Daily Devotion October 2020

10/24/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/or-O1j6ksW8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookSome people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise . . . (completion at the end)



What happens when we worship worthless idols? The answer can be found in 2 Kings 17:14-15:


But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the LORD their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the LORD’S command not to imitate them.


When the Israelites worshiped worthless idols, they became worthless themselves. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Garbage in; garbage out.” If we are filling our minds with falsehoods, our mouths will be used to spread falsehoods. If we open our minds to hear demeaning words spoken about people, we will likely spread those demeaning words to others. If we fill our minds with negativity, we will become negative people.


In 550 B.C. the idols people worshiped were made by craftsmen. Jeremiah contrasted those idols with God when he wrote the following:


 Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O Israel! This is what the LORD says:


“Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”


LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone! Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you.


People who worship idols are stupid and foolish. The things they worship are made of wood! They bring beaten sheets of silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, and they give these materials to skillful craftsmen who make their idols. Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes made by expert tailors. But the LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King! The whole earth trembles at his anger. The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.


Say this to those who worship other gods: “Your so-called gods, who did not make the heavens and earth, will vanish from the earth and from under the heavens.”


But the LORD made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens. 

When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses. The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! (Jeremiah 10:1-16)


What do our idols look like in 2020? They could be good luck charms: four-leaf clovers, a lucky horseshoe, lucky dice, ladybugs, lucky number seven charms, a motorcycle angel, lucky number eight charms, lucky rabbit foot charms, rainbow good luck charms, lucky coin charms, dreamcatcher luck charms, evil eyes to ward off bad luck, and on it goes. All these current day idols have zero power to do anything. They have as much power as the wooden idols made by craftsmen in 550 B.C. They have zero power to bring good luck your way! I like the following saying so much that I posted it in my classroom: “I believe in luck. The harder I work the luckier I get.”


There are other idols we have in 2020. An idol can be anything that becomes more important to us than God. Even good things can become idols. Idolatry is all around us, and, unfortunately, it is often found in us. Colossians 3:5b says:


Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 


What things of this world might we be worshiping in modern times? Here are a few to consider (taken from Jeffery Curtis Poor’s article, Idol Worship Today: Six Modern Idols that we Worship on https://rethinknow.org):


·      Our identity. Rather than placing our identity in God, we could be placing it in social media, our job, our talents and abilities, or our accomplishments. 


·      Money. Money can be an idol whether we are rich or poor. When we trust in money more than God, it’s an idol.


·      Entertainment. This could be movies, travel, video games, television, or the computer. When it takes over our life, it’s an idol. If a bar graph was made of time spent in entertainment compared to time spent with God in prayer, reading his word, studying his word, or serving God, which bar would be the highest?


·      Sex. If we value it more than God, it’s an idol.


·      Comfort. When comfort becomes our main pursuit in life, it’s an idol. Jesus told us to expect trials, persecution, and difficulty.


·      Smartphones. If a person can’t live without their phone, it has become an idol. 


This is by no mean an exhaustive list of possible idols, but they are things to consider. In order to help a person identify their  own personal idols, they can ask themselves the following questions:


1.   Where do I spend my time?


2.   Where do I spend my money?


3.   Where do I get my joy?


4.   What’s always on my mind?


What surfaced as the questions were answered may be an idol or it could be something that is in danger of becoming an idol. If necessary, make changes so God is back to being Number One. 



Verse Completion. . . bring healing. Proverbs 12:18 (NLT)


Covenant Dynamics Pg1

Covenant Dynamics Pg2

Covenant Dynamics Pg3

Covenant Dynamics Pg4

Covenant Dynamics Pg5

Covenant Dynamics Pg6


10/23/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/otmBLQJ7IUQ



Complete the Verse & Name the BookI say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in . . . (completion at the end)



Have you ever trained for a marathon and then run it? I have not. I’ve thought about it, but that’s as far as I got. However, I have trained to get my body in good physical condition for good health reasons and so I could enjoy activities like hiking, skiing, motorcycling, and swimming. I did weight training and activities that strengthened the cardiovascular system.


When I was training, I learned a few things. First, one should start out gradually. A mistake made by some is to do too much too soon. The body resists that and before long the mind resists it, and then it’s all over. When a person starts out gradually, the body doesn’t fight back against the exercise. Second, once a physical exercise program is established, it’s important to stick to the schedule. There will be days when one does not feel up to it, but that’s when discipline is needed to force oneself to do what it doesn’t feel like doing. 


One exercise program I developed for myself was to get up early (while it was still dark) and go running. I didn’t carry a flashlight, and I ran down a road that didn’t have streetlights. One morning, I was running down the road close to the center line that was barely visible when I saw a bull right in front of me that was headed directly for me! I said, “Whoa!” and made a sharp turn to avoid getting run over by the bull that had obviously broken through a fence somewhere and was running free. Much to my surprise, I found the “bull” to be a man and a lady out for a morning run just as I was doing. After my heart rate calmed down, I had to laugh at myself. The imagination can come up with some crazy ideas!


There were days when I didn’t want to get out of my nice, warm bed and go running in the cold (and sometimes wet) before I left for work. After the alarm went off, I discovered I couldn’t lay in bed and think about getting up; I would just have to get up. Once I headed out the door to go running, the most difficult part of exercising was over.


The third thing I discovered about exercising was after the habit was established (some say 21 days; some say 66 days; others say anywhere from 18 to 254 days), my body actually craved the exercise. Whenever I missed a day, I could hardly wait to get back to it. Some might say I was a fanatic about running. One day it snowed enough to cancel schools, so I didn’t have to go to work. I slept in and could have taken the day off, but my body wanted to run. I wasn’t going to let a “little” snow stop me. I got dressed and took off running in the daylight. While running through a neighborhood, there was a man clearing his truck of snow. When he saw me, he said, “Hey, would you mind running to the store for me?” We both laughed.


The fourth thing I learned about exercise was to expect pain to appear. One time that pain was caused by plantar fasciitis. It was very painful on my feet to run. The doctor prescribed some inserts for my shoes, and after a period of time that problem went away. Another time I was plagued with lower back pain after each run. I spoke with an experienced runner who showed me several stretching exercises to do after I completed a run. I did them and the pain in my lower back went away. 


The Bible says exercise is good. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Physical training can be beneficial in this life, but it does nothing for us in the life to come. On the other hand, training for godliness benefits us now and forever.


What is godliness? Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary says it is the careful observance of, or conformity to, the laws of God. It’s the state or quality of being godly. It’s piety. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says godliness is the whole of practical piety. It supposes knowledge, veneration, affection, dependence, submission, gratitude, and obedience. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says godliness, as denoting character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart, is the summing up of genuine religion. There can be no true religion without it: only a dead form. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says:


You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!


Training for godliness is different from physical training. One doesn’t follow a certain regimen and arrive at godliness. Following a set of religious rules won’t develop godliness. We don’t have the power within us to be godly. We can only live out godliness by the power of God. Unlike physical training, discipline doesn’t get us to our goal of godliness. 


Galatians 5:13-14 says:


For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


Perhaps the litmus test we can give ourselves to see if we are training for godliness is to test ourselves to see if we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love others as ourself. We need the power of God at work in us to form us into godly people who bring him glory.



Verse Completion. . . the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36 (NASB)


Covenantal Hermeneudic Pg 1

Covenantal Hermeneudic Pg 2

Covenantal Hermeneudic Pg 3

Covenantal Hermeneudic Pg 4

Covenantal Hermeneudic Pg 5


10/22/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/x0E9_jRtrHc



Complete the Verses and Name the Book: 


·      Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work . . .


·      Fools think their own way is right, but . . . (completions at the end)



There’s a powerful verse in the Bible that can be used to clear up a lot of confusion that is all around us. The confusion is that there are many ways to God: Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Folk religions, Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, Bahjá’í Faith, Spiritism, and others. We are told the paths are different but the destination is the same—God. At the end of all the roads we find God. This belief is prevalent in America. Americans don’t want to be accused of being intolerant of other people’s beliefs. Americans don’t want to be accused of being narrow-minded. 


What’s the verse that clears up this confusion? It’s 1 Timothy 2:5:


There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.


Jesus is the only way to reach God! A mediator is a go-between person for those who are having a conflict with each other. Humanity and God are in conflict with each other because of sin. God is holy; humanity is not. In order for us to get the conflict settled, we have to go through a mediator, and there’s only one Mediatorwe can go through and that is Jesus. Allah can’t be a mediator. A prophet (other than Jesus) can’t be a mediator. Angels can’t be mediators. Pastors and priests can’t be mediators. A leader of a country can’t be a mediator. Nobody can bring God and mankind together except Jesus. The reason Jesus is qualified to be the one and only Mediator is he paid the price for sin. The price for sin in the Old Testament was the sacrifice of a perfect lamb that had no blemishes. 


Jesus was the only person to ever live a life without sin. His record had no blemishes. His record was perfect. Nobody had ever lived a perfect life that was free of sin until Jesus. Jesus willingly laid down his life for the salvation of humanity. Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. (Romans 10:13) By dying on the cross, Jesus took our place. We should have been the ones hanging on that cross dying for our own sins. This is called substitutionary atonement. I like how it is explained below (taken from the following: https://www.moodybible.org/beliefs/positional-statements/substitutionary-atonement/):


According to the Scriptures, sin must be paid for.1 When Jesus Christ died, he suffered as a substitute in the place of and on behalf of fallen humanity. Christ's death made it possible for men and women to be declared righteous, based on their faith in Him.2 Christ's death was not merely a statement against evil or an expression of love, but a payment that satisfied God's demand. Christ's death was necessary for several reasons.


