Daily Devotion June 2022


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/aAGh9MSBjT8

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and . . . (completion at the end)

In order tofully appreciate the New Testament, we have to read the Old Testament. An example is Leviticus 17:10-11:

"And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you eats or drinks blood in any form, I will turn against that person and cut him off from the community of your people, for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you theblood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible."

It is thebloodof Jesus shed on the cross that now makes us right with the LORD. It is at Calvary that an exchange for a life took place—the life of Jesus in exchange for mine. I should have been the one dying on the cross and paying the penalty for my sins. Instead, the perfect Lamb of God (without spot or blemish—without sin) took my place. His sacrifice makes my purification possible. There's nothing I can do to earn my salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."

In Old Testament times, a perfect animal (often a lamb) was sacrificed for the sin of a person. It most certainly wasn't once and for all. As people continued to sin, more perfect animals had to be sacrificed. But when Jesus came and willingly gave his life for us, this was a once and for all sacrifice. His shed blood covers the sins of all who believe in him and ask forgiveness for their sins.

Because Jesus paid my penalty for me and set me free from my bondage to sin, I want to give my life back to him. I want to do what pleases him rather than what pleases me. I want to follow the path he has for me. In order to see what that path is, I have to read his word.

I know the Holy Spirit that dwells in me is helping me to live the life God has planned for me. 2 Timothy 1:14 says, "Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you." Romans 15:13 says, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Verse Completion. . . he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! Jonah 2:2 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/7KiY56ZoqRY

Complete the Verse & Name the Book”These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their . . . (completion at the end)

Today I was reading the parable of the farmer scattering seed. Matthew 4:3-8 says,

"Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As hescattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn't have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

In verses 14-20, Jesus explains the parable:

"The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear themessage and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"

All of us fall into one of these four categories of seeds. Since you are reading this, I doubt you fall into the first category. That leaves us in one of three remaining categories. I see some big red flags we need to watch for:

· problems—1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

· persecution for being Christians—Hebrews 10:33-34 says, "Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever."

· worries of this life get us down—Jesus said in Luke 12:22b-26, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?"

· the lure of wealth—1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, "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."

· desire for other things—Jesus said, "You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38).

We have been told what pitfalls are out there. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we can avoid them and be used by God to bring in the harvest.

Verse Completion. . . robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. Revelation 7:14b (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the Book”The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of . . . (completion at the end)

I was recently reading Matthew 26:47-50 that relates the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus. It reminded me of a story in the book Peace Child by Don Richardson. Delia Walcott tells what happened:

In 1962, Don Richardson took his wife and seven-month-old baby to work among the Sawi tribe, in what was then Dutch New Guinea. The Sawi were tribal people known to be cannibalistic headhunters. Don knew that God had called him to work among the Sawi people. A strong commitment was needed because the missionaries had to overcome the language problem, on top of being under constant threat of violence and exposure to various diseases. So the first task that Don Richardson had to undertake was to study the language of the Sawi people to a level of proficiency enough to allow him to tell them the gospel.

After months of 8-10 hour daily learning sessions, Richardson was able to tell the people about Christ. He told them stories about Jesus. However, he came to a dead end in his quest to tell them the gospel when after telling them about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, the Sawi people started to cheer and hail Judas as the hero in the story! Richardson found out that in a culture that exalted treachery and betrayal, the people regarded Judas the hero, and Jesus ‘the dupe to be laughed at’. It seemed impossible then to bring the people to an understanding of the redemption and salvation of Christ, until he discovered in their culture what he referred to as a Redemptive Analogy that pointed to Christ. This was the Sawi concept of the Peace Child.

When Don and his wife moved to live among the Sawi people, they were very well received by the Sawi and highly regarded as the ‘magical people’ with the medicine that could treat diseases and tools that could make work easier. Three Sawi tribes moved to live near the Richardsons. However, these tribes were warring tribes and had a long standing feud with one another. There was constant fighting among the tribes; fights occurring almost every day. The Richardsons considered moving away so that the tribes could go back to where they lived, separate from one another. However, the tribes did not want the Richardsons to leave.

To secure peace between tribes, there was only one way. A father from one tribe had to give his son to a father from an enemy tribe to be brought up by the enemy tribe. As long as the son was well and alive in the other tribe, there would be peace between the tribes. The sacrifice was too sacred to be looked upon lightly by the other tribe. They would ensure that they honour the sacrifice and the peace treaty. This concept was known as the sacrifice of the Peace Child.

To stop the fighting among the three tribes and keep the Richardsons with them, one father from one tribe took his son and went towards an enemy tribe to give him up to the other tribe as the Peace Child. He only had one son. This was his only son after years of marriage. He took the baby and ran through the tribe, trying to see if any other family who had several sons would give one of their sons up instead. But there was no one. None would give up their own son.

He had no choice but to keep going towards the enemy tribe. With tears in his eyes and a heartbroken wife back with his tribe, he handed over the Peace Child to the other tribe. Everyone from both tribes watched as the receiving father brought the child to the men from his tribe. Each man laid hands on the child and received the child into their tribe, and peace was secured for the two tribes. This was an even greater and more sacred sacrifice than usual because the father had given up his one and only son.

As this was unfolding before his eyes, Don discovered, in the most unlikely way, the key to the Sawi’s understanding of redemption and salvation!

Don then began telling the Sawi about the great sacrifice of the Father in order to bring reconciliation and redemption. He told them about Jesus, the Peace Child. As they began to understand the gospel better, they told him if they’d known Judas had betrayed the Peace Child, they would not have hailed him the hero. Although they admire those who are masters of trickery and treachery, they would never condone someone who betrayed the Peace Child and the honour code of the peace he brings.

After this, many Sawi were saved and converted to Christianity.

Verse Completion. . . hearing the words of the Lord. Amos 8:11 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/w7MiYTjv5QU?t=14

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWorthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessing. Blessing and . . . (completion at the end)

Matthew 26:36-44 says,

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. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

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 secondtime 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!"

There was a time in my life when I dreamed of being a Navy Seal. I thought I MIGHT be able to handle everything they dished out to me except sleep deprivation. I do not do well when I don't get a good night's sleep. My spirit wants to stay awake, but my body gives out. Even as a kid, I could never stay awake all night with my friends.

This passage of Scripture is dealing with something far more important than being a Navy Seal or having an all-night sleepover. This is about being counted as a friend of the Creator of the Universe, and having him ask you to stay up with him as he faces the most difficult night of his entire earthly life. His soul is"crushed with grief to the point of death."He really needs a friend to stay awake with him—to encourage him, to let him know he's cared for, to let him know he's not all alone because you're there with him, to let him know he can count on you knowing you'll be there for him through thick and thin.

