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Daily Devotion April 2020

4/30/20

Good morning, House Bound (but bound to get better).


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/fM4m3iE0Z24


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: We live by faith, not . . . (completion at the end)


Do little things matter? My first full-time job was working in a trailer factory. I started out with the job of checking the water system. I hooked up a water hose to the trailer and checked for any leaks or problems. Invariably, there would be issues. One of the common ones was a broken washer. When the plumbing was being assembled, nylon washers would be placed where the water pipes joined the sinks. When the washer is being installed, the plumber has to be careful not to tighten the connection too much or the nylon washer would crack. It made a distinct sound when it cracked. If it wasn’t replaced, there would be a water leak. It wouldn’t leak much, but it would leak and over time cause damage. It was such a little thing, but it was important. Changing the washer was a pain. I would have to get under the sink with very little room to operate while other workers stumbled over me. It would have been easy to just ignore the tiny little problem, but I knew the ramifications for whoever bought the trailer, so I did my job.

Luke 16:10-11 has the following words of Jesus:

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?”

A person who takes rightly takes care of the little things is a person of integrity. It’s a reflection of character. A person who didn’t have integrity wouldn’t bother to replace a broken nylon washer—it’s such a little thing! But little things matter. Those little things that are done with nobody else noticing reflect on who we are as a person. Jesus is saying if we can’t be trusted with taking care of little things, we can’t be trusted with taking care of big things. When those in leadership are charged with something scandalous, it’s a big deal because it’s a reflection on the person’s character. If a person can’t be trusted with how they run their personal affairs, how can they be trusted with running a nation? “Little” things do matter.

The story is told of Abraham Lincoln working as a store clerk in New Salem, Illinois, in 1831. When he realized he had overcharged a lady a few pennies, he walked five miles to return the money to her. He earned the nickname Honest Abe because of his integrity. Lincoln lived out the words of Jesus by being faithful in the little things and being faithful in the large ones.

How we handle our money here on earth is important. Even if we just have a little money here on earth, it matters how it’s handled. If we keep all of it for ourselves, that doesn’t follow God’s teachings. First of all, everything belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” Because everything belongs to God, He can do as He pleases. 1 Samuel 2:7 says, “The LORD makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up.” We don’t own anything; we get to use a few things for a season. Money is a tool used by God to help us live and love like Jesus. Luke 12:34 says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” We need to be content with what God gives us. Philippians 4:19 says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Jesus reminded us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

1 Timothy 6:9-10 puts money into perspective: “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” Proverbs 22:26 reminds us to not bury ourselves in debt: “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.”Deuteronomy 15:10-11 reminds us how to manage our money: “Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.” Proverbs 3:9-10 reminds us to give back to God: “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.”

One more thought from Scripture about money comes from Mark 8:36: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” When we can be trusted with our worldly wealth, it puts us in a position to be trusted with the true riches of heaven. When we can be trusted with little things, we can be trusted with big things. Little things matter. Let’s be faithful in the little things; the big things will take care of themselves.

Here is a link to three of Dr. Moody’s sermons. Each is divided into two parts: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found on our Media menu.

· Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live  You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Verse Completion: . . . by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)

4/29/20

Good morning, House Bound & Heaven Bound.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ZNrVed6dP6s


Complete the Verses & Name the Book:

· Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall . . .

· For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks . . . (completions at the end)


Yesterday, Pastor Michael’s topic during his fireside chat was “Rejoicing in the Gospel.” His text was Philippians 2:14-18:

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

As disciples of Christ, there is no room for grumbling, arguing, and complaining. Grumbling is dissatisfaction. When we grumble, we are discontent. We don’t like how something is. We want the situation to change. We grumble about things that don’t suit us. When we grumble, we are saying, “I am the master and commander of the universe. It’s my preference that matters.” We grumble about things that are not right in our eyes. When we grumble, we make ourselves to be the authority of what is right and wrong. When we grumble and complain, we are not grumbling and complaining to anyone in particular but to everyone in general. Grumbling and complaining always wants company. We diminish others to raise ourselves up. Much of grumbling and complaining is based on assumptions and falsehood. Motives are assigned that were never there in the first place.

There are many examples of grumbling and complaining in the Old Testament. Exodus 15:22-25:

Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”).

Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.

When a person is not in a leadership position, he/she is always able to make the right decision; the person in leadership making decisions is always making the wrong decisions. That’s a spirit of grumbling and complaining, and that spirit is contagious. Exodus 16:1-3:

Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.

“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

Grumbling often takes people into areas of falsehood. The Israelites were remembering the “good ol’ days,” but was that really how it was? They were slaves who were worked to the bone. Exodus 17:1-3:

At the LORD’S command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.

“Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”

But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”

Grumbling and complaining are, ultimately, directed at God. In Exodus 16:8b it says, “Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us.” In the passage above, Moses said, “And why are you testing the LORD?” The Israelites were good at grumbling and complaining, and so are we. We like to think we could do a better job than anyone else could do. We like to think our preferences, our ways, our ideas are better than the person leading. Grumbling tries to undermine the authority, character, and credibility of the person that is being grumbled against. In 1 Corinthians 10:6-10, Paul refers back to this period of Israel’s history:

These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.

Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death.

Paul takes grumbling very seriously. He says to “do everything without complaining and arguing.” Grumbling always leads to quarreling. Grumbling says, “My way is better than your way. I know better than you know. I am more important than you are.” Philippians 2:3-4 says:

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.

When we look to our interests first, it always leads to grumbling and complaining. Our attitude needs to be not me verses you (disunity) but rather we are in Christ together (unity). Children of God do not grumble and complain; they produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Jesus is our example; He humbled Himself.

