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Friday, December 15, 2017

The Sacred Slow - Book Review

In the beginning, "there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." Time has not changed: it remains one of the few unaltered, original residents of the garden of Eden. Demand it to speed up or beg it to stand still, time will remain steady because it bows to only One. (And we, too, are His servants.)

However, each slow, calm tick of time has ceased to be a sacred reminder of the gift of life (let alone of the Giver of life).

A handful of numbers in the Scriptures have solid significance, and the number seven is surely one of them.

Consider the significance of the number seven in the Scriptures:

SEVEN
Literally, a prime number between six and eight
Figuratively, a symbol with spiritual weight

Seven figures prominently in Scripture as a period of waiting, warring, warning, and wisdom. The number boundaries intentional times, set-apart spaces, moments kissed by the divine, and resting places.

We see further evidence of the Israelites' understanding that their exile was in part connected to ignoring the Sabbath Years when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around 445 BC. Upon its completion, the community made a binding agreement with God. Among their commitments, they stated, "Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is one of the most quoted verses in all of Scriptures, and Jeremiah 29:10 is not.

When seventy years are completed: one year for every Sabbath Year God's people refused to embrace.

Listening is an exercise in interdepence, which nurtures a teachable spirit.

Not listening is a posture of arrogance, which ignores the contributions of another.

By not listening, God's people "brought harm to (them) selves."

We still struggle to listen and obey, and not listening is still toxic for our souls and communities.

Since God breathed into us "the breath of life" our divinely touched dust has been honored with a standing invitation to listen for our Creator.

The Genesis narrative introduces God's voice not at the creation of our "formless and empty" planet but at the installation of light. Before the first "Let there be," there was earth, water, and God's Spirit hovering over all. The voice brought light - a light that preceded the creation of the sun.

The Revelation prophecy concludes with God's voice still bringing light. Over all the end-times images and earthly uncertainities rests the clear voice of the bright Morning Star as He assures listeners of His authority and His soon return.

Adam and Eve had heard God's audible voice. However, hearing has never been a synonym for heeding.

In Mark 4:34, we read that Jesus "did not say anything to them (the crowds) without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything."

Perhaps thorns such as the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things are the means to the Enemy's ends, not the ends in and of themselves. The Gospel state that the thorns were the means to a specific end: choking the Word to hinder it from maturing and, thereby, making it unfruitful.

We live in a fallen world. The Kingdom of darkness constantly bombards us with impure and untrue messages about life, faith, spirituality, and God.

The Word heard is not enough. It must be heeded.

We recognize the value of devotions and quiet times. However, these spaces are means to an end, not ends in and of themselves.

Through the door opened by Jesus' sacrifice, you and God are together in one place. In everything you do, God is with you.

God has named you as the work of His hands! Do you know what was in His heart when He created you?

God had tears of love in His eyes as He formed you in the womb. You are saturated with His fingerprints.

Psalm 119 is written to God about God's Word. When studying the psalm, three categories of content stood out to author of The Sacred Slow: the psalmist's relationship with God's Word, descriptions of the power of God's Word, and prayers about God's Word.

We may use a computer, but we must relate to the Bible because the Word of God is alive.

Pick up your Bible and pray. Thank God for the gift you hold in your hands. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead into truth.

The anonymous pen of Psalm 119 clearly admired, studied, and loved God's Word. As we have already seen, this psalmist - mentor talked to God about his commitment to God's Word (what the Word is) and about his belief in the power of God
s word (what the Word does). The third component of his psalm was to scripture - pray to God for an even greater relationship with His Word.

Psalm 119 is punctuated with many prayer requests, most of which are supported by God's promises.

May God increase our hunger and respect for His life - giving Word.

The Corinthians' early struggle is our daily struggle.

As the Corinthians were deciding what touched their bodies and infiltrated their minds, Paul counseled them to choose options that left a morally positive deposit in their souls.

In truth, everything we do affects all that we are.

In his letter, Paul explained that since Christ has purchased a believer's freedom, the exercising of that freedom must, therefore, honor Christ.

Consider the disciples who were called to be with Jesus. They walked with Him and talked with Him and proceeded to walk by others without saying a word.

Remember the Samaritan woman who spent time alone with Jesus by a well and then brought her whole town to meet Him? However, she was not the first person familiar with Jesus' presence to go into town that day.

The disciples had been there earlier.

We can read in John 4:8, "Jesus disciples had gone into the town to buy food." In town, they interacted with bakers, fishermen, and fruit sellers in the marketplace long enough to buy sufficient food t feed at least thirteen.

So twelve leaders who walked alongside Jesus 24/7 went into a town and said, "We'd like to buy six fish and a loaf of bread." How many people followed them back to meet Jesus?

Not even one.

One Samaritan woman who had spent perhaps less than an hour with Jesus went into the same town and said, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?" How many people followed her back to meet Jesus?

The whole town!

The author of this book, Dr. Alicia Britt Chole is an award-winning writer. She is a speaker, author, and leadership mentor who enjoys thunderstorms, jalapenos, and honest questions.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Healing Power of Pain & Memory - Book Review

A Crazy, Holy Grace

The author's knows what it means to deal with pain, grief, and grace from a child after his father committed suicide. He shares that God is near even when He is silent.

The author's best writings covering such topic as loss of a loved one.

Loss/death will come to all of us, but we are not alone. God's holy healing grace is always present and available if we are quiet enough to receive it.

Through the gates of pain we enter into joy.

It seems that pain and death are on the rise, lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce, ready or not. Our lives are filled with freak accidents, cancer, and the steady decay of time. Stories of destruction and pain come at us from everywhere - our news, TV shows, movies, and social media sites - because fear and death seem to sell.

Simply put, suffering is universal.

We all have different ways of dealing with our pain, depending on what day it happens to be and how we happen to be feeling.

The author's mother had not only the suicide of his father but two other unsuccessful marriages. She lived to be a great age, and in many ways she remained a valuable person.

The author shares there could be a hundred and six other ways we have of coping with pain.

You don't have to talk about pain, but you have to live out of your pain.

Through the gates of pain we enter into joy.

God says He is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for God.

It is to choose to believe that the truth of our story is contained in Jesus's story, which is a love story. Jesus's story is the truth about who we are and who the God is who Jesus says loves us.

"And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the the way, and when you rise."

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than 30 books and has been important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. He has been awarded honorary degrees from institutions institutions including Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Remarkable Ordinary - Book Review

How to Stop, Look, & Listen to Life.

Listening For God In Stories We Tell:

The author first met Maya Angelou when the Trinity Institute brought them together to speak for a series of lectures. The Institute does this every year, and the lectures are frankly geared for burned - out Episcopal clergy - men and women who simply have had it.

The author had recently published two books, one of them called The Sacred Journey and one of them called Now and Then, in which he was about to set a sort of spiritual autobiography in the sense that he simply looked back on his life from its very beginning to listen to moments when he thought God had spoken to him.

They always have two people giving these lectures, and the other person they got was this extraordinary woman named Maya Angelou, who has told her story in not two but he think something like five volumes, the first of which is a marvelous book called I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings.

Maya Angelou was a large woman about the author height, black, beautiful, and so full of energy you can warm your hands in front of her. She was born in the South and brought up in great poverty by her grandmother in the little town of Stamps, Arkansas. Awful things happened to her. She was raped at the age of eight, not a violent rape but a sort of one-thing-leads-to-another rape by a boyfriend of her mother whom she'd gone to visit. She came back from that experience afraid to tell anybody about it, but she eventually told her little brother Bailey that this thing had happened. By a fluke, within a couple of days of the incident, word came that the man who'd raped her had died, and she was terrified that her words had killed him. So she was mute for five years - didn't say anything for five years. Well, she grew up, became a dancer, became a waitress, became a cook, and for a brief time she was a prostitute. She fell on evil times - the man whom she was with at the time said he needed some money and, if she wouldn't mind, could she entertain some of his friends, and she did for a time. Then she started to write and one thing led to another - acclaimed books, operas, films, and TV shows. She was a Renaissance woman, in other words.

Then Maya recalled the really marvelous high church Episcopal service that took place before the lectures began - there was incense and there was chanting and there were vestments, "she looked at the service, and she told the Episcopalians do it so well."