Jesus' closest friends weren't there for him when he needed them the most. Would I have been there for him? I wish I could say, “I mostcertainlywould have been there for him,” but I know myself better than that. I would have been fast asleep just like the rest of His closest friends. Jesus told them, "Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation." 

This admonition applies to us at all times. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." This is true for the military, and it's true spiritually. Our intentions might be good, but it's our performance that really counts.

Let’s pray: “Lord, your disciples let you down when you needed them the most. I've let you down, too. I need your Holy Spirit to take over my life completely so I do your will and not mine. Direct each step I take, and give me the strength to follow hard after you today and every day. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

Verse Completion. . . honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever. Revelation 5:12, 13 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/RkHvOe5ehlE

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThey have been led astray by the same . . . (completion at the end)

Matthew 26:31-35 says,

On the way, Jesus told them,"Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, 'God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there."

Peter declared, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you."

Jesus replied,"I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me."

"No!" Peter insisted. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!" And all the other disciples vowed the same.

As we read later in verses 69-75, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. I started thinking about what it would take for me to deny Jesus. Right now, I feel like Peter when he told Jesus,"Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you."I feel strongly about my relationship with Jesus, and I feel like NOTHING could ever make me deny my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

All it took for Peter was a servant girl to say to him,"You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean,"and he fell apart. Would I do the same? I would hope I could stand strong against any amount of peer pressure, but until it would actually happen to me, I wouldn't know the outcome. Am I stronger than Peter and the other disciples? I'm sure I'm not.

Revelation 13:15b-17a says,"Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.

He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark."

It looks like pressure to deny Jesus is going to be a lot stronger in the future than it was for Peter at this point in his life. It sounds like the day is coming when we will not be able to buy food, have a bank account, be in business . . . unless we deny Jesus. Again, I hope I would stand strong for Jesus regardless of the cost. That's what true discipleship is all about. As disciples of Christ, we should have given up everything for Jesus already. Our hearts should have said goodbye to all our possessions, food, and clothes when we became believers. Therefore, when faced with the situation presented in Revelation 13, it would be no big deal to see everything go. It would be like we sold our car to someone awhile back, and now they are here to pick it up.

There have been many martyrs for Jesus through the centuries—those who have not denied Jesus even to the point of death. Have you thought about the degree of your commitment to Jesus? Remember that we have the Holy Spirit who gives us strength to be bold and stand up for Jesus.

Verse Completion. . . lies that deceived their ancestors. Amos 2:4b (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/tXQpDDcrN-w

Complete the Verse & Name the Book”Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always . . . (completion at the end)

Matthew 25 tells the parable of the ten bridesmaids. Jesus concludes the parable with these words (verses 10-13):

"But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in withhim 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."

These are sobering words! The period of opportunity we have to give our lives to Jesus is limited. At some point, the door ofopportunity will be shut, and it will be too late to commit our lives to Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 says,"As God's partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God's kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

"At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, the "right time" is now.Today is the day of salvation.

The old adage says, "The only thing you're guaranteed in this life is death . . . and taxes." Some may find loopholes in taxes, but nobody finds loopholes in death. We better be prepared. Since we have no idea when death could occur, we need to be like the wise bridesmaids in the parable who were ready for bridegroom when he came. In this story, Jesus is thebridegroom who will be coming for his bride—the Church. If we aren't ready for his return, it will be too late; the door will be shut, and there will be no other time when the door will be opened.

I have a loved one who said in his twenties, "Oh, don't worry about me. I'm just taking a break from church. Probably in my thirties, I'll return. You don't need to be concerned about me." He is now in his late thirties, and hasn't shown any interest in God or hiskingdom. He has raised his children apart from the church. He's a “good person”: faithful and loving husband, kind and loving to his children, an excellent provider for his family, law abiding citizen . . . you'd love the guy! But we are very concerned for him and his family. We don't get into heaven by being good people. We get into heaven by repenting of our sins, believing Jesus is Lord, and becoming a disciple of Christ. Right now the door is open for him, but it won't always be. We're praying he will choose wisely.

Verse Completion. . . was, who is, and who is still to come. Revelation 4:8b (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/-Ejs2o-uhu4

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe day of the Lord is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive? That is why the Lord says,  . . . (completion at the end)

Today we will wrap up an attempt to answer the question, "Why does God allow pain and suffering?" So far we have looked at three causes for pain and suffering.

A fourth reason for pain and suffering is human ignorance or making bad choices. One example of this could be diving into lake water before checking out the depth of the water. This is what happened to Joni Eareckson Tada as a teenager. The result was becoming a quadriplegic for the rest of her life.

I know of a dentist's son who was in college studying to become a dentist himself. He was partying at Lake Shasta andmisjudged the distance between two boats as he jumped from one to the other. He died.

I know of a mother who backed her car over hertoddler fatally injuring him. None of these incidents were intentional, but the result was a lot of pain and suffering for the person and for the people in close relationship with the individual.

Whether it's a divorce, a tree falling on a house, a crime committed against another, or an accident, some people are quick to blame God for their pain and suffering. Instead of getting mad at God, we should remember:

the role of Satan

the corrupted natural world that has been corrupted by sin

the role of human sin

ignorance or bad choices

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul is reminded of what Jesus said to him,"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."Paul came to see that when he is weak in himself, he is strong in the Lord. Because of this, Paul takes pleasure in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that he suffers for Christ (verse 10).

ElisabethKugler-Ross wrote a book with the title ofDeath: The Final Stage of Growth. In it she said, "The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."

We will never know the full answer to the question "Why does God allow pain and suffering?" this side of heaven. The key word in the question is "allow." This is much different than "cause". We looked at what causes pain and suffering. What we do know is that those who cling to Jesus and use the adversities of this life to build character are great role models for us, and they reflect Jesus who suffered emotionally and physically throughout His life.

I'm sure you know of people who have experienced serious pain and suffering and are great examples for us. I certainly know one—my wife, Laurie. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2007. It was very questionable as to whether she would live or die. The odds were definitely not in her favor. In the thick of it, not once did she ever say "Why me?" or "God, why did you let this happen to me?" Not once did she feel sorry for herself. Even the day after a chemo treatment, she would want to have the grandchildren come over when she was feeling sick. She said it got her mind off of herself. I don't know that I would have had that same attitude. Laurie was and is an inspiration to me!

Why does God allow pain and suffering? I don't know for sure, but I know Jesus went through a lot of pain and suffering. As disciples of Christ, shouldn't we expectthe same? Philippians 1:29 says,"For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him." 

I want to leave you today with 1 Peter 1:6-7: "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even thoughyou must endure many trials for a little while. These trials willshow that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

Verse Completion. . . “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hurts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.”  Joel 2:11b-12 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/GhkvFFNjQ5k

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday the question, "Why does God allow pain and suffering?" was introduced. We ended with Paul's experience of being taken to the third heaven.

