January 24, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 10

What does it say?
The Lord seems far away from the schemes of the wicked. But He is able to call them into account and defend the oppressed who wait on Him for help.

What does it mean?
It appeared to the psalmist that God was hiding while wicked men plotted against the innocent and weak. Arrogance motivated these ungodly people to use curses, lies, and threats to oppose God and His people. They thought they were invincible, untouchable, invisible, and unaccountable because they were getting away with their deplorable actions. The psalmist refocused his thoughts on what he knew to be true: His eternal God sees and knows everything and is able to defend the helpless. With his heart and mind firmly grounded, the writer confidently asked God for encouragement and justice.

How should I respond?
We see it every day: ungodly people inflicting harm on other human beings. It often seems that the identity thieves and terrorists are winning the battle. We rant, text, tweet, and post about the injustice, but how often do you go directly to the One who holds all people accountable? About what issue do you need to spend time in prayer rather than more time on the phone or online? It’s true that in your lifetime you might not see justice served completely on the issue that hits home the most. You can be sure, though, that the wicked and arrogant will ultimately be held accountable to God Almighty.

January 23, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 22

What does it say?
God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. After testing Abraham’s faith, God provided a substitute sacrifice and renewed His covenant with Abraham.

What does it mean?
God tested Abraham, not to tempt him to sin, but to prove his faith. It was not God’s intention for Isaac to actually be sacrificed; that would contradict God’s character and His promises to Abraham. Faith in God had taught Abraham not to argue with His instructions, but to trust and obey. He was confident that God was good and that His promises could not be broken. Abraham proved that he trusted God with the one thing he had waited for the longest – his son. Strong faith is often exercised with strong trials.

How should I respond?
Whatever is dearest to you on the earth is your Isaac. Are you willing to give that person or object by faith into God’s hands? Sometimes a prized possession or treasured relationship can become an idol, replacing God’s rightful position in our hearts. What is that earthly thing or person in your life today? Can you unreservedly release that to God? Faith is like a muscle that only becomes stronger when it’s exercised.

DOCTRINE: God The Trinity, God The Father

2022-01-23

Matt Willmington

Theology = Theo [God] logos [word, study]. Choose lumber, build house.

 

Three Levels of Doctrine [Al Mohler]:

1. Core Beliefs – absolutes to be Christian, denial is apostacy [in house]

2. Convictions – beliefs divide believers, churches, denominations [rooms]

3. Opinions – Christians disagree but remain in fellowship [seats]

 

You ARE a theologian – only question is what type?

 

GOD THE TRINITY

“We affirm our belief in one God, infinite Spirit, creator, and sustainer of all things, who exists eternally in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three are one in essence but distinct in person and function.”

  

Genesis 1:1-3, 26, 28, 31 [CSB] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female… 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it… 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.

  • GODHe is one person. He is ELOHIM [2600], ADONAI, JEHOVAH [6500]. He is not Buddha, Allah, Ra, Brahma, Pan Gu, Jumong, Zeus
  • Created / Good – He is the source of all. His work is good
  • Said / Image / Blessed – He is personal
  • Spirit / Us – He is 3 people [not explicit in Scripture – implicit]

 

Isaiah 48:12, 13, 16 …I am he; I am the first, I am also the last. My own hand founded the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; … From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time anything existed, I was there.” And now the Lord God has sent me and his Spirit.

 

John 1:1-3, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created… 14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Matthew 3:16-17 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

 

Matthew 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

 

Revelation 22:1, 16-17 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.

 

GOD THE FATHER

“We affirm that the Father is the first person of the Trinity and the source of all that God is and does. From Him the Son is eternally generated and from Them the Spirit eternally proceeds. He is the designer of creation, the speaker of revelation, the author of redemption, and the sovereign of history.”

 

John 20:17 “… go to my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

 

GOD IS… 

Spirit (John 1:18)

Self-Existent (Isa. 41:4)       

Self Sufficient (Job 41:11)

Eternal (Deut. 33:27)          

Omnipresent (Psa.139:7-12)                                                 

Omnipotent (Gen.18:14)

Omniscient (2 Kings 19:27)                                                    

Wise (Job 36:5)                     

Immutable (Num.23:19)

Sovereign (Psa.135:6)         

Incomprehensible (Deut. 4:35)                                             

Holy (Lev.19:2)

True (Deut. 32:4)                  

Faithful (Deut. 7:9)              

Merciful (Exod. 34:7) 

Gracious (Psa. 103:8)          

Love (Deut. 4:37)                  

January 23, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 9

What does it say?
David’s song of rejoicing praised the Lord as the righteous Judge of the wicked.

What does it mean?
David spoke from experience about the Lord’s trustworthiness. His presence is a place to hide when trouble comes; those who call on His name are not disappointed. From this perspective David wrote prophetically of a day when all of Israel’s enemies will be defeated. God will righteously act on behalf of His people just as He had done for David personally. He then shifted back to his present life, where he was still in need of God’s mercy. David praised the Lord and petitioned Him for help at the same time, basically saying, “Don’t stop now, Lord!” The reason for David’s request reveals why he was “a man after God’s own heart” – he longed to openly praise the Lord in Zion.

How should I respond?
Some people stop coming to church because at some point God didn’t answer a prayer to their liking, and they concluded that He didn’t show up. Have you been disappointed at how God handled a particular matter? He may be trying to give you something far greater than immediate relief – the knowledge of his intimate presence. There will always be trouble of some kind in this world, but the Lord is our trustworthy refuge. However He responds is right and just. Tell someone today what God has already done on your behalf, even if you’re still praying about a difficult situation.

January 22, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 21:22-34

What does it say?
Abimelech’s servants had seized one of Abraham’s wells without Abimelech’s knowledge. The two men established the Treaty at Beersheba to settle the issue.

What does it mean?
Abimelech saw evidence of God’s hand on everything Abraham did. It was obvious that the promises of God to Abraham would be fulfilled. It was in Abimelech’s best interest to have a peaceful relationship with a person of Abraham’s standing and character, so he was honest about the ownership of the well and sought to settle the issue quickly. Both men chose to seek peace rather than additional conflict. Abraham’s gifts to Abimelech secured the well as his permanent possession, avoiding future disputes. When all was said and done, Abraham was not ashamed to publicly worship his God, Jehovah.

How should I respond?
When conflicts arise, you have a choice: fight the person or fight the problem. The more time you spend trying to prove that you’re right, the longer the conflict will linger. How do you handle issues within your family, at the office, or at school? If you are the first to offer solutions with kind, calm words, it can defuse the entire situation. With whom do you need to make peace? When there’s friction, does your response cause others to notice that your relationship with Christ is the most important aspect of your life?

January 22, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 16

What does it say?
Jesus warned the disciples of the religious leaders’ influence. After Peter’s confession, Jesus foretold the establishment of the church and the necessity of the Cross.

What does it mean?
As opposition increased, Jesus trained His disciples to develop a spiritual and eternal perspective. He challenged them to turn from the teachings of religious leaders who rejected Him as Messiah and promoted legalism and liberalism. As God’s Son, He revealed a new orientation toward life that involved the Cross for Himself and a cross for each of them. Jesus gained victory through death at Calvary. His followers find victory and reward when they deny self and make sacrifices to live and serve as God directs.

How should I respond?
Jesus asks those of us who trust His death for deliverance from the penalty of sin to take up our cross. For a believer, taking up the cross means a denial of self, voluntarily laying down your plans, dreams, and desires in order to fulfill His plan for you. Jesus will use you and all you have for His glory and purpose. This mindset is contrary to public opinion and may look foolish to some. Will you lose your life to His purpose, showing by your works and words that you believe and trust in Jesus as God? God will accomplish things of eternal value through you when you allow the Cross to rule all selfish desires and ambitions. A maturing believer values eternal fruit over self-gratification.

January 21, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 21:8-21

What does it say?
Abraham planned a feast to celebrate the weaning of Isaac. When Ishmael mocked Isaac, Sarah became angry and demanded that Abraham order Hagar and Ishmael to leave.

What does it mean?
The arrival of Isaac was an occasion for both joy and heartache in Abraham’s household. His birth fulfilled God’s promise. However, years earlier Sarah had disregarded God’s perfect plan and had taken matters into her own hands. Ishmael was born but was not the chosen son. Isaac was. Radical twists and turns occurred once Sarah’s anger and jealousy surfaced. Banishment from Abraham’s camp required a fresh new perspective for Hagar and Ishmael. God was faithful. He met them in desolation and provided consolation.

How should I respond?
Circumstances in life can change abruptly and sometimes for the worse. It has been said that faith begins when man’s power ends and God’s power begins. Desperation draws us near to God to seek his wisdom and strength. What has changed in your life without warning? Where have you turned for help? Is there a trusted friend who will present a different perspective? Seeking God’s promises in Scripture and praying specifically will help guard your heart from becoming bitter. Like Hagar, you are not alone. God sees, hears and is beside you to help. Will you turn toward Him or away?

January 21, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 15

What does it say?
Pharisees questioned Jesus about tradition, and He confronted their hypocrisy. Jesus showed compassion when He healed the Canaanite’s daughter and fed 4,000.

What does it mean?
The Pharisees were offended when Jesus shared the truth. They came to Jesus cloaked with the appearance of devotion, while the Canaanite woman came in humility and persistent faith. God knows the true condition of every heart. Behavior that does not come from a heart of faith and obedience toward God is only the appearance of devotion. The truth of a person’s heart is revealed more by his thoughts, attitudes, desires, loyalties, affections, and motives than by external habits and behavior.

How should I respond?
Do you know the true condition of your own heart? The great need of humanity is for God to cleanse our hearts of sin, not for us to clean up our outward life by doing or refraining from doing certain things. How might you be maintaining the appearance of devotion to God but lacking pure spiritual motivation? How do you respond when the truth is hard to accept? Your response is an indicator of the condition of your heart. Will you agree when the Spirit convicts and respond to please the Lord? There’s a great difference in being religious and having a heart for the Lord.

January 20, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 21:1-7

What does it say?
Sarah became pregnant when she was 90 years old—way past her days of fertility— just as God promised. Her laughter of doubt at God’s promise turned into laughter of joy.

What does it mean?
God keeps His promises even when the promises seem impossible. Who would have believed that a 90-year-old woman would be able to get pregnant and bear a child in her old age? Abraham and Sarah laughed at the idea when they first heard it. However, after Sarah gave birth to her own son, she named him Isaac, which means ‘laughter.’ Her laughter of doubt was turned into laughter of joy and thankfulness. Sarah came to realize that with God nothing is impossible. He made this seemingly impossible promise come true to demonstrate His power and faithfulness.

How should I respond?
Is there a promise God has made to you that you might consider laughing at because it sounds impossible? He has promised to forgive you for your sins if you confess them to Him (1 John 1:9). Does this sound too good to be true? He has also promised that you will not be tempted beyond what you are able to handle (1 Cor. 13:10). Is there an area of your life in which you feel pressure to give in or give up? Talk to God today about His promises. Ask Him for help in understanding and believing them. Trust God to turn your doubt into rejoicing and thankfulness for His promises.

January 20, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 14

What does it say?
Hearing John the Baptist was dead, Jesus showed compassion, healed many, and fed 5,000. He walked on the stormy lake to His disciples, and Peter walked with Him.

What does it mean?
As Jesus showed sympathy and affection for the people around Him, the disciples grew in their comprehension of His identity as God’s Son. That knowledge allowed them to do the impossible as they served Jesus. When they faced difficulties and dangers, He helped them at just the right time. Although Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5,000, His disciples distributed the food and collected the leftovers. Only Peter, though, had the desire and courage to ask to walk on water to Jesus. He momentarily let fear distract him, but he refocused by calling on Jesus and was rescued.

How should I respond?
What in your life cannot be explained except for Jesus? It’s an adventure and a privilege to trust Him outside your comfort zone and natural abilities. At your darkest hour, Jesus comes and invites you to walk with Him above your circumstances, doing what seems impossible. If you falter, focus on Jesus and pray. He will sustain you until the storm ends. Ask God for growing comprehension of Jesus’ power. He is greater than the trouble you are in and the danger you face. What does God want you to do that seems beyond your capabilities? Fix your gaze on Jesus and join Him in doing the impossible.

January 19, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 20

What does it say?
Once again, Abraham instructed Sarah to say she was his sister, and Abimelech took her into his harem. God appeared to Abimelech to warn him of the outcome if he treated Sarah as a wife.

What does it mean?
Abraham seemed to have forgotten the lesson from his previous experience in Egypt when he was untruthful about his relationship with Sarah. Rather than learning from his past mistakes, he repeated the sin of deceit and once more caused Sarah’s virtue to be vulnerable. Abraham was blinded by his own fear rather than focused on Sarah’s safety. God protected her this time as well, but He allowed Abimelech to publicly reprimand Abraham, the future father of God’s people.

How should I respond?
Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it! We’ve all had moments of repeated consequences because we did not learn our lesson the first time. What words or behavior from the past week do you need to avoid in the future? How did God act in mercy or use someone to correct you? Learning from mistakes requires an understanding of why you behaved that way in the first place. Did you act or speak out of fear, pride, or discouragement? Ask God for help with the underlying issue. Thank Him for the grace He has shown you and move on!

January 19, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 13

What does it say?
Jesus taught the crowds using parables.

What does it mean?
A parable is a story that illustrates a truth by making a comparison and is meant to awaken spiritual interest, but its underlying truth cannot be understood by those whose hearts are set against Jesus. These parables illustrate several truths of life and various responses to the gospel. A prevailing message in these parables is: Christ knows those who are truly His. Jesus’ return will be a day of accountability and justice. Until then, those who receive Jesus as Savior live alongside those who reject Him. However, even true believers sometimes choose wickedness over righteousness.

How should I respond?
We live in a world where righteousness and wickedness coexist. Even followers of Christ have the potential for both good and evil choices. Are you making choices that are consistent with your identity as a Christian? Ask God to help you apply the truth of His Word to your daily life. On the other hand, if you continually find yourself without enthusiasm for the things of God, or you are easily dissuaded from following His ways, then stop and examine whether or not you have truly placed your faith in Christ. When He returns, Jesus will separate those who belong to Him from those just playing church.

