Daily Devotion November 2021


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/iO7ySn-Swwc

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “The Calling of Gideon” based on Judges 6. In part he said that when we experience difficult times in our lives, we should not be asking, “Where is God in this?”; we should be asking, “Where am I with God in this?” 

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

Finally, Gideon acknowledges that what he is hearing is from God, and he is afraid. 

23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

This peace is shalom—full mental, emotional, spiritual, and body peace. There’s rest with no worries; no reason to be afraid.

24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon recognized God as the God of peace. 

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

Gideon is being asked to destroy the altar of Baal. The mighty warrior is being told to destroy the idols in his life no matter how dear they were to him. He was not to worry about the consequences even though they might be severe for going against his father. He could lose his relationship with his father and his family. 

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

If you were in Gideon’s shoes, would you have done the deed at night? Probably so!

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

This is how far the people of Israel have wandered away from God. They are angry that Gideon destroyed the idols of the false gods and that he wants the people to worship the true God. They want to kill the one who is standing up for the true God. They have things backwards. Leviticus 26:30 says: I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

There is a call to war. 

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Gideon had a faith problem. Do you have a faith problem? Gideon asked, “Where is God?” We are challenged to answer the question: “Where are you with God?” Mark 9:14-32 contains the story of the healing of a boy with an evil spirit. Verses 21-24 say: 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

This is what is going on with Gideon. He needs help in overcoming his unbelief. He wants his little faith to be built. He wants his faith strengthened. This should be our prayer, too. “God, I don’t know where you are. I don’t know why this is happening in my life. I’m losing a grip on the faith I thought I had. God, help my unbelief.” 

Spiritual growth, building a faith in God, is often a long, slow, arduous journey. We don’t become amazing people of faith overnight if at all. Many times along our journey we need to call out to God and say, “Help my unbelief. I want to have more faith. I want to walk with you.”

Where are you with God?  

Verse Completion. . . the godly have a lasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ZFHuU9fgdWQ

Complete the Verse & Name the BookSo, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. But . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “The Calling of Gideon” based on Judges 6. Today we will start a recap of that message.

Last week we read the encouraging story of Deborah who trusted God to deliver Sisera and his 900 iron chariots into the hands of the Israelites. The story ended on a high note: Then the land had peace forty years. Unfortunately, during those forty years of peace the Israelites began to walk away from God again. They started to take God for granted and concluded that God didn’t need to be a vital part of one’s life. 

1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of theLord,and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

The sin cycle starts over again, and God allowed them to suffer the consequences of doing evil. When we refuse to repent and continue to walk in evil, God will give us over to suffer the consequences of our sins. You can count on it. Here we see the Israelites walking away from God. God calls them back into relationship with him, but they refuse. Whenever we continue to stay on a course that is against God, God will give us over not because he wants to see us destroyed, but because he loves us and wants us to repent and return to him. He wants us to experience life without him and conclude that life with God is so much better than life without God. God gives us a wake-up call and reminds us that he is truly vital to our lives. 

The Israelites only suffered under the Midianites for seven years, but this seven years was more oppressive than the times before. It was so bad the Israelites fled to caves to hide from the Midianites. They started living like animals. They couldn’t live out in the open because the Midianites and others would rob them of their crops at harvest time. What wasn’t stolen was burned so the Israelites would have nothing. Life for the Israelites was ugly! Only when they were impoverished did the Israelites call out to God. We’re the same way. When we have our backs to the wall and have no place else to turn, we call out to God for help. 

God doesn’t want it to be like that. He wants to have a rich relationship with us, but it’s we who turn away from him. He is faithful; we are unfaithful. We fall back into the cycle of being close to God, wandering away from God, forgetting God all together, repenting of our sins, and returning to God. Thankfully, God is gracious and faithful; he welcomes us back into relationship. 

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, . . . This is interesting. In our last story God sent the Israelites a prophet and a deliverer, but here he sends only a prophet . . . who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

The prophet of God brought the voice of God to Israel. He reminds the people that it was Jehovah who did all the mighty works in their nation’s history. The central focus of the covenant between God and Israel was serving God—being in a right relationship with God. Jehovah is God and there is no other. The prophet reminds the people that they were the ones who walked away from God. 

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

A winepress is used to make wine, not thresh wheat. However, Gideon is using the winepress so he won’t be seen by the Midianites. If they saw him threshing wheat out in the open, they would rob him of his wheat. Gideon had to hide from the Midianites. 

12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

Isn’t it interesting that the angel calls Gideon a mighty warrior when he’s hiding in a winepress so he won’t be found by the Midianites?

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Gideon does not believe anything the angel of the Lord has said to him. Notice how he says, “IF the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Where are all the wonders experienced by their ancestors? Gideon doesn’t see them happening now. It seems to Gideon that God has abandoned the Israelites. Gideon blames God for his circumstances. He’s asking, “Where’s God in my pain? Where’s God in my suffering? Where’s God in my circumstances here in the winepress?” Gideon was asking the same questions we ask. He drew the same conclusion we draw—God has abandoned us. 

God was simply doing what he said he would do in the covenant found in Deuteronomy 28. There were blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. When we walk outside of our covenant with Christ, we are given over, and life gets ugly. We blame God for the ugliness in our lives. He reminds us that we are the ones being unfaithful. God is always faithful. We shouldn’t be asking, “Where is God in this?”; we should be asking, “Where am I with God in this?” We need to examine ourselves before God.

That doesn’t mean that every time bad things happen to us, we are out of covenant with God. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. Sometimes bad things happen to us just because we live in a fallen world. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Satan is constantly working at destroying us. He wants us to walk away from God. We need to remember Jesus has overcome the world. He never sleeps nor slumbers. When Jesus left the earth, he gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us. We have God’s presence in us at all times. 

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Gideon’s reply to God is similar to Moses’ response to God: “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) Both Gideon and Moses were not being forthright with God. Gideon had more than ten servants. His family owned a winepress. His father was the keeper of the altars of Baal and had a title of authority. Moses was raised in the palace of the king. He received the best education possible at that time. Moses and Gideon were full of excuses—perhaps a bit like you and me. 

Sometimes God asks us to do things that are out of our comfort zone. We are not able to do them in our own strength, but God has given us the Holy Spirit, and by God’s Spirit we have the power to do what God asks us to do. It’s not a matter of comfort; it’s a matter of obedience.

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

Gideon didn’t know the voice of God. We have no excuse for not knowing the voice of God because we have the Bible. Everything found in the Bible is the voice of God. God uses sermons, Bible studies, songs, and much more to let his voice be heard. We in America have so many opportunities to hear the voice of God. 

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

Verse Completion. . . be sure that everything is done properly and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:39 (NIV)


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

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookGive thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His. . . (completion at the end)

Note: Two years ago I wrote a prayer to God to express my thanks and gratitude for “all” he’d done in my life. Yesterday I shared the first half of that prayer. Today I’d like to share the second half with you.

       Father, thank you for not making me rich when I was young. You easily could have, but you chose to keep me reliant on you. Thank you for doing that. Had you made me "rich," I might have wandered away from you, and that would have been tragic. You know exactly what's best for me, and I rest in knowing that.

       Thank you for music. I can't imagine a world without music. I want to thank you for my sense of hearing that allows me to enjoy the songs you have gifted musicians to write and sing. I also want to thank you for gifted artists who have taken your beauty to canvas.

       I feel so blessed to have had such good health. There are so many things that can go wrong (back, neck, shoulders, eyes, ears, hips, bones, mind, etc.), but so few have. I give you the praise. Thank you for the good report after my surgery for melanoma cancer.

       Thank you for the opportunity to be a student of some caring, gifted, and inspiring teachers: Angie Brunemeier, Lorena Lani Mortenson, Josephina Ruff, Rafael Rodriguez, Shirley Dean, Helen Wilson, Bartlett McKay, Irving Laird, and Prof. Miller (to name a few).

       Thank you for your hand in my career of teaching. It was the perfect job for me. I realized you gave me strong abilities in many areas, but you didn't give me exceptional ability in any one area. Therefore, teaching fit the gifts you gave me. Thank you for my college roommate who encouraged me to pursue teaching as a career. Thank you for giving me the courage to read the Bible in a public school, and letting me find out many years later that the reading sparked an interest in your word that led to a student becoming a disciple of yours and entering full-time ministry. Thank you for a great career, and thank you for the opportunity to teach in Beaverton School District.

       I want to thank you for how you specifically worked out details for me when I moved across state to take my first teaching job in Forks. I was busy with college and didn't think about the cost of moving to my first job. It all happened so quickly, and I realized my family needed moving expenses, and there was no money to draw from. You arranged for a check to be there for us--a check from my parents in the Philippines who didn't know I needed any money, but you prompted them to send the check that was exactly the amount we needed to pay for the move. Before I even realized I needed the money, you had that check in the mail that would arrive about a week later--the exact time I needed the money. Thank you for taking care of my needs. You have always provided for my needs, and I give you the glory.

       God, you always know what's best. When I was working on moving from Forks to Beaverton, I interviewed twice at schools where I didn't get the job. I couldn't understand why you allowed that to happen. In one job interview, the principal and I clicked so well; I couldn't wait to work for her. But I didn't get the job. Then you provided another interview at a different school, and I was hired. Years later, when I looked back on what happened, I saw that the job I was offered was a perfect match rather than a good match. You are an amazing God! You blessed me by keeping me at that excellent school for 21 years. Thank you!

       I want you to know I appreciate each and every summer job you provided for me when I was teaching: logging, teaching driver's education, and working for United Van Lines. Thank you for your hand of protection on me when I was logging--particularly that day when I narrowly missed losing my hand and life. Thank you for protecting us from a possible fatality when a student driver confused the gas and brake and ran us up on a sidewalk (where usually students were waiting) hitting a building. I'll never forget how you provided for my future son-in-law (Mike), giving him so many pieces of beautiful furniture to place in his recently purchased, bare house. I know you arranged for me to be on the job that day when a couple moving to San Francisco had to get rid of a lot of furniture from their huge house in the Portland area. Free is a very good price!

       Thank you for the life lessons I learned while working in the trailer factory in Idaho. Thank you for skills I learned that would come in handy my whole life. Thank you for the life lessons I learned in the Air Force and the financial blessing of the G.I. Bill when I was attending college. You used the Air Force to mature me, and I know I needed maturing.

       Father, I can't thank you enough for providing that first house for our family. You orchestrated events so I would be able to buy a brand new house and only pay closing costs. When I didn't have enough money for the closing costs on the $24,000 house, you provided it. That huge blessing got us into the housing market and allowed us the opportunity to live in beautiful houses while growing our money as housing prices increased. Thank you!

       I also want to thank you for how you provided automobiles for our family. Twice, when we had vehicles that were no longer able to be driven, you provided a car. Thank you for giving us a car to drive that wasn't even a year old when you prompted my sister to let us drive it while she went to South Africa as a missionary nurse for two years. That was such a spirit lifter! And thank you for the blessing of being able to drive dependable cars in retirement.

       Lord, you know how I've enjoyed riding motorcycles. I want to thank you for each and every motorcycle you let me own. Riding them brought so much joy and happiness to me. I want to thank you for keeping me safe for over 50 years as I rode. There were some close calls, but you didn't allow any injuries. Thank you for a healthy body to enjoy other sports and activities: hiking, skiing, swimming, basketball, tennis, racquetball, golfing.

       Thank you for the perfect retirement house that is able to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Thank you for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place that is so peaceful and relaxing.

       Thank you for having me be born in the United States. There is no other place I would rather be.

       I also want to thank you for my divorce--not because that is what you wanted for our family, but you used the worst experience of my life to draw me closer to you, and then you blessed me with the best wife there could ever be for me--Laurie! Thank you for bringing good out of bad.

       Thank you for the persecution of Christians, because it makes us stronger and more committed to you. Thank you for each event in my life that has brought me closer to you. And thank you for disciplining me when I needed it. If you let me go, I would be lost, but you pursue me with discipline, and I want to thank you for that. You let me know I am loved.

       Father, I want to remember the many blessings you have poured out on me, but I never would have enough time or space to tell of everything. This short prayer just scratches the surface of all I'm thankful for. And never forget, Lord, you are at the very top of my list, the very bottom of my list, and everywhere in between. Thank you, Jesus, for EVERYTHING! Amen.

Verse Completion. . . faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-f4MUUMWMV4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookEnter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever; and . . . (completion at the end)

Note: Two years ago I wrote a prayer to God to express my thanks and gratitude for “all” he’d done in my life. I’d like to share the first of that prayer with you today. The second half will be shared tomorrow.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

       Father in Heaven, I have so much to be thankful for! Today, I'm just going to scratch the surface of my gratitude to you for all your many blessings.

       First and foremost, I want to thank you for salvation; for sending Jesus to me to save me from my sins. Jesus, you died for my sins. I should have been on the cross dying for the many sins I have committed, but you chose to die there in my place. I thank you for that kind of love--the deepest love there is. I don't deserve it, but I'm grateful for it. Thank you for adopting me into your family. The day I was adopted into your family is the greatest event of my entire life.

       God, I want to thank you for your faithfulness through the years. Although I have been unfaithful to you at times, you have remained 100% faithful to me. You have proven yourself to be trustworthy. You are truth. Thank you for this anchor.