The story takes a turn in 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10,So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

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 weaknesses, 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.

Here is where we see the first reason for pain and suffering—it's Satan inflicting pain, suffering, and confusion. The result can be discouragement. The Greek word for "thorn" can be translated "stake." Jesus had stakes driven into him on the cross; they weren't thorns. I imagine Paul felt like he had a "stake" in his flesh. He pleaded with the Lord to take it out. Three different times he agonized over this in desperate prayer asking that it be removed, but God didn't do it! Sometimes when we plead for God to do something, He says, "No."

Even today Satan causes all kinds of pain and suffering in people’s lives. He knows it is psychologically impossible to love God when you feel like he is the source of your pain and suffering. Satan knows if you think God Almighty is the one who caused the pain and suffering you're going through, you will be psychologically incapable of adoring and loving Him. Therefore, Satan throws physical problems, marital problems, financial problems, relational problems, and other problems our way in order to separate us from God.

However, being forewarned is being forearmed. When we know the bad stuff that comes our way is from the devil, we don't get mad at God; we get mad at the devil. We don't want to have misplaced aggression like the guy who has a bad day at work and goes home and kicks the dog. Let's remember James 1:16-17a,"So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father."

Tomorrow we will look at other causes of pain and suffering in our lives.

Verse Completion. . . hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:19, 20 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/WTDoDA-1lsE

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became . . . (completion at the end)

Pastor Herb Ireland spoke on the topic of "Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?" If you've ever experienced pain and suffering and/or watched another go through it, you may have asked this question. If so, you're not the first to ask it.

Biblical writers were puzzled by some of God's actions, too. In Job 24:1, Job asked,"Why doesn't the Almighty bring the wicked to judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?" 

David asks in Psalm 10:1-3,"O LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble? The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor. Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others. For they brag about their evil desires; they praise the greedy and curse the LORD."

The prophet Habakkuk asked in 1:2-3,How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! "Violence is everywhere!" I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.

The Apostle Paul struggled withpain and suffering in his life. 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 records some of his struggles: prison, faced death numerous times, whipped with 39 lashes on five occasions, beaten with rods three times, stoned, shipwrecked three times, faced danger from river and robbers, was hungry and thirsty, and shivered in the cold due to lack of clothing. He endured all this so he could present Jesus (the Messiah, the Son of God) to the Mediterranean world in which he lived.

God saw everything Paul was going through, and he sees everything you and I are going through, too.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-7a, Paul experienced a high in his life. The veil between heaven and earth was drawn aside and he entered into the celestial realm where he was shown spiritual truths he could hardly take in. He wasn't sure if his body was taken up to heaven or just his spirit. Regardless, he had an amazing experience that comforted and encouraged him.

Tomorrow we will look at the change the story takes in the next verses of 2 Corinthians 12, and we will begin to explore possible reasons for why God allows pain and suffering.

Verse Completion. . . proud and forgot me. Hosea 13:6 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/M-qWMqzSwys

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will . . . (completion at the end)

Here is a brief recap of Pastor Michael's sermon "The Beginning of Ministry and Discipleship." After John the Baptist was put in prison, Capernaum became the base camp for Jesus. This fulfilled the prophecy found in Isaiah 9:1-9. Matthew was showing the Jews that Jesus the Messiah was here—the kingdom of heaven was here. God with skin on was here. His message is clear—repent.

The essence of the gospel is:

1.    We're sinners. Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Ephesians 2:8-9 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."

2.    Sin has a penalty—death. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." There's nothing I have done or can do to earn eternal life; it's Jesus alone who can save us. 

3.    Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

4.    We must receive Jesus to have salvation; we have to make a choice. Romans 10:9-10 says, That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Revelation 3:20 says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

We need to know the gospel. We are called to live out the gospel. We are to follow Christ like ducklings follow their mother (ducklings do not lead). We need to ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" But in order to answer this, we have to know what Jesus said and did in different situations, and we know that by reading his word.

James and John immediately left their fishing nets and followed Jesus when he called them. They knew who Jesus was—Lord and Savior. They gave up their lucrative fishing business to follow Jesus. Some things are easy to give up; some things are verydifficult to give up. Some of us want to partly follow Jesus. We're all in different states of discipleship. Do you prefer to be at a distance from Jesus, or do you want to get close to Jesus?

Nothing is too difficult for Jesus. There is no limit to His power. Follow hard after Jesus. InNorthAmerica we tend to be stuck at the message of Jesus stage, but power comes with being sold out to Jesus. That means we don't use Jesus for our own benefit. 

What stage are you at in following Jesus?

Verse Completion. . . give to each of you whatever you deserve. Revelation 2:23b (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ztnIg-HF5Ew

Complete the Verse & Name the BookIts people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their . . . (completion at the end)

Matthew 24:4-5 says,Jesus told them,"Don't let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah.' They will deceive many."

A little later in the chapter, in verses 23-25, Jesus said,"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 wondersso as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time."

You and I are in danger of being deceived by false teachers. We could fall for someone saying he is here to save the world from the mess it's in. So what should we look for when we are looking for afalse prophet? I know he's not going to be a recent escapee from prison who was being held for serial killings. He's not going to be a world leader who is known for being ruthless andputting large numbers of people to death at whim. He's not going to be someone who openly declares he belongs to a satanic cult. He's not going to be the person that makes you bristle at the sight of him. There's no way you or I would fall for someone like that.

The false teacher that we have to keep on the alert for is the guy who isintelligent, talented, andcharismatic. It's the guy who you are introduced to and immediately you like him. You admire his qualities. He's easy to talk to. In short, he's a good salesman getting you to buy into his message. Here are some qualities of a good salesman:

·  good listener (needs to know what you need)

·  empathetic (get inside your skin so he can anticipate exactly what you want)

·  hungry (his ego needs to be fed with large sales numbers)

·  competitive (wants to be better than anyone else)

·  networking ability (has many different connections)

·  confident (believes in himself)

·  enthusiastic (always motivated; continually looking for opportunities)

·  resilient (doesn't get discouraged; innovative)

·  multitasker (can get a lot done in a short time)

·  honest (at least appears that way)

·  curious (wants to learn all he can about you)

·  adaptable (he can go with the flow; as you change, he changes)

·  communicator (excellent verbal skills; feeds you what you want to hear)

·  persistent (knows how to get the job done; can complete the task)

·  passionate (sold on what he's doing)

·  tenacious (seeks out new clients)

·  thorough (stays in touch with you; doesn't let you go)

·  ambitious (sets goals and achieves them)

·  charming (makes a very good first impression)

·  imagination (can think on his feet and can fit in with changing situations)

·  patient (takes as long as is needed with you)

·  initiative (takes matters into his own hands)

·  independent (self-motivated)

·  committed (goes above and beyond; sets the bar high)

These might be some of the qualities we should look for in false teachers and the antichrist. I'm certainly not saying being a salesman is a bad thing or that these qualities are necessarily bad. I'm just saying a good salesman is a person we are easily drawn to, and a false prophet is a good salesman. Be alert; don't buy his bag of goods. Know what you're looking for so you aren't misled or deceived.