First, sin alienates us from God.3 Those who are controlled by sin cannot please God.4 Jesus Christ's death made peace with God possible.5 Christ came, not just to provide us with a godly example, but to die on our behalf and to bear the cost for sin.6


Second, God is holy.7 God's holy character requires that sin be punished.8 Sin makes us the objects of God's wrath until the penalty of sin is paid.9 By laying down His own life, Jesus paid the price on our behalf, satisfying God's demand.10This payment was made, not to Satan, but God.11


Third, the presence of sin renders us helpless.12 We cannot save ourselves.13 We do not have the will or the ability to offer anything acceptable to God on our own behalf.14 We not only suffer from the guilt and penalty of Adam's original sin, but also from the effects of our own sinful nature and actions.15


God, who is rich in mercy, sent Jesus Christ to die in our place, so that He might be righteous in dealing with sin while at the same time providing His own righteousness to those who believe in Jesus Christ.16 Christ's death was more than an attempt to reverse the human course started by Adam; it served as a substitute payment for the trespasses of all mankind.


Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18, 19


Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21


Ephesians 2:12


Romans 8:5-8


Colossians 1:20-21


Galatians 3:13


1 John 1:5


Romans 3:4, 24–26


Romans 1:18; Romans 6:23


10 John 10:17, 18; 2 Peter 2:1


11 Matthew 20:28


12 Romans 3:10–12


13 Romans 3:20, 28


14 John 1:13; Ephesians 2:1–5


15 Romans 5:12–15; Romans 6:6; Romans 3:23


16 Romans 3:23–26




After 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that Jesus is the only way to God, the next verse says:


He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. 


Jesus paid with his life the cost required for us to be released from the cross we should have been on and set free. He purchased our freedom with his life, and he did this for everyone. Earlier in verse three we are told that God wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. Our world is hurting for love and truth, and Jesus is the quintessence of both!



Completions to Verses:


·      . . . brings rewards.


·      . . . the wise man listens to others. Proverbs 12:14-15


Praise to God Through Jesus


10/21/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/LWlijlbq76M



Complete the Verse & Name the BookTherefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, . . . (completion at the end)



I grew up in the Philippines where my father was a missionary. Part of the time he taught and directed the Bible college there. During other periods of time, he oversaw the entire work going on in the Philippines. At other times, he was a pastor of a church. Responsibilities could be added on to any assignment at any time depending on the needs. 


The last two years of my high school saw my dad in the role of a pastor. I remember saying to him one day, “Preachers always seem to talk in generalities. They say things like, ‘We need to do what pleases God,’ or ‘Live a life that brings glory to God,’ or ‘Pray for others.’ Why don’t preachers get specific and say what those things are that please God?”


I don’t remember specifically how my dad answered the question. He was the type of person who would have taken those words to heart and as he prepared a sermon, made sure specifics were included with each general statement. What he could have said to me is, “Would you like some specifics on how to live a life that is pleasing to God? Read Isaiah 58.” Let’s take a look at this great chapter:


“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves in ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your fingers and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’S holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”


My dad could have said to me, “Do you want something to work on? Check out Galatians 5:22-23 that says: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”


My dad could have said to me, “If you need some direction on some things to avoid, you could back up a few verses and read 19-21 that say: When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”


If I had been reading my Bible more, I wouldn’t have had to ask my dad a question like that because the Bible is full of specifics on what to do and what not to do to please God. Are you curious about what things to do so you will never stumble (see today’s verse)? Verses 5-7 of 2 Peter 1 say: In view of this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 


Rather than being so concerned about the specifics of what to do and what to avoid, I should have been more concerned about where my heart was. When one’s heart is in tune with God, one doesn’t have to worry so much about what is permissible and what isn’t because we can join David in saying, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) When we thirst for God to that degree, Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21). I am so thankful for God’s word that is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path! (Psalm 119:105) I’m also thankful for a dad who loved me, was patient with me, never gave up on me, and practiced what he preached. 



Verse Completion. . . you will never stumble; 2 Peter 1:10 (NASB)


Diverse and Strange Teachings


10/20/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Q8mcHKURgC8



Complete the Verse & Name the BookGive freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Del McKenzie continued his series on Godly Character Qualities. Last week he spoke about gentleness. This week the topic was humility. 


We don’t know much about the physical appearance of Jesus, but we know a lot about his character. He was gentle and humble. God’s work in us is to transform us to be like him—to have the same character qualities he had. That’s a big work! Our sinful nature is not like Jesus at all, so a huge transformation needs to take place. The transformation is internal (it comes from the heart), but shows itself externally. It’s real change, not just apparent change. It’s deep change, not just superficial change. It’s lasting change, not temporary change. 


The character we have is made up of the sum total of all the character qualities we have—godly or ungodly. We are what we are by the character qualities we have. The transformation God wants to bring into our lives includes humility. Becoming humble is a lifelong journey. It’s a complete work of grace. It’s a difficult road to walk. Our human nature will fight it all the way.


A.W. Tozer said, “For the Christian, humility is absolutely indispensable. Without it, there can be no self-knowledge, no repentance, no faith, and no salvation. The promises of God are made to the humble. The proud man by his pride forfeits every blessing to the lowly in heart, and from the hand of God he need expect only justice.” Because humility is essential, much has been written and spoken about it. 


What is humility? It is a confidence properly placed. A humble man accepts the truth about himself. A proud man puts his confidence in himself and not in God. Apart from God we are nothing, we have nothing, we know nothing, and we can do nothing. In praying, we need to confess our weakness, our sinfulness, our foolishness, our ignorance, and our emptiness. A proud man will not do this, but a humble person will learn to do this. A proud man might let others point out his weaknesses but we won’t allow his wife to do that. The humble man does allow his wife to point out weaknesses because he knows in Christ that he is somebody: he’s the apple of God’s eye, and he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. 


Seeing ourselves from God’s perspective is a big part of humility. God sees our deficiencies, flaws, and deformities, and yet he loves us in spite of them. He offers answers and help to those who will humble themselves before him. 


In humility there is a quickness to admit, confess, and apologize. There’s a willingness to accept instruction and correction when we admit the needs are there. Humility is also recognizing what God and other people have contributed to our achievements. There is continuous gratitude to God for what he has done for us and continuous gratitude to others who have contributed to our lives and built into us. We need to remember our talents and abilities are gifts from God that he gives us out of his grace. 


What are the key teachings on humility from the Bible? 


·      James 4:6-7a: And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. God responds to the person who pursues humility. God meets our needs of comfort, confidence, joy, and peace. He gives us forgiveness, cleansing, strength, courage, stamina, and tenacity. Everything we need in life God gives to the humble. James 4 teaches us that we can humble ourselves before God, and we can humble ourselves before other people. It’s a chosen quality. We can choose to be humble or we can choose to be proud. We can’t humble others but we can choose to voluntarily humble ourselves. If we are forced to be humble, it’s not true humility. Humility is not the kid who was scolded by his mother and told to sit in a chair, and then said to his mother, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but inside I’m standing up.”


·      Matthew 23:12: But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. When we humble ourselves before God, it opens the way for him to do special things for us. 


·      Ephesians 4:2: Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. We need to be humble in our words, humble in our thoughts, humble in our actions, humble in our approach to life. It takes perseverance. We have to pursue it and stick with it. It will only be reached when we see Jesus. 


·      There are at least 20 other key references to humility in the Bible. For a person seeking humility, the Scriptures are a wonderful source for direction. 


There are many opposites to humility. They all fall under the heading of pride. 


·      High-mindedness. Romans 11:20 says: Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. High-minded people think higher of themselves than they are. 


·      Conceit. Considers ourselves above others. 


·      Arrogance. Considers others below ourselves. 


·      Self-glory. Humble people empty themselves of self-glory. Galatians 5:26 says: Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Those who seek self-glory want the attention placed on them. They look for praise and want credit given to them. They are looking for affirmation in what they are doing. They want credit for attaining something they have not attained. They advance themselves at the expense of others. Whenever we elevate ourselves, we put others down.  


·      Disdain for others. Disdain is the opposite of respect. It’s what Lucifer had for God. Proverbs 16:18 says: Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Haughtiness involves both conceit and arrogance. Haughtiness is when a person won’t go to a function if they know a certain person is going to be there. Haughtiness thinks of another person as being inferior. Egotism is thinking of myself as superior. Insolence involves rude and disrespectful behavior. 


·      Self-sufficient. Hebrews 4:16 says: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. The proud person doesn’t look for help from others. They reject help from God and other people. They think they know it all. Our world is saturated with dysfunctional people who don’t seek help.


God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. 


How do I build humility into my life? Study it thoroughly. Look for it in the life and ministry of Jesus. Use your Bible concordance and look up the Scripture verses that have the word humblehumilityproud or pride in them. Ask God to build humility into your life and remove pride from your life. Make a wholehearted effort to pursue humility. Jesus said in Luke 13:24: “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.”


We need to deal with every aspect of pride: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, self-promotion, roughness. We deal with it by confessing it, repenting of it, and turning away from it. We are to renounce the hidden works of darkness and pride is one of those. We are to put to death the old nature. 


When battling pride, a mentor or trusted friend can help us. Ask them to evaluate you based on what they observe in your life. Have them pray with you about it. A prayer partner is invaluable. 


Cultivate a deep walk with Jesus: day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. If you walk with Jesus you have to agree with Jesus. Amos 3:3 says: Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? You have to agree with the humility of Jesus. 


Be filled with the Holy Spirit. So much of the Holy Spirit’s fruit feeds humility: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When the Holy Spirit is saturating us with his presence, he will enable us to build humility into our lives. We have to keep being filled with the Holy Spirit. 


One day a lady walked into Pastor Del’s office, handed him an envelope, and walked out. The essence of the letter said Pastor Del was no longer effective and it was time for him to be moving on to another church. She said the church would be better off if Pastor Del quit. She was a good friend, and the letter hurt deeply. It was at that moment that Pastor Del heard God say, “I’m giving you another chance to die. Don’t blow it.” God used that experience to take some pride out of Pastor Del’s life. God used that experience to teach Pastor Del about humility. 