We are to be blameless and pure. Pure means unmixed. Without fault in this context means you are not the one causing arguments, bringing divisions, or entering into grumbling and complaining. We are not to be part of the warped and crooked generation, because we are children of God. We don’t want to get to the point where we would rather have our own way than see people around us come to Christ. Grumbling and complaining ruins the witness of Christ. When we grumble and complain, we put our kingdom above Christ’s kingdom. The result is we persecute the kingdom of God.

As disciples of Christ we are to be different—counter-culture. We are to be the light of the world. To be those lights, we need to hold firmly to the words of Christ. Our purpose in life is to promote the Kingdom of God.

Paul gives the image of sacrifices. In ancient Israel, the people would offer a sacrifice to God for their sins in the form of a bull, lamb, or dove, but there was often a drink offering that went along with it. The drink offering was often fresh wine from the harvest. It would be poured on or next to the animal sacrifice. Paul is giving this picture of the life of the vine being poured out on the sacrifice. He is saying he’s glad to have his life poured out into the lives of the church at Philippi knowing they are holding firm to the faith; that they are serving Jesus.

When was the last time you sacrificed for Jesus? When was the last time you were even inconvenienced by the gospel? Paul was rejoicing in prison that he could pour out his life for the gospel. We need to be people of rejoicing that rejoice in: the fact I’m a disciple of Christ, the free gift of salvation, having my sins forgiven, having freedom from guilt, having everlasting life, having a book that tells me how to get to know God, the fact that death is gain. Let’s change from grumbling, complaining, and arguing to rejoicing. We have much to rejoice over!

Here is a link to three of Dr. Moody’s sermons. Each is divided into two parts: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/

Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found on our Media menu.

· Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Completion of Verses:

· . . . find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

· . . . finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (NASB) See also Luke 11:9-10

4/28/20

Good morning, Hide & Seek Players. Remember VOVID-19 is still it so remain hidden.

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/RY4CW5pte98

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, . . . (completion at the end)

On Good Friday, there was a special livestream event organized by World Vision. I have shared what Samuel Rodriguez, Tony Dungy, Francis Chan, Max Lucado, Edgar Sandoval Sr., and Ravi Zacharias had to say. Today, we will finish up with Nick Hall, the founder and chief communicator at PULSE—the largest student-led prayer and outreach movement in America (photo attached):

We believe Jesus changes everything. God loves you! The whole reason this event was put together was so you would have the opportunity to come to know Jesus. The story of the gospel is pretty clear. God created us to know Him—that we would only be satisfied in Him. Some of you that are listening have never felt fully alive. You've never felt fully satisfied. You've tried to fill that void with many things. We fill it with drugs. We fill it with women or men. We fill it with all sorts of success and platforms. Isn't it interesting that right now, in the midst of this pandemic, so many of those things seem worthless?

The Bible describes this condition as sin. It says that everything we turn to, apart from God, separates us from a holy God. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You see, we didn't organize this event because we had perfect people to make presentations. We put it on as imperfect people pointing to the only perfect one. His name is Jesus. The good news is that God saw us in our sin—in our brokenness—and He did something about it. He sent His one and only son.

Jesus came on a rescue mission for you and for me. He lived the life that we couldn't live, and He died the death that we deserve. The Bible says that the wages of sin are death and so Jesus died. He stretched out His arms on that first Good Friday. That's why we call it good. How could death be good? Because His death brought about life.

Jesus died for you, but the story doesn't stop there. If Jesus was buried somewhere, he would be just like every other religious leader. You can go and visit their grave. You can celebrate the memory of their life, but when you go to the tomb where Jesus was buried, He's not there! On the third day God raised Jesus from the dead. He conquered your sin. He conquered your shame. He conquered your guilt and your pain. Once and for all he removed the sting of death so that anyone who would call on the name of the Lord could be saved.

Right now I want to invite you, not to a simple prayer, not to some simple moment, but I want to invite you to give your life to Jesus. This isn't a little thing; it’s a significant thing! You were made to know Him. What if this whole pandemic crisis has existed to bring you to realize your need for Jesus. Right now I want to invite you to say yes to Jesus.

I'm going to pray, and you can join me wherever you are and surrender your life to Him. I like to think of it like this: before I knew Jesus, I was driving the car of my life. I went where I wanted to go. I did what I wanted to do. I would pretend like God was a part of it, but the truth was He was in the back seat. Then there came a turning point. I said Jesus, “You need to take over. You need to take the wheel of my life. I trust you, and I'm surrendering now to you.”

This could be your turning point. Pray with me right now, “Dear God, I know that I have messed up—that I am a sinner. Right now, I am putting my trust in you—the Jesus who died on the cross, the Jesus who conquered my sin and shame, the Jesus who rose from the grave. I acknowledge you as my Savior and Lord. I'm inviting you right now to be the leader of my life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and help me to follow you. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.”

If you prayed with me, the Bible makes it very clear that when one person turns from death to life there is a celebration in heaven. Even if you're all alone, you can know that the angels are rejoicing for you.

This may be a time of social distancing, but it doesn't have to mean spiritual distancing. It's so important that you get encouragement and support, so I want to encourage you to download the move closer app. We would love to connect you with a church where you can get in the word of God and keep growing. Whether this was the first time you said yes to Jesus or whether this was you sticking a stake in the ground and coming back to your first love, I want to say, “Welcome home!” This is what Easter is all about!

Here is a link to three of Dr. Moody’s sermons. Each is divided into two parts: https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcasts/


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found here in our Media menu

· Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live  You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Verse Completion: . . . to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27 (NASB)

4/27/20

Good morning, Qualified to Be Quarantined. 