Verse Completion. . . sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all. Hosea 7:2 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/q3EG6oPQ49U

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI am the living one. I died, but look---I am alive forever and ever! And I hold . . . (completion at the end)

Matthew 24:1-2 says,As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he responded,"Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!" Jesus knew what the future held; his disciples did not. 

These verses reminded me of an experience I had while logging in Forks one summer. I was a choker setter, and we were securing logs with cables so the yarder could pull them in. We had just sent a group of logs out, and we were looking over the next group that would be sent out. I was standing on one of the logs that would soon be sent to the landing. I noticed a whole bunch of ants busily working away on the log. Theyhurriedly carried large loads of this and that from here to there. They had big plans, and they were working to bring those plans to fruition. But I knew something they didn't know. I knew everything they were doing was for naught. In just a matter of minutes, that log would be bouncing and sliding on the ground as it made its way to the landing. All the good work they had been doing would soon be a big waste of time.

Jesus knows what our future holds; we don't. If we are busily working away at something he hasn't blessed, all our work is in vain; it's all for naught. On the other hand, if we are seeking God's guidance and beingobedient to his leading, our time is not being wasted at all. I Corinthians 15:58 says,"So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 

I don't want to be like the ants on the log. I want my life to have meaning and purpose, and praise God it does when we havelives that are given over to him to be used in any way he sees fit.

Verse Completion. . . the keys of death and the grave. Revelation 1:18 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/aJeNUlNY7Iw

Complete the Verse & Name the BookI want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we explored how the God of the Old Testament is compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, forgiving, gracious, and rich in unfailing love. Many people think of these traits as belonging to the God of the New Testament, and they are right. However, today we are going to see that Jesus is aboutjudgment as well.

Matthew 3:10 says,"Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire."

Matthew 5:30 says,"And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Matthew 10:28 says,"Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body;they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

Matthew 12:36-37 says,"And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you."

Matthew 18:32-35 says,"Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart."

Matthew 23:33 says,"Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?"

Matthew 25:30 says,Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:46 says,"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

Mark 12:38-40 says,Jesus also taught:"Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished."

Luke 16:24-25 says,"The rich man shouted, 'Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.'

"But Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.'

John 3:36 says,"And anyone who believes in God's Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn't obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God's angryjudgment."

I have barely scratched the surface of the many passages in the New Testament that refer tojudgment.

The whole point of yesterday’s and today's devotionals is to show that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament. He is a God of love and grace but also a God of wrath andjudgment. Let's keep that balance in mind as we read the whole of Scripture.

Verse Completion. . . me more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAll glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, . . . (completion at the end)

There are people who look at the God of the Old Testament as being mean, heartless, and unmerciful. They look at the God of the New Testament as being loving, kind, and merciful. Pastor Michael has pointed out on more than one occasion that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament.

As I was reading Exodus 34:5-7 today, I was struck with the two contrasting attributes of the Old Testament God in just three verses.

Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,

"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. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations."

Since so many people look at the God of the Old Testament as harsh, unreasonable, and merciless, I'dlike to spend the rest of today pointing out Old Testament Scripture that indicates otherwise. First, let's look atNehemiah 9:17-21:

"They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them, even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, 'This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They committed terrible blasphemies.

"But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!

Read the entire ninth chapter of Nehemiah; it's full of the goodness of God. Verse 33 says,"Every time you punished us you were being just. We have sinned greatly, and you gave us only what we deserved."

Isaiah 54:10 says,"For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken," says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Nahum 1:7 says,"The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him."

Psalm 78:36-38 says,"But all [our ancestors] gave [God] was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury!"

Psalm 86:13 says,"for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death."Verse 15 says, "But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness."

Psalm 103:8-13 says,"The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him."

Joel 2:12-13 says,That is why the LORD says, "Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead." Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

This barely scratches the surface of the many passages in the Old Testament that tell of God's love. When you hear people talk about how mean the God of the Old Testament is, you have a few of the many verses that tell otherwise.

Tomorrow we will explore the myth that the God of the New Testament is only a God of love and not wrath andjudgment.

Verse Completion. . . power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. Jude 25 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will . . . (completion at the end)

Here is a brief recap of Pastor Michael’s message "The Desert Experience of Jesus" based on Matthew 4:1-11:

The purpose Matthew had in writing the first book of the New Testament was to show the Jews who Jesus was—the Messiah. Jesus kept every part of the Old Covenant. He was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, and he is the New Covenant. The book of Matthew is grounded in the Old Testament. The Exodus story plays a major role in the New Testament. Jesus is portrayed as the new Moses.

Jesus is fully God and fully human. Because he was fully human, He could be tempted just as we are (see Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Temptation is not a sin; giving into temptation is a sin.

Matthew records three temptations Jesus had:

1.    He had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (the limit a human body can go without food and still live). The devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread. This was a temptation to serve self with stuff. We might think, "How is God going to provide for me? It's the last hour. Can God be trusted?"

2.    The devil took Jesus to the highest point of the Temple in Jerusalem and told him to jump off because the Scriptures say his angels will protect him. Satan knows Scripture, but remember not everyone who quotes Scripture is trustworthy. We are tempted to take matters into our own hand. Satan is tempting Jesus to serve self. We need to remember God doesn't walk on our path; we walk on his path. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:14-17.

3.    The devil took Jesus to the peak of a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. The devil said he would give everything to Jesus if he would kneel down and worship him. In this temptation, Satan isn't asking Jesus to serve self but rather serve Satan. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13. What Satan was saying to Jesus is, "Do you really need to suffer and die on the cross? Here's a shortcut, an easier way." Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way." We can tell Satan to be gone just as Jesus did. James 4:7b says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

So how do we resist temptation? I Corinthians 10:13 says,"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."

Temptations help us grow and mature spiritually. They are an opportunity to say, "No! God is first in my life." We submit to God, and we resist the devil. We need to help each other stand strong.

Verse Completion. . . rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Daniel 12:1b, 2 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/WlILURVJ5NE

Complete the Verse & Name the BookIf anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who . . . (completion at the end)

Exodus 28 tells how God told Moses to have two onyx stones engraved with the twelve names of thetribes of Israel (six names on each stone). Verse 29 says,"In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD."