Without humility there is no learning. The first step to learning is to see our ignorance. Our level of learning is equal to our level of humility. Jesus increased in knowledge and so can we. Like Jesus we can walk humbly before the Lord our God. 



Verse Completion. . . lose everything. Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)


10/17/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


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



Complete the Verse & Name the BookWhen the wicked die, their hopes die with them, for they rely on . . . (completion at the end)



Today, I would like to provide a recap of Pastor Robert Jeffress's talk “The Political and Cultural Engagement of the Believer.” The video was posted on Thursday’s devotional. Jeffress is the pastor of the 14,000 member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. 


America’s collapse is inevitable. In the book of Revelation we read that the final seven years of earth’s history will be characterized by a one-world government guided over by a person we call the Antichrist. During these final years there will be no freedom of commerce, no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, which means that America as we know it will have ceased to exist. Scripturally, America’s collapse is inevitable. We just don’t know when that collapse will take place. It could be next year or it could be in a thousand years.


There’s another reason why the collapse of America is inevitable. Several years ago the decision was made to take down the existing First Baptist Church in Dallas and build a new one that better suited the needs of the church. A demolition company was consulted and they said the best way to take the old buildings down was with an implosion. Hundreds of pounds of dynamite would be attached to key structural supports. The dynamite would be exploded. There would be a pause and then the laws of physics would take over and the buildings would collapse under their own weight. That’s exactly what happened on the day of demolition: an explosion, a pause, and the implosion of the buildings. 


Implosions are sudden and dramatic. They begin with a series of seemingly unrelated explosions, are followed by a pause, and conclude with a sudden collapse. Over the last 60 years in America, there have been three explosive decisions by our United States Supreme Court that have so weakened the moral and spiritual infrastructure of our nation that our collapse is inevitable. The explosions have already occurred. The implosion is coming. We are living right now in that pause, that in-between time, before the final collapse. 


What are those three explosive decisions? The first happened in 1962 with Engel vs. Vitale. The Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. In 1963, the Schempp decision by the Supreme Court ruled eight to one to remove Bible reading in public schools. In 1980, with Stone vs. Graham, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to post the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky schoolroom. Their reasoning was that “if the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments . . . it is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.” In essence the Supreme Court was saying the Ten Commandments cannot be posted because if they were allowed to be posted, children might read them, respect them, and even obey the commandments.


It’s interesting to compare what the Supreme Court said in 1980 with what it said 118 years earlier in a similar case that involved the reading of the Bible in public schools. In 1844 with Vidal vs. Girard’s Executors, the Supreme Court said, “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament . . . be read and taught as divine revelation—its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”


What happened from 1844 to 1980 that made the Supreme Court change its decision? Did the Constitution change? No, the First Amendment states that Congress cannot establish a State religion. We are all in agreement with that. The Constitution has nothing to say about the Ten Commandments being displayed, reading the Bible in public schools, or nativity displays. What’s happened is the First Amendment has been changed into something the Founding Fathers of our nation never intended. That is the first explosive decision that led to government’s not neutrality toward religion but government’s hostility toward religion—especially the Christian religion. 


The second explosive decision made by the Supreme Court came out of the city of Dallas, Texas. It is Roe vs. Wade from 1973 where the court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. It’s estimated that fifty million babies have been aborted in the United States since this decision was made. Currently, there are around 1.1 million babies being murdered each year in the U.S. by abortion. 


If we look at abortion from an economic standpoint, one study has suggested that if the 50 million babies had been allowed to live and become productive citizens of our country, they would have contributed from thirty-five to seventy trillion dollars to our gross national product. Had those fifty million babies been allowed to live, there wouldn’t be the Social Security crisis we have now or the Medicare crisis we are faced with. A country can’t get rid of 20% of its population without severe ramifications. However, the economic ramifications of abortion pale in comparison to the spiritual ramifications. 


If you want to know what God does to a country that murders its own children, look at what God did to Israel. Israel was the only nation that could be called God’s Chosen Nation. When they entered into the Promised Land, they engaged in the worship of the pagan god, Molech. To satisfy Molech’s thirst for blood, the Israelites offered their own children as a burnt sacrifice. God’s response is found in Jeremiah 32:35-36 (NASB):


“And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. 

“Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence.’”


God is no respecter of people or nations. God does not get goosebumps when he hears “The Star-Spangled Banner.” God does not stand up and salute the American flag. God is no respecter of any nation. Any nation that reverences God will be blessed by God. Any nation that rejects God will be rejected by God. There’s no more guaranteed way to bring the wrath of God upon our nation than not only to allow but to celebrate the murder of the unborn. There are those who have no problem with the murder of a human fetus because of its gender. There are those who have no problem with putting to death a fully developed baby in the birth canal of its mother. That is not only wrong, it’s barbaric and it guarantees the judgment of God. 


The third explosive decision made by the Supreme Court was made on June 26, 2015. It involved Obergefell vs. Hodges. The court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 


Why should we care about gay marriage? The Hoover Institute did a long-term study on Scandinavian countries that had legalized gay marriage. They found that after ten years, not that many gay couples actually ended up getting married. However, the rate of heterosexual marriage declined. Why? Because whenever you counterfeit something you cheapen the value of the real thing. If marriage becomes whatever you want it to be (one man, one woman; one man, two women; three men, one woman; one man, one man), why bother to marry at all? Recently, we have had the lowest rate of marriage we have had in 96 years. There are tremendous sociological implications to that. Whenever we cease to have a nuclear family, drug addiction rises, juvenile delinquency rises, SAT scores plummet. God designed us in such a way that we need a father and a mother. 


The Princeton sociologist, Sarah McLanahan, said, “If we were trying to design an ideal environment in which to rear a child, it would be one in which the child is connected to both of its biological parents.” This is how God designed the family—to have a mother and a father. Governments ought to be encouraging the ideal environment in which to rear a child instead of counterfeiting it through gay marriage. 


No nation that outlaws the mention of God in the public square, that sanctions the killing of its own children, that destroys the most basic element of society—the family—is going to survive. The explosions have already happened, the implosion is coming, and, meanwhile, we are living in the pause before the final collapse. What should we do in light of the coming collapse?


When we consider the collapse our of nation, we might get depressed. However, there’s no reason to be when we understand what our assignment is as Christians in this decaying and darkening world. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 (NASB):


“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown and trampled under foot by men.”


     In Jesus’ day, salt was more than something you put on your steak to increase your blood pressure. Salt was a preservative before the days of refrigeration. Because there was no refrigeration, meat would decay. A person could not prevent the decay of meat, but a person could delay the decay of meat by packing salt on it. Eventually, the meat would spoil and have to be thrown out, but the salt gave the meat a longer shelf life. 


The reason Jesus doesn’t immediately take us to heaven the moment we were saved is so we can be a preservative in the culture. We won’t be able to prevent the decay, but we can delay the decay. We are able to give the culture a longer period of time in which to repent of their sins before Christ’s return. How is this accomplished? Salt has to get out of the salt shaker and penetrate the meat. Christians have to go out from our churches and penetrate society so we can be salt and light in this world. Salt sitting in a salt shaker does no good whatsoever. 


Perhaps the most effective way we have to push back against the tide of evil that is overwhelming our land is through the leaders that we select and place into office. Why should pastors become involved in politics? Because leaders of a country develop the policies of a country. Policies of a country determine the moral and spiritual direction of that country. The reason Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany was because pastors, by and large (with a few exceptions like Dietrich Bonhoeffer), remained silent. God has called us to influence our culture, and one way we do that is through the leaders we select. 


In Old Testament times, people didn’t get to vote for their king. It was the king who determined the moral and spiritual direction of a country. If it was a good king, like King Josiah, God blessed the nation. If it was an unrighteous king, like King Ahab, God cursed the nation. 


John Jay (1745-1829) was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Voting is not just a right but a responsibility of a Christian. 


When a Christian says, “I don’t think we should get involved in the political process,” ask them:


·      Do you think God cares about the rampant immorality that is sweeping our land right now?


·      Do you think God has any feelings when he sees crosses being torn down from war memorials?


·      Do you think God has any feelings for the 1.1 million children that are murdered in the womb each year through abortions?


Jesus said not only are we to be the salt of the earth but the light also:


“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

“Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB)


As Christians, our mandate is not to save America. We have been called to save Americans from the coming judgment of God by introducing them to faith in Jesus Christ. We push back against evil in order to share the light of the gospel of Christ. 


Imagine a little village that has a giant dam above it. The dam is holding back millions of gallons of water. After many years, the infrastructure of the dam begins to deteriorate and tiny little leaks start to appear. A group of people place their hands over the leaks and call to the villagers to seek a place of safety. That’s what we do as Christians: we push back against the inevitable flood that is about to unleash, but at the same time we are pointing people to the Savior of the world, Jesus. 


When Paul wrote Philippians, Nero was the emperor of Rome. He was the most evil emperor in all of Roman history. He used to take Christians and light them on fire to illuminate his gardens. In this environment, Paul said to the Christians in Philippi:


Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 (NASB) 


Paul understood the principle that the darker the background the brighter the light. The darker his world became, the greater the opportunity to point people to Jesus Christ. Jewelers understand this principle, too, and that is why they place diamonds they are selling in the center on a black felt square. The darker the background the brighter the light. 


This world and this country is going to get darker and darker, but the darker it gets the more brightly the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ is visible to people all over this country. The darker the background the brighter the light. If your purpose in life is peace, prosperity, pleasure, and the avoidance of pain, then these are terrifying times to live. But if your purpose in life is like Paul’s—to share Christ Jesus with as many people as possible before Christ’s return—then there’s never been a better time to be alive and active than right now.