       I am so thankful for your word that reveals yourself to us. Thank you for words of truth that provide guidance and navigate me through this life. Thank you for inspiring characters in the Bible: Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Job, Joshua, David, Ruth, Esther, Elisha, Elijah, Ezekiel, Matthew, Peter, Paul, Mary & Joseph, Stephen, and so many more.

       Next, I want to thank you for the family I was born into. The father and mother you gave me were perfect for me. They weren't too lenient and they weren't too strict. They were exactly what I needed. They didn't hesitate to discipline me when I needed it. They showed me the path to you and lived lives that were wonderful examples for me to follow. I can't thank you enough for them. They provided the strong foundation of a faith in you that I needed to see and experience. I am so thankful they started each day with a Bible story and prayer. I also want to thank you for two great sisters who have been exemplary examples of how to show love to others. And, Lord, thank you for sparing the lives of my older sister and our mother when we were in that terrible car accident in the Philippines. Thank you for using the doctors at Clark AFB to save my sister's life when she was a senior in high school. She's been such a blessing to me my whole life!

       Thank you for my wife, Laurie. What a blessing! I know she's the one you picked out for me. She had a similar upbringing--being raised in a pastor's home. We have the same priorities, interests, and we both love to laugh. You gave me a wife with such a sweet disposition. It's heaven on earth living with her. She has taught me so much about giving to others and putting others first. The message comes through so strongly when it's given by example. I could never thank you enough for sparing Laurie's life when she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer 12 years ago! Oh, and thank you for my wife's amazing memory; you knew I was going to need it.

       I want to thank you so much for the blessing of three precious daughters. All three have brought so much joy to our family. I thank you for making all three so different from each other, but all so easy to love. Thank you that they were such good teenagers and didn't rebel against you in high school. Thank you that they grew to become responsible, self-supporting adults. You blessed me big time with my three daughters.

       When I married Laurie, you blessed me with two grown sons. Thank you for so many fine qualities in these men--polite, thoughtful, generous, always thinking of others--qualities inspired by their mother. I want to thank you for the tremendous work ethic Phillip has--again, inspired by his mom.

       I also want to thank you, God, for the healthy bodies you have given to all our kids and grandkids. And I can't forget the blessings of our responsible and loving sons-in-law and daughter-in-law.

       Father, thank you for Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob who opened up their house to me (and both of my sisters, at different times) to live in as we made the transition from high school in the Philippines to college life in America. They treated us just like we were their own kids. Ex-Marine Uncle Bob was there to help me transition into the Air Force, too. Thank you for his prayers for me.

       Thank you for the friends I've had through my life. You've always provided a close friend that made life enjoyable. You used my aunt and uncle to arrange for an extraordinary roommate for me in college. Nobody made me laugh more than Ron. I couldn't have found a more perfect roommate, and I know your hand was in that. 

       Thank you for the men friends I have in my life now that I'm retired. I didn't have much time for male friends when I was working and raising a family, but now you have blessed me with so many fine, Christian men friends who love you and desire to live lives that glorify you. This was an unexpected blessing, and I want you to know I am grateful.

       Father, I want to thank you for some godly pastors I have had in the churches I have attended. In particular, I want to thank you for: Charles Higgins, Ron Mehl, Randy Remington, and Michael Wedman. Thank you for men like this who were/are sold out to you--men who have kept a relationship with you as their top priority, and men who have worked to get the people in their churches to come to know you and grow to know you more. I also want to thank you for all the Christian role models you have placed in my life--starting with my father.

       Thank you for your creation: mountains, trees, rivers, lakes, oceans, animals, plants, stars, planets . . . it's all beyond my comprehension how you accomplished such a feat. I stand in awe and wonder as I consider you, the Creator, that's behind all this. Nothing man has "created" comes close to what you have done!

       For the food I am blessed with each day, I want to give you thanks. I have never had to go hungry because there was no food where I've been. What a gift! I never want to take this for granted. You have provided safe water for me to drink, too. I never want to take this for granted. And I want to thank you for the nice clothes you have provided for me to wear. I feel very fortunate!

       Thank you for the rain you so faithfully send. It keeps everything so lush and beautiful. It also prevents droughts and fires. Thank you for the rain, and I love the snow you send, too.

       You blessed me with the opportunity to grow up in the Philippines. What a beautiful country with kind, happy people. You showed me that people can be happy with little to no possessions. You provided the opportunity for me to appreciate another culture and observe, firsthand, the growth of your kingdom there. You created some of the best fruits in the world and placed them there.

Verse Completion. . . his faithfulness continues to each generation.  Psalm 100:4, 5 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tzO3JayyiT4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookLove is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Del McKenzie’s message titled “The Holy Spirit Sets People Free”. He said there are at least four kinds of bondages that the Holy Spirit sets people free from:

1.   Bondage of sin.

2.   Bondage of habits.

3.   Bondage of societyFear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe (Proverbs 29:25). People are in bondage to the fear of other people. They let what other people think hold them as slaves. They are afraid to be different from the world. They are afraid to become a Christian because they are afraid of what others will think. They are afraid of what others will do to them because they are Christians. That’s bondage. That’s slavery to the world. The fear of man is connected to the sin of pride. Sometimes we are too proud to admit our mistakes or admit that we have needs. We can go to great ends to protect our image. That’s slavery and bondage. 

We can be in bondage to self-consciousness. We’re afraid we might offend someone or be looked down upon. Sometimes people are afraid to respond to the gospel. Sometimes people are so bound up by self-consciousness that they can’t freely and openly worship. They would never speak out and say “amen” or “hallelujah” or “praise God”. 

4.   Bondage of Satan. Jesus said to Paul, “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17, 18). We have been delivered from the devil’s kingdom and bondage. Satan was defeated at Calvary. Jesus gained the victory. Jesus delivered those who through the fear of death were subject to bondage. We are no longer the children of the devil. We have become the children of God. We can thank God that:

·      I am a child of God. John 1:12, 13: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

·      God created me.

·      God regenerated me.

·      God adopted me.

·      God transformed me.

·      God transferred me from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light; from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of Jesus.

We don’t have to live in defeat to Satan. Satan will do battle with us, and that’s why we have to resist him and renounce him by the power of the Holy Spirit. The devil will set up camp in our hearts if we allow him to. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to remove him and instead fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit so there’s no room for the devil in our hearts. 

The devil uses many forces to keep people in bondage. One is darkness: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). He also uses heaviness, emptiness, blackness, loneliness, sorrow, gloom, and despair. Isaiah 61:1-3 says:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because theLord has anointed me

to proclaim good newsto the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedomfor the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

and the day of vengeanceof our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a plantingof the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

Because the devil was defeated by Jesus on the cross, the devil can be defeated in our lives. The devil uses the fear of death against us, but Jesus destroyed him that has the power of death (see Hebrews 2:15). There is freedom from the fear of death through the ministry and power of the Holy Spirit.

The devil uses worry, fretting, stewing, negative thoughts, pessimistic thoughts, and gloomy thoughts. God’s word tells us:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brother, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:6-8). 

The devil uses sickness. In Luke 13:10-16 we see that Satan used a demon to cripple a woman for eighteen years. She was in bondage for eighteen years until Jesus set her free. 

As we seek the Holy Spirit, yield to him, trust him, are filled with him, and cooperate with him, there is freedom from the power and control of the evil one. We can’t squelch the Holy Spirit, resist the Holy Spirit, grieve the Holy Spirit, and lie to the Holy Spirit while expecting him to do great works in our lives. What we need to do is yield to the Holy Spirit and surrender to him. Psalm 118:5 says: In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. When there’s bondage in our lives, we can cry to the Holy Spirit and say, “Spirit of liberty, set me free. I will follow you. I will listen to you. I will obey you. I will cooperate with you.”

We need to be set free from all of the powers of darkness. We need to be set free from the power of sin, the power of habits, the power of Satan. Praise God there is freedom through the ministry of the Holy Spirit! 

Verse Completion: . . . keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4,5 (NLT)


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

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

Complete the Verse & Name the Book. . . share your love only with your wife . . . Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you . . . May you always be . . .(completion at the end)

On Monday Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series of messages on the Holy Spirit with his seventh talk titled “The Holy Spirit Sets People Free”. So far we have looked at the Holy Spirit wanting to be our companion, the Spirit of life, making Jesus real to us, the enabler of worship, leading us in prayer, and making us loving people.

Liberty, freedom, emancipation, and independence have been the great cries of the human heart down through the centuries. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” We see lots of liberation movements around us today. The Scriptures record the story of the Israelites getting freedom from Egypt. In 1776 the colonies in America declared their freedom from Great Britain. 

There is a slavery that’s worse than slavery to another nation—slavery to sin. There is a liberation that’s greater than any liberation from another nation. There is a spiritual liberation. The Holy Spirit sets people free with a focus on Jesus. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). The Holy Spirit continues the ministry of Jesus—a ministry that’s desperately needed today. We cry out for revival because revival is a time of great liberation; people are set free from an old life to experience a new life. During the revival in Wales in 1904 and 1905, 150,000 people came to faith in Christ. It’s interesting to note that many of those converted were in the mining business. Mules were used to carry the ore out of the mines. When the miners were set free from spiritual bondage, they were also set free from their profanity, cursing, and swearing. For a period of time the mules were confused as to what to do. The mules had to learn a whole different language. We also need to be set free from our old ways by the Holy Spirit. 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).  We need freedom in our lives, churches, and culture. It only happens through the work, power, and ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

There are at least four kinds of bondages that the Holy Spirit sets people free from:

1.   The bondage of sin. Jesus secured that freedom for us. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1, 2). Sin has no legal hold on a Christian—a person who is born of the Spirit and has come to faith in Jesus. At this time in history, when a person bought a slave from a slave owner, the former slave owner had no more power over that slave. We are the slaves that have been bought back—paid for with the precious blood of Jesus. For we know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:6, 7). 

Many people who profess to be Christians are still enslaved by sin. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36). We need the special ministry of the Holy Spirit to set us free from the practice and power of sin. A person who is a slave to anger can have anger erupt at any time. We say the person has a temper. Ongoing anger is called bitterness in Scripture. Those who are slaves to anger can’t get free from it. They are controlled by it. It’s no fun being around a person who is a slave to anger. You never know if you are on their good side or their bad side. The Holy Spirit can set us free from anger! My father had a temper that he would lose quickly. However, when he was in his late forties, he had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that set him free from his temper. It was only by the wonderful, emancipating ministry of the Holy Spirit that my father was set free from his temper. 

Some people are slaves to lying—they might be chronic liars or pathological liars. Some people are slaves to slander—they can’t say anything good about a person, and they have plenty of bad to say about a person. They seem to enjoy finding fault and running people into the ground. There are so many other things we can be slaves to. Is there an answer? Yes! His name is Jesus-- So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeedWhere the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. The Holy Spirit is setting people free today. The Holy Spirit is the one with the power and ability to set us free. It’s not something we can do in our own strength. The Holy Spirit sets us free as we go to him for strength and power, confessing our sin, repenting of our sin, renouncing our sin, and following him. 

We can trust the Holy Spirit. We can ask the Holy Spirit to set us free from the bondage of sin, and we can depend on him to do it. Our part is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, tap into his power, walk with him as our companion, and pray that we will resist everything that’s of sin, carnality, worldliness, and sickness. We need to renounce these things. 

2.   The bondage of habits. There are many habits that entangle and enslave people. “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything(1 Corinthians 6:12). By the power of the Holy Spirit we can be set free from bad habits.

Food is good for the body, but we are not to be mastered by food. We are not to be slaves to food. 

There are habits of thoughts. We let our minds head toward sinful things, and we get caught in a web. Seemingly, we can’t get away from the sinful thoughts. We have to turn to the Holy Spirit and pray, “Help me to change my thinking.” 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Prolonged thoughts will take us to attitudes. We can have attitudes that we are in bondage to: selfishness, belligerence, meanness. We can be set free from these bad attitudes through the Holy Spirit.

There are habits of speaking. We can speak words against people. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 3:5, 6). We can get into a bad habit of using language that is not appropriate or helpful. 

There’s the habit of self-pity—feeling sorry for ourselves. We start thinking everyone is against us, and everything is wrong. We can develop the habit of blaming others. We put the blame on someone else rather than accepting responsibility. 

We can develop bad driving habits: speeding, yelling at other drivers, becoming distracted, and so forth. 

Most bad habits are connected with sin of some kind: self-righteousness, self-importance, self-pity. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit can set us free from any bad habit. We need to call on his power and follow his direction. There are countless examples of people who have been set free from bad habits: smoking cigarettes, gossiping, etc.

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

Verse Completion: . . . captivated by her love. Proverbs 5:15, 18, 19 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/eopJVK65kw8?t=4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAll of you together are Christ’s body, and . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “The Song of Deborah” based on Judges 5. We left off with Deborah’s rebuke of the old leaders who needed to be pointing people to God and by doing so reviving their hope and faith. Instead, they didn’t have a relationship with God so there was nothing of significance that they could pass on to the people. They were leading people away from God.

13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;

the people of theLord came down to me against the mighty.

14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;

Benjaminwas with the people who followed you.

From Makir captains came down,

from Zebulun those who bear a commander’sstaff.

15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;

yes, Issachar was with Barak,

sent under his command into the valley.

In the districts of Reuben

there was much searching of heart.

16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens

to hear the whistling for the flocks?

In the districts of Reuben

there was much searching of heart.

17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.

And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?

Asher remained on the coast

and stayed in his coves.

18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;

so did Naphtalion the terraced fields.