January 18, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 19

What does it say?
The wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah finally resulted in God’s total destruction of those cities. After fleeing with their father, Lot’s daughters conspired to seduce him.

What does it mean?
The depth of evil in Sodom and Gomorrah demanded that a holy God intercede with judgment. Lot had gradually moved from living toward Sodom to being part of the city. Though Lot was a righteous man and grieved by ‘the lawless deeds he saw and heard’ (II Peter 2:7-8), his hesitation to leave and his wife’s backward glance are indications that they were far too comfortable living among the wicked. It was by the Lord’s mercy that the angels took the four of them by the hand and led them out to safety. The sordid manipulation of Lot by his daughters is clear evidence that they had embraced the thinking and lifestyle of the cities in which they had lived.

How should I respond?
You don’t have to look far to see evidence of depravity in our society. Moral values are almost a thing of the past. What sinful behavior grieves your heart? What worldly attitudes have you allowed to infiltrate your thinking so slowly that it’s hardly noticeable? Take a mental inventory of the entertainment choices and friends who influence your thoughts and behavior. You can’t impact the world if you’re isolated from it, but neither can you be an effective witness for Christ if you’ve grown accustomed to sin. Commit to read God’s Word every day, allowing Him to be the chief influence in your heart and mind. It’s not easy to stand alone, but God can enable you to live a holy life that draws others to Him.

January 18, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 12|What does it say?
Jesus answered the Pharisees’ accusation by proclaiming He is Lord of the Sabbath. He condemned the religious leaders’ unbelief, but gave them the sign of Jonah.

What does it mean?
Just as Isaiah foretold (42:1-4), Jesus was loving, meek, and gentle as He healed and delivered people by the power of God’s Spirit. The needy and hopeless flocked to Him while the Jewish leaders clung to the formality of religious traditions, rejected Him as Messiah, and plotted to kill Him. Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath demonstrated that compassion takes precedence over traditional rules. Each person had a responsibility to make a decision concerning Jesus for which they will be held accountable. There is hope for all who trust Jesus as Savior because He is Lord over all.

How should I respond?
What does the name of Jesus mean to you? Jesus still has power over the physical and supernatural realms, and He has power over all that concerns you. That wonderful name is the source of hope to all who recognize Jesus as the Savior and come to Him in faith. Hope in Him and assurance of final justice have a transformative effect on your daily mindset and behavior. How will you answer life’s ultimate question: What decision have you made concerning Jesus? Tell Him you recognize His Lordship over you and everything in your life, yield to Him, and watch in awe as He strengthens you in hope.

January 17, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 18

What does it say?
The Lord, along with two angels, appeared to Abraham in the form of men. He again foretold the birth of Isaac, as well as the fall of the wicked cities of the plains.

What does it mean?
As three men approached Abraham and Sarah’s home, Abraham recognized that these were not ordinary men but angels accompanying the Lord Himself. The Lord spoke to Abraham as a friend (James 2:23), telling him of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. With great humility and heartfelt emotion, Abraham entreated the Lord for the lives of the people living there. Abraham displayed boldness in asking God over and over to show leniency to the wicked in order to save the righteous. It is to Abraham’s credit that he desired mercy, rather than judgment, on those wicked cities.

How should I respond?
We like to talk about God’s love, but we rarely discuss God’s judgment on sin, which can fall at any time on any nation. Intercession for the world around you is the responsibility of every follower of Christ. What specific things are you praying about that could change the direction of your community and nation? Do you honestly desire God’s mercy for those who live contrary to His commands? How often do you pray that your neighbors, government leaders, and those in authority would repent and come to Christ? Start today. Be intentional. It might be your boldness that brings a community to Christ.

January 17, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 8

What does it say?
The Lord’s name is more majestic than any on Earth, deserving of praise. Considering the greatness of God’s creation – why has He given mankind glory, honor, and care?

What does it mean?
Even though David only had a glimpse into the vast nature of our universe, he felt insignificant when he looked at the world around him and contemplated the God who created it all with such detail and precision. Still, this awesome God created people, gave them rule over everything He created, and paid attention to their lives. Out of all the living things He made, why would God give such attention to mankind? Unlike birds, fish, and sheep, people were created in God’s own image. Mankind alone is capable of having a relationship with the Lord, giving more than enough reason to recognize His glory and praise His excellent, majestic name.

How should I respond?
The longer you’re around something, the more likely you are to take it for granted. Depending on where you live, you might regularly see beautiful mountain vistas, the wide open plain, or the expanse of the ocean on the horizon. But when was the last time you stopped to contemplate what you were seeing? Plan some time this week to hike a mountain, watch the sun rise or set, or gaze at the stars. When you reach your destination, read Psalm 8 as an act of worship. You’ll likely leave that place with a new sense of wonder and renewed appreciation for your relationship with our awesome God.

January 16, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 17

What does it say?
God gave new names to Abraham and Sarah, enlarged His promises, and established the sign of the covenant—circumcision.

What does it mean?
Changing Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham (‘father of many’) and Sarah (‘princess’), reinforced the fact that God would keep his long-awaited promise of a family. Their new names symbolized a new identity in Him and a future that rested in God’s hands. Circumcision would be the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and Isaac, the son of promise, setting apart God’s chosen people from the others in the land. Abraham demonstrated his faith in all God told him by immediately and fully obeying.

How should I respond?
As a believer, you also have a new identity – ‘child of God.’ That identity gives you a new future in Christ and entitles you to the promises God has made to all who call Him, ‘Father’ (Galatians 3:14). God’s promises in the New Testament are His new covenant with you through Jesus Christ. That covenant is sealed through the circumcision of your heart—symbolic of the change made in your life by accepting Jesus as Lord (2 Cor. 5:17). How is your identity in Christ evident to those around you? Your obedience to God’s Word demonstrates your faith in His promises.

START THERE: Do Something!

2022-01-16

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Last week, we discussed two of the six values that undergird our ministries at TRBC. We talked about a culture of prayer and a lifestyle of worship. Today, we’re going to spend some time on the final three values by using Jesus’ own actions as an encouragement to us all.

John 13:4-17 (CSB) So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said. Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. 16 “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Values:

  1. A Commitment to Scripture
  2. A Culture of Prayer
  3. A Lifestyle of Worship
  4. Connected in Community
  5. A Heart for Serving
  6. A Passion for Sharing

Phil 2:3-4 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

1. Do Something Unexpected

Vss 4-5 So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him.

            – Don’t wait until you feel you are equipped to serve, serve now!

            – He didn’t wait for an invitation to serve, He simply served

 

2. The Eternal Impact

vss 6-8 He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.” “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said. Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.”

            – we are all uniquely gifted in certain ways and can use those gifts and that knowledge for the Kingdom

            – we must recognize the value and importance of the message we carry

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

3. Christlike Service

vss 13-15 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.

            – Jesus stepped out of the role of leader/teacher to serve the Disciples in a way that the                  world would have looked down upon, yet He did so not just to teach a lesson, but because        it is the right thing to do

– None of us are too good to serve others. In fact, when you believe you’re too good to serve you can guarantee you are the least like Christ

Phil. 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.

 

Where do we get started?

1. Pray Pray about what opportunities are around you every day where you can serve

2. Don’t wait for the invitationTake a step of faith and simply offer to serve

3. Don’t wait for the right fit– If at first you don’t “like it” try something else! Practice makes perfect!

January 16, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 7

What does it say?
David called on God to search his heart and mind – as well as that of his enemy – then judge righteously. He gave thanks and praise to the righteous Lord Most High.

What does it mean?
David wrote this Psalm in response to something said about him by a Benjamite named Cush. While it’s not stated, it’s likely that Cush was a member of Saul’s court who had been filling the king’s mind with lies about David (1 Sam. 24:9). Since nothing is hidden from God, David asked Him to uncover each man’s motives and reveal the truth. He trusted God as the righteous Ruler and Judge of all. Whatever action He decided to take or not take would be just. He left it with God who acts justly toward all.

How should I respond?
You’ll probably have to deal with difficult people as long as you live. How do your responses to those people compare with David’s in today’s passage? If an accusation has been made, humbly ask God to show you if any part of it is based in truth. Ask Him to search your heart and mind regarding whether you have a blind spot on that issue and then leave it with God. That doesn’t mean you never pray about it again, but your prayers should reflect humble acknowledgment of who God is – the Lord Most High, the righteous Judge. Anything He decides is right. What situation or relationship do you need to pray about right now and then leave in God’s righteous hands?

January 15, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 16

What does it say?
Sarai urged Abram to have a child by her handmaiden, Hagar. The resulting conflict caused Hagar to flee to the desert where God comforted her before sending her back.

What does it mean?
Sarai’s grief at remaining barren caused her to take matters into her own hands. Fathering a child by a wife’s handmaiden was a common practice, but it was not how God intended to fulfill His promise to Abram. Sarai’s desire to control the situation, as well as Abram’s conceding, resulted in strife and discord in their home. But God didn’t simply remove Hagar and continue with His plan. The Lord’s care for her in the wilderness demonstrated that He saw her, knew her situation, and loved her. Abram and Sarai would have to live with the consequences of their choice.

How should I respond?
We love to be in control, trusting our own logic and common sense to solve issues in which we can’t see God at work. In what situation are you about to take matters into your own hands, like Sarai? But taking control also means taking the consequences of your actions. Being impatient can cause even more difficulties than you’re dealing with at the present time. Are you, like Hagar, going through a wilderness experience? Have you been driven to a place of hopelessness? As a believer, Christ has promised to never leave you. He sees you and wants to comfort you right now—where you are.

January 15, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 11

What does it say?
Jesus answered John the Baptist’s question concerning His identity. He commended John, pronounced judgment on the unrepentant, and invited all to come to Him.

What does it mean?
John the Baptist was put in prison for doing what God called him to do. His honest question concerning Jesus’ identity was answered by Jesus’ works, which Isaiah prophesied to be works of the Messiah (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). Jesus commended John as the messenger foretold by Isaiah. Both John and Jesus proclaimed God’s message, yet the majority of that generation were not responsive and would be held accountable in relation to the truth revealed to them. Still, Jesus invited all who would recognize Him as Messiah to come in childlike faith and find rest from sin’s penalty and life’s burdens.

How should I respond?
Life doesn’t always go as you think it should, even when you’re doing exactly what God has directed you to do. Circumstances do not define you. Your identity is found in your relationship to Jesus and your choice to fulfill God’s plan. Have you come to Christ in childlike faith and repentance for salvation? Jesus will answer your questions. He is your closest friend. What situation burdens you? Bring it to Jesus. The majority may reject Christ, but He invites you to find ease, relief, and rest for your soul in Him.

January 14, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 15

What does it say?
God understood when Abram expressed disappointment that he remained childless. The Lord again restated His will and covenant. He also foretold what the years would bring to the future nation.

What does it mean?
Abram and Sarai were distressed about their childless state. God reminded Abram that He was all he needed, but Abram’s response showed his discouragement that the promise of a child from God had not been fulfilled. As Abram poured out his distress, God re-affirmed His covenant, showing His constant care for Abram’s concerns and needs. God caused Abram to fall into a deep sleep, during which he had a vision of the future nation that would come from his offspring. God will fulfill His promise in His time.

How should I respond?
What are you currently waiting on God for? Has it been so long that it seems God has forgotten you? It is easy to think He has answered, ‘No’ when He may be saying, ‘Wait.’ During those times, being patient for God’s answer increases your faith. Like Abram, tell God exactly how you feel. He cares for you enormously and wants to meet your needs in His way and in His time. A deeper knowledge of His Word will always encourage you. Make a list of the verses that admonish you to ‘wait on the Lord’ and memorize them. He never changes, and His promises are true and constant. Continue to trust that God is working out His timeline in your circumstances. He will never fail you.

January 14, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 10

What does it say?
Jesus sent His disciples to preach, heal, and deliver. He prepared them with a warning of persecution and gave assurance of God’s sovereign care and the Holy Spirit’s help.

What does it mean?
As Jesus sent His disciples out, He prepared them for their immediate mission and their lifework after His ascension. Jesus called His followers to put aside their own agenda, identify with Him, and meet the needs of others. Serving Him wholeheartedly meant facing persecution because those who rejected Jesus would reject His followers. Even their strongest ties had to take second place to Jesus. These men would see many come to faith in Christ as God accomplished His plan. The cost of discipleship was great, but the joy of living for God’s purpose led to a triumphant life and God’s reward.

How should I respond?
Christ calls you to give your life to Him and hold all other relationships loosely. Open confession of Christ with a commitment to serve Him may lead to misunderstanding, rejection, and even persecution. Is your commitment to Christ selfless and fearless, or are there situations where you’re intimidated and silent concerning your faith? Fear is banished by confidence in God’s continual presence, and the pain of rejection is abated by your awareness of pleasing Him. Living for Christ requires selflessness and courage, but results in fulfillment and reward. How will you further God’s purpose today?

January 13, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 14

What does it say?
When Sodom was attacked, Abram left immediately to free Lot and the captives.

What does it mean?
Lot had moved from living “toward” the sinful city of Sodom to living in it as a resident. When Sodom came under attack, he and his neighbors were taken prisoner in battle. Abram gathered his servants and allies and successfully rescued all the captives. The king of Sodom desired to reward Abram, who declined the overture, desiring that only God get credit for his wealth. He wanted nothing to do with anything from that wicked city. Instead of accepting riches, Abram paid homage to Melchizedek, introduced in this chapter as a priest of the Most High God.

How should I respond?
Like Lot, it’s impossible for a believer to live close to “the world” without eventually suffering for it. Who in your family or circle of friends is in some type of captivity due to a sinful habit or lifestyle? Are you willing to come to their aid? Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face the challenge. What about you? What temptations inch you closer and closer to thoughts and actions that displease the Lord? It’s impossible to tip-toe around the edge of sin without eventually falling in. Like Abram, keeping the proper distance will give you the proper perspective.

January 13, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 9

What does it say?
Jesus forgave sin, healed and delivered as He interacted with men, women and children. He called Matthew to be a disciple and had dinner with outcasts.