Some might be confused by this message. They might ask, “Am I supposed to be spending my time and resources pushing back against evil, getting involved politically, saying no to things that are contrary to God’s Word or am I supposed to be sharing the gospel with as many people as possible?” 


Did Jesus tell us to be salt or light? No, he told us to be salt and light. We have to balance the salt and light. It’s not a time to be passive. William D. Watkins wrote in his book The New Absolutes, “It is time for Christians to reject the new tolerance and instead become a people marked by intolerance, not an intolerance that unleashes hate upon people, but an intolerance that is unwilling to allow error to masquerade as truth and an intolerance that is willing to stand up and call good, good and evil, evil.” May God give us the courage to do that.



The full film “Is Genesis History?” is now available on YouTube. It’s about 1.75 hours long. I will put the link here every day for the remainder of the week. I would suggest you watch a portion of it each day. It’s excellent. 


https://youtu.be/UM82qxxskZE



Verse Completion. . .  their own feeble strength. Proverbs 11:7 (NLT)


10/16/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/3l7TcI1xYIU



Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman taught 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 with a lecture called “Approved by God.” Paul has a great deal of affection for the Thessalonians, and they have a great deal of affection for Paul. In the first three chapters of this book there is very little doctrine or theology; it’s more what a friend would say to his friends. 


The relationship Paul had with the church might be compared to that of a teacher and his class. As a student sits and learns from the teacher, he might develop a fondness for the teacher and the material being taught. The student might seek to develop a relationship with the teacher. This may have happened in your life. It’s possible that even years after having had that special teacher, one would go back to see the teacher from time to time. That would show just how much the teacher impacted one’s life. 


You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery (verses 1-3). 


There were people in the cities of Thessalonica and Philippi who did not like the gospel; they were against it. Since Paul was preaching the gospel, they were against him. One technique they used to try and take Paul down was attempting to erode the trust people had in him. They slandered his character. They made false accusations. They questioned his teaching. They questioned his motives. They wanted people to question the authenticity and trustworthiness of Paul. 


Paul starts out this section by reminding the Thessalonians what they know—the message, who Paul is and what he’s about, the power of God working in Paul, the power of God working in them, transformed lives by the power of God. They also know the opposition that was met—thrown into prison without a trial in Philippi even though Paul was a Roman citizen. Opposition to the gospel of Christ is not something one can reason with. It’s not logical; it’s emotional. 


Paul is committed to spreading the gospel. Opposition does not make him back down from his passion. His motive is pure. He isn’t sharing the gospel out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Paul’s motive was not to gain something, trick anyone, or take advantage of anyone (like the traveling philosophers who were only interested in taking people’s money from them). Paul’s motive is for the Thessalonians to know Jesus and draw closer to him. 


For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else(verses 4-6).


The traveling philosophers who took advantage of people were not approved by God, but Paul is approved by God. Sometimes we buy products that have been inspected by quality control and have been given the stamp of approval. Paul has been given the stamp of approval by God. Paul has been trusted with the gospel. It’s not something he made up. He puts God first; not people first. 


Not only are the Thessalonians a witness to Paul’s motives and actions, but God is a witness as well. Flattery can be deceitful, but Paul has never used it. Paul has never used flattery to manipulate people to get them to do what would benefit him. 1 Timothy 6:2b-5 says:


Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. 


There were people who believed that by believing in Jesus, receiving Jesus, going to church, and being a disciple was a way in which a person could gain financially. Paul had no part in deceit or greed.


Paul wasn’t looking to win a popularity contest. He wasn’t attempting to draw the largest crowds in town. He wasn’t seeking praise from people. His message wasn’t about people; it was about Jesus and Jesus only. Paul wasn’t in it for power, position, or prestige. 


As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too (verses 7-8).


Paul was humble of heart. His life had been changed by Jesus, and he wanted others to have their lives changed by Jesus. In the first simile, Paul compares himself to a humble child. In the second simile, Paul compares himself to a mother who stayed around to make sure her children grew and matured in the Lord. Paul cared about their physical and spiritual well-being. He wasn’t like the traveling philosophers who went on down the road once they had their money. Paul stuck around to make sure they got established in the Lord. He loved and cared for the Thessalonians. As a mother delights in her children, Paul delighted in watching the Thessalonians grow spiritually. Unlike the traveling philosophers, Paul lived life with the Thessalonians: eating with them, laughing with them, crying with them, doing chores with them.


Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory (verses 9-12).


Paul was a tent maker. Wherever he went, he carried his tools with him and worked making tents. By doing so, he wasn’t a financial burden to anyone. 


Paul wasn’t a hypocrite who preached one thing and lived another. He worked to be like Christ, live like Christ, and reflect Christ in his life.


In verse 11 Paul uses a third simile where he compares himself to a father. Mothers and fathers function differently. Generally, mothers are the nurturers. Generally, fathers are the disciplinarians. The book of Proverbs is written from a father’s perspective to his son. It’s the duty of a father to teach their sons how to behave in the world and how to live rightly before God and others in the world. In the father role, Paul is pleading, encouraging, and urging the Thessalonians to live godly lives. Discipline is woven throughout the pleading, encouraging, and urging. 


Hebrews talks about spurring one another on to good deeds—a poke in the ribs we all need from time to time. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. Sometimes we have to be called out on what we are doing. The traveling philosophers were there to please people; they weren’t there to spur and prod. They were there to say things people wanted to hear. Paul was not like that. He was willing to call people out when they were doing wrong because his motives were right. 


Paul wanted to remind the Thessalonians of who they were—the ones called out by God. He wanted to remind them they were disciples of Christ. God continually calls his chosen, and his chosen need to respond by living lives worthy of that call. 



The full film “Is Genesis History?” is now available on YouTube. It’s about 1.75 hours long. I will put the link here every day for the remainder of the week. I would suggest you watch a portion of it each day. It’s excellent. 


https://youtu.be/UM82qxxskZE



Verse Completion. . . the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NASB)


10/15/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Cp2gGlc7zRE



Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked . . . (completion at the end)



After my parents retired from being missionaries in the Philippines for 35 years, they moved to Idaho. I used to go and visit them and envision myself moving there after I retired. I could see myself living close to them and having lots of contact with them. On one visit I even looked at a house to buy that was walking distance from my parents’ house. By the time I retired in 2016, both of my parents had died. It was as if I expected my parents to stay in the same condition they were in until I completed my career. 


Sometimes we expect things to stay just as they are for an indefinite period of time. We settle into our lives, get into a routine, and expect the same routine to continue “forever.” Changes in the routine are something far off in the future—nothing to be concerned with now. We can develop that kind of thinking concerning our spiritual walk with Christ. One of these days we will get serious about Christ but right now we have a full plate, and we are comfortable with the routine we have.


Isaiah 55:6-7 says:


Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.


I wonder if Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876) had this passage of Scripture in mind when he composed the song “Almost Persuaded.” When one considers the age Bliss died, he wasn’t given much time. Here are the lyrics to this old hymn: 


“Almost persuaded” now to believe;

“Almost persuaded” Christ to receive;

Seems now some soul to say,

“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,

Some more convenient day

on Thee I’ll call.”


“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;

“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;

Jesus invites you here,

Angels are ling’ring near,

Prayers rise from hearts so dear;

O wand’rer, come!


Oh, be persuaded! Christ never fails—

Oh, be persuaded! His blood avails—

Can save from every sin,

Cleanse you without, within—

Will you not let Him in?

Open the door!


“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!

“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last;

“Almost” cannot avail;

“Almost” is but to fail!

Sad, sad that bitter wail—

“Almost—but lost!”


Be now persuaded, oh, sinner, hear!

Be now persuaded, Jesus is near;

His voice is pleading still,

Turn now with heart and will,

Peace will your spirit fill—

Oh, turn today!


“. . . some more convenient day on Thee I’ll call.” Sometimes that more convenient day never comes. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:2b:


Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.


Isaiah goes on to say:


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’S name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” (55:10-13)


Have you ever planted something and nothing grew? When I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, apples were a special treat. It wasn’t that I was hurting for delicious fruit because the Philippines has some of the best fruit in the world (arguably the best). As far as I know, all the apples that came into the Philippines were imported. That didn’t stop me from planting apple seeds hoping for the best. Sadly, but predictably, no apple trees ever sprung up from those seeds. 


Isn’t it nice to know that isn’t how it is with God’s Word? When God sends out his Word through us, it always produces fruit. We might never see the fruit ourselves or benefit from them, but someone will. It sure is a special treat when the planters get to be the harvesters, too. 


Lives are transformed by God’s Word. Where there used to be thorns and nettles, there are now cypress trees and myrtles. Have you ever come in contact with nettles? It’s no fun. I like to hike, and on some hikes I have had the stinging hairs of the jagged leaves of the nettle poke my skin and cause a great deal of irritation. Can you imagine a nettle turning into a myrtle? A myrtle is an evergreen shrub with aromatic foliage and white flowers along with purple-black oval berries. That would be quite a transformation, wouldn’t it? Yet God transforms us from sinners into saints. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:


This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 


Transformed lives bring honor to God. Let’s honor God today by living transformed lives. Let’s thank God that the opportunity to become a child of God was extended to us, and let’s play a part in extending that same opportunity to others.



The full film “Is Genesis History?” is now available on YouTube. It’s about 1.75 hours long. I will put the link here every day for the remainder of the week. I would suggest you watch a portion of it each day. It’s excellent. 


https://youtu.be/UM82qxxskZE


My sister sent me this video of Robert Jeffress discussing “The Political and Cultural Engagement of the Believer.” I’d like to share the half hour video with you: https://vimeo.com/395047563



Verse Completion. . . come to nothing. Proverbs 10:28 (NLT)


10/14/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/0QaGZe5GG2Q



Complete the Verse & Name the BookFor no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is . . . (completion at the end)



 What passage of Scripture holds first place among all of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament? The passage starts with Isaiah 52:13 and goes through Chapter 53. Four voices are heard. The first voice is that of God introducing his Servant, Jesus, in 52:13-15:


See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.