This got me thinking about how we represent Jesus wherever we go. As someone said, "We might be the only Jesus some people will ever know. We might be the only Bible some people will ever read." We have a bigresponsibility to represent Jesus correctly. What does that look like? It means we show:

·  love

·  joy

·  peace

·  patience

·  kindness

·  goodness

·  faithfulness

·  gentleness

·  self-control

How is this possible? Only by the Holy Spirit living in us can this become a reality. Each day we need to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us so when we don't see eye-to-eye with someone in our family, when others we come in contact with don't demonstrate these traits, when things aren't going smoothly at work, the Holy Spirit can still produce this kind of fruit in us. Do you have faith he can? It may not happen overnight, but each day God will help you draw closer to him and make you more like him. That'ssanctification, and all of us Christians are somewhere on the sanctification continuum.

One thing you might try is choosing a quality from above you want God to grow in you. Pray about it. Recognize things that happen during the day that provide opportunities for that quality to be developed in you. Then reflect back a month later and see if you don't notice the change God has made in you.

Prayer for today: "Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit now and all day long. I want to do a good job of representing you to the world I live in. May I take root in you so I can produce the fruit of the Spirit today. In Jesus' name, amen."

Verse Completion. . . encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. 2 John 10, 11 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/CT5WPNV0ecU

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWe make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, . . .(completion at the end)

As Christians we don't have blind faith; we have faith based on facts. The Bible is not a collection of fairy tales. One of the things that validates our faith is the fulfillment of prophecies made hundreds of years before they actually happened. Today I was reading Matthew 21 about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Verses 4-5 say,

This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, "Tell the people of Jerusalem, 'Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey's colt.'"

The prophecy referred to here was written about 480 years prior to Jesus doing exactly what it said. Zechariah 9:9 says,"Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey's colt."

Here are some other fulfilled prophecies to consider:

· Jeremiah 25:11-12 fulfilled about 50 years later

· Isaiah 45:1 fulfilled about 200 years later

· Isaiah 14:23 fulfilled about 200 year later

· Jeremiah 32:36-37 fulfilled about 50 years later

· Ezekiel 26:3 is fulfilled 16 years later, then again about 250 years after the original prophecy, and again 1,877 years after the original prophecy

· Ezekiel 26:12 is fulfilled about 250 years later

· Jeremiah 49:16 is fulfilled at least 486 years later

· Daniel 9:25 is fulfilled over 500 years later

There are numerous prophecies concerning Christ that were fulfilled:

· Isaiah 53:3 (written around 681 B.C.) is fulfilled in John 1:10-11 and John 12:37-38

· Isaiah 53:7 is fulfilled in Mark 15:5

· Psalm 22:17-18 (written at least 586 years prior) is fulfilled in John 19:23

· Numbers 9:12 (written between 1450 B.C. and 1410 B.C.) is fulfilled in John 19:31-37

· Psalm 22:14-16 is fulfilled in Luke 24:39 and Galatians 3:13

· Isaiah 53:5-6 is fulfilled in 1 Peter 2:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

· Isaiah 53:9 is fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60

· Psalm 16:10 is fulfilled in Matthew 28:6 and Romans 6:8-11

· Psalm 110:1 is fulfilled in Hebrews 10:12-13 and Acts 2:32-36

These are just a few of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament. God's prophets got it right 100% of the time. The Bible, God's Word, can be trusted! 

I hope your faith was strengthened today.

Verse Completion. . . listen and act. Daniel 9:18b (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/CT5WPNV0ecU

Complete the Verse & Name the BookWe make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, . . .(completion at the end)

Exodus 23:19a says,"As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the LORDyour God." God wants our very best of everything, and he deserves it. Abraham brought his very best to the LORD; he brought his only son Isaac. Hannah gave Samuel back to the LORD through Eli the priest. The poor widow certainly gave her best; she gave it all. Mark 12:41-44 tells the story,

Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said,"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on."

Colossians 3:23 says,"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."

II Timothy 2:15 says,"Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth."

When asked what the greatest commandment was,Jesus replied,"You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." (Matt. 22:37) That sure sounds like giving one's best to God. 

I think I had it wrong for years; I compartmentalized my life: work time, wife time, kid time, God time, recreation time, chore time. As someone once said, "All of our lives, at all times, and in every way, must be seen as God time. Wherever we are and in whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God." So we can be having family time and God time at the same time; we can be having work time and God time at the same time—giving our best.

Verse Completion. . . listen and act. Daniel 9:18b (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

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

Complete the Verse & Name the BookAll wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death. Dear children keep away from . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we continued a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Purpose, Values, and Prayer for NCCU”. Our church has a purpose statement and we have seven value statements. First, we value the word of God, because we believe in the truth of God’s word. Second, we value evangelism for the salvation of all people. Third, we value discipleship unto transformational living. Fourth, we value missions which is for all people in all places. Fifth, we value unity which is accomplished by working together. Sixth, we value the Lordship of Christ because he is the head of the Church. 

Colossians 1:15-20 says: The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Jesus is the head of the Church, and he is the head of the universe. There is no greater authority than Jesus. He is God; we are not. We value the headship of Christ. We place ourselves under him. We say to Jesus, “It’s not about me; it’s about you! It’s not about what I want; it’s about what you want. I will follow you because you are my Master and Commander.” 

Our seventh value is dependance upon the Holy Spirit in prayer. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people unto transformational living which is for all people in all places accomplished by working together under the headship of Christ through the power of the Holy SpiritWe can’t do anything except by the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:4, 5 tells us: On one occasion, while [Jesus] was eating with [his disciples], he gave them this command:“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

You can’t do anything for God without the Holy Spirit. Anything you attempt for the kingdom of God without the power of the Holy Spirit will fail. You are nothing without the Holy Spirit. You’ll never change the world for Jesus in your own power. We must have the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who gives us the power to be witnesses for Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit people will be drawn to Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit people will grow in Christ. 

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).

If we are going to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people, then we must be dependent on the Holy Spirit in prayer. He’s the one who gives us the power to accomplish this, and it done through prayer. We say things like, “Holy Spirit, fill us, show us, use us, lead us, guide us.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul says to pray continually. We have to pray continually because on our own we can’t accomplish God’s will. We have to have the Holy Spirit in us. 

Our church prayer is based on 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5:

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Our church’s prayer is: God, we pray that the gospel would spread rapidly and be honored. We pray against all wickedness and evil that would attempt to stand against the gospel. We pray that God would strengthen our faith in Jesus by His Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our church has a purpose. There are things we value in our church. We know we can’t accomplish what God has given us to do in our own strength, so we pray. 

The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost Sunday to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. 

Verse Completion. . . anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:17,21 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/40lCmHvmcCY

Complete the Verse & Name the BookHe was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we continued a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Purpose, Values, and Prayer for NCCU”. Our church has a purpose statement and we have seven value statements. First, we value the word of God. We believe in the truth of God’s word. Second, we value evangelism for the salvation of all people. Third, we value discipleship unto transformational living.