What does it mean?
Throughout this chapter, people put faith in Jesus to meet their needs and the needs of loved ones. One group was so motivated by their conviction that Jesus had power to heal that they went to great effort to get their friend to Him. While raising the ruler’s dead daughter to life and healing the demon-possessed man caused more spectacle, the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment received healing quietly. The friends, the ruler, and the woman came to Jesus convinced that He could and would help them. He responded to each situation in compassion. They looked to Jesus in complete trust and dependence and were not disappointed.

How should I respond?
Faith in Jesus expressed through prayer and worship releases God’s power. Prayer is a wonderful mystery. God is not dependent on our prayers, yet He invites us to pray in faith with expectation that He will act on our behalf. He always answers either yes, no, or wait. What personal situation should you bring to Jesus? Who has God reminded you to pray for? Will you call them today and pray with them, taking them into Jesus’ presence? Each need, whether it seems big or small, will be met with compassion.

January 12, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 13

What does it say?
Abram began the journey back to Bethel as soon as the famine ended. Recurring strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot made a parting of ways necessary.

What does it mean?
Abram had grown very rich in Egypt, and now the large herds of Abram and Lot were too much for that area of Canaan. Abram generously and unselfishly gave his younger kinsman first choice of the land, showing his desire for restoring the strained relationship. Lot saw the fertile area around Sodom and selected what seemed the best soil without taking into account the wickedness of the people. Abram continued traveling to Hebron, again building an altar of worship where God re-affirmed His covenant.

How should I respond?
Often, loving your neighbor and family requires sacrifice. In fact, we’re often more generous with acquaintances than with the people we live with! With whom in your family do you have a strained relationship? What opportunity will you have this week to put their needs before your own? When you do, you are fulfilling the second most important commandment in Scripture (Matthew 22:37-40). Will you, like Abram, trust God enough to give up what seems to be “the best”? Keeping the peace may require some sacrifice on your part, but your actions will honor God before your entire family.

January 12, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 8

What does it say?
Jesus healed the sick, calmed the storm, and delivered two demon-possessed men. He warned followers that discipleship is costly.

What does it mean?
Jesus demonstrated authority over sickness, nature, and supernatural beings – authenticating that He is the Messiah promised by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:4). As Jesus revealed His power, He also showed compassion for suffering people, touching them with healing and deliverance. He proved Himself more powerful than the crises of life. Jesus’ love and power can overcome fear of illness, natural calamities, and even supernatural forces.

How should I respond?
Jesus cares for you and has power to help you overcome in any challenging situation you may face. That is life-altering truth. In great love He empathizes with your need. In great authority He stoops to touch you with His power to deliver or be your companion through any disease or danger. What situation has shaken your security? Will you look to Jesus and trust Him with your greatest personal need? You never have reason to doubt God’s care. Jesus has power to change your circumstances if that is best. He also has power to enable you to overcome in your circumstances. Invite Him into your need today.

January 11, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 12:10-20

What does it say?
Canaan suffered a severe drought and famine. Abram temporarily relocated to Egypt, but his fear of being killed caused him to ask Sarai to say she was his sister, not his wife.

What does it mean?
Abram believed only drastic action would save his family and chose to go to Egypt until the famine in Canaan ended. However, Abram gave in to fear and asked his wife to participate in a half-truth. Sarai was his father’s daughter (Gen. 20:12) but not his mother’s. She was both his wife and half-sister. Abram’s uncharacteristic deception left both Sarai and the Egyptians open to sin and taught his family that deceit is acceptable. His actions also demonstrated a lack of trust in God to protect him. God Himself was a defense for Sarai in this situation—He kept her safe. It was only God’s grace that caused this episode to end well.

How should I respond?
Since childhood we’ve all been told that honesty is the best policy. If you’re a parent, you teach and expect honesty in your children. But, like Abram, we all have moments when fear, selfishness, or convenience tempts us to be less than completely honest. A half-truth might technically be correct; but if the objective is to mislead someone, then you’re practicing deception. In what situation do you need to relinquish control and trust God for the outcome? Has your family learned to trust or to doubt God by watching your example? Remember, a half-truth is a whole lie.

January 11, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 7

What does it say?
Jesus gave instruction not to judge, but to discern and pray. He spoke of two gates, two trees, and two foundations as He challenged all who heard Him to choose wisely.

What does it mean?
The Sermon on the Mount encouraged the development of discernment and right thinking. While the Law demanded external acts that could lead to a superior or critical attitude, Jesus offered a relationship with Himself and internal renewal by the Holy Spirit leading to wisdom, fruitfulness, and stability. There are different paths to take, different kinds of fruit to bear, and different foundations one can lay, but Christ promised discernment to all who ask for His guidance. The teachings of Jesus are the basis for a successful and meaningful life through wise decision-making and behavior.

How should I respond?
The topics in the Sermon on the Mount are timeless (Matt. 5-7); however, they directly contradict most of the messages in current entertainment and social media. Where does your thinking conflict with Jesus’ teaching? Who is the final authority in your decisions – self, common sense, or Scripture? Ask God to help you grasp what Jesus taught and begin the process of adjusting your thoughts, decisions, and behavior to please Him. You’ll develop greater wisdom and discernment by recognizing and receiving Jesus’ words as the foundation for your life.

January 10, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 11:27-12:9

What does it say?
When Abram was seventy-five years of age, God called him from his father’s people, telling him to leave the idolatrous land of his birth and journey to a land God would show him.

What does it mean?
God chose Abram to be the recipient of an extraordinary covenant. He promised Abram that he would be the father of a great nation, with blessings not only for himself but for all the families of the earth. Abram’s trust in God was so great that he did not question but immediately obeyed God’s command to travel as God led him. With his wife, servants, and possessions, he eventually came to the land God had selected. In that place Abram built an altar of worship, witnessing to the people of the land that his faith was in an unseen God.

How should I respond?
Obedience to God’s call often means stepping out in faith. If God were to call you to a new destination, job, or school, would you be willing to leave extended family or friends, following as He directs? What are some emotions you might feel? Can you tell God sincerely that you want only His will for your life? He has plans for you that you may be unaware of. If your desire is for God’s blessing on your life, obey and follow wherever He leads. He has someone in that place in need of your witness for Christ.

January 10, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 6

What does it say?
After weeping all night, David asked God to mercifully deliver his anguished body and soul. God heard David’s cries for help.

What does it mean?
The first penitential psalm shows the agony involved when the full weight of sin is realized through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The particular sin isn’t named in this undated psalm, but it’s generally thought to be the murder of Uriah after David committed adultery with Bathsheba. David’s words suggest that God allowed him to suffer from a severe illness before he repented. At the same time, enemies were trying to kill him. The physical and mental agony was so intense that David wept all night long – so much that he couldn’t see clearly. He longed to worship God with a clear conscience and restore the intimacy in their relationship. God’s mercy was David’s only assurance that God would answer his prayers and inflict the same kind of conviction on his foes.

How should I respond?
Too often we fail to realize the full weight of our sin. It may feel more like a pinprick than a gaping wound in our spirit. We’re more apt to shed tears over the consequences of sin than its effect on our moment-by-moment fellowship with Christ. Perhaps we seldom feel the agony described in this Psalm because we lack deep intimacy with the Lord to start with. What current sin in your life grieves the heart of God? Don’t trivialize it; turn and face it head on. Allow the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to mercifully be your road back to an abiding relationship with Christ. Will you use Psalm 6 as your personal prayer today?

January 9, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 11:1-9

What does it say?
Because of their rebellion and disobedience, God confused the people’s language and scattered them around the earth.

What does it mean?
It didn’t take long after the flood for mankind to once again rebel against God. At this time, all the people on earth spoke the same language, allowing them to become unified in thoughts and actions. God knew that it was this unity coupled with man’s sinful nature that gave them power to rebel against Him. Building the Tower of Babel was an attempt to reach Heaven and establish a name for themselves as a powerful nation apart from the Lord. But defying God always has consequences. He confused their language so that they could no longer understand each other and separated them to put a stop to their rebellion.

How should I respond?
Our society is full of people who want to be famous just for the sake of being famous. Their biggest goal is simply to be known. Pride and human nature are always self-promoting. Is your chief desire to build a name for yourself or to glorify the name of God? He promises to elevate those who humble themselves under Him (1 Peter 5:6.) In what ways have you defied God by seeking your own interests? What were the consequences? In order to have a proper relationship with God, it is essential to accept His authority over your life. As God, it is His right to deal with defiance justly and appropriately. Today, how will you set aside your desire to be known and determine to elevate God instead?

Start Now: The Power of Prayer and Worship

2022-01-09

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Last week we talked about the power of God’s Word. This is the starting point of the mission of this church. Our mission statement: To Change Our World by Developing Christ Followers who Love God and Love People.

 

We are able to accomplish this mission through six values that undergird everything we do:

  1. A Commitment to Scripture
  2. A Culture of Prayer
  3. A Lifestyle of Worship
  4. Connected in Community
  5. A Heart for Serving
  6. A Passion for Sharing

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 (CSB) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.

 

1. He has invited us in

Vs 14a Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God

  • Jesus has stepped into the mediating role between us and God
  • This role provides protection, provision, propitiation

2. He welcomes us as we are

Vs 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.

  • The high priest of the Old Testament was chosen from among men so could identify with those he represented
  • Jesus allowed Himself to experience all of the temptations and challenges we face
  • Hebrews 5 gives us a picture of this responsibility of a high priest
    Hebrews 5:2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he is also clothed with weakness

3. Take advantage of the invitation

Vs 16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need

Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.

  • In this verse, we have a description of two elements of our six core values as a church:
  1. Culture of prayer
    1. “let us approach” – we are specifically called to call to Him
  2. Lifestyle of worship
    1. “approach the throne” – this is a clear representation of the awesomeness and holiness of God
  • Thus, we have a call to live in worship

4. Honor Him as a result

Col. 3:22-23 (CSB) Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.

  • Everything we do is an opportunity to honor Him, serve Him, serve others
  • So how can we put this into practice daily:
    • Seek Him daily for our own needs and failings
    • Seek Him daily for opportunities to impact others
    • Answer the call to be used no matter what
    • Give Him the glory for every win

January 9, 2022

,

Read – Psalm 5

What does it say?
David took refuge in the Lord, expecting Him to answer his prayers.

What does it mean?
When David wrote this Psalm, he was hiding from Saul, who thought David wanted his throne. Every morning David asked for God’s help, stayed focused on God’s character, and anticipated God’s deliverance. He learned things about God through hardship that he never would have learned any other way. David’s acceptance of God’s sovereignty and timing became a natural part of his life. This period increased his knowledge of and dependence on God, molding him into the man who became Israel’s greatest and most beloved king.

How should I respond?
God already knows every difficulty you’re facing. Even so, it’s important to take each situation to Him in prayer because it builds your faith and increases your dependence on Him. You may have to resist the urge to take matters into your own hands while you wait, but manipulation has no place in the life of a believer. Choose instead to trust the character of the One in whom you have placed your faith. God will bless, protect, and show favor to His children, even though that doesn’t always look the way we expect it to look. Like David, the Lord may be using this period of waiting to do something in your heart and character that couldn’t happen any other way.

January 8, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 9:18-10:32

What does it say?
Ham told his brothers that their father was drunk and uncovered in his tent. When Noah woke, he cursed Ham’s descendants; but Shem and Japheth received blessings.

What does it mean?
Rather than showing respect and discretion, Ham thought seeing his father naked was a joke, revealing his true character and setting up a pattern of bad behavior that continued through his descendants. (Ham's descendants, Canaanites, Ninevites and Amorites, were all enemies of God’s people.) Shem and Japheth acted respectfully by walking backward to avoid seeing their father and covered him with a robe. Their descendants reflected the benefits of respectful behavior and attitude. From Shem would come Abraham (‘friend of God’– James 2:23), Isaac, Jacob, and eventually Christ.

How should I respond?
Like father, like son. Like mother, like daughter. Like it or not, how our kids think and behave is more caught than taught. What ungodly attitude have you displayed this week? If your family has been affected negatively by a choice of yours, how can you change things going forward? Is there someone you should thank for keeping your family in check spiritually? Our thoughts and actions today become the legacy we leave for future generations. At some point, we will all be a name on a family tree. Will your impact lead your great-grandchildren to be friends or enemies of God?

January 8, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 6

What does it say?
Jesus taught His listeners to pray and do good works privately, avoiding public exhibitions. He instructed them to seek God first and trust Him to meet every need.

What does it mean?
Jesus reminded His audience to check their motives, adjust their priorities, and trust God. His followers should adjust their priorities to honor God rather than seek praise through self-promotion. It’s human nature to try to impress other people by publicly displaying good deeds, but even good things are hypocritical when done from wrong motives. Believers should value what endures for eternity. God sees all that is done, is aware of every need, and is trustworthy to reward those who live to honor Him. A believer’s priority is to please God rather than to be seen and praised by others.

How should I respond?
What are you doing in order to make yourself look good to others? It’s exhausting and frustrating when your purpose is to fulfill the expectations of friends and family or to impress other Christians. The practice of your faith is between you and God primarily, not you and others. You honor God when you live before Him, an audience of one, and do works that further the cause of Christ privately, when possible. Trusting and honoring God takes precedence over promoting yourself. What will you do today to honor God? He will give you lasting treasure when your first goal is His glory.

January 7, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 8:1 – 9:17

What does it say?
Noah and his family left the ark when the waters receded. God then made a covenant with Noah and his descendants. He promised that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood.

What does it mean?
Noah’s family took care of the animals on the ark for over a year. As glad as Noah probably was that his time in the ark was completed, he didn’t forget that it was God who saved them from the flood and kept them safe. He worshiped God immediately when he was on dry land again. Noah recognized God’s faithfulness to his family through the judgment imposed by the flood. God’s covenant promise, symbolized by the rainbow, is a constant reminder of His faithfulness.

How should I respond?
God often allows difficult situations to go on much longer than we like or feel comfortable with. However, those are the very things that shape our character and affect our decisions. How you respond during the storms of life will largely determine who you become when they are over. What particular storm are you weathering just now? You can always trust that God still loves you and that you’re not going through it alone. Do you recognize God’s faithfulness in the midst of the problem? How has He provided and protected? Like Noah, don’t move on today until you thank and worship Him for what He’s done and Who He is.