Deborah is recounting the preparation for battle. She’s recognizing the tribes that went to battle and those who refused to go to battle. There were twelve tribes in Israel, but they were not united. There wasn’t a standard of truth in their nation. Deborah is giving recognition to the tribes who said, “Yes, God, use me.” In Deborah’s song, honor was given to the tribes who trusted God and shame was placed on the tribes who did not trust God. The whole message of the song is God can be trusted. He is the divine warrior. 

19 “Kings came, they fought,

the kings of Canaan fought.

At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,

they took no plunder of silver.

20 From the heavens the stars fought,

from their courses they fought against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon swept them away,

the age-old river, the river Kishon.

March on, my soul; be strong!

22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves—

galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.

23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the Lord.

‘Curse its people bitterly,

because they did not come to help the Lord,

to help theLord against the mighty.’

Here is the battle stanza. It’s a reminder that possessions are not more important than following God. Some people always have an excuse for why they aren’t all in for God: too busy with their jobs, family, and so forth.

Verse 21 would remind the Israelites of the time when Pharaoh’s army was swept away in the Red Sea. 

No one is sure who Meroz is, but this may be referring to the Israelites who sided with the Canaanites—those who should have been aligned with Israel but were not. 

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,

the wife of Heber the Kenite,

most blessed of tent-dwelling women.

Jael was not an Israelite, but she stood with the Israelites. In the previous verse we saw Israelites who stood with Canaan. 

25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;

in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.

26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,

her right hand for the workman’s hammer.

She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,

she shattered and pierced his temple.

27 At her feet he sank,

he fell; there he lay.

At her feet he sank, he fell;

where he sank, there he fell—dead.

This last verse is like a chorus within the stanzas. Can you imagine how the music changed for these verses? This is the climax of the story. Perhaps verse 27 took the form of responsive singing.  

28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;

behind the lattice she cried out,

‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?

Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’

29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;

indeed, she keeps saying to herself,

30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:

a woman or two for each man,

colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,

colorful garments embroidered,

highly embroidered garments for my neck—

all this as plunder?’

Now the scene changes to that of Sisera’s mother. She’s wondering where her son was. She’s wondering why she doesn’t hear the sound of his horses and chariots. She’s wondering where the cheers of triumph are. She’s wondering what spoils from the battle she will receive this time. Her attendants assure her everything is fine. 

In verse 7 Deborah is called the mother of Israel. In verse 28 we have the mother of Canaan. A comparison is being made. The mother of Sisera has a son who has always been victorious in battle. Now she is concerned about her son. Deborah is the mother of Israel. She is used to defeat, but she still cares deeply for her son, Israel. Deborah is leading in battle. She isn’t at home waiting to hear news of the battle. She is on the battlefield leading her nation. 

The attendants of the mother of Sisera are telling her not to worry about her son. They tell her he is probably dividing the spoils, and there must be a lot this time. In verse 30 the attendants tell the mother of Sisera: Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man. They are saying that Sisera and his men are probably plundering the women they conquered in a sexual manner. However, Jael is not one that was plundered. Jael is the one who plundered and killed Sisera. Canaanites see women as plunder. One probably wouldn’t have found a plaque with the following poem hanging in a Canaanite’s home:

Woman was created from the rib of man

Not from his head to be above him

Nor from his feet to be walked upon

But from his side to be equal

Near to his arm to be protected

And close to his heart to be loved.

The Song of Deborah sees women as victors. The women and girls probably loved singing this song around the campfire because it elevates the position of women. It speaks to the great leadership ability of Deborah and the strength and faith of Jael. God used women to bring about the victory. God showed that women are not plunder; they are not second-class citizens. God created male and female. One is not superior to the other. Both are significant. Men and women are equal in God’s sight. What is not being promoted here is feminism where women replace men. 

31 “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!

But may all who love you be like the sun

when it rises in its strength.”

Then the land had peace forty years.

God is the divine warrior and divine deliverer. He uses whoever he wants to win his battles. Men are not more important than women. Women are not more important than men. God created us because he loves us. He will deliver us using whatever means he chooses. Our response is to praise him, sing to him, and say, “Thank you, God, for showing up in our lives.”

Verse Completion. . . each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-qF-Ukri83U

Complete the Verse & Name the BookGuard your heart above all else, for it determines . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “The Song of Deborah” based on Judges 5. Judges 4 and 5 tell the same story. Chapter 4 uses a narrative form to tell the story while Chapter 5 uses a poetic form to tell the story. The poetic form takes the form of a song. This was written in the eleventh century B.C. There were no books during this time. That which needed to be remembered and shared with future generations was accomplished by an oral tradition of telling stories over and over. When something was put into a song, it was something important, something that needed to be remembered. By putting the story into a song, it was easier to remember. Songs are also used to bring praise to God. 

Other examples of songs can be found in Deuteronomy 32 with the Song of Moses, Exodus 15:1-18, 21 with the Song of Moses and Miriam, Deuteronomy 31:19-22, 30, 32:1-43 with the Song of Moses and Joshua, 1 Samuel 18:7 with the Song of David’s Victory, 2 Samuel 1:17-27 with the Song of the Bow, and many more. A couple of examples from the New Testament can be found in Luke 1:46-55 with the Song of Mary and Luke 1:67-79 with Zechariah’s Song.

When God shows up in ways we weren’t expecting, it’s natural for us to want to praise God and always remember the event. One way to do this is to record the event in a song. When Judges was written, songs would be remembered word for word in order to preserve the accuracy of the event and to insure details were not forgotten. 

The Song of Deborah is a response of praise and thanksgiving to God for delivering the nation of Israel from Jabin, king of Canaan, and Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army. The song praises God for the victory. It recounts the narrative in the form of a song. 

On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: (Judges 5:1). The day being sung about is the day God gave Deborah, Jael, and Barak victory over Jabin and Sisera. Normally, the man’s name would appear first, but in this case the woman’s name appears first. Deborah was the one with strong faith in God while Barak’s faith was lacking.

“When the princes in Israel take the lead,

when the people willingly offerthemselves—

praise theLord!

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!

I, even I, will sing tothe Lord;

I will praise theLord, the God of Israel, in song.

Deborah is praising God for the volunteers who fought against Jabin. We need to praise God when people say, “God, here am I. Use me.” We need to praise God for people who are all in—people who are fully committed to God; people who say, “Jesus, all I have is yours,” people who want Jesus to be lifted up and glorified (not themselves), people who fully trust God. In these two verses we see people showing up for God. In verses 4-5 we see God showing up for people:

“When you, Lord, went out from Seir,

when you marched from the land of Edom,

the earth shook, the heavens poured,

the clouds poured down water.

The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai,

before theLord, the God of Israel.

God is the divine warrior. He comes from afar to save his people. The storm that came, came from God. The torrents of rain and the earthquake that occurred happened because God showed up. Deborah is making sure people know it was God who showed up and not Baal. Canaanites believed in Baal. To them he was known to be a rider of clouds and most active during storms. He was the god of thunderstorms, the most vigorous and aggressive of the gods. People depended on him the most. He was considered “lord of heaven and earth”. Deborah wanted to make sure God received all the glory for the victory and insure Baal received zero glory. It was Jehovah who showed up on the battlefield, not Baal. Jehovah shows up in our lives, too. He’s the divine warrior for each of us. 

In the next four verses we see what life was like before deliverance:

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,

in the days of Jael,the highways were abandoned;

travelers took to winding paths.

Villagers in Israel would not fight;

they held back until I, Deborah,arose,

until I arose, a mother in Israel.

God chose new leaders

when war came to the city gates,

but not a shield or spear was seen

among forty thousand in Israel.

My heart is with Israel’s princes,

with the willing volunteersamong the people.

Praise theLord!

There was terror and turmoil on the roads. It wasn’t safe to travel. There was an abundance of robbers. Lawlessness was rampant. Life was chaotic and dangerous. Israel had deteriorated to this deplorable state because they walked away from God. They stepped outside of the bounds of covenant.  They no longer experienced peace. Hope was gone. In this song, Deborah is reminding the people what life was life when they didn’t follow hard after God.

The old leaders didn’t have a problem being puppets of Canaan. The leaders didn’t mind being in bondage to Canaan as long as they personally profited from their agreement with them. They were corrupt. But God chose new leaders, and Deborah was one of them. She stood up for the right. Her faith was in God and God alone. Even though Israel’s army looked pathetic without shields or spears, her faith was in God, not Israel’s army. Deborah’s faith was in the divine warrior who could stand up to any earthly army. She praises God for willing volunteers who share her faith in God. Notice the similarities in verses two and nine.

Deborah praises God for hearts that are turning back to him, hearts that are responding to the words of God. She praises God for people who are willing to take risks for him—people who live by faith, not fear. Deborah praises God for people who stand up for truth. 

Paul was willing to stand up for truth no matter what the consequences were. He wrote: I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:20, 21).

Deborah arrived in a nation that had walked away from God. They no longer knew what truth was, but as a prophetess of God, she spoke truth to her nation. In speaking the words of God, she spoke truth. Truth sets people free. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31b, 32). 

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,

sitting on your saddle blankets,

and you who walk along the road, consider

11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.

They recite the victoriesof the Lord,

the victories of his villagers in Israel.

“Then the people of the Lord

went down to the city gates.

12 ‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah!

Wake up, wake up, break out in song!

Arise, Barak!

Take captive your captives,son of Abinoam.’

This is a rebuke to the old leaders. White donkeys were hard to come by. They were expensive, and the only people who owned them were wealthy and influential people. Deborah is rebuking them for their arrogance and leading people away from God. They should be like the humble people found at the watering holes who sing songs that remember the greatness of God. The leaders need to be singing the same songs and paying attention to the lyrics. The leaders need to be those who are reviving hope and faith in the people. They need to be pointing people to God. In order for that to happen, they need to have a relationship with God themselves. That is not happening. 

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

Verse Completion. . . the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/h73Do-4CCfg

Complete the Verse & Name the BookNever let loyalty and kindness . . . (completion at the end)

Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series in Exodus titled “A Rescued People” during the evening service. The seventh sermon was given by Associate Pastor Dan Hiben and is based on Exodus 19-20. Today we will begin a recap of his message.

In Chapter 19 God comes in cosmic power revealing his might and holiness. In Chapter 20 God speaks giving his people the Law and the Ten Commandments. In these two chapters we see that God comes and speaks calling his people to a life that responds to the rescue they have already experienced. This text urges us today to live in response to God’s loving rescue.

God made a promise to his people in the following verses which are key to this passage:

 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”(Exodus 19:4-6)

God had struck down the Egyptians who had enslaved the Israelites. He brought them safely through the Red Sea. Just as a mother eagle pushes her young out of the nest so they can learn to fly and swoops down underneath them in case anything goes wrong, so it is with God and his children. God provided for them in the wilderness. God rescued his people out of slavery, out of Egypt, and to himself. Out of his rescue, God requires a response: Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine. God’s response is a call to obedience—a call to trust God with their whole lives. 

The sequence is rescue, response, and reward. Out of all the peoples of the earth, God called Israel to be his chosen people. They are a treasured possession who are to be his priests, his ambassadors. All the nations of the earth were to know the name of the LORD through his people. They were to bring the blessing of God to all the nations. They were to be a holy nation set apart by their living for God—living rightly and honoring God in all they do. They are called to live in response to God’s loving rescue because that is how they will be the treasured possession—a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. By obeying his commands, they will be everything God has made them to be. 

The sequence is the same for us today: rescue, response, and reward. We need to get this sequence right. We want the sequence to be rescue followed by reward. Once we are rewarded then we might respond. The pattern of God’s redemptive work is always rescue, response, reward. We are called to holiness. We are to live in holiness because we have been rescued. We are called to holiness so we can be everything God created us to be. 

A coach chooses his starting players very carefully. He puts the players through drills that are difficult and strenuous. The expectations are high. A lot is required from the players. The drills and plays that are practiced are designed to develop the players into being all they can be. It’s the same with God. We are not called into random obedience. We are to trust fully in God’s rescue, live passionately for him in response, and trust God for our reward. 

We have promise, but we must prepare for God’s coming. The people were told to ready themselves for God to come to the mountain: 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.

There is a need for the people to prepare for God’s coming:

·      Wash their clothes. Washing clothes symbolizes the inner heart. It’s the external representing the internal. An internal change is needed. Their hearts need to be pure. 

·      Set limits. There were boundaries that were not to be crossed. Crossing the boundaries would result in death. This was serious business. Unholy people could not approach a holy God. 

There’s promise, preparation, and separation. The separation between unholy people and a holy God is revealed:

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

God comes in cosmic power! The mountain itself even trembled. God’s power and might were revealed in a moment. The holiness of God and the power of God were revealed in a cosmic display. There’s such a huge gap between the power of man and the power of God. No one can enter the presence of a holy God. 

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29)

We need to have a holy fear of God. He is the one who can and will once again shake the earth. Our only hope is to put our trust in Jesus Christ. He’s the only one who can save us from death. 

The intention of this passage is to show the separation that exists between an unholy people and a holy God. If we can’t go near God, how are we supposed to be his treasured possession and draw near to him? 

Chapter 20 of Exodus opens with: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. The God who gives the law is the God who brought his people out of slavery in Egypt. He loves them. He cares for them. He rescued them, and now he is calling them to respond. Again we see the pattern of God’s redemptive work: rescue, response, reward. 

