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Daily Devotion February 2020

2/29/20

Good morning, Child of the King.

Song for the Day: I Am Not Alone

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: I have been crucified with Christ and . . . (completion at the end)

Pastor Kevin Ulmet is the lead pastor of Nashville First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, Tennessee. I was sent the following blog and thought I would pass it on to you. I like what he has to say:

NO REASON BUT LOVE

Karen and I were staying in a hotel recently. A breakfast buffet was offered, and we discovered much to her disappointment that there were no grits on the buffet. This is a major issue for my grits-loving Alabama girl, so I asked the server, who informed me that it was a "corporate decision" to remove grits from the breakfast bar menu. She apologized profusely, then said "let me check on something." She returned in a few minutes with news: "Our cook found some in the back. She's making them now. It'll be just a few minutes."

I had two reactions: my first was to say "Oh no, don't go to that trouble - this isn't that big of a deal!" She would not be talked out of her kind gesture. My second was to think to myself "these won't be any good - especially in these circumstances."

A few minutes later two huge bowls of steaming grits appeared. Perfectly prepared, by someone who obviously knew what they were doing. Wow. Some further information: with our frequent lodging status we weren't paying for the buffet. No one was making any money on this gesture. Also, "corporate" had made the decision - there was no earthly reason to go to this extra effort for a couple of free-loading customers, EXCEPT...someone cared, someone wanted to go the extra mile, someone was focused and concerned about...US!

As we enter the Lenten season, and take the journey once again through the Gospels to the last supper, the cross, and then...Easter - remember a few things. There was no earthly reason for God to design the plan of salvation, and for Jesus to willingly submit to it. Only love! There was nothing in it for Him, except suffering and death. It was all for us. No other way to describe it, no explanation makes any sense at all, except...well - here we were, unable to save ourselves, and someone cared enough about us, yes, loved us enough, to do this.

Every person is totally free, endowed with free choice and free will from our Creator, to decide how we respond to this gift of grace. Lent is our season to once again remember what those choices are, and why we choose to receive it: love. Only love. There's no other reason.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NLT)

Pastor Ulmet

If you would like to read more of his blogs, you may go to the following website. Today’s blog is the first one listed (2/27/20):

Pastor Ulmet Blog


Verse Completion: . . . I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

2/28/20

Good morning, Praise Singers.

Song for the Day: Revelation Song

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Desolation and Exultation” based on Micah 3-5. The message of Micah is in three parts:

· A summons to hear

· An oracle of doom

· A statement of hope

Chapters 3-5 are predominantly Messianic. Chapter 3 is about the desolation of Israel. Chapter 4 deals with the salvation of Israel. The rule of the King of David is found in Chapter 5.

Chapter 3

The poetic device used here is the strophe which is like a stanza. There are three strophes that are four verses long each. A summons to hear and an oracle of doom are found in each of the three strophes. The statement of hope is found in chapters four and five. Micah continues to address the leadership about their sin.

1. Strophe 1: A message to the princes in the first four verses.

o This is addressed specifically to the leaders. They are taking advantage of the people through their corrupt courts. They don’t care about true justice.

o God will not answer them in the days that they seek justice from God. God will treat them as they treated His people. God will hide His face from them because of their evil—see Numbers 6:22-26. To be blessed by God is to have God look at you—to have His presence. When God hides His face from you, darkness comes upon you.

§ It’s skinkin’ thinkin’ to think that every time you sin God is going to strike you down. God waits for you to repent and turn from your sin. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

§ When God has given you ample time to repent, and the sin continues with no repentance and turning from sin, that’s when one is in danger of consequences.

§ Was Jesus really bad and that is why He was hung on a cross? Of course not! Sometimes we suffer because we are good and do the right things.

2. Strophe 2: A message to the false prophets is found in verses 5-8.

o The false prophets prophecy for money. They prophecy whatever the money pays them to prophecy. They are not seeking God’s word for the people. 1 Timothy 6:5 says, “These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.”

§ There is parallelism in this poetry—the same message is repeated but using different words. With parallelism, the author could compare and contrast.

o The seers will no longer “see.” The light of God’s words will no longer shine for them. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

o God will no longer speak His words to them. The people are more afraid of what man can take away from them than they are afraid of what God can take away from them. This is one reason we don’t witness to others.

o In verse eight, we see Micah contrasting true prophecy from false prophecy. A true prophet is filled with the Holy Spirit. A true prophet knows the justice of God. A true prophet declares sin.

3. Strophe 3: A message to the princes, priests, and prophets in verses 9-12.

o All three levels of leadership are addressed. They all despise and distort justice for their own gain. They all take bribes and do what money asks of them.

o They still believe God will look after them. They tell others that God is their support. But God is against them. The whole nation will be destroyed because they led in the way of evil.

o There is accountability before God when you are a leader. False prophets asked people what they wanted. True prophets asked God what Hewanted. Are we true or false leaders?

Chapter 4

This begins a lengthy section of the Statement of Hope. It is divided into two sections: verses 1-5 and 6-13. In the last days is a reference to the coming of the Messiah. Hosea 3:5 says, “But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness.” Often this writing is apocalyptic in nature—denoting the end times.

The temple on Mount Zion will be rebuilt. The nations will come from all over the world to hear the words of God. They will want to know how to receive salvation. The Messiah will restore true justice to the nations. There will be no more wars. This is a great promise of hope. Everyone will recognize who God is.

The weapons of war will be turned into instruments of peace. This is in contrast to Joel 3:10 which says, “Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.” Israel will be committed to walking with God.

When reading prophecy, keep in mind there is near fulfillment (“soon” to take place) and far fulfillment (to take place in the “far” off future).

Verses 6-8 indicate that in that day God will bring back a remnant from exile. God will rule over the remnant. God will restore the kingship to Israel. The first will be last and the last first.

Verses 9-10 are back to the current day of the prophecy of doom. It brings to focus the short-comings of the earthly king. It promises the coming of the true king to redeem them—the Messiah.

Verses 11-13 show that the nations believe they are in control and the ones who will do the plundering. However, it is God who is really in control, and He will once again raise up His people to plunder and rule the nations.

Chapter 5

Verses 1-3: A ruler will arise—the Messiah! See Matthew 2:1-6. The Messiah will come to save His people.

Verses 4-6: The Messiah will be a shepherd for His people. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” The Messiah will be peace for His people:

· Isaiah 9:6: For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

· Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

The Messiah will lead His people into victory over their enemies. See Revelation 19:11-16.

Verses 7-9: The remnant of Israel will be a blessing to the people of the nations. They will be rulers among the nations.

Verses 10-15: On that day, every strength that Israel trusts in will be taken away so they trust only in God. Their trust is in weapons of war—horses and chariots (see Deut. 17:16 and Isaiah 2:7). Their trust is in their walled and fortified cities. Their trust is in their diviners and sorcerers. They trust in the idols they have made for themselves. They trust in the idols of the other nations. God will take away all the idols that they replace their faith in God with. God will destroy the nations who have not put their faith in Him. (See Rev. 19:11-16 again)

Conclusion

God’s people will suffer loss now because of their disobedience to God. The suffering of loss is so they learn to trust in God alone. Only their faith in God will save them. God will restore them by raising up the Messiah in the last days. The Messiah will rule the nations with His people ruling with Him.

When we’re being refined, it hurts.

2 Peter 1:20-21: Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

Dr. Moody discusses positive and negative consequences for behavior: Covenant Fidelity


Verse Completion: . . . compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians 3:12 (NASB)

2/27/20

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.

Song for the Day: Surrounded (Fight My Battles)

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom . . . (completion at the end)

What comes to your mind when you hear faith healer? It could be you think of the enthusiastic preacher/healer who tells his followers that all they need to be healed is faith. “What you believe is what you will receive. If you believe God can heal you of your disease, then you will be healed.” Verses such as Matthew 9:29-30a are often quoted: Then [Jesus] touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! When someone is not healed by the modern day faith healer, they are told it’s because of their lack of faith.

As is often the case with lies, there is some truth mixed in with the lies. There is certainly truth in faith being an important part of the Christian life:

· And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6

· For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7

· 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 2:8-9 (ESV)

· If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-8

· Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.Romans 12:3

· Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

· “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23

· Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” Matthew 21:21-22

· I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

· “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” Galatians 2:16

· I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

· The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

What we don’t want to do is lift isolated verses out of context and make sweeping applications. For example, we don’t want to say, “The Bible says in Mark 11:24: ‘I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.’ And these are the words of Jesus, so I’m praying for a new Lamborghini sportscar.” As you read the rest of the Bible, do you read where people asked God for extravagant material goods and God faithfully handed them out like a rich uncle? If there were cases like that throughout the Bible, then that argument could be used to make a point. But that’s not what we find. There are other verses that talk of Christians being hated by others, persecuted, put in prison, insulted, excluded, rejected, falsely accused of all kinds of evil, pursued by enemies, and worse. Paul said in Philippians 3:10b, “I want to suffer with [Jesus], sharing in his death.”

We have to know God’s word in order to identify that which is not true; that which does not line up with His word. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says,

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

Matthew 24:23-25 says,

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.”

I don’t think you are going to hear these verses quoted by faith healers:

· Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people? Jeremiah 8:22

· We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror. Jeremiah 8:15

· Why do you protest your punishment—this wound that has no cure? I have had to punish you because your sins are many and your guilt is great. Jeremiah 30:15

· [God] said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

· Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

· Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

· Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38b

· One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!Luke 13:10-13

· And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.Hebrews 9:27

· [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4

Did Lazarus die because he didn’t have enough faith to be healed?

God cannot be manipulated or controlled. There’s no formula to follow for healing by God. God is God. He will do as He pleases. If we desire healing, we should go to Him as the Great Physician who made us and understands how everything should work. God is certainly capable of healing anyone of anything, but that doesn’t mean He will. We can ask Him in faith to heal us, but He hasn’t guaranteed us He will heal us in this lifetime. We can rest in the fact that He is sovereign. He may choose to heal us. He may choose to delay healing until He returns to Earth and the resurrection of our dead bodies place.

What in the Bible could be compared to a lady wearing a wedding dress while gardening? Dr. Moody explains: Atonement


Verse Completion: . . . seed was sown beside the road. Matthew 13:19 (NASB). See also Mark 4:14-15 and Luke 8:11-12.

2/26/20

Good morning, Followers of Jesus.

Song for the Day: Day's of Elijah

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who . . . (completion at the end)

Many years ago I had an idea for a newspaper column. I would read the “Dear Abby” column that had people writing in about relationship concerns. I thought it would be great to have people write in about their jobs—especially the tough ones. What gave me the idea was several times I thought to myself, “I must have the worst job in the world.” I would think these thoughts as I was working on a B-52 bomber on the flight line in Spokane at night with the wind blowing and it being below zero in temperature. I would think that same thought when I was getting sprayed with toxic chemicals from a crop duster flying just a few feet above me as I marked his path to spray with my flashlight at night after all the bees were in. What I conceived of was something similar to Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” except people would write in about their experiences. I thought maybe by reading a column like that people’s spirits would be lifted as they read about jobs worse than their own.

There’s one person’s job I wouldn’t have wanted, and that’s the job of Moses leading over two million people through the desert. They weren’t very happy campers either! Of course, the person to blame when anything went “wrong” was Moses. One complaint the people had was the manna from God. They were tired of it. They longed for the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they used to have in Egypt. Let’s pick up the story in Numbers 11:10-15:

Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

It sounds like Moses was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (just like Alexander in Judith Viorst’s book). We’ve all had days like that, and it’s nice to know we can go to God and tell Him just how we feel. God knew just how Moses felt. He felt the same way about the Israelites except to a stronger degree.

Some time later, God had Moses send twelve men (leaders of the 12 tribes) into Canaan to explore the land. Two men, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a good report of a land flowing with milk and honey. However, the other ten returned with a negative report of the people living in Canaan being powerful with large, fortified towns and even giants living there. They said next to the Canaanites, they were like grasshoppers, and the Canaanites looked at the Israelites as if they were such.

Numbers 14:1-12 records what happened next:

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”

Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”

Notice how the people felt deserted by God, and then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. We go through times of trial and tribulation in our lives. Part of it is because God is testing our faith and stretching our faith. He hasn’t deserted us; He’s been there the whole time—we just couldn’t feel His presence. Then God gives us seasons of refreshing.

In this particular case, God was very angry with the Israelites to the point of destroying them with a plague, and he said to Moses, “Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!” What would you have done if you were Moses? I probably would have said, “It’s about time. You’ve given them way too many chances. It’s time for You and me to part our ways with the Israelites. Thank you for your word to make me into a nation greater and mightier than them. You can count on me; I won’t disappoint You like they did!” Is that what Moses said? Verse 19 records what Moses said:

“In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”

No wonder Moses was such a great prophet! Acts 13:22a says, “But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.’” I can’t help but wonder if Moses wasn’t a man after God’s own heart, too. What made Moses a man who stood out from others? I think a clue if found in Numbers 12:3:

(Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)

Moses had one of the worse jobs on the planet, but he was a servant of the LORD, and that’s what made him such an outstanding person. Today, let’s concentrate on being humble people; people God can use in His kingdom.

Love Your Children and Your Spouse page 1

Love Your Children and Your Spouse page 2


Verse Completion: . . . worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. Revelation 14:11 (NIV)

2/25/20

Good morning, Readers of the Word.

Song for the Day: Is He Worthy

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, . . . (completion at the end)

Today we continue with the second half of Dr. Ireland’s sermon “Our Eyesight Is Determined by our Insight.” The text has been 2 Kings 6:8-23.

When Jesus was ministering on this earth He exposed the ruthless warfare of Satan upon human beings and defeated Satan. Let’s take a look at Mark 1:23-27:

Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!

But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!”

Disciples of Jesus Christ must remember that our eyesight is determined by our insight. 2 Kings 6:16-17 says:

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

When Elisha’s servant in terror informed him that they were surrounded by the enemy and as good as dead, the old prophet declared, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (6:16). This is the pivotal truth in this story: Do not be afraid! Why? Because those who are with us are more than those with them.

Elisha then prayed and asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes that he might see into the heart of reality. The Lord did just that and when the young man looked at the mountains surrounding Dothan, they were filled with horses and chariots of fire. God had sent a heavenly army to protect his prophet and servant.

The Scripture then informs us that the Syrian army was blinded and led into Samaria where they could have been destroyed except Elisha treated them with kindness and turned an enemy into a friend.

Those who identify themselves, as disciples of Jesus Christ must remember the truth that “our eyesight is determined by our insight.” In other words, how, we look out at the world and interpret it is determined by the inner grid we each have within our minds.

Is your inner grid secular and worldly? If your inner grid is secular then you will interpret the world through eyes that are blind to spiritual realities. You are blind to your own spiritual blindness. Is your inner grid spiritual? If so, then you will interpret the world through a Biblical viewpoint. Is your inner grid basically spiritual but compromised with dirt and dust like you would see on a dirty cabin filter from your car? If so then you will interpret the world through a split vision of being a worldly Christian.

The antidote to not falling away from the Living Lord or into depression over the victories of Satan in our world is to constantly keep our inner grid clean and pure so we can see with spiritual eyes that “greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

These six strategies facilitate the inner cleansing of the grid:

1. Daily Bible reading

2. Daily listening and communicating with the Living Lord through prayer

3. Attending worship services

4. Participation in a small group of believers

5. Serving others

6. Supporting God’s mission with money.

These sound so elementary, but if you don’t do them, you are opening your life up for spiritual discouragement and defeat.

When I think of the elementary acts that disciples of Jesus need to do and redo to keep spiritually fit, I am reminded of the famed football coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. In the 1960’s he led his team to five N.F.L. championships in seven years. After a game in which his team was badly beaten, he gathered the men in the locker room and declared that they needed to go back to the basics and then held up a football and said, “Gentleman this is a football!”

Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, told this story. About twenty years ago he received a newsletter from a medical missionary who was serving in a small field hospital in Africa. The missionary told how about every two weeks he would have to travel to a city to get medical supplies. The normal pattern of the trip was to camp one night in the jungle and then arrive at the city the following day.

The missionary was in the city and had already gone to the bank for money and purchased the drugs and supplies he needed for the hospital when a man approached him. The missionary recognized him as a patient he had treated earlier. The man told him that he knew that the missionary carried money and drugs back to the field hospital. So, he recruited his friends and they planned to follow him into the jungle and when he set up camp and fell asleep they were going to kill him and steal the drugs and money.

However, when he was asleep and they were about to move in for the kill, they saw armed guards all around him. The missionary laughed and told him that there were certainly no traveling guards with him. But the young man pressed the point and told him that he was not the only one to see the guards. His five friends also saw more that 20 guards and so they were afraid to attack and left him alone. It was then that the missionary knew that the Living Lord had sent His angels to protect him from death.

But wait that is not the end of the story. Later when the missionary was in America and moving to various churches to raise money for his support, a man came up to him and told how the Lord laid on his heart that he needed to intercede for him. He told the missionary the date and pressed him to remember where he was at. After reflection the missionary told him that he was in the jungle sleeping when the man was praying in America.

Disciples of Jesus Christ living in America are increasingly coming under attack from our society and Satan and his minions. It is easy to give way to discouragement and fear, but we need to hear the words of the prophet again: “Do not fear, because those who are with us are more that those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). 


Verse Completion: . . . “Jesus the Nazarene, The King of the Jews.” John 19:19 (NASB)

2/24/20

Good morning, Children of the King.

Song for the Day: Draw Me Close to You

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that . . . (completion at the end)

For today and tomorrow, I’d like us to “hear” a sermon from my brother-in-law, Dr. Herb Ireland, a retired minister from the Pacific Northwest. The title of his sermon is “Our Eyesight Is Determined by our Insight.” Here is the first part of his sermon:

I must confess that from time to time as I look out at the world I have been discouraged. It just seems that Satan and those the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6:12 as “rulers, authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” are winning.

Take for instance, while the Roman Catholic Church in the country of Ireland is dominate yet the population voted to repeal the law banning abortion.

Another stinging defeat for the Christian faith came when the Communist Party in China declared that the Church of Jesus Christ would now come under their control. On March 22, 2018, the Chinese Communist Party announced that all "religious affairs" in China would henceforth be supervised by a shadowy Party office called the "United Front Department." Why? Because the Communist Party sees the Church as a direct threat to their rule of the country. The Chinese Communist government has observed that the nation has a case of “Christianity Fever.”*

The suicide rate in the United States has surged to the highest levels with increases in all age groups except older adults. For instance, T.V. celebrity and chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide. In these tragic suicides Satan and his demons win.

Facing this reality what are disciples of Jesus Christ to do when they look out and the world seems so dark and discouraging? First, we must remember that God is Sovereign over the entire universe and our world in particular. Nothing happens unless He allows it. Next, we have to squarely face the fact that Scripture refers to Satan as the “god of this age” (II Corinthians 4:4) and “that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (I John 5:19).

With these depressing facts before us, let’s turn to God’s Word for some good news. Let’s think about the fact that our eyesight is determined by our insight. II Kings 6:8-23 says:

When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”

But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.

The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”

“It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

“Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria.

As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”

“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”

So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

In this story the king of Aram (Syria) was waging war against Israel. If this sounds familiar to you, remember that President Bashir Assad of present-day Syria is still waging war with Israel through its proxy Iran.

In the Biblical story, the king of Syria became quite agitated because when he would set up his strategy to attack Israel he found that his military plans were countered again and again by Israel.

Finally, the king of Syria lashed out at his military commanders and accused one of them of being a traitor in league with Israel.

However, one of his servants informed him that no one in his inner circle was a traitor but it was the work of Elisha the prophet in Israel who informs his king of his military plans and even what he talks about in his bedroom.

With this information the Syrian king sent out a reconnaissance party to find his enemy Elisha. The report came back that he was residing in Dothan. This was the break he was looking for and he sent a large army by night to surround the city.

The next morning when the servant of Elisha arose early to make coffee and breakfast for him he looked out at his world and terror gripped his heart. The large Syrian army surrounded the city and he knew he and Elisha were as good as dead.

Followers of the Living Lord face a dangerous enemy who is bent on destroying our faith in God. The Apostle Peter declared: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

In the first chapter of the book of Job we find that the angels of God came to present themselves to the LORD and Satan came with them. God asked Satan what he had been up to and he responded: “Roaming back and forth throughout the earth.” In other words, Satan was looking for his next victim.

In third-world countries Satan is often recognized for his destructive power whether it is through voodoo or witch doctors. However, Satan shifts his strategy depending upon which culture and country he is working in. For instance, in America he deceives people so they think he does not even exist. The closest thing the majority of Americans equate Satan with is a Halloween costume of a person dressed up with a grotesque mask and holding a pitchfork. With this deception that there is no Evil One working in our world, we are unguarded and easy pickings for him to destroy.

*Alan Hunter and Kim-Kwon Chan, Protestantism in Contemporary China (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1993), 4.

Tomorrow we will continue with Dr. Ireland’s sermon.


Verse Completion: . . . Jesus is the Son of God. Acts 9:19b-20 (NIV)

2/22/20

Good morning, Heaven Bound.

Song for the Day: My Redeemer Lives

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Do not merely listen to the word, and so . . . (completion at the end)

You may have heard it said, “Everyone has their price.” In other words, everyone can be persuaded to do what you want if they are offered a large enough amount of money. Do you believe that? There are certainly no shortage of people who are willing to do what is wrong in order to gain financially. But does everyone have their price? Absolutely not! My father is one who could never be bought. There’s no amount of money a person could have paid him to do something he knew was against God’s will. His treasures were not here on Earth; they were in heaven. Money is part of earthly treasures. It’s here one day and gone the next. There’s no security in money at all. However, treasures in heaven are secure. A crash in the stock market, a decline in health, an accident, a depression in the economy, inflation, thieves, . . . nothing can take away treasures stored up in heaven.

Habakkuk was another person who could never be bought. In Habakkuk 3:17-19, we find his prayer to God:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk’s faith was not grounded in circumstances. Good times and bad times are all part of life. It didn’t matter how bad the bad times got Habakkuk was going to rejoice in the LORD. Nothing could take the LORD away from him. Everything else might be taken away from him, but nothing could take the joy of his salvation away from him.

God spoke to Habakkuk and said, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (2:4) If a faithful person to God was asked to do something against His will, there’s no amount of money that could make the faithful servant turn unfaithful.

Job was another person who would never compromise his faith in God. He had it all, and then he lost it all. After losing it all, Job said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21) Circumstances did not affect Job’s relationship with God. Job didn’t have a price. The very next verse says, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”

How far are you willing to go to do what is right? In the movie that was shown at church last night, Courageous, there was a character who would not compromise his beliefs. He desperately needed a good job. He was offered a great position in a company as long as he was willing to do some shady business that was customary practice for the company. If he turned this high position down, his family wouldn’t have an income. He struggled over the decision, but in the end, he proved he couldn’t be bought. He turned the position down. As it turned out, he did get the job—the “shady business” was just a guise to see if he was an honest person. The company was looking for a man of integrity, and they found their man.

We were bought with the blood of Jesus. There’s no higher price that could be paid for us. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” There’s no amount of money that could ever equal that price. 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a says, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.” We’ve been bought with such a high price; why would we ever sell ourselves for anything less? The richest billionaire couldn’t buy us back from Jesus, because there’s no amount of money that equals what Jesus paid. If someone tried to buy you (through doing something shady, something sinful, something that wouldn’t honor God) for $100,000, that should be such an insult to you after what God paid for you. A person of integrity can’t be bought for any monetary price.

Let’s be people of integrity and faithfulness.

Engaging Our Fears page 1

Engaging Our Fears page 2


Verse Completion: . . . deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22 (NIV)

2/21/20

Good morning, Vine Implants.

Song for the Day: Chain Breaker

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on “Judgment and Warning” based on Micah 1 and 2. He started with a background of the times. In 782-740 B.C., Israel and Judah were strong and thriving outwardly, but they were decaying inwardly—spiritually and morally. These nations were led by Jeroboam II and Uzziah. The prophets Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and likely Joel prophesied to Israel to repent.

Around 745-727, Assyria was becoming a great nation through Tiglath-pileser. The prophet Jonah prophesied to Assyria that they needed to repent, and they did! There was also the Syro-Ephraimite war where Syria and Israel tried to force Judah to join them in opposing Assyria.

King Ahaz of Judah resisted Israel and Syria and asked Tiglath—pileser for help. Isaiah encouraged Ahaz to trust God alone (see Isaiah 7). Ahaz turned to Tiglath-pileser for help (see 1 Kings 16).

In 727-722, Shalmaneser V occupied Israel and laid siege against Samaria. In 722, Sargon II destroyed Samaria and sent the Israelites into exile.

With the Northern Kingdom of Israel destroyed, the Assyrians turned to capturing the Southern Kingdom. King Hezekiah sought God’s help (see 1 Kings 18-19). King Sennacherib turned back and was assassinated. Isaiah 37:33-38 provides some details of what took place: “And this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria: “’His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city,’ says the LORD. ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.’”

That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Senacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.

This is the beginning of the decline of the Assyrians. They never set foot in Jerusalem after this. It was the Babylonians who set foot in Jerusalem later on.

Let’s continue the background information and look at the man Micah. Micah is short for “Micaiah” which means, “Who is like Yahweh?” He was from Moresheth on the plains of Judah. This place was referred to as Moresheth-Gath (see 1:14). It is identified by the larger city. It would be like saying Seattle-Renton. Moresheth was 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem and 5 miles west of Gath.

Micah prophesied about the Northern and Southern kingdoms, but mostly about the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom’s fate had largely been sealed by this time. Micah was to confirm it. Micah sought to turn his people of Judah back to seeking God.

Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham (a 16 year reign—see 2 Kings 15:3ff), Ahaz (also a 16 year reign—see 2 Kings 16), and Hezekiah (a 25 year reign—see 2 Kings 18). This was during the time of Isaiah.

Now let’s look at the uniqueness of Micah. Micah sought to bring repentance to his nation of Judah during the time of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom. Micah’s message resulted in revival! The people did repent of their sins and turned back to God. Micah is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:17-19 (see Micah 3:12). The prophecies of Micah resulted in repentance and revival in the kingdom of Judah. This is why Judah lasted another 150 years.

The message of Micah is in three sections:

1. 1:1-2:13

2. 3:1-5:15

3. 6:1-7:20

There are three parts to the message:

1. A summons to hear

2. An oracle of doom

3. A statement of hope

In verses 2-5, we have a summons to hear. Micah declares the Sovereign LORD is making accusations against the people. He is speaking from His holy Temple. Like Amos, there is a description of the power and might of God. God is coming in judgment because of the sin of Israel and Judah.

In verses 1:6-2:11, there is the oracle of doom. Verses 6-7 are an oracle against Samaria. This briefly touches on the Northern Kingdom. Verses 8-16 is the response of Micah. He is grieved to see judgment on his people. His heart reflects the heart of God—desiring salvation and repentance.

In his oracle of doom, Micah mentions 12 cities. Of these cities, 10 of them have a play on words or a pun. It’s an example of poetry. It’s likely that all the cities have been attacked by Assyria in his campaign against Jerusalem.

Here are the play on words that Micah uses as he refers to the cities:

1. Beth Ophrah means “house of dust” and Micah tells them they will roll in the dust.

2. Shaphir means “beautiful, fair, pleasant” and Micah tells them they will experience the opposite of beautiful, fair, and pleasant.

3. Zaanan means “to exit or come out” and Micah tells them they will not come out.

4. Beth Ezel means “the nearby city” or “the standing city” and Micah tells them their city will no longer stand to protect.

5. Maroth sounds like the word for bitterness in Hebrew. Micah tells them they will writhe in pain and bitterness.

6. Lachish is a military city where the horses and chariots are kept for war. Micah tells the people they will flee like horses and chariots.

7. Moresheth Gath sounds like “betrothed” in Hebrew. Micah tells them no gifts will be given to the betrothed couple.

8. Aczib sounds like the word in Hebrew that means “to be deceptive.” It is used to describe a stream that has dried up. Micah tells the people the town will be useless in the time of war; it is deceptive in its power and strength.

9. Mareshah is related to the word that means “possessor” or “heir.” Micah is telling the people they will be possessed by another.

In the original Hebrew language, every word was made up of three consonants. Using context, readers would know what vowels to add to form the word needed. As time went on, the Hebrew language evolved into something very different. Vowels with dots and marks were added to the consonants. The dots and marks indicate how the vowel is pronounced—for example, a short e or long e sound. A person fluent in Hebrew today would not be able to read the Hebrew that the Bible was written in unless they studied the original Hebrew which is no longer used.

This section of Scripture began with a reference to King David:

· “Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all” in verse 10

· See 2 Samuel 1:19-20—a eulogy over King Saul and Jonathan.

This section ends with a reference to King David:

· “cave of Adullum” in verse 15

· David fled there to hide from King Saul.

The whole poem is a dark and foreboding prophecy that Israel will go into hiding and will themselves be the object of the eulogy. It is an emotional warning to Israel to recall dark times and to avoid them by repentance.

Ten cities are mentioned—a number of fullness. References to David bookmark the 10 cities. In the middle is a statement that the disaster has come from God. The form of poetry called a chiasm is used here by Micah as it was by Amos:

David’s mourning

Five cities

LORD

Five cities

David’s hiding

The message of the poem is to put God at the center of your life. If you do, God will be for you instead of against you.

There is an oracle against the wealthy in 2:1-5. They plot evil by using their power and position to increase their wealth. They take advantage of the poor and powerless. Consequently, they will become the powerless and oppressed.

There is an oracle against the false prophets in 2:6-11. They prophecy only good and happy things. They say, “Sin all you want; God still loves you.” It’s a message of health and wealth. They say whatever will make the people feel good. They give the people what they want to hear: the gains of following God instead of the cost of following God. They do not warn the people of God’s judgments but preach only blessing. Because of this the people spiral down into sin and wickedness. They no longer act as God’s people. The false prophets cause a famine of the Word of God. The people welcome the false prophets who condone what they want to do. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says:

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

In Micah 2:12-13, we find a statement of hope. There is a promise of God’s covenant presence for Israel once again. The King will be established once again with Yahweh leading the nation as He once did before.

In conclusion, God has a case against Israel (the blank can with your name), because they have sinned against Him and have broken the covenant. The judgment of God is at hand. Repentance leads to salvation. God will once again lead in victory if we repent.

Keep short accounts with God. Confess and repent daily.


Verse Completion: . . . those who obey Him. Acts 532 (NASB)

2/20/20

Good morning, Kindness Spreaders.

Song for the Day: Raise a Hallelujah

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not . . . (completion at the end)

Parents and teachers are accustomed to laying down rules for kids and having consequences for the breaking of those rules. When Pastor Michael was teaching about Amos, he related how God was similar to parent or teacher in that the consequences would start out rather mild and progress to severe punishment if necessary.

In Leviticus 26, God laid out consequences for breaking His covenant by rejecting His decrees and treating His regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey His commands. These consequences appear to be in levels of punishment that progressively intensify:

· Level One:

     o Punishment—level one

     o Sudden terrors

          § Wasting diseases

          § Burning fevers that cause eyes to fail and life to ebb away

     o Enemies will eat the crops you have grown

     o Defeated by enemies because God has turned against you

     o Ruled by those who hate you

     o You will run even when no one is chasing you

· Level Two:

     o Punishment—seven times over

     o Make the skies as unyielding as iron

     o Make the earth as hard as bronze

     o Proud spirit will be broken

     o Land will yield no crops

     o Trees will bear no fruit

· Level Three:

     o Disaster seven times over

     o Wild animals will rob you of your children

     o Wild animals will destroy your livestock

     o Your numbers will dwindle

     o Your roads will be deserted

· Level Four:

     o God Himself will be hostile towards you

     o God will personally strike you with calamity seven times over

     o Armies will be sent against you to carry out the curse of the covenant you have broken

     o When you run to other towns for safety, a plague will destroy you there

     o You’ll be handed over to your enemies

     o Your food supply will be destroyed. The bread of ten women will fit in one oven.

· Level Five:

     o God will give full vent to His hostility

     o God Himself will punish you seven times over

     o You will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters

     o Pagan shrines will be destroyed

     o Your places of worship will be knocked down

     o Your dead bodies will be piled on top of your lifeless idols

     o You will be despised by God

     o Cities will be made desolate

     o God will take no pleasure in your offerings

     o God Himself will devastate your land

     o Enemies who come to occupy your land will be appalled at what they see

     o You will be scattered among the nations

     o God’s sword will be used against you

     o Land will become desolate

     o Cities will lie in ruin

· Level Six (for survivors):

     o You will be demoralized in the land of your enemies

     o You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf blowing in the wind will send you fleeing

     o You will flee as if someone is chasing you with a sword, and you will fall even though no one is pursuing you

     o As you flee from no one, you will stumble over each other

     o You’ll have no power to stand up against your enemies

     o You’ll die in foreign nations

     o You’ll be devoured in the land of your enemies

     o You’ll waste away in your enemies’ lands


Which level is most appealing to you? Don’t you wonder why anyone would even consider entering even the first level of consequences? We can look at the Israelites and think how foolish it would be to do anything that would displease God, especially when he is “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” (Exodus 34:6b-7a)

Fortunately, anywhere along the path of consequences, God made provision for repentance (see verses 40-46). There are also many blessings associated with obedience (see verses 1-13). The blessings included seasonal rains, land that will yield its crops, trees that produce fruit, eat your fill, live securely in your own land, peace in your land, sleep without being in fear, surplus of crops, God will live among you, and He will walk with you and be your God.

Titus 1:15-16 says it this way, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.”

A little later in 3:3-7, Titus says, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient {just like the Israelites}. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” This calls for a time of praise, thanksgiving, and celebration!

Become a Grown-up page 1

Become a Grown-up page 2


Verse Completion: . . . gather with Me scatters. Matthew 12:30 (NASB)

2/19/20

Good morning, Light of the Earth.

Song for the Day:  Yahweh

Complete the Verse and Name the Book: And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He . . . (completion at the end)

It’s time for a test. No worries, it’s only one question: Who is the greatest?

a) Mohammad Ali

b) The CEO of a thriving, successful business

c) A politician who is able to bring about much good

d) The pastor of a megachurch

e) A child

If you were thinking of the self-proclaimed greatest, it would be Mohammad Ali. If you were thinking of a person who had no money worries, it would probably be the CEO. If you were thinking of a person who could help the most people, it might be the politician. If you were thinking of a single person who could bring the most people to Jesus, it might be the megachurch pastor. However, Jesus didn’t pick any of them. Jesus chose a child. Matthew 18:1-6 says,

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

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

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

Jesus values humility. The definition of humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness. It’s the opposite of pride and arrogance. My wife and I were watching American Idol on Sunday, and there was a contestant who had a lot of ability and talent as a singer. He was a repeat contestant. He progressed quite far the previous year, but was let go. The judges were hard on him. They said the reason he was washed out was because of his lack of humility. He was cocky, and that didn’t sit well with the judges. It didn’t look like he had learned anything the past year, so the judges lectured him on his arrogance. They told him that a dose of humility would greatly help him advance his dream of a singing career. Fortunately, he seemed to be very open to their critique, and he accepted their advice with a humble attitude. He was given another chance.

Because Jesus valued humility, so should we. You’ve heard the adage: You attract more bees with honey than vinegar. Altering that just a bit we end up with: You attract more people with humility than arrogance.

The importance of being humble is stressed throughout the Bible. Let’s take a look at some verses:

· And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.(1 Peter 5:5b-6) Notice how it says “under the mighty power of God.” We aren’t humble people naturally; we need supernatural help and that help is available to us in the mighty power of God.

· Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

· “The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12)

· Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

· If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.(2 Corinthians 11:30)

· Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

· No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

· Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18-19

· My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. (Isaiah 66:2) Contrite means feeling or expressing remorse or penitence.

· Fear of the LORD teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor. (Proverbs 15:33)

· Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

· Seek the LORD, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the LORD will protect you—protect you from his anger on that day of destruction. (Zephaniah 2:3)

· On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom. (Hezekiah 1:1) You might want to look this one up.

Let’s work on being humble people today.

Can we learn anything from Leviticus that applies to our life today? Dr. Moody finds four applications in just three chapters: Sin and Sacrifice


Verse Completion: . . . spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 (NASB)

2/18/20

Good morning, Reborn.

Song for the Day:  Holy Hiway

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and . . . (completion at the end)

When will Jesus return to Earth? When will the rapture take place? Nobody knows. What we know for sure is Jesus is coming back for His followers; we just don’t know when. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:31: “And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” A few verses later Jesus said, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows.

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (verses 36-39)

Paul said something similar in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3: Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

Paul also explained in a little more detail what will take place at the return of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

We know Jesus will return, but we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves as to whenit will happen. That’s not what’s important. What is critical is that we are ready for His return. Matthew 25:1-13 says:

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

The door of opportunity is open for us right now. We don’t know when it will be too late, but the day is coming when it will be too late. The moment of our death or the moment of Christ’s return will mark the moment when the door of opportunity will be closed never to be opened again. 2 Corinthians 6:2b says, Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

All the words shared from the Bible today should strike terror in the hearts of unbelievers but comfort and encouragement to believers. The good news for the unbeliever is the door for knowing Jesus now and forever is wide open. Jesus invites all to enter. Mercy is extended to all today. Once the door is closed, judgment follows for all who are on the outside of the door.

Be Present With Us page 1

Be Present With Us page 2


Verse Completion: . . . heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5 (NASB)

2/17/20

Good morning, Reborn.

Song for the Day: The Blood Will Never Lose it's Power

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for those who take up the sword . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael shared his sermon “Mercy and Sacrifice” based on Matthew 12:1-21. When Matthew wrote his book, he had one main goal—he wanted the Jews and everyone else to know Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. He wanted them to realize Jesus was God with skin on. Many did not believe, but unbelief doesn’t change truth.

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” (verses 1-2)

The Pharisees were legalistic; they were all about their own law. They had a law that on the Sabbath people were only allowed a certain number of steps. Anything beyond the allowed steps was breaking the law. There were many manmade laws they passed off as God’s laws.

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests were allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath!” (verses 3-8)

Jesus defended his disciples. He told the Pharisees His disciples were innocent; they hadn’t broken God’s laws. The Pharisees believed their goodness would get them to heaven. The Pharisees liked to have the attention on them. They liked being the big fish in a small pond.

Legalistic people condemn others for what they think is wrong. They were angry with the disciples for “harvesting” on the Sabbath, but they didn’t care that they were in the presence of God. Legalists are good at picking out the bad in others. They want to be the best person in the room.

Matthew 9:13 says, Then [Jesus] added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” The Pharisees thought they were right with God, but they were far from God.

Hosea 6:6 says, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” When Hosea wrote this, the Israelites were far from God, but they were going through the motions. They were pretenders. Outwardly, they looked good, but their heart was bad. They were treating others unjustly. They served and loved themselves. Legalistic people are self-serving, religious people. But it’s not about religion; it’s about relationship.

Micah 6:6-8 says, “What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

God is asking us to be the opposite of legalists. We need to be repentant. Life isn’t lived in black and white; life is lived in color. In Matthew 12: 5, Jesus reminded the Pharisees that the law of Moses allowed priests to work on the Sabbath.

Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath? (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)

And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”(verses 9-12)

The Pharisees said it was okay to work on the Sabbath to save possessions but not people. The Pharisees used people and love things. Jesus loved people and used things.

Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. (verses 13-14) Jesus celebrated people, because that’s God’s heart. The Pharisees came to celebrate the law, not celebrate Jesus. A right relationship is God-centered; Religion/legalism is self-centered.

But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to reveal who he was. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (verses 15-21)

Matthew is very clearly saying that Jesus is the Messiah. Wrapped up in the word justice is mercy. God desires mercy, not judgment. Justice without mercy is judgment—not justice. There’s no such thing as justice without mercy, because mercy values people. Judgment alone values law above people. Legalistic people are the first to cry out, “That’s not fair!” while they are treating others unfairly.

We need to value Jesus above the law. Don’t put your hope in the law. Don’t put your hope in legalism. Don’t put your hope in good works, in morals, or in religious work. Put your hope in the Savior of the world—Jesus. We are to be people who reflect the heart of Jesus who is merciful, kind, and just. Proverbs 1:3 tells us to do what is right, just, and fair.

Jesus values you. Let’s value Jesus in our lives, and value mercy, true justice, and love. We need to devalue the trophy case of what we have done for Jesus.

Take Sin Seriously page 1

Take Sin Seriously page 2


Verse Completion: . . . shall perish by the sword. Matthew 26:52 (NASB)

2/15/20

Good morning, Seed Sowers.

Song for the Day: Low Down the Chariot

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must . . . (completion at the end)

Did Jesus ever become stressed out? Let’s take a look at Matthew 26:36-46:

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.”

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Jesus became anguished and distressed. Anguish is severe mental or physical pain or suffering. Distress is extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain. Jesus was facing death. He knew it was going to be an extremely difficult death. It’s easy to understand why Jesus was stressed out.

Sometimes we stress out about things that we shouldn’t stress out about. In the grand scheme of things, they are no big deal, but we make them out to be big deals. Those irritants we can bring to the Lord and turn them over to Him. A lot of the time that’s all we have to do. Go to a quiet place, share your concern with Jesus, and be done with it.

On the other hand, sometimes there are stressors in our life that are much more than minor irritants. Sometimes events in our life cause us great anguish and distress. I think of those who have traveled down the lonely and difficult road with a spouse who had a terminal disease. Like Jesus, their soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Extremely difficult times! Times when it seems like there’s no strength to carry on. It almost seems like a dead end.

What do you do when you’ve come to that point of desperation? Jesus gathered His friends around Him, or at least He tried to gather His friends around Him and have them comfort Him with their presence and concern. I think Jesus was wanting His friends to pray with Him and for Him. However, His friends were too tired.

Jesus prayed by Himself. He prayed for possible deliverance. When we face “unbearable” pain and suffering, we, too, look for deliverance.

We want God to step into our world and save our loved one from the pain and impending death predicted by the doctors. There’s nothing wrong with praying that prayer of deliverance! Jesus is able to heal anyone of anything. There’s no disease out of range of His healing. But notice how Jesus continued with, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” This is where faith and trust comes in. We surrender what we want to what God wants. It wasn’t easy for Jesus, and it’s not easy for us when we’re in the midst of the storm. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” God doesn’t promise us we won’t lose a loved one. God doesn’t promise us He will heal us of our disease, but He does promise to strengthen us, help us, and hold us up with His hand. Matthew 28:20b has the words of Jesus before He ascended to heaven, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Can life be stressful for a Christian? You bet it can! But Jesus will never leave us. His Holy Spirit lives in us. You can’t get any closer to God than that!

Notice how Jesus prayed the same prayer three times. It’s okay to be repetitious in our prayers. We don’t want to be like the old codger whose wife complained that he never said he loved her. He responded with, “I told you 40 years ago, ‘I love you.’ If anything changes, I’ll let you know.” We can pray the same prayers over and over as long as those prayers are from our heart. God hears each prayer.

Jesus couldn’t have been any closer to God, and yet things didn’t turn out well for Him . . . at least for a period of time. He went through a lot of suffering before His day of resurrection. We may be called on to go through a lot, too, before our day of resurrection. As Christians, no matter what happens, the end couldn’t be any better. (As an unbeliever, things will go from bad to worse.) Meanwhile, as we are faced with difficult situations, we can’t lose sight of the future. Whatever is happening now will “soon” be past. What we do for God will last. Let’s get busy in those harvest fields.

What is the access point for people to encounter the living God? Dr. Moody answers: Instructions


Verse Completion: . . . be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV)

2/14/20

Good morning, Lovers of Jesus & Others. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Song for the Day: Beautiful One

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday, Dr. Michael Wedman gave a lecture on Amos 7-9 titled “Destruction and Restoration.” As we look at the book of Amos, we can see a parallel of how parents deal with their kids and teachers deal with their students. The rules are clearly laid out, and that is followed by a violation. What follows is a review of the rules and a reminder of the necessity to follow those rules. That is Chapters 1-2 of Amos. In Chapters 3-6, we see more violations of the rules followed by even sterner warnings. There are some “mild” consequences (a parent may send a child to his/her room to think about the bad behavior). The opportunity for repentance is still open. In Chapters 7-9, the climate changes. The “parent” is done counting and giving chances to change behavior. The opportunity to repent has expired. Consequences are now going to be put into effect. It’s time to lower the boom!

In these three chapters, we have the “Five Visions of Amos:”

1. Locusts—7:1-3. There are two harvests. The first is in early spring. It’s a smaller harvest. The crop is given to the king for taxes. The second harvest is in late summer, and it’s the main harvest. Amos petitioned God for mercy. God relented and did not bring the locusts.

2. Fire—7:4-6. Obviously, this is a significant fire that would lay waste the whole land. This would be a fire sent from God. Amos petitioned God for mercy. God relented and didn’t bring the fire.

What purpose do these two visions serve? The answer is found in Exodus 32:7-14. Moses sees that it’s not all about him; it’s all about God. We see here the importance of intercession. Moses intercedes on the part of the Israelites.

As parents we intercede for our children—we ask God for His mercy on our children. We want justice and mercy rather than justice and anger. We need to intercede for each other. We need to pray for each other.

3. Plumb line—7:7-9. The plumb line is used to determine if a building is true and straight. God’s word is our plumb line. It is what is used to determine if His people are living true and upright before Him. Israel is not true; they are crooked. They have moved away from truth. Amos does not ask God for mercy. God does not relent of His judgment.

Why does Amos not ask for God to relent of His judgment and show mercy this time around? The answer is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1-16, 27-28. It is better to fall into the hands of God rather than the hands of men.

4. Basket of ripe fruit—8:1-14. Israel is ripe for judgment. God has come; there is no further delay. There is a play on words going on in Hebrew in verse 2: fruit (quyits) and end (qets). What do you see, Amos? I see ripe fruit. God sees the end. The end has come because of a failure to live uprightly and justly (see 4-10). Note in verse 11 that there will be a famine of God’s words. Why is this a problem? It’s because God’s words are the only words that save and transform lives. Only God’s words can save the soul. The success and longevity of a nation depends upon the adherence to the words of God.

5. The LORD standing by the altar. This is the most terrible vision yet. The righteous judge is standing by the altar ready to mete out justice. They know what is true righteousness and justice. People like to quote Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” However, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we in a position for God to fulfill this in our lives?”

The Restoration of Israel: Israel does not end in total destruction. God desires the restoration of His people! God’s will is not to destroy but to save. Even when we are crooked and unjust, God always remains true and just. God acts upon His righteousness and justice. God wants us restored. He is a merciful God.

Conclusion: God desires that our story ends with mercy and grace, just like the story of Amos.

Although Dr. Moody is not teaching from Amos, do you see a similar message in Amos and Exodus?