Our fourth value is missions. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people unto transformational living which is for all people in all places. We value teaching people about Jesus here, there, and everywhere. We intentionally go to different places to tell people about Jesus—the grocery store, work, vacation spots, foreign lands—wherever we go. That’s what missions entails. We are intentional about telling others about Jesus.

Jesus said,“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20a). We tell those close to us, and we tell those far from us. We’re to do both.

Not everyone is able to go to foreign lands as missionaries, but we can all play a part by praying for those who go. Some of us may be able to help support the missionaries financially. Some of us may not be able to be a full-time missionary, but we’re able to go on a short missions trip. We just can’t lose sight of the Great Commission Jesus gave us. We are intentionally part of something bigger than ourselves. We are living in a small town, but we can make a kingdom impact worldwide. Our impact isn’t limited to Union. People can tune into our services all over the world and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our fifth value is unity. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people unto transformational living which is for all people in all places accomplished by working togetherNone of this is possible without working together as the body of Christ. Philippians 2:1-4 tells us: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

We value unity—working together as one. We value supporting each other. We value working together in order to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can’t do it if we are divided. We can’t do it if there is disunity. We can’t do it if there’s bickering, fighting, gossiping, or backbiting.

We have the greatest purpose of any organization in the whole world! No other organization can make an eternal difference in people’s lives. The more we are united the more we will be able to reach others for Christ. Jesus said,“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Love unites us. Even though we are very different people, we come together in Christ to work together so God’s Kingdom can be advanced.

1 Corinthians 12:25-27 says:There should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Each one of us is a part of the body of Christ. It makes no difference if you’re the most prominent part or the least prominent part. It takes all the parts working together to accomplish God’s will. We support each other. We love each other. We pray for each other. We help each other. We have the same God, the same Savior—Jesus. Our goal is the same. Our values are the same. Our mission is the same. We share the same truth—Jesus. Together as a church we want others to come to salvation in Christ. We want people to know Jesus for eternity. We want people to be rescued out of a life of sin and destruction that leads to hell.

We don’t have to agree with one another all the time. We can have different methods and different ways, but in the end our purpose is to join together to build the kingdom of God. We have to learn to set aside our preferences and our pride. We have to learn to die to self, because our lives are all about Jesus. He is central to the church.

Our sixth value is the Lordship of Christ. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people unto transformational living which is for all people in all places accomplished by working together under the headship of ChristJesus is the head of the Church. Ephesians 1:22, 23 tells us: And God placed all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. The pastor is not the head of the church. The governing board is not the head of the church. Our worship leader is not the head of the church. Our office staff is not the head of the church. You are not the head of the church. Jesus is the head of the church.

We need to understand the Lordship of Jesus. We do what we do because Jesus tells us to do it. We don’t do what Jesus tells us not to do. We receive our orders from him. Jesus is the one in charge. As the body of Christ, our response to him is, “Yes, Lord. Here I am. Use me. I will do what you ask me to do.”

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s message.

Verse Completion. . . eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:14 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                           --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/L6wDW2PkXjk

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThis is real love—not that we loved God, but that . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we continued a recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “Purpose, Values, and Prayer for NCCU”. Our church’s purpose statement is as follows:We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people.

In order for our church to stay focused on Jesus, we have come up with seven value statements. They are not necessarily presented in their order of importance. We value all of them.

Our first value is the word of God. We believe in the truth of God’s word. God’s word is truth—every single word of it. The Bible isn’t a collection of truths; the Bible IS truth! Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus isn’t a way to a truth; Jesus is the way; Jesus is the truth; Jesus is the life. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The Bible contains the words of truth. We believe in the truth of God’s word.

Isaiah 40:8 says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”The word of God is foundational to our lives. The word of God will never cease to exist. Jesus said in John 10:35 that Scripture cannot be broken or set aside. Scripture cannot be undone because it is truth. Some churches act as if there are parts of Scripture that are outdated and don’t apply to us today. They pick and choose what they want to hold on to as truth. All of God’s word was true yesterday, it’s true today, and it will be just as true tomorrow. It applies to all cultures and nations.

At NCCU we value God’s word, and we take it seriously. That why it is preached and taught. Psalm 19:7 says:The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. What God says is true. His words can be trusted. His words bring salvation. His words change people from being unwise to being wise. The gospel of Jesus Christ transforms lives taking people from darkness to light, from deeds of wickedness to deeds of righteousness.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us:For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. God’s word is to be accepted because it’s truth.

Our second value is evangelism. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people. Evangelism is witnessing to the truth of Jesus. Evangelism means telling people the truth of who Jesus is, the truth of who they are before believing in Jesus, and the truth of why they need Jesus. Acts 17:16 says: While Paul was waiting for [Silas and Timothy] in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. Paul saw all the falseness going on in Athens, and it distressed him, so he began evangelizing—sharing truth with those who were in Athens.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 tells us:Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We have a responsibility to reconcile the world to God. That’s what evangelism is. The Church is to preach the gospel—tell the world about Jesus. We are witnesses of Jesus. We are his ambassadors. We represent Jesus wherever we go. Each one of us has the responsibility to tell others about Jesus.

Our third value is discipleship. We believe in the truth of God’s word for the salvation of all people unto transformational living. Each day we are to be growing in Christ and continue to be transformed. When Jesus comes into our life, it’s impossible to remain the same. We are being transformed to be more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

We value discipleship because we can’t just come to Jesus and receive him as our Lord and Savior without being transformed. Our life in Christ has to grow. We have to look less and less like we used to be and look more and more like Christ. How we act, react, and interact with other people changes as we draw closer to God.

Romans 12:1, 2 tells us:Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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.

We value growth in Christ. We value maturity in Christ. We value discipleship.

Tomorrow we will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s message.

Verse Completion. . . he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/3p8THfJihuc

Complete the Verse & Name the BookBut when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday Pastor Michael gave a sermon titled “Purpose, Values, and Prayer for NCCU”. Today we will begin a recap of that message.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. You can read about it in Acts, Chapter 2. Jesus instructed his disciples to go to Jerusalem and await the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were praying when the Holy Spirit made his presence known by a mighty rushing wind. Peter preached a sermon about who Jesus was and three thousand people became disciples of Christ in that single day! It was Pentecost Sunday when the Church was inaugurated or born. 

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit in John 14:25-27:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus went on to say, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26, 27). Jesus was leaving, but his Spirit would be sent in his place. The Spirit would continue to speak truth just as Jesus had done and just as God the Father had done. 

Jesus also said, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:7-14). When Jesus left the Holy Spirit came, and the Church was born. The Holy Spirit came with a purpose. Jesus came with a purpose. They had the same purpose. 

