesus rose from the dead. What did you say when you encountered the Living Lord?



Verse Completion. . . pay them back with a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8b, 9a (NLT) 


5/20/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/oNeP7bGagqg



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your . . . (completion at the end)



On April 24, Pastor Josh Moody of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, started a series of messages titled “Common Questions People Have about the Christian Faith”. Today we will begin a recap of his third sermon in this series titled “Is the Bible Reliable?” based on John 20:30-31: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


The primary way to establish the reliability of the Bible is by hearing the voice of Jesus experientially in the text


It’s important to answer the question, “Is the Bible Reliable?” because Christianity is a religion of the book. A Bibleless Christianity would be a Christless Christianity. If you are a Christian, you will want to be reassured of the reliability of the Bible for without the Bible we cannot know who the Christ is. If you are not a Christian, the way you will discover Jesus is through the Bible. 


The second reason it’s important is that in the last hundred fifty years or so, there have been increasing waves of criticism against the reliability of the Bible. In the last few years, that wave of criticism has become popularly much more well-known through YouTube videos, social media, and so on. The wave of criticism isn’t just against the Bible; it’s against all forms of authority: governmental authority, the authority of the media, the authority of schools, the authority of law enforcement, etc. Behind the wave of criticism is a critique of authority in general including a critique of God who establishes good authority. 


The third reason it’s important is because in response to the first two reasons, there have been in Christian circles ministry philosophies that are telling us to marginalize the Bible. There’s a push to not have the Bible be central in our churches due to all the criticism of the reliability of the Bible. 


The primary way to establish the reliability of the Bible is by hearing the voice of Jesus experientially in the text


I’d like to point out four words in our text. The first is the word “written”: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ. As John wrote his book, he was deliberately selective. There’s lots more he could have written, but he did not. What was written had a particular purpose. 


John left out approximately one-third of what Jesus said and did during his ministry. The purpose of the Bible is not to provide us with lots of information; it’s to lead us to faith—to hear the voice of Jesus in the text and respond to it. 


When Thomas saw Jesus, the risen Lord, he said, “My Lord and my God!”


Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


None of us have seen the physical body of Jesus after he was raised from the dead, but we can read the book and hear from the book and have it explained to us. When we encounter Jesus, even though we have never seen him, we are called blessed. 


There are church leaders today that don’t want to say what Billy Graham used to say: “The Bible says . . .” They also steer away from saying: “It is written . . .” 


The second word I’d like to point out is “you”: these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 


John is turning his attention from the narrative of the story to the readers of his book. He’s saying, “This is for you.”  Of course, the “you” is us. “This book is for you—you who have not seen the risen Christ.”


When the Bible was first published in English, it caused quite an uproar. The Bible was first translated into English by John Wycliffe, but there was no printing or publishing of it at the time. The Bible wasn’t published until later—first in a Greek New Testament. William Tyndale then translated the Greek into English and published it. However, he didn’t complete the translation because he was killed before accomplishing the task. 


One of Tyndale’s disciples, Myles Coverdale, did finish the task and published the Coverdale Bible in 1535—the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible. It caused quite an uproar. The Bibles were very large and were placed in prominent churches. 


Three copies were placed on stands in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The priests became miffed because people in the church would get up during the services and read the Bibles. The priests must not have recognized that the Bible is for you and me. The Bible is not a book for scholars or priests; it’s a book for the people. 


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



Verse Completion. . . stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) 


5/19/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/yubLGTOcm8c



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut now you must be . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Moody’s sermon titled “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” based on John 14:1-7. We need to begin by reframing the question because it imports with it a set of assumptions that biases the answer in a certain direction. It puts the person who is being asked the question on the defensive. However, even when we reframe the question, people still have questions and objections. Let’s look at three scenarios. In the first we looked at a polite and efficient Muslim Uber driver.


In the second scenario, you are a student at a college and one of the requirements for your course of study is a philosophy class. In the class you are introduced to Plato and Aristotle who were born a long time before Jesus was born. As you read their works, you realize these philosophers were brilliant. What they had to say is foundational for much of Western society. Is Jesus the only way to God?


In the third scenario, you are having a family gathering. Uncle Joe grew up in the church, and he is at the gathering. Uncle Joe no longer attends church. In fact, as you talk to Uncle Joe he makes it very clear that he does not believe in Jesus. He has rejected what he grew up with. He’s not offensive about it; he simply doesn’t believe it any more. Uncle Joe provides well for his family. He cares deeply about his immediate family and even provides for some extended family. He’s always the life and soul of the party at family gatherings. Is Jesus the only way to God?


Having reframed the question, it’s not about fairness; it’s about mercy.


Let’s look at what Jesus said: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the only way to God, because first of all, we need rescue, not religion. Note well what Jesus says here. He does not say, “This is the way. Let me teach you the truth. Here are twelve lessons about how to live a good life.” What he does say is:I am the way.”


Imagine you are going fishing on the East Coast. You are fishing from a rock and you are so involved with what you are doing that you don’t notice the tide advancing. The tide ends up blocking your way back to shore. You are in mortal danger. Let’s say a lifeguard appears in a boat. You point in the direction from which you came and say to the lifeguard, “Is this the way back to land?” 


The lifeguards responds with, “No, am the way.” 


Why? Because you have to get in his boat, and he’s going to rescue you. When Jesus says, “I am the way,” he is saying that he is the rescuer. Jesus doesn’t come to bring us a whole new set of religious rules. He does not come to give us an especially profound philosophy of life. Jesus comes because he is the way. 


It’s rescue we need because fairness is all of us going to hell. We’re on the rock. We’re stuck. We can’t get back to land. What we need is Jesus saying, “I am the way.” Jesus took our death. He experienced our hell that we might live. I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Jesus is the only way to God because what we need is rescue not religion. Jesus is the only way to God because he is God. When you grasp this, it will revolutionize how you look at this question. 


The fact that Jesus is God is implicit in verse six, but it’s made explicit in verse seven: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen God. Jesus is the only way to God because he is God. If someone is truly worshiping God, when they encounter the Jesus of the Bible, what they will say is, “That’s the One I’ve been worshiping.” Why? Because Jesus is God! 


If someone is not truly worshiping God, when they encounter the Jesus of the Bible, they’ll say, “That’s not what I need at all.” Why? Because they are not really worshiping God. 


There’s a story about a man who was driving his car on the highway when the car broke down. The driver pulled off the highway, popped open the hood, and looked for the problem. He spent some time tinkering with different parts of the engine, but to no avail. Eventually, another car pulled over to help. A gentleman got out of his car and said, “I may be able to help you.”


The driver said, “I doubt it. I’ve tried everything I know.”


The gentleman pulled out a screwdriver from his pocket, made some adjustments and said, “Now try it.”


“I know it’s not going to work,” the driver said.


“Give it a try. Let’s see what happens.”


The car started right up. The driver said, “That’s amazing! Who are you?”


The gentleman said, “My name is Henry Ford. I made the car.”