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/TxC16duiHvQ


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Where your treasure is . . . (completion at the end)

On Good Friday, there was a special livestream event organized by World Vision. I have shared what Samuel Rodriguez, Tony Dungy, Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and Edgar Sandoval Sr. had to say. Today, I’d like for you to hear from Ravi Zacharias, apologist, author, and founder of RZIM;

We glorify faith a lot, but faith is the means. It is the object of your faith that you need to be focusing on. Who is it you're completely leaning on? Whose arms are you comfortably relaxing in? We sing the words of the song that say, “Underneath me are the everlasting arms.” No other faith has so much teaching on how to find peace and strength in suffering.

I remember when my friend Nabeel Qureshi was dying of cancer. The first time he discovered he had stage four cancer was when he was just 32 years old. He sat across the table from me and said, “I've just been diagnosed with stage four cancer.” I looked at this young man: handsome, strapping, tall, statuesque, broad shouldered, and so nice. We traveled together and in the last place he said to me, “Uncle, I want you to take me one more trip overseas.” We weren’t related but out of respect he always call me uncle.

We went to Malaysia for his last message overseas. It was only after he landed in Kota Kinabalu that he found out his mother was born there. He phoned her from there and said, “I’m in Kota Kinabalu.”

She said, “Nabila was born there.” As you know, he comes from an Islamic faith. After his last message, we were standing by the car. When he got into the car I had one more message to preach. We looked at him and I had a feeling, “I'm never going to see him again. He's done; he's gone.” He had bought some gifts for his wife that day, and as he got into the car he was gone.

I couldn’t even get myself to look at him in the coffin, because he didn't look a shadow of himself. But he had resigned himself to the fact and the hope that the Christ who had brought him that far was going to be the Christ who would be greeting him when he arrived in glory.

No trial will exhaust you but that the love of Christ can provide for you. May I say this to you very graciously? I've lived a lot of physical pain, and, believe it or not, a lot of emotional issues, too—a lot of emotional pain. But I have found his grace to be sufficient. You get on your knees and ask him to give you strength one day at a time, one moment at a time.

I don't know what you're going through today, but if you are a typical human being, your heart may be ready to break like Shannon Bream who said, “I didn’t know which way I was going to turn, but my faith in God carried me through.”

God’s diagnosis of your condition, His provision for your malady, His sustenance and suffering—no worldview deals so much with the strength of God in the midst of your suffering. Some people are crass enough to tell you you're being judged, but God does not triumph in spite of the dark mystery of pain—He conquers through it. He conquers through it!

This brings me to the final thought, and that final thought is He is the only one who made a promise and fulfilled it. The promise itself ought to have peaked the ears of his critics. Listen to the promise. His promise did not say after I die I will spiritually rise again. He could have said that, but you could never falsify that. Do you know what I mean by falsify it? You could never have done anything to prove it false because there was nothing substantially claimed; it was only spiritually claimed. How do you prove that false? He claimed it in substance that He would bodily rise again. This body will be destroyed, but in three days He would raise it up. They did not know he was speaking of the temple of his body.

This is was what tormented the atheist Anthony Flew. Anthony Flew for so many years said there were two struggles he couldn't cope with in his closing years. The first was how to defend the existence of a moral framework apart from God, and the second was if Jesus did rise again from the dead, what have I done with it? What have I done about it?

So I say to you He claimed empirically falsifiable things such that if he hadn't risen again you could have proven it false. Here's what I want to say to you. There are two areas of evidence. If Jesus had just connived and schemed this whole thing do you know what he would have done? He would never ever have made women the first witnesses. Do you know why? Their testimony wasn't admissible in court. He paid them the greatest compliment in three instances. One of them involved the woman with the alabaster ointment. Do you notice he never asked her where she got that ointment from? She probably had gotten it from a corrupt lifestyle. He never asked about that. He just allowed her to spill it in a way that even Oscar Wilde when he was dying made reference to the woman with the alabaster ointment who spent her costliest nard on her Savior. Instead, Jesus scolded the Pharisees saying, “You guys are so jealous looking at her. I want you to know that wherever the gospel is preached there should also this story be told.” He paid her the greatest compliment—the gospel is going to be preached at the highest level and what this woman has done to me will be told.

Then there’s the story of the woman from Samaria—five broken marriages. “Yes, I know who you are, but I'm going to give you a drink of water so that you will not thirst again.” The Samaritans were a discriminated group of people; the women even more discriminated against. Jesus took a Samaritan woman and made her the first evangelist to the Samaritan people.

And then Jesus rises from the dead. He could have gone to big, muscle bound Peter and said, “You're a big guy. You go and tell him.” He could have gone to an articulate somebody else, but He came to the women. The guys were hiding around like a bunch of frightened Boy Scouts. Jesus said to the women, “Go and tell Peter.” So the first thing this tells me is it was an empirically falsifiable possibility, and He had claimed it. Number two: He chooses women to be the first relators of the supreme truth. Number three: Who did he choose? Paul of Tarsus who persecuted him, Thomas the doubter, and James, his brother. He made them the powerful evangels of that time.

Jesus amongst the other gods; Jesus amongst the secular gods—I want you to know that the most beautiful thing that we have in our ministry as we preach and tell people the good news is the ministry of the resurrection from the dead.

I close with the simple reality of a poem written by a Vietnam veteran. The poem is called “Conversion.” Here it is:

"Lord God, I have never spoken to you

But now I want to say, ‘How do you do?’

You see, God, they told me You didn't exist

And like a fool I believed all this

Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky

I figured right then they had told me a lie

Had I taken time to see the things you made

I'd have known they weren't calling a spade a spade

I wonder, God, if you'll take my hand

Somehow I feel that you'll understand

Funny I had to come to this hellish place

Before I had time to see Your face

Well, I guess there isn't much more to say

But I'm sure glad, God, I met you today

I guess zero hour will soon be here

But I'm not afraid since I know

you're near

The signal!