The divine message is suffering is fruitful and sacrifice is practical.


The second voice is that of the awakened conscience of mankind. This voice says in 53:1-6:


Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’S presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care (verses 1-3).


Mankind is acknowledging that the eye has been allowed to cheat the heart of understanding. Mankind admits it has been indifferent to the divinely ordained Sufferer. Mankind confesses its guilt. 


 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we would be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all (verses 4-6).


Mankind recognizes that the hand of God was on his Servant because of sin—OUR sin; not his!


The third voice is that of the prophet, Isaiah. He describes the circumstances of the death of the Servant in 53:7-10:


He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.


But it was the LORD’S good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’S good plan will prosper in his hands.


When the Divine Servant was oppressed, he humbled himself even unto death. 


The fourth voice is that of God who gives the final verdict in 53:11-12:


When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.


The passage started and ended with God speaking. Isaiah showed the people that God communicates with mankind, unlike the pagan deities. We would be challenged to find more profound remarks in the New Testament regarding the meaning of Calvary. 


Paul’s commentary on Isaiah 53 is found in Philippians 2:5-11:


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.


Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 


Note: Beacon Bible Commentary with Dr. Ross E. Price was consulted in the writing of this devotional.


The full film “Is Genesis History?” is now available on YouTube. It’s about 1.75 hours long. I will put the link here every day for the remainder of the week. I would suggest you watch a portion of it each day. It’s excellent. 


https://youtu.be/UM82qxxskZE



Verse Completion. . . Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV)


10/13/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/5CLafssD6bM



Complete the Verses and Name the Book


The fears of the wicked will be . . . 


the hopes of the godly will be . . .


When the storms of life come, the wicked are . . . 


but the godly have a . . . (completions at the end)



Yesterday, Del McKenzie started a series called Godly Character Qualities, and began with “Gentleness.” Character is what we really are, and we are made up of many character qualities—both good and bad. Reputation is what other people think of us. Personality is how we come across to other people. Character is what we are in the dark. Character is what we are when we are away from home. We need to develop the character Jesus had. We need to become like Christ—formed into his image. Pray to be like Jesus. 


One of the character qualities of Jesus is gentleness. Matthew 11:29 records the following words of Jesus: “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”


The word gentle comes from the French word gentil which means of noble birth; belonging to a family of social standing. This is where we get the idea of a gentleman. Genteel means polite, refined, or respectable. A gentle person is generous, kind, patient, non-violent, not harsh or rough. The opposite of gentle is crude, rude, abrupt, stern, severe, without feeling. Jesus wants us to be gentle.


When a kid was asked to define gentle, he said, “Handling hard questions with soft answers.” Gentleness is sweet reasonableness expressing personal care appropriate to another’s needs. 


There are enemies to gentleness:


a.   Our temperament: out for self, not caring about others, hard-driving, pushy, hard-nosed. When our temperament is not gentle, we have to learn gentleness from others. It has to be shaped into our lives.


b.   Lack of training: We develop habits of the family in which we were born or raised. We can develop a habit of being edgy with people rather than being gentle with them. 


c.    Wrong definition: We can think of gentleness as being wimpy (weak, cowardly, or feeble) when it is actually strength under control.  Gentleness always has the other person’s best interests in mind. If we don’t guard ourselves, we can become impatient.  


d.   Pride: Gentleness is based on humility—humbling ourselves before God and other people. Gentle people are able to turn insults and antagonism into growth by allowing themselves to be open to change. 


The stressors of life can be handled without eruptions, fighting back, revenge, or retaliation as we develop strength of character. Handling difficult situations with gentleness helps us to be Christlike. Jesus was gentle of heart; it was his nature. We are to be changed into the image of Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. 


We need to develop respect for others. Harsh people don’t respect those around them. Respect is key to having a life that is useful, fulfilling, and pleases God. We are to have respect for everyone. 


Gentleness gives us peace in our hearts so there is quietness, calmness, serenity, tranquility. Matthew 11:28 has the following words of Jesus: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” This is an internal rest that only God can give. Roughness causes us to lose our peace. 


We benefit other people when we are gentle. It’s difficult to help others when we are harsh with them. We can turn others away from Jesus with our roughness. We should be a sweet aroma to those around us. Our gentleness can be a great encouragement to others. Gentle people are encouraging people. Harsh people are not encouragers. 


People are pushed away by our harshness. Harsh people hurt the feelings of others. Gentleness never causes others to be hurt. 


When we aren’t gentle, we can cause others to be confused about Christ and Christianity. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 says: But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. (ESV)


Gentleness can be worked out in our lives in four ways:


1.   We look to Christ to live in us. We invite the Holy Spirit into our life. We ask Jesus to develop gentleness in us. We deal with pride. We apologize to people when we are rough with them. We apologize to people when we walk away from them in disgust. We apologize when we say something that is not gentle and kind. We apologize for our harshness, repent, and renounce it. 


2.   We study God’s Word.


3.   We model gentleness beginning at home. Our children need to see us apologize when we are harsh or edgy with someone. 


4.   We teach gentleness to others, and again this begins in the home with our own family. We teach our children to be gentle with other children at home, school, sports, and play. We teach our children to be gentle with their parents. Note: Like Del, I could never refer to my father as “the old man” because I had far too much respect for him. Parents need to have a gentle relationship with their children. 


Christians should be leading the way in developing gentleness in people. When the Holy Spirit is at work in us, his fruit of gentleness is being developed. Jesus was humble and gentle in spirit and by God’s grace, we can be humble and gentle, too. Pray that gentleness would be a character quality in us.



The full film “Is Genesis History?” is now available on YouTube. It’s about 1.75 hours long. I will include the link every day for the remainder of the week. I would encourage you to watch a portion of it each day. It’s excellent. 


https://youtu.be/UM82qxxskZE


Completions to Verses:


. . . fulfilled;


. . . granted.


. . . whirled away,


. . . lasting foundation. Proverbs 10:24-25 (NLT)


10/12/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-H9SXqzs0oI



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBe joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael gave the sermon “Home Again” based on Hebrews 10:19-25:


And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


What does it mean to be the church these days? How do we operate? What does it look like? It’s unlikely that life will return to how it used to be before the pandemic any time soon (2-4 years). The pandemic has changed the way we do church. What hasn’t changed is we are still disciples of Christ. What hasn’t changed is The Great Commission given to us by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We are still called to promote, proclaim, and partner with the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. We are closer today to the return of Jesus than we were yesterday. 


World events can get our focus off the Author and Perfector of our faith. The Hebrews were living in times of Roman persecution, but they were told to hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Jesus has promised us salvation, forgiveness us sins, to never leave us or forsake us, and everlasting life. He can be trusted. He loves us. 


We’re not the first church to experience significant upheaval in the way we do church. The early church first met in the Temple courts. When the Temple was destroyed, meetings were held in the synagogues. Those who followed Judaism didn’t want Christians in the synagogues because their beliefs conflicted with their own beliefs. Christians began meeting with each other wherever they could: by the river, in fields, in houses. It was only after 300 A.D. that Christians stopped meeting in homes and started meeting in buildings large enough to house a crowd. Hebrews 10:32-34 says:


Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.


People’s houses were being confiscated. They were losing their place to do church. Christians even met in catacombs which were underground burial places. Catacombs exist today that are miles long with a multitude of bones. There was no safe place for the Christians to meet. Spies would report their meeting places. This caused the church to require a period of catechism for prospective members. It might be two years of learning doctrine and theology while members scrutinized the prospective members. Only after catechism would a prospective member be allowed into a church meeting. The early church’s “pandemic” was disclosing where they were meeting too soon and being killed for it. 


There are places in our current world where it is illegal to be a Christian. It’s illegal to have a Bible. In places like this, the meeting place is not disclosed until the night before the meeting. Arrival times are staggered in order not to raise suspicion. Why do people today risk their lives for the gospel? Why do they set aside the majority of a day to worship Jesus? It’s because they are committed to Jesus. A relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else in their lives. It’s because they hold tightly without wavering to the hope they affirm. 


What about us? How do we do church in a pandemic? Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Let’s put some thought into this. Let’s pray, “Jesus, what does it look like for us as a church to serve you in days like today? What do you want us to do? How do you want us to proclaim your word? How do we disciple others?” What’s most important is that we continue our journey with Christ by unswervingly following him, and encouraging others to do the same. It’s easier to not follow Jesus than it is to follow him. Sometimes we need a spur in our ribs to keep us on track. Going to church takes time and effort. Consider how fortunate we are compared to those who are not allowed to go to church. Do we put church ahead of sports?


We are to spur each other toward love and good deeds. It’s difficult to love; it takes time and effort. Risk is involved. Jesus had a complaint against the church in Ephesus—they didn’t love him or each other as they did at first. Their love had grown cold (Revelation 2:4). The pandemic can cause our love for Jesus and others to grow cold. We need to spur each other to put Jesus first.


When we lose our love for Christ, we don’t obey him. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments (John 14:15). We are called to persevere—to hold on unswervingly; to follow hard after Christ. Put in the time and effort to build a relationship with Christ. Our main emphasis is not how to get back to fellowship with 100+ people; it’s how to follow Jesus in times of a pandemic. 