The wonderful truth of that, of course, is we act in these religious traditions and rituals as if we know what we're doing. Some of us think a church service is when we sing this, pray that, read this, and stand here and stand there.

The next day she had started her lecture reflecting on a story about racism, saying, "As I left the room yesterday, a man stood up and said, 'Here I am!'"

No sooner had these words left her lips when this small, bearded, white Episcopal clergyman suddenly stood up in their midst of a few rows behind her and walked down the aisle, up onto the platform, and put his arms around him. He was, of course, her friend who had been too embarrassed to talk to here anymore. And she cried and he cried all of them cried because they just got a glimpse of the kingdom of God. So moving. So gorgeous.

The author had given his lecture first, which was based, as he said, on his spiritual autobiography, and after he was done, he introduced Maya saying, "Ms. Angelou will now get up and tell your story, and it will be a very different story from the one that you just heard. As he said that Maya Angelou, who was sitting in the front row and shaking her head from side to side, got up, and she said he was wrong. She was very touched by that because in so many ways, what stories could be more different? I'm a man and and she's a woman, I'm white, she's black, she grew up in dire poverty while by comparison he grew up with riches, though God knows we weren't rich, and yet she said it's the same story. And she meant he think it is that at a certain level we do, all of us, with all the differences, we do all have the same story. When it comes to the business of how do you have faith in a world that gives you reasons every week not to believe, how do you survive - especially surviving our own childhoods as Maya Angelou survived hers and we've all survived ours - at that level we all have the same story, and therefore anybody's story can illuminate our own.


Better Than I Used to Be, but Far from Well:

His three daughters, his wife, and the author were living in this beautiful part of Vermont, rich, blessed, everybody healthy, very close, loving, did things together; and he always thought, This won't last, because that was what he learned in his childhood, that good things don't last, that there is always something waiting. There was a green hill as you looked out east from their house over the Green Mountains on the property of a neighbor of theirs, which had sort of a spine down one end.

Their oldest daughter, in her late teens he guess, became anorexic, a gradual process of not eating much. They would say, "Oh, for heaven's sake, you ought to have another piece of that," or "You can't go without breakfast," and so on. She went away to college, to Princeton, for a while and it got worst. Anyway, he would not go through all the details but she was married in the process of this to a boy they loved. And as it turned out, the anorexia destroyed the marriage.

You love all your children equally, I suppose, but she was his first child. She had made him a father, and he loved her as much as he had ever loved anybody. His love for her was like sort of his mother's love for him, too possessive, too much for his sake. The people who loved her right because they weren't emotionally involved were the hospital people, the psychiatrist, the one who fed her through her hose, and the people in AA because anorexia led to alcoholism as well.

She survived, and better than survived. One day she told him that she had so much help from AA that he really ought to try one of the twelve-step programs.

She said she was better than she use to be, but far from well. The journey continues; he does what he can. The great problem is to try to live in the present, not the past, not the future, but in the now.

Frederick Buechner is the author of more than 30 books and has been an important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. His books has been translated into 27 languages. He has been awarded honorary degrees from institutions including Yale University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Brave Beauty - Book Review

Brave Beauty will take you on a journey for girls. It would be a good teaching book for girls and a book to give to girls. It has 100 mini chapters in the book about God.


Lynn Cowell discovered that writing helped her figure out herself. That's why she wrote this book; she wanted to take her readers on a journey to becoming a brave and fearless you!

This book has 100 mini chapters and it would be a good teaching book for girls.

We will see:
who God says you are
Look at people in the Bible and see how they handled hard things
Get to know more about God and how He can help us
Learn how God words can help us become fearless and brave

There are quizzes and questions throughout the book.

When Lynn was in the third grade, someone gave her a little gold book that read "Five Year Diary" on the outside. If she could remember who gave her, her first diary she would thank them.

At the end of each mini Chapter is a courageous call, is a prayer, "In Jesus' name, Amen."

Have you already asked God to make you a part of his family? If you haven't yet, you can simply ask God to make you His child and you, too, will belong.

There was a man in the Bible named Nicodemus, who felt a little confused. He heard about Jesus and saw miracles Jesus was doing, but he didn't really understand who Jesus was. He decided to go directly to Jesus and ask Him to explain.

Nicodemus was a leader in the church, but that didn't mean he had all the answers. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night, with questions and that was a brave approach.

The first thing Nicodemus wanted to know was who Jesus was.

Now Nicodemus was even more confused than when he came. He asked Jesus, "How can a man be born again when he is already old? He cannot get inside his mother's body again!"

Jesus explained to Nicodemus he could choose to become a part of God's family.

Jesus shared that when God's son, Jesus, came to earth, He made it possible for all of Nicodemus's sins to be forgiven. Then he could become a part of God's family and join God in heaven one day.

The price of our sins has already been paid (John 3:16). Jesus did that for you and me! It's a gift He gave us because He loves us so much.

When a family decides to adopt a child, they make that choice because they have a lot of love in their hearts and they want to share that love.

The Bible explains it this way: "God decided in advance, before we were born, to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

One of the promises that God made to us is that He will never leave us or forsake us.

As our father, God promises to take care of our needs. (Matthew 6:32) God already knows the things we need and He will take care of those needs.

God gives every person, including you, the ability to make a choice. You can decide whether or not you obey Him and experience His blessings. This decision is completely yours whether you are going to be a part of God's family or not.

I'm a part of God's family and I want you to be a part of it too.

Lynn shared when she would read her diary, it was fun reading about when she was younger.

Maybe when she talked about her struggles you would think, "Me too!" Your personality, body, even your family isn't the same as others so sometimes you have a hard time liking yourself just the way you are.

When God created you, He made you great from the very beginning.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV), says "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

If you read through the Bible, you'll find lots of people who at one point or another felt unloved or rejected. Even Jesus was "looked down on and passed over." Isaiah 53:3 (MSG)

Remembering who we are in God's eyes help to heal the hurt that comes from meanness.

When Lynn was younger, she would often forget to do the chores her mom asked her to do. (Or was that really Lynn putting it off until she forgot on purpose?)

Lynn shares their has been times, that she felt like God has forgotten her.

You, too, know what it is like to feel like you haven't been remembered; left behind and left out.

God will never forget you!

When Lynn was younger she didn't mind being sick. When she was sick it meant she was able to stay at home from school with her Mom. All day long, her mom would bring her food and drinks to help her feel better.

In Matthew 14, we can read a story about Jesus meeting a lot of sick people. Jesus cousin, John the Baptist had just died. He wanted to be alone, but His boat landed, where there were many people, thousands of people, waiting for Him. They had heard He could heal their illnesses. Instead of wishing they would go away, verse 14 tells us, "... he had compassion on them and healed their sick."

After Jesus healed them, they didn't go away. His disciples told Jesus, "Send these people away so they can go and buy food for themselves." Jesus didn't want them to be sent away. Instead, He told the disciples to figure out a way to feed them; all 5,000 of them. All they found were five loaves and two fish. Jesus took what they had and miraculously fed everyone.

Jesus wants to protect you as you keep your eyes on Him each and every day.

When Lynn was a young woman her daddy passed away.

One day when her dad was getting ready to die, she was staying with him at the hospital. It was her birthday and her heart was sad to know that she was saying goo-bye to her dad. When she was going home from the hospital, she heard a song on the radio that talked about being completely healed and the way that healing came was by going to heaven and getting a new body.

Her daddy was dying, but her heart felt peaceful.

Just because you are young, doesn't mean you don't experience hard things in life. Parents divorce, love ones die, moves take us from our friends, and people do hurtful things. God is your refuge, strength, and help in trouble.

One day during fourth grade, Lynn's friend Liz asked her to come over after school. Lynn's mom had a rule that she couldn't go to anyone's house if there wasn't a parent there. Both of Liz's parents worked away from the home during the day. Lynn's mom had told her to never mess around with cigarettes.

Why didn't she listen to her mom's wise advice?

She didn't listen because she wanted Liz to like her.

At some point, you could find yourself in a situation similar to Liz. It might involve a TV show, a computer, a movie, a video, a friend, or a boy. There will be pressure, just like King Neb put pressure on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down to his statue in Daniel 3.