January 7, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 5

What does it say?
Jesus taught the Beatitudes in His Sermon on the Mount and explained how to truly fulfill the Law of God.

What does it mean?
Jesus revealed a new standard for thinking and behavior in every area of life. His teachings explained that being a part of His kingdom meant doing more than keeping religious traditions and outwardly fulfilling the Law. No one who heard the Sermon on the Mount was capable of living up to His teaching without a heart transformed by His righteousness. He explained that godly character would produce happiness and personal joy when faced with hardship, misunderstanding, or persecution. Life lived this way would not be easy, but it would be blessed as well as influential.

How should I respond?
Living for Christ means going beyond keeping up an appearance. His teachings expose wrong motives and thoughts. In which area do you need to respond to Jesus’ teaching: influence, conflict, purity, marriage, forgiveness, love? As you consider relationships with family members, work associates, and friends, you may recognize a specific attitude or behavioral change you need to make. Ask the Lord to give you thinking and desires that align with His teachings. As you replace old self-centered thoughts with godly attitudes, He can then bless you with true joy and lasting happiness.

January 6, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 7

What does it say?
God carried out His plan to destroy the earth and everything in it with a flood.

What does it mean?
Noah spent 120 years building the ark without seeing any evidence of rain. Year after year he worked diligently—believing that God was going to do what He said He would do. For 120 years everyone around him continued to rebel against God and ignore His warning. The time it took to construct the ark gave ample time for repentance, yet not one person did repent. God’s judgment came as promised. His very nature cannot allow sin to continue unchecked. While Noah and his family were inside the ark, protected from God’s wrath, everyone outside perished.

How should I respond?
Can you imagine being the only family in the entire world who lived faithful and godly lives? Our society moves further away from the teaching of Scripture every day. It of- ten seems as if sin is rampant and God is absent. But He has not changed; no matter how long it takes, we can trust that Jesus will fulfill his promise to return and judge the world. What choice have you made? Have you chosen to believe God and His Word, or are you taking your chances outside of Christ? God has given ample time to turn to Him in repentance. His judgment may not always be immediate, but it is always certain.

January 6, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 4

What does it say?
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert where Satan tempted Him. Jesus began to preach, call followers, and heal all kinds of sickness.

What does it mean?
Satan came to Jesus while He was alone with suggestions that, as the Son of God, He could satisfy His physical needs, gain popularity, and obtain world power without suffering. Jesus overcame the temptation because He knew how to apply God’s Word in each situation. The victory completed His preparation for ministry. His preaching and healing ministry included works expected of the Messiah, validating Him as the Savior and causing some to leave their businesses and families to become His disciples. Jesus set the example that faithfulness in private prepares the way for fruitfulness in public.

How should I respond?
Everyone has a public image for all to see as well as a private spiritual life that only God knows. Your commitment to godly thoughts and behavior in private will likely determine the influence of your life on others. Daily private victories come through saturating your mind with God’s Word, prayer, and submitting to His will. What tempts you to take matters into your own hands? Don’t panic. Find what God has directed you to do in the Bible and trust Him. When you emerge from the struggle successfully, God will be glorified, and you will have a greater impact on others.

January 5, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 5-6

What does it say?
God saw the corruption of man and gave Noah instructions for building an ark to save his family from God’s judgment.

What does it mean?
Through the six generations between Adam and Noah, man became increasingly corrupt. Noah and his family, however, would be spared from God’s judgment on the world because he was ‘a righteous man’ and ‘walked faithfully with God.’ That faithfulness was tested when God commanded Noah to build an ark in preparation for a flood that would destroy everything and everyone on the earth. At five hundred years old, surrounded by corruption and unbelief, Noah obeyed immediately and without question.

How should I respond?
When God looks at your life, does he see faithfulness or corruption? If you lived in the time of Noah, do you think you would have been spared? Faithfulness and obedience all the time and in every way is difficult—especially when you are unable to see or understand all God is doing. What has God asked you to do that requires extreme faith? What has been your response? Each day you have an opportunity to respond to God in faith, trust, and obedience. What you do reveals much more about your faith than what you say.

January 5, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 3

What does it say?
John the Baptist prepared for Jesus’ coming by preaching repentance and baptizing. When John baptized Jesus, the Spirit descended, and God the Father spoke.

What does it mean?
John the Baptist courageously preached a radical message of repentance from sin. His ministry prepared God’s people for the Messiah, Jesus. Israel’s leaders thought being Jewish made them acceptable to God, but John preached that a change leading to different thinking and behavior was necessary. Only sorrow for sin can prepare hearts to receive the Savior. When Jesus came for baptism as the sinless Son of God, He identified with every repentant sinner who would be baptized with the Spirit. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit affirmed God the Son as He began His earthly mission.

How should I respond?
Calling for repentance from sin is as much a radical message today as it was in the first century. Have you repented of sin and personally received Jesus’ payment for your sin? When God convicts you of thoughts, words, or actions that are not Christ-like, do you defend yourself or agree with His assessment and confess it? Conviction of sin and repentance prepare the heart to receive Jesus as Savior. Continuing repentance enables you to maintain companionship with Him. What sin causes you sorrow? Will you make the radical choice and determine to turn from it today?

January 4, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 4

What does it say?
Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother Abel.

What does it mean?
The story of Cain and Abel is the first recorded event that shows the effect of sin in the world. Hebrews 11:4 tells us that ‘By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.’ Cain’s prideful attitude led to anger toward God and jealousy toward his brother when his offering was rejected. Abel’s murder was the first taking of human life, the first spilling of human blood as a result of a person’s sin. When questioned by God, Cain continued this sinful cycle with lies and indifference.

How should I respond?
As sinful people living in a sinful world, we are plagued with feelings of anger, jealousy, deceit, indifference, and hatred. You may not commit murder, but wrong thoughts and emotions lead to wrong actions. Are you experiencing negative feelings toward God, a family member, co-worker, or fellow student? Be honest with God about how you feel — He knows anyway! Ask Him to reveal the underlying issue, such as pride or bitterness, and determine to rely solely on Him as you work through it. If your attitudes and emotions are not controlled by God, they will end up controlling you.

January 4, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 2

What does it say?
The wise men followed the star and worshiped Jesus in Bethlehem. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt but later returned to live in Nazareth.

What does it mean?
The birth of Jesus brought hope for mankind, but also ignited extreme opposition. Herod felt so threatened by the news of a prophesied king’s birth that he issued a decree to kill any child born around the time the star appeared. But not even Herod had power to stop the Lord from intervening. God honored the astronomers’ desire to find and worship the Messiah they read about in Scripture. God’s warnings then led Joseph and Mary, as well as the wise men, to change their plans, protecting each of them. The Savior’s life was preserved as a result of God’s guidance and their obedience.

How should I respond?
You might think it would be easier to follow the Lord if He sent an angel to tell you exactly what to do in a difficult situation. Well, God still guides and protects us through biblical warnings, commands, and principles. God will give direction as you search the Bible for wisdom and truth in similar situations. Will you make the Word of God your primary resource for decision-making? Listen for repeated impressions from the Spirit; then respond quickly when God intervenes with guidance. God desires to guide you into His plan for your life, but you must be willing to trust Him completely.

January 3, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 3

What does it say?
Sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

What does it mean?
Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, and their lives became very different from what God intended. The serpent enticed Eve to disobey God by appealing to her sense of pride. The passage doesn’t record any objection from Adam as he joined her defiant action. Although they offered excuses, the guilt of their choice was on them. The consequences of their disobedience included pain in childbirth, toil in work, and eventual physical death for them as well as for all future generations. Even the earth responded to the presence of sin by producing thorns and thistles. One sinful act had devastating consequences on life and the world.

How should I respond?
Why do bad things happen in the world? When Adam and Eve chose to disobey, sin entered the world; and their lives, as well as ours, were forever changed. The existence of sin means our world is now full of terrible things that God never meant for us to experience. We, too, choose daily between obedience and disobedience. No matter what excuses you make, if you choose to sin, it will always affect your life negatively. In what way might you be defying God’s instructions? What consequences can you avoid today by choosing to obey?

January 3, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 3-4

What does it say?
David trusted God to be his deliverer, even though numerous enemies pursued him. He looked to the Lord, who is merciful and righteous, and slept in peace.

What does it mean?
David was on the run from his treacherous son Absalom, who had not only stolen his father’s throne, but had also sought to end his life. Amidst desperate circumstances David’s heart was peaceful enough to get a good night’s sleep. How? He knew he stood on God’s side and had confidence in God’s ability to deliver him. As he lay down for the night, David prayed for relief, choosing to focus on what he knew to be true – his righteous and merciful God listens to and protects His people. A low point in the king’s life became an opportunity to experience the sustaining presence of his Lord.

How should I respond?
Worry and despair can rob you of much needed rest. When you’re in the middle of a sleepless night, you can either focus on the issue keeping you awake, or you can talk to the One who knows you and the problem inside and out. Tell God how you feel, look for reasons to express gratitude, and praise Him for aspects of His character that are especially relevant to the situation. Then release your anxiety to Him and willingly accept however He chooses to act. The peace of God is not a product of changing /by

January 2, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 2

What does it say?
After six days of creation, God established a day of rest. A detailed account is then given regarding the creation of man, woman, and the Garden of Eden.

What does it mean?
Food, companionship and rest have been part of basic human needs since the cre- ation of the world. God placed Adam in the garden with ample food to sustain him and satisfied his need for companionship by creating a woman and instituting marriage. Upon completion of creation, God set an example for them of rest on the seventh day. But God also included boundaries and work as part of His perfect order. Adam was given the task of caring for the plants and animals. Along with this responsibility, God set a boundary in His command: ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.’

How should I respond?
Because He created us, God knows exactly what we need. Many of us rarely forget to eat, but how well are you functioning within God’s design for rest, marriage, and work? Start by regularly setting aside a day to rest, focusing on God and the spiritual needs in your life and home. When you return to the work week, recognize it as a means of purpose and provision. But God has also given us boundaries for our protection. Which one are you dangerously close to crossing? What changes do you need to make in your life to honor God’s original plan for living?

START HERE: The Power of the Word

­2022-01-02

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Over the past year, we have walked through all 66 books of the Bible to have a baseline understanding of what God’s Word is all about. Ultimately, we discussed the theme of the Bible last week as: “Jesus is the answer for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.” Over the coming weeks, we are going to talk through our response to that theme and then we will begin a ten-week study of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. We are going to use the START book as our guide through these series’.

 

THE POWER OF THE WORD

Hebrews 4:12 For the Word of God is living and powerful…

– Inspiration – God breathed out His Word

– Inerrancy – every word is accurate and absolute

– Infallible – absolutely trustworthy, exempt from error

 

Our desires should line up with the desires of God as it relates to His Word.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

1. Read what it says

– 16a All Scripture is given by inspiration of God

 

None of us can ever be fully pleasing to God if we are not willing to be well taught in His Word”[1] – A.W. Tozer

 

  • Reading the Word of God is the only way to discover the Will of God. If you’re trying to discover God’s Will for your life without reading God’s Word for your life, you’re wasting your time.

 

2. Learn what it means

            – 16b …and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction

  • Doctrine – show us what is right
  • Reproof – show us what is wrong
  • Correction – show us how to fix it
  • We do this through personal Bible study, church attendance, group studies, etc.

 

“God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds.  He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years.”[2]  – A.W. Tozer

 

– Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

– Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

 

3. Put it into practice

16c …for instruction in righteousness17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

  • Our lives, or more importantly, our success in life is directly dependent on how we put God’s Word into practice in our daily lives
  • If we are not actually applying His Word to life, we not only will fail, we are living in sin

 

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

 

It is one thing to know that the Scripture is the Sword of the Spirit, but it another thing to know how to use it effectively. God expects us to use the Sword, not merely hang it up as a decoration”[3]Rev. Jerry Falwell

 

I Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

[1] A.W. Tozer, Jesus, Our Man in Glory, pg. 104

[2] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Aneko Press, June 2015.

[3] Rev. Jerry Falwell, The Start Book, Thomas Road Baptist Church, pg. 33.

January 2, 2022

,

Read – Psalms 1-2

What does it say?
God blesses and watches over the righteous. The Lord’s Anointed King will rule and judge the earth. Wise rulers are blessed and given refuge as they serve and honor Him.

What does it mean?
Psalm 1 offers a stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Both are defined by how they spend their time and the outcome of their life’s pursuits. The godly person finds purpose in life by reading and contemplating Scripture instead of listening to ungodly sources of advice. While the watchful eye of the Lord guides those who belong to Him, the one who rejects the Lord has chosen to live outside of His protection. Psalm 2 reveals the future wrath of God’s Son on people who continue to reject Him. Those who are wise find refuge in the Son and serve Him rather than conspire against Him.

How should I respond?
How you spend your time says a lot about you. Would your current pursuits be characterized as godly? Think about how each interest originated. Did you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit after praying and meditating on God’s Word? Or, have people who reject God’s authority in their own lives influenced you? As a follower of Christ, you are covered in His righteousness, giving you a different life and future than those who have rejected Him. Today, determine to pursue only what reflects God’s purpose and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

January 1, 2020

,

Read – Genesis 1

What does it say?
In six days God created the heavens, the world, and everything in it. He created man and woman in His own image, giving them the earth to fill and rule.

What does it mean?
God is so powerful that He spoke the world into existence from complete emptiness. On the sixth day, He created man and woman in His own image, making fellowship with Him and worship of Him possible. He placed them in a garden that offered everything they would ever need. Additionally, God gave them authority over His earthly creation. Along with this authority came the responsibility to take care of all that He had provided. When God looked at the man and woman, surrounded by everything He had created, He said it was, ‘very good.’

How should I respond?
What parts of creation have you taken time to appreciate this week: a sunrise, a mountain view, or the taste of a favorite food? God intentionally designed the world for your enjoyment and provision. From the beginning, God loved you immeasurably. You are His masterpiece, designed to have a relationship with your Creator. How does viewing yourself and others in the image of God encourage you to share His love with them? Slow down today, and thank God for how He designed you and the world around you. This week, how can you be a better steward of everything He has provided?

