Daily Devotion September 2021

9/22/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/oxpPIa-BskY



Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Mike Lombard is the pastor of Kommetjie Christian Church in Kommetjie, South Africa. He recently gave a sermon titled “Being Poor in Spirit” based on Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


This week a person in town said to me, “Are people flocking in large numbers to the church to find meaning in life due to the pressures of the times we’re living in?” His basic thought was that religion should be thriving under the present circumstances since what people normally depend on have been significantly undermined. 


Professor Ronald Inglehart out of the University of Michigan published an article after several years of research that showed how globally religion is in significant decline. Forty-nine countries were surveyed and out of them, 43 showed a significant decline in religious adherence—being “religious”. New Zealand showed no change while a few showed an increase: China, Russia, and three other countries. The country with the greatest decline is the United States where there has been a decline of 40% since 2007. In South Africa the decline is just over 20%. 


Professor Inglehart was surprised by the results of his research. He found one overwhelming reason for the decline: Religion takes its cue and its lead from the political environment. Instead of religion leading politics, politics leads religion. The consequence, particularly among the younger crowd, is people lose confidence in their religion because they feel that the political scenario doesn’t match with what they believe or understand how things should be, and religion is simply following the same trends that the politicians are following. The social trends are being set by the politicians and not the church. 


The continued interruptions of restricted gatherings or no gatherings of the church mean we are not able to tell what the long-term reality will be on people turning to God during this pandemic crisis. What we do know is that humanity’s deep struggle to acknowledge their need for God is always the biggest struggle that exists. Humanity struggles with the idea of God being the creator of the heavens and the earth and we are accountable to him, and we are to relate to him on the basis of what he speaks. People find it difficult to engage God because they want to pursue self-autonomy. People like to be their own God. They don’t like the idea of God telling them how they should live their lives. People don’t want to be accountable to God or anyone else.  


When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he was addressing the issue of self-autonomy. The poor in spirit are those who seek to be accountable to God. Jesus was speaking to Judah and Israel in a particular context. He was addressing them based on God’s dealings with them up to that point—hundreds of years of history. What the people couldn’t forget is that at one point they were in exile. They couldn’t forget that they returned from exile and even managed to rebuild the temple, but things never returned back to “normal”. For example, no son of David was ever king of Israel again. They lived with the knowledge that the presence of God had not returned to the temple. They knew Israel was not fully restored; they were living under Gentile rule. The Romans were in charge. 


In speaking to crowds of Jewish people, the expectation would be for people to say, “Lord, we need you! We cannot make this happen on our own. We are lost. We have no way out. Lord, we repent of having gone astray. We realize that only you are able to save us and restore us. Lord, forgive us!” That’s what you would expect people to be saying under the circumstances. However, that was not the normal response of the people at this time in history. The majority believed they could restore the interests of the nation of Israel by doing things their way. There was a group of people who thought they could do it through political conniving, through political intrigue, through political deception. They would play along with the Romans and then at a key moment they would turn on the Romans and con them into making a big mistake. At that point they could take over the country and install a son of David as their king in Jerusalem. 


There were others that believed with God of their side, they could take up the sword and defeat the Romans. At that point they would have the power and authority to restore Israel. 


There was another group who believed they could defeat the Romans with their money because money talks; money is power.


Does any of this sound familiar to how we respond to different scenarios today? It is to this group of people that Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The majority of the people of Israel looked at those who were acknowledging defeat and saying that only God’s divine intervention could save them, as weak and beggarly. They were seen as enemies of Israel as Israel pursued her independence. They were looked at as those who were hampering the strong. But Jesus set the record straight when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He was saying that the only way that anyone will have any possibility of this kingdom of heaven coming about is if they are poor in spirit. That is hugely significant. 


The Greek word that is used for poor in this verse means destitute. It was referring to beggars—those who were in a state of abject poverty; those who had no resources for themselves. The poor in this verse were those who were completely dependent on others. They recognized their state of destitution. 


Jesus is using poverty as a metaphor for the human condition. It is necessary for us to recognize that before God we are bankrupt, laid bare, destitute, and in total need of his intervention and rescue. Right here is the battle for the human heart, soul, and mind because it is so hard for us to acknowledge: “I am poor. I am a beggar. Before God I have nothing. I have nothing to bring to God.” Jesus is saying that unless a person reaches a point like this, there is no possibility of a person turning to Christ for rescue because he doesn’t consider his need for being saved, redeemed, or rescued. 


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



Verse Completion. . . the LORD shall rule over you.” Judges 8:23 (NASB)


9/21/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Cd6J6Wgnv4M



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon ”The Example of Giving” based on Exodus 35:4-36:7. As we looked at the building of the tabernacle under the leadership of Moses, we saw that people gave freely of their finances and goods. In addition, people gave of their time in order to see the kingdom of God being built. Sometimes we may not have finances or goods to give, but we have skills and time we can give to God’s work.


Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers. So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded” (Exodus 35:30-36:1).


God filled Bezalel and Oholiab with his Spirit and gave them the skill, ability, and knowledge to do what needed to be done. They were given spiritual gifts. On their own strength they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the work that needed to be done, but in God’s strength they would be able to do all that was necessary. The spiritual gifts are what Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4


When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are given spiritual gifts that could include: administration, service, care, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, healing, tongues, interpreting tongues, hospitality, teaching, pastoring, evangelism, apostleship. A spiritual gift is a supernatural enabling that we receive from the Holy Spirit that is to be used to build his kingdom. You have a spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says:All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. God knows how he wants to use us to build his kingdom and he enables us to do so. Giving recognizes who God is in our lives. Giving recognizes the grace of God in our lives. 


Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done.”


Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work  (Exodus 36:2-7).


Notice how the workers ended up with more than they needed to accomplish the task they had been given! The people were so generous there was an overabundance of goods and finances. They had to be told to stop giving! Moses had to restrain their giving! Can you imagine? It’s unheard of, but it happened here. 


Where did the Israelites get all that they had? Afterall, they were slaves in Egypt, and slaves don’t own much. We find the answer in Exodus 12:31-36:


During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”


The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.


The Israelites who had owned practically nothing, all of a sudden, had a lot of wealth. They had been freely given, and they freely gave. They recognized that all they had comes from God, and it brought them joy to use what they had to build God’s kingdom. They could have said, “It’s mine now. I’m not sharing,” but they did the opposite. 


Let’s look at another example of giving that took place during the dedication of the temple that was built by Solomon to replace the temporary tabernacle. Pay attention to the quantity that was offered to God in the way of offerings. 1 Kings 8:62-63 says: Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD.


Fellowship offerings were given when the giver was in a right relationship with God. They were given to celebrate a right relationship with God. 


On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings (verse 64).


Again, there was an overabundance of giving. These were freewill offerings. They weren’t offerings to atone for sins. 


The celebration was intended to be for seven days, but because of all the freewill giving, it was extended to fourteen days. God’s grace and goodness was being celebrated. It was a time of eating and fellowship in the presence of God. 


There’s another example of an abundance of freewill giving found in Acts 4:32-35:


All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.


These believers were all in to see God’s kingdom built. This is what happens when people recognize the grace of God, when they want to promote the kingdom, and when people want to praise the kingdom.


Does this happen today? Look around you. You don’t have to look far to hear testimonies of people who have sacrificially given to see the kingdom of God grow. We want our church to be involved in the growth of the kingdom of God by our generous giving. 


David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”(1 Chronicles 29:10-13)



Verse Completion. . . both the righteous and the wicked. Acts 24:15 (NIV)


9/20/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/B0oVJIEEuVs



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd [Gideon] said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and. . .(completion at the end)



Pastor Michael is doing a series called “Guidelines for Giving”. The fourth sermon in this 4-part series was given yesterday—”The Example of Giving” based on Exodus 35:4-36:7. Pastor Michael has given us fourteen guidelines for giving:



From Philippians 4:10-20


·      Giving promotes the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving pleases the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving provides for the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving praises the Kingdom of God.


From 2 Corinthians 8:1-12


·      Giving is a grace from God.


·      Giving comes from a heart for God.


·      Giving is more than tithing.


·      Giving is a spiritual discipline.


·      Giving is between you and God.


From 2 Corinthians 9:1-15


·      Giving comes from a servant’s heart


·      Giving comes from a willing heart


·      Giving comes from a cheerful heart


·      Giving comes from a trusting heart


·      Giving comes from a united heart



There are many examples of giving in Scripture and out of Scripture. Today we will look at some of those examples. For a little background on today’s text, God has brought the Israelites out of Egypt where they were slaves. They are now a nation set apart from other nations because they belong to God. However, because they have never been a nation before, they don’t know how to rule themselves. They don’t have an economic system, religious system, or health system, but God is helping them set up a nation. This is being done while they are in the wilderness.


God told the Israelites to set up a tabernacle—a tent, a moveable temple. The tabernacle was set up in the center of the camp, with all the other tents surrounding it. The significance of that was it showed God was the center of their nation—God was the center of their lives. They knew they could always find God at the tabernacle. His presence was always there. A pillar of cloud was above the tabernacle during the day, and a pillar of fire was above it at night.


Inside the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant which included the mercy seat. This was the place where God’s presence dwelt with Israel. They knew they could always find God there. Chapter 35 of Exodus is the beginning of the building of the tabernacle. This is the beginning of the Israelites saying, “Yes, God, we will build your kingdom. We are tired of building the Egyptians’ kingdom.” The purpose of the nation of Israel was to show the nations of the world who the real and true and abiding God is. 


Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the LORD has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece (Exodus 35:4-9).


In order to set up the tabernacle a variety of things were needed. God instructed Moses to take an offering to meet those needs. It was a freewill offering that people were willing to give. One of the guidelines we looked at previously is: Giving comes from a willing heart. Notice how the giving included finances (gold, silver, and bronze), but it also included goods (yarn, linen, goat hair, ram skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices). Giving doesn’t always and only involve money. Giving can come in the form of goods. 


“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light; the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and the ropes; the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests” (Exodus 35:10-19).


Moses laid out what was necessary to build a tabernacle for God. They couldn’t go to a store and buy what they needed; it all came from what they had. They were building the kingdom of God with what they had. Everything needed was brought willingly and freely, and that includes their skills and talents. We are to use our skills, talents, finances, and goods to build God’s kingdom. We recognize that all we have comes from God. 


Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD (verses 20-22).


A wave offering was an offering that rejoiced in God’s grace to them. The people would literally hold their offering in their hands and wave the offering back and forth before God as they acknowledged God’s grace to them. A wave offering came from a willing and cheerful heart. 


Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do (verses 23-29).


People were willing to give of their time in order to see the kingdom of God being built. Some may not have finances or goods to give, but they have skills and time they can give. Sometimes we are called to give of our time, and it’s a sacrifice for us. It means we have to give up the time we would have been using to do something we enjoy (watch TV, play a game, read a book, Facebook) to do something that helps build the kingdom of God. We need to be saying, “God, build your kingdom with whatever I have.”


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



Verse Completion. . . I am the youngest in my father’s house. Judges 6:15 (NASB)


9/18/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/OfH9j-TLg3U



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAbout midnight Paul and Silas were praying and . . .  (completion at the end)



Yesterday we did a recap of the first half of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon titled “Shoes Fitted with the Gospel of Peace” based on Ephesians 6:10-20 with an emphasis on verse 15. Today we recap the second half of his message.


Some people say the gospel of peace is subjective. They believe Paul is saying to get ready so you have the stability and mobility spiritually to do combat by the gospel of peace subjectively. In other words, you apply the truth to yourself. You know who you are in Christ—you know you are saved, you know you are justified by faith, so you are ready for combat. 


Other people say the gospel of peace is objective. They believe Paul is saying you get ready for the spiritual fight by doing evangelism. Romans 10:14-15 says: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” They say the feet are ready to do evangelism. The application of this text in Ephesians 6:15 would be: Get ready. Tell your friends about Jesus. Invite them to church. Do an evangelistic Bible study. 


So one is subjective—apply it to yourself, and the other is objective—go and tell others the truth about Jesus, objectively, to a non-Christian world. So how does one decide which it is? There’s no way of deciding purely from the grammar of this text. Therefore, we need to look at how Paul has already used this phrase earlier in the letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians 2:13-17 says: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.


Paul is saying that the gospel of peace reconciles us to God, putting our hearts at peace internally, and generates a community of all races and kinds that are united around Christ. That community then takes the gospel to those who are far away. Effective spiritual combat requires personal, spiritual security that is produced by believing, receiving, and proclaiming the gospel of peace. 


How do we put this into practice? We involve four parts: the vertical, the internal, the communal, and the external. The vertical begins with the peace that we have with God. This is our status. You will not be able to have effective, spiritual combat; you will not be able to find genuine peace; you will not be able to find real, personal security until you have peace with God that comes from the work of Jesus on the cross who reconciles us to God and kills the hostility and brings us into a new relationship with him. It all starts with the vertical. 


The internal, our conscience, is given by God to speak to us when we are doing something wrong and when we are doing something right. It’s designed to be an internal antenna of where we are morally. The conscience is marred and imperfect. Sometimes it flags wrong when it should flag correct. Sometimes it flags right when it should flag wrong, which is why it’s so dangerous to say, “I’m doing this because it feels right.” It may feel right but actually be wrong. On the other hand, some people have an overly sensitive conscience, and they feel that something is wrong when actually it’s perfectly legitimate to do. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important that we come under the preaching of God’s word as regularly as we can so that our conscience, our internal antenna, is brought back into line with what is true—so that what we feel to be true is actually true; what we feel to be right is actually right. 


But we’re not going to have that personal, spiritual security until our conscience witnesses to us that we are at peace with God. That means that when we are convicted by God’s Spirit that something we did is wrong, we go to God and confess our sins because if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He restores that sense of fellowship that we have with God by status (our vertical), in our experience (internal). It’s then that we have stability. You’re not going to be active in spiritual work; you’re not going to be active in evangelism; you’re not going to be active in ministry to others if internally you are anxious, insecure, and uncertain. You need to get into God’s word, apply the truth, confess your sins to God so the internal reality is brought closer to the vertical reality (your status) and is connected with the experiential reality. 


But there’s also communal which is Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians. Jesus has broken down the dividing wall of hostility and created one man out of two, so that Jew and Gentile are now in one family. Because of that and as a result of that and along with that is external—proclaiming the gospel to those who are near and far away. 


And all of that is putting on the gospel of peace with shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Now we’re stable—because of our status; because of our internal connection to that status experientially; because we’re part of a family that is a gospel family. Now we’re reaching out to people to bring them in because we have the stability and therefore the mobility to try new things.


One of the signs that people have not put on the gospel of peace is when they get stuck in old methodology—an old way of doing things—because they don’t have the stability in Christ to be flexible to do what needs to be done to reach someone. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t have the stability of the gospel can slip doctrinally. We need the stability and the truth of the gospel so we can be flexible where we should be flexible and be inflexible where we should be inflexible. All this comes from putting on these shoes of the gospel of peace so our feet are fitted with that readiness—that stability that comes from boots with nails hammered into them so we can say, “I’m stable. I’m prepared. I’m ready.”


Effective spiritual combat requires personal, spiritual security that is derived from believing, receiving, and proclaiming the gospel.



Verse Completion. . . singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25 (NIV)


9/17/21


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


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



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd they struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and . . .  (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series titled “Spiritual Warfare”. The fourth sermon in this series is titled “Shoes Fitted with the Gospel of Peace”. It is based on Ephesians 6:10-20 with the emphasis being on verse 15. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)


We live in a time that is characteristically lacking peace. We are currently in a culture war: There are different worldviews; people camp in different parts of the Internet; people get their news from different sources; there are different principles and ethics; there are different political commitments. The culture war results in divisiveness and a lack of peace. Psychologists have found that personal anxiety is on the rise. There’s a lack of personal peace that spans the generations. Counselors have never been busier. There’s a lack of peace, and the result is anxiety. People are looking for a safe space. 


In addition, there’s a huge pressure on families with their busy schedules. There’s pressure on kids to outdo their peers in sports and academics. There’s pressure for kids to be in the right schools, be in the right sports club, be on the right team in the right sports club. There’s pressure of everyone’s schedules. Everyone feels extraordinarily busy. There’s a lack of peace. 


These problems are symptomatic of something. Jacques Ellul, a French philosopher, sociologist, lay theologian, and professor, used to say that when you're analyzing what's going on, you need to not only look at the current events happening in the news, but also look at the main event. You should look at what's pushing all these other relatively superficial things. You should look for what's underneath it. Many people would say the main event is we live in an informational age. We live in an age of great technological change, where we're constantly being bombarded by information with different competing values and ideas. That creates a disturbance or lack of peace. 


There's certainly something to that. It is estimated that every day 95,000,000 pictures are uploaded to Instagram. That's a huge bombardment of information, ideas, thoughts, and images. The informational age is increasingly visual rather than verbal. The visual tends to stimulate an emotive response without generating a rationalization about what that emotive response is, which itself tends to generate a disturbance and insecurity and anxiety because you feel something, but you haven't analyzed whether you should feel it, or whether that's the right response.


This informational age is bombarding us with more visual data and somewhat simplistic ideas that tend towards division and divisiveness and anxiety and busyness and disturbance and a lack of peace. However, as Christians, we need to think a little bit deeper than that and ask ourselves whether something a little deeper is going on. According to the Bible's teaching there is something deeper—spiritual war. We are involved in a spiritual battle. All these other things are symptomatic of a deeper, main event—spiritual war. One of the reasons the Church in the West has become so weak is because we have gotten into the habit of analyzing everything by psychological means, management means, structural means, and not spiritual means. 


As Christians, once we realize that, we move away from fear because we realize Jesus has won that spiritual victory. Notice that our verse is in the past tense: having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. It’s already been accomplished. It’s reflecting what Jesus has already done on the cross—winning the victory over the principalities and powers and forces of this dark world. Colossians 2:13-15 says: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 


As Christians, we are not told to flee the devil, we are told to resist the devil, and he will flee from us. Because of Jesus’ victory on the cross, we move away from fear and move to faith. We move away from being frightened to being confident. The real issue is not technological change or cultural conflict. The real issue is a spiritual war, and it’s a war over which Jesus is victorious. Therefore, in him, we have nothing to be frightened about. If we’re not frightened about demons, why would we be frightened about who somebody votes for? If you’re not frightened of the devil, why would you be frightened about some law that got passed? We move from fear to faith. We realize we are in a spiritual war over which our Captain has already defeated the enemy. All we need to do is stand firm in the victory that he has won. 