Jesus is the only way to God because he is God. He knows how to fix you. He made you. Come to him. Don’t delay. 


Jesus is also the way to God because the alternative is just too horrendous to even consider. If someone says that Jesus is not the only way to God by saying things like “There are many different ways. There are many different options,’ what they are really saying is that God incarnate who humbled himself to become a man and was obedient to death even death on a cross, brutally murdered, and experienced hell saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” . . . what they are really saying is none of what happened to Jesus was necessary. They’re saying, “You can just be a nice person and you’ll be fine. Jesus didn’t need to die. There are lots of other options.” It’s an alternative too horrendous to consider. 


You may have heard people say, “There are many different paths going up the mountain.” Those different paths are not going up the same mountain! They are pointing in fundamentally and foundationally utterly different directions. Only Jesus can rescue. He’s not a set of religious rules.


You may have heard people say, the way to God is a bit like an elephant that has blind people who are reaching out to the elephant to feel different parts of the elephant, but the real truth is bigger than any other religion. What that’s really saying, along with the “coexist” bumper sticker, is all the other religions are wrong but mine is right, because no honest teacher of any religion would say that they’re all saying the same thing. They’re not! The “coexist” push is leading to the greatest polarization in Western society that we have ever seen for the last hundreds of years. It is deeply arrogant!


You may have heard people say, “But what about those who have never heard?” The Bible was not written for those who have not yet read it. The Bible was written for those who read it. The question is not “What about those who have never heard?” the question is “What about you who have heard?” 


One time I was on the mission field in a Muslim country, and my plans got totally derailed. I ended up in a dormitory of Iranian college students. I started wandering around, talking to the students, and getting to know them. On one of the long corridors, I wandered up to one of the doors at random and knocked on the door. An Iranian opened the door. I smiled at him, and he smiled at me. I said, “Do you have some time?”


“Of course,” he said and invited me in for some tea. As we were starting to get to know each other, he asked, “Are you an American?”


I said, “No, actually I’m from England. I’m English.” 


“Oh, I see. So are you a Christian?”


I answered, “Yes, actually I am a Christian.”


He said, “Good! I’ve been praying that God would send me someone to tell me about Jesus.” 


Here was one person out of a great sea of people, who wanted to know about Jesus. God heard his prayer. 


Did you know the fastest growing church in the world is in Iran? 


God hears! Don’t worry about theoretical questions, this is a practical question: Is Jesus your Savior? If he is, it will be fuel for your evangelism, fuel for our commitment to missions as a church, and fuel for our worship.


Eddie Rickenbacker would go at dusk every Friday evening to a pier on the coast of Florida and take with him a bucket full of shrimp. Instead of fishing with it, the older gentleman would feed the seagulls as they would come. This was his routine every Friday evening at dusk. As he fed them, he always said the same thing: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.” It was very strange. 


Eddie Rickenbacker had been in World War II flying a B-17 across the ocean when it crashed. After eight days of being on rafts, the crew ran out of all food and water. Eddie Rickenbacker prayed, “Lord, help us!” 


From apparently out of nowhere, a seagull landed on his head. He knew if he could capture the seagull, they would have food. Somehow he managed to grab it. They broke it, and ate it. They used the entrails of the seagull to fish, and they survived. 


Every Friday at sunset, Eddie Rickenbacker would go to the pier with shrimp and feed the seagulls and say: “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”


Jesus was broken for you. Live your life saying, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”



Verse Completion. . . holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 1 Peter 1:15 (NLT) 


5/18/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/yubLGTOcm8c



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut now you must be . . . (completion at the end)



On April 24, Pastor Josh Moody of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, started a series of messages titled “Common Questions People Have about the Christian Faith”. Today we will begin a recap of his second sermon in this series titled “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” based on John 14:1-7:


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”


Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (ESV)


G.K. Chesterton, the famous author, was once asked, “What book would you take with you if you were marooned on a desert island?” Chesterton’s witty response was, “Thomas’s Practical Guide to Shipbuilding”. 


The question “Is Jesus the only way to God?” can seem to be academic and not of great, practical relevance. But actually, it is the fuel for our evangelism. If we didn’t believe Jesus was the only way to God, why would we risk relational damage with a non-Christian in order to share our faith? Why would we risk our lives or the lives of our children to take the gospel to the most dangerous parts of the world?


We need to begin by reframing the question “Is Jesus the only way to God?” because the question imports with it a set of assumptions that biases the answer in a certain direction. It puts the person who is being asked the question on the defensive. A natural response might be, “What makes you think that your Jesus is better than other people’s religions?” The question is framed in such a way that the only way out is to say something that seems rather arrogant, dismissive, or exclusive.


There are some kinds of exclusions that we want, let alone accept. For example, if you were taken to a hospital and you were seen by a medical doctor, you would be thankful that certain people were excluded from being your surgeon. You would be thankful there are certain qualifications that had to be met in order to become a surgeon. We embrace this kind of exclusion. Not all exclusion is bad. The question we’re dealing with needs to be reframed.


If we don’t reframe the question, it can be a bit like being asked, “When did you stop beating your wife?” There are assumptions that come with the question: one, that the person has a wife, and two, that the person has been beating his wife.


The way to reframe the question is to hear the Bible story. This is one of the reasons we as a church delve into the Scriptures. We are constantly being bombarded with TikTok videos, Instagram images, and the media. We need to be spending at least a half an hour a week reframing how we think. The Bible tells the story in a different kind of way. According to the Bible, we were originally made good, in relationship with God as our Lord, and in loving fellowship with him. Yet we have all rebelled against God. The just and fair judgment for that rebellion is death by which the Bible ultimately means the eternal separation from the loving goodness of God.  


The question “Is Jesus the only way to God?” assumes the issue is one of fairness. How can Jesus be the only way to God when there are so many other options? What gives you the right to say Jesus is the only way? That’s not fair. But the Bible tells the story very differently. Fairness is the last thing you want. Fairness is every single human being on the face of the planet spending eternity in hell. That’s justice according to the Bible. 


Every year in the spring there is an influx of ants into our house, and it’s my job to kill them. Do any of you think less of me because I kill ants? What if the neighbor’s dog wandered into my kitchen, and I killed it because it had no business being there? Would you think less of me then? What if the neighbor’s small child wandered into my home, and I killed the child because he or she had no business being in my home. Would you think less of me then? The point is the nature of the crime is impacted by who the crime is against! To kill an ant is part of life—no big deal. To kill a neighbor’s dog is a big problem. To kill a neighbor’s child would be a horrendous act with no punishment possible that could ever satisfy the unspeakable crime. What about killing God—the author of everything that is good, the Creator of life itself? There’s only one just penalty—death! That’s fairness. Once you begin to realize that is how the Bible tells the story, the question is reframed in your mind. 


Imagine for a moment that there’s a person standing outside of a beautiful garden full of fruit trees, flowers, beautiful plants, birds chirping, a peaceful creek that meanders through the garden. There’s a ten foot wall all around the garden. There’s only one door to enter the garden, and it’s open. The person would love to go inside, but instead of going through the open door and entering the garden, the person spends all his time wandering around the outside of the wall, looking for a different way in. He asks, “Why isn’t there another way in?” 