Within the Ten Commandments in verses 3-17, we find two major spheres: vertical and horizontal. Vertical has to do with loving God. Horizontal has to do with loving others. The vertical commandments are found in the first four commandments:

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

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

Verse Completion. . . leave you. Proverbs 3:3a (NLT)


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

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookCry out for insight, and ask for . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Del McKenzie’s talk titled “The Spirit Makes Us Loving People”. Pastor Del spoke about the need we have for the Holy Spirit to make us loving people. We left off with him answering the question: What is the nature of the love that makes us loving people?

Divine love is found is the word agape. This kind of love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

This is not human love. It’s not the kind of love we see around us. It’s not the kind of love we generate in ourselves. It’s God’s love. This kind of love is described in a word picture found in Galatians 5:22, 23a:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Joy is love rejoicing. Peace is love resting. Patience is love accepting. Kindness is love caring. Goodness is love in action. 

Now let’s take a look at the supply of God’s love. God’s love is far different from human love. We need to have God’s love in order for us to love the way God wants us to. There’s a wonderful supply of God’s love that comes through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces love in people. We were just reading about the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit is the product of life. The plant or tree sucks up nutrients from the soil and the moisture. When the plant or tree has life, it produces fruit. Life from the Holy Spirit produces love. Blueberry bushes produce blueberries. Apple trees produce apples. The Holy Spirit produces love. We can call on the Holy Spirit to produce love in us so we can love others. The Holy Spirit produces God’s love in God’s people. It’s a wonderful ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8).

God pours his love into God’s people. God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5b). It’s not just a trickle when the Holy Spirit pours his love into our hearts. We can ask to be filled with the love of God so we can pass it on to other people. When God’s love overflows in us, it spreads to other people. A great ministry of the Holy Spirit is to pour love into our hearts. When we love God, we are returning his love to him. The love that is poured into us can be poured back to God. We don’t have to love others in our own love or in our own effort. We love others with God’s love because the Holy Spirit produces it in us as he pours his love into us. 1 John 4:7-12 says:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

We can expect the Holy Spirit to provide us with the love that we need. We can trust him to provide the love we need to meet the needs of the situations in which we find ourselves. We can ask God to give us that agape love described in 1 Corinthians 13. God’s love is the answer to the selfishness that is in our world today. Selfishness is a spectrum that runs from indifference to outright hatred. When there is a lack of love, it’s likely the result of selfishness in a person’s heart. We need God’s love poured into us so we can return that love to him and share that love with others. It’s possible to have hearts that are overflowing with love. God is asking us to do the impossible in our own strength. He wants us to humbly turn to him realizing our shortcomings and lack of love and receive the love he is ready to pour into us. 

A wonderful ministry of the Holy Spirit is him enabling us to love, equipping us to love, motivating us to love, guiding us to love. Let’s get alone with the Holy Spirit and spend some time opening our hearts to his ministry of love. We can also get with a trusted friend and talk about our selfishness. We can get an analysis from the person who cares for us and then repent of our selfishness.

We can pray: God, I want to love you. I want to love people. I want to contribute to a loving family. I want to contribute to a loving church. I want to contribute to loving friendships. But God, I can’t do it on my own. I need you to pour your love into me. Holy Spirit, I want you to have your way in my life. Fill me with a love that will transform my life, my circle of friends, and my church. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Verse Completion: . . . understanding. Proverbs 2:3 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/D90SIxGKR8Q

Complete the Verse & Name the Book[The purpose of these proverbs] is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them . . . (completion at the end)

On Monday Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series of messages on the Holy Spirit with his sixth talk titled “The Spirit Makes Us Loving People”. So far we have looked at the Holy Spirit wanting to be our companion, the Spirit of life, making Jesus real to us, the enabler of worship, and leading us in prayer. 

The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us. We want to determine what the Holy Spirit does, what he wants to do if we allow him to do it, and what we can expect him to do in us, for us, and with us. We want to determine what we can ask the Holy Spirit to do. We want to determine what we can trust the Holy Spirit for. 

The Holy Spirit wants to make us loving people. This is something we can ask, expect, and trust the Holy Spirit to do. We are asked to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are asked to love our neighbor as ourselves. At times it seems like God is asking us to do the impossible. On our own strength, we can’t, but in God’s strength, we can. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and have his way in our lives. 

Let’s first take a look at the need we have for the Holy Spirit to make us loving people. God calls us to be loving people:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-30).

It all starts with loving God. He is the creator, the sustainer, the ruler, the all together lovely one. 1 Timothy 1:17 says: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

When we don’t love God, everything else is out of order. Things go cattywampus. We can love God because God loves us. 1 John 4:19-21 says:

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

It’s possible for us to love because of the Holy Spirit living in us. Our families need to be places where people love one another. Unfortunately, many families experience brutality, chaos, and confusion. They don’t love each other, and they don’t love God. There’s physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and more. The result is often divorce. When drugs, robbing, and stealing are added, it’s a real mess! 

Love makes all the difference. When a family experiences love, the environment is peaceful, and it’s a pleasant place to be. It’s a place where decency is found. We are called to love God and love each other. A church is called by God to be a loving community. Love provides spiritual health. Love makes it possible to reach people with the gospel. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Sadly, there are churches not filled with love. However, when the Holy Spirit moves and there’s a baptism of love, people are converted, delivered, and healed. A loving church is a healthy church because we aren’t able to love on our own. A loving church is a church where the Holy Spirit abides. It’s a church of gracious people who depend on God to give them love.

What is the nature of the love that makes us loving people? It’s found in the word agape. Agape love is unmotivated love. Other kinds of love have some kind of motivation. God doesn’t love us because we’re really good people. God loves people because he is love. He has unconditional love, love that does not depend on performance. God never says, “I’ll keep loving you as long as you do the right things and say the right things. I’ll keep loving you as long as you aren’t selfish.” No, Jesus loves us unconditionally. His love is unfailing. 2 Timothy 2:13 says: If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. God loves unfailingly. If there’s failure, it’s never on his part; it’s always on our part. Love is part of God’s character. It’s one of his attributes. God has initiating love because it’s him who initiates the contact. 

·      The Holy Spirit instills a hunger in us. We would never go to him if we didn’t have some kind of hunger for what he has. 

·      The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. We would never turn to God if we weren’t made aware of our sins. Conviction is a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. 

·      The Holy Spirit brings illumination. Our minds are open to see the truth: Jesus is the Savior of the world. He took my sin and carried it on the cross, and he paid for it with his life when it should have been me on the cross paying the penalty for my own sin. 

God has initiating love, and he has proven love. Romans 5:8 tells us: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t wait until we became saints before he died for us. We have a guaranteed love in Jesus. Romans 8:31-39 says:

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tomorrow we will continue Pastor Del’s message with the second half.

Verse Completion: . . . do what is right, just, and fair. Proverbs 1:3 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/jrwSvQx3Xqs

Complete the Verse & Name the BookA spiritual gift is given to each of us so . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s first-person narrative sermon titled “The Disbelief of Barak” based on Judges 4. As we heard from Barak, he told us the words Judge Deborah spoke to him: “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” This didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t have enough faith to believe God could pull this off. Consequently, Deborah said to me: “Because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.”

I went back to my hometown and summoned ten thousand troops. I’m from the tribe of Naphtali in the north. South of me is the tribe of Zebulun. We were able to gather together ten thousand troops from both tribes. After a briefing of what was to take place, I was surprised when nobody deserted us and went home. Evidently, the words had a ring of truth to them. The army took the words given to Deborah to be from God. 

After marching for a time we arrived at Mount Tabor where we set up camp. We could see in the distance Sisera also setting up camp on the opposite side of the valley. I was feeling very unsettled. I could only imagine the mayhem that would take place when we came in contact with the 900 chariots. Then I heard Deborah say to me, “Go! This is the day the LORDD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” In spite of my façade of bravery, I believe Deborah saw the fear in my heart. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. There was really nothing for me to do but go—go to my death along with thousands of others that I was leading. 

As my army approached Sisera’s army, it began to rain in torrents. I would call it a deluge. The plain began to fill with water. The Kishon River began to overflow. The result was a muddy mess. Consequently, the 900 iron-fitted chariots became 900 chariots of dead weight. They sunk into the ground, and the horses were unable to move the stuck chariots. 

If you think I was dumbfounded by Deborah’s words when she told me of God’s plan, I was completely astounded by what I was witnessing. God turned 900 deadly chariots that I greatly feared into 900 dead weights that were now a detriment to their operators. Those in chariots were used to people fleeing from them, but now they were the ones fleeing for their lives. When they saw their chariots were useless, their hearts melted, and they became useless. All the troops of Sisera fell by our swords; not a man escaped except for Sisera himself. 

Sisera fled but I kept an eye on him. I was the leader of my army, and I wanted to keep an eye on the leader of their army. I saw him disappear into the tents of the Kenites. The Kenites were the descendants of Moses’ father-in-law. They weren’t part of Israel, but they weren’t enemies of Israel either. The Kenites had made a covenant with Jabin, the king of the Canaanites, so they were allies with Jabin. 

When I arrived at the tents of the Kenites, I started asking around to see if anyone had seen Sisera. I made contact with Jael, the wife of Heber. She told me Sisera was in her tent. She had given him some warm milk to drink and let him fall asleep in her tent. When I heard that, I was eager to enter the tent and put an end to him. To my surprise, Jael told me she had already killed him. She had taken a tent peg and hammer and had driven the peg through Sisera’s temple into the ground. At that moment, Deborah’s words returned to me: “. . . because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.” 

When Deborah’s words were spoken to me, they were very confusing because women didn’t go to war. Fighting was left to men. It was the job of men to protect their families and protect their nation. The words of Deborah came to me as a rebuke to lead as I should lead. Not only was I to lead my family and nation in protecting them from aggressors, I was to lead them spiritually as well. I was to do my part in keeping God first in our lives. I was to lead by example. I was to trust God. Unfortunately, I failed. I didn’t trust God. I walked away from God. He was no longer a vital part of my life. 

Rightly so, the honor of the military victory went to Jael, not me, just as Deborah had said would happen. The words of God are true. The words of God always come true. I knew this from my history involving all that happened before Egypt, in Egypt, and after Egypt. I knew it, but I wasn’t living it. I failed to live the words of God. 

Sometimes we claim to know God but when it comes to following his words, we don’t trust God enough to be all in. Sometimes we are afraid of our enemy, and we don’t trust God to deliver us from the intimidating enemy. You’re never a failure when you put your trust in God and do what God asks. Lean into God. God can turn what looks like a certain defeat into a victory. I remember Deborah saying to me, “Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” She was asking me if I trusted God. God had already been at work to bring about what he had promised. His word was as good as done. My part was just to trust God and go. 

Go and be what God has called you to be. 

Verse Completion. . . we can help each other. 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/kzqrWae5lK4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a first-person narrative sermon titled “The Disbelief of Barak” based on Judges 4. Here is a recap of the story Barak told:

I’m not a judge in Israel like Othniel, Ehud, or Shamgar, but I was called to help one of the judges in Israel, Deborah. She was an unusual judge for three reasons:

1.   She was a prophetess which means she was called by God to speak the words of God. This was significant because the nation of Israel hadn’t had a prophet since the days of Moses, roughly 200 years. She was called to speak the words of God into us, God’s people. A judge or deliverer was a person who would rescue the nation from the bondage imposed on us by our enemies. A prophet or prophetess was a person who spoke words of truth. A prophet would say, “This is what God wants you to know.” A prophet delivers the words of God while a judge delivers people from bondage. Deborah came at just the right time. We were a nation in chaos and turmoil and spiraling downward quickly. Our nation desperately needed the truth of God’s words spoken into the lives of its people. 

2.   She was a judge in the sense of judging rather than being a deliverer. She was a judge in a court of law. She sat under a tree and people would line up to have their disputes settled by her. The people knew she heard from God, so they knew they would receive the justice of God. Deborah could be trusted. 

A nation that no longer listens to the voice of God no longer knows justice. They no longer know right from wrong. Deborah spoke the words of God and restored God’s justice to our nation. 

3.   Deborah was a woman in leadership. That was unusual. We learned that when God directs the unusual to happen, you better pay attention. We as a nation needed to pay attention because God was doing the unusual. 

For twenty years we had been in bondage under King Jabin, the Canaanite king. After Ehud died we started to live as we wanted to live. We started to feel like God wasn’t vital to our lives any longer. We started to feel like what used to be wrong was now right, and what used to be right was now wrong. Truth and justice no longer guided our nation. Instead, convenience and self-centeredness guided our nation. We, the people of God, walked away from God. I have to admit that I was one of those people. God was no longer vital to my life. 

After twenty years of wandering away from God, we decided we needed God again. We cried out to God, “God, we can’t do it on our own! God, we need you! God, you are right, and we are wrong!” As soon as we cried out to God in this manner, we began to walk in the truth once again. It was so refreshing after walking in falsehood for so long. Thankfully, God sent us Deborah as a prophetess and judge to speak truth into our lives. 

Deborah called on me to help her. I was a warrior who led armies. Deborah said to me, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” 

I doubted Deborah’s words. I figured she must have received the word from God incorrectly this time. Sisera had 900 chariots fitted with iron. Iron-fitted chariots were the most advanced weapon at this point in history. Armies equipped with chariots were to be feared! There was no military line that could stand up to them as they came charging toward you. It would be impossible to overthrow 900 chariots and the army that supported them. I would never be able to convince my men to go against 900 chariots. It would be a suicide mission! Deborah must have misunderstood God on this one, because this just didn’t make any sense. 