The girl who is brave finds God's best; His plans for good for her life. The girl who runs with the "in" crowd all too often will miss it.

In fact, some friends might completely turn off the road of choosing what is right. You may have fewer friends or for a time, you may feel alone.

The tests of our character - the tests that we are taking and passing to become a brave beauty - can be the same way.

Passing tests isn't a school thing, it's a life thing.

At eight years old, Justine wasn't exactly sure what cancer was. But she did know her parents told her that her brother, who was only eighteen months old, had this thing called cancer.

Justine may not have understood how serious this illness was, but she did understand one thing: her family needed God to heal her brother.

God answered their prayers; God did heal her brother. Yes, God performed miracles in the Bible and He still performs miracles today!

In fact, Jesus says that if we only have faith the size of a tiny seed, nothing will be impossible for us.

Small people can see God do big things. Justine did!

There was a woman in the Bible who had an illness that was worst than Lynn's little cold. Her story is told in Mark 5:25-34 (NIV). This woman had been bleeding for twelve years. "She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse." (verse 26)

"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If she touch his clothes, she would be healed." (verses 27-28) Immediately, Jesus' power went out of Him and into her. Her bleeding quit and her suffering stopped.

The woman had shown great bravery when she made her way through the crowd and touched Jesus' clothing. She had shown confidence in God, believing she would be healed.

The woman extended her faith when she reached out her arm. God met her; her prayers were answered.

As Lynn read her journals, she saw how God answered her prayers.

Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) Whatever big thing you can dream, God can do bigger.

Too often social media is all about making us feel good and important. We were made for one reason: to point others to the way, the truth, and the life: Jesus.

You need to be brave: brave enough to believe God has a big purpose for you.

Ella had broken one of her family's technology rules, watching a video she knew was wrong. Being ten was hard sometimes.

Ella couldn't sleep at night and her stomach had been hurting for days.

She went to her mom, sobbing, and confessed what she had done wrong.

Ella's mom hugged her and thanked her for being honest. She told Ella how brave she was to come and tell the truth. That didn't mean that honesty was a guarantee there would be no consequences or punishment for her actions.

The most important truth we need to know is that Jesus died to forgive us for our sins.

Lynn found a story in the Bible that doesn't get told much, probably because the names are so hard to pronounce.

Take a few minutes and read Exodus 1:15-17.

The women in this passage, Shiphrah and Puah, unlike Lynn, had every reason to be terrified. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt was ruthless. These two women were trained midwives - they were trained to help women through childbirth. Pharaoh was trying to get rid of the Israelite people. Pharaoh's plan was to command the women to destroy the little boys when they were born.

These women didn't care who was making the command. They feared God and did not do what the King of Egypt told them to do. They let every baby live; girl or boy.

Exodus 1:17 says the women "feared God." What the women felt toward God was respect and awe because of His power and holiness.

Shiphrah and Puah chose to obey God over fearing Pharaoh.

The author, Lynn Cowell is a part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries, speaking and writing to women of all ages. Lynn and her husband Greg have been married over 30 years and are parents of Zach, Mariah, and Madi.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

People and Creatures Enter the Ark - Genesis 7:1-10

God said to Noah, "Now board the ship, you and all your family out of everyone in this generation you're the righteous one.

"Take on board with you seven pairs of every clean animal, a male and a female; one pair of every unclean animal, a male and a female; and seven pairs of every kind of bird, a male and a female to insure their survival on earth. In just seven days God will dump rain on earth for forty days and forty nights. God will make a clean sweep of everything what he has made. Noah did everything that God had commanded him to do. Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters covered the earth. Noah and his wife and sons and their wives boarded the ship to escape the flood. Clean and unclean animals, birds, and all the crawling creatures came in pairs to Noah and to the ship, male and female, just as God had commanded Noah. In seven days the floodwaters came.

It was the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month that it happened: all the underground springs erupted and all the windows of Heaven were thrown open. Rain poured for forty days and forty nights.

That's the day Noah and his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, accompanied by his wife and his sons wives, boarded the ship. And with them every kind of wild and domestic animal, right down to all the kinds of creatures that crawl and all kinds of birds and anything that flies. They came to Noah and to the ship in pairs - everything and anything that had the breath of life in it, male and female of every creature came just as God had commanded Noah. Then God shut the door behind Noah.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible

People and Creatures Return to the Earth - Genesis 8:13-19

In the six hundred first year of Noah's life, on the first day of the first month, the flood had dried up. Noah opened the hatch of the ship and saw dry ground. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the earth was completely dry.

God spoke to Noah: "Leave the ship, you and your wife and your sons and your sons wives. And take all the animals with you, the whole menagerie birds and mammals and crawling creatures, all that brimming prodigality of life, so they can reproduce and flourish on the earth."

Noah disembarked with his sons and wife and his sons wives. Then all the animals, crawling creatures, birds - every creature on the face off the earth - left the ship family by family. Noah built an altar to God. He selected clean animals and birds from every species and offered them as burnt offering on the altar. God smelled the sweet fragrance and thought to himself, I'll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I'll never again kill off everything living as I've just done.

Extolling the majesty of the Lord - Psalm 89:1-15

Congregation of the saints or holy generally refers to angels. In the courts of heaven, a myriad of angels praise the Lord. This scene is one of majesty and grandeur to show that God is beyond compare. His power and purity place him high above nature and angels.

Justice and judgment (righteousness) mercy and truth surround God on his throne, they are fundamental aspects of the way God rules. As God's ambassadors, we should deal with people similarly. Make sure your actions flow out of justice, righteousness, and truth because any unfair, unloving, or dishonest action cannot come from God.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

God's Promise Realized Through Faith - Romans 4:13-25

That famous promise God gave Abraham - that he and his children would posses the earth was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed.

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an iron clad contract! That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal.

A contract drawn up by a hard nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise - and God's promise if that - you can't break it. This is why the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and his ways and then simply embracing him and what he does.

God's promise arrives as a pure gift. That's the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them.

For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father - that's reading the story backward. He is our faith father. We call Abraham "Father" not because he got God's attention by living a faithful life, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody.

Isn't that what we're always reading in Scripture "I set you up as Father of many peoples?" Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he he trusted God to do only what God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.


When everything was hopeless Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples.

God himself said to him you're going to have a big family, Abraham!

Ceremonies and rituals serve as reminders of our faith. They instruct new and younger believers, but we should not think that they give us any special merit before God. They are outward signs and seal that demonstrate belief and trust. The focus of our faith should be on Christ and his saving actions, not on our own actions.

Paul explains that Abraham pleased God through his faith alone, before he ever heard about the rituals that would become so important to the Jewish people. We too are saved by faith. It is not by loving God and doing good that we are saved; neither is it by faith plus love or faith plus good works.

We are saved only through faith in Christ, trusting him to forgive all our sins. For more on Abraham, see his profile in Genesis 18.

The promise (or covenant) God gave Abraham said that Abraham would be the father of many nations and that the entire world would be blessed through him. This promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus was from Abraham's line, and truly the world was blessed through him.

Paul points out that the promise to Abraham to be the father of many nations extended beyond Israel to all the nations of the world. Abraham never doubted that God would fulfill his promise. His life was marked by mistakes, sins, and failures as well as by wisdom and goodness, but he consistently trusted God. His faith was strengthened by the obstacles he faced.

His life is an example of faith in action. If he had looked only at his own resources for subduing Canaan and founding of a nation, he would have given up in despair. But he looked to God, obeyed him and waited for God to fulfill his word to him.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jesus, Mediator of a better Covenant - Hebrews 8:1-8

In essence, we have just such a high priest right along side of God, conducting worship in the one true sanctuary built by God. The assigned task of a high priest is to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and it's no different with the priesthood of Jesus.

If we were limited to earth, he wouldn't even be a Priest. We wouldn't need him since there are plenty of priests who offer the gifts designated in the law.

These priests provide only a hint of what goes on in the true sanctuary of heaven, which Moses caught a glimpse of as he was about to set up the tent-shrine. It was then that God said "be careful to do it exactly as you saw it on the mountain."