It doesn’t make sense that the person would do this. It’s not rational. He simply needs to walk through the open door that is open for anyone to enter. 


The question is not “Is Jesus the only way to God?” from the Bible’s point-of-view, the question is “Is there a way to God? How could there be a way? How could my just penalty be paid? How is it possible?” That’s the question! It reframes the whole conversation once you realize it. 


The fundamental reason why our culture today has so many issues with exclusivity and misunderstanding exclusiveness is we don’t realize the Bible story. We’ve lost the narrative of what the Bible is saying. We think too well of ourselves and too little of God. 


Even when we reframe the question, people still have questions and objections to this. Let’s look at three scenarios. In the first one, you and I uber a car to get from one end of town to the other. When we enter the car, we notice there’s a lot of Arabic writings in different places in the car. We find out the driver is a Muslim and is originally from Pakistan. We discover he has a large family of aunts and uncles still in Pakistan. He's an efficient driver. He’s polite. Is Jesus the only way to God? 


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



Verse Completion. . . holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 1 Peter 1:15 (NLT) 


5/17/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/KaTKSQ1-fh8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “The Kindness of Boaz” based on Ruth 2


Ruth who was grieving the loss of her husband is beginning to find grace. Ruth who needed help is beginning to receive help. Ruth who needed healing is beginning to be healed. 


13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” 


Though she is the least of the least, Ruth desires to continue to know the grace of God. She is grateful to experience the grace of God. She desires to understand the love of God in a deeper sense. Ruth sees there is hope for her.


14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”


Boaz welcomes Ruth as family. Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).


The theme of fullness to emptiness is starting to be reversed. God is bringing order and design into Ruth’s life. We’re starting to see order, design, and the goodness of God even in the midst of a corrupt society.


Ruth was able to have all the food she wanted. She was able to eat until she was full. 


God’s grace is more than enough just like the food at Boaz’s table. God’s grace is extended to us. There’s far more grace than we can comprehend. God is generous with his grace. He doesn’t give us just enough; he gives us enough and more. Ruth is beginning to experience and understand what grace and goodness is all about. 


Ruth is told to take all the grain she wants. Boaz instructs his workers to even pull out some of the stalks that are already in bundles and give them to Ruth. The workers are to be gracious to Ruth and treat her well. Boaz who is kind is teaching his workers to be kind.


If you love God, you will love people.


17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.


An ephah is about thirty pounds of grain. That’s a lot of weight to be carrying into town. 


19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” 


Naomi can’t believe her eyes. To come home with thirty pounds of grain from gleaning was unheard of in those days. 


Naomi had been feeling like God had deserted her. She felt like God was against her with the death of her husband and her two sons. She felt like God had not shown kindness to her nor shown her grace. She felt like she had left Bethlehem full and had returned empty, but now things are turning around. She starts to see the kindness of God at work in her life. Perhaps her life is starting to move out of bitterness and into blessing. Naomi is seeing the grace of God at work. She is experiencing the grace of God in her life. Notice how she said to Ruth, “Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Naomi has once again come to the point where she can bless others. Healing is taking place. Hope has returned.


Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.


20 “The LORD bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”


A guardian-redeemer was a significant person. The law said that if you had to sell your land, someone from your family could redeem the land for you; they could buy it back for you from the person who purchased the land. When the land was purchased, there was a clause in the contract that said if someone in the family, a guardian-redeemer, wanted to buy the land back, the land would have to be sold to them. 


There was a way to redeem what had been lost and it was through the kinsman-redeemer. Leviticus 25:25-28 says: “ ‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.


The Year of Jubilee happened every fifty years. Land would go back to the family that originally owned the land. This prevented the wealthy from buying up all the land and suppressing those without land. If land was purchased in the second year out from the Year of Jubilee, that meant the buyer could enjoy the land for forty-eight years unless a kinsman-redeemer came along and bought the land back before the Year of Jubilee. If this happened there would be the proration of the real estate to make it fair for everyone involved. In a sense a person who purchased land was renting the land until the Year of Jubilee or until a kinsman-redeemer bought it back. 


Boaz is the man who can purchase back the land for Naomi. He is the one who can take them from emptiness to fullness, from grief to grace, from bitterness to blessings. There’s redemption, help, healing, hope, order, design, and goodness as God puts Boaz in the lives of Naomi and Ruth.


21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’ ”


Boaz had invited Ruth to be a part of all of his harvests in all of his fields.


22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”


23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.


God was at work in the lives of Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth. Judges was a time of chaos, confusion, and corruption and yet in the midst of it all there is design, order, help, hope, and healing. God’s grace is poured out on the lives of Naomi and Ruth. 


God was at work in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, and he is at work in your life. 



Verse Completion. . . refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. Ezekiel 33:3, 4 (NLT) 


5/16/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



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



Complete the Verse & Name the BookConfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “The Kindness of Boaz” based on Ruth 2. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


In Chapter 1 we read that Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, left the Promised Land with their two sons and settled in Moab. While living there Naomi’s husband and her two sons died. Naomi decided to return to her homeland. She encouraged her two daughters-in-law to stay in Moab. Orpah did stay but Ruth said to her mother-in-law, “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 even death separates you and me” (verses 16, 17). 


Ruth accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the whole town was stirred. They couldn’t believe it was actually Naomi. She said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (verses 20, 21).


The theme of Chapter 1 is fullness to emptiness.


When Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, the barley harvest is beginning. This is good timing. A glimmer of hope may be entering Naomi.


Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.


Here is more hope. Boaz was a wealthy man. He had standing in the community. More importantly, he was a respected man of good character with a good reputation. This was during the time of Judges and good men were difficult to find. Boaz stuck out from the crowd.


2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” 


Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.


Notice how the author keeps reminding the reader that Ruth was a Moabite—a foreigner. 


In Israel there was a law regarding gleaning. It can be found in Leviticus 19:9, 10: “ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.


Owners of the land that was being harvested were not to say, “This harvest is all mine, and I’m not going to share any of it with anyone else.” They were to look out for the needs of those who were less fortunate. 


Deuteronomy 24:19-22 puts it this way: When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.


The Israelites were instructed by God to love God and love others. 


Ruth certainly qualified for being a gleaner. She was poor, a foreigner, and a widow. The author wants the reader to know that it wasn’t luck or coincidence that Ruth ended up gleaning in Boaz’s field. God had his hand on the life of Ruth.  


4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!”


“The LORD bless you!” they answered.


5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”


6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” 


Notice how Boaz greeted the harvesters. Some owners of land would not interact with “mere field workers” because they felt they were too far above laborers. Boaz is different. He treats people with respect. 


When Boaz asked who Ruth belonged to, he was asking what family she was from. Boaz wanted to know who her father was, who her husband was, who her brother was. The overseer told Boaz she was a foreigner who was polite, courteous, and a hard worker. This impressed Boaz.