As I listened to what Deborah was asking me to do, I began to devise a plan whereby I would not be the one who would take the responsibility for the disaster that was bound to take place on the battlefield. I said to her, “Okay, I will go, but under one condition—you will go with me into battle.” I was sure Deborah would rethink what she heard from God when she herself would be among those facing 900 iron-fitted chariots. 

You can imagine my utter astonishment when she said that she would go with me. I was flabbergasted! I never dreamed she would accept my proposal. I really didn’t think she would put her life on the line like that. She was actually going to walk the talk. I stood there dumbfounded. Evidently, Deborah was convinced she heard from God, and she took him at his word. Her exact words to me were: “Very well. I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.”

Tomorrow we will hear from Barak again as he continues to tell his story.

Verse Completion. . . their food as they need it. Psalm 145:14, 15 (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/PMCOyY0Rlus

Complete the Verse & Name the BookYou say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Mike Lombard’s sermon titled “How to Resist the Devil” based on Matthew 4:1-11. The Biblical Greek word for resist means to resist by actively opposing pressure or power that is brought against us. A synonym we could insert in place of resist is the word withstand. The idea is no ground is surrendered to the power or pressure that is brought against us. It means to be firm in holding your location or position. The enemy is not allowed to gain any ground on us because we are standing our ground. 

We left off with Pastor Lombard speaking about the temptations faced by Jesus.

The first temptation involves food. Jesus was very hungry after fasting for forty days. The devil tells Jesus to turn the stones into bread. When the Israelites were in the wilderness and there was no food, God supernaturally provided food. The devil is telling Jesus to supernaturally turn the stones to bread if he truly is the Son of God. The devil doesn’t want Jesus to wait on his Father to provide food. The devil want Jesus to use his power out of the will of God. 

Jesus was sent into the world as a suffering servant. Jesus was always going to suffer. His experience of hunger was part of his identification with humanity. If he circumvents the suffering of hunger, he would be going against the will of the Father. Using his Sonship to avoid suffering would be out of the will of the Father. With the response of Jesus, he set the priorities for life—faith and obedience and commitment to the will of God. Where is true life to be found? It’s found in God’s word. What will sustain all life? The word of God. You resist the devil with the word of God. 

In the second temptation Jesus will surely die if he jumps from the highest point of the temple, but that’s what the devil asks him to do. The devil is asking Jesus to use his Sonship in a way that will require God to go beyond what is normal for human living. The devil again quotes Scripture and this time it’s Scripture about God’s protection. It would be like someone who feels called into the ministry standing in the middle of a busy freeway and saying, “Lord, if you have called me into ministry, don’t allow any vehicle to hit me.” Again Jesus responded with Scripture. 

In the third temptation the devil is offering Jesus a shortcut to what God is going to accomplish anyway. In Revelation 11:15 we read: The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” The devil is tempting Jesus to do things his way instead of God’s way. How many of us have fallen for that scheme? The devil may be showing us a right goal but the wrong path to get there. Jesus responds with Scripture again. 

When the devil tempts us, the way we resist that temptation is by standing our ground and not giving in even one millimeter. What is the ground we are standing? It’s God’s word. We don’t compromise God’s word in the least bit. 

The source of temptation is to doubt what God has spoken. What do we have to confirm to resist the temptation? Our faith in what God has spoken. The goal of temptation is to destroy people’s faith in God. The goal of temptation is to undermine God’s will and purpose. We must stand our ground when anything comes along that would undermine our faith and trust in God. Peter said, “Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9). We resist the devil by standing firm in the faith. We don’t budge on what God has spoken. 

The heart wants what it wants. The extent to which we will deceive ourselves or let ourselves be deceived and justify our actions by countering what God says is beyond imagination. We will do anything. We will argue against clear things in Scripture. For example, people in an adulterous relationship will come to me and say, “It’s okay. This is really good for me. I’ve never been loved like this. I can’t tell you how much it has changed me for the good.” Really? What part of “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) is not clear? The moment you create doubt about what God has clearly spoken and you head down a path to justify why it’s okay to go against God’s word, then you have gone from doubt to unbelief and acts of disobedience and rebellion. 

All of us have weak areas in our lives where we need to resist the devil. We need to be sure of what God says about our situation so when we are tempted we can respond with the appropriate Scripture to withstand the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. What was the devil doing to the churches to which Peter was writing? He was undermining and destroying faith through persecution and suffering. If we come under persecution and start suffering under that persecution, that’s a genuine test of faith. We are greatly tempted to turn away from God in that moment. 

When James wrote, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” there were two main issues in the churches to which he wrote. One was a problem between the rich and poor Christians. The other was war between groups of Christians—conflict between Christians. His solution can be found in James 4:4-7: You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

We see two things that go along with resisting the devil: humility and submission to God. Humility before God leads to submission to God. When we are in submission to God, we will follow his word. How do we resist the devil? By following God’s word. 

The concepts around resisting the devil are very simple:

·      The devil seeks to create doubt about what God has spoken.

·      Doubt leads to unbelief. 

·      To resist the devil requires you to stand firm on the ground of what God has spoken in Scripture.

·      When you stand firm on Scripture, the devil will flee from you. 

That’s the simple part. The difficult part is temptations are very subtle. The devil will tempt you to do the right things in the wrong way. He will tempt you to do the wrong things the right way. When we fall for his schemes, we lose ground. Jesus has shown us the way to resist the devil. May we follow his example and have victory over temptation individually and as a church. 

Verse Completion. . . your own good but for the good of others. 1 Corinthians 10:23b, 24 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DWzZFdXbh9Y

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst . . . (completion at the end)

Pastor Mike Lombard is the pastor of Kommetjie Christian Church in Kommetjie, South Africa. He recently gave a sermon titled “How to Resist the Devil” based on Matthew 4:1-11.

As followers of Jesus we have a mortal enemy—Satan. James 4:7 and 8a say: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. 1 Peter 5:9 says: Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. Ephesians 6:10 says: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Clearly, resisting the devil is something every believer needs to do and do well. How do we go about resisting the devil? 

The Biblical Greek word for resist means to resist by actively opposing pressure or power that is brought against us. A synonym we could insert in place of resist is the word withstand. The idea is no ground is surrendered to the power or pressure that is brought against us. It means to be firm in holding your location or position. The enemy is not allowed to gain any ground on us because we are standing our ground. 

Some teaching you might hear will say that resisting the devil means we should be attacking the devil, rebuking the devil, binding the devil, or casting out the devil. However, to resist means to hold your position. We’re not on the offense with the devil; we take a defensive position. 

We know that Jesus has already destroyed the works of the devil by dying on the cross. Jesus is the one who does the attacking and destroying. Our job is to hold our position in Christ and not allow the devil to weaken our standing in Christ. 

What are the schemes the devil uses against us? He is an accuser, a slanderer, a liar, a deceiver. His main activity is to tempt you. As the tempter, he seeks to create doubt as to what God has spoken. Once there is doubt, the tempter will work to turn the doubt into unbelief. The result of unbelief is open rebellion against God. We pursue our will instead of God’s will. We don’t recognize that our will is actually the will of Satan. 

To resist the devil is to resist temptation. When we are tempted, we are to stand against it—stand against the devil. Adam & Eve were tempted in the garden, and they failed. The Israelites were tempted in the wilderness, and they failed. There’s only been one who was tempted and did not fail—Jesus. Hebrews 4:14-15 says: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 

Jesus was tempted in the same way we are, but he never went from the temptation into sin and unbelief. Jesus is the only one qualified to tell us how to resist temptation. However, people tend to turn to Jesus last if at all. People most often turn to themselves believing in their own strengths and abilities. Let’s look to Jesus and see how he resisted temptation.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil(Matthew 4:1). Who led Jesus to where he would be tempted? The Holy Spirit! Is the Holy Spirit going to spare us temptation? No, on the contrary he will lead us to the place where we will be tempted. 

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“’He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him (Matthew 4:2-11).

Notice that the devil is referred to as the tempter. Right before Jesus was tempted, he was baptized by John. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of thee water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16, 17).  

How does the devil begin his first temptation? He begins with the words: “If you are the Son of God . . .” The devil is seeking to cast doubt on what God has just spoken. The devil is also seeking to undermine the identity of Jesus and his God-ordained mission. If the devil can get us to doubt what God has spoken, then it makes us question what we are meant to do in this world. The nature of temptation is to cast doubt on what God has spoken and question God’s will and purpose. The devil’s biggest scheme or ploy is to use God’s words against you so you will doubt God’s words. How do we respond to that? We do what Jesus did and use the words of God against the devil.

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

Verse Completion. . . for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Psalm 143:6 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/YuJqXfUbOw8

Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall . . . God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted , he will . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Del McKenzie’s message on the Holy Spirit titled “Spirit of Prayer”. He answered the question: How is the Holy Spirit a spirit of supplication? He started to answer the question: What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? We will continue to look at Pastor McKenzie’s answer to this second question. 

The Holy Spirit motivates us to pray. Sometimes we are too weak to pray in our own strength, but the Holy Spirit enables us to pray. Sometimes our faith is too weak to pray, and we start to turn to complaining instead of praying. At those times we can be energized by the Holy Spirit to pray so there is some zeal and enthusiasm in our prayers. 

There’s nothing wrong with having a prayer list, but if that prayer list lacks energy or enthusiasm, we need the help of the Holy Spirit so we can be praying in the Spirit as we go through our list. 

It may be necessary for us to ask the Holy Spirit to remind us to pray. As we pray we need to be asking for the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers. We can say, “Holy Spirit, guide me to what I should be praying about and how I should be praying about it.”

We’re to be praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. There are different kinds of prayer: rejoicing, thanksgiving, petition. The Holy Spirit can guide our prayers so we’re praying the kinds of prayers we should be praying at that time. Let the Holy Spirit choose the kind of prayer. Let the Holy Spirit direct you to what you ask God for. We shouldn’t be asking God for certain things. 

When we are praying and a certain individual comes to mind, we should pray for that person. If we’re praying and a church comes to mind, pray for that church. 

This passage of Scripture includes warfare praying. We are strong when we are in his power. His power makes it possible for us to stand against the devil’s schemes. We put on the whole armor of God to pray in the Spirit, and we keep the whole armor of God on us. As we start our prayer times, we should put on the whole armor of God. The kingdom of Satan includes schemes, rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, spiritual forces of evil, and flaming arrows. We need the whole armor of God to protect us. We pray against Satan’s kingdom. There are strongholds to be brought down. Those strongholds can only be brought down by praying in the Spirit. 

We’re to pray about everything. We can pray when we’re out hunting. We can pray in the car. We can pray when we’re with a friend. We can pray at all times about everything. When God answers we shouldn’t forget to thank him. 

How does the Holy Spirit help us in prayer? Romans 8:26-27 says:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. All of us have a whole battery of weaknesses that may include a weakness in prayer. The good news is we have a helper. Hebrews 4:16 says: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Psalm 46:1 says: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. The Holy Spirit helps us when we ask for help. 

If you’re not praying as often as you’d like, if you’re not praying as long as you’d like, if you’re not praying as fervently as you’d like, ask the Holy Spirit to help, and expect the Holy Spirit to help. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us when we don’t feel like praying. We can ask the Holy Spirit to remind us to pray when we forget. 

The Holy Spirit helps us in our ignorance. We don’t know what we ought to pray for. That means there are times when we are praying about things we shouldn’t be praying about. Maybe there’s something more important we should be praying about. When we don’t hear from family members and we’re not sure how to pray for them, we can always pray that God’s kingdom would come in their lives. His kingdom includes righteousness, peace, and joy. We can pray that our loved ones may know more of God’s kingship, rulership, and lordship. We may not know whowe should be praying for, but the Holy Spirit intercedes. This is the ministry of intercession as we pray for other people. The Holy Spirit directs our attention to the person we should be praying for. 

Our prayers should include warfare praying, supplication, and intercession. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. There’s a depth of feeling that the Holy Spirit has as he prays for us. 

Romans 8:24-25 says: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. We don’t hope for something we already have; we hope for something we are going to get in the future. Praying in the Spirit means praying in hope, praying in faith, praying and trusting. 

The Holy Spirit knows God the Father’s mind, and he helps us in praying to the Father. He prays for us in keeping with the Father’s will. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We need to be praying the same thing—“not my will, but yours be done.” 

The Holy Spirit helps us by being involved in our praying. He includes us in hispraying. He uses us in our praying. He always points us to Jesus. Jesus is the mediator. He’s the one who makes it possible for us to pray. Without Jesus being our mediator, we could never address the eternal God. He’s the one who teaches us to pray. He’s the one who sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to pray. 

By God’s grace let’s learn to pray in the Spirit. 

Verse Completion: . . . show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:12, 13b (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5N8fB7JaKJo

Complete the Verse & Name the BookSearch me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that . . .(completion at the end)

On Monday Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series of messages on the Holy Spirit with his fifth talk titled “Spirit of Prayer”. Today we will start a recap of his insights. 

One of the great ministries of the Holy Spirit is to lead and coach God’s people in prayer. Is there anything more central to the Christian life than prayer? Is there anything more important to a Christian than prayer? Is a person able to come to Christ without praying? Is the Christian life possible without prayer? 

Jesus is our mediator—the one we sinful people go to so we are able to communicate with a holy God. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 says: 

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, 

    There is one God and one

    Mediator who can reconcile 

    God and humanity—the man

    Christ Jesus. He gave his life to

    Purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

Without Jesus being our mediator, it wouldn’t be possible for us to talk to the awesome God that created us and rules this universe. Jesus taught us about prayer. He taught us to pray and what to pray. The Holy Spirit makes our prayers come alive. We are able to pray in the Spirit. 

Is your prayer life everything you’d like it to be? The Holy Spirit can be asked to help us pray. He can help us pray effectively, properly, and consistently. If we ask the Holy Spirit to work in our prayer life, we can expect him to do that. 

What can we anticipate when we ask the Holy Spirit to be involved in our prayer life? Zechariah 12:10 says: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 

What does it mean that the Holy Spirit is a spirit of supplication? The word supplication means to entreat someone—ask someone earnestly or anxiously to do something. The idea is to entreat someone face to face. We are earnestly asking that person to be favorable towards us. We are asking a favor from the person. We want and we need so we ask. Supplication involves a deep kind of asking. It’s beseeching someone—asking urgently and fervently; imploring them. In the New Testament, supplication is almost always used to address God. If it’s not used to address God, it’s used to address someone in a high office. 

The Holy Spirit is identified as the Spirit of grace and supplication. He conveys grace to us—God’s free giving. He brings it to us in Jesus. The Law came by Moses. Grace and truth came by Jesus. 

The Holy Spirit is involved in supplication. He produces a deep desire in us. Sometimes mourning and sorrow is involved. Spirit-filled people who pray in the Spirit will at times have tears. They weep over some things. Maybe they weep over what’s happening in many of our churches these days. Maybe they weep over what’s happening in the lives of their friends. 

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Let’s look at Ephesians 6:10-18:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

To pray in the Spirit means to be directed by him. He guides us to pray. He guides us to what to pray. He guides us when to pray and when not to pray. He also directs us in how to pray. It’s like we live in the embrace of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit has his way in our lives. In our companionship relationship, the Holy Spirit will tell us, “Now is the time to pray.” 

Tomorrow we will complete this recap with the second half.

Verse Completion: . . . offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tcn7O6ZrxVc

Complete the Verse & Name the BookYes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “And the Cycle Begins” based on Judges 3:7-21. We took a look at two judges: Othniel and Ehud.

Now we come to the third judge. We don’t have much information on him. Samuel tells about him in the next verse: After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel (3:31). We also hear about Shamgar in the song of Deborah in 5:6: “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Evidently, Israel was not a safe place to travel at this time. The cycle continues as we see Israel start to move away from peace and towards danger and chaos. 

As we start to read about the judges, we see that there are three different judges from three different tribes, and there are three different nations taking over Israel. Israel was in trouble because they decided to walk outside of the boundaries of covenant. God was no longer vital to their lives. 

Let’s examine our own lives. God shows up in our lives, but we don’t always show up for God. God is always faithful to us, but we’re not always faithful to him. What happened in Israel is called the Canaanization of Israel—Israel became increasingly indistinguishable from her Canaanite neighbors because of Israel’s apathy towards God’s instructions. Israel was supposed to be a nation set apart from all the other nations—holy, living lives that were different from those around them. Israel was to be salt and light to those around her. They were to show others who the one, true God was. Instead of being set apart, Israel became more and more like the nations around them. 

Similar to the Canaanization of Israel is the secularization of America. As Christians today, we may find ourselves identifying more with the world than we do with Christ. You can still find “In God we trust” on some of our money. However, it seems like America trusts in God less and less with the passing of time. It seems like the motto many live by is “From God we have freedom,” in other words, we are free from God. We don’t want God putting any stipulations on our lives. We want God around when things go wrong, but other than that, we just want to be left alone to live our lives the way we want to live them. When things are bad, we want God to step in and fix them. When things are good, we don’t want God around. We want freedom to do whatever we want to do. We want to be the ones calling the shots. We want to be the ones determining what is right and what is wrong. We want to be the ones who determine what is true and what is false. 

When we live life outside of the boundaries of Christ, it never works. We can’t say, “Jesus, you’re my Savior, but you’re not my Lord.” We have this crazy idea that we should be allowed to do whatever we want, with whoever we want, whenever we want. We want to choose our own path and make our own way. With that kind of an attitude, we think we are free—free from God or anything else that would hold us down. What we are doing is risking our future based on falsehoods. 

Jesus has provided salvation for us. He wants to be our Savior, and he wants to be our Lord. When Jesus is Lord, he is the Master and Commander of our world. It’s a package deal—when Jesus becomes Savior, he also becomes Lord. There’s no Savior without Lord. We must live within the boundaries of the covenant. Cycles in our lives that don’t include Jesus as Lord need to stop. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31b-32). 

There have been people who have said, “I’m free to smoke. Nobody is going to tell me I can’t smoke. I can freely choose to smoke, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Unfortunately, later on they find out they are not free to quit. What they thought was freedom turns out to be bondage. What we do with sin is similar to this. We say, “I’m free to sin. Nobody is going to tell me what is right and what is wrong for me. I’ll determine that.” What we thought was freedom turns out to be bondage. Only the truth will set us free. Only the truth of Jesus as Savior and Lord will set us free. Our nation needs to return to truth. We need a return to the personal lordship of Christ in our lives. It’s our only hope of salvation. 

Where are you at with Jesus? Are you living inside the covenant? Is Jesus both Savior and Lord? Are you following him? Are you committed to his truth? It’s only in truth that we can be free to know Christ, to know God, to know his peace, to know his promises, to know his protection, and to know his provision. Let us live in the truth of Christ. 

Verse Completion. . . save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22b (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/6iYC55-469U

Complete the Verse & Name the BookPraise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! Praise him, you who. . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “And the Cycle Begins” based on Judges 3:7-21. The book of Judges is about the failure of Israel to live within the covenant boundaries God described for them. The covenant promised blessings if it was followed. The covenant promised curses if it was not followed. Judges 2:12-14 tells the route the Israelites chose: They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. The Israelites failed to stay in a right relationship with God, and they suffered the consequences of that failure.

Judges is also a book about the faithfulness of God. When the Israelites were unfaithful, God remained faithful. The curses God promised to deliver if the people were unfaithful to him, he delivered—not because he hated them and wanted to destroy them, but because he loved them and wanted to bring them back into a right relationship with him. When the people responded in true repentance, God responded by giving them judges, or deliverers, to help bring them back into a proper relationship. 

There’s a cycle that developed with Israel: in a right relationship with God, out of a right relationship with God, repentance, in a right relationship with God, and so on. As we go further into the book of Judges, we find the cycle gets worse and worse. Judges 2:19 says: But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. 

There are three sections to the book of Judges. The first section provides background information and an introduction and runs from the beginning of the book to 3:6. The second section runs from 3:7 to the end of Chapter 16 and is about the judges—a total of 12 (6 major and 6 minor). It’s likely there were more judges and more stories to be told, but Samuel only chose twelve to write about. Similarly, the four gospels in the New Testament only contain some of the stories involving Jesus. John closes his book with the following words: Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25). The stories in the gospels and the stories in Judges give a flavor for what life was like at these points in history. 

Othniel is the first judge we hear about. He’s the example of what a great judge looks like. As we progress through the book, we find the judges get worse and worse. They don’t bring the people close to God like they should be doing. As time goes on we find the people taking one step forward and two steps back, one step forward and three steps back, one step forward and four steps back. 

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs (3:7). The Israelites chose to not make God important in their lives. They considered God to not be vital to their lives nor vital to their well-being. They chose to “forget” about God and worshiped the male fertility gods (Baals) and female fertility gods (Asherahs). 

The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years (3:8). Because the Israelites served foreign gods, God gave them over to foreign rulers. Consequently, the Israelites were subservient to the foreign rulers for eight years.

But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died (3:9-11). The first part of repentance is admitting a need—admitting sin in one’s life and the need for a Savior. When we cry out to God for salvation with a humble and repentant heart, he hears our cry and answers. 

Being the younger brother of Caleb, Othniel heard first-hand the positive reports brought back by his brother and Joshua when they were part of the twelve sent to spy out the Promised Land. He’s also part of the ruling tribe of Judah—King David came from the tribe of Judah. Othniel is one of two judges where the Scriptures say: The Spirit of the LORD came upon him. Othniel is not the one who has the power, wisdom, and might to rule on his own; it’s the Spirit who lives in him that gives him the power, wisdom, and might to rule. Zechariah 4:6b says: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Human might and power is as nothing; the Spirit’s might and power is everything. An ideal judge recognizes this. Othniel by God’s Spirit brought Israel back into a right relationship with God. Consequently, they enjoyed peace for forty years. They were out of covenant for eight years and in covenant for forty years. 

When Othniel dies everything changes. Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel (3:12). The new generation does not see God as vital to their lives. Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms [Jericho]. The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years (3:13-14). The first time they were out of covenant for eight years. It gets worse—now they are out of covenant for eighteen years. We can blame the new generation for dropping the ball, but we have to ask ourselves, “Who raised that new generation that dropped the ball?”

Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab (3:15). The Israelites admit they are outside of the covenant and they plead with God to bring them back into covenant with him. God hears their cry and sends Ehud. Othniel is from the tribe of Judah; Ehud is from the tribe of Benjamin. God is using people from different tribes to restore Israel. Benjamin means “son of my right hand”. Ehud is a Benjamite, but he’s left handed. He’s the one chosen to deliver their tribute to Eglon. 

Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing (3:16). He strapped the sword to the inside of his right thigh because he is left handed and would be drawing it with his left hand, plus he wants the sword to be concealed. 

He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king” (3:17-19a). Eglon was very interested in hearing a message from God. 

The king said, “Quiet!” And all his attendants left him.

Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

“Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years(3:19b-30).

The cycle was completed. Israel now got to enjoy peace for eighty years. 

This is approximately a recap of two-thirds of Pastor Michael’s sermon. Tomorrow we will complete the recap with the remaining one-third.

Verse Completion. . . serve the Lord. Psalm 135:1a (NIV)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tRfcehP0SLU

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Baxter Helm’s message titled “The Other Side of Victory” based on Exodus 15:22-18:27. He pointed out that in Exodus 15:22-17:7 a need for provision is exposed. In Exodus 17:8-16 a need for protection is exposed. Now we will move to the next chapter as this recap is completed.

In Chapter 18 we see a need for preparation. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, rejoices over the deliverance from the Egyptians: 

Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

Jethro, an outsider, exposes the shortcomings of Moses:

17 Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 

Then Jethro shares some wisdom with Moses:

19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God,20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

God used an outsider, a foreigner, to expose a need and provide a practical solution that will prepare them to efficiently administer the law of God among the people. 

God has a purpose for his people during this season. He is training them. He is forming them. They are being trained to listen to God’s voice, but we can see that training is not easy. 

Our neighbors had an obstinate dog. They hired a trainer to teach the dog to be obedient. I saw the owner out one day with his dog on a leash, and the dog was sprawled out on the ground refusing to budge. The dog was labeled “untrainable” by the trainer. 

When the Lord is trying to train us, like the dog we want to collapse on all fours and grumble and complain and be obstinate. We say, “No, Lord, I will not go there. I will not share the gospel with that person. It will rock the boat of our relationship.”

Isaiah 64:8 says: 

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;

     we are the clay, and you are our potter;

     we are all the work of your hand.

God has taken the clay out of Pharaoh’s hands, and God has placed the clay on the spinning wheel. He is pressing into the clay to form the clay into what he wants it to be. God wants to shape his people. 

Perhaps you’re not pleased with God because, circumstantially, things are more difficult than they seem like they should be. I don’t want to minimize what you might be going through, but let’s not misinterpret the present moment that we live in. Like the Israelites, we are living in the gap between deliverance and destination. I hope this text comforts you because it normalizes the struggle and the work to be done while living in that tension. 

1 Corinthians 10:9-12 says:

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

God exposes our need of him in this life, and that can be painful. But in his mercy God does this so that we might turn to him and find instruction from him and provision from him in his word. He's training us to put our trust in him alone. What gives God the right to treat us like that? What gives God the right to press into us like clay? It’s his love that he demonstrated for us that gives him that right. Jesus Christ is our provision. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus Christ is our protection. Ephesians 6:10 says:  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Jesus Christ is our preparation. He is at work preparing a people. Jesus said: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b). Jesus said, “I will” not “I might.” God has exposed and met our greatest need—payment for the penalty for our sin—through the death of Jesus on the cross. 

We have greater reason to trust God in the present than the Israelites did in the Old Testament because Christ has already come. He has given us his Spirit. We have his word. The glaring warning of Paul’s words needs to be taken to heart by all of us:

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

If we have greater reason to trust because we have been given all these things and they've been made known to us, then our neglect is even more offensive. Woe to us who grumble after receiving this instruction. Woe to us who disregard the protection that's offered to us in Christ. Woe to us who disregard the need to be prepared as his church. May we not misinterpret our present circumstances as communicating God's absence or displeasure. Trust in God's formation for you as you live between deliverance and final destination. 

The other side of the victory was not an easy place to be for Israel. That's very clear in this text. Likewise, it's not an easy place to be for us. That's very clear in our world today. But there is a shaping and a forming that needs to happen. 

We need to remind ourselves that there is hope in the final coming victory when Christ returns, because on the other side of that victory is eternal celebration. May we not misinterpret this moment but trust in God's formation as we live in that time of tension between deliverance and destination.

Verse Completion. . . sinning against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:12 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/bWli7nDX1FU

Complete the Verse & Name the BookO Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is . . . (completion at the end)

Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series in Exodus titled “A Rescued People” during the evening service. The sixth sermon was given by Associate Pastor Baxter Helm and is based on Exodus 15:22-18:27. Today we will begin a recap of his message titled “The Other Side of Victory.” 

Our passage of Scripture comes on the heels of a great celebration that included dancing, singing, and the playing of tambourines. They were celebrating the most significant victory in their history. Exodus 14:31 tells us: Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. Their confidence in God was at an all-time high. They knew God was capable of accomplishing anything. No task was too difficult for him. 

From a high high, they went to a low low described in Exodus 15:21-22:

And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 

The Israelites were being taken to training camp. They had been delivered from slavery, but they hadn’t arrived at their destination. Their salvation was incomplete. The path ahead is a difficult one. The lesson they had to learn, and the lesson we have to learn is to trust in God’s formation when living between deliverance and destination. There are three stations God walks them through while they are in training camp:

·      A Need for Provision Is Exposed: Exodus 15:22-17:7

·      A Need for Protection Is Exposed: 17:8-16

·      A Need for Preparation Is Exposed: Chapter 18

The gap between deliverance and destination begins with God exposing the needs of his people: provision, protection, and preparation.

The journey from Egypt to Sinai lasted about three months. There’s a lot about that journey that is recorded in Exodus, but there’s also a lot that is left out. The stories that are included in the narrative are chosen to illustrate something. In 15:22-27 we find bitter water being turned into sweet water. 

It was only three days from the celebration to the suffering which resulted in complaining and grumbling. God said: “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer” (15:26). God wants the Israelites to learn to rely on his words, his instruction.  

In Chapter 16 we see the Israelites didn’t make any progress. When there wasn’t any food, the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (16:2-3). God develops a test to see if the people will walk according to his law. God would rain down food from heaven and the people were to collect just enough food for that day; they were not to store any food except on the sixth day of the week. On that day they were to collect twice as much food so they wouldn’t have to collect any on the Sabbath—a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Not only was bread provided but meat was provided as well. “Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God” (16:12b). God’s provision is being intimately tied to living under his word and rule. 

Some of the Israelites did not pass the test. We are told: But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them (16:20). Others followed God’s instructions: So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it (16:24).

In Chapter 17 the Israelites are tested again. They are at Rephidim and there’s no water to drink. The people grumbled against Moses and said in 17:3, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Moses asked the people why they were quarreling with him. He asked them why they were testing the LORD. At this point the pupil is now testing the teacher. The pupil (the Israelites) is acting as if he knows more than the teacher (God). Out of his mercy, God provides water. 

What are we to understand from these stories? God purposefully leads his people into places that expose their needs. Why would God do that? Doesn’t he care about his people? It’s precisely because he does care that he teaches, trains, tests, and forms his people. When the people respond with grumbling and complaining, God responds with teaching and testing. Perhaps what you and I are tempted to grumble and complain about the most is the very thing that God is purposefully using to teach us, train us, form us, and shape us to receive his word and look to him for provision. In these stories we see a need for God’s provision and we see those needs met by a gracious God. The people are continually directed to listen to God and follow his instructions. 

In Exodus 17:8-16 we see a need for God’s protection:

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

You would think the “camera” would zoom in on the battlefield and show you what’s happening there. Instead, the camera zooms in on Moses. Notice how God is allowing his people to be attacked by Amalek after they experienced a great victory over Pharaoh. Their victory in Egypt didn’t mean an end to their battles. What we know is that their victory over the enemy was not tied to the performance of those fighting, but the movement of Moses’ hands. God wanted his people to look to him for provision and protection. God wants his people today to do the same thing.

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

Verse Completion:. . . unfailing love. His redemption overflows.Psalm 130:7 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/1fsdQ21o9tk

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThose who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Del McKenzie’s message on the Holy Spirit titled “The Spirit of Worship”. He said worship is always a response to God. Elements of worship include: amazement, adoration, affirmation, submission, surrender, contrition, petition, thanksgiving, and praise. He said worship can take different forms including speaking and singing.

We can also worship God by listening. Psalm 46:10 says: Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Isaiah 30:15 says: This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” At times we sit quietly and listen for the voice of God. At times we read the Scriptures and hear God’s voice come through the written word. 

Worship can be done using a variety of physical means. We can kneel as it says in Psalm 95:6-7: Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. We can stand in worship. Mark 11:25 has the following words of Jesus: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” We can worship while we’re walkingsittinglying face down or prostrate before God (Deuteronomy 9:18-20, 25-27), recliningbowing (Genesis 24:26-27), raising hands (Exodus 9:29; 17:10-13, 1 Kings 8:54-55, Psalm 63:4; 141:2, 1 Timothy 2:8), looking up (Mark 6:39-44), shouting (Psalm 66:1-4), leaning (Hebrews 11:21). Whatever form it takes, worship is always a response to God speaking to us. 

What does worship by the Spirit mean? Philippians 3:3 says: For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Worship by the Spirit is the Spirit directing our worship. The Holy Spirit gives our worship focus—he directs our thinking. Worship by the Spirit means the Holy Spirit takes control of our hearts and our minds and he directs our thoughts by leading us in what to pray. Romans 8:26 tells us: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray. We don’t know what to think. We don’t know what to feel. We don’t know what to say. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us—to lead us into thanksgiving and praise. The Holy Spirit helps us to experience gratitude and express appreciation. A friend of mine has come up with something he calls “Thanksgiving Thursday” where he expresses thanksgiving the entire day—no requests, just praise. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Life in the Holy Spirit is described in Galatians 5:16-18: So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The Holy Spirit leads us to the realization that God is our only hope. 

Sometimes people think they have worshiped God when they get a good feeling, but good feelings can be had at ball games, rodeos, and a variety of other places. Much perceived worship is fleshy—it’s personal satisfaction. It’s people responding to God for what the experience does for them. It will do something for us, but we have to have the order right. We respond to God and give him the credit. We acknowledge him and give him thanks for who he is. Psalm 107:1 says: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever

The Holy Spirit leads us in what to pray and how to pray. He leads us into true worship. We should be praying, “Let me be a true worshiper of the true God.” There’s a lot of false worship, and there are a lot of false gods. Jesus said, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24). 

The worshiper is more important than the kind of worship. We miss the mark when we think the kind of worship is what’s most important. Who we are is more important than how we worship. God is looking for true worshipers who worship the Father in spirit and in truthIn spirit has to do with what’s inside of us. Our worship has to come out of our heart, our soul. Our worship has to come out of a love for God and a reverence for God. When we worship in truth, we worship in honesty—honest with ourselves and honest with God. 

A.W. Tozer said, “Even in our Christian circles we’re prone to depend upon techniques and methods in the work that Christ has given us to do. Without a complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, we can only fail. If we’ve been misled to believe that we can do Christ’s work ourselves, it will never be done. The man whom God will use must be undone. He must be a man who has seen the King in his beauty. Let us never take anything for granted about ourselves. I tell you again that God has saved us to be worshipers. May God show us a vision of ourselves that will devalue us to the point of total evaluation. From there he can raise us up to worship him and to praise him and to witness for him. There is no part of our existence which God cannot touch. There is no place in our varied experience where he cannot meet us. His humanity is as broad as ours. This is the secret of our all-sufficiency, the friendship of Jesus, the indwelling of Christ—the union of our heart with his heart.”

The Holy Spirit has called us to worship. That’s what we are saved for. There’s no true worship apart from the Holy Spirit enabling us. We worship in spirit and in truth. There’s no substance to our worship if it’s not in the Spirit. If our worship is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, our worship becomes a cultural thing. It’s possible for our worship to simply be something emotional and not in truth. Our worship can be simply intellectual and not in the Spirit. True worship can only take place when the Holy Spirit is in us, guiding us and enabling us to worship. 

The Holy Spirit is vital to our spiritual life. A.W. Tozer said, “We find much spiritual astonishment and wonder in the book of Acts. You will always find these elements when the Holy Spirit directs believing men and women. On the other hand, you will not find astonishment and wonder among men and women when the Holy Spirit is not present. Engineers can do many great things in their fields, but no mere human force direction can work the mysteries of God among men. If there is no wonder, no experience of mystery, our efforts to worship will be futile. There will be no worship without the Spirit. Worship has to be in the Spirit and by the Spirit. The notion that just anybody can worship is all wrong. The notion that we can worship without the Spirit is all wrong. The notion that we can crowd the Spirit into a corner and ignore him, quench him, resist him, and yet worship God acceptably is a great heresy which we need to correct.”

My desire is to be a true worshiper of the true God. My desire is to have the Holy Spirit guiding us and directing us, keeping us from being false worshipers. I desire for my whole life to be about worship. I don’t want it to be something I do at a certain time on a certain day. 

Frederick Faber said:

O Jesus, Jesus, dearest Lord! 

Forgive me if I say,

For very love, Thy sacred name

A thousand times a day. 

O Jesus, Lord, with me abide;

I rest in Thee, whate’er betide;

Thy gracious smile is my reward;

I love, I love Thee, Lord!

I love Thee so I know not how

My transports to control;

Thy love is like a burning fire

Within my very soul.

Burn, burn, O love, within my heart,

Burn fiercely night and day,

Till all the dross of earthly loves

Is burned, and burned away.

O light in darkness, joy in grief,

O heav’n begun on earth;

Jesus, my love, my treasure, who

Can tell what Thou art worth?

My prayer is that all of us will learn to be even greater worshipers of a great God.

Verse Completion: . . . soon pass away. I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. 1 Corinthians 7:31-32a (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/vYK9iCRb7S4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookUnless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects . . . (completion at the end)

On Monday Pastor Del McKenzie continued his series of messages on the Holy Spirit with his fourth talk titled “The Spirit of Worship”. Today we will start a recap of his insights. 

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace; he’s the Spirit of free giving. He freely gives to those who ask and receive. The Holy Spirit enables people to worship. This is huge because people are created to worship. People have been created by God to love him and enjoy him throughout eternity. God is looking for people who will worship him in spirit and in truth. We can ask and expect the Holy Spirit to enable us to worship. 

We will look at what worship is and how the Holy Spirit enables us to worship. To some people worship is singing, but worship is much more than that. First of all, worship is always a response to God. We are responding to God—responding to his love, holiness, greatness. God calls us to worship—there’s something inside of us that he touches that gives us a desire to worship. Worship happens when people respond to God’s call on their lives. Worship is not something we initiate. No one comes to God in worship unless he’s drawn to God in worship. 

Secondly, worship is a proper response. Ignoring God is not worship. Resisting God is not worship. Being angry at God may or may not be worship. As a recipe has ingredients, there are ingredients that make up worship. One is wonder where we are struck with the awesomeness of God. Closely tied to wonder is awe and admiration. The lyrics to an old hymn go like this: 

I stand amazed in the presence 

of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how he could love me, 

a sinner, condemned, unclean.

Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!

And my song shall ever be;

Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!

Is my Savior’s love for me.

We also sing:

    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

    that saved a wretch  like me!

    I once was lost, but now am found,

    was blind, but now I see.

True worship is being caught in amazement and wonder and awe, admiring God and falling before him in adoration. To adorate is to fall down before; to honor; to love God.

Another part of a proper response is affirmation. We’re to give God credit for what he does. We also respond in submission—we kneel and bow down before the Lord our maker. We surrender our wills to his will. James 4:7-10 tells us: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Submission is always an element of worship.

Contrition is also an element of worship. God loves those with a humble and contrite heart. Contrition is feeling regret and sorrow for mistreating God—not giving him the glory that is due him. It’s spiritually healthy for us to include an element contrition in our worship. 

Another ingredient of worship is petition. We let our requests be known to God through prayer. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). When we petition God, we are responding to his promises, and that’s a form of worship. 

As water may be added to a recipe and that water permeates through all the other ingredients, so praise permeates through all the other ingredients of worship. When we praise God, we talk to him about his faithfulness, care, gentleness, patience, long suffering, forbearance, mercy. We’re to thank God for being good:

·      Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

·      And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Ezra 3:11

·      Good and upright is the Lord. Psalm 25:8

·      The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9

·      No one is good but One, that is, God. Mark 10:18

·      I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

·      I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness. Psalm 145:5-7

·      He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Psalm 33:5

·      Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Psalm 34:8

·      Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:8-9

·      Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

·      Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies. Psalm 69:16

·      The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7

·      Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Psalm 31:19-20

·      You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes. Psalm 119:68

One of the words that is translated praise is actually a word from which we get eulogy. When we go to a memorial service, we typically hear a eulogy where good things are said of the deceased. We can praise God—saying good things about God and good things to God. That’s part of worship. 

Another ingredient or element of worship is thanksgiving where we express our appreciation for all God has done.

Our worship can take different forms. We can speak of our wonder to God. We can speak of our admiration to God. Another form is singing—the form that is commonly identified as worship in our culture. In Acts 16:25-26 we read about this form of worship taking place: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Del’s talk on the Holy Spirit with the second half.      

Verse Completion: . . . a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. Psalm 127:1 (NLT)


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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/3_dMzucjEaw

Complete the Verse & Name the BookRun from sexual sin! No other sin . . .(completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of the service led by the elders in our church. Each elder shared what the Lord had laid on his heart. Yesterday we heard from Ron Wood, Gary Larson, and Tom Brown. Today we will hear from Randy Calm and Ray Copelin.

Randy Calm: 1 Peter 4:8-11 says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6-8 says: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 

I chose this last verse because on my name tag it says, “Be calm and alert and you won’t get hurt.” I always want to be calm and yet alert—alert to God’s presence. 

When Pastor Michael approached Cathy and me about being elders, Cathy had been diagnosed with ALS. I couldn’t see how I could be an elder and be faced with dealing with the “slow” death of my wife. We had been together for almost 50 years. I wasn’t able to be a “good” elder under those conditions, and after she died I was even less of a “good” elder. I missed the counsel that I received from my wife. I felt incapable of the task at hand, but I kept coming to church. It kept me alive emotionally and spiritually. 

Tara Brach once said, “In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered most wakan, most holy. There's a sense that when someone is struck by the sudden lightning of loss, he or she stands on the threshold of the spirit world. The prayers of those who grieve are considered especially strong, and it is proper to ask them for their help. You might recall what it's like to be with someone who has grieved deeply. The person has no layer of protection, nothing left to defend. The mystery is looking out through that person's eyes. For the time being, he or she has accepted the reality of loss and has stopped clinging to the past or grasping at the future. In the groundless openness of sorrow, there is a wholeness of presence and a deep natural wisdom.” This quote describes me. This church has helped me to stay connected and be a part of it. It has saved my life.      

One day Pastor Michael said to me, “Randy, why don’t you do announcements? I think you’d be good at them!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but like a knucklehead, I said, “Okay.” Probably what made me say that was the loneliness I was experiencing. Doing announcements helped me to get more involved and stay involved. After a period of time you would think the job would get easier and less stressful, but I haven’t found that to be true. In spite of that I find it enjoyable. For one thing, I get to hear Pastor Michael’s sermon twice each Sunday. As I begin to see the amount of work Pastor Michael does, I stand in awe. His amazing sermons speak to my heart each week. We are so blessed to have Pastor Michael and his family here in Union.

Ray Copelin: While looking at Facebook one day I came across a drawing of an Israelite slave house in Egypt with blood spread on the doorposts. Under it was written: The LORD did not check who inside the house was worthy. He checked for the blood on the doorposts. None of us is worthy. Only the blood of Jesus can cover us.     

I thought about those words for days and couldn’t get them out of my mind. I decided to post it on my own Facebook page. When I did, a friend of mine sent me something from Dr. J. Vernon McGee that I’d like to share with you:

The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.Exodus 12:13 (New International Version)

The Israelites were not saved because they were the seed of Abraham. If the Egyptians had obeyed God’s command, they too, would have been saved. God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you,”

No one was saved because he was doing the best he could, or because he was honest, or because he was a good person. God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”

They were not to run out of the house during the night and look at the blood; they were to have confidence and faith in it. They were not saved because they went through the ceremony of circumcision, or because they belonged to some church. God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”

The death angel was not making a survey of the neighborhood. They were not to open the window and tell the death angel how good they were and how much charity work they had done. Any man who put his neck out of the window that night would have died. God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”

Nothing needed to be added. Who was saved that night? Those who believed God. Those who had sprinkled the blood upon their doorposts and trusted it. Although I don’t understand it completely, I believe what God says. He tells me that the shed blood of Christ will save me and nothing else will.

I’d also like to share something regarding justice and mercy written by R. C. Sproul that’s found in his book The Holiness of God. I first heard Dr. Sproul tell this story on his radio program, and it has stuck with me through the years. I think it makes the concepts of justice and mercy come alive:

Our tendency to take grace for granted was driven home to me while teaching college students. I had the assignment of teaching a freshman Old Testament course to 250 students at a Christian college. On the first day of class I went over the course assignments carefully. My experience taught me that the assignment of term papers required a special degree of explanation. This course required three short papers. I explained to the students that the first paper was due on my desk by noon the last day of September. No extensions were to be given except for students who were physically confined to the infirmary or who had deaths in their immediate family. If the paper was not turned in on time, the student would receive an F for the assignment. The students acknowledged that they understood the requirements.

On the last day of September 225 students dutifully handed in their term papers. Twenty-five students stood quaking in terror, full of remorse. They cried out, “Oh, Professor Sproul. We are so sorry. We didn’t budget our time properly. We didn’t make the proper adjustment from high school to college. Please don’t give us an F. Please, oh, please give us an extension.”

I bowed to their pleas for mercy. “All right,” I said. “I’ll give you a break this time. But, remember, the next assignment is due the last day of October.”

The students were profuse in their gratitude and filled the air with solemn promises of being on time for the next assignment. Then came the last day of October. Two hundred students came with their papers. Fifty students came empty-handed. They were nervous, but not in panic. When I asked for their papers, again they were contrite. “Oh, Professor. It was Homecoming Week. Besides it is mid-term and all of our assignments are due in other classes. Please give us one more chance. We promise it will never happen again.”

Once more I relented. I said, “OK, but this is the last time. If you are late for the next paper, it will be an F. No excuses, no whining. F. Is that clear?”

“Oh, yes, Professor. You are terrific.” Spontaneously the class began to sing, “We love you Prof Sproul. Oh, yes we do.” I was Mr. Popularity.

Can you guess what happened on the last day of November? Right. One hundred fifty students came with their term papers. The other hundred strolled into the lecture hall utterly unconcerned. “Where are your term papers?” I asked.

One student replied, “Oh, don’t worry, Prof, we’re working on them. We’ll have them for you in a couple of days, no sweat.”

I picked up my lethal black gradebook and began taking down names. “Johnson! Do you have your paper?”

“No, sir,” came the reply.

“F,” I said as I wrote the grade in the book. “Christie! Do you have your paper?”

Again, “No, sir,” was the reply. 

I marked another F in the book. The students reacted with unmitigated fury. They howled in protest, screaming, “That’s not fair!”

I looked at one of the howling students, “Lavery! You think it’s not fair?”

“No,” he growled in response.

“I see. It’s justice you want? I seem to recall that you were late with your paper the last time. If you insist upon justice you will certainly get it. I’ll not only give you an F for this assignment, but I’ll change your last grade to the F you so richly deserved.”

The student was stunned. He had no more arguments to make. He apologized for being so hasty and was suddenly happy to settle for one F instead of two. 

The students had quickly taken my mercy for granted. They assumed it. When justice suddenly fell, they were unprepared for it. It came as a shock, and they were outraged. This, after only two doses of mercy in the space of two months.

The normal activity of God involves far more mercy than I showed those students with their term papers. Old Testament history covers hundreds of years. In that time God was repeatedly merciful. When His divine judgment fell on Nadab or Uzzah, the response was shock and outrage. We have come to expect God to be merciful. From there the next step is easy: we demand it. When it is not forthcoming, our first response is anger against God, coupled with the protest: “It isn’t fair.” We soon forget that with our first sin we have forfeited all rights to the gift of life. That I am drawing breath this morning is an act of divine mercy. God owes me nothing. I owe Him everything. If He allows a tower to fall on my head this afternoon I cannot claim injustice.

Note: Steve Moore is also an elder but was unable to attend the Sunday service because he was out of town.

Verse Completion. . . so clearly affects the body as this one does. 1 Corinthians 6:18a (NLT)

11/1/21 (Welcome to November)

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

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/LxqHo2Pvfm0

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhy not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we had a service led by the elders in our church. Each elder shared what the Lord had laid on his heart:

Ron Wood: Ron saw a posting on Facebook and the words spoke to his heart. The title was “A Simple Way to Revolutionize Your Prayer Life” by Sarah Taylor with a connection to radio station Spirit 105.3. Here is the posting:

When I was a little girl, before anyone “taught” me how to pray, I remember listening for God.

Not just talking to Him, but listening for Him.

I remember being about 7 or 8 years old, and talking to God before I fell asleep at night, and feeling like He was talking back. It wasn’t always words, and I never heard an audible voice, but more like a feeling I got of being seen and deeply loved.

A few years ago, I met some women leading a group on Prayer, and I was invited to join them on Tuesday nights. I already had a busy schedule, and wasn’t looking to add one more thing. But the sincerity of the way these women prayed drew me in.

I instantly felt welcome in the group not only because all of the women were so warm and kind, but because they prayed like I did when I was a little girl.

They began with thanking God for who He is, and worship music and Scripture, and then they began praying from a place of being deeply loved, and they did a lot of listening. They shared what they sensed God putting on their hearts, sometimes it was in the form of a picture or a song.

It’s similar to the moments you feel like you hear a song at just the right time on SPIRIT 105.3. You know it’s more than a coincidence, but that somehow, someway, God is making His presence known to you, so that you can feel seen and loved.

Another thing that these women did was prayed for others, outside of the group, and recorded the prayers to text. I loved it. It felt like the best gift we could give someone. Wouldn’t you agree there is such a difference between someone saying “I’ll pray for you” and someone else actually speaking the prayer out loud, or writing it out for you to read?

The other day, I had a specific friend keep coming to mind. Her particular situation is that she’s having challenges parenting one of her kids. I texted some of my prayer girls, and we recorded one on my phone. I sent it via text.

Less than one minute later, I received this reply: “You have blessed me beyond measure this morning. I cannot even begin to describe what you have done for me and given to me. I’ll remember it always. Thank you. Thank you for adding the faith of these two women. This prayer and words still have me a sobbing weeping mess and I’m so grateful. We are having a real tough morning and I was sitting at the table crying out to God for wisdom. Then I received this message: Look at God doing what only He can do…”

All I felt was gratitude, saying “Thank You, Lord! Thank you for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, that prompts us with people on our mind and ways to record our words, to send a text in Your perfect timing, to let others know they are seen and deeply loved.”

Has it been a while since you used the voice memo setting on your phone? Give it a try today. Ask God to put someone on your mind, even as you read these words right now. Sit quietly before the Lord and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers. No PhD needed.  Just a willing heart, and trust for Holy Spirit to guide the rest.

Ron shared that God has been working in his life to develop his prayer life through the worship music he listens to. While Ron is listening to worship music and pouring out his heart to God, he feels a connection with his heart to God. The result has been a strong love and burden for the lost. 

Ron said, “One thing that God has been teaching me is that, even though my prayer life has been growing, I am still a work in progress and I have a long way to go. I have learned that prayer is as much about listening to God as it is about telling him my needs. 

“I believe that the Lord’s Prayer found in Luke 11:1-13 is not just a prayer; it’s a model for our prayer life. Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is heaven is all about worshiping God and honoring Him and all that He is. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil talks about bringing our requests to Him daily as well as confessing our sins daily. In the context of bringing God’s kingdom on earth, our prayers begin to shift from our own viewpoint to God’s. I  know for me when I am worshiping God through worship music I begin to pray from a sense of God’s heart. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever amen. The Lord’s Prayer starts and begins with God. Our church service from beginning to end is really all prayer.”

Gary Larson: I believe that God is an ever-present source of truth and strength in my life. His guiding presence grows in me every second, minute, and hour each day. The more I associate with Him in prayer and the study of His word, the more I put my trust in Him. The Holy Spirit through Christ guides my life. The book of Proverbs speaks of trust and following a pathway of understanding from God. A life verse that Marilyn and I adopted is Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

As a child I knew a lot about God. The same was true as a young adult, husband, widower, and older adult. In the last decade or so I’ve really come to Jesus and want to become like Him. He is a friend and my Savior. Sometimes, in the morning while sitting at my desk, I feel Him near. Usually, this is around my prayer time. 

Shortly after my wife, Marilyn, passed away, God told me to make a list of things that I needed to accomplish in the days remaining that He has given me. At the top of that list was to make firm my walk with the Lord. I’m constantly going back to that list and evaluating my progress.

Tom Brown: I think a lot of people feel that God doesn’t answer their prayers. Their attitude might be: “I prayed and prayed and nothing ever happened.” Consequently, they give up on prayer. Some people only go to God in prayer when they want something: they want God to fix something or give them something. For example, I might have plans for a family picnic. Rain would spoil the picnic, so I pray for there to be no rain. However, across town, there may be a farmer who desperately needs rain for his crops so he is praying for God to send the rain. 

The parents of a kid who is on a soccer team may pray that their child’s team wins the soccer game. However, there may be parents on the opposing team praying that their team will win the game. In these examples, somebody is going to be disappointed; somebody is not going to get what they prayed for. 

I could ask God to heal the disease I have, but I look at it as part of aging. We are designed by God to wear out. If I ask God to heal me and he doesn’t, I could end up being disappointed. Just because God doesn’t grant our request, it doesn’t mean he’s not listening to us.

One definition of prayer is a request to God. Another definition of prayer is communication with God. Communication is two-way. Even though a request might not be granted by God, he still answers the prayer by being present. God is always present for us. I’m not disappointed when God doesn’t grant a specific request I make to him, because by coming to God I get more out of the relationship with him than if he had granted my request. 

If I prayed to God asking him to heal my disease, and God ended up healing my disease, if I slipped away from him after the healing that would be a defeat for me. That’s not what I want! I would rather have my disease and experience a closeness to God than not have my disease and fall away from God. 

Ephesians 6:18 says: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. This means prayer is so much more than asking for things. Closeness to God should be the goal of our prayers. 

Tomorrow we will hear from the other elders.

Verse Completion. . . let yourselves be cheated. 1 Corinthians 6:7b (NLT) Note: On the last devotional I had the wrong ending to the verse. Today you will find the correct ending with the correct reference. Sorry for the error.