January 1, 2022

,

Read – Matthew 1

What does it say?
The angel’s message to Joseph confirmed that Mary was the virgin through whom the Holy Spirit would send the long-awaited Messiah.

What does it mean?
Matthew’s Gospel was written to first century Jews who were waiting for the promised Messiah. Jesus’ ancestry fulfilled the requirement that the Messiah would come from the line of Abraham through King David. Mary’s pregnancy through the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ virgin birth into the household of Joseph proved His Messianic credentials. Matthew presented Jesus as the Christ who was promised in the covenants God made with Abraham and David. Immanuel, God with us, would be born in human flesh for the purpose of saving mankind from their sins.

How should I respond?
Who is Jesus? As Christians, we believe Jesus is the Savior who forgives and delivers us from sin, allowing companionship with Him each moment of every day. Do you claim Jesus as your Savior? If so, your life should demonstrate your love for and faith in Christ. How does His constant presence make a difference in your thoughts, attitudes, and actions? At school and work God gives opportunities for you to identify with Christ. Will you choose to live openly as a follower of Christ today? Who will you tell that Jesus is the Savior?

December 31, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 148-150

What does it say?
The psalmist invites everything that has breath to sing praise to the Lord for His creation, His compassion, His powerful acts, and supreme greatness.

What does it mean?
What a magnificent closing to the praise and prayer concert of the Scriptures! The first psalm begins with God’s blessing on the man who meditates on His Word. The last psalm ends with man and “everything that has breath” praising the Lord. At times praising God can be quiet and reflective. However, the last three psalms invite all creation to join in a worship service to praise their Creator. Those who know God have special reason to sing a new song of praise to the Lord – a song of salvation. He is the One who has washed their sins away and punished their enemies. It is right to praise God in every place, in every situation, and with every breath.

How should I respond?
How do you start and end your day? Do you wake up filled with dread as you think about the day’s events, or do you remember, “This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it”? God loves to hear your praises as you gather with others to worship, but He also finds great pleasure when your praise matches the choices you make and the way you live. Try aligning your day to the structure of the Psalms. Begin the day meditating on God’s wisdom in Scripture; let your actions throughout the day be an expression of how much you love Him, and end the day showing appreciation for who God is and giving thanks for what He has done. Will you join with all creation in praise to the Lord for His greatness? Will you thank Him right now for providing for your salvation? Determine to praise the Lord in each situation you face with every breath you have until your dying day. It will energize you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

December 31, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 3:13-4:6

What does it say?
It seemed to the righteous that the wicked prospered, and the arrogant were blessed. God heard the righteous, reminding them that they were His treasured possession.

What does it mean?
The largest portions of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament are God’s warnings to the wicked that He will repay them, so when the righteous saw the wicked prosper, they wondered what was happening. It is easy to forget that the world is on God’s time clock – His agenda for punishing the wicked and rewarding the righteous. When the wicked see God at His return, they will be punished; but when those who are righteous see Him, they will rejoice. In the meantime, the Israelites were to remember the Law of Moses and await the Lord’s coming.

How should I respond?
When we see real-world injustice, we expect God should handle it immediately because He sees all things. After all, complex crimes are solved in less than an hour on TV shows – right? We have to remember that God promises us justice … in His time. Write three important words on a note: “I can wait.” Place the note where you can see it. Justice will come in due time – punishments for the wicked, rewards for the righteous, and forgiveness for those who put their trust in God. In the meantime, read the Bible, pray, and wait on God. That’s the essence of true faith.

December 30, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 146-147

What does it say?
The psalmist would praise and trust the Lord all of his life because His faithfulness endures. He challenged Israel to praise God for His revealed laws and Word.

What does it mean?
It’s generally thought that the last five psalms were written when the second temple was completed, and the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. That’s a fitting explanation for why these psalms begin with the same three words, “Praise the Lord.” During Israel’s captivity and return, the writer had learned to place his hope in God instead of in people. Only the Creator of Heaven and Earth sustains the troubled, lifts up those who are humbled, and heals the brokenhearted. He will not fail those who put their trust in Him. Israel had special cause to praise the Lord; no other nation had the revelation of God’s wisdom and person through His laws and decrees. It was fitting to praise Him.

How should I respond?
What challenges are you facing right now? Whom do you trust for the answers? God can be trusted to provide what you need when you spend time in His Word and in prayer. If you’re worried, you can turn to Him for peace. If you are lonely, you can turn to Him for friendship. If your heart is broken, you can turn to Him for healing. If you feel powerless, you can turn to Him for strength. You can even thank and praise Him before the answers come because God is forever faithful to those who choose to hope in Him.

December 30, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 3:7-12

What does it say?
God promised that if Israel would stop robbing Him and give a tenth of all they had to Him, He would bless their farmland and its produce.

What does it mean?
Israel was primarily an agrarian society. The people were farmers and raised livestock. God promised to bless the land itself and their livestock if they would remain faithful to Him and bring an offering of “first fruits” at harvest time. Throughout their history, God caused famines to fall on their land during times of disobedience. In today’s passage we see that the Israelites were skimping on their tithes and offerings. God promised that if they would start giving their harvest and other offerings again, He would bless their land richly. All they had to do was trust Him and obey.

How should I respond?
God does not need our money. The Bible tells us that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10). All the heavens and the earth are His. We give a portion of our income as a form of worship – showing that we are thankful for all He has given to us. We give beyond that to help those in need. Did you know that only 3% of American families who attend church give a portion of their income to God on a regular basis? If giving a portion of your income to God is not part of your budget, revisit your budget, trusting the challenge in today’s passage. Give in faith, and see what God does with your faith.

December 29, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 22

What does it say?
John continued his description of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, with the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb.

What does it mean?
John’s vision in the final chapter of Revelation paints a picture of God’s impending victory. Believers through the ages are participants in God’s incredible story – a story of redemption for whoever wishes to accept the free gift of the water of life. The Spirit of God and His bride, the church, invite all to come to Christ. The Lord Jesus promises that each one will be rewarded according to what he has done. His followers eagerly wait for the return of the victorious King, the Lamb of God who testifies, “I am coming soon.”

How should I respond?
What thoughts immediately come to mind when you read about Christ’s return? Are you ready, or are you overly focused on your own plans here and now? Jesus’ imminent return should propel us to be more mature in our faith with each passing day. Take a spiritual inventory to prepare for the coming year. What spiritual fruit would you like to experience in your life this year? Determine what must take place in order to get there. Take time in the new year to pray – asking God for the wisdom and strength to make those changes. Will you commit now to live this year in expectation of Christ’s return?

December 29, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 2:17-3:6

What does it say?
The Israelites asked where the God of justice had gone. God responded that He Himself was on His way to His temple; and on that day, the wicked will be judged.

What does it mean?
Despite many cycles throughout Israel’s history of sin – punishment – repentance – salvation, they had yet to learn their lesson. The Lord is a holy, morally pure God and requires the same of His people. The Israelites of Malachi’s day were calling evil “good,” swearing false oaths, oppressing the widows, orphans, workers, and immigrants, and not fearing God. He promised to send a messenger (John the Baptist) to clear the way for God Himself (Jesus Christ) to come and set matters straight by taking the punishment of the wicked on the cross.

How should I respond?
Jesus does not ask us to repay Him for dying on the cross in our place. It would be an impossible debt to pay. Instead, our lives should “pay it forward” as we demonstrate His holy character and express gratitude for taking the punishment for our sins. Scripture teaches that pure religion is helping people in need, not mistreating the innocent (James 1:27). Do you know someone who is in need of help? The love that Jesus Himself showed on the cross should be all the motivation we need. Will you keep your eyes open today for someone who could use your help … and jump in?

December 28, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 21

What does it say?
God will create a new Heaven and a new Earth and eradicate pain and sorrow. He will make His dwelling place with mankind once again.

What does it mean?
God was there when the world began, and He will be there at the end. Soon after creation, Satan successfully introduced sin into the human race, and holy God departed from His dwelling place with His creation. Paradise was lost! Through pain and sorrow, mankind was forbidden to access the tree of life. But Satan’s success is only temporary. In Revelation 21, we see the end of the story. Satan is defeated, sin is banished, and God will return to dwell with mankind. Death, pain, and sorrow will be conquered forever. Fellowship with God will be restored – paradise regained!

How should I respond?
Have you ever wondered what living in the Garden of Eden would have been like? When sin entered the world, so did all kinds of heartache and pain. We can get so preoccupied with our earthly problems that we forget God has a magnificent plan for our eternal future – no more death, no more tears, no more pain! Until then, He intends for us to experience the abundant life He has planned for us right now. Are you missing out on the fullness of God’s wonderful plan for you today? The sorrows of life are certain, but remember that they are also temporary.

December 28, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 2:10-16

What does it say?
Israel had acted treacherously against one another and against their wives. Therefore, God stopped accepting their sacrifices.

What does it mean?
Malachi understood that God’s design for marriage was that a husband and wife would form such an intimate bond with each other that they would be as “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). They sinned against God by breaking their solemn vows to be faithful to each other, love each other, and help each other for a lifetime. Through Malachi, God expressed His displeasure that the Israelites had instead intermarried with people who worshiped false gods – polluting the moral and spiritual purity of Israel and raising a generation of children who may not follow in the ways of the Lord.

How should I respond?
Our nation is only as strong as the homes in it. While Satan wants to destroy marriages and lead children astray, God wants healthy marriages and families that point children toward Him. How often do you pray for the homes in your church and community? Make a list of seven families you know, and then pray for one family each day of the week. Ask God to help marriage vows to be honored deeply and faithfully. Ask Him to bless the children and guide the parents to lead them toward God in everything that is said and done. Who can you ask to pray that your marriage and family will honor God?

December 27, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 20

What does it say?
Jesus will rule on the earth for one thousand years, and then Satan will be cast into Hell and vanquished for eternity. The Great White Throne Judgment will then take place.

What does it mean?
During Christ’s thousand-year reign, Satan will be imprisoned, unable to have any influence on the earth, while those who were martyred during the Tribulation will be raised from the dead to reign with Christ. When Satan is released after the Millennium, he will deceive the nations to attack Jerusalem. But the Lord will protect the city and devour Satan and his forces. John then saw Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life will be eternally saved, but those whose names were written only in the various books recording their deeds on the earth will be judged and cast into the lake of fire.

How should I respond?
It is only by God’s grace that your name can be written in the Book of Life. Christianity is the only message that doesn’t tell you to work your way to God. Instead, God Himself took your place and paid the penalty for your sinful state so you could be covered by His perfect righteousness. Our good deeds and works will not be enough to save us from eternal judgment. As a believer, your good works are the result of the Holy Spirit’s work inside of you. They are evidence of salvation, not a means to it. Have you placed your faith in the gracious gift of Christ’s sacrifice? Is your name recorded in the Book of Life?

December 27, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 1:6-2:9

What does it say?
God accused the Israelites of despising His name by offering blind and lame animals as sacrifices.

What does it mean?
God had given Moses many specific laws for Israel and the priests to follow when offering and receiving sacrifices for sin, fellowship, and worship. The hearts of the givers were to be humble and the sacrifices pure – without blemishes or spots. He instructed Israel to give their best to show that they recognized Him as their Lord and God. The people disobeyed, and the priests became apathetic about the purity and majesty of worship, blatantly accepting deficient sacrifices. Because they offended God, He would curse even the things that had been previously blessed.

How should I respond?
Jesus suffered and died as a sacrifice for us. He is our once-and-for-all sin offering without any moral blemish or spot. Because of Jesus, we need not bring a sin offering to church on Sundays. However, we can give things that we value as a form of worship and fellowship. For instance, do you make every effort to give God the best of your time or just what’s left over after your agenda is completed? The next time requests for volunteers conflicts with something you had planned, consider giving that time as if to say, “Here, Lord, this is my best for you.”

December 26, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 19

What does it say?
When Jesus returns to the earth to defeat his enemies, there is a great celebration in Heaven.

What does it mean?
Today’s passage lays out the final outcome for the righteous and for the ungodly. The faithful will be united with Christ followed by a celebration, praising God both for His defeat of the religious system that had corrupted the world and for the marriage of Christ and His bride, the saints. On Palm Sunday Jesus rode humbly into Jerusalem on a donkey, but He will return as the majestic King of the earth. The saints will be adorned in the cleanest and whitest of linens to signify their purity. Their righteousness is not their own – but the righteousness of Christ given to them by God Himself.

How should I respond?
Do you get upset when you find out the ending to a story before finishing a book? Knowing the victorious ending to God’s story in human history gives us the ability to have an unwavering hope and anticipation for what is to come. Yet we cannot wrap our minds around the significance of what it means to be truly clothed in His righteousness. Are you counting on your own good deeds to get into Heaven? Our righteous acts “are like filthy rags” in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6). It’s only by accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross that you’re covered in His righteousness. Are you dressed for the wedding?

Revelation: Let Everyone Come

2021-12-26

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we finish up our whirlwind run through the Bible. We’ve taught from all 66 books throughout this past year. While we certainly haven’t touched on every aspect of Scripture, as no ever could, we have spent a great deal of time focusing on the broad themes of Scripture. And so, today, we’ll conclude by revealing the theme of the Book. Not just the theme of the book of Revelation, but the theme of the entire Bible.

Revelation 1:1-3 (CSB) The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.

 

1. Jesus is the Answer

22:16 I, Jesus, have sent my angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star,

  • Jesus is not only the creator, He is the descendent as well. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1
  • The term, “bright morning star,” gives the idea of the soon coming end of night

2. For The World Today

  • We have the invitation of Jesus
    • 22:17a Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
    • The Spirit’s job is to convict a lost world of their sins and point them to the hope of the Gospel
    • The bride’s job is to tell the world about the Gospel
  • We have a responsibility to Jesus
    • 22:17b Let anyone who hears, say, “Come!”
    • Our individual mandate is to tell others about Jesus and what He’s done for us
  • This opportunity is for everyone
    • 22:17c Let the one who is thirsty come
    • The message of the Gospel is not exclusive to a lucky few, it is available to all
    • 2 Peter 3:9 – “not willing that any should perish”
    • Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost”
    • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…”
  • This opportunity is to be enjoyed now
    • 22:17d Let the one who desires take the water of life freely
    • The hope of Heaven is absolute, but the benefits of believing begin now

3. Above Him there’s no other

22:18-19 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, which are written about in this book.