Who are we as a church in Union today? We will look at our purpose statement, our value statements, and our prayer. Our church’s purpose statement is as follows:We exist to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and sanctification of all people. If our church isn’t promoting and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, we might as well close our doors. We’re here so people can be introduced to Jesus and receive salvation. We’re here to see those same people, and everyone else in our church, grow in Christ—mature in Christ—become more like Christ each and every day of their lives. 

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus gave us a job to do: make disciples of all nations and teach them truth, the truth Jesus shared with us. Not only are we to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus for the salvation and sanctification of people locally, we’re to reach out to those who live away from us. Our church can send missionaries, and we can reach out to those who are far away by using the Internet. We’re to do all we can to reach as many people for Christ using all means possible. This wasn’t a suggestion of Jesus; it was a command of Jesus. It’s our commission. 

Acts 1:4-8 tells us:

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them:“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We want to take the real gospel to people around us and people abroad. We don’t want to take a social gospel: feeding the poor, being a political activist, saving the whales, saving the trees, and so on. The real gospel is all about Jesus. Jesus has to be central. Jesus has to be our focus. When Jesus is our focus, everything else will fall into place, such as feeding the poor. 

We will continue this recap of Pastor Michael’s message for the next three days.

Verse Completion. . . prayed three times a day just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/8hyBJwTKmQ8

Complete the Verse & Name the Book”Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are . . . (completion at the end)

In Exodus 20, God spoke to Moses, and the people heard. Verses 18 and 19 say: 

When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram's horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

And they said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen. But don't let God speak directly to us, or we will die!"

"Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!"

I'm wondering if we keep on sinning because we really don't fear God like we should. When I was a kid, I often got spanked for bad behavior. Normally, there wasn't a very long period of time between the offense and the punishment. The longer the span between the two, the better my chances were that my dad would forget about the punishment or that the punishment wouldn't be as severe. The idea of punishment a l-o-n-g time after the offense is foreign to us, so we tend to think the punishment won't ever come. We sin and there seems to be no consequence. We feel like we got away with it.

In Luke 12:4-5, Jesus says:

"Dear friends, don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I'll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he's the one to fear." 

Psalm 111:10 says,

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

We need to have a healthy fear of the LORD. We'll know when we have that healthy fear—when we no longer live in sin; when we no longer wallow in sin. If we are comfortable in our sin, it's time for us to hear God's voice speaking from the mountain resulting in us falling to our knees in repentance.     

Verse Completion. . . just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.” Daniel 4:37 (NLT)


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/Uxviwvjyg1w

Complete the Verse & Name the BookDo not love the world nor the things it offers you, for when you . . . (completion at the end)

Yesterday we started a recap of Pastor Moody’s message titled “An Exemplary Church” based on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Paul is thankful for the church of the Thessalonians because of their faith, love, and hope. He describes being thankful for their work of faith, their labor of love, and their steadfastness, or perseverance, of hope. They are active in their faith, not passive. 

What does Paul know about those who are in the church? They are loved by God and chosen by God. The gospel came not only in theory but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. Full conviction is difficult to translate, but in other places in the New Testament it’s translated as full assurance. The idea is fully carrying. It’s not negative conviction as in the conviction of sin, nor is it assurance in the sense of knowing without a doubt. The picture is a full carrying. In other words, they have the full load. Picture a truck that is fully loaded. They got it all. 

When Paul said God has chosen you, he could have said God has elected youbecause the two words mean the same thing. When the idea of election comes up, there’s always the question of free will. What is meant by free will? If you mean by free will that we as individuals have total authority and power to decide our own destiny, then I don’t think biblically that free will even exists. The Bible talks about God’s will, not our free will. That is sometimes a difficult message to hear for those of us who grew up in democracies. We are used to electing other people; we are not used to being elected. On the other hand, if you mean by free will, moral responsibility—that we genuinely decide—then somewhat, mysteriously, those two go together in the biblical way of thinking. We have responsibility, and yet God is sovereign.  

In the Bible, the doctrine of election is never used as a message to the non-Christian. The doctrine of election is never preached as a message to the non-Christian; the message is never: Some people are elect; some people are not, and who knows whether you are or aren’t. It’s never preached that way. The message of election in the New Testament is only preached the way it is here: a message of confidence, certainty, and assurance to the Christian. It’s a message of encouragement. 

D.L. Moody is not known for pushing the doctrine of election. He’s known for being a very accessible evangelist. He described the doctrine of election in this manner: Picture yourself standing before a door. Written above the doorway are the following words: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). You read those words and understand that you are invited to enter the door. You make the choice to go through the door. You look back at the door that you’ve gone through, and you notice there is a text above the doorway: He chose [you] in him before the foundation of the world, that [you] should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined [you] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed [you] in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6). 

What the leaders of the church know about the people in the church is: You are loved. You are chosen. God loves you. God chose you. 

This is one side of this amazing example, this impression, this brand that shows the relationship between the leaders and those who are being led. 

The other side is what you (the led) know about us (the leaders).  You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia (verses 5b-7). Paul is saying all who were on the church leadership team were among the congregation and for the congregation. Jesus died for us; he died in our place. The missionaries and other leaders were not there for money or fame; they were there for the people. This is the other side of this alchemy of the relationship between the leaders and the led in a church that has this impression, this brand. What is the brand? The brand is Jesus. Jesus is our example. 

Leaders in churches need to be among you and for you. They need to be giving their lives for you. Those who are being led need to know that and think that way. 

For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything (verse 8). There’s a noise that’s out there. A big impact is being made. That’s what happens when the church has this example, this type, this impression, from the relationship of the leaders to the led. Here is what the leaders know about those being led: They are loved by God and chosen by God. Here is what those being led know about their leaders: They are among you and for you. When that’s the case, the impression that is created that everyone sees and begins to grasp is Jesus.

Why go to church? Church is not a religious club for those who have been converted. Church is an example, a type, an impression, of Jesus. It’s encouraging to us when we see the proper relationship between those who lead and those who are being led. It’s also an exhortation for leadership to strive to see those being led as loved by God and chosen by God. It’s an exhortation to those being led see their leaders as among them and for them. 

Verse Completion. . . love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 1 John 2:15 (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/n3t6CdeiN1M

Complete the Verse & Name the BookPraise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events: he . . .(completion at the end)

Pastor Josh Moody of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, has a series of messages titled “The Coming of the Lord”. Today we will begin a recap of his first message in this series titled “An Exemplary Church” based on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10:

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

It’s easy these days to be discouraged about church, but actually there is much to be encouraged about. We find much good news in this book that is encouraging. 

There’s a lot we don’t know as Christians, but what we need to have in our mind is what we do know. There’s much uncertainty in our world today just as there was much uncertainty when Paul wrote this letter. Over and over Paul says, “Know this . . .” One of the things Paul wants the Thessalonians to know about is the second coming of Jesus. 