Fellowship with other Christians is important and needs to continue even during a pandemic. Fellowship can be two people. Fellowship, encouragement, love, support, and prayer all happen at home—Home Teams (small groups). Get together with people who have the same risk tolerance as you. There needs to be a place where people can talk about Scripture, pray, talk about life, and encourage each other. Home Teams are so important! Maybe Home Teams would only meet on Sundays when the service is watched together remotely with fellowship following the service in the home where this occurred. Masks could be worn and social distancing could take place. If this would be too much for a person’s risk tolerance, groups could get together over the phone and accomplish the same thing. Use technology to accomplish your goal: Skype, Zoom, conference call, chat box. 


We need each other in order for us to follow Jesus and grow in him. Fellowship could happen after or during many of the broadcasts of our church: Sunday sermon, Del McKenzie’s study, Prayer with Lola, Fireside Fellowship, previous studies led by Dr. Wedman (Revelation, Minor Prophets, Philippians), previous sermon series (such as The Essentials or Matthew). A discussion guide is available for Fireside Fellowship chats.


Hebrews 10:35-39 says:


So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.


We need to keep living by faith, walking by faith, and strengthening our faith. That doesn’t mean if you don’t attend an in-person service that you have less faith. It does mean we cannot use this pandemic as an excuse to stop meeting with others for our spiritual growth. The most important relationship in our life is Jesus. Therefore, if God asks us to do something, we must obey him no matter what the risk is to us. Put Jesus first in your life. Jesus first. Jesus only. Jesus always.


Don’t let this pandemic keep you from knowing Jesus, serving Jesus, or calling others to come to Jesus. Find a Home Team. 



Verse Completion. . . in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)


10/10/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/k6B_jYtjvME



Complete the Verse & Name the BookA judge who says to the wicked, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations. But it will go well for those who . . . (completion at the end)



The other morning while lying in bed, I was thinking about God’s creation. I started thinking about this big ball I’m on that has me traveling around 700 mph as it spins around. At the same time it is spinning around, it is traveling through space making a trip around the sun that takes a year to complete. Meanwhile, the moon keeps traveling around our planet once every 27 days. The earth is tilted 23.5 degrees which gives us our seasons and makes it much easier for life to exist on the planet. All the other planets are traveling around the sun as well. Everything is precision timing. Nothing crashes into each other. It was too much for my mind to fathom. I thanked God for his creation and for making everything work so smoothly. His creation is truly amazing, because he is an amazing God. 


If you can spare two minutes and 33 seconds, watch this video that compares sizes in our universe: https://youtu.be/HEheh1BH34Q


I love how Isaiah describes God in Isaiah 40:12-31:


Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on the scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?

No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God. The nations of the world are worth nothing to him. In his eyes they count for less than nothing—mere emptiness and froth.

To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble him? Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains? Or if people are too poor for that, they might at least choose wood that won’t decay and a skilled craftsman to carve an image that won’t fall down!

Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God—the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing. They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

Look up into the heavens. Who created the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.


What an awesome God! When I read the part that said, “All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God,” I thought about the lyrics to today’s song:


The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell


The guilty pair, bowed down with care

God gave His Son to win

His erring child He reconciled

And pardoned from his sin


O love of God how rich and pure

How measureless and strong

It shall forevermore endure

The saints and angels song


Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade


To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry 

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky



Hallelujah 

Hallelujah

Hallelujah


O love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints' and angels' song



We were created in the image of God, but we are nowhere close to being his equal. All of our talents and abilities come from God. If we were to compare our power to God’s power, it would be like comparing the Rocky Mountains or the Himalayas to a grain of sand, and that would be a huge exaggeration because God’s ability is so much greater than that compared to ours!


God is the only One worthy of our worship. Let’s worship and exalt him today!



Verse Completion. . . convict the guilty; rich blessings will be showered on them. Proverbs 24:24-25 (NLT)


Remembering Our Leaders


10/9/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/16KYvfIc2bE



Complete the Verse & Name the BookYou brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman led a study of 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 called “Chosen by God.”


We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.

And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.


In our day and age, church has become less and less a place of beloved ones. Instead, it has become an event space. However, a church service is not an event; it’s a gathering of beloved ones who wouldn’t be gathering except for the love of God in their lives and their love for each other. It’s a gathering of family. It’s a place where we give love and receive love.


We are chosen by God. God is the initiator of the relationship. To start with, we aren’t even interested in a relationship with God. We are not inclined to seek God; we are inclined to seek self. We are selfish, self-centered people. Romans 3:10-12 says:


As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”


Ephesians 2:8-9 says:


God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.


There’s nothing we can do to gain peace with God. Salvation is a gift by the grace of God. God even gives us the faith to believe. He draws us to him. 


Ephesians 1:11-14 says:


Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.


Ephesians 1:4 says:


Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 


God chose us first, and then we chose him.


We are able to know we are disciples of Christ because:


1.   We find power in the words of the gospel. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through those words. Romans 1:16 says: For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.


When we speak the words of the gospel, there is power in those words. The Holy Spirit uses the words to convict people of their sin (see John 16:8). 


Titus 3:3-7 says: Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.


The gospel is truth. When we experience the truth of the gospel, we want to tell others about it. We have a deep conviction that must be shared with others. The gospel has the words of life and death. Within the gospel is the way to eternal life. 


The fruit of the Spirit was evident in Paul’s life. His words matched his actions. His life pointed people to Jesus. 


2.   We imitate Christ. Wouldn’t it be great to tell a new believer, “Follow me as I follow Christ, and you will be led closer to Jesus”? God is the author and perfector of our faith, but it’s helpful to see others walking in Christ and be able to follow their example. 


We are models to other believers. Others can see the transformation that has taken place in our lives. Growth in Christ keeps occurring. Sanctification is evident: praying, reading God’s Word, meeting with other Christians, encouraging one another, learning, growing, desiring to know God more. 


Thessalonica was a hub for trade. As believers in Christ were transformed, their influence went out to a large area. They left a life of slavery to idols, slavery to darkness, slavery to self, sin, and Satan and entered a life of slavery to light, God, freedom, salvation. They now had a hope for everlasting life that they shared with others. 


3.   We persevere in persecution. Acts 17 tells about the riot in Thessalonica that had negative results for Christians there. A word picture for “severe suffering” could be the pressure applied to grapes as they are crushed and stomped down to get the juice out of them. 


The gospel message is welcomed with joy. Only the Holy Spirit can give us joy in the midst of persecution and suffering. James 1:2-4 says: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.


This life is not our focus, the next life is. We know Christ is in us when the world persecutes us. 


4.   We wait for the return of Jesus. He’s worth the wait. He’s worth the persecution. He’s worth the suffering. Jesus will rescue his children from the coming wrath. 


Every day we have to make the decision to follow Jesus. We have to determine we will follow him no matter what—in the easy times and in the difficult times. Let’s live transformed lives. Because we are chosen by God, let’s keep choosing him.



Verse Completion. . . fills the heart. Matthew 12:34 (NASB)


The Law on the Conscience


10/8/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-c6pl6CaiD0



Complete the Verse & Name the BookToo much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and . . . (completion at the end)



Do you stand before Christ without a single fault? Are you holy and blameless? In our own strength and goodness, none of us are holy and blameless without a single fault. However, in God’s strength and goodness, we are able to stand before Christ without a single fault—absolutely holy and blameless! 


When we humble ourselves before God and say, “I am a sinner. I deserve to die for my sins. My only hope of escaping death is in you, Jesus. I ask you to forgive my sins. You are the only one who is qualified to forgive my sins because you are perfect and you died in my place,” then God places on us the righteousness of Jesus. We are looked at by God as not having a single fault—holy and blameless because God sees Jesus in us. We need to remember this.


When I was teaching in the public schools, we were encouraged to hold high expectations for the students in our class. As we expected much, the students would rise to our expectations. Jesus was perfect. The perfect Lamb of God gave his life for us. Now God sees us as being perfect. God holds high expectations of us. Matthew 5:48 records the following words of Jesus: “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Perfect is what we strive to be, and perfect is how God sees us in Christ.


Colossians 1:21-23a says:


This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.


But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News


We have to be reminded of this truth because we can easily forget it. We look at ourselves through our earthly eyes and we don’t see perfection. However, God sees us as perfect so we need to see ourselves as perfect. We need to look at ourselves the way God looks at us: first God sees Jesus on the cross dying for our sins and as he looks through Jesus then he sees us. He doesn’t see us first and then Jesus; he sees Jesus first and then us. We need to look at ourselves the same way: Jesus first and then us. We tend to see ourselves first and then get discouraged. 


Let’s take a look at the qualifications of he who makes us holy, blameless, and without a single fault. Colossians 1:15-20:


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.


As Chris Tomlin’s lyrics to today’s song say regarding Jesus: “Is he worthy?”

“He is!”


Let’s remember who we are in Christ: holy, blameless, and without a single fault.


Thank you, Jesus!



Verse Completion. . . keep your mouth shut. Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)


The Foundations of Ethics

10/7/20


Good morning. This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2emelR7lGmw



Complete the Verse & Name the BookDevote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with . . . (completion at the end)



What is the antidote to worry? Is it a prescription from the doctor? Is it burying one’s head in the sand? Is it looking the other way? God’s Word gives us the answer in Philippians 4:6a:


Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


Prayer is the antidote to worry. Let’s see how that can be applied in 2020:


·      “COVID-19 is not going away. With the flu season approaching, I’m worried it will spread like wildfire. I’m worried about contracting it myself or one of my loved ones coming down with it.” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “I’m worried the economy is going to tank like it did in 2008. I’m worried it could even be worse than 2008!” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “I’m worried about the world my grandchildren or great grandchildren will live in. How are they ever going to thrive?” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “I just graduated from college. I’m worried I won’t be able to find a job because jobs seem to be so scarce.” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “I just received a bad report from the doctor concerning my health. I’m worried it could be life threatening. I’m worried about my spouse and kids.” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “I’m worried about my children’s education. Everything is online now, and I feel like they are missing a lot. I’m worried there will be gaps in their education that will have adverse effects on them down the road.” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


·      “My neighbors lost their house in the wildfires in our area. I’m worried about them. What are they going to do about a place to live? How are they going to replace their household belongings? I don’t think they had insurance.” Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.