  • John gives us a warning that we cannot change the message of Christ to suit our own needs or desires
  • This echoes what Deut. 4 and Gal. 1 tell us about changing the message of God

4. Jesus is the Way

22:20-21 He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone. Amen.

  • In times of desperation, we must always remember it is the hope of the Gospel that leads the way
  • Time is short and Jesus has always been the Way, He is the Way, and He will forever be the Way

December 26, 2021

,

Read – Read Malachi 1:1-5

What does it say?
When Israel asked, “How have you loved us?” God pointed them to how He had treated the Edomites, their wicked neighbors, as a contrast to His love for them.

What does it mean?
God chose to fulfill His covenant through Jacob (Israel) and his family rather than the Edomites – the descendants of Esau. This meant that God treated the Israelites like His own children, which included providing for them, protecting them, and patiently guiding them. In contrast, God largely left the Edomites to the natural consequences of their rebellious decisions. Despite these differences, God’s expectation was the same for both: pursue God humbly and fully, admitting their need for God as the Forgiver of their sins and the provider of love, hope, and life. Even though both would sin, God chose to be extra patient with Jacob and his family to display His mercy to and through them.

How should I respond?
Imagine the difference between growing up in an Edomite home versus growing up in an Israelite home. The Israelite home was full of God’s mercy, grace, and loving patience. By contrast, the Edomite home had little contact with the Lord or experience with His guidance. Which one describes the atmosphere of your home? As a spouse, parent, or child, your daily decisions to either pursue God’s ways or reject them will set the tone for the relationships within your family. What can you do to ensure your home teaches God’s love, provision, protection, and salvation fervently?

December 25, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 145

What does it say?
David proclaims the magnitude of God’s goodness and generosity.

What does it mean?
The true nature of God’s greatness was beyond David’s finite understanding, so he praised what he knew of the Lord’s works and characteristics from his own life experiences. His knowledge of God’s grace, compassion, and love were gained through times of heartbreaking difficulty and agonizing repentance of sin. He could speak firsthand of God’s provision and faithfulness from countless days on the run for his life. The Lord had been right there, watching over David through every sleepless night and in every cry for help. Everything God had done or allowed in David’s life was loving and right. David had a close personal relationship with God and had reason to praise Him personally, but he didn’t stop there. God’s greatness deserved to be praised by all men through every generation; so David wrote this psalm of praise so that the Lord’s majesty, goodness, righteousness, and holiness would be praised forever and ever.

How should I respond?
For the child of God every circumstance and experience serves one purpose: to know the Lord and to make Him known. Through King David’s words of praise we learn God’s qualities and how He interacts with people in light of those characteristics. As we follow Christ and grow to know Him better, we, in turn, should tell others how His love, grace, and goodness have been shown to us. The charge to each generation of believers is to know the Lord intimately and praise Him openly. How will you make Him known today?

December 25, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 14

What does it say?
The Lord will defeat the nations and secure Jerusalem when He comes. The world will worship Him as the One and only Lord and King.

What does it mean?
The last chapter of Zechariah details the events of Christ’s return to Earth and the establishment of His earthly kingdom. At the end of the Tribulation period, Jesus will appear on the same mountain where He was betrayed and from which He ascended, creating a valley for God’s people to escape the nations gathered against them. Christ’s supernatural victory and power over the laws of nature will make it a day like no other. World religions will be abolished in recognition that Jesus Christ is the Lord of lords and the King of kings (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). The Messianic kingdom will be the perfection of what the Lord has always required of His people – to recognize His name above every name, worship Him alone, and live holy lives.

How should I respond?
Christians long for the day when the entire world will worship Jesus as Lord and King. That day will be the completion of what God began in the Garden of Eden – perfect communion with His creation. Growing in spiritual maturity means striving daily to live as His people will live then. In an age of religious tolerance, do you acknowledge the name of Jesus as the only way of salvation (John 14:6)? Since He alone is worthy of our worship, determine today to remove any thought that leads to unholy living.

December 24, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 144

What does it say?
David praised the Lord as his Rock and asked God to scatter his enemies. The people whose God is the Lord are blessed.

What does it mean?
David was a man of war throughout his life. From past encounters with the wild predators that attacked his father’s flocks to his defeat of Goliath and all the enemy armies of Israel, he realized that victory had come from God, preparing him, strengthening him, and delivering him. His awe of the fact that the God of the universe would care about him and his problems caused his worship to be elevated to a new level. David envisioned a time of peace that could come only as a result of God’s blessing, love, and mighty power.

How should I respond?
Has your life been touched by war, illness, or death? Perhaps you’ve had a cycle of job loss, moves, or difficulties with children. David reminds us that God is interested in the details of our lives and intervenes on our behalf. Can you trace how He’s reached down to lift you back up time and time again? How has the Lord used something from your past to prepare you to handle today’s challenges? Spend a few minutes thanking the Lord for how He has helped you and ask Him for guidance for your future. Place your trust in the Creator of the universe, and your life will be marked by His grace, power, and love. Troubles may repeat themselves, but so does God’s faithfulness.

December 24, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 13

What does it say?
Jerusalem will be cleansed of idols and false prophets. The Lord will refine His people like silver, and they will call on His name.

What does it mean?
Zechariah poetically refers to the blood of Christ as a fountain having the power to spiritually cleanse (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7). Sadly, the Jewish people will largely ignore its existence until His second coming. The sins of idolatry and false prophecies that ensnared Israel for centuries will be met with immediate justice when God’s people finally look to Jesus as their atoning sacrifice. The third of the Jewish nation surviving the horrors of the Tribulation will turn to the Lord and experience a renewal of His covenant – the New Covenant made possible by His blood (Luke 22:20).

How should I respond?
As church-going, Bible-believing followers of Christ, we readily accept Christ’s death as payment for our sin. Jesus’ blood has been applied to our hearts just as the blood of the lamb was during the Passover (Exodus 12:12). Where the blood of Jesus is present, sin should be absent. That doesn’t mean that it removes your ability to do wrong; you still have free will. It does mean, however, that within you is the power to choose not to sin. What temptation seems to trip you up frequently? There is power in the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from that sin and, by faith, keep you in a covenant relationship with Him.

December 23, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 18

What does it say?
John saw an angel announcing that God will destroy Babylon for its many sins.

What does it mean?
The city of Babylon described by John is representative of the most influential political and commercial system of the world. God will bring destruction to this city for a number of reasons. It is a place filled with demonic activity, immorality, materialism, pride, deception, and slavery. God will command His people to evacuate before He destroys the city. Believers will be spared and rejoice with gratitude and praise. The unsaved, however, will be in despair when they lose all of their material belongings.

How should I respond?
Materialism is one of the biggest hindrances to having an eternal perspective and a true sense of your identity. While material success is not innately harmful, it can feed pride and cause insecurity if you look to it for fulfillment and self-worth. God created you in His image, giving you dignity and worth – nothing is more valuable than that. When your focus is on what the world has to offer, you miss out on God’s plans for you. God wants to develop Christ’s character in you and give you fulfilling work to do. If you look at the world from God’s perspective, material things hold less value and significance. What do you look to for a sense of identity? Will your perspective be temporal or eternal today?

December 23, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 12

What does it say?
The Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem, making her strong when nations gather against her. The city will mourn after God pours out a spirit of grace and supplication.

What does it mean?
For 70 years these returned exiles had mourned and fasted for all they had lost when Jerusalem fell. Zechariah gave an oracle of yet another battle followed by mourning in the distant future. During the Battle of Armageddon, the Lord will defend Israel against the world’s armies, supernaturally enabling even the weakest among them to defeat their enemies. Why would they mourn after such a great victory? A spiritual awakening will accompany their physical deliverance. God’s Spirit will graciously allow Israel to see Jesus for who He is – the Messiah they rejected and the Savior who led them in battle.

How should I respond?
We naturally grieve over the loss of someone close to us. You might also mourn the changes that accompany the loss of a home or a job. But do you grieve over your sin? Each lie and deception helped nail Jesus to the cross. Each immoral thought or hidden act was a stroke of the hammer. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of the price Jesus paid for our sin (Luke 22:19). Those moments of reflection should grieve our hearts, but grief turns to joy, knowing that He is the One who makes us victorious – daily and eternally. Will you allow godly grief over your sin to bring a spiritual renewal today?

December 22, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 17

What does it say?
John saw a mysterious woman riding a beast with seven heads and ten horns.

What does it mean?
John used strong, metaphorical language to describe this disturbing vision. The woman represents a wicked religious system that will align itself with a godless political system. This corrupt and materialistic “church” will blaspheme the one true God and take the lives of many believers. The kings and kingdoms with which she associates will end up destroying her, but ultimate victory belongs to Jesus. As the Lamb of God, He has the ability to atone for sin. As the King of kings, He has the power to overcome His enemies. And as the Lord of lords, He is the only One worthy to be worshipped.

How should I respond?
Americans don’t have the most realistic perspective on what comprises the title “king.” We know what we read in history books and fairy tales, but we have never personally been under the authority of a human king. Does your worship of God reflect an awareness of His great majesty and power? What areas of your life are you trying to control instead of submitting to Him as Lord and King? Take a moment and reflect on the glorious characteristics of God as King, and ask Him to help you surrender the things in your life that keep you from worshipping Him alone.

December 22, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 11

What does it say?
Israel detested their Shepherd, and He grew weary of them. A worthless shepherd was coming who wouldn’t care for his flock.

What does it mean?
Under the Lord’s instruction, Zechariah acted out the coming of two men as shepherds over a flock – the house of Israel. He prophetically portrayed the coming and rejection of Israel’s Messiah. Aspects of Christ’s earthly ministry, such as His care for Israel’s poor and Judas’ betrayal for 30 pieces of silver, point to the reliability of biblical prophecy. The cruelty of the second shepherd, the Antichrist (John 5:43; 1 John 2:22), demonstrated the consequences of rejecting the Good Shepherd. All of the glorious promises in the previous chapter are delayed until the Messiah’s second coming because Israel rejected Him as their Shepherd.

How should I respond?
Most people who read a daily devotion wouldn’t argue with the validity of Jesus as the Messiah, the Good Shepherd, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. However, true acceptance of the claims of Christ isn’t simply an intellectual agreement with Christian writing and teaching, but an inward conviction that affects how we live each day. We may nod in agreement with the pastor but still fail to live out the things he taught. You will likely face a choice today that will demonstrate either your acceptance or rejection of the Lordship of Christ. Be on guard, listening closely to the voice of the Good Shepherd.

December 21, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 16

What does it say?
John saw a vision of seven angels pouring out seven vials of God’s final judgment over the earth.

What does it mean?
In this passage, we see God’s judgment being poured out in the form of seven different plagues: sores, the turning of water to blood, scorching heat, darkness, the drying up of the Euphrates River, earthquakes, and hail storms. Even after each of these judgments, the people remain unrepentant and unresponsive to God’s “final call.”

How should I respond?
Horrific events and tragedy exist as an unfortunate part of our fallen world. Life holds disasters – both natural and unnatural – that sometimes turn our lives upside down. In those moments, you have the choice of turning to God or turning away from Him. You can either rely on His character and His promise that He will always be with you, or you can turn away from Him in rebellion with no hope of peace. It’s often easy to point fingers at God when tragedy strikes and blame Him for the evil that we see happening in the world. However, we must remember that it is man who is tainted by evil, not God. When disasters and times of brokenness enter your life, ask God to make His presence known to you and to use the trial to bring you into a more intimate relationship with Him.

December 21, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 10

What does it say?
The Lord gives rain and a harvest, while idols and diviners gave false comfort. God will compassionately save, gather, and strengthen His people, who will walk in His name.

What does it mean?
The work of rebuilding the temple was made even more difficult by the years of drought brought on by God’s judgment. Zechariah used their concern for their physical well-being to point out why their circumstances were such – they had believed lies instead of God’s prophets. Just as they wouldn’t hesitate to pray for the spring rain necessary for a fall harvest, they should look to the Lord and His promised Messiah if they were going to be a fruitful nation. This Shepherd would also be a mighty warrior, one day leading His people to victory and unity.

How should I respond?
It’s second nature to turn to the Lord when things like a job loss or serious illness threaten our physical well-being. Recognizing threats to your spiritual well-being requires a higher degree of intentionality. How can you navigate a world full of false comfort, deceptive messages, and unfulfilled promises? By following closely behind your Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He not only sees lurking predators, He has already defeated them! Are you in danger of being deceived? What sinful activity is threatening your fruitfulness? Only by looking to the Lord through prayer can its grip be broken.

December 20, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 15

What does it say?
John saw seven angels prepare to place seven more judgments on the earth. He heard songs of praise to God being sung by those who were victorious over the Antichrist.

What does it mean?
The seven bowls of wrath poured out by the angels represent God’s final judgment on the earth. John’s vision then changes to a host of people standing on a sea of fire and glass singing praises to God, not just about what He has done, but about who He is. Their song is filled with words of honor, praising God for His justice, eternality, holiness, and righteousness. The temple, beaming with the glory of God and radiating with His power, is opened and seven angels come out. Each angel is given a bowl of God’s wrath to pour out over the earth. No one was allowed into the temple until the plagues of the seven angels were completed.

How should I respond?
Have you ever experienced God in such a significant way that you were literally speechless? Our conversations about God tend to focus on what He’s done for us rather than on who He is. Take a moment to focus your thoughts on the glory of God. Read back over today’s passage and spend a moment praising Him for the characteristics that reveal Him as God. He is holy. He is just. He is unchanging. He is righteous. He is faithful. He is King. How do His qualities change your perspective today?

December 20, 2021

,

Read – Zechariah 9

What does it say?
The Sovereign Lord keeps watch and defends Israel against enemy forces. Her king brings righteousness, salvation, and peace, saving His people as His flock.