But Jesus priestly work far surpasses what these other priest do, since his working from a far better plan. If the first-plan the Old Covenant had worked out, a second wouldn't have been needed. But we know the first was found wanting, because God said.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sunday - God's Covenant with Abram - Genesis 15:1-6,17-21 - 10/1/17

Background Scripture Nehemiah 9 and 10.

Ezra leads the people in confession. The people agree to obey.


Why would Abram be afraid? Perhaps he feared revenge from the kings he had just defeated. God gave him two good reasons for courage: (1) he promised to defend Abram ("I am thy shield"), and (2) he promised to be Abram's "exceeding great reward." When you fear what lies ahead, remember that God will stay with you through difficult times and that he has promised you great blessings.

According to custom, if Abram were to die without a son, his eldest servant would become his heir. Although Abram loved his servant, he wanted a son to carry on the family line.

Abram wanted promised wealth or fame, he already had that. God promised descendants like the stars and the grains of sand by the sea, too numerous to count. To appreciate the vast number of stars scattered through the sky, you need to be, like Abram, away from any interfering lights or buildings. Or pick up a handful of sand and try to count the grains - it can not be done! God's blessings are beyond our imaginations!

Although Abram had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was believing in the Lord, not actions, that made Abram right with God. We too can have a right relationship with God by trusting him with our lives. Our outward actions - church attendance, prayer, good deeds - will not by themselves make us right with God. A right relationship is based on faith - the heartfelt inner confidence that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Right actions follow naturally as a by - product.

Why did God send this strange vision to Abram? God's covenant with Abram was serious business. It represented an incredible promise from God and a huge responsibilities for Abram. To confirm his promise, God gave Abram a sign - the smoking furnace and burning lamp. God took the initiative, gave the confirmation and followed through on his promises. The sign to Abram was a visible assurance to him that the covenant with God had made was real.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Circumcision Event Remembered - Acts 7:1-8

Then the Chief Priest said, what do you have to say for yourself?

Stephen replied, friends, fathers, and brothers, the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was still in Mesopotamia, before the move to Haran, and told him, leave your country and family and go to the land I'll show you.

So he left the country of the Chaldees and moved to Haran. After the death of his father, he immigrated to his country where you now live, but God gave him nothing, not so much as a foothold. He did promise to give the country to him and his son later on, even though Abraham had no son at the time. God let him know that his offspring would move to an alien country where they would be enslaved and brutalized for four hundred years. 'But,' God said, I will step in and take care of those slaveholders and bring my people out so they can worship me in this place.

Then he made a covenant with him and signed it in Abraham's flesh by circumcision. When Abraham had his son Issac, within eight days he reproduced the sign of circumcision in him. Issac became father of Jacob, and Jacob father of twelve 'Father,' each faithfully passing on the covenant sign.

This High Priest was Caiphas, the same High Priest who had earlier questioned and condemned Jesus.

Stephen launched into along speech about Israel's relationship with God. From Old Testament history he showed that the Jews had constantly rejected God's message and his Prophets, and that this council had rejected the Messiah, God's Son. He made three main points (1) Israel's history is the history of God's acts in the world; (2) People worshiped God long before there was a temple; (3) Jesus death was just one more example of Israel's rebellion and rejection of God.

Stephen wasn't really defending himself. Instead, he took the offensive, seizing the opportunity to summarize his teaching about Jesus. Stephen was accusing these religious leaders failing to obey God's laws - the laws they prided themselves in following so meticulously. This was the same accusation Jesus had leveled against them. When we witness for Christ, we don't need to be on the defensive. Instead we can simply share our faith.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Sabbath Commandment ... Exodus 20:8-11

The Sabbath was a day set aside for rest and worship. God commanded a Sabbath because we need to spend unhurried time in worship and rest each week. A God who is concerned enough to provide a day each week for us to rest is indeed wonderful. To observe a regular time of rest and worship in our hurried world demonstrates the importance of God in our lives while having the extra benefit of refreshing our spirits.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work - not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and Sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath Day; he set apart as a holy day.

Reference used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Under the Rainbow the Angel Speaks ... Revelation 10:1-7

The purpose of this angel is clear to announce the final judgments on the earth. His right foot on the sea and left foot on the earth. His right foot on the sea and left foot on the earth indicate that his words deal with all creation, not just a limited part as with the seal and trumpet judgments. The seventh trumpet will usher in the seven vial judgments which will bring an end to the present world. When this universal judgment comes, God's truth will prevail.

There was another powerful angel coming down out of heaven wrapped in a cloud. There was a rainbow over his head, his face was sun-radiant, his les pillars of fire. He had a small book open in his hand. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left foot on land, then called out thunderously, a lion roar. When called out, the seven thunders called back. When the seven thunders spoke, I started to write it all down, but a voice out of Heaven stopped John saying, "Seal with silence the seven thunders; don't write a word."

The first contains a revelation of judgments against evil. The contents of the second title scroll are not indicated, but it also may contain a revelation of judgment.

Throughout history people have wanted to know what would happen in the future, and God reveals some of it in this book. But John was stopped from revealing certain parts of his vision. An angel also told the Prophet Daniel that some vision he saw were not to be revealed yet to everyone, and Jesus told his disciples that the time of the end is known by no one but God. God has revealed all we need to know to live for him now. In our desire to be ready for the end, we must not place more emphasis on speculation about the last days that on living for God.

Then the angel John saw astride sea and land lifted his hand to Heaven and swore by the One Living Forever and Ever, who created Heaven and everything in it, earth and everything in it, sea and everything in it, that time up-that when the seventh angel blew his trumpet, with he was about to do, the Mystery of God, all the plans he had revealed to his servants, the Prophets, would be completed.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

You Are God's Choice ... Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Often we ask why, "what does God expect of me?" Here Moses gives a summary that is simple in form and easy to remember. Here are the essentials: (1) fear God (have reverence for him). (2) walk in his ways. (3) Love him with all your heart. How often we complicate faith with man-made rules, regulations, and requirement. Are you frustrated and burned out from trying hard to please God? Concentrate on his real requirements and find peace, respect, and love.

God required all male Israelites to be circumcised, but he wanted them to go beyond performing the surgery to understanding its meaning. They needed to summit to God inside, in their hearts as well as outside, in their bodies. If our hearts are right with God, then our relationship with other people can be made right too. When your heart has been cleansed and you have been reconciled to God, you will begin to see a difference in the way you treat others.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible, and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Abram Called and Blessed ... Genesis 12:1-3

God promised to bless Abram and make him great, but there was one condition. Abram had to do what God wanted him to do. This meant leaving his home and friends and traveling to a new land where God promised to build a great nation from Abram's family. Abram obeyed, walking away from his home for God's promise of even greater things. God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him. Don't let the comfort and security of your present position make make you miss God's plan for you.

Abram moved out in faith from Ur to Haran and finally to Canaan. God then established a covenant with him. Not only would this nation be blessed, God said; but the other nations of the earth would be blessed through Abram's descendants. Israel, the nation that would come from Abram, was to follow God and influence those with whom it came in contact. Through Abram's family tree, Jesus Christ was born to save humanity. Through Christ, all people can have a personal relationship with God and be blessed beyond measure.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

The Lord's Words Become Actions ... Psalm 33:1-9

Because David was an accomplished harpist, he frequently spoke about musical instruments throughout his Psalms. He undoubtedly composed music for many of the Psalms, and he commissioned music for Temple Worship.

A Person's words are measured by the quality of his or her character. If you trust what God says, it is because you trust him to be the God he claims to be. If you doubt his words, you doubt the integrity of God himself. If you believe God is truly God, then believe what he says!

All God's words are true and trustworthy. The Bible is reliable because, unlike people, God does not lie, forget, change his words, or leave promises unfulfilled. We can trust the Bible because, it contains the words of a holy, trustworthy and unchangeable God.

This is a poetic summary of the first chapter of Genesis. He is the Lord of creation, the almighty God. Because he is all powerful, we should reverence him in all we do.

Reference summary used from The Message Bible and The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday - Spirit-Filled Heart - Ezekiel 36:21-27 - 9/24/17

Their restoration the work of God's mercy. Great spiritual blessings promised.