Effective spiritual combat requires personal, spiritual security that is produced by believing, receiving, and proclaiming the gospel. When Paul says, “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” he is using a metaphor and speaking in picture language. The shoes that are to be pictured are the Roman half-boots. These military boots, called caligae, were designed to give stability and mobility to the soldiers. They looked like a pair of sandals with a section that ran part way up the leg. Alexander the Great was successful to a large extent because his army wore shoes that gave them stability and mobility. They were able to more quickly at pace in unexpected ways. On the bottom of the caligae, there were nails hammered in that acted like cleats to give stability in hand-to-hand combat. 


The readiness Paul is talking about is preparedness. He’s saying that we can’t be lounging around, doing nothing, and assuming everything is going to be fine; we have to get ready for the fight. 


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



Verse Completion. . . no one escaped. Judges 3:29 (NASB)


9/16/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/VbqSm-_pDxA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother . . . (completion at the end)



Today we will continue to take a look at the topics of justice and mercy. In his book, The Holiness of God, the late R.C. Sproul had the following to say:


One of our basic problems is the confusion of justice and mercy. We live in a world where injustices happen. They happen among people. Every one of us at some time has been a victim of injustice at the hands of another person. Every one of us at some time has committed an injustice against another person. People treat each other unfairly. One thing is certain: no matter how much injustice I have suffered from the hands of men, I have never suffered the slightest injustice from the hand of God.


Suppose a person falsely accuses me of stealing money. Charges are brought against me and I am arrested and sent to prison. Touching my relationship to men, I have been a victim of gross injustice. I have every right to cry out to God and plead for vindication in this world. I can complain about being falsely persecuted. God is angry with men for unjustly putting me in prison. God promises to vindicate me from this injustice some day. Injustice is real and it happens every day in this world.


The injustices we suffer are all of a horizontal sort. They happen between actors in this world. Yet standing over and above this world is the Great Judge of all. My relationship to Him is vertical. In terms of that vertical relationship I never suffer an injustice. Though men may mistreat me, God never does. That God allows a human being to treat me unjustly is just of God. While I may complain to God about the human, horizontal injustice I have suffered, I cannot rise up and accuse God of committing a vertical injustice by allowing the human injustice to befall me. God would be perfectly just to allow me to be thrown in prison for life for a crime I didn’t commit. I may be innocent before men, but I am guilty before God.


We often blame God for the injustices done to us and harbor in our souls the bitter feeling that God has not been fair toward us. Even if we recognize that He is gracious we think that He has not been gracious enough. We deserve more grace.


Please read that last sentence again: We deserve more grace. What is wrong with that sentence? Grammatically it is fine. It has a subject, a verb, and a direct object. There is no need for the editor’s red pencil in that regard. But there is something seriously wrong with the content, with the meaning of the sentence.


It is impossible for anyone, anywhere, anytime to deserve grace. Grace by definition is undeserved. As soon as we talk about deserving something, we are no longer talking about grace; we are talking about justice. Only justice can be deserved. God is never obligated to be merciful. Mercy and grace must be voluntary or they are no longer mercy and grace. God never “owes” grace. He reminds us more than once, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is the divine prerogative. God reserves for Himself the supreme right of exclusive clemency.


Suppose ten people sin and sin equally. Suppose God punishes five of them and is merciful to the other five. Is that injustice? No! In this situation five people get justice and five get mercy. No one gets injustice. What we tend to assume is this: if God is merciful to five He must be equally merciful to the other five. Why? He is never obligated to be merciful. If He is merciful to nine of the ten, the tenth cannot complain that he is a victim of injustice. God never owes mercy. God is not obligated to treat all men equally. Maybe I’d better say that again: God is never obliged to treat all men equally. If He were ever unjust to us, we would have reason to complain. But simply because He grants mercy to my neighbor gives me no claim on His mercy. Again we must remember that mercy is always voluntary. “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.”


There are only two things I ever receive from God—justice or mercy. I never receive injustice from His hand. We may request that God help us get justice at the hands of men, but we would be utterly foolish to ever ask Him for justice from Himself. I warn my students: “Don’t ever ask God for justice—you might get it.” 


It is the confusion between justice and mercy that makes us shrink in horror when we read the stories of Nadab, Abihu, and Uzzah. When God’s justice falls, we are offended because we think God owes perpetual mercy. We must not take His grace for granted.


God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.


Since it is our tendency to take grace for granted, my guess is that God found it necessary from time to time to remind Israel that grace must never be assumed. On rare, but dramatic occasions He showed the dreadful power of His justice. He killed Nadab and Abihu. He killed Uzzah. He commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites. It is like He was saying, “Be careful. While you enjoy the benefits of my grace, don’t forget my justice. Don’t forget the gravity of sin. Remember that I am holy.”



Verse Completion. . . is still in the darkness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)


9/15/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Imap-gfKWD4



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, . . . (completion at the end)



Today we will take a look at the topics of justice and mercy. In his book, The Holiness of God, the late R.C. Sproul had the following to say:


We cringe at God’s justice because its expression is so unusual. As Küng observed, His usual course of action is one of grace. Grace no longer amazes us. We have grown used to it; we take it for granted.


Perhaps the best illustration of this may be found in the teaching of Jesus:


Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5, NIV


This is one of the most difficult of the “hard sayings” of Jesus. The question is raised, “What about the people Pilate slaughtered, or the innocent people killed by the falling tower? Where was God in these events?” The question under discussion was: “How could God allow these things to happen?” The question is actually a thinly veiled accusation. The issue was, as always, how can God allow innocent people to suffer?


Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In effect what Jesus was saying was this: “You people are asking the wrong question. You should be asking me, ‘Why didn’t that tower fall on my head?’” Jesus rebuked the people for putting their amazement in the wrong place. In two decades of teaching theology I have had countless students ask me why God doesn’t save everybody. Only once did a student come to me and say, “There is something I just can’t figure out. Why did God redeem me?”


We are not really surprised that God has redeemed us. Somewhere deep inside, in the secret chambers of our hearts we harbor the notion that God owes us His mercy. Heaven would not be quite the same if we were excluded from it. We know that we are sinners, but we are surely not as bad as we could be. There are enough redeeming features to our personalities that if God is really just He will include us in salvation. What amazes us is justice, not grace.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“No, sir,” came the reply.


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


Again, “No, sir,” was the reply. 


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


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


“No,” he growled in response.


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


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


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


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


Tomorrow we will continue with the topics of justice and mercy.



Verse Completion. . . we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 (NASB)


9/14/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/047xtru0ZR0



Complete the Verse & Name the BookOne of your men puts to flight a thousand, for . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Michael is doing a series called “Guidelines for Giving”. The third sermon in this 4-part series was titled ”The Heart of Giving” based on 2 Corinthians 9:1-15. On Sunday Pastor Michael gave us five more guidelines for giving. Here are the first three followed by a recap of the last two:


1.   Giving comes from a servant’s heart.


2.   Giving comes from a willing heart.


3.   Giving comes from a cheerful heart.


4.   Giving comes from a trusting heart. Verses 8-11 say: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.


A trusting heart trusts God to supply all our needs. It acknowledges that all things come from God. It knows that God is the true supplier of all our needs. We don’t give so we can accumulate more stuff and build larger barns; we give so the kingdom of God can be enlarged. 


The tendency for an unregenerated heart is to give sparingly—to give thesmall chocolate covered almonds. It doesn’t trust God to supply all our needs. It doesn’t trust God to replace what is given. It doesn’t acknowledge that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God. It acknowledges that everything I have comes from me and belongs to me. When we don’t trust God, we become hoarders to insure our supply will last. 


A giving heart trusts God and knows that God is the supplier of all of our needs. A giving heart knows that God is able to give back to us whatever we give to others. There’s no limit to what God can give us, so why do we put a limit on our giving to others? Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 


God is able to bless us abundantly when we give generously. When we give, God grows our spiritual life. Philippians 4:17 says: Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. Giving is a spiritual discipline that makes us more like Christ. The more we give the more God enlarges the harvest of our righteousness. He uses us more to build his kingdom. The harvest of righteousness is that as I give more, it impacts more and more people both near and far. Their lives are changed due to the gospel of Christ because I gave. The harvest of righteousness are all the people who benefit from our giving.


Malachi 3:6-12 says:


“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.


“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’


“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.


“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’


“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.


Our trust needs to be in God and God alone. God says he will supply us physically and grow us spiritually when we give. We aren’t right with God when we don’t have a giving heart that builds the kingdom of God. 


5.   Giving comes from a heart that is united with Christ. Verses 12-15: This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!


Part of our obedience to Christ, part of our spiritual well-being, is being givers. Giving results in unity. The people in Jerusalem are praising God for the gifts the Corinthians gave them. They are praising God for the people who gave the gifts. They are praising God that his kingdom is being built. They are praising God that there is unity in the body of Christ. 


When we give we have a common purpose and goal: we give not for ourselves, we give not to build something for us, we don’t give so we can have our names on a donation plaque somewhere, we give because we want the kingdom of God to be built—we want as many people as possible to know who Jesus is. The result is we become united with them in prayer as they praise God for the gift they have received. 