What does it mean?
Some of the prophecies in Chapter nine were fulfilled before Christ’s first Advent, while some foretell events that took place in His earthly ministry, and others are still future. Each one points to God’s ability to save, both physically and spiritually. The descriptions of the Lord also run the gamut. He is pictured as Israel’s defender, watchman, king, warrior, and shepherd. The reactions to His second coming are narrowed to two emotions: fear or hope. Only those who have made peace with God by accepting His salvation and righteousness will rejoice when the trumpet announces His arrival.

How should I respond?
What is your first reaction when you think of Jesus’ return to Earth? It’s likely determined by your response to His first coming. If you’ve received Christ as your King, then you can look forward to His return with joyful anticipation. Followers of Christ have the sure hope of salvation, righteousness, and peace with God. Look back over the words describing the Lord in today’s passage. Which one brings you the most comfort in your present circumstances? Until He returns, take hope in His role as the Shepherd who will defend and watch over you.

December 19, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 14

What does it say?
John saw a vision of those who will be redeemed singing praise to God. He saw a preview of the day Christ will return to the earth to bring final defeat to all of His enemies.

What does it mean?
The two groups of people in this passage are distinguished by the marks on their foreheads, displaying their allegiance to either Christ or the Antichrist. The ones standing with Jesus on Mount Zion are the 144,000 sealed saints of God that will come through the Great Tribulation and be presented to God as a righteous harvest, a special gift to God. But anyone with the mark of the beast will be ripe for harvest – under the full wrath of God for their rejection of truth and of Jesus Christ.

How should I respond?
We don’t hesitate to show our allegiance to our favorite sports teams by proudly displaying their logo on a shirt, hat, or bumper sticker. Yet we often shy away from things that would identify us to the world as Christians. As time goes on, those of us who profess faith in Jesus will pay a heavier price in this life for our allegiance to Christ. There will come a time when anyone who follows Jesus will be clearly identified from those who do not. The time of His return is drawing near. How willing are you to boldly proclaim your faith in Jesus Christ today?

Jude: Stand Up and Be Counted

2021-12-19

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

The short epistle of Jude is a clear reminder of the importance of being faithful in a time of evil. This letter, written by the brother of Jesus, is one which serves as a wake-up call to the lost, the hypocritical…and the faithful.

Jude 3 (CSB) Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.

1. We are called to stand up for what we believe in

“appealing to you to contend for the faith”

  • We are commanded to stand in truth no matter the circumstances, no matter the consequences
  • Evil people are always attempting to corrupt the church and the faithful, we must “contend” for what is right (verses 4-19)

2. We are called to grow in what we believe

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit

  • Build (epoikodomeō – to build upon)
  • “Fundamental to such growth is to learn as much as possible of the truth of Scripture and to set one’s life to believe and obey it.” – David Walls[1]
  • I have yet to meet a strong, fruitful Christian who ignores his Bible.” – Warren Wiersbe[2]

[1] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 266.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 559.


3. We are called to love through what we believe

Jude 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life

  • To keep oneself in “the love of God” is to love Him completely which will lead to us obeying Him completely


4. We are called to help others in their belief

Jude 22-23 Have mercy on those who waver; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh

 

5. We are called to spend eternity with Him

Jude 24-25 Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

  • 3 Groups are addressed here:
  1. The saved who waver
  2. The unsaved who we are called to reach
  3. The lost who may never find Christ

Jude 20-25 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 22 Have mercy on those who waver; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

  • He is “able” to protect you if you are growing in Him
  • As a result, He will present us to the Father for promise of eternity

December 19, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 7-8

What does it say?
The people asked God if they should mourn and fast as before. The Lord Almighty instructed them to be just and compassionate, avoiding plots, lies, and oppression.

What does it mean?
Two years after Zechariah’s eight visions, the people asked if they should still observe the ritual days of fasting that they established while in exile to mourn Jerusalem’s fall. For seventy years the days of fasting reminded them of their guilt and God’s judgment on past sin. Like their fathers, they failed to grasp God’s desire for heart change rather than the observance of religious rituals. The Lord’s answer directed them toward obedient attitudes and behaviors that would bring His blessing, causing joyful feasting instead of sorrowful fasting. Enjoying renewed intimacy with the Lord Almighty in their homeland was just a glimpse of what life will be in Jerusalem during the millennial age, when the presence and blessing of Christ will draw people from every nation to Israel.

How should I respond?
Guilt over past sin should be short-lived. Dwelling on it will likely stall your spiritual growth. What sin do you need to move past? Start by asking God for forgiveness, and then take an honest look at how and why the sin occurred. Learn from it so you don’t end up there again. You might never completely forget what happened, but you can direct your thoughts when it comes to mind. Rather than wallow in the failure, focus on the mercy and grace of God that makes a renewed life with Christ possible. As you actively pursue attitudes and behaviors that please the Lord, your sorrow will turn to joyful celebration of your hope in Christ.

December 18, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 142-143

What does it say?
Overwhelmed, alone, and crushed by his enemies, David prayed for victory, guidance, and a heart that pleased God.

What does it mean?
Although these psalms were written at different points in David’s life, he was facing a familiar problem. In Psalm 142 Saul was trying to kill David, while in Psalm 143 it was his own son Absalom who threatened his life. During both times his overwhelming feelings of desperation, weakness, and hopelessness made these prayers very similar – until a major difference emerges in 143:5. God’s faithfulness in the first situation gave David confidence in God’s goodness and unfailing love in his present circumstance. David’s outlook changed when he remembered how the Lord had delivered previously. He not only envisioned what God could do for him – he had experienced it before.

How should I respond?
Every challenge you face offers an opportunity to learn more about who God is and how He acts on behalf of those who trust Him. What current situation in your life has left you feeling overwhelmed or defeated? If you’re a mature believer, look back on other situations that seemed hopeless. How did the Lord strengthen you through those struggles? If you’re a relatively new Christian, ask God to open your eyes so you can see how much He loves you. Today, remember that God specializes in turning hopeless situations into amazing opportunities to showcase His goodness, wisdom, and power.

December 18, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 6

What does it say?
Zechariah saw a vision of four chariots leave the presence of the Lord to go throughout the earth. Then a crown of silver and gold was made for Joshua, the high priest.

What does it mean?
Zechariah’s eighth vision symbolized God’s final judgment on Israel’s enemies and the beginning of Messiah’s millennial reign. Although they felt safe in Zechariah’s first vision, God’s judgment on Egypt (to the south) and Babylon (to the north) will come suddenly and completely (Rev. 18). The fact that judgment awaits the descendants of these nations indicates continued animosity against the Lord Almighty and His people. Joshua’s coronation as king-priest is symbolic of the crowning of Christ when Israel’s enemies are no more. Civil and spiritual matters will exist harmoniously under His rule.

How should I respond?
When Jesus establishes His earthly kingdom there will be no separation of church and state by anyone’s definition. This future reality should be a present practice for Christians for whom every matter is a spiritual matter. Since our God is also the Creator, each issue in His world is to be viewed from His perspective. How might you be dividing your life into “spiritual” and “secular” categories? Has animosity toward the Bible in our culture swayed your thinking in some area? God’s Word will stand, but His enemies will not. Until that day, strive to see every issue of life through the lens of His Word.

December 17, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 140-141

What does it say?
David talked with God about the dangers he faced at the hands of his enemies and conveyed his desire to avoid evil deeds.

What does it mean?
David made two major decisions in facing his enemies. First, he trusted God to intervene and take care of those who mistreated him. Turning to God allowed David to release the emotions he was experiencing and depend on God to act. Secondly, David took his eyes off his circumstances and focused them firmly on his God. He wanted to respond in the right way and recognized the need for God to enable him to do so. He sought God’s help to protect his heart from desiring to do wrong things or joining forces with the wrong people.

How should I respond?
It’s so easy to respond in the wrong way when faced with difficult people. But God has not changed; He can still be trusted to intervene in your life when people mistreat you. How will you respond when people treat you unfairly? Will you seek revenge or turn to God? Will you join them in rebelling against His Word, or will you commit to complete obedience to Christ? If you choose to keep your focus on God, then you will be able to respond as David did. Ask God right now to protect your thoughts and desires as you interact with the people who come across your path today.

December 17, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 5

What does it say?
Zechariah saw a flying scroll, representing a curse on thieves and liars. He then saw a basket containing a woman, representing wickedness, which was carried off to Babylon.

What does it mean?
The visions in this passage take a sharp turn from the comforting and encouraging visions Zechariah had seen up to this point. The scroll was a reminder that God’s Law, given to Moses on the two tablets, was the moral foundation of Jewish society. Wickedness had no place among God’s people (Deut. 27:9-26). Those attitudes and behaviors were characteristic of ungodly cultures, like Babylon. The fulfillment of these visions is yet to be seen in the Millennium. Israel will be completely purged of anyone who breaks God’s Law, which will mark the time for God’s long-awaited judgment on Babylon and the return of Christ to reign (Rev. 17-20).

How should I respond?
The lives of Christians should be distinguishable from those who do not follow Christ. As our culture moves further away from biblical thought, there should be a widening gap between believers and nonbelievers, yet the distance actually seems to be closing between the two. Scripture doesn’t adjust to the prevailing beliefs of our society. You have to guard against ungodly attitudes that eventually lead to dishonest and immoral behavior. Today, filter every thought through God’s Word and submit each reaction to His Spirit.

December 16, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 13

What does it say?
John saw a vision of two beasts coming up from the sea and from the earth. The first beast blasphemed God, and the other beast made all people worship the first.

What does it mean?
Satan will elevate and empower two leaders to deter as many people as possible from a relationship with God. These leaders are understood to be the Antichrist and the False Prophet. The Antichrist will have a great deal of influence in the world and will be viewed as an intellectual, political, and religious leader by most people. The False Prophet will set out to ensure that the Antichrist is worshipped as God. While it is unknown who these men will be, one thing is certain – Satan will use them to persecute believers and manipulate people all over the world through political, economic and religious power.

How should I respond?
The religious climate in our society has steadily decreased over recent decades, leaving little resemblance to “one nation, under God.” The stage is being set for the world to embrace the Antichrist, although Scripture warns us that his spirit is already at work in the world (1 John 4:1-3). The spirit of antichrist rejects the truth of God’s Word and Jesus as God’s Son. How might you have been influenced by ungodly views on money, power, or religion? How much time do you spend studying the truths of God so you can detect error? Satan can’t take your salvation, but he can distract you from God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s people.

December 16, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 4

What does it say?
Zechariah saw a vision of a golden lamp stand and two olive trees. The Lord’s message to Zerubbabel from the vision was, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

What does it mean?
As Jerusalem’s governor during the rebuilding of the temple, Zerubbabel faced enormous challenges. Zechariah’s fifth vision encouraged the governor to finish what he started, not through military strength or human power, but by the enabling of God’s Spirit. As the olive trees in the vision, Joshua and Zerubbabel represent the offices of priest and king, both of which will be filled by Christ at His return. This vision then, also speaks of Christ’s future reign on Earth. Through the continual enabling power of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil throughout Scripture), Israel will be a light, pointing the nations to Christ the Messiah.

How should I respond?
Successful ministry in the 21st century has the same purpose and power source as in Zechariah’s day. Collectively and individually, Christians are to be light in a dark world, pointing other people to the source of light – Jesus. When you surrender completely to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, He enables you in your service to Christ. What is your purpose for volunteering at church or in your community? If it is anything other than pointing others to the Light of the World, stop and examine your motivation.

December 15, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 12

What does it say?
Satan has temporary reign on the earth, but God has defeated him and his influence.

What does it mean?
There are several points to notice about Satan in this passage. First, he is a vicious murderer and the deceiver of the world – a role he has taken on since his appearance as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. Even in Heaven, he deceived a certain percentage of the angels who were cast out of God’s presence with him when they decided to rebel against God. There is no question that Satan is regarded as a malicious enemy who hates both God and God’s people. However, the Lord has pronounced protection of His children and ultimate victory over the enemy.

How should I respond?
We can take great comfort in knowing that God has already defeated Satan at the Cross, freeing believers from the penalty and power of sin. But we must not be naïve to the presence and influence of sin that will remain until we reach Heaven. It takes only a quick glance at the headlines to understand the very real presence of evil in the world. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that we “wrestle against the spiritual forces of evil” and stresses the necessity of putting on the armor of God as protection. You don’t need to fear the schemes of the devil, but be mindful of utilizing the spiritual armor God has given you. What influence of the enemy do you need to combat in your life today?

December 15, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 3

What does it say?
Joshua’s filthy clothes were replaced with clean garments. Just as He took away Joshua’s sin, The Lord will remove Israel’s sins in a single day.

What does it mean?
In Zechariah’s fourth vision, Joshua was on trial before Christ as his Judge and Satan as his prosecutor. As high priest, Joshua symbolically represented Israel’s people; his filthy clothes were evidence of their guilt. The Lord’s willingness to forgive their sin erased any reason for accusations. Their guilt was replaced with His righteousness. By reinstating Israel as a nation of priests, God paved the way for His Servant, Branch, and Stone – the coming Messiah – to do in a single day what generations of sacrifices had been unable to do – cleanse God’s people completely of their sin guilt.

How should I respond?
Have you ever been so dirty that all you could think about was getting washed and putting on clean clothes? That’s the same condition we are in spiritually until we accept God’s forgiveness and trade sin’s guilt for the cleansing and righteousness of Christ. Maybe you think you can gain favor with God by doing good things, but living a moral life won’t fare you any better than trying to obtain righteousness by observing the law as generations of Israelites attempted to do (Rom. 9:30-33). Have you allowed God to remove your “filthy clothes” with all of their shame? If so, Satan has no grounds on which to accuse you! You can stand clean, righteous, and free of guilt before the Lord.

December 14, 2021

,

Read – Zechariah 2

What does it say?
The Lord Himself will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem and its glory within.

What does it mean?
Zechariah’s third vision was a preview of Jerusalem’s glorious future. Think of how encouraging his words would have been at the time. 70 years of captivity and 16 years of opposition to the rebuilding could easily have caused a defeatist mindset among this small group. God gave them a view of their city without rubble or strife. When the Lord lives among His people during the millennial reign of Christ, Jerusalem will have no need to fortify her walls. His presence will be Israel’s protection and glory. The city boundaries they knew won’t be able to contain the blessings God will pour out.