Well, God, I'll have to go

I like You lots, I want you to know

Look now this will be a horrible fight

Who knows, I may come to Your house tonight

Though I wasn't friendly to You before

I wonder, God, if You'd wait at Your door

Look, I'm crying, I'm shedding tears

I'll have to go now God goodbye

Strange now, since I met You, I'm not afraid to die"

God has prepared a place for you and that place is what John Chapter 14 begins with: If it were not so I would have told you. When I buried my mother, the first member of our family to die, I remember the words that came to my mind. She had not just gone, she had gone home, gone home to be with our Lord. So I tell you, your heavenly Father has a home and a place prepared for you. He is the one who describes your condition. He is the one who sustains you in your suffering. He is the one who rose again from the dead for you. No other claimant to divine prophetic status puts those precious truths together. That's why He says no man comes unto the Father but by me.

Please don't be troubled that there is only one way. It would be like me complaining that I can only marry one woman. I thank God for the privilege of marrying one. I thank God for the privilege of loving one. When you put this ring on your finger, it is a tourniquet to stop your circulation. Don't complain that you can love just one person. Love was never intended to be free. It is the nature of love to bind itself. God has provided for you the exclusive way to find truth, meaning, and love in the way, the truth, and the life. No other one in history stands tall. People can dance on His grave all they want, but the fact is He is not there. He is risen! The Bible always rises up to outlive its pallbearers. May God richly bless you as you give your life to Christ.

If you have ten minutes, I’d love for you to hear the words Jonathan Evans spoke at his mother’s funeral. I think they will be an encouragement to you or someone you know: https://youtu.be/yRsiPMp6drw


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at here on our Media menu.

· Join Lola in prayer on Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/NCCUnion/live

You can also call the church office for prayer: 360-898-7855.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Verse Completion: . . . there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21 (NASB)

4/24/20

Good morning, Forgiven.


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


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Set your mind on . . . (completion at the end)


Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave his tenth fireside chat called “Remaining in the Gospel” based on Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

The word therefore refers back to when Paul said Jesus is Lord. Paul was saying that because God exalted Jesus to the highest place, because Jesus has been given the name that is above every name, because at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and earth, therefore we should do what comes next in the text.

Paul is telling the people in the church at Philippi to continue to obey God even though Paul can’t physically be there to encourage the people in their faith. Paul wants them to not get discouraged and give up. He wants them to grow and mature in Christ. He wants them to continue to walk with Christ so the gospel can be promoted.

We are to let the impact of knowing Jesus in our lives be realized out of our lives to those around us. We are to continue in the faith. If we’re stopped, we’re not going anywhere. If we’re not going anywhere, no one is going to go with us. In Luke 3:8-9, John says:

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

We have to produce the fruit of salvation, and in order to do that, we have to work out our salvation. How do we do that? Definitely not by working for salvation. There’s no amount of goodness, works, giving, proper conduct, or high morals that can get us into heaven. Good works do not lead to eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 2:8-10 says:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We don’t work for salvation; we work because we have salvation. The works we do are what God asks us to do, and those works produce fruit in keeping with repentance. We are focused on God’s purpose and not our own. James 2:20-26 says:

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Faith produces deeds. A faith in Jesus has to lead to the works of Christ—producing the fruit that Christ produces in us. Because Jesus is our Lord, He is our Master and Commander and we respond in obedience.

When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are completely saved. However, as we continue in obedience to Christ, our salvation grows: we know God more, we understand God more, we love God more, we mature. When we gain salvation in the sense that we gain everlasting life through dying, this is what is known as full salvation. This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “For me to die is gain.” When we experience full salvation, we don’t have to deal with sin, pain, or darkness any longer. Paul is saying to continue to walk with Jesus right up to the time of full salvation. We are to persevere, and draw closer to God.

When we consistently go to the gym with a workout routine, we have a goal. The goal includes plan to reach that goal, and that plan always involves discipline. Do we have a workout plan for our spiritual life? Paul tells us to work out our salvation. We need to have a goal. That goal should include a plan to reach that goal. That plan will involve discipline. Our spiritual workout might include: reading and meditating on God’s Word, praying, listening to sermons, doing a Bible study, teaching others, being part of a small group, becoming involved in a ministry, listening to praise music. What does your spiritual workout routine look like?

We have a responsibility to work out spiritually, but Paul also says that it’s God who works in us. The two go together: we have our part, and God has His part. The word in Greek for work is the word from which we get the word energy. It is God who gives us energy to do the work He has for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God prepares us for the work He has for us, and He gives us the energy to complete the work. In John 15:5, Jesus says:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

You may have heard the words: “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” It’s true. We must remain in Jesus or our life is for nothing. Sometimes we get disconnected from the vine, and we try to do things on our own. We soon discover we don’t have energy. To receive energy, we have to stay in the vine.

What does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Proverbs 1:7 says:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Psalm 111:10 says:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Fear is associated with wisdom, understanding, obedience, and knowing God. Job 28:28 says:

And he said to the man, ‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ “

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 contain the parting words of the wisest man to ever live, Solomon:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

God is all sufficient; we are not. We must remain in the vine for our lives to have worth. God is the only one who can bring us to full salvation.

Dr. Moody shares some interesting thoughts in his article “Some Theological Reflections on Christ and COVID-19.” https://godcenteredlife.org/articles/some-theological-reflections-on-christ-and-covid-19/


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out our Media menu.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details. 


Verse Completion: . . . the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (NASB)

4/23/20

Good morning, Praise Singers.

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/jbCu4gBKX-I

Complete the Verses and Name the Book:

· If you forgive men for their transgressions, your . . .