So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”


Boaz treats Ruth well even though she is a foreigner. He extends kindness to Ruth. 


We get a sense for what went on in the fields during this time in history when people did what was right in their own eyes. It wouldn’t have been uncommon for men to abuse the women who were gleaning because they were poor, orphans, foreigners, or widows. They didn’t have anyone to look out for their protection. However, Boaz steps up as her protector. Boaz even tells Ruth to help herself to the water jars. Typically, the water jars were for the paid workers only.  


10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”


11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”


Boaz recognizes that Ruth is a person of good character. He sees worth in her, and he wants her to see that God sees worth in her. God has seen how Ruth has been faithful to Naomi. Boaz wants Ruth to know that the God of Israel loves her even though she is a foreigner. Boaz is praying for protection and the grace of God to be in Ruth’s life. 


Ruth who was grieving the loss of her husband is beginning to find grace. Ruth who needed help is beginning to receive help. Ruth who needed healing is beginning to be healed. 


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



Verse Completion. . . has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 (NLT) 


5/14/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tIZitK6_IMQ



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut Egypt will remain an unimportant, minor kingdom. It will be the lowliest of all the nations, never again . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 26, 2019.


Something that's been on my mind recently is Matthew 18:1-7:


About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"


Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said,"I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.


"And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.


"What sorrow awaits theworld, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting."


I don't know about you, but I don't want a large millstone tied around my neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea (or even a swimming pool for that matter). Jesus does not take sin lightly, and he has seriousconsequences for those who cause others to sin. How might we cause others to sin? I'm sure the list is long, but here are some actions to consider:


·  Teaching someone false doctrine. Saying something is okay when the Bible says it's not okay


·  Offering a beer to someone known to be an alcoholic


·  Flirting with someone else's wife


·  Sharing pornographic material


·  Sexual immorality, theft, lying, slander (see Matthew 15:19)


·  Encouraging a person to spend money you know they don't have


·  Antagonizing a person known to have a short fuse


·  Introducing a child to anything bad


·  Inviting a friend with a gambling problem to the casino


·  Showing someone how to hustle a less savvy person out of their money


Here's my prayer for today: "Lord, guard my actions carefully. Don't let me lead anyone astray. Stop me in my tracks when I start to lead another person into a temptation. May my actions draw people closer to you rather than weakening their relationship with you. Keep my heart pure so my actions are pure. Fill me with your Spirit, so the fruits of your Spirit flow out through me. In Jesus' name. Amen."



Verse Completion. . . great enough to rise above its neighbors. Ezekiel 29:14b, 15 (NLT)


5/13/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



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



Complete the Verse & Name the BookSo humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 25, 2019.


Yesterday I wrote about being open to God stretching you to do something you don't feel capable of doing. If it's something you can accomplish with your own skills and abilities, you're not being stretched far enough. Try accomplishing something you could only do if God equipped you and gave you the strength to see it through. Maybe it's being a worker in Sunday School. Perhaps it's being an usher. Maybe God has given you a vision forlandscaping a section of our church property. There's the possibility that God is telling you to volunteer your cooking skills for church events. Maybe the Lord has placed an organization such as Care Net Pregnancy Resource Clinic on your heart. Perhaps there's a job you feel you should apply for but haven't done it yet.


The possibilities are endless and the excuses to not be able tofollow through with something God has asked you to do are endless as well: I don't know who to talk to about it; I've never done this before; I didn't do well in school; my body isn't able to do much these days; others could do much better than me; that would make me feel very uncomfortable; I'm too old for something this adventurous.


I was surprised to read in Exodus 7:6-7, "So Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded them. Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three when they made their demands on Pharaoh." You might think, "Yeah, but that was when people were living to be 700-900 years old." No, Moses died at 120 and Aaron at 123. So you're not too old! All God needs from you is a willing heart. Pray and ask God what he wants you to do. Ask God to not let the idea leave you if it's really from him. Let the adventure begin!



Verse Completion. . . flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. James 4:7, 8a (NLT)


5/12/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



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



Complete the Verse & Name the BookYes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your riches have made you very . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 24, 2019.


Have you ever feltinadequate to do a task given to you? I remember when I got my first teaching job. I had to attendorientation for a few days, fly home, pack up, and move across the state. On the plane ride home, I prayed the plane would crash (the ultimate in selfishness). I felt totally inadequate to face thirty fifth graders when most of what I'd been given in college was theory. I was overwhelmed before I'd even got started!


Moses had similar feelings (although he had considerably more responsibility than a class of thirty kids). We read in Exodus 3:10-12a:"Now go for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt."


But Moses protested to God, "Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?"


God answered, "I will be with you."


Exodus 4:1 says,But Moses protested again, "What if they won't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, 'The LORD never appeared to you'?"


Picking up the story in verse 10:But Moses pleaded with the LORD, "O Lord, I'm not very good with words. I never have been, and I'm not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled."


Then the LORD asked Moses, "Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say."


But Moses again pleaded, "Lord, please! Send someone else."


Sometimes God wants to stretch us. I wanted the easy way out and not have to face thirty kids, but God had plans to stretch me. It wasn't easy. I didn't like it. I felt unfit for the job, but I called upon the Lord to help me, and he answered my desperate plea.


In what way does the Lord want to stretch you? Has he been talking to you about something he wants you to do? Maybe you feel like Moses or I felt, and you don't want to be stretched quite that far. Step out in faith! You won't regret it in the long run!



Verse Completion. . . proud. Ezekiel 28:5 (NLT)


5/11/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/bi6IZCJx3qA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 23, 2019.


Matthew 15:1-9 says:


Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, "Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat."


Jesus replied,"And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.' But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.' In this way, you say they don't need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'"


What do we do today that cancels the word of God for the sake of our own traditions? The list is probably endless, but here are a few to consider:


·  Repeating what was going on back then—giving to charity when our own family needs help


·  Going to church on Sunday and feeling like that gets us good with God for the week


·  Misusing the name of the LORD


·  Hating our brother


·  Letting greed consume us


·  Spreading lies


What's most important is our heart. We have to insure it's close to God. We need to be most concerned with what pleases him. We should desire to do those things that honor him and bring glory to his name. Let's make sure we don't error by saying God has said things when He hasn't. We know what God says when we read his word and see for ourselves.



Verse Completion. . . tongue is a flame of fire. James 3:5b, 6a (NLT)


5/10/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/JA4e_txGlIA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThey will plunder all your riches and merchandise and break down your walls. They will destroy your lovely . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 22, 2019.


Genesis 37-50 tells most of the story of Joseph. When Joseph was sold to slave traders by his brothers, the future didn't look very promising. When he was sitting in jail for doing what was right (fleeing from Potiphar's wife who tried to seduce him), the future looked rather bleak. But God had a plan, and he wanted Joseph to trust him with it. In Chapter 45 Joseph, as a ruler, reveals himself to his brothers. Verses 4-8 tell what happened:


"Please, come closer," [Joseph] said to [his brothers]. So they came closer. And he said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don't be upset, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.


Can you look back at times in your life when it seemed like God didn't know what he was doing, but later you realized you were wrong? I remember one time when I was living in Forks, and I was trying to get a job in Beaverton, Oregon. I finally got an interview (after quite a process) with a great principal. During the interview, I knew I would like working for this lady. I was the last person interviewed for the position, and after the interview, the principal said, "Normally, I would be able to tell you right now you have the job. However, this time I have had numerous amazing candidates, so I'm going to have to go back over every candidate very carefully and pick the one that I think best suits this specific assignment. If for some reason you are not selected, don't be disheartened. It wouldn't be because I thought you wouldn't be able to do a fine job. It would be because it wasn't the perfect fit for my particular needs."


The job I had interviewed for was at an open-concept school (the latest and greatest in education that meant no walls between classrooms). Even though I didn't have any experience in this type of setting, I was open to it and felt I could adapt quite easily.


Well, I didn't get the job. I wasvery disappointed. I really felt like I was going to get the job because I felt an instant connection with the principal. I was very optimistic that this was going to work out. I had prayed about it previously and was quite confident this was the job God had for me. I didn't see how anything better could ever come up.


Sometime later I had an interview at a different school in the same school district. This time it was the perfect match. This time it was what God had picked for me. I LOVED the school! The principal was incredible, the staff had a lot of Christians my age that were a lot of fun, I clicked with the kids, the parents were so supportive . . . it was more than I'd ever dreamed of. I ended up staying at that school for 21 years. God had a plan all along, and it was the best plan.


Do you have a story of a situation where it seemed like God had forsaken you, but later on you ended up seeing the big picture and eventually understood what God was up to? If so, share that story with someone.


There are times when God doesn't let us see the good outcome in the end like he did with Joseph and me. There are stories of missionaries who planted seeds for many years, and didn't get to see the harvest of all their difficult and unappreciated labor. Abraham was told his family would be like the sands on the seashore, and he certainly never saw that. Moses didn't enter the Promised Land. Sometimes God allows us to see his big picture for us, and sometimes he doesn't. Our job is to trust Him, regardless, because he can be trusted. He is 100% faithful! If we don't get to see the big picture in this life, we will in the next. We'll have plenty of time to sit down with Jesus and talk about everything. Are you making your list of things you want to talk to him about?



Verse Completion. . . homes and dump your stones and timbers and even your dust into the sea. Ezekiel 26:12 (NLT)


5/9/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                           --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/anE5zlOHaic



Complete the Verse & Name the BookSo you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Just as . . . (completion at the end)



Today’s devotional was written on January 19, 2019.


Matthew 13:44-46 tell the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl:


“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.


“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!


Is there anything you want so much you would be willing to sell everything you have in order to get it? When I was in high school, I wanted a certain BSA motorcycle so badly that I would have been willing to sell everything I owned in order to get it. I constantly daydreamed of owning it.


Well, I wasn't able to pull it off in high school, but I did in college. It was a beautiful bike! I bought it from a man whose wife was pregnant, and he was selling it to pay for his child that was going to be born. At the time I didn’t understand what that was like for him, but later on in life I would.


I don’t think Jesus had BSA motorcycles in mind when he spoke these words. God wants us to value his Kingdom so much that we are willing to sell everything we have in order to be part of it. God wants us all in. He wants all of us. When I was in high school, it would have been like God saying to me (if I'd had my dream bike), "Do you love me more than your BSA? Then sell it and follow me."


That's the test for us today, too. Is there anything you wouldn't be willing to part with if God asked you to . . . motorcycle, house, some addiction, car, computer, job, wife (see Luke 14:26 on this one)? If so, you're not all in. It's a test we have to give ourselves from time to time to see if we're really committed.


Jesus said in Luke 14:33,"So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own." 


Jesus told a story about the rich farmer who was doing so well financially he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. Jesus concluded the story in Luke 12:20-21 with:


But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?'


"Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."


Hopefully, we are willing to give up everything we own at a moment’s notice in order to have a rich relationship with Jesus.



Verse Completion. . . the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. James 2:17, 26 (NLT)


5/7/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/YPaU7jJvqRc



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThey say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign LORD,’ when . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Moody’s message titled “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” based on John 9:1-3:


As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


There are three popular ways to answer the question “Why does God allow suffering?” The first says: God isn’t really almighty. The reason we suffer is because we have done something wrong. It’s our fault that we suffer.


The second popular answer to the question is: God is not really all good or all loving. In my experience, I rarely come across a Christian who is experiencing significant suffering who wonders if God exists, but they do wonder what kind of God he is. They wonder how good he really is. 


C.S. Lewis wrote two books on suffering: The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed. He didn’t question that God existed, but he wondered what kind of God would allow his wife to die of cancer. The problem with this popular answer is it doesn’t consider the big picture: the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, salvation provided for all who will receive it, everlasting life with Jesus for all of his followers.


The third answer is: The reason for suffering is there is no God. Of course, this answer is given by those who don’t follow Christ. They say that we live in a world that is survival of the fittest. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. We shouldn’t be surprised by suffering; that’s the nature of the beast. The world is one big restaurant with one living thing eating another. That’s how nature works. 


This answer does make sense if there is no God. However, there is so much evidence that God does exist. The universe around us has a multiplicity of evidence of an astonishing degree that it is designed. It looks designed because it is designed! God designed it!


The popular answers don’t really answer the question. However, Jesus’ answer of “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” does answer the question. There are three parts to his answer. First, take note of the word that. It’s a purpose statement. It could be written “in order that” or “so that”. Jesus is not looking at the beginning; he is looking at the end. Something good is going to be achieved. 


Those who survived the Holocaust determined their lives had meaning. Jesus was saying the suffering of the blind man had a purpose. His life had meaning. 


The second part involves “the works of God”. We see what the works are in the next two verses: ”We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 


The works of God” is used in John’s gospel as the activity that shows who Jesus is that we might believe in him. He’s the light of the world. What are the works that God requires? To believe in the one he sent! The work of suffering is designed to show us who Jesus is that we might believe in him.


The third part of the answer is found at the end of the verse: ”might be displayed in him.” In other words, that the works of God might be displayed in us


Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, wrote to her husband: “Affliction is a good man’s shining time.” To illustrate this I’ll share an experience from my 20s. 


I had the opportunity to get to know an eminent Christian leader. I was running a Christian organization and this man was meant to give us young people advice. I would go to Professor Sir Norman Anderson’s house, and he would give me advice. At the time he was the world’s leading Islamic law scholar. He was a Christian.


One time when I went to see him, I noticed his wife did not remember my name. When she was out of the room, he told me his wife had Alzheimer’s disease. Here was a man of prominence living in a small flat taking care of his wife with Alzheimer’s disease. It was quite a lesson for a young man to observe. 


As I got to know him, he told me his story. His son was very gifted like his father. His son had been on the fast track to British politics and was touted as the most likely person to become the Prime Minister. He suddenly died of an aneurism. 