Giving results in unity. Any giving that does not unite a church is not biblical giving. If there is giving that divides people, that giving is not biblical, and we don’t want it. We want biblical giving that unites people in the kingdom of God. We don’t give to get. We give to serve others. We give not so the money can be used as we see fit; we give money so it can be used as God sees fit. As we give we need to pray, “God, may this gift encourage others; may it build your kingdom as people come to know you; may it result in praise and thanksgiving to you; may no one ever know the gift came from me; may no one ever know that I gave or what I gave. I just want to be involved in the harvest of righteousness. I realize that giving is a grace. Everything I have is by your grace. I trust that you will be able to keep pouring your grace into my life no matter how much I give, so I’m giving generously and sowing generously.”


Biblical giving unites people in Christ because we’re giving for the same purpose, for the same goal, and for the same God. We’re not giving to build our own individual kingdoms; we’re giving to build God’s kingdom. 


May we always be people who say, “Yes, God, build your kingdom, and use me as you see fit.”



Verse Completion. . . the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised. Joshua 23:10 (NASB)


9/13/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/d-3BJrG79IA



Complete the Verse & Name the BookEnter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to  . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Michael is doing a series called “Guidelines for Giving”. The third sermon in this 4-part series was given yesterday—”The Heart of Giving” based on 2 Corinthians 9:1-15. So far Pastor Michael has given us nine guidelines for giving:


·      Giving promotes the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving pleases the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving provides for the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving praises the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving is a grace from God.


·      Giving comes from a heart for God.


·      Giving is more than tithing.


·      Giving is a spiritual discipline.


·      Giving is between you and God.


In today’s recap of the sermon, Pastor Michael will provide five more guidelines for giving as we look at a heart for God that gives.


1.   Giving comes from a servant’s heart. Verse 1 says: There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. The heart of giving looks like service. The background for this verse is an offering was taken in order to help the people in Jerusalem. Giving serves other people. Giving is never self-serving. It’s a wrong kind of heart that says, “I’m going to give in order to show people how great I am as a giver. I’m going to give so people will be impressed with how generous I am. I’m going to give so I have power and influence.” The heart of giving is always service. It’s a heart that serves others. When we give, we help build God’s kingdom. We give because we recognize that our finances (what God has given to us) will be used by God to build his kingdom—to draw people to himself. 


We want to pay off the mortgage on our church building in order to serve more people. That could include such things as: have more outdoor events, provide more in the area of missions, help other churches (both locally and abroad) that are struggling, broadcast on the radio, expand our online ministry. The possibilities are limitless. 


Giving is never about me or us. It’s never about how we can benefit by our giving. Giving is simply saying, “God, I want you to use what you have given me to build your kingdom.” We never give with strings attached to our giving. 


2.   Giving comes from a willing heart. Verses 2-5 say: For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.


The people in Corinth wanted to be part of the offering for those in Jerusalem. They were eager to give. They were eager to build God’s kingdom in Jerusalem. They are examples of giving that comes from a willing heart. A willing heart says, “Yes, count me in!” Notice how they were enthusiastic about giving. A willing heart says, “I want to give. I get to give. I’m eager to give. I want to build God’s kingdom. I want to serve others. I want what I give to be used to build the kingdom of God both near and far. I want as many people as possible to find out who Jesus is and become his disciples.”


The opposite of a willing heart is a heart that gives grudgingly. When I was a kid, somewhere around eleven years old, my parents gave me a box of chocolate-covered almonds for my birthday. It gave me great pleasure just to savor them. I even arranged them into groups of small, medium, and large. I looked forward to the day when I would treat myself to the large ones. One day my parents had some of their friends over for a visit. My mother approached me and said, “Would you mind sharing some of your chocolates with our guests?” My immediate inside response was, “No way! I’m not sharing myspecial chocolates that were given to me on my birthday. Those are mychocolates. I’m going to eat every single one of them.” 


My mom gave me a bowl and told me to put some in the bowl and bring it out to their guests. I did comply with my mom’s request, but I gave grudgingly. Grudgingly says, “I don’t want to, but I will.” I didn’t want to share with others. All I cared about was me. My attitude was, “Since I have to give, I’m going to make sure they don’t get any of my large chocolates!”


Paul didn’t want the Corinthians to give grudgingly with an attitude that says, “I don’t want to give, but since you’re here, I guess I have to give.” Biblical giving comes out of a willing heart that wants to share with others. Biblical giving says, “By the grace of God I get to build his kingdom.”


3.   Giving comes from a cheerful heart. Verses 6-7 say: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.


Paul contrasts reluctance with cheerfulness. A cheerful giver is eager to give. A cheerful giver is glad to give. A cheerful giver finds joy in giving. Cheerful giving says, “I want the kingdom of God to be pushed forward. I want the kingdom of God to win. I want as many people as possible to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.” These kinds of givers are like cheerleaders who cheer on the kingdom of God by what they give. Cheerful givers are not reluctant givers. They don’t say, “I guess if I’m going to be religious, I need to check off the box for giving something.” Cheerful givers look forward to building the kingdom of God where salvation and sanctification take place. 


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



Verse Completion. . . destruction, and many are those who enter by it. Matthew 7:13 (NASB)


9/11/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/l6sX4Vw8mx0



Complete the Verse & Name the BookNot one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Mike Lombard is the pastor of Kommetjie Christian Church in Kommetjie, South Africa. Today I’d like to share a reflection he wrote titled “The Forgiveness of God”.



The story of the Bible is the story of God making a way to rescue His creation from their sin and restore relationship with Him. Time and time again, God’s people hurt each other and hurt Him. Yet God forgave them every time they turned to Him. The first human beings were also the first humans to sin—and the first to experience God’s forgiveness. Given the freedom to choose to obey God, Adam and Eve opted for rebellion. Yet God pursued them and made a way for the human race to experience redemption (Genesis 3). Here are just a few more examples of God’s forgiveness.


Moses murdered an Egyptian in anger. Yet God used him to rescue His enslaved people. Aaron made a golden calf and helped the people participate in idolatry, yet Aaron was later appointed head of the priesthood (Exodus 32; Leviticus 8).



Rahab, a prostitute in Jericho, turned to the Lord of Israel and became part of Jesus’ family tree (Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5).



After decades of opposing God in the worst ways imaginable, Israel’s most immoral king, Manasseh, repented. He found forgiveness and was even restored to his kingdom after having been a captive (2 Chronicles 33:1–20).



Matthew, a tax collector with a bad reputation, became Christ’s disciple (Matthew 9:9–13). A repentant criminal who was crucified with Jesus cried out to Him and was welcomed into paradise (Luke 23:40–43). Peter denied Christ three times at the hour of Jesus’ deepest need, yet he became a pillar in the church (John 21:15–19). When the Pharisees trapped a woman in adultery, Jesus exposed their hypocrisy and forgave her sins (John 8:1–11). A greedy tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus and came down to receive forgiveness (Luke 19:1–10). Paul, the killer of Christians and self-confessed “chief of sinners,” is a prime example of the grace of God (Acts 9; 1 Timothy 1:15).



Luke gives us one of the most powerful accounts of the love and forgiveness of God. A woman with a bad reputation was washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The Pharisee in whose home Jesus was a guest found such behaviour scandalous and objected that Jesus would let such a woman even touch Him (see Luke 7:36–39). So Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”


“Tell me, Teacher,” he said.


“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”


Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”


“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.



The Lord then explained how she who had sinned greatly was forgiven much, and so she loved much. But those who had not sinned as much loved less.


Then Jesus told her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:40–48).



Common questions


It’s normal to have persisting questions about the forgiveness of God. We can’t ignore relational and emotional issues that stubbornly refuse to be put to rest.



“What if I don’t feel forgiven?” Most of us struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. Long after we have confessed our sins to God, we are apt to feel unforgiven. We might fear we have been rejected by God.


Tracy, who struggled to forgive herself, understands this. “It’s pride that keeps us from forgiving ourselves,” she said. “We’re telling God that His grace isn’t powerful enough. Somehow, we have to do something else to earn His forgiveness. That’s pretty insulting to God when you think about it.”


When feelings of guilt hound us—and they will—we need to remind ourselves that our forgiveness does not depend on how we feel. Forgiven people can feel like they are hanging by a thread over the fires of hell. Forgiven people can be oppressed by the accuser of our souls, Satan, who stirs up old emotions. Suddenly we are oppressed by anxiety and despair. But our emotions are not telling us the truth about the forgiveness of God. Forgiveness is something God does. It is not rooted in our own emotions. It doesn’t depend on whether we forgive ourselves. Forgiveness is what God does when He marks “cancelled” over our debt of sin. We are forgiven when He declares us legally acquitted, regardless of how we might be feeling at the moment.



“Isn’t forgiveness something between us and God alone?” Yes, forgiveness is personal. No one else can decide for us whether we are going to believe in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. But personal doesn’t mean private. When we know the joy of forgiveness of sin we have every reason to go public. If we had found a cure for AIDS or cancer it would be criminal to keep the information quiet. Those who have experienced forgiveness must share their discovery with those still struggling.



“Why does the Bible say God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive one another?” The answer is in the context. Jesus said, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14–15). By this statement, Jesus was not teaching lost people how to earn salvation. Rather, He was teaching His disciples how to stay in a healthy family relationship with the Father.



“Does this mean we should always forgive others unconditionally?” No. Like so many other principles of Scripture, there is a time to forgive and a time not to forgive. While we are always to love others unconditionally by seeking their good rather than their harm, Jesus teaches us to forgive people when they acknowledge their wrongs (see Luke 17:1–10 and Matthew 18:15–17). We do not love well when we allow our brothers or sisters to knowingly harm us without holding them accountable.



By comparing Luke 17:3–4 with other passages, we must conclude that Jesus was referring to an unwillingness to love those who have harmed us and an unwillingness to forgive those who have repented of the wrong they have done. What He will hold against us (in a family sense) is our determination to withhold from others the kindness and forgiveness that He has shown to us. This is a “family issue,” and not a factor that determines our eternal destiny.



“But doesn’t God forgive us unconditionally?” When the apostle Paul told us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32), he made it clear that we are to pattern our forgiveness after God’s forgiveness of us. God does not forgive unconditionally. First He grants legal pardon to those who meet the condition of acknowledging their sin and believing in His Son. Then He extends family forgiveness to those sons and daughters who confess their sin and seek to be restored to the Father.



“If we have been forgiven by God, why won’t people let us forget the past?” Being forgiven by God does not release us from the natural consequences of our sins. Crimes against the state must be subjected to legal due process. Acts against individuals deserve restitution. The forgiveness of God does not qualify former embezzlers to be entrusted with other people’s money, just as it does not give us reason to entrust our kids to someone with a history of harming children. This is wisdom.



Verse Completion: . . . all came to pass. Joshua 21:45 (NASB)


9/10/21


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


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book

·      For we know in part, and . . . 


·      but when the perfect comes . . .  (completions at the end)



Today I’d like to share a devotional from Larry McKain, Superintendent of the Chicago Central District for the Church of the Nazarene, titled “The Kind of People God Uses”.


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)


[some thoughts adapted from a devotional by Glenn McDonald, a pastor who serves in Indianapolis, Indiana]


How many of the following 5 questions can you get right?


· Who are the five wealthiest people in the world today?


· Who are the last five winners of the Nobel Peace Prize?


· Who are the last five winners of the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress?


· Who are the last five winners of the Super Bowl MVP?


· Who are the last five winners of the Miss Universe Pageant?


Cartoonist Charles Schulz (of Peanuts fame) routinely asked people to take a shot at these kinds of questions. The results are always predictable. It is almost impossible to come up with the names of people who have been famous in the past. Yesterday they were in the headlines. We also know that these kinds of honors, along with the applause of people, quickly comes and goes. The names and faces of the rich, the famous, and the talented however, quickly fades from our memory. “People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:12). “People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20).


Schulz would then ask a second set of questions. Try this quiz:


· Who are five teachers who made a positive impact on your life?


· Who are five friends who have helped you through a difficult time?


· Who are five people who have given you a compliment you have never forgotten?


· Who are five people who have taught you something worthwhile?


· Who are five people you could call at 3 am if you needed to talk to someone?


Most of us find the second set of questions a much easier list, for good reason! Who are the people God uses to change our lives? They usually aren’t presidents or Pulitzer Prize winners.  Our minds are shaped and our hearts are formed by those who love us even when we fail – who mentor us and walk with us, especially when we have lost our courage, stumbled or lost our way.


As the summer draws to a close, take time to say thank-you to at least one of these heroes who has touched your life. The odds are good that they will cherish your word of appreciation even more than a trophy with their name engraved on it! Let’s “encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). These are the kind of people God uses.



Verse Completions:


·      . . . we prophecy in part;


·      . . . the partial will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NASB)


9/9/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8cIZA9HFxtU



Complete the Verse & Name the BookAnd it came about at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, . . .  (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon titled “The Breastplate of Righteousness”. It is based on Ephesians 6:10-20 with the emphasis on verse 14. Today we will begin a recap of the second half.


As we get into spiritual warfare, we need to look at the breastplate of righteousness. What is the breastplate of righteousness? It’s a bravery and a righteous confidence that counteracts false, judgmental legalism and immorality, and is attained through putting on the true biblical righteousness.


When Paul talks about the breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate in the ancient world covered both the front and the back of the central region of the body. Physically, it protected the core part of the body. Metaphorically, it’s protecting the core part of your personhood—who you are; your identity. It includes what you think, how you feel, what you decide. Remember that identity is the central issue in the crisis of our culture.


William Gurnall said the righteousness Paul was writing about here is imparted righteousness—what we do in practical living and ethical decisions in our own daily lives. Other theologians disagree and say it includes imputed righteousness—what Christ did for us on the cross. I think it’s both because of the layout of the book of Ephesians with the first part being what Christ has done and the second part being what we need to do. In 4:24 we read:Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Another way we could read this ending is “in righteousness and holiness of truth”. This would be the true kind of righteousness; the true kind of holiness; the true kind of character; the true kind of ethics; the true way of living in a holy and good fashion.


All this is to contrast the false teaching about mystical legalism that was then prevalent in this Lycus Valley. It taught: do not taste, do not touch, and if you do you will be judged for doing the wrong thing on the wrong day at the wrong time. Paul said mystical legalism was the wrong kind of righteousness.


Paul spoke of the preeminence of Christ in Colossians 1:15-20:He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


Our focus needs to be on Jesus, not mystical legalism or Neo-Pharisaism, to use the modern term. Our focus needs to be on true righteousness. That’s the kind of righteousness we need to be putting on. How do we put on the breastplate of righteousness? We need to be clear on what the Bible teaches about righteousness. First of all, there is a kind of legal righteousness that needs to be pervasive and persistent. If you break God’s law on one point, you’ve broken God’s law on all points. Paul said:What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:9-10).


This idea is gone in secular society because the church has not preached that we are all sinners. We haven’t wanted to use the wordsin. Because secular society has rejected the view of God as existing, they look at themselves as being good people. When someone does something wrong, we say, “I would never do that. I’m righteous. They are not.” We dismiss them. We cancel them. We remove them. We judge them. But the Bible tells us: “None is righteous, no, not one.” We are all sinners. That doesn’t mean every sin is equivalent to every other sin because there are some sins that are far more heinous or grievous than other sins. There are some sins that are more dangerous for us than other sins. The point is all have sinned. We are all sinners.


The church needs to be a place where there is no shame. A sinner walking into a church is walking into a place where there is no one righteous—not even one. We are all sinners. We are all in need of Christ. There’s the story of a person who came up to the preacher after a sermon on sin and said, “I haven’t sinned in ten years.” The preacher said, “You must be very proud of yourself.” To which the person replied, “Yes, I am!”


Imputed righteousness is what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 2:8-9:For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. This righteousness is the result of what Christ has done. It is reckoned to us, and it is true righteousness. We are united in Christ, and when God declares us righteous through our faith in him, that declaration is real because it is Christ who is righteous, and we are in him. It is his righteousness, and we hide ourselves in him.


Imparted righteousness is what we must do in light of what he has done. Imputed righteousness is instantaneous while imparted righteousness is gradual and lifelong. We gradually in the power of Christ become more like him.


The church needs to be a place where there is no shame. It also needs to be a place where we are constantly calling ourselves forward toward increasing holiness and righteousness: more godliness, more love, more peace, more joy.


Proverbs 28:1 says:The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. 1 John 3:21 says: Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887. Doyle, who was known for his practical jokes, once wrote a letter to a well-known member of the British Parliament who was known for his Pharisaic kind of morality. The letter simply said: “All is discovered. Flee at once.” When the letter was opened and read, the Parliament member was seen fleeing from the building very quickly.


We need to have the right understanding of righteousness:“None is righteous, no, not one.” God declares us righteous in him. Romans 5:19-21 says: For as by one man’s [Adam] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Jesus] obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


We work to increase the likeness of Christ in the family of God. The breastplate of righteousness is a bravery and a righteous confidence that counteracts false, judgmental legalism and immorality, and is attained through putting on the true biblical righteousness. How can we do this?


1.    Seed. Do you have the seed of God’s word in your life? Have you received the message of the gospel? There’s no point in trying to be righteous if you don’t start with real spiritual life. Receive the seed of the gospel today.


2.    Weed. Weeds (lust, envy, jealousy, selfish ambition, materialism, love of money) strangle and throttle the vitality of the seed: We need to be active in pulling out the weeds through the confession of our sin before Christ, through prayer, through conversation with other godly people.


3.    Feed. Feed ourselves with God’s word, prayer, church community, a friend who corrects us and points us in the right way.


William Gurnall said, “Nothing can save the life of this our nation, or lengthen out its tranquility in mercy to it, but the recovery of the much decayed power of holiness. This, as a spring of new blood to a weak body, would, though almost a dying, revive it, and procure more happy days—yea, more happy days to come over its head, than it hath yet seen.”



Verse Completion. . . “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city.” Joshua 6:16 (NASB)


9/8/21


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


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



Complete the Verse & Name the Book”An evil and adulterous generation . . .  (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series titled “Spiritual Warfare”. The third sermon in this series is titled “The Breastplate of Righteousness”. It is based on Ephesians 6:10-20 with the emphasis being on versed 14. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)


We need to be a church that clearly understands what the Bible says as the author intended it. The first three chapters of Ephesians are about what Jesus has done, and the rest of the book is a call for us to live in a certain kind of way in light of what Jesus has done. In 4:1 Paul said:I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. In other words, “In light of what I’ve been teaching you about what Christ has done, now I’m going to teach you what you should do.” Paul uses the metaphor of armor to teach us to put on the truth of what Christ has done and to live in a certain way in light of that truth.


There’s also the theme of a new creation. Ephesians 2:10, 15b says:For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them . . . that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace. The new creation goes beyond us individually to include us as a church, us as the new society, where the old warring factions between different races or classes is broken down in Christ, and he creates this one new society of the church. That is what Christ has done, but there are things we need to do to live up to that. Ephesians 4:24 says: Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.


In addition, there is a false teaching that is prevalent and brought up in the letter to the Colossians. That will be particularly important when we think of what this breastplate of righteousness is in its original meaning and how it applies to us today.


Why should we think about this today? What is its relevance to us today? This issue of righteousness, this issue of character, this issue of morality, this issue of ethics, this issue of what is right and what is wrong, could not be more significant and more relevant today. It is in many ways the big issue for America as a country and for the evangelical church as a Church today. How do we know what is truly right and what is truly wrong? How should we treat those who break those laws and commandments? It’s ahuge crisis of character that is facing secular society as well as the Church.


In theAtlantic magazine, there’s a new article that addresses Neo-Puritanism. In its view, there's a judgmentalism in secular society where if you break a certain rule, if you say something wrong in the court of public opinion, no longer are you innocent until proven guilty. If you make one mistake, you're out—you’re cancelled. The Atlantic is talking about how this crisis of character, how we judge what is truly right and what is truly wrong, has produced a kind of secular, non-religious, Neo-Puritanism. Of course, it uses Puritanism in a pejorative term.


What this article in theAtlantic is saying is, there’s a new kind of Pharisaism where we’re constantly judging and dismissing and cancelling people who say something wrong—who don't agree with our particular kind of political correctness. Of course, social media is massively amplifying that issue. One scholar, Tamar Gendler from Yale University, said, “We used to think that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, but actually now we're in the future. The truth is everyone is damned in 15 seconds.” You say the wrong thing and you're out. You're done. There are people's lives who are being destroyed through this sort of “thought police” that are all over the place. Secular society is beginning to spot it, but I think the Christians have noticed it for a while.


A Princeton professor said he never thought that he would live to see the day when the liberal idea of a free society, where there could be free speech and a free exchange of ideas, would come to be seen as archaic as the old conservative idea. It's an astonishing thing for an ethically, morally, and philosophically liberal professor to say. What's happened is this: Right within this liberal ideology, the anti-Christian, liberal ideology, there has been birthed a new kind of secular Pharisaism, a kind of secular legalism, a sort of judging and dismissing anyone who doesn't agree.


Nature abhors a vacuum. When you remove ideology from it and say it's just a free for all, some new kind of ideology will come in. The new kind of ideology that comes in is a sort of neo-secular Pharisaism where everyone is judging each other. It is everywhere.


One other secular example of this is fromThe Economist. A survey was done of 4,000 college students by the Knight Foundation. It found in 2019 that 68% of college students felt that it was impossible to say something that might potentially offend another college student. In other words, we are judged now, not by the rightness or wrongness of our statements, but by the emotional impact they have on the other person.


Another survey came out from the Pew Research Center that says that 40% of millennials think that speech that might be deemed offensiveshould be suppressed. We are living in a kind of secular Neo-Pharisaism where if you say the wrong thing, you're out. There are examples of people's careers who have been simply ruined and cancelled. The thought police even went after J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter. They went after her to try and cancel her because she had opinions about gender that were viewed as unacceptable.


The same is happening in the religious world. If you've been following the evangelical news in the last three or four years, you'll know that there has been scandal after scandal that has hit evangelicalism—the Christian Church. There's a crisis of character in that regard, but there's also a crisis of character in the way it is being trumpeted and treated throughout the conversation. There are podcasts that are hugely popular about it. There are journalists who are making their whole living out of finding whatever the latest scandal might be.


I don’t talk about scandals specifically. My model is David. When he talked about the death of King Saul, who of course had done all sorts of things he should not have done, he lamented that death and he said, “Tell it not in Gath.” That is where the Philistines were. David was saying, “Don't speak about it in such a way that it will cause a scandal for those who might otherwise believe in God.” There’s an appropriateness and a lament that happens when someone falls within Christian circles that doesn't create more waves and more problems.


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



Verse Completion. . . seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them, and went away. Matthew 16:4 (NASB)


9/7/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Ymkl0t0FOcw



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for  . . . (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon “The Grace of Giving” based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-12. He was talking about two of the guidelines for giving. We will review them and continue on with three more guidelines:


1.   Giving is a grace of God.


2.   Giving comes from a heart for God.


By the way, once you start down the road of complaining, it’s very difficult to get off that road. Complaining may start with one or two things, but if you allow it to go on you will find that it snowballs. After a period of time, you will be complaining about everything. You start seeing the negative in everything. Nothing is good enough. Everything needs to be changed. If you hang around complainers, you yourself will become inclined to complain. Complainers have a very difficult time finding the road back to joy. 


The Philippians were joyful, and they wanted to give and respond because their hearts were right with God. Verse 4 says: Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. The Philippians desire to share what they have. They live to promote the gospel. That’s their heart. They were all in. They look at giving to the work of God as a privilege. 


3.   Giving is more than tithing. Verse 5 says: And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. A tithe is 10% of an income. This started with Abraham, and it’s throughout the Old Testament. However, the Philippians wanted to give more than the 10%. Giving isn’t just a number. Giving goes beyond the tithe. Not only were they concerned about God’s work locally, but they cared about God’s work beyond their walls. Ten percent is not the top end of giving. Why stop at only 10%? The Philippians exceeded the tithe. 


Giving is not about a number. Giving comes from the heart. Giving recognizes the grace of God. Giving comes from a heart that wants to promote the kingdom of God. Generosity doesn’t come from riches; it comes from the poverty of the heart. It comes from a heart that recognizes it needs to be right with God. Poverty of the heart says that on my own, without the grace of God, I am sinful. Poverty of the heart is a humble heart. 


4.   Giving is a spiritual discipline. Verses 6-7 say: So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. To get good at playing the guitar, one has to practice playing the guitar. You won’t excel as a guitar player if you never practice playing the guitar. Have you ever thought about becoming good at giving? You’ll never excel at giving unless you practice giving. Too often we think of giving as a necessary evil. A person who grumbles when they give to God’s kingdom is a person whose heart is not right with God. Giving comes from a relationship with God, not a relationship with a number. 


Notice how Paul equates giving with faith, knowing God, receiving Christ, and walking with Christ. As our words reflect Christ, so should our giving reflect Christ. As your knowledge of Christ expands, your giving should also expand. As you desire to follow Christ, you should desire to give to his work. As you grow in your love for Christ, you should be growing in your giving. 


Learn to give like Jesus gave. Verses 8-9 say: I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. Jesus gave his life for us. That’s generosity. That’s giving. Just like Jesus excelled in giving, we need to excel in giving. Generosity comes from a heart fully given over to God. Be great at giving. Reflect Jesus in how you speak, think, act, and give. 


5.   Giving is between you and God. Verses 10-12 say: And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 


Giving is not a competition or a comparison. It’s between you and God. As a pastor, money does not talk, so I am not concerned about how much anybody gives. I’m not here to see what you give; I’m here to build the kingdom of God. Your giving is between you and God. 


We have the commercial that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” God asks, “What’s in your heart?” It’s not about the money. It’s about your relationship with Christ. 


Mark 12:41-44 tells the story of the widow’s offering: Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.


Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”


It’s not about what’s in your wallet; it’s about what’s in your heart.



Verse Completion. . . the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NASB)


9/6/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/VMPV7UABJm8



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the . . .


·      And he answered and said, “I will, sir”; and . . .


·      And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, “I will not”; . . . (completion at the end)



Pastor Michael is doing a series called “Guidelines for Giving”. The second sermon in this series was given yesterday—”The Grace of Giving” based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-12. Today we will start a recap of that message.


To review last week’s sermon, Pastor Michael gave us four guidelines for giving:


·      Giving promotes the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving pleases the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving provides for the Kingdom of God.


·      Giving results in praises to the Kingdom of God.


Today we will take a look at five more guidelines for giving. Let’s start with the first six verses of our text:


And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.


Paul is telling the people in Corinth about the people in Philippi. He doesn’t want them to forget about the giving of the Philippians. He’s hoping the lessons learned from the Philippians will encourage the Corinthians to become biblical givers. Here are the five lessons to be learned:


1.   Giving is a grace of God. Grace is unmerited favor or undeserved favor. Grace is what God gives us, but it’s not deserved. Grace is a gift from God to us that we could never procure on our own. We could not be in a position to give to the kingdom of God if it wasn’t for the grace of God. The ability to give is a grace from God. We don’t deserve to give and be part of building the kingdom of God. We don’t deserve salvation. We don’t deserve forgiveness of sins. We don’t deserve redemption. We don’t deserve justification. What we received from God was unmerited favor. He did all this for us because he loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. Grace is something we can’t earn. 


We don’t deserve to have what we have. Our finances are a grace from God. Living in America is a grace from God. Having a job is a grace from God. Having finances is a grace from God, and we can use those finances we are given to build the kingdom of God. We don’t deserve the finances we have. We don’t deserve to be building the kingdom of God. 


Sometimes we think we have finances because of what we have done—worked hard, invested wisely, used our ingenuity, applied discipline. The reality is we have finances because of the grace of God; we invested wisely because of the grace of God; we have ingenuity because of the grace of God; we are able to discipline ourselves because of the grace of God. 


Giving is not something we have to do; giving is a grace. It’s something we get to do. We build the kingdom by the grace of God. We say, “God, I recognize that by your grace I am able to give. God, it’s by your grace that I get to give. It’s by your grace that I am able to use the finances you have graced me to build your kingdom.” 


2.   Giving comes from a heart for God. Verse 2 says: Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. How does most severe trialextreme poverty, and overflowing joy fit together? Philippi was not a favorable place for Christians to live, but there was a congregation of the faithful who had embraced the gospel and become partners and participants in the gospel. They had received the grace of God for salvation. 


Sometimes we feel like we are poor, but if you drive a car you are wealthier than 80% of the people in the world, and that’s not considering a house, a second car, an RV, a boat, going somewhere on a vacation, and so on. Only a small percentage of the people living in America are poor by the world’s standard. There are many people in the world who would love to be in our position financially so they could give more to God’s work. We are graced to be in a position to give. 


The Philippians were extremely poor, and yet they gave what they were able and beyond. How can we in America say, “I’m unable to give.” When we say we can’t give, we are rejecting God’s grace. Giving comes from a heart that wants to please God. 


The Philippians were overflowing with joy. On the other hand, we in America are complainers because our situation doesn’t meet our expectations—our “needs” aren’t satisfied. For the Philippians, it wasn’t about their needs or their expectations; it was all about the grace of God. Their joy overflowed into the lives of others. They were joyful because of salvation. They were joyful because of the grace of God in their lives. They were even joyful because they were persecuted. Following Jesus was far more important than anything else in their lives. 


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



Verse Completions:


·      . . . vineyard.”


·      . . . he did not go.


·      . . . yet he afterward regretted it and went. Matthew 21:28-30 (NASB)


9/4/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/BLpS70QYdXM



Complete the Verse & Name the Book“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will . . .  (completion at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon titled “The Belt of Truth”. It is based on Ephesians 6:10-14 with the emphasis being on the last verse. 


Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, counteracts the heresy of mystical legalism by exalting Christ. He said, you don't need any of that stuff. You have Jesus who is in the very image of the invisible God. He’s before all things and in whom all things hold together. You've got Christ; what else do you need? Then Paul says to set your heart on Jesus; set your mind on Jesus; set your mind on things above; set your heart on things above. He deals with the heresy doctrinally. His end desire is that the churches would embody truth: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. That's a defeat of mystical legalism. Paul goes on: 


Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:11-12) If you're not a Christian, you have no hope. If you say, “That can’t be true. I'm hopeful about all sorts of things,” then you are misunderstanding what Paul is saying. You have no hope. You’re going to die. It's reality. If you don't have Christ, you don't have the one who died and rose again, and you have no hope of a resurrection. You have no hope. But if you are Christian, you do have hope. 


Jesus has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. Remember there was a literal wall between where Gentiles could go in the temple and where those who were Jewish could go. There was a dividing wall of hostility, but Christ has broken that down. How? By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances. All those ceremonial laws have been removed by Jesus. He fulfilled the law. Why? That he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 


He's created this one new society, and that's the truth. You’ve got to buckle this on, Ephesians. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:17-18). He's created this one new body. You don't need this false teaching. You don't need this mystical legalism. You have Christ. And now I'm calling you to embody that reality in this new society that he has made. What is that new society? He tells us in verse 19a: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens. You have a citizenship. He's not talking about a national citizenship; he's talking about citizens of the City of God. You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (verses 19b-21). We, as this new society, are a temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (verse 22). In some extraordinary way, the Spirit dwells with us and in us. We’re being built together into a place where God dwells. 


Here is a summary of what Paul is saying: This is the truth—the full orbed gospel truth that counteracts false teaching (misinformation) by actively buckling on the true teaching (truth) of the new creation in the united new society of the church. 


How is this truth accomplished?


1.   By our devotional life. In our devotional life we need to be reading the actual Bible. Devotional books have their place, but we need to be reading the Bible. We are not going to be prepared, buckled up, fastened on with truth unless we are reading our Bible. You are not going to think clearly and have the truth razor sharp in your mind if you just come to church on Sunday and don’t open the Bible until you come back again. We are constantly swimming in a pool of information that includes misinformation. We need to be reading the Bible and filling our minds with truth.


2.   By our church life. We need to be in a church that not only believes the Bible but teaches the Bible. 


3.   By our intellectual life. We are in a spiritual battle and the heart of the battle is we live in an information age. It’s a battle for the mind. We Christians need to up our game. Christians are not known for their thinking. When a person thinks of “Christian” what pops in his/her mind? It’s probably not “great thinker”. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37). 


We’re not going to win the world for Jesus if we don’t think straight. We have to buckle on the truth. It’s such a huge issue these days. We often hear people say, “I’ve researched that.” What they mean is they have watched some YouTube videos, they’ve scrolled down Facebook or Instagram, they’ve Google searched the topic, and now they have an opinion. That’s not research. Historical research doesn’t mean reading a bunch of books about the past. Reading eye-witness accounts from people in history is research. For example, I was doing some research on Johnathan Edwards and read a long note he wrote on baptism. In this note he articulately defended the traditional view on baptism. Later in his life he went back and wrote at the top of this long note, “These things about baptism be doubtful.” You wouldn’t find out something like that unless you researched it. The way you build up your confidence that something is true is by looking at the evidence and data to come to a justifiable conclusion. 


Here are a few very simple ways to think:


a.   Priority. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Ask yourself, “Is this a kingdom priority?”


b.   Prudence. This is right thinking based on the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. 


c.    Providence. God is totally in charge. “Is there actually an opportunity here?”


d.   Principle. Even though the Bible doesn’t directly address an issue, there are principles from the Bible that we can apply to the issue. “Is this a right application of a biblical principle?”


e.   People. Using the people that God has put around me and  that I am accountable to, I will not go against them. 


f.     Prayer. So many people say, “I’ve prayed about it. I feel the Lord’s leading. That’s good enough.” No, that’s not good enough. Is it a priority? Is it prudent? Is it a principle from the Bible? Are those you are accountable to feeling like it’s a good idea?


g.   Popularity. Don’t judge truth by the number of likes on Facebook or checks on Twitter. Don’t judge truth by the number of followers a person has. 


h.   Preference. “This is what I like. I’m free to choose. I’m going to do it.” 


i.     Politics. “This is my tribe. This is what everyone else in my tribe thinks. Therefore this is what I think.”


Charles Spurgeon said, “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is to put a straight stick next to it.” What Paul is saying to the Ephesians is, “Embody the truth so people will see in who you are the truth of the gospel, this new creation where the dividing wall of hostility is broken down, where we are being built together into a place where God dwells by his Spirit.”



Verse Completion. . . make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.Joshua 1:8 (NASB)


9/3/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/rNXd0KQaYXg



Complete the Verse & Name the BookOh, the depth of the riches, the wisdom and . . .  (completion at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series titled “Spiritual Warfare”. The second sermon in this series is titled “The Belt of Truth”. It is based on Ephesians 6:10-14 with the emphasis being on the last verse. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. Ephesians 6:10-14 (ESV)


As we come to the first piece of armor we see that Paul emphasizes truth—the mind, how we think. Don’t think of armor as being something you might see in Star Wars; think of armor as truth. Because of what Christ has done on the cross, we are to walk in a manner that is worthy of what Christ has done. The truth we need to put on is what Christ has done. The theme of Ephesians is the new creation found in 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. The purpose of the new creation is found in 2:15b: that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace. The new creation isn’t just us as individuals; it’s us as a new society in which all the divisions in people, all the divisions between races, are once and for all reconciled to God and are therefore reconciled to each other. The wall of hostility that separated Jew from Gentile has been broken down so there is now one new society. We have to put on this new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (4:24).


The belt of truth is this embodied reality of this new creation, this new society that he has made. We are to put that on as a people. The belt of truth is the most important matter for The Church to get right today. It wouldn’t hurt us to spend the rest of the year figuring this out; it’s that important. Why? Because we live in an age where truth has been fundamentally destroyed everywhere for philosophical and technological reasons. Philosophically, relativism—the doctrine that there is no real absolute truth—has borne a paradoxical, counterintuitive, surprising child, and that surprising child is not that people think that it's fine to believe whatever you want. Actually, what it has created are segments of warring micro truths where everyone is certain their truth is right but there's no overarching big Truth that can create unity, and so we’re all in these segmented groups. It’s a huge problem that needs to be fixed!


We’re just now beginning to realize what a huge era of change we’re going through. All the news items that we are constantly being bombarded with these days are symptoms of living through an era of massive change. Not only is the change fast, the rate of the pace of change is constantly increasing. In other words, we're living in a time of exponential change. 


Let me give you some of the latest data that comes out of MIT. In 1995 there were 4,000,000 users of the Internet. By 2010 there were 2,000,000,000. By 2015 there were 3,000,000,000. Notice the exponential rate of change. We live in an age of massive amounts of information, and of course with that, there's massive amounts of misinformation. 


Look at it this way. It took airplanes 68 years to get to 50 million users. It took TV 22 years to get to 50 million users. It took the Internet 7 years to get to 50 million users, and it took Pokémon Go 19 days! Scholars estimate that human information doubled every hundred years up until 1900. It doubled every 25 years up until 1945. Up until 1982, human information doubled every year. In 2020 it doubled every day. We are living in a time of unimaginable amounts of information which are constantly bombarding us. It’s no wonder we’re confused. Figuring out what is true and what is not true is of massive importance for Christians and society at large today. 


Paul says to buckle on or fasten the belt of truth. It's an active thing; it’s something we have to do. It's not passive. What is the belt? If you've been around Christian circles for any length of time, you'll know that the typical answer is that Paul, who was in jail at the time, would have been watching Roman soldiers and would have seen the way that they were kitted out in the army uniform they were wearing. He's drawing an analogy from the Roman soldier towards putting on these gospel elements. The belt would have been the Roman soldier belt, not just a small little belt, but a belt that was designed to provide some protection and kind of hold all the different equipment together. That may be the analogy. 


However, it could also be that Paul is thinking in terms of Isaiah's description of the Messiah. In the book of Isaiah, the Messiah is described as putting on spiritual armor. In Isaiah 11:5, the Messiah puts on the belt of faithfulness. Paul could be thinking in messianic terms—we are the people of the Messiah. 


I think Paul is thinking more practically, and I get this from Charles Hodge, who was one of the great American Presbyterian Christian leaders in the 19th century. In the ancient world, people didn't wear the same sort of clothes as you and I wear now. They didn't wear close fitting clothes. They wore long, loose garments, and before they did any kind of activity, they had to deal with their long, loose clothes. They would gather them up and tie them around their waist with a belt. The ancient translations used to call this girding up one’s loins. What Paul is saying is, “Get ready. Get buckled up. Take off your dress clothes, and put on your army fatigues. Get ready to go for a run.” 


How do we get ready? We get ready with truth. We will never fight spiritual battles unless we have this truth. But then what is this truth? John Calvin said because in the Greek it says to fasten up the belt of truth, not the belt of the truth, Paul must be speaking of sincerity—a personal, genuine commitment; an authentic involvement. I suppose that’s possible. But William Gurnall disagreed with Calvin. Gurnall felt that Paul means both—the sincerity of personal commitments, that subjective side of truth, but also the objective truth. I agree with Gurnall. 


Practically speaking, for a Christian to be sincere, they need to be sincere about the truth of God. And if you're going to buckle on the truth of God, you need to do it sincerely. So, either way, it comes down to the same thing. 


But what then is this truth if it's sincere and there's an objective side to it? The answer is found in Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians has a companion letter—Colossians. There’s a lot of overlap in language and ideas between the letter to the Ephesians and the letter to the Colossians. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he’s counteracting a heresy—a mystical legalism. In other words the teaching said that if you wanted to have a mystical experience, there were certain rules that needed to be followed: keep certain feast days, fast on other days, there needed to be an ascetic, harsh treatment of the body, there were certain things that must not be touched or tasted. It’s legalism, but it's a mystical legalism. Those who followed the rules would have a mystical experience involving angels and all the rest. It's amazing how often that mysticism in Christian history becomes legalistic. 


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



Verse Completion. . . the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33 (NIV)


9/2/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/2s1_wZkyyF0



Complete the Verses & Name the Book“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that . . .  (completions at the end)



Yesterday we started a recap of Dr. Josh Moody’s sermon titled “The Whole Armor of God” that is based on Ephesians 6: 10-13. Pastor Moody said the armor of God is all about putting on what Jesus has done for us. There’s a theme that runs through Ephesians, and that is the new creation. We are his workmanship. 


As we study Ephesians we see that in this new creation the wall of hostility is broken down. We become one in Christ, and we make every effort to keep the unity we have because the dividing wall of hostility has been broken down by the blood of Jesus. We have put on the new self in righteousness and holiness. We need to have all this in mind as we come to consider the armor of God that we put on to fight spiritual battles. 


Christians today feel they are more embattled than they have felt for many decades. There’s a very profound sense that we as Christians are in a spiritual war. If that’s the case, we need to take a look at what the Bible has to say about it. Otherwise, we could be battling in the wrong way. We could be battling each other when Paul specifically says: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. 


Harold J. Ockenga was a leading figure of mid-20th-century American Evangelicalism. He served as the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He founded Fuller Theological Seminary and the National Association of Evangelicals. In the late 1940s/early 1950s, Harold J. Ockenga said this to the National Association of Evangelicals:


“This nation in its maturity is passing through a crisis and meshing Western civilization. Confusion exists on every hand. We are living in a very difficult and bewildering time, but few people realize what tremendous change we are undergoing. 


“The hour has arrived when the people of this nation must think deeply or be damned. We must recognize that we're standing at the crossroads, and there are only two ways that lie open before us. One is the road of the rescue of Western civilization by a re-emphasis on the revival of evangelical Christianity. The other is a return to the Dark Ages of heathendom. Which powerful force is emerging in every phase of our lives today?”


My friends, I want to suggest to you that is a prophetic word. We're living in a time of great spiritual conflict. We need to think through carefully the spiritual warfare.


Notice that our passage says, “Put on the whole armor of God,” and “Therefore take up the whole armor of God.” So often Christian individuals emphasize one particular piece of the armor. They emphasize the word of God but not praying in the Spirit. They emphasize the security we have as Christians with the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness but not the urgency of evangelism with feet fitted for the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 


The best book I’ve read on the armor of God is The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, the pastor of a church in a small town in England named Lavenham in the 1600s. The book is 600 pages long. 


How do we put on the whole armor of God? By being strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (verse 10). We so need that these days. It used to be that people could close the door and be away from temptation, but these days it comes with you wherever you go—cell phone, iPad. We need to be strong in the power of his might. William Gurnall teaches that his might is almighty: not somewhat mighty, not mighty is some circumstances, not temporarily mighty, but almighty. When you are overwhelmed by your schedule or personal issues in your life, remember you can be strong in his strength, and his strength is almighty. 


The other way we put on the whole armor of God is by standing against the schemes of the devil (verse 11b). In verse 13 we are told to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (verse 13). Paul was aware that we are always in spiritual warfare, but there are times of particularly intense battle—like what we are experiencing now. Our role in battle is simply to stand because we are strong in his strength, and he’sthe one who wins the battle. We’re not running ahead or retreating and hiding. That means that we have to stand up for truth and stand firm. 


The way the people won their battles in the Old Testament was through God’s strength. For example, when Pharaoh’s 600 chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them approached the Israelites who were at the Red Sea, Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (Exodus 14:13-14). 



Verse Completion. . . you may have success wherever you go. Joshua 1:7


9/1/21


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


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/9DaoRBUSL_w



Complete the Verses & Name the Book

·      If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have . . . 


·      But when the young man heard this statement, he . . .  (completions at the end)



Dr. Josh Moody is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He recently started a series titled “Spiritual Warfare”. The first sermon in this series is titled “The Whole Armor of God”. It is based on Ephesians 6: 10-13. Today we will begin a recap of that message.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13 (ESV)


Why should we do a series on spiritual warfare? It’s because we take God’s word seriously. We proclaim the gospel. We are rooted in God’s word. The trajectory of our ministry is God’s word. The pulpit is God’s word. We are a Bible-preaching, Bible-believing, Bible-centered church. If we were asked, “Who rules your church?” the answer would be Jesus. If we were asked, “How does he do that?” the answer would be through his word. Our pastors, elders, deacons, and accountability structures are all oriented around the Scriptures. Our theological conviction is this: Jesus rules his church and he rules by his word. 


As we go through life we inevitably get out of tune with Jesus, but the Bible acts as a tuning fork as we gather together on Sunday mornings and get back in tune spiritually. 


The first half of the letter to the Ephesians, Chapters 1-3, is all about what Jesus has done. Almost every verb in these chapters is in the indicative; it is a statement, not a command. The emphasis of these first three chapters is what Jesus has done. That is so important for us as a church, because a person can come to church and go away thinking: Here’s another whole set of rules and instructions, and I feel burdened and guilty. We need to always remember what Jesus has done—his finished work on the cross. When we remember that, the burden is released from our shoulders. 


That’s the first three chapters; then we are called to do in the remaining chapters. Ephesians 4:1 says: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Paul is saying, “I’ve laid out all that Jesus has done, and now I want you to do certain things in light of what Jesus has done.” 


The armor of God is all about putting on what Jesus has done for us. There’s a theme that runs through Ephesians, and that is the new creation. Ephesians 2:10a says: For we are his workmanship (If you are a Christian, that’s your identity: his workmanship, his artwork, his masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus. We didn’t make ourselves as Christians—God made us; he created us. We are made by him. We are his new creation. That’s who we are. 


Paul emphasizes this again a few verses later: that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace (verse 15b). In the ancient world, there was a barrier between Jew and Gentile. When one would go to the temple, there was a wall that had a sign that said if a person was not Jewish, they were not allowed beyond that wall. The wall formed a barrier that separated Jews from Gentiles. Paul is saying that barrier has been removed by the blood of Jesus. Now the new society of Jesus has been created. The dividing wall of hostility is removed. This is important as we come to the armor of God. 


We often think of the armor of God as an individualistic thing: “I have my own, personal faith. I put on my own, personal armor.” There’s a place for that kind of thinking, but the new creation is his people. We together put on the armor of God. God has abolished the dividing wall of hostility through the blood of Jesus. 


In our current world there are so many different remedies that people are trying to come up with to deal with the dividing walls of hostility between Jew and Arab, Afghanistan and non-Afghanistan, black and white, rich and poor. The Bible says the dividing wall of hostility is broken down by the blood of Jesus. Jesus then creates a new people by the power of his grace. Since that is the case, we need to live up to it. In Ephesians 4:24 Paul says: to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.


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



Verse Completions:


·      . . . treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.


·      . . . went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:21-22 (NASB) See also Mark 10:21-22


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