· But if you do not forgive men, then . . . (completions at the end)

On Tuesday, Pastor Michael gave his ninth fireside chat titled “Relationships in the Gospel” based on Philippians 2:5-11. In Chapter One, Paul talked about who Jesus is and who we are before Jesus. A relationship with God has to have an impact on our lives. In Chapter Two, Paul talks about how that is lived out.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ralph Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Our actions speak louder than our words. Paul wants us to take a look at our actions in relationships. To the degree in which we imitate Christ in our relationships is the degree to which we will promote Christ to those around us. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:34-35) How will we be known as disciples of Christ? By how we treat one another; by how we interact, act, and react in our relationships with others.

It begins with a mindset; it begins with how we think—our thought processes. The mindset of Christ is different from the mindset of the world; it’s often opposite. The world says to step on everybody else as you climb the ladder to success. Jesus says to be a servant. Romans 12:1-2 says:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our minds are renewed by a relationship with Jesus. Philippians 4:8 says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Train your mind to think differently. In our relationships, we go down the road of the worst case scenario. We wave at someone, and the person doesn’t wave back. We start to think that the person must be mad at us. Train your mind to travel down the best road. The person probably didn’t even see us, and that’s why they didn’t wave back.

What was the mindset of Jesus who was, is, and will always be God? Even though He was God, he didn’t see this as something to be grasped—to be held tightly. When someone didn’t recognize Jesus as God, He didn’t feel like He was being robbed. Jesus didn’t have to prove who He was. He didn’t have to promote who He was. In fact, He did the opposite. When He did miracles that showed He was God, Jesus would tell the person to not spread the news around. Jesus was all about His life bringing glory to God the Father rather than Him. When we work in the church, it’s to bring glory to God and not ourselves. Jesus didn’t defend Himself, and we don’t have to defend ourselves.

We latch on to our self-esteem, and we expect people to treat us in certain ways. We latch on to our ego. We latch on to great things we have done. We latch on to what we can offer. Jesus didn’t latch on to the fact that He was God. He didn’t latch on to the glory He used to live in. He let it all go. He made Himself nothing. He took the nature of a servant. Are we able to let go of our ambition, our self-centeredness, our preferences, our ways of doing things, our will, our desire? Division comes when we latch on to things and won’t let them go. Selfish ambition results in rivalry. We need to let go of what we want and want what will bring the most glory to God.

As disciples of Christ we stop latching on, we let go, and we limit ourselves. Jesus, who was God, limited Himself to a physical body. Do we limit ourselves, or do we push, prod, poke, and politic to get our way? Limiting ourselves results in the betterment of others to the glory of God. We need to limit our rights so others can be promoted and God receive the glory. Jesus made a choice to limit Himself. John 10:14-18 says:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Jesus made a conscious decision to die for us. He didn’t have to; He wasn’t forced to; He wasn’t coerced to. Jesus chose to limit Himself, because He loved others. Jesus knew we were unable to save ourselves, so He died that we might live. It was out of His love for us that He died on a cross. Death on a cross was reserved for slaves and conquered nations. Jesus, who was rich, became poor so we who were poor could become rich. Jesus is the perfect example of humility.

Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins (taking the lowest place), God exalted Him to the highest place. This is how things work in the kingdom of God: If you want to be exalted, take the lowest place. James 4:10 says:

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

We want to lift ourselves up rather than allowing God to lift us up. We forget that our sufficiency is found in Christ. All our needs are met in Him. 1 Peter 5:5-6 says:

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

When we try to get our own way, when we politic, when we play people, when we push people, when we prod people, when we poke people, when we manipulate people, we become opponents of God. God opposes the proud. The mindset of a disciple of Christ is to glorify God the Father because Jesus is Lord—He’s Master and Commander. A disciple of Christ does not work things so he becomes master and commander.

Satan attacks those who promote Christ because Satan wants to destroy God’s kingdom. If we have the mindset of Jesus, Satan will be defeated. With the mindset of Jesus, we don’t latch on, we learn to let go, and we purposefully limit ourselves because we love one another. With the mindset of Jesus, God is glorified.

Do you sometimes wonder how to follow Jesus? Dr. Moody has a sermon on this topic, and it’s been divided into two parts. Here are both parts:

https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/1-corinthians-to-the-church-of-god-14-how-to-follow-jesus-part-1/

https://godcenteredlife.org/broadcast/1-corinthians-to-the-church-of-god-14-how-to-follow-jesus-part-2/


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out our Media menu.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Completion of Verses:

· . . . heavenly Father will also forgive you.

· . . . your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15 (NASB)



4/25/20

Good morning, Masked Missionaries.


Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-KicvBB2L68


Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to . . . (completion at the end)


Pastor Kevin Ulmet is the lead pastor at the Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. Their church has a weekly newsletter in which Pastor Ulmet writes a blog. Today, I’d like to share with you what he wrote for this week:

LET'S ALL GET BACK TO...WHAT?

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought much destruction across our world. According to a report I read tonight, here is a brief bullet-point summary of what it has left so far in its wake:

211 Nations of the world have reported certified cases of the virus

The United States has had more cases and deaths than any other nation in the world

IF ALL mitigation efforts are followed, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts 200,000 American deaths by the end

1.6 billion school children worldwide are unable to attend school classes physically

97% of Americans have been under stay-at-home orders from their Governors

22 Million Americans have lost their jobs in the last 30 days

We have seen the worst drop in the Stock Markets and Oil prices in history

1 in 3 American renters did not pay their rent for April on time

Sunday's obituary pages in the Boston Globe ran 16 pages

The deceased in New York are loaded into refrigerated trailers holding 145 bodies each daily (Source - CNN.COM)

As the discussion in our nation turns to the "grand re-opening" the desire to "return to normal" rises. I have been thinking a lot about that lately, as a Pastor responsible for a sizable congregation and leader of a multi-level organization. We all want to get back to "normal" - at least that's what we've been saying, right? But what would that "normal" consist of? And do we REALLY want to get back to all of it?