Background Scripture: Ezekiel 36-37 and Titus 3:1-11.

But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.

Ezekiel 20:9,14

But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.


Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes. O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.

Psalm 106:8

Nevertheless he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.


And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the LORD God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their (your) eyes.

Ezekiel 20:41

I will accept you with your sweet savour (savour of rest), when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.


For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

Ezekiel 34:13

And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.


Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

Hebrews 10:22

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jeremiah 33:8

And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me: and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.


A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

Jeremiah 32:39

And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever (all days), for the good of them, and of their children after them:


And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Reference summary used from The SouthWestern Co., Publishers & Booksellers, Nashville, Tennessee

A New Covenant of the Heart - Jeremiah 31:31-34

God would inscribe his law upon their hearts rather than upon tablets of stone as were the Ten Commandments. This change seems to describe one experience very much like the new birth and God is making the initiative. When we turn our lives over to God he, by his Holy Spirit, builds into us the desire to obey him.

The Old Covenant, broken by the people, would be replaced by an new covenant. The foundation of this new covenant is Christ. It is revolutionary, involving not only Israel and Judah, but even the Gentiles. It offers a unique personal relationship with God himself, with his laws inscribed on hearts instead of on stone. Jeremiah looked forward to the day when Jesus would come to establish this covenant. But for us today, this covenant is here. We have the wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start and establish a permanent, personal relationship with God.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nations Will Know The Lord - Spirit Filled Heart: Ezekiel 36:32-38

God said his people should be ashamed of their sins. The people had become so callous that they had lost all sensitivity to sin. First they had to remember their sins, then despise them, and finally repent of them. As we examine our lives, we may find that we too have lost our sensitivity to certain sins. But if we measure ourselves against God's standard of right living, we will be ashamed. To regain sensitivity we must recognize our sin for what it is, feel sorry for displeasing God, and ask his forgiveness. The Holy Spirit will guide us, making us responsive and receptive to God's truth.

God said that if the people asked, he would come to their aid. We cannot expect his mercy, however, until we have sought new hearts from him. We can be thankful that his invitation is open to all.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Friday, September 22, 2017

Noah Found Favor With the Lord - Genesis 6:1-8

AND it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them.

Genesis 1:28 ... And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth (creepeth) upon the earth.


That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Deuteronomy 7:3,4 .... Neither shall thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD, be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.


And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man,

1 Peter 3:19,20 ... By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.

Which sometime were disobedience, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.

Psalm 78:39 ... For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.


There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination (whole imagination) of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (everyday).


And it repented the LORD that he had made men on earth,

Numbers 23:19 ... God is not a man, that he should not lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hate he said, and shall he do not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

and it grieved him at his heart.

Isaiah 63:10 ... But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, he fought against them.

Reference summary used from The SouthWestern Co., Publishers & Booksellers, Nashville, TN

Jesus tells about remaining Watchful - Matthew 24:36-51 ... Excerpt from the Bible

It is good we don't know exactly when Christ will return. If we knew the precise dates, we might plan to keep sinning and then turn back to God right at the end. Heaven is our only goal; we have work to do here. We must keep on doing it until death or until we see the unmistakable return of our Savior.

Christ's Second Coming will be swift and sudden. There will be no opportunity for after thought., last-minute repentance, or bargaining. The choice we have already made will determine our eternal destiny.

Jesus purpose in telling about his return is not to stimulate predictions and calculations about the date, but to warn us to be prepared. Will you be ready? The only safety is to obey him today.

Jesus asks us to spend the waiting time taking care of his people and doing his work on earth, both within the Church and outside of it. This is the best way to prepare for Christ's return.

Knowing that Christ's return will be sudden should motivate us always to be prepared. We are not to live irresponsibly - sitting and waiting, doing nothing; seeking self-serving pleasure, using his tarrying as an excuse not to do God's work of building his kingdom; developing a false security based on precise calculations of events; or letting our curiosity about the end times divert us from doing God's work.

"Weeping and gnashing of teeth" is a Phrase used to describe despair. God's coming judgment is as certain as Jesus' return to earth.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, Tyndale Bible Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Master's Mind - Book Review

The Master's Mind: The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts

In fact, the Master has a whole different list of attributes in mind for us: hope, strength, beauty, joy, love, creativity, freedom, power, peace, patience, goodness, laughter, organization, effectiveness, and purpose.

Between the flesh, the world, and the Devil, we don't know what to think, and, therefore, our lives are filled with hurt, pain, and regret.

Jesus died to save us from our sins and set us free. He made a way for our souls to be rescued from our enemies.

It's time to return to the Master's Mind.

In approximately AD 31, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was asked the seemingly impossible question: "What is the greatest commandment of God?" Jesus simply replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength."

If we can master our minds and bring our thoughts into alignment with the Lord's will and perspective, the rest of our lives will follow suit.

Praise the Lord that He has told us who He is, who we are in the light of Him, and what we have been placed on this earth to do.

God does the rescuing and the saving. Our job is to steward what He has given us.

What we think determines our action. Martin Luther King Jr. determined that he would not rest until all people were viewed as God intended - equal. Mother Teresa determined that the poor would not be forgotten. Our Lord Jesus Christ walked His entire life on earth with a focus on completely obeying His heavenly Father, including the determination to end up on the cross to save us from our sins, as we see in this passage from Luke: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).

The Bible tells us of an ancient high-ranking official who made a personal choice that would dictate the rest of his life and effectiveness. His name was Naaman, and he was a Syrian army commander who had leprosy, a terrible skin disease. Knowing that he was desperate for healing, his little servant girl told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him by God's power. Figuring that it was worth a shot, Naaman went to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman that he would be healed if he washed seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman was furious. He believed that the prophet was simply going to "call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure" him (2 Kings 5:11). When things didn't go the way he thought they should, he stormed off in a rage.

His attendant hurried after him and convinced him to reconsider. Sure, washing seven times was unorthodox, but what if it could heal him?

He relented - and came out healed from leprosy.

Naaman's false assumptions, ignorant thoughts, and prideful heart almost cost him his healing. What are we believing today that is keeping us from God's best?

It's true of God: Isaiah 14:24 tells us, "The LORD of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand."

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (Acts 17:26)

Before the New York firefighters and police officers ran into the collapsing Twin Towers on the fateful day of 9/11, they thought about it. Their heroic choice to risk their lives to protect others from a burning building was the result of truly stunning thoughts: Their job is to rescue others and put them before themselves. They would not let fear dictate their response.

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasures produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was explaining that our characters and beliefs determine the lives we live. Doing one thing on the outside doesn't make up for thinking another on the inside.

And when it comes to matters of faith, we spend the majority of our energy on sin management, completely avoiding the core issues. We'll never experience transformation until we address the thoughts at the root of our problems.

Bad thinking is dangerous. Wrong thinking can keeps us ineffective, wasting time on things that aren't important instead of living the lives God has for us.

Paul wrote in Romans about the distorted thinking common to humans and the consequences it brings. Since our sin nature is rooted in how we think our thoughts continue to be the primary block between us and God.

Jesus spoke about lust being equated with adultery.

Adam and Eve were the best of us: unadulterated humanity, good, pure, and perfect. But the day they ate the fruit that God told them not to eat, all of that changed. With their rebellion, sin entered the world and chaos was unleashed.

If you do not know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love He demonstrated on the cross by dying for your sins, now is the time to engage with that truth.

God knows our plight. He knows we are hopelessly lost. When Adam and Eve threw away our birth right, He launched a redemption plan. The plan came to fruition approximately two thousand years ago, when God entered humanity and joined us where we were, in all our messiness. Doing all that we could not do, the God-man, Jesus Christ, offered up His perfect life - not only to satisfy our debt sin, but also to trade with us, the lost, so that we might be found and set free. We acknowledge that He is the King and His way is right. We offer open rights in which He can dwell by the power of His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone - not now, not ever.

"The most important thing about us is not what we do, but who and whose we are in Christ."

All He asks is that we stop fighting and let Him do what He does best - be our Savior and King. Paul the apostle wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" ((Romans 5:1-2).

By definition, grace is "undeserved favor." Grace isn't earned; rather, it's given out of the goodness of someone else's heart.

Grace even cuts at the heart of the oldest and greatest of sin: pride. The same sin that caused the fall of Lucifer stirs in our souls. Once grace takes hold again, we experience peace.

God is working in us, and we can have faith in that process. But we also need to be aware of the biggest enemy of them all: the Devil.

The Devil is real, and he's a bad guy. He introduced the sin that brought down our world, he's a bully who picks on us every day, and he doesn't fight fair.

Listen to the apostle Peter: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Sin takes us from where we should be to where we should not be. Sin ruins our thoughts and poisons our hearts.

Sin is godlessness.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Therefore, God will never lead someone to sin; doing so goes against His very nature. He will test believers by putting them through difficult training that will strengthen them and reveal their current conditions (like a refiner's fire).

Satan seeks to harm.

God's intention is always for believers to emerge from a trial better than when they started, either in strength or in knowledge. He promises that every situation will have a way out - an escape hatch that can be utilized through obedience.

As we've seen, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted, yet was without sin. It also says, "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).

Acting on sin is temptation.

Praise the Lord that He is with us and that the Holy Spirit is helping us navigate all of this!

Nebuchadnezzar made a name for himself as a warrior king. He won the famous battle of Carchemish against the Egyptians the year he was called to throne. He fused his alliance with the Medes by marriage and expanded his territory by military force until he controlled much of the Middle East and all the trade routes across Mesopotamia.

He was so impressive that Saddam Hussein sought to claim his reincarnated personality. Hussein named one of his guard divisions after the ancient king and began rebuilding ancient Babylon in his honor, inscribing on the bricks, "To king Nebuchadnezzar in the reign of Hussein."

This great and powerful king lost his mind.

God leveled Nebuchadnezzar for pride and arrogance, and once that was done, he lifted his hand immediately and miraculously. Nevertheless, his story reminds us that even the might fall sometimes, and no mind is invulnerable.

Everybody remembers Mister Rogers' Neighbor right? But did you know that it aired from 1968 to 2001, produced 895 episodes, and earned four Emmy awards?

There's a reason that a Presbyterian reverend from Pennsylvania received the coveted Peabody Award, the Ralph Lowell Award, more than forty honorary degrees, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He wanted to use children's imaginations as God intended them - to think through new perspectives.

You and I are precious - and so is every human on earth.

On the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they sold their souls to the Enemy.

Jesus Christ needed to come to set us free. We are free to become what He created us to be and not be forced into the mold of our enemies.

Our Master paid for us.

Even if we are free, we still need a Savior. We are still designed for relationship with God as our Father. We are still built for His glory. We are not our own.

We long to worship.

Christianity needs to be a thriving relationship with God filled with the Holy Spirit and all the incredible blessings He has given us. We need to be so filled up that the Holy Spirit forces out evil.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit gives us "living water."

Paul says that we have been raised with Christ, which means we are a new creation, born again with all the sin of our lives dead and gone.

Transformation always begins in our thoughts.

When Jesus told His listeners to "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2), He did not simply mean "feel terrible for your wickedness now that I'm here." Repent doesn't only mean to turn away but to change one's mind and start agreeing with God.

Jesus Christ is the One who can set us free, not just when we get to heaven, but increasingly so right here on earth.

God will hold us accountable for how we manage our minds and handle our hearts.

One of the precious tools God has provided is supernatural protection for His children. The apostle Paul called it the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-18.

Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California. His first book, How to live in fear mastering the Art of Freaking Out, Chronicles his personal struggles with panic disorders and offers tools for thriving through fear. A popular speaker who enjoys writing, Lance is a husband to Suzi and father to two daughters.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday - Circumcision - Genesis 17:1-14 - 9/10/17

The Lord told Abram, I am the Almighty God, walk before me. He has the same message for us today. We are to obey because he is God - that is reason enough. If you don't think the benefits are worth it, consider who God is - the only one with the power and ability to meet your every need.

Twice before God had mentioned his agreement (Genesis 12 & 15). God was bringing it into focus and preparing to carry it out. He revealed to Abram several specific parts of his covenant. (1) God would give Abram many descendants; (2) many nations would descend from him; (3) God would maintain his covenant with Abram's descendants; (4) God would give Abram's descendants the land of Canaan.

God changed Abram's name to Abraham ("the father of a great multitude") shortly before the promised son was conceived. From this point on the Bible always calls him Abraham.

God was making a covenant, or contract, between himself and Abraham. The terms were simple: Abraham would obey God and circumcise all the males in his household. God's part was to give Abraham heirs, property, power, and wealth. Most contracts are even trades: we give something and in turn receive something of equal value. But when we become part of God's covenant family, the blessings we receive far outweigh what we must give up.

God required circumcision (1) As a sign of obedience to him in all matters. (2) As a sign of belonging to his covenant people. Once circumcised, there was no turning back. The man would be identified as a Jew forever. (3) As a symbol of "cutting off" the old life of sin, purifying one's heart and dedicating oneself to God. (4) Possibly as a health measure.

Circumcision more than any other practice separated God's people from their heathen neighbors. In Abraham's day, this was essential to develop the pure worship of the one true God.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Wheaton, IL

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday - The Peaceful Kingdom - Isaiah 11:1-9 - 9/3/17

Assyria would be like a tree cut down at the height of its power never to rise again. Judah (the royal line of David) would be like a tree chopped down to a stump. But from that stump a new branch would grow - the Messiah. He would be greater than the original tree and would bear much fruit. The Messiah is the fulfillment of God's promise that a descendant of David would rule forever.

The Messiah is Jesus Christ.

How we long for fair treatment from others, but do we give it? Only Christ can be the perfectly fair judge. Only as he governs our hearts can we learn to be as fair in our treatment of others as we expect others to be toward us.

Judah had become corrupt, and now it was surrounded by hostile foreign powers. The nation desperately needed a revival of righteousness, equity, and faithfulness. They needed to turn from selfishness and show justice to the poor and the oppressed. The righteousness that God values is more than reframing from sin, it is actively turning toward others and offering them the help they need.

It is incredible to think of hostile animals living at peace. It is even more incredible for hostile people to live at peace with one another. And one day the whole world will acknowledge that Christ is Lord.

A golden age is yet to come. Not all of this was fulfilled at Christ's first coming. For example, nature has not returned to its intended balance and harmony.

Reference summary used from The Life Application Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Wheaton, IL

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday - Called to Be Inclusive - Acts 10:19-33 - 8/27/17

Inclusive - list is inclusive of all the items.

God prepares Cornelius and Peter.

Leviticus 11 - three times the vision came instructing Peter to break the Jewish food-laws.

Peter goeth to Cornelius.

Acts 10:19 ... While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

Acts 11:12 ... And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:


Acts 10:20 ... Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

Acts 15:7 ... That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.


Acts 10:21 ... Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?


Acts 10:22 ... And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and

Acts 10:1,2 ... (The vision of Cornelius) THERE was a certain man in Cesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.

A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.

Acts 10:22 ... of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by a holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

Acts 22:12 ... And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,


Acts 10:23 ... Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Acts 10:45 ... And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.


Acts 10:24 ... And the morrow after they entered into Cesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.


Acts 10:25 ... And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.


Acts 10:26 ... But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

Acts 14:14,15 ... Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:


Acts 10:27 ... And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.


Acts 10:28 ... And he said unto them, ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation;

Acts 11:3 (Peter accused of consorting with the Gentiles) Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

Acts 10:28 ... but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Acts 15:8,9 ... And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.


Acts 10:29 ... Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?


Acts 10:30 ... And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me

Acts 1:10 ... And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Acts 10:30 ... in bright clothing

Luke 24:4 ... And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed there about, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:


Acts 10:31 ...And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard

Acts 10:4 ... And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

Acts 10:31 ... and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

Hebrews 6:10 ... For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.


Acts 10:32 ... Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh shall speak unto thee.


Acts 10:33 ... Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Reference summary used from The SouthWestern Co., Publishers & Booksellers; Nashville, TN

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday - Called to Preach - Acts 9:10 - 20 - 8/20/17

(Jesus Calls Saul/Shaul/Paul on Damascus Road - Saturday - 8/19/17)

Paul was an outstanding missionary, theologian, and writer of the early church.

Paul was born in a Jewish family in Tarsus. Paul's family was of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul probably came from a family of tentmakers or leatherworkers and, according to Jewish custom, was taught this trade by his father. Apparently the business thrived and Paul's family became moderately wealthy.

The true way of the Lord was one of the earliest names for Christianity. The glory of God (or Christ) is often described as the light. The street called Straight, which runs through Damascus from east to west. Saul, like the prophets, was chosen for a special purpose.

Saul's conversion marks a turning-point in the history of the early church. The encounter with Christ was followed by three sightless days: Saul was identified with Jesus in his death and three days in the grave, and identified with him too in baptism and newness of life.

The Way was the name given to the church before the people of Antioch invented the new name 'Christian.'

Damascus, a key commercial city, was located about 175 miles northeast of Jerusalem in the Roman province of Syria.

As Paul traveled to Damascus, pursuing Christians, he was confronted by the risen Christ and brought face to face with the truth of the Gospel.

Paul refers to this experience as the start of his new life of in Christ. At the center of this wonderful life was Jesus Christ - Paul did not see a vision, he saw the risen Christ himself (Acts 9:17).

Anyone who persecutes believers today is also guilty of persecuting Jesus because believers are the body of Christ on earth.

Paul opened his eyes - but could not see - he was temporarily blinded.

Ananias was sent by God to Paul. He greeted Paul as "Brother Saul." Ananias feared this meeting because Paul had come to Damascus to persecute believers and take them in chains to Jerusalem. But in obedience to the Holy Spirit, he greeted Paul lovingly.

Immediately after receiving his sight and being with the believers in Damascus, Paul went to the synagogue to tell the Jews about Jesus Christ. Paul took time alone to learn about Jesus before beginning his worldwide ministry, but he did not wait to witness. Although we should not rush into a ministry unprepared, we do need to wait before telling others what has happened to us.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha RSV; The Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL; and The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sunday - Called To Break Down Barriers - Acts 8:26-39 - 8/13/17

Cross-cultural(ethnic) evangelism(teaching)

The Ethiopian eunuch and Philip the evangelist.

Ethiopian eunuch ... He was an unnamed person who was returning to his homeland after having been to Jerusalem to worship. He was an official in the court of the queen of Ethiopia (today Ethiopia is Northern Sudan). As he traveled, he met Philip the evangelist. Philip had come to the desert area in response t God's call. Philip declared the gospel to the eunuch, and the eunuch received Christian baptism at Philip's hands. His conversion illustrates the Christian faith transcending national boundaries and embracing one whose physical mutilation would have excluded him from full participation in Judaism.

Candance - In Acts 8:27 the queen of Ethiopia whose servant became a believer in Christ and was baptized by Philip. The title was used by several queens of Ethiopia.

Philip was sent by God to Azotus, an ancient Philistine capital, to another ethnic group that needed to hear the gospel (Acts 8:40).

Azotus (Ashdod) is one of the principal cities of the Philistines, where the Philistines defeated Israel and captured the ark of the covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant is the original container, for the 10 Commandments and the central symbol of God's presence with the people of Israel.

Ethiopian at this time meant "Nubian." The Ethiopian eunuch was reading out loud to himself. In the book of Isaiah the early Christians found many prophecies of Christ; Isaiah 53:7-8 deals with the servant of the Lord.

Philip had a successful preaching ministry to great crowds in Samaria, but he obediently left that ministry to go to a dessert road. Because Philip went where God sent him. Ethiopia was open to the Gospel. You may not understand God's plan at first, but the results will prove that God's way is always right.

Ethiopia was located in Africa, south of Egypt. The eunuch was obviously very dedicated to God because he had traveled such a long distance to worship in Jerusalem. The Jews had contact with Ethiopia in ancient days. Because he was the treasurer of Ethiopia, his conversion brought Christianity into the power structures of another government. This is the beginning of the witness "to the uttermost part of the earth."

Philip found the Ethiopian man reading the Scriptures, Philip (1) followed the Spirit's leading, (2) began the discussion from where the man was (immersed in the prophecies of Isaiah), and (3) explained how Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah's prophecies.

The eunuch begged Philip to explain a passage of Scripture which he did not understand. When we do not understand the Bible, we should ask others to help us. We must never let our insecurity or pride get in the way of understanding God's Word.

Some think that the Old Testament is not relevant today, but Philip led this man to faith in Jesus Christ by using the Old Testament. Jesus Christ is found in the pages of both the Old and New Testament. Don't avoid or neglect to use the Old Testament, it too is God's Word.

Philip was suddenly transported to another city miraculous because of the urgency of bringing the Gentiles to belief in Christ.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Bible Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL; The New Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Expanded Edition, RSV and Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunday - Called To Witness - Acts 6:1-7 - 8/6/17

When we read the descriptions of the early church - the miracles, the sharing and generosity - we may wish we could have been a part of this "perfect" church. No church has ever been or will ever be perfect until Christ and his followers are united at his Second Coming. All churches have problems. Do what you can to make your church better.

The twelve are the original disciples and Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26).

As the early church increased in size, so did their needs. One was to organize the distribution of food to the poor. Each person has a necessary part to play in the life of the church (1 Corinthians 12). If you are not in leadership, you have gifts that can be used by God in various areas of the church's mission. Offer these gifts in service to him.

This administrative task was not to be taken lightly. Notice the requirements for the men who were to handle the feeding program: (1) good, with reputations for being honest, (2) full of the Holy Spirit, and (3) wise. We must look for honest, spiritually mature, d wise men and women to lead our churches.

Pastors should never try, or be expected, to do everything. Instead, the work of the church should be spread out among its members.

Spiritual leadership is serious business and must not be taken lightly by the church or the leaders. In the early church, the chosen men were commissioned (set apart by prayer and laying on of hands) by the apostles.

1 Timothy 4:14 (Instructions for elders. Paul gives guidelines for teaching). Timothy was a young pastor. Timothy's commission as a church leader was confirmed by prophecy (1 Timothy 1:18) and by laying on of hands by the elders of the church.

1 Timothy 3:10-13 ... Deacons means "one who serves." This position was begun by the apostles in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1-6) to care for the physical needs of the congregation, especially the needs of the Greek-speaking widows. Deacons were leaders in the church and their qualifications resemble those of the elders (bishops) in some churches today. Paul says men are to be tested with lesser responsibilities before being made deacons.

Some have translated wives as "women helpers" or "deaconesses." Paul expects the behavior of prominent women in the church to be just as responsible and blameless as that of prominent men. Phebe, the deaconess was mentioned in Romans !6:1.

Jesus had told the apostles that they were to witness first in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). In a short time, their message had infiltrated the entire city and all levels of society.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV; Tyndale Publishers, Inc.,; Wheaton, IL

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday - Amos Call - Amos 7:10-17 -7/30/17

Amos was an herdman/shepherd and farmer before the Lord called him to be a prophet.

Amaziah was a chief priest that led the children of Israel into idolatry.

Amos was called by the Lord to do something that he was not trained to do. Once God calls you he qualifies you. Training is helpful, but the calling on your life from God is what keeps you going when others and everything is against you.

God protects his servants who will obey and work faithfully. The servant of God, must trust and obey, expecting God's next direction.

Amos' response to Amaziah was full of doom.

Amaziah thought Amos was a prophet for the money. Amaziah told Amos that he could earn a comfortable income in Judah. Amaziah told Amos to flee to Judah for his own safety.

Amaziah was not concerned about hearing God's message; he was only worried about his own position. Don't let anything come between you and obeying God.

Are you obeying God's word? Without any special preparation, education, or upbringing, Amos obeyed God's call to "go prophesy unto his people Israel."

Amaziah was the official priest of the royal sanctuary at Bethel.

Not only would the Israelities be taken into exile, but Amaziah's own wife would be a harlot and his sons and daughters would be destroyed.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha Expanded Edition RSV and The Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale Publishers INC., Wheaton, IL

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Talent the Bomb:Discover Yourself - Book Review

This book is about a vision that the author Pastor had about him. This books covers Talents, Parenting and Education.

There is a difference between a learned skill and a God-ordained Talent or Talents (gifts).

Your talents will make room for you.

A talent is your God-ordained gift or gifts.

The author pastor shared a vision that he had about him. The vision is below:

In the vision, he saw the author climbing a high mountain with other climbers; they were climbing to the top of the mountain. He was fully dressed like a mountain climber in the vision and he had a small can of water with him. He said in the course of climbing the strange high mountain, they occasionally got tired. So whenever any of the climbers got tired of climbing the mountain, he would stop to help the climber or himself with some water from his small can of water to quench their thirst and regain strength to continue their journey to the top of the mountain.

They continued like this with the author helping himself and his fellow climbers until they reached to the top of the mountain. They also helped the author in various ways for him to get to the top of the mountain unhurt.

His pastor told him that those on the mountain top immediately saw him with water, and came rushing to him. Some were running and others were crawling. Some were on their knees begging for water and others wanted the water by force.

The more they drank from this special can of water, the more the can was increased with water.

This dream made me think about three Scriptures from the Bible: How 5 loaves and 2 fishes was increased by Jesus and 5,000 was fed (Matthew 14:17-21). How Elijah the Tishbite miraculously supplies food to the widow woman of Zarephath and her son (1 Kings 17:10-16). Look at the Parable of the loaned money (Talents) the master divided the money (Talents) among his servants according to their abilities.

The author Pastor told him that the meaning of the vision was his struggles in life to get to the top of his destiny. The special can of water represented the author God given Talents and gifts. While climbing and struggling to get to the top, you need to help other people to get to the top of their own destiny, life and career with your talents and gifts. While they also do the same to help you get to where you are supposed to be in life.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Exodus 31:3 ... Craftsman given special skill. (And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship).

This is an ebook written by Alexander Busybrain.

He dedicated his book to his late Dad, which was his hero and Best Friend, the Late Mr. Vincent Njoku.

Alexander mentions in his book the love he had for his mother, dad, beautiful wife, other Pastors, and his siblings for their care, support, prayers and reviewing his book.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday - Ezekiel's Call - Ezekiel 3:1-11 - 7/23/17

Ezekiel was a priest by training, a prophet by God's call.

Ezekiel received vivid visions and delivered powerful messages.

Ezekiel served as God's messenger during Israel's captivity in Babylon.

God shaped Ezekiel character to fit his mission - a tough and stalwart man to reach a hard and stubborn people (Ezekiel 3:8).

In Ezekiel's vision, he ate God's message and found the spiritual food not only good for him, but also sweet as honey. If you "digest" God's Word, you will find that not only does it make you stronger in your faith, but its wisdom sweetens your life. You need to feed yourself spiritually just as you do physically. You must make digesting God's Word a regular part of your life.

God makes his followers strong enough to stand against anything or anyone, including those who hate what is right. Just as God gave Ezekiel tough love (a strong face) and tough faith (a hard forehead), he wants to give you stability, perseverance and insight you need to live up to the great task he has given you. Give yourself over to God's conditioning, and let him get your life in shape.

Ezekiel was to receive God's words in his heart before preaching them to others. God's message must sink deep into your heart and show in your actions before you can effectively help others understand and apply it.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV; Tyndale Publishers Inc.; Wheaton, IL

Friday, July 21, 2017

6 of 6 ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

This fourth soil of the heart is what every Christian should strive for in their walk with God for this is the fertile ground that bears fruit for our Lord.

The other three soils were not allowed to dominate the heart. The heart did not allow any of the five thorns to take root, spread and dominate its soil to the point where it choked and suffocated the Word of God. To get the fourth point where it chocked and suffocated the Word of God.

We must hear the Word of God, gladly receive it into our hearts, understand its message of truth, then hold fast to it in order to bring forth fruit reaping a harvest thirty, sixty, a hundred times of what has been sown.

We must also receive this word into our hearts to enter into this blessed fourth soil. The Greek word for "receive" means to accept deliberately, willingly, favorably and readily and to embrace with favor and delight.

We are God's tilled field according to 1 Corinthians 3:9.

Simply being a Christian does not guarantee that the soil of the heart is in this fourth category. We have a responsibility before God to guard the soil of our heart and, as James says, "get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness."

The Word of God must also be understood if we are to abide in this fourth category of soil. All spiritual growth comes by the way of understanding the Word of God. Without understanding the seed cannot grow and produce fruit.

The next requirement of this fourth soil of the heart is that we keep and hold fast the Word of God in an honest and good heart.

The soil of our hearts is most fertile when it is living love by helping, caring for, rescuing and comforting others.

Secondly, the Word of God must be kept in a heart that is a beautiful representation of Jesus Christ so people can see our good deeds and glorify our Heavenly Father.

The last requirement of the fourth soil of the fourth soil of the heart is that it brings forth fruit with patience. The Greek word for "patience" means steadfastness, perseverance, and to remain or abide under.

Look at the patience of the farmer. He does not plant his seed and then rushes to his window the next day expecting to see a full harvest.

God's desire is that we bear much fruit, and this is His faithful promise.

Our heart needs steadfast patience and endurance to finish the race God has called us to and fully accomplish the will of God in our lives. Without this patient and endurance our heart's soil will fall into the second or third category of soil in the parable of the sower and the seed.

No one exercised more patience when he lived upon the earth than Jesus Christ.

Only when we look to Jesus can we run the appointed race with patience, steadfast endurance and not grow weary, faint, or lose heart. How many lives have been wasted by a lack of patience!

When all of the requirements of the fourth soil are met, Jesus makes an astounding promise that we shall reap a harvest thirty, sixty to hundred times what was sown. This is a yield of three thousand, six thousand and ten thousand percent.

Is this the return that we are having in the church?

Sadly, very few Christians have ever reached this forth soil. The world with all its philosophies, mantras, formulas, and education can never manufacture, replicate or create the fruit of the spirit in the human heart.

Idols have more influence on the condition of the heart than any other thing in the world! Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis and the introduction of sin into the human race, the heart has become an idol factory countless idols to love, worship and obey.

Isaiah 24:5 states that the entire earth has been polluted by idolatry and a curse has devoured the world.

The Bible is the life manual and instruction book on the ways of God and its urgent warnings against idolatry should not be ignored.

All humanity has been seduced into the snare of idolatry. Idolatry is based upon deception.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter therein" (Matthew 7:13).

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

God never lies about about who He is and what He will do.

Perfect order, peace and joy are restored when the Almighty is exalted, praised and worshipped.

The Bible teaches that the heart is the battleground of idolatry.

The heart was never meant to be a place for idols. Idolatry turns the dwelling place of God into a pagan temple.

The heart becomes what it worship.

So what exactly is an idol? An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God.

What are you most devoted to?

Your eyes guide your heart as all idolatry begins with the gaze of the eye.

How could Aaron, that stood by Moses and witnessed firsthand some of the most amazing manifestations of the power of God, be so easily persuaded to fashion a false god for the children of Israel?

You can never serve two masters.

It is too dangerous to leave even one piece of any idol in the temple of our hearts. We should never utter the name of any other god, but Yahweh.

Every idol has a spirit from the kingdom of darkness behind it that drives a person to love and worship it.

Baal was believed to be the giver of life, and entire nations were devoted to Baal because they believed he was the one who would sustain their farms, flocks, and families.

The first usage of the word "believe" in the entire Bible concerns the faith of Abraham in the name of Yahweh (Genesis 15:6).

Do you have a heart for God or an idol?

Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him.

We will not be able to hold our ground as Christians and stand fast in the Lord, if we allow His mighty works, powerful words and glorious presence to fade from our conscious thinking.

The Spirit of God is always teaching, leading, comforting, encouraging, helping, enlightening, reminding and instructing our hearts so we live for Christ, and do not forget God or His precious words of life.

The old nature brings to the mind, the lusts of the flesh, and the seductive trappings of this world. The new nature exercises its influence to bring us to a place where God is supreme in all our thoughts, motives, and emotions.

Doesn't God deserve to be your first love?

Lord help me to never, ever forget you!

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate and bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, and classics. An attorney and author. President of Goodness of God's Ministries and lives in Indianapolis with his wife and son.