How should I respond?
Scripture promises that the Christian’s eternal future is wonderful beyond description (1 Cor. 2:9). In the meantime, we live in a world full of temptation and opposition. If you shut the world out and just wait for Christ’s return, you risk being so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good. On the other hand, if all you see is the here and now, your days will be filled with dread. God’s promises encourage us to serve Him here, knowing that life will not always include heartache. As a believer, your eternal future starts by living daily in His presence now. Then one day, all strife will be replaced with unimaginable peace and joy.

December 13, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 10

What does it say?
John saw a mighty angel and heard the voices of seven thunders, but he was told not to record their words. He was given a sweet scroll to eat, but it was sour in his stomach.

What does it mean?
Recent chapters have detailed how devastating the Great Tribulation will be on the earth and its inhabitants. Yet the full extent of God’s judgment is unknown because John was prevented from writing down all of the things he heard the angel and the thundering voices speak. Similarly, the contents of the small book are unknown, but God wanted John to internalize His message regarding how end time events will play out. At the appointed time, Christ’s return will no longer be delayed, and evil on the earth will come to an end. While the message of God’s grace is sweet, the end result for many will be bitter.

How should I respond?
Nothing is sweeter than the story of God’s love for the world through the sacrifice of His Son. As believers, it’s hard to imagine how people see the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any other way. But the bittersweet nature of the Gospel is this: believers will spend eternity in God’s presence, while unbelievers will be eternally separated from Jesus and His followers. Time will eventually run out and Jesus will return. Are you daily internalizing God’s Word so you can share the sweet taste of God’s salvation with someone else before it’s too late?

December 13, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 1:7-21

What does it say?
Through a vision, the Lord explained to Zechariah that He would show mercy and give comfort to Jerusalem again.

What does it mean?
The world was at peace, but Israel was still in great distress. The predetermined time of discipline was over, and God’s people needed to experience renewed fellowship with Him. God’s reason for judgment was His deep love for Israel. He went to great lengths to preserve a remnant and protect His covenant. They would again experience His presence and flourish as a nation. God’s discipline would be replaced by His mercy, comfort, and favor. Even though the Gentile nations acted as God’s hand of judgment, they would answer for the extreme cruelty with which they treated His chosen people.

How should I respond?
Parents, teachers, and employers alike can benefit from God’s pattern for discipline. Start with a warning and clearly state the consequences if the unacceptable behavior continues. Do not make idle threats, being careful that the punishment fits the crime. Keeping your accountability to God in mind will help you avoid being overly harsh. The motivation for disciplinary action should be love and concern for the relationships and people involved. Children, particularly, need to be protected from the devastating consequences of foolish actions. Don’t dwell on past behavior when the time of discipline is over. Offer words and actions of comfort and move on.

December 12, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 9

What does it say?
The fifth and sixth trumpets are sounded, bringing more judgment in the form of two apparently demonic invasions on the earth.

What does it mean?
The sounding of the fifth trumpet is tied to three woes soon to visit the earth. The first results in the release of a horrible army, prepared to inflict pain on all who have not received the seal of the faithful. The sixth trumpet releases four angels to kill one third of the people on the earth. Despite God’s judgment, people refuse to repent and acknowledge Him. These two trumpets detail how futile it is to resist God. While these judgments should lead to repentance, they do not. Sin has such control over people that they would rather die than repent of their sins and turn to God.

How should I respond?
While the judgments mentioned in this passage are for people who reject God’s gracious offer of salvation through Jesus, God doesn’t overlook sin in the life of His followers either. God takes sin seriously, so He provided a means to deal with sin at great personal cost – the sacrifice of His only Son. How might you be taking God’s grace for granted by refusing to repent of a specific sin? Have you acknowledged His Lordship over every area of your life, including your thoughts? God disciplines His children because He loves us. What do you need to make right with Him today?

1, 2, 3 John: Love is the Point

2021-12-12

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Today, we will have brief view of 3 important, yet quite small, letters within the New Testament. The Apostle John wrote all three of these letters to deal with significant threats to the church of Jesus Christ. Whether through threat of Gnosticism or the inappropriate, dictatorial actions of Diotrephes (3 John), he knew that any time a follower of Jesus Christ ceases to follow the teachings of Jesus and follows the teachings of man, bad things will happen. John wrote to encourage the church to remain faithful and committed to what they had seen, heard, and experienced.

1 John 1:1-4 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

 

1. Love is not an option

1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

  • It is vital for Christians to understand the importance of loving one another when it comes to fellowship as the body of Christ. There is no room for a lack of love.
  • Dan Womack says “Tradition tells us that in his extreme old age when he could no longer minister the word, John was carried into the church and when asked for a word of wisdom, would invariably say, ‘little children, love one another.’”[1]

[1] The Christian Life Bible, Porter Barrington, editor., Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., pg 1277.

3 John 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God

 

2. God’s love is absolute

1 John 4:9-10 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice, for our sins.

  • God loved us so very much, He gave His only son for us
  • Without this ultimate display of love, we would be unable love or live
  • Today, there are many who are spending their lives “working their way to Heaven” while all along missing the only way there

1 John 5:13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

  • Our hope of eternal life in Heaven is a direct result of the work of Christ on the cross, not the works of man

 

3. You can’t fake love

1 John 4:11-12 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us.

  • The power of His presence is manifest through the love we have and the love we show

1 John 4: 14-16 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

  • It is impossible to be “one who loves” without embracing that God is love

 

2 John 6 This is love: that we walk according to his commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: that you walk in love.

  • Our actions are a direct reflection of our love, and our relationship, with God

 

[1] The Christian Life Bible, Porter Barrington, editor., Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., pg 1277.

December 12, 2021

,

Read – Read Zechariah 1:1-6

What does it say?
Israel’s forefathers did not listen to the prophets, so the Lord did to them just as their actions deserved.

What does it mean?
Zechariah was among those whom Cyrus the Great allowed to return from captivity to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The foundation was laid, but the rebuilding work had stalled for 16 years. Although they had physically returned to Jerusalem, their hearts had not completely returned to God. As Zechariah began his prophetic ministry, the Lord pointed out the consequences of their parents’ stubborn disobedience. As a result of the captivity, many of those listening had been born in Babylon. Now they had to choose whether they would follow their parents’ rebellious example or heed and Zechariah’s words. If this generation would return to the Lord, they would experience the blessings of their spiritual heritage.

How should I respond?
It’s likely that you’ve experienced the ripple effects of your parents’ choice to either follow or reject Jesus as Savior and Lord. What kind of spiritual heritage do you have? Has your family encouraged your faith, discouraged your walk with the Lord, or simply been indifferent? You have to decide for yourself whether or not you’ll choose to follow Jesus and pay attention to what God says in His Word. How might you be rebelling against something God says is wrong? Will you “return to the Lord” by submitting that part of your heart and mind to Christ right now? That kind of daily submission will help you pass down a heritage of blessing instead of the consequences of disobedience.

December 11, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 139

What does it say?
The Lord searched David and knew him completely, even from before he was born.

What does it mean?
This psalm starts and ends with the Lord searching David’s heart. God knew everything about him; every day of his life was written down by God. All of his thoughts, words, and actions were completely transparent in God’s presence. David grasped that God knew him better than he knew himself, so he invited the Lord to search him completely and to point out anything in his life that did not please Him. He wanted to see himself as God saw him so he could correct what was wrong. David was in absolute awe of God’s knowledge of and personal involvement in his life.

How should I respond?
God knows everything about your life. He was there even before you took your first breath, and He is with you today. How does it make you feel to know that God sees, hears, and cares about everything you think, say, and do? The answer depends on whether you are currently living in obedience to Christ. Will you invite God to search your heart today? Otherwise, you can become blinded to where you’ve gone wrong and attempt to minimize your sins. It takes courage to look honestly at your life, admit your faults, and seek God’s forgiveness. Your heart and mind are already transparent to the Lord, so why not see yourself the way He sees you? When you do, His all-seeing, all-knowing presence is a comfort – not a concern.

December 11, 2021

,

Read – Read Haggai 2:10-23

What does it say?
Haggai urged the people to carefully consider the effects of their disobedience prior to rebuilding the temple. God revealed that He would bless them from that day on.

What does it mean?
Verse 15 marks a turning point for the remnant in Jerusalem. God used Haggai’s final two messages to help the people see that their disobedience prior to work on the temple had rendered their sacrificial worship unacceptable. Their economy still suffered the consequences of the Lord’s correction. Their future would hold the blessings of obedience just as past actions had negatively affected their current circumstances. The correlation between the faithfulness of God’s people and His blessing was worthy of deep thought.

How should I respond?
Disobedience will always affect your relationship with the Lord negatively. In addition, those actions always have consequences. Think carefully about what happened when you previously disobeyed God’s Word. What lessons can be learned from looking back on past faithful obedience versus procrastination and disobedience? Where do you need to improve? Determine to make today a turning point in that area of your life. Commit your work to the Lord and trust Him to guide, direct, and bless “from this day on.”

December 10, 2019

,

Read – Psalms 138

What does it say?
David praised God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of troubles.

What does it mean?
It is uncertain as to exactly when David wrote this psalm, but his circumstances are clear. He was surrounded by enemies and away from Jerusalem in a land filled with false gods. Yet even in the midst of trouble, David’s spiritual life went uninterrupted. God’s unwavering love in such a difficult time gave him the strength and encouragement to worship God with every ounce of his being. His circumstances had not derailed God’s purpose for his life but had given him greater cause to praise the God of Israel to pagan kings. David’s increased troubles served to amplify his understanding of God’s faithfulness, mercy, holiness, and love.

How should I respond?
The troubles of life are difficult; however, they shouldn’t impact you negatively. If anything, the hurdles you face give you greater opportunity to understand the character of God. Personally experiencing God’s hand on your life is quite different from just reading about His grace and mercy or listening to friends’ stories of His faithfulness. In what troubling circumstance do you find yourself today? Have you allowed it to interrupt your worship or your walk with the Lord? What you need is a paradigm shift. Stop looking at the negative and watch for God’s loving, faithful hand.

December 10, 2021

,

Read – Read Haggai 2:1-9

What does it say?
As work on the temple continued, Haggai’s message from the Lord told the people to be strong, to work, and not to fear. This temple would be filled with His glory and peace.

What does it mean?
Many of the people were discouraged with the slow and difficult work of rebuilding the temple. No matter how hard they labored, their efforts would never produce a temple as glorious as Solomon’s. The true glory of the postexilic temple wouldn’t be gold and jewels, but the presence of God through the person of Jesus, who would teach from there during His earthly ministry. Their obedience to build the Lord’s house was a vital part of God’s plan for redemption through the future Messiah. Still future is the day when God’s glory will fill the millennial temple (Ezekiel 43).

How should I respond?
Think about the various ministries with which you are involved at church or in your community. No doubt you want your efforts to impact God’s kingdom. The difficulty comes when you start comparing your God-given work with another ministry. Today’s passage encourages us to stay true to the exact work we have been called to do versus trying to top what someone else is doing or has done in the past. Ask God if your work has been affected by focusing on man-approved results instead of His intended purpose. When God is in the midst of our efforts, He supplies and receives the glory.

December 9, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 8

What does it say?
Seven trumpets come out of the seventh seal. The first four trumpets sound and cause hail and fire and the darkening of one third of the stars and moon.

What does it mean?
This chapter opens with silence in anticipation of the first four trumpet judgments and ends with a warning concerning the coming three trumpets. The first four of these judgments will cause extraordinary natural disasters. The description of the third trumpet could even be seen as possible atomic or nuclear warfare. The wrath of God on those who have rejected His Son is in response to the prayers of God’s people who are sealed with His protection (Revelation 5:8; 7:3).

How should I respond?
As followers of Jesus, we tend to pray more frequently for Christ’s soon return as we get older, but we should also feel an urgency to tell others about Him. Do you have friends or family members who have never committed themselves to Christ? Without a relationship with Jesus, they will go through the most horrible events our world will ever experience. Begin to pray for them daily, and then look for opportunities to tell your own story of repentance and salvation. What has stood in the way of sharing Christ with them before now? In light of today’s passage – what could possibly be more important?

December 9, 2021

,

Read – Read Haggai 1

What does it say?
Through the prophet Haggai, the Lord rebuked the Israelites for allowing the temple to lie in ruins and instructed them to continue the rebuilding.

What does it mean?
The book of Haggai recounts the messages from the Lord to the remnant of Israel who returned to Jerusalem’s ruins during the reign of King Darius. Procrastination and misguided priorities led to focusing on themselves while leaving the temple unfinished indicating a problem in their relationship with the Lord. The result was a paradox: no matter how hard they worked, they still struggled with even basic needs. The remnant responded in obedience when they recognized the divine origin of Haggai’s chastisement and their economic instability. The assurance of God’s presence stirred their hearts and motivated them to begin the work.

How should I respond?
What task has the Lord given you recently? Have you obeyed or procrastinated? Anything that hinders your obedience to God is a misplaced priority and harms your fellowship with Him. God might even allow a difficult circumstance to refocus your attention on the things of the Lord. What has gotten in the way of your complete and immediate obedience? Determine to begin each day in His Word, aligning your heart to His and being reassured of His presence. What God-given work do you need to begin today?

December 8, 2019

,

Read – Revelation 7

What does it say?
John witnessed the sealing of God’s servants and heard the praise song of a vast multitude.

What does it mean?
The judgment in the sixth seal seems to continue, but the four angels given the task of withholding the four winds from the earth are instructed not to harm the earth or the sea until God puts His seal of protection on His servants. These servants are made up of 144,000 Jews and a multitude of Gentiles who will be saved during the Great Tribulation. John paints a vivid picture of God’s judgment, but he also reminds his readers that God is still merciful to save and protect those who worship Jesus, the Lamb.

How should I respond?
Followers of Jesus have a secure and protected eternity, but that does not guarantee an absence of trouble here on Earth. Just as purchasing a security system will not keep you completely safe from disaster, being faithful to Christ is no guarantee against having problems. Jesus does, however, promise His presence in the midst of trials. What problem do you need to release to Him? Even if the trial does not go away, He will continue to work in your life and give you opportunities to point others to Him through the difficulty.