Instead of being discouraged and looking down at our circumstances, we need to look up at God in his sovereignty. However, Paul isn’t saying here to look up, he’s saying to look ahead, look forward. He’s not saying look forward to going to heaven when you die; he’s saying to look forward to the second coming of Christ. He’s writing about looking forward to the whole movement of God that will culminate when Jesus returns. There’s no reason to be without hope if you are a Christian. 

Richard Baxter was born in 1615. He was an English Puritan church leader, a writer, a composer of hymns, and a theologian. He suffered deeply and to help deal with the pain, he determined to spend a portion of each day thinking about heaven. However, Paul here is not saying to think about heaven; he’s saying to think about what you know about the return of Jesus. Doing so will give you hope and encouragement for now

We can be encouraged about church. Paul uses a key word: . . . that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. They were an exemplary church, but they were not a perfect church. You may have heard people say, “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it because you’ll spoil it.” People too often think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence with things related to church and things not related to church. The truth is the grass is greener where you water it. Stop looking over the fence. 

The word example used here has to do with an impression or brand. In the ancient world there were seals and wax. As you pressed the seal into the wax, an impression was made in the wax. That impression became the type or brand. Paul here is telling the church, “You have been branded. You are a type, an example, an impression.” The impression is so powerful that it is sounding forth among all the believers. 

What is it that creates this kind of exemplary example or branded church? What kind of brand or impression is it? How do we get there? There’s a relationship between those who are being led and the leaders (see verses 4 and 5). When it comes to an example or brand that has a big impact on the surrounding believers, there’s an alchemy of example that is the relationship between the leaders and the people: what we (the leaders) know about you (the led), and what you (the led) know about us (the leaders). 

When you’re a leader, it’s very easy to be thinking about the problems that you need to fix. If you spend your time thinking about the problems you need to fix, inevitably, you will start looking at the people you’re leading as problems. However, that’s not Paul’s approach. Paul has in his mind, thanksgiving. He’s thankful for the people—those he’s leading. Whenever you put a group of people together (family, coworkers, church), there are always people who are easier to get along with than others. Notice how Paul constantly gives thanks for all of them. 

One idea Paul has about constant prayer is a lifestyle, a spirit of prayer. It involves praying while doing other things. The mind has different tracks, and on one of those tracks can be prayer. The other idea Paul has about prayer is the traditional prayers in the morning and evening quiet times. 

Paul is thankful for their faith, love, and hope. He describes being thankful for their work of faith, their labor of love, and their steadfastness, or perseverance, of hope. Sometimes we think of faith, love, and hope as being passive—an attitude. In genuine Christianity, faith always leads to work. When a person has faith, he will work. Love will always lead to labor. When you know you are loved by Jesus, you will work hard to love others. Hope always leads to perseverance; there’s no giving up. 

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

Verse Completion. . . removes kings and sets up other kings. Daniel 2:20, 21a (NLT) 


Good morning!

Only one life ‘twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

                                        --Charles Studd

Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/ORt9qnGR7_M

Complete the Verse & Name the BookThe Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He . . .(completion at the end)

Today we will conclude the recap of Pastor Michael’s sermon titled “The Kinsman Redeemer” based on Ruth 4. After it was official that Boaz could legally marry Ruth, the elders and the people at the gate gave Ruth a blessing. They invited her into the family of Israel. She would no longer be considered a foreigner. The blessing looked forward to Boaz and Ruth continuing the lineage of Judah.

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

In most of this story God is working behind the scenes, but here we read “the LORD enabled her to conceive” which shows God took action. God showed up in this scene. This is the point of the whole book: God showed up and provided lineage. 

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Naomi has been given a son, a grandson, who will carry on the line of Elimelech. He will become the kinsman redeemer. He will be the one who will provide for the family and protect the family. Naomi now has provision, protection, and renewal. 

When Naomi first arrived in Bethlehem, the ladies were saying, “Look what God has done to you.” Now they are saying, “Look what God has done for you.” When Naomi first arrived, she herself felt like God was against her because she felt like her life was ruined with the death of her husband and two sons. Now Naomi sees how God took her from bitterness to betterness, from hopelessness to hope. She now has a son through her daughter-in-law. Naomi has experienced healing and hope. 

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Naomi arrived empty, but now she is full; she has a son in her arms. This was written during the time of the judges when Israel had no king and everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. In the darkness of the chaos, God brought about a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David, the greatest king Israel ever had. 

What should we learn from this? God is at work! He brings design, order, and hope into our lives even during the most confusing, chaotic, and dark times in our lives. God is at work bringing light, order, design, and hope into our lives. God never stops working. 

The bookends to the book of Ruth are the two times when God showed up. The first bookend is found in 1:6: When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. The other bookend is found in 4:13: So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Everything inside the two bookends is the result of God showing up. God is there the whole time. 

What we can take away from the book of Ruth is that God shows up in our lives when it’s the blackest, darkest, roughest, and most grievous time. You may not feel it, just as Naomi didn’t feel it, but God is there whether you feel him or not. God is there with you to bring you hope and salvation. The heart of the message is not about Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, or Obed; it’s about our Kinsman Redeemer—Jesus Christ! Jesus is a descendant of King David. 

18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron,

19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab,

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed,

22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David. 

When the genealogy of Jesus is traced in Matthew, Chapter One, part of that lineage includes this: Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David (Matthew 1:5, 6a).

We have Jesus as our Kinsman Redeemer! When he died on the cross and rose from the grave, he redeemed the land and the lineage of God. Jesus made sure there was a way for us to be included in his family. 

The book of Ruth is about hope, healing, bitterness to betterness, and hopelessness to hope. It’s about God’s plan for our lives. Jesus brings us hope, help, and healing because he is our Kinsman Redeemer.

Maybe you are stuck in grief. Maybe you are stuck in corruption. Maybe you’re stuck in sin. Maybe you’re stuck in addiction. Whatever you’re stuck in, God is there to pull you out. God is at work in your life even when you can’t see it. Naomi couldn’t see it. 

When I traveled to India, I saw some very beautiful tapestries. They were intricate, colorful, and amazing. However, when you turn over the tapestries, you see a big mess. They look chaotic, confusing, and ugly with threads going in every direction. You can’t make sense of any of it. Yet when you turn the tapestry over to the good side, you see pattern, design, and purpose. It’s absolutely beautiful! Jesus can take your life now—the back of the tapestry—and cause a transformation to take place. The result is the front of the tapestry—what your life can be through his divine power. Your life can be made beautiful by God, because he is your Kinsman Redeemer. God is for you. God loves you and wants to bring hope into your life once again. Invite him in.

Verse Completion. . . does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)