I have concluded after this month in quarantine, and having developed some new rhythms in my life that I think are really healthy and fulfilling, that much of what I once thought "normal" I don't want to return to. Here are a few things I DO NOT want to return to in a few weeks:

The frenetic pace of life I left behind in mid-March. I prided myself in making sure virtually every working moment was occupied, information was streaming into my head, phone calls were made during commutes to and from work, and I was never off of or far from my cell phone very long. No - I can't do that any more. Life is far too short and precious. I need time to be human, to pray and meditate more, to spend more time reading my Bible and thinking deep thoughts about life and love.

Never being "home" enough to really love my "house." This past month I fell in love all over again with the home we moved into in 2017. The spaces we decorated and furnished have provided not only a haven of rest for us, but two perfect "offices" for us to work from within our own walls. We've gotten immense amounts of "work" done - all within this wonderful space.

Not having time to "walk the hill." I live in Spring Hill, and a favorite walking trail in our community was the site of the Battle of Spring Hill November 29,1864. As Generals Schofield and Hood led their troops, 850 soldiers shed their blood and died, many of them on "the hill" that still dominates the landscape of our town. There is an aura about the place, as is often true of historic sites. I had walked that hill probably 2 times since we moved here nearly 3 years ago. This past month, we've walked it many many times, and it has become a symbol for me of a slower pace, needed exercise, interacting with nature, and spending time with my wife. I want to do that a lot more than I used to!

Seeing "through" front-line laborers instead of "seeing them" for the heroes they are. Service personnel in our stores and restaurants, and medical staff in our health care facilities are often people we took for granted, seldom stopping to thank or read their name tags if they had one. Their daily routines have now become near-sacred to us, as we recognize just how significant these people are, and how they have been willing to serve us at personal risk during this pandemic. I want to notice them now, and appreciate their vital daily service to me and so many others.

Seeing everything and everyone through economic lenses. 9/11 changed us as Americans - we became less materialistic, took more time for each other, even grew spiritually and many returned to church. We said we'd "never be the same" - and that was true - for about 1-1/2 to 2 years. Then "normal" crept back in. And before you knew it, we were right back where we had come from. Then the crash of October 2008 and the ensuing "Great Recession," we said would make certain that new values about materialism and debt would never be forgotten. And they weren't. For about 3 years or so. And then "normal" crept back in. We rode an 11-year record span of economic growth and expansion, and believed just 45 days ago it would always be this way. Oh my, how that has changed. Once again, we say we'll "never be the same." Really? For how long?

The future is in our hands. No, we can't control the pandemics or economics or sad state of politics. But we can control how we are going to live. What kind of people we are going to be. What kind of values we are going to live by. What kind of time we are going to set aside for the relationships that are really important. And how focused we are going to be on pursuing God and His holiness in our lives. I challenge all of you, and yes, myself - let's create new "normals" - not just return to the old. We're better than that. We've learned, haven't we? God has been at work through these times to teach us lessons yet again. Let's live them out in the years ahead. That's my intention, God helping me.

Pastor Ulmet

If you would like to hear a sermon by Pastor Ulmet, here is the one he gave last Sunday. He is starting a new series on “Kingdom Encounters,” and this is the first sermon in the series. If you want to go directly to the sermon, it starts at 26:30: https://livestream.com/nfcn/events/2091635/videos/204804606


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out our Media menu

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Verse Completion: . . . accomplish His work. John 4:34 (NASB)

4/21/20

Good morning, Prayer Warriors.

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DMZ8D6nTKhg

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For God has not given us a spirit of . . . (completion at the end)


On Good Friday, there was a special livestream event organized by World Vision. I have shared what Samuel Rodriguez, Tony Dungy, Francis Chan, and Max Lucado had to say. Today, I’d like for you to hear from Edgar Sandoval Sr.—President of World Vision U.S. What he had to say spoke to me the most of any of the speakers. Perhaps it will be the same with you.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity to come together as the body of Christ during Holy Week. As we are all separated in our households, we need this time of prayer and unity. So thank you, Nicole, and all those who planned this service, and a special thank you to my son, Edgar Junior, who is filming me today.

Normally, when we observe Good Friday, we just have to imagine the darkness of this day 2000 years ago as Jesus hung on the cross, but now we find ourselves in a fearful, dark time with the COVID-19 death toll rising across the country and the world. And we haven't seen the peak yet. The virus is indiscriminate affecting the wealthy, the poor, the powerful, the weak, those from the North, those from the South, from the East to the West—all of us are vulnerable to the same imminent danger.

Just as the light broke through the darkness on Resurrection Sunday, we can trust that God is working behind the scenes today. We know the victory is assured in our salvation, and we've got a job to keep doing. Our Lord is calling people back to Himself. He wants us to be His hands and feet to do His work. That is why, during this uncertain time, World Vision is bringing prayer, kindness, and a bias to action. We are responding to COVID-19 everywhere we work—nearly 100 countries across the globe. Our actions are our response to the love of God in Jesus, because perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). The love of Jesus gives us hope that outweighs our fear and releases us to love and serve others as He did. With each act of love, we can do more than just stop the spread of fear; we can replace it with hope. I believe this is a time when our obedience matters most. Our God is not just the God of the good times; he is a God of the here and now. He is working in your life and my life inviting us into His Kingdom to align our lives with His here on earth and for eternity.