Professor Anderson’s daughter had been a missionary. While on the mission field, she was raped and abused. While on furlough, she fell down some stairs, hit her head on a step, was knocked unconscious, and with no one else around to help her, she drowned in her own saliva. The professor had no children left. 


During the time when I was going to see Professor Anderson, we had an evangelistic campaign to reach out to people with the Good News of Jesus. On one of the nights the topic was going to be on suffering. Even though the event was designed with young people in mind, we determined that the person who should speak on the topic should be an old man, Professor Sir Norman Anderson. He shuffled onto the platform and shared his story to pin drop silence. 


Some months later there was a conference attended by thousands of college students. Again Professor Anderson shared his story to pin drop silence. 


None of that makes what happened to his him or his children or his wife, good. But it does mean that it had meaning. It was a shining time.


Christian, do not run away from your weaknesses. Do not hide your sufferings. It is in that very place that God is most likely to use you most. 


Non-Christian, we all have to have an answer to suffering. Every philosophy, every ideology, every religion says there’s something wrong with life. What’s your answer to that? I commend to you Christ. We worship the God with scars on his hands. Come join us. 


Let’s pray. “Lord, we thank you that in this mystery of suffering, there is a purpose. We ask you to help us shine in our suffering and worship you, Lord Jesus, who suffered for us. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.”



Verse Completion. . . the LORD hasn’t spoken a single word to them. Ezekiel 22:28b (NLT)


5/6/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/LM7e9tIyovA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means . . . (completion at the end)



On April 24, Pastor Josh Moody of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, started a series of messages titled “Common Questions People Have about the Christian Faith”. Today we will begin a recap of his first sermon in this series titled “Why Does God Allow Suffering” based on John 9:1-3:


As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


Congenital suffering is particularly challenging; a  person is born with a challenging issue. What did the person do to deserve it? Why would God allow this suffering to take place? It’s a difficult question to answer. Religious circles tend to allocate blame. Because religious people are inevitably moralistic and because religious people want to defend the honor of God, when someone is suffering as this man born blind was, it’s quite common within religious circles for people to want to lay blame on the individual, the parents, or someone else. “If you do good, good things will happen to you. If you do bad, bad things will happen to you.” Since the blind man is experiencing something bad, someone must have done something bad. Sometimes people who are suffering feel like other people look at them wondering what terrible thing they did to cause their suffering.


The explanation for the congenital suffering of the blind man given by Jesus was, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 


Let’s begin by identifying clearly what the problem of suffering actually is and see why it is that many of the popular answers don’t work and why Jesus’ answer does work. We will begin by illustrating the problem at the microlevel (where we live) and move to the macrolevel to get a sense of the scale of the problem.


I got to know a young couple in their early twenties who were both brilliant—highly intelligent, energetic, gifted, and charming. They had the world at their feet. They had one young child. As I got to know them better, there seemed to be something wrong with the husband. 


The couple had agreed that one would work to support the other financially in school. Once the schooling was completed, they would switch roles. The husband worked to support his wife through school by doing a variety of jobs including working as a parking garage attendant. I would visit him there. One time he told me he was seeing things at night—strange things, frightening things. After receiving professional help, it was determined he was suffering from schizophrenia and experiencing hallucinations. Eventually he was sent to a mental hospital and committed.


Normally, I have no trouble getting into hospitals because I’m a pastor. However, I was not allowed to enter the unit of the mental hospital where my friend was located. They felt he could be a danger to other people. It was a very secure unit. 


After thinking about the situation for a day or two, I had an idea. I returned to the hospital and said to the guard at the door, “My name is Doctor Moody, and I’m here to visit ________.” I was let right in. For weeks I visited my friend. 


One day the guard asked me, “Doctor Moody, what kind of a doctor are you?”


I replied, “I have a doctorate in historical theology.” I was not allowed in again.


As far as I know, my friend was never healed.


On the macrolevel, we have firsthand, eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, those who were not killed were used to burn the bodies of those who were killed. Some of those workers survived. It is estimated that in one particular region of Lithuania, one hundred thousand Jews were murdered. Here is one eyewitness account of his experience:


I once came across my family when we were burning the bodies—my wife, mother, three sisters, and two nephews. I recognized my wife from a locket I gave her on our wedding day. As my wife's body was burning in the bonfire, I slipped the locket from her neck. The two photographs inside it had already been destroyed by the flames. 


This is just the tip of the iceberg of the kind of suffering that took place during the Holocaust.


Why does God allow suffering? God is defined by the way Christians define God—almighty, all good, all loving, perfectly moral, sovereign (utterly in control of everything). 


There are three categories for the popular answers to the question: Why does God allow suffering? The first says in one form or another: God isn’t really almighty. The reason we suffer is because we have done something wrong. It’s our fault that we suffer. We don’t blame God because God is good. Jesus’ disciples were thinking along these lines. We, not God, are the ones who did something wrong. 


We know the reason some people suffer is because they did something foolish—something risky or even wrong. How can you blame God if you were driving your car 140 mph on the freeway, had a crash, and ended up a quadriplegic? There are times when there’s a connection between suffering and our actions. There are also times when there’s no connection between our suffering and our actions. For example, the man who was born blind or those who died in the Holocaust.


Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Moody’s message with the second half.


Verse Completion. . . caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:26, 27 (NLT) 


5/5/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Hf9qSXu_ysE



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAgain and again you remind me of your sin and guilt. You . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Josh Moody’s message based on Psalm 60. When circumstances tell us that God has rejected us, what are we to do? Psalm 60 tells us that we are to go back to God’s word, the Scriptures, and trust in God alone.


You have set up a banner for those who fear you. The banner is what Moses described in Exodus 17:8-16. There was an altar of sacrifice for their sins. As they repented of their sins and offered a sacrifice to God, God no longer rejected them. They knew God loved them. There was a banner of love over them. The banner was ultimately fulfilled in the cross of Jesus.


Not only do we look to the banner but we also listen to the word. God has spoken in his holiness. God’s word was spoken; God’s word was preached. 


When God’s people go into battle and wage war spiritually, it is God himself who is waging war. The body of Christ is the Church; it’s his body. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b). Nothing will stop God’s purposes for his Church!


Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;

Ephraim ismy helmet;

Judah is myscepter.


God inhabits the praises of his people. God is identifying his people. 


Moab is my washbasin;

upon Edom Icast my shoe;

overPhilistia I shout in triumph.”


God identifies his enemies. He’s telling the people they shouldn’t fear the enemies of God. Moab is helpless when compared to God—merely a washbasin for dirty feet and more. 


When a warrior enters his home after a battle, he casts off his shoe because he’s home. He’s in a place where everything is under control. Likewise, God is in control of Edom. God is leading the charge against Philistia. He’s looking at the Philistines and saying, “Try to triumph over me!” God is going to take the hit for his people. 


It goes back to the banner. When Jesus was on the cross, he took the hit for his people. He seemingly allowed sin and the devil to triumph over him only to turn it around and rise from the dead. It’s God who is fighting the battle for us so we should have great confidence. That confidence needs to be owned, and we see this is verses 9-12.


Who will bring me to the fortified city? This would have meant a lot to the original hearers. The fortified city is known to us as Petra which was an impenetrable fortress. It was built into the rock, and to get to Petra one would have to go three quarters of a mile through a very narrow passageway that was no more than ten feet wide with rock walls that ranged from 300 to 600 feet high. Petra could be defended by just a few soldiers. Who will bring me to the fortified city? Only God!


God is with his people. He has not rejected them.


11 Oh, grant us help against the foe,

forvain is the salvation of man!


This is his prayer that they will go back to God’s word and trust in God alone. Our faith isn’t in people; our faith is in God.


12 With God we shall do valiantly;

it is he who willtread down our foes.


It’s God alone who will tread down our foes. When through circumstances in our life it seems as if God has rejected us, what are we supposed to do? Go back to God’s word, and trust in God alone. 


Let us be a people who rely on God’s word making it a part of our daily life. The Bible is reliable as God’s word. A painting said to be painted by Vincent van Gogh has to be scrutinized very carefully by art critics in order to determine if it is genuine. The New Testament was written by the apostles but inspired by God. They wrote as God breathed through them. The early church scrutinized the manuscripts and identified them as genuine—written by an apostle and inspired by God. 


We must always go back to the word. This is where we find power. This is where we find truth. This is where we find reliability. This is where we reconnect our emotions to the word—to Christ—that will give us a solid foundation so the earth stops quaking.


Trust in God alone. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he was placed between two criminals. We read in Luke 23:39-43: One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


Was the criminal going to be with Jesus in paradise because he was baptized, christened, memorized the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith, could explain the Church of England’s Thirty-nine Articles, or memorized the Apostles’ Creed? No! He went to be with Jesus in paradise because he trusted in Jesus alone


As significant as knowing and studying the Scriptures is, there will come a moment when you sense that God is rejecting you and those around you are against you. What do you do at that moment? Trust in God and God alone. This great truth was rediscovered during the Reformation with the Latin Soli Deo Gloria(Glory to God alone) and Solus Christus (Christ alone).


To be victorious we must go back to God’s word and trust in him alone.



Verse Completion. . . don’t even try to hide it. Ezekiel 21:24 (NLT) 


5/4/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/yci4opkbnKQ



Complete the Verse & Name the Book. . . let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Josh Moody of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, started a series of messages titled “Songs of Victory.” Today we will begin a recap of his third and final sermon in this series based on Psalm 60:



1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;

you have been angry;oh, restore us.

You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;

repair its breaches, for it totters.

You have made your people see hard things;

you have given uswine to drink that made us stagger.

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,

that they may flee to itfrom the bow. Selah

That your beloved ones may be delivered,

give salvation by your right hand and answer us!

God has spoken in his holiness: 

“With exultationI will divide up Shechem

and portion out the Vale ofSuccoth.

Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;

Ephraim ismy helmet;

Judah is myscepter.

Moab is my washbasin;

upon Edom Icast my shoe;

overPhilistia I shout in triumph.” 

Who will bring me to the fortified city?

Who will lead me to Edom?

10 Have you not rejected us, O God?

Youdo not go forth, O God, with our armies.

11 Oh, grant us help against the foe,

forvain is the salvation of man!

12 With God we shall do valiantly;

it is he who willtread down our foes. (ESV)



We are living in a time of conflict—internal and external. We also experience cultural conflict. We are in a spiritual war. We need to be aware of how we can win that war. The psalms are designed to reconnect our emotions to the truth of God’s word and to the King, the Christ. This is needed in our day when we are constantly being bombarded with images and feelings rather than logic and truth. We need to reconnect our emotions to what is true and not be led by the nose by our feelings. We need to be led by our mind by what is true and let feelings follow along. 


The reason why there is conflict is because we live in a world that has an ultimate conflict between the nations and God. All the other conflicts are merely symptoms of the ultimate conflict. The solution to the conflict is to bow our knee to King Jesus in our personal lives, in our family lives, and in our church lives. When this is done in our culture, it has a ripple effect of peace. As we make peace with King Jesus, he establishes a rule of peace. We see this in Psalm 2.


Psalm 20 is a celebration psalm. It encourages those of us who are Christians to take our confidence in both hands, and realize that because Jesus is the King, we who are in his Kingdom will win. Jesus has won the victory with his death and resurrection. Because Jesus has won, we should have great confidence and courage. 


When circumstances tell us that God has rejected us (as an individual, as a family, as a culture, or globally), what are we to do? Psalm 60 tells us that we are to go back to God’s word, the Scriptures, and trust in God alone


In the inscription before the Psalm 60, the person who put the book of Psalms together may have been describing what occurred in 2 Samuel 8, or he may have been describing an earlier part of David’s life when he fought against King Saul after Saul was rejected by God. As we look at the background of Psalm 60 we see there was the potential for defeat because of God’s rejection. 


You will never win a battle until you recognize that you are in one. You will never be reconciled to God until you recognize you have been rejected by God. When one experiences rejection by God, it feels as though the ground beneath your feet is shaking (You have made the land to quake). Everything you took as solid (your marriage, your children, your job, your retirement, peace in the world) is shaking. 


You have made your people see hard things. This was written during a time of war. What is seen during times of war can greatly impact people. Those in Ukraine are going through it right now. When people see hard things, it can traumatize them affecting them physically and emotionally. 


You have given us wine to drink that made us stagger. This could mean the trauma they experienced made them feel as if they were drunk—physically overcome by what they’d seen. It could also mean that those who were traumatized turned to alcohol (or some other drug) to deaden the pain of what they’d experienced. 


The first three verses address the problem. Verses 4-8 address the answer to the problem. The answer is twofold: look to the banner and listen to the word. The banner is what Moses described in Exodus 17:8-16. There was an altar of sacrifice for their sins. As they repented of their sins and offered a sacrifice to God, God no longer rejected them. They knew God loved them. There was a banner of love over them. The banner was ultimately fulfilled in the cross of Jesus. The sacrifices of the Old Testament are a banner that points to Jesus’ death on the cross. Communion is a banner for New Testament Christians that points back to the cross. 


The banner tells us that God loves us. He has not rejected us. He is for us. He has given his Son for us. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:31-39). How do we know that? There’s a banner—a cross. 


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



Verse Completion. . . keeping our eyes on Jesus . . . Hebrews 12:1b, 2a (NLT) 


5/3/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7i3rNM6k9Y0



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”Do you think I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. However, if . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Injustice in Israel” based on Judges 21. An oath had been taken that anyone who didn’t show up to wipe out the tribe of Benjamin would be killed. Since no one from Jabesh Gilead showed up, all of them should die according to the oath that had been taken. However, they decided to not kill them all. They changed the vow because the change would work better for them. What was true before is now false. Remember, truth for them can be whatever they determine it to be. The strong get to determine truth.


10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.” They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.


They were to kill everyone in Jabesh Gilead except the women who were still virgins. What happens when you don’t follow God? Great injustice takes place! God is a God of justice. All justice comes from God. 


13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.


The 400 virgins were given to the 600 survivors of the Benjamites. Think about what was done to get the virgins—complete injustice to the ladies and their families!


Now the Israelites are faced with being short 200 virgins to give the Benjamites. Based on what has happened so far, we can expect their solution to this problem to be a bad one. The further Israel gets away from God the less love they have for God and people. 


Remember Jesus’ reply to the man who asked him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”: “ ‘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.”


15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because the LORD had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ But look, there is the annual festival of the LORD in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”


The Israelites want to make up for the wrongs they have done. They know they did wrong by trying to kill the entire tribe of Benjamin. They know they did wrong by killing everyone in the whole town of Jabesh Gilead except the 400 virgins. However, they feel they can make things right by finding wives for the 600 Benjamites who survived the slaughter. They have a plan.


20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’ ”


23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.


Their solution for finding wives for the 200 Benjamites was to kidnap women from Shiloh during the annual festival! More injustice! What makes it right in their own eyes is found in verse 22. They want the fathers and mothers of the virgins who were kidnapped to look at the crime as a favor to the Benjamites who didn’t have wives. The parents should feel honored that they were able to provide wives for the men who had none. They want the wrong they have done to be twisted and turned into something right. 


Those who set up the kidnapping want the families of the kidnapped ladies to look at what was done as a big favor to them. If the families had given the ladies as wives, the families would be guilty of breaking the oath they had made to never let their daughters marry a Benjamite. However, because of the “favor” done for them, the girls were kidnapped making the families not guilty of breaking the oath. Do you see how twisted, corrupt, and evil their thinking had become? Wrong is right and right is wrong! They justify their sin! They refuse to take responsibility for their actions as being sinful and wrong. They try to convince the families that what happened to their daughter, sister, granddaughter or niece is a good thing.


We’re good at justifying wrong, aren’t we? We are good at making evil sound good. We say, “Look at the good that came from this?” We want our evil to be seen as something good. We call what is wrong, right, and we call what is right, wrong. We do what is right in our own eyes.


People in Israel tried to justify their sins, and people today try to justify their sins. They won’t take responsibility for the wrong they have done. They won’t even call wrong, wrong. They will do all they can to convince you that their wrong is actually right. 


No love for God always translates to no love for people. 


24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.


We have the impression that Israel feels everything is good now. The Benjamites who had no wives now have wives. The parents of the kidnapped girls have been appeased. Everything is fine; it all worked out . . . so they say. 


25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.


The author reminds us that everything is NOT fine. What was done will leave scars for generations to come!


God was certainly not the King of their lives. Consequently, they did as they saw fit. Truth for them was whatever they wanted it to be. Right was whatever one could enforce. Wrong was whatever one didn’t like. Justice was whoever had the most force. 


When God’s people step out of a right relationship with God, they follow false gods, take false paths, believe in false securities or false saviors, take false actions, and end up in false places. 


As followers of Christ, we need to be the pillar and foundation of truth. 1 Timothy 3:15b says, “. . . God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” We need to be following the truth of God’s word so we walk in the truth of his ways according to the truth of his will. We’re called to bring the world out of chaos and into order, out of corruption and into holiness. 


Let’s stand for truth—the truth of God and his word.


P.S. George Orwell said, “The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those who proclaim it.”



Verse Completion. . . righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins. Ezekiel 18:23, 24 (NLT) 


5/2/2022


Good morning!


Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.


                                        --Charles Studd



Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5q8Vq-VOY_8



Complete the Verse & Name the Book[Moses] chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael concluded his series of sermons on the book of Judges with a sermon titled “Injustice in Israel” based on Judges 21. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


The book of Judges is a tragedy. It shows us how life is not meant to be. When a nation steps out of the will of God, life gets ugly resulting in moral decay, moral corruption, moral chaos, and moral confusion. Life spirals out of control. We have looked at what happens when God’s people step out of a right relationship with God—they follow false gods, take false paths, believe in false securities or false saviors, take false actions, and end up in false places. 


The nation of Israel exchanged the truth of God for the lies of mankind. The result was they no longer believed in absolute truth. The person with the most power became the person who determined what truth is. Right became anything that could be enforced. Wrong became anything that wasn’t liked. People became confused over what was right and what was wrong. They became confused about what truth is, and they were blinded to the lies around them. They became confused over what was good and what was evil. Everyone decided for themselves. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes; everyone did as they saw fit. 


To refresh our memory of what took place, let’s go back to Chapter 20 and look at verses 4-7: So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.”


They decided to kill everyone in the tribe of Benjamin—men, women, and children. They almost accomplished it except for six hundred Benjamite soldiers who escaped into caves in the mountains where they hid. The Israelites set fire to all the Benjamites’ towns. 


Now we come to Chapter 21: The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.” This was a rash oath similar to the one made by Jephthah concerning his daughter that we read about in Chapter 10:6-11:40.


2 The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly.


3 “LORD, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”


They appear to be repenting of killing an entire tribe (less the 600 who escaped), but is it true repentance? So far in Israel there hasn’t been true repentance; there’s only been cries for relief. This is no different. The Israelites try to twist and turn things around to make it look like God is the one to blame for the disappearance of one of their own tribes. They have not made a 180 degree turn from their ways. They just want relief from being blamed for the terrible atrocities they have committed against the tribe of Benjamin. Those who are asking, “Why has this happened?” are the same ones who killed the tribe of Benjamin! True repentance is accepting responsibility for one’s actions. It's saying, “I recognize that what I did is wrong, and I ask forgiveness for what I have done. I turn 180 degrees from my actions, determined to never do those wrong things again.” 


The men of Israel are blaming God for not stopping them from killing the Benjamites. 


4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.


They are trying to impress God with their good works. They are attempting to manipulate and control God so he will bring them relief from the atrocities they have committed. They are worshiping God as the fixer of their situation rather than the Lord of their lives. 


5 Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the LORD?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah was to be put to death.


A plan had been devised whereby any Israelite who failed to join in wiping out the tribe of Benjamin was to be put to death. Again another rash oath was made. James 5:12 says: Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. Vows are not necessary for followers of Christ. Their word can be trusted. If they say they’ll do something, they’ll do it. As followers of Christ they won’t make any rash oaths as we see being done in Judges.


Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath 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. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:33-37). We should mean what we say and say what we mean. 


6 Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”


They are looking for a way to get out of the rash oath they had taken earlier. They want to figure out a way to get wives for the 600 Benjamites who escaped to the caves so the tribe of Benjamin doesn’t completely die out and the men of Israel be blamed for it. 


8 Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.


An oath had been taken that anyone who didn’t show up to wipe out the tribe of Benjamin would be killed. Since no one from Jabesh Gilead showed up, all of them should die according to the oath that had been taken. However, they decided to not kill them all. They changed the vow because the change would work better for them. What was true before is now false. Remember, truth for them can be whatever they determine it to be. The strong get to determine truth. 


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



Verse Completion. . . suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. Hebrews 11:25, 26 (NLT)