What are you personally worried about? Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. What would a prayer look like when faced with these real worries and concerns? Since prayer is simply talking to a dear Friend, one talks to Jesus as one would confide in a close friend. What would that look like with the first worry listed—COVID-19? Here is a possible prayer:


Jesus, there’s something that’s been bothering me. I’m worried about the coronavirus. I see what it has done across our country and the world. I’m worried about my wife who has a compromised immune system. Some people are able to recover from the illness, but my wife might not be one of them. I don’t know what I would do without her. You have given me a wonderful gift in her, and I want to treasure that gift until the day I die. So I’m asking you to watch over her. Protect her. Put a shield around her so the virus can’t reach her. Divert the virus away from her whenever it would approach her. Since we can’t see the virus, I’m asking you to prompt her when she needs to wash her hands. Remind me to do what I can to prevent the virus from entering our house. 


Jesus, I trust in you. I know you have the power to protect our family from COVID-19, so I’m asking you to do exactly that. I believe in your power; help me in my times of unbelief. Nobody can do what you can do. Besides you I have nowhere to turn. You are my hope. I ask you to take this worry I have and replace that worry with your peace. You’re the only one who can bring peace to a storm. You did it for the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, and I’m asking you to do it for me now. 


Above all else, Lord, I want your will to be done in my life and that of my family. You have a plan, and I want to be one who helps your plan fall into place. I don’t want to do anything that would oppose what you desire. Your ways are far above my ways. I want your way fulfilled in my life. 


Jesus, I thank you for the protection you have given us so far. You are so faithful. You love us and want the best for us. I rest in this fact. I find rest and peace in you.


Today I feel like you are here right with me, and everything is going to be okay. Tomorrow I may be talking to you again about this same worry if it returns. Please be patient with me. May my faith in you grow each day you give me breath. 


Oh, there’s the phone. 


The antidote to worry is talking to God about the worry. The rest of Philippians 4:9 says:


Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.


In the prayer above I told God I need:


·      Protection for my wife

·      Help in my times of unbelief

·      My worry to be replaced with his peace

·      His will to be done

·      Help in following his plan for my life

·      My faith in him to grow

I also thanked God for:

·      His protection from the virus

·      His faithfulness

·      His love

·      The rest and peace he gives


The next verse says:


Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 


As we talk to Jesus, he gives us a peace. We can’t explain it or understand it, but we can enjoy it. Jesus said in John 14:27:


“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”


After we talk to God about our worries and receive his peace, joy settles in. As joy settles in, we begin to rejoice. We gain perspective as we remember the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is imminent (see verses four and five).



Verse Completion. . . an attitude of thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 (NASB)


The Quiet Work of the Gospel


10/5/20


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/Ph67dhexGoA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookTherefore whatever you want others to do for you, . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday Pastor Michael spoke about “Discipleship and Democracy” based on Ephesians 2:11-22. What are the responsibilities of disciples of Christ to earthly governments in a democracy?


Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.

He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.


First and foremost we need to understand that we are citizens of heaven. We are redeemed people, and we need to act like redeemed people. We haven’t always been citizens of heaven. Romans 3:23 says:


For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.


Sin separates us from God, and that separation has a penalty. Romans 6:23 says:


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.


Because of our sin, we were faced with physical death and spiritual death for all of eternity. However, Jesus turned things around for us. Romans 5:8-9 says:


But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.


Salvation is a free gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:


God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 


Salvation comes when we recognize our sin, recognize sin has a penalty, recognize that Jesus paid for our sins with his blood, and recognize it is a gift we have to receive. Romans 10:9-10 says:


If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 


Revelation 3:20 says:


“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”


Jesus offers everyone the opportunity to become citizens of heaven by receiving him as Lord and Savior, repenting of our sins, confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead.


Israel thought they had the corner on the market for salvation. They believed God chose them and only them for salvation. Gentiles were looked at as those who could not be saved. Paul came along and said salvation was not for the privileged few; salvation was for everyone. Acts 10:15 says:


But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. 


God showed Peter that salvation was for all people. Verse 28:


Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.”


There is no distinction. There is no longer clean and unclean. We are all one in Christ. Citizenship no longer matters. Whether a person is a citizen of Rome, Italy, the United States, Canada, or anywhere else, it makes no difference because, as believers, our citizenship is now in heaven. Boundaries are gone. That which divides people is gone. In Christ we are one. 


It doesn’t matter where a person lives. We all have access to God through the Holy Spirit in us because we believe in Jesus who died for us and was raised on the third day. 


If God were to give his children passports, they would all say “Citizen of heaven.” They would not say “Citizen of the United States” or any other country. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says:


This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.


We are citizens of heaven before we are citizens of any other country. Our citizenship in heaven is far more important than our citizenship in any other country. Citizenship means something; it has value. People will join the military of a country in order to defend that country against attack by another country. 


Since we are citizens of heaven, we need to promote and protect our country—heaven. This is why we proclaim the gospel. Matthew 6:9-13 says:


Pray like this:


Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.


As citizens of heaven, it’s our job to promote God’s Kingdom so God’s will shows up here on earth—God’s words are spoken here on earth. We want God’s ways to be followed here on earth. 


We need to recognize the purpose of God in our country. God has a plan and is at work. He works through governments. He knows exactly how our election is going to turn out. Romans 13:1-7 says:


Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.


The government that is in place and will be in place in the future is the government God has established and the government we need to submit to. As Christians when the person we voted for does not becomes President, we shouldn’t say of the President, “Well, he’s not my President.” No authority can be in place except that which God has established. We are submitting to God when we submit to a governing authority. Titus 3:1-2 says:


Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. 


When we listen to the news we hear lots of slander and quarreling. Anything but a gentle and humble spirit is shown. This is a chance for Christians to be salt and light. Paul was in prison when he wrote these words in Titus, and he was executed shortly after completing the letter. Paul had been set up. He was not guilty, and yet he had been kept in a Roman prison for years. If anyone could have complained against the government, it would have been Paul. Paul was a Roman citizen and yet he knew his true citizenship was in heaven. Paul was all about promoting his country—heaven. 


Because our citizenship is in heaven, we respect government here and submit to it. The government is in place because God put the government in place. We want God’s will to be done here as it is in heaven. If God’s will is for the opposing candidate to win the election, we will show respect by submitting. God’s purpose may be to bring his Kingdom down to earth. God’s purpose may be to speed up the process of Christ’s return.


As disciples of Christ we promote heaven, we understand God has a purpose in all he does, and we pray. We pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 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.


We pray that our government leaders will make decisions that will promote the will of God. We pray that our government leaders will know God and follow him. We pray for government leaders that will allow churches to promote Christ. 


No matter who we vote for there is no government that will wholeheartedly follow God. As we get closer to the end of time, we can expect there to be more opposition to Christianity. When there is a one world government led by the anti-Christ, the persecution of Christians will be at an all-time high. 


In a democracy we have a say in who we will submit to. In the Old Testament, there were no democracies. In a theocracy God is the ruler; God used his priests and prophets as leaders. In a monarchy the king was the ruler. You won’t find a democracy in the Old Testament. 


In the New Testament, Israel wasn’t a democracy. In fact, they were subject to Rome. The emperor told everyone what to do. The only hint of democracy was found in some of the Greek cities that were allowed to be free from Rome and rule themselves. Protests were allowed in these cities (see Acts 17). 


As we vote in a democracy today, it’s our responsibility to pray and vote for who we think will do the best job of promoting the kingdom of God. We need to remember that we are not voting for one person; we are voting for a government as a whole. We want to vote for the government that will give us the best chance of leading our country closer to God. We want to vote for the government that will give our churches the best chance of promoting Christ. 


As a Christian you are not a Republican or a Democrat; you are a citizen of heaven that desires to promote the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, we need to pray about who we are to vote for. It shouldn’t be automatic. Ask God who you should vote for, and be open to the answer. God might tell you to vote differently than you had planned.  



Verse Completion. . . do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NASB)


10/3/20


Good morning! This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. 


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Pc6KcT7HTys



Complete the Verse and Name the BookThe earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people . . . (completion at the end)



Today I’d like to share an article written by Pastor Ulmet titled “The Call to Unity—An Increasingly Strange Concept!” Kevin Ulmet is the lead pastor of the Nashville First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, TN. Here is what he had to say:


In recent months, as we have been battling the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and as a nation continuing to hurtle towards a historically-polarized election, the word “unity” almost sounds quaint.  Unity seems to be an old-fashioned concept no longer feasible in today’s realities, and one that few of our national leaders and influencers seem to even care about any more.  I am always concerned when a central theme of the Kingdom of God is marginalized to the sidelines of reality.  We must recover our passion and focus on this deep goal of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Let me remind you of the heart and words of Jesus himself, as He was praying to the Father pre-crucifixion in John 17:

Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are…I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  John 17:11,21 (NLT)


The heart of Jesus beats for His people to live in unity with one another.  The Church is to be the one place in a divided world where people actually love each other as human beings created in God’s image; loving other people more than their opinions, political affiliations, lifestyle differences or philosophies and perspectives.  It is to be an oasis of “getting along” in a culture determined to divide.  As our culture continues to cater to individual tastes and approaches to everything, the Church must continue to be a loving, welcoming and inclusive place relationally.  Truth divides, no doubt – but it must be “spoken in love” (Ephesians 4:15) so that relationships survive the searing reality of that truth.


All of this takes great effort, focus and constant presence of mind.  Paul the Apostle had to remind the early church, in the infant stages of its development, that this unity was a supreme and pervasive goal.  Division had already set in within a few years of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, including racism, religiosity and moral disagreements.  For these reasons Paul wrote such things as:


Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.  Romans 13:8 (NLT)


Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:14 (NLT)


Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ... eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ...Ephesians 4:3 (NLT)


The prayer of Jesus for His people today would be no different than it was in John’s account, as he was moving close to the cross: Love each other deeply, stay united as one.  The prayer of Paul for the Church of Jesus Christ would be no different now either: Work on, focus on, loving each other – and remaining in unity. 


May their passion be our passion!  May this goal be our goal.  In spite of pandemics and elections, masks and political parties, policies and platforms, opinions and perspectives: above all, LOVE – and remain in unity.  Amen!


Pastor Ulmet



Verse Completion. . . squander their money on sin. Proverbs 10:16 (NLT)


Seeking Contentment


10/2/20


Good morning! Let’s enjoy this stretch of great weather.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/eJx5i3Kr4a4



Complete the Verse & Name the BookYou too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman continued Fireside Fellowship with “Motivated by God” from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3:


This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

May God give you grace and peace.

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.


This is Paul’s second missionary journey. We meet Silas in Acts 15:36-41. Paul and Barnabas wanted to visit each church where they had previously preached. Barnabas wanted John Mark to accompany them, but Paul did not because John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia. Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him, and Paul took Silas with him. 


Acts 16:22-24 tells what happened to them in Philippi:


A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.


Acts 17:5 tells what happened to them in Thessalonica:


But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 


Silas shows up in Corinth in Acts 18:5:


And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.


Timothy was chosen by Paul to travel with him. Acts 16:1-3a:


Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey.


Notice how Paul doesn’t identify himself as “an apostle of Christ” like he did in all his other letters. Only in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philippians did he omit this phrase. It’s probably because he knows them so well in Thessalonica and Philippi; he has a close relationship with them. 


Paul uses the Greek word ekklesia for church—the called out ones—called out by God. We are the church because we responded to the call of God. We have been called out of the life we lived before. We have been called out of living for the world. We have been called out by God to Jesus for the purpose of the gospel. We have been called to live changed lives. 


Notice how Paul says, “to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” We see similar phrasing in 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13; 5:18, and 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2. Paul wants the church to know Jesus is God with skin on. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are coequal, coeternal. They are the same God. Paul wants the church to recognize the authority in Jesus when he calls Him the Lord Jesus Christ. Lordship means submission; it’s making Jesus the Master and Commander of me and my universe. It’s asking, “How can I be used of God?” rather than, “How can God use me?”


Grace and peace are significant words. Grace is forgiveness. It’s the redemptive love of God. It’s having sins forgiven. It’s being chosen by God. It’s unmerited favor. When Paul says grace here, he is addressing those who are favored by God. Paul wants them to experience the favor of God—favor that wasn’t worked for or earned. 


Peace is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom means more than just a lack of conflict or war; it means a fulness, a well-being, a blessedness. Paul wants the church to experience the fulness of God, the completeness of God so they will be whole in God. 


When grace and peace are put together, Paul is saying, “May you know the unmerited favor of God and be filled with it.”


Paul’s thankfulness for the Thessalonians led him to pray for them. He is thankful for their work inspired by God. They are doing the works God has asked them to do. Ephesians 2:10 says:


For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


God will give us the energy to accomplish the tasks He has for us. These are works inspired by faith—works that build the Kingdom of God. They are works that promote Jesus. 


Paul is also thanking God for their loving deeds—labor prompted by love. This is not to be confused with a “labor of love” where one might help beautify the neighborhood by planting flowers. We are prompted to labor because of the love Jesus has shown us. Work is the energy to do something. Labor is centered around the cost of love. Work is inspired because God loves us and we love Him. Labor is more intense than work; it involves straining, striving, persevering. Struggling is involved. It’s difficult. It takes my strength from me. There’s a cost that is prompted by love: “I follow Jesus because He first loved me. I give up self because He first gave up self for me.” Labor involves following Jesus when those around us make it difficult for us to follow Jesus. We follow because Jesus died on a cross for us. Jesus said in John 15:10:


“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”


Work produced by faith are those things we do to build the Kingdom of God. Labor involves more character building—persevering through the difficult times because He loved me and I love Him. 


Lastly, Paul thanks God for their enduring hope. Endurance is similar to labor in that it involves striving, working hard, and persevering. Endurance is inspired by hope. In the Bible, hope is not something that might happen; it’s something that is guaranteed to happen. It’s hope in the sense that it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to happen in the future. Any hope found in the Lord Jesus Christ is certain; it’s a promise that will happen. When the rest of the world says, “Forget Jesus and do your own thing,” why do I stay with Jesus? It’s because of the SURE hope that is within me. I know Jesus is alive and will return. I know I am going to be raised with Him on the last day. I know I will have everlasting life with Jesus. I keep working, I keep laboring, I keep on with Christ, I partner with Him, I love Him, I walk with Him, because I know with certainty that one day I will be with Him forever. The momentary things I’m faced with will not keep me from following Jesus. 


Did you notice Paul used the words: faith, hope, and love? The same words are found in Ephesians 4:1-6:


Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.


Galatians 5:5-6 says:


But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love(NIV)


Colossians 1:3-5 says:


We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.


1 Corinthians 13:13 says:


Three things will last forever—faithhope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 


The basics of our walk with Christ involve faith, hope, and love. We have a faith in Jesus. We have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, and we walk in that faith. The faith we have in Him changes who we are: the old is gone and the new has come. 


We know that Christ loved us, and, therefore, we love Him and others. Walking in faith is learning to love God and love others. We do it because of the hope within us for everlasting life. We have that SURE hope that all of this is worth it in the end. We will see Jesus and live in a new world where there is no sin.


We will see how Paul builds on the foundation of faith, hope, and love as we continue through 1 Thessalonians next week. 


Grace and peace to you.



Verse Completion. . . is near. James 5:8 (NIV)


10/1/20


Good morning! Welcome to October.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/936BapRFHaQ



Complete the Verse and Name the BookLazy people are soon . . . (completion at the end)



When applying for a job, it’s a good idea to find out what the qualifications are prior to applying. When a person knows what the prospective employer is looking for in a person, that person is far ahead of the applicant who has not determined what the boss desires.


Many pointers have been given on how to land a job that include the following:


·      Get noticed before the interview

·      Firm but brief handshake (prior to COVID-19)

·      Dress for success

·      Make eye contact

·      Imitate behaviors and attitudes of the interviewer

·      Body language

·      Do company research

·      Take a portfolio to the interview

·      Use numbers and percentages when talking about previous responsibilities and accomplishments

·      Use the STAR method to answer questions (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

·      Explain how you made your mark in your last position

·      Drop names of people in the company

·      Be positive, interested, and engaged (PIE)

·      Follow up right away


What if God was conducting an interview for the job you wanted. What would God be looking for in a candidate? What’s important to God when you want to work for him? The answer may be found in Isaiah 66:1-2:


Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 

“For My hand made all these things. Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.

But to this one I will look,

To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word(NASB)


What are the qualities in a person that gets God’s attention? There are three: humility, contrition, and one who trembles at His word. Dr. Steven J. Lawson, president and founder of OnePassion Ministries, had this to say about Isaiah 66:2:


First, the Lord says that He will look to “the one who is humble.” This word humble (Hebrew ani) means to be poor, afflicted, needy, wretched. It conveys the idea of one who is lowly. God is not speaking of a short physical stature but of the lowliness of heart that He requires of His servants. When God is recognized to be high and lifted up, man shrinks into extreme humility—an experience with which Isaiah was most familiar (Isaiah 6).


This virtue of spiritual poverty is absolutely necessary to be used by God. Jesus affirms this by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). No one seeking the spotlight in God’s kingdom will be enlisted by Him into active service. Nor can we hoard  any desire for self-promotion or self-glory. Like Moses, we must remove the sandals from our feet. In God’s work, wherever we go and whatever we do, we are always standing on holy ground. We entered His kingdom with a step of humble faith. Likewise, we will grow in usefulness to God only as we increasingly lower ourselves before Him and walk in humility.


Second, God looks to the one who is “contrite of spirit.” The word “contrite” (Hebrew nake) means one who is stricken or smitten. Rather than being puffed up and self-elevating, we are required to be as one who is broken and yielded to God under His mighty right hand. The word “spirit” (Hebrew ruah) indicates that this lifelong repentance must be cultivated in the depth of our being. This is not something that lies on the outward surface of our lives. Instead, it represents a lowly attitude in the innermost being of our soul. This self-realization comes through a true understanding of the gospel and its declaration of our identity as redeemed sinners.


Third, God says He will look to the one “who trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). This means that we must take His Word very seriously. Whatever God says, we must embrace and take to heart. We must respond to what He says with reverential awe. High regard and deep respect must grip our souls. When we are rooted in “the fear of the Lord,” this fear will produce a sobering devotion to God within us. Simply put, God will honor the one who honor His Word.


Since God first spoke these words, these timeless requirements have remained the same. Over the centuries, nothing has changed. God still demands the humility, contrition, and soul-trembling of His servants. Those who take His Word lightly will be passed over in His service. Those who are self-elevating will be set aside and forgotten.


But those who submit themselves to the Lord will be used for His own purposes. Jesus succinctly stated, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). 


The qualities God is looking for in people desiring to serve Him are the same whether one is in leadership or otherwise. Anyone who is humble, contrite, and who trembles at His word is eligible for service in the Kingdom of Heaven. As Christians we all need to be working for Jesus. He can use each one of us as long as we are humble, contrite, and tremble at His word.



Verse Completion. . . poor; hard workers get rich. Proverbs 10:4 (NLT)


Remembering Prisoners