What does God care about? Well, as I read the Bible, I see an unmistakable thread of verses about God's heart for the poor and vulnerable. They are everywhere in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. It's everywhere I look! Caring for the poor and vulnerable was consistently God's command to the people of Israel in Old Testament times just as it is the vision of Jesus for us today. Then and now God calls his people to be his instrument for sharing his love to the least, the lost, and the hurting.

The least of these are on my heart constantly now. They are the people who even before this crisis were ultra poor and highly vulnerable. They live in tightly built, overcrowded and unhygienic refugee settlements in Bangladesh and Syria, slums in India, shantytowns in Kenya, and barrios in Venezuela. I have been to these places. In fact, just a few months ago, I was in Bangladesh where nearly 1,000,000 Rohingya refugees live in a sprawling camp. The families’ tents are so close together and so flimsy. Each shack is barely 100 square feet and overcrowded with up to 12 people.

You and I can hunker down in our well built homes filled with amenities and plenty of food and running water. But for these ultra vulnerable people, these tightly crowded, unsanitary places are their homes. This is where they will hunker down to prevent infection. This is the only place for their elderly people. They have the same concerns you and I have for our parents and for their school age children—for their loved ones with disabilities like my daughter, Andrea. They are on my mind, and I believe they are on God's mind, too, because our God cares about the same things yesterday, today, and forever.

Everywhere I look in the Holy Book, He is pleading with his people to take care of the poor, the marginalized, the sick, the vulnerable. Take care of them! When we say, “Lord, we want to humble ourselves as we draw closer to you. Please tell us, Lord, how should we fast.” The Lord says, “Edgar, is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)

When we ask, “Lord, who is a woman of noble character?”

The Lord says, “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:16-20, NIV)

“Okay, but what about the man, Lord? Who is a righteous man?”

The Lord says, “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of Israel . . . He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.” (Ezekiel 18:5-7, NIV)

Then we asked, “Lord, what is pure and true religion?”

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . .” (James 1:27, NIV)

When we look at the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus, how does it begin and end? Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet, Isaiah. He states his mission on earth: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)

Just days before His crucifixion, as recorded in Matthew 25, Jesus gives us final instructions. In no uncertain terms, He tells us that all the nations will be gathered before him and people will be separated to the right and to the left. We want to know how he will decide who goes where, and the answer is clear: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, . . . I was sick and you looked after me, . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40, NIV)

This is our mission in the here and now—to love our neighbors. Friends, the least of these are right here in our neighborhoods—those who are hungry, fearful, and alone. They're also around the world where COVID-19 could be utterly devastating in ultra poor communities and refugee settlements.

Let us take a moment to honor the World Vision staff and faith leaders working tirelessly to help those in the margins of our society who are affected by COVID-19, internationally and here in the United States.

Here are the words of some of the workers shown in the video:

· “In this time of need, Oh Father God, that we have with this coronavirus, with all this fear that’s out there, we are stepping out of our four walls to help our community.”

· “We believe that God is greater than this pandemic.”

· I urge you to be strong and to continue to keep your faith in God.”

· “The fear is real, but what we're trying to do is to show that we still care.”

· “We're really trying to put all our efforts to reach the most vulnerable families—those are our priority.”

· “This disaster response is on an unprecedented level. Not only is it around the whole country and around the world, but it's right here in our own backyard.”

· “This is a global problem. The solution requires everyone to do their part—from the average person washing their hands to organizations like World Vision doing their work to the international community working together.”

· “How do we alleviate the fear? It’s through acts of kindness—through love.”

· “We have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.”

We invite you to join us. We need your help to respond quickly with the tangible love of God to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable families.

In the U.S., World Vision is working hand in hand with churches and school districts to deliver essentials to the most vulnerable children and families. Through our 13 strategic locations, we are distributing family emergency kits containing a week’s worth of food for a family of five, hygiene and protective items, educational supplies, and resources for kids. Our hope is to reach 650,000 people right here in the U.S. Globally, World Vision is uniquely positioned to face the spread of COVID-19. We are scaling up our response in 17 countries that are the most vulnerable. We are aiming to reach over 22,000,000 people including 11,000,000 vulnerable children.

We’re working in three ways: protect, provide, and prevent.

· To protect we're distributing protective equipment for health workers and supporting health systems in other ways including equipping 220,000 community health workers.

· To provide we are caring for children made vulnerable by COVID-19. These are kids in families who were already living on the edge. We’re providing food, care packets, cash, voucher programs, and more.

· To prevent we are helping families and communities stop or slow the spread of the virus by implementing our world class clean water and sanitation programs.

As we do this, we are engaging faith leaders who are key to influencing behavior change. We're also joined by our experience and success managing past global outbreaks including polio, HIV, Zika virus, and Ebola fever. So if you are able, please support us as we rush to help in the name of Jesus. Go to worldvision.org/pulse with your gift. It will go to fight COVID-19 here in the U.S. and around the world. Together we will be caring for the most vulnerable people everywhere.

Let's trust God like never before. Let's unite in prayer and move swiftly to help each other, and let's please not forget the least of these. God is pleading with us to take care of them. It was the critical mission of Jesus on Earth, and it’s ours today. God bless you.

If our victories don’t come through our cleverness, erudition, strength of will, or personality, then how do we gain victories? Dr. Moody explains: 

https://godcenteredlife.org/devotional/judges-4-5-victory/


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out the Media menu.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Verse Completion: . . . timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB)

4/20/20

Good morning, Virtual Friends.

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/LyPcR1yWwkw

Complete the Verses & Name the Book:

· See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, . . .

· For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells . . .

· And in Him you have been . . . (completions at the end)

Yesterday, Pastor Michael gave the sermon “Parable of Treasure, Pearl, and the Net” based on Matthew 13:44-52 to a virtual congregation as the coronavirus continues to keep us in check.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”(verse 44)

In ancient Palestine, it was common for people to put money in the ground. The rich had investment opportunities, but the common person didn’t have a bank or any other place to store money except in the ground. They would put their money in a clay pot and then bury the pot in the ground.

In this parable, there’s a man who discovered one of these clay pots and felt it would be worth it to sell all he had and buy the field where the pot was discovered so all the money in the pot would be his. He realized that the treasure in the field was worth more than everything he owned. That field was extremely costly to the man, but he gained even more by buying it.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (verses 45-46)

This parable is very similar to the previous one. Here is a man who buys and sells pearls. He knows the value of them. On one of his trips to find pearls he can make a profit on, he finds a very valuable pearl. It’s one-of-a-kind. He’s never seen one quite like this. He knows he will be able to sell this pearl for a premium price. Since he doesn’t have enough money to purchase it, he sold everything he owned. He then proceeded to buy the pearl. He now owns nothing except this one pearl. He’s fine with it, because he knows the cost of buying that pearl is far outweighed by the value of that pearl.

Both of these parables teach us something about heaven. The treasure and the pearl represent the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than the totality of our possessions. Being in the kingdom of heaven is the most valuable thing in the entire universe. Our response to the kingdom of heaven should be just like the treasure hunter and merchant in these parables—giving up all they had so they could have the one thing that was worth more than all they owned. The reality for us is it costs to follow Jesus; it costs us everything: hobbies, habits, family, friends. It’s a sacrifice to follow Jesus. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26) To be a follower of Christ, you have to die to self. There’s no room for self-endeavors, selfishness, or self-serving. As followers of Christ, we sacrifice for Him.

The problem is people don’t tend to believe that the kingdom of heaven is worth more than all we possess here on earth. Christians are guilty of this, too. We want Jesus as our Savior. We want everlasting life. However, we want Jesus as our Savior but not as our Lord. We want Jesus to save us but not change or transform us. We want Jesus to save us but not tell us what to do. However, when we accept Jesus as Savior, we accept Him as Lord because it’s a package deal. We can’t pick and choose. The reason we don’t follow Jesus wholeheartedly is we’re afraid of what that will cost us. We’re afraid of losing something we have here on earth.

The treasure hunter in the parable was filled with joy after he sold everything and bought the plot of land. He didn’t care that he now owned only one thing. Are you willing to give Jesus everything? Can you give Jesus everything joyfully? Are you investing the value you have into the kingdom of heaven?

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (verses 47-50)

This parable is very similar to the parable of the weeds found in verses 24-30 of this chapter. The kingdom of heaven is not like any other kingdom. It far surpasses all other kingdoms in value. We have a choice to make; are we going to follow Jesus regardless of the cost, or are we going to reject following Jesus because the cost is too high? Following Jesus leads to eternal life; rejecting Jesus leads to eternal death.

Jesus tells this kind of parable twice because it’s important. When Jesus repeats something, we better pay attention. The kingdom of heaven is real; the kingdom of hell is real. Jesus wants all of us to be in His kingdom. He wants us to realize how important the kingdom of heaven is. He wants us to understand that the choices we make determine what kingdom we are in.

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (verses 51-52)

The kingdom of heaven is the most valuable kingdom there is. Are you part of this kingdom? Are you willing to pay the cost of this kingdom? Right now we are in a pandemic. It’s costing you something: isolation at home, wearing masks, not seeing grandchildren. You are willing to pay the cost because you know what could happen if you don’t—your death or the death of someone else. You realize that the cost of not seeing your grandchildren now far outweighs the cost of not being able to see them later. If we’re willing to pay the cost for an earthly kingdom, shouldn’t we be willing to pay the cost for an eternal kingdom? Are we willing to do whatever God asks of us?

The whole Bible points to this truth: there’s a heaven and there’s a hell. Jesus is the way to heaven. Have you given up everything to gain Christ? Count the cost, pay the cost, and gain the treasure.

If you’ve never prayed to ask Jesus into your life, pray this prayer with me:

“Jesus, I want to be part of the kingdom of heaven. I realize the value of eternal life, the value of forgiveness, and the value of your kingdom. Jesus, I ask you to forgive me of my sins. I ask you to come into my life. Jesus, be my Savior, and Jesus be my Lord. Help me to live for you. Jesus, help me to make you the Lord of my life. Help me not to hold back from you. Help me to realize that whatever I give up, pales in comparison to what I gain, because I gain you and a relationship with you. God, help me to realize the joy of what I gain and forget about what I think I'm going to lose. So Jesus, lead as both my Savior and my Lord. I asked this in your name, Jesus. Amen.”

Are you investing in the kingdom of heaven? Are you giving God your time, your talents, your tithes, and your treasures to build His kingdom? The most valuable possession you could ever have is Jesus. Value the kingdom of heaven. Make it the most important thing in your life.

I would encourage you to listen to Tim Keller’s meditation on Psalm 91 called “Trusting God in Difficult Times.” It’s less than 12 minutes long. This is different from the other two that were provided last week: https://youtu.be/_pXWZNtxS0Q


Reminders

· Call someone today to check up on them.

· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out our Media menu.

· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.


Completion of Verses:

· . . . rather than according to Christ.

· . . . in bodily form,

· . . . made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority. Colossians 2:8-10 (NASB)

4/22/20

Good morning, Gospel Spreaders.

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/z4EoLm3_luM

Complete the Verse & Name the Book: Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be . . . (completion at the end)

Last Thursday, Pastor Michael gave his eighth fireside chat called “Realizing the Gospel” based on Philippians 2:1-4: