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Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

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.

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

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

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

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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Wheels of Wisdom - Life Lessons For The Restless Spirit: Book Review

Certainly, you don't want to begin in a trek across the open frontier, whether by bicycle or on foot, without the bare necessities: a compass, food, water, and protection from the elements. However, you may also want to consider packing wisdom, encouragement, perseverance, and hope. Wisdom will help you make good decisions, encouragement will sustain you, and perseverance will keep you moving forward. Hope seals the success of a journey across any frontier, because it convinces you that safe arrival at your destination is possible.

As Director of Rescue for TheHopeLine, the authors have the opportunity to serve and oversee others who serve many people who lack bare necessities and are struggling to move forward. Each year, TheHopeLine engages tens of thousands of people around the globe. In the authors role, they've learned three things about the need out there: First, people are struggling regardless of location, age, occupation, ethnicity, religion or income. Second, everyone needs help sometimes.

This book is neither a theological book nor an adventure journal, though it contains elements of both.

The authors come at life from a Christian perspective. We know that not all people are in the same place in their spiritual journey - or even believe such exist.

The authors "honeymoon on wheels" occurred in the summer of 2010 shortly after they were married. They were first-time newlyweds at age fifty-two. They shared this journey in their inaugural book, Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast, a memoir that describes how God brought them together and then the celebration that followed on their self-supported tour from Oregon to Maine.

In 2012, they cycled from Florida to Maine on their Mom-to-Mom Tour.

Then, in 2014, the authors embarked across America yet again when they cycled from Oregon to Pennsylvania. They dedicated that tour to raising awareness and funds for a cause that is dear to their hearts. Hence, the name TheHopeLine Tour of 2014 came to be.

They share in the book that speak to recognizing your purpose and calling. Discerning right from wrong is important, but it's not always easy.

All of us were created with unique qualities, and we were not cut out for just anything.

Truly wise is a person who thinks before he speaks and says something that sticks with you.

Not all of us are wired to bicycle seventy miles a day. Have you ever asked yourself, What was I made to do? We all have unique gifts and desires. Once you discover your special attributes and devote your time to utilizing them, you'll experience deep joy and fulfillment as you live out a facet of God's calling on your life.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. JEREMIAH 29:11

When you travel to parts unknown, you need a reliable map. And when you feel you're losing your way through life, it's time to consult the road map for life - and to follow what it says.

Francis Marion National Forest was the setting for a beautiful ride on the Mom-to-Mom Tour after we left Moncks Center.

When Debbie became a Christian and finally allowed God to guide her through life, His Holy Spirit kindled her heart and stimulated her mind as she read the Bible. She could ask and to shed light on challenging passages. Studying the Bible with others has also helped illuminate its meaning for Debbie.

Just like the bicycling maps, the Bible offers more than she realized at first. No wonder it is the best-selling book in the world. The Bible has become her daily dose of wisdom, hope, and encouragement.

The Bible contains instructions that can guide you wherever you go in life. Debbie shares she is going to follow His Word as best she can, one step at a time, so she will never get lost again. Won't you join following the Bible?

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

When you're off course, you need to take great pains to get back on course or else you will jeopardize the achievement of your ultimate goal. And, sometimes, shortcuts will only get you further off course.

Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. PROVERBS 4:25-26

When was the last time you took a shortcut and got off track in your personal life?

You've heard it said, "Haste makes waste." Well, it's true. Take the time to do things right the first time.

As Time and Debbie headed into town, he said to Debbie, "His rear tire doesn't feel right. It's squishy."

He wrestled with the heavy, bulky bicycle and then decided to remove the panniers,because he couldn't balance the bicycle and work on it. Debbie located the tools and handed them to him. A young man who had heard their commotion from an open window emerged from the house on the corner as he removed the rear tire.

"Do you need any tools or any help?" he offered. He was wearing a T-shirt with a logo for a Christian school, which he found reassuring, he'd volunteered for years helping a Christian school with their accounting,

When they arrived in town, they pulled up to a convenience store for a break. When he looked down at the newly repaired tire, it was flat ... again. Maybe the young man at their last stop would have performed the repair more proficiently than Tim had.

Sometimes we travel through life too fast.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. PSALM 103:10

Do you find yourself having to repeat chores because you hurried through them the first time?

What you value most will either advance you toward your goals or prevent you from attaining them. The wrong values and priorities can derail your trek.

We'd traveled the Hi-Line for four days on our honeymoon tour.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. MATTHEW 6:21

Unexpected developments can lead to discouragement.

Rather than losing hope, be encouraged. You can get moving at a healthy pace once again.

It's important to remember these two words found throughout the Holy Bible: "Fear Not."

Fear not, for I am with you: be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. ISAIAH 41:10

How can you continue to move ahead and work through your fear rather than allowing it to control you?

When we dwell on problems rather than seek encouragement and solutions, it's hard to move forward. Negative thinking will kill our efforts every time.

Debbie and Tim were both determined to move on, wiser and better prepared.

Sometimes, God sends us help when we're having trouble helping ourselves.

Debbie wondered what caused their Good Samaritans to pass their way precisely when they needed them the most. What caused them to stop?

It's confronting to know God sends the perfect helpers at just the right time. You needn't be afraid or worry when you trust in Him. Simply enjoy the ride!

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. LUKE 10:33

How did you describe it at the time: as a chance encounter or a divine appointment? How about now?

When you experience a miracle, it's time to let others know about it.

Debbie have been amazed by the healing power of God. When she asked God to take away her bulimia back in the early summer of 1986. God hears our cry for help and healing.

Sometimes, we are healed instantly, and sometimes, it takes time. Since she became a Christian, she have had to wait a long time for some prayers to be answered. Throughout her thirties and forties, she prayed for a husband. Tim and Debbie did not get married until they were both fifty-two.

One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see. JOHN 9:25B

When the riding gets rough, don't lose sight of the big picture. Difficult circumstances are usually temporary. You'll find relief on the other side and have a better appreciation for the blessings in life.

Encouragement feeds a soul in pursuit of worthy goals. You'll find it in most unexpected ways.

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. MATTHEW 28:20B

Think of three different forms of encouragement that you received in the last week.

After dinner, Debbie and Tim had joined about four hundred people of all ages already gathered in the large auditorium for worship, the program, and prayer. It was powerful. The praise band led them in worship.

Finally, a humbly prayer warrior prayed that God's extravagant would ignite a mass movement of faith in Jesus across the nation.

God makes a promise in 2 CHRONICLES 7:14 - "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Tim and Debbie Bishop have coauthored four books about their midlife launch into marriage, cross-country bicycle touring, and other matters of faith and inspiration.

The Bishops serve as volunteer for Hope Coaches for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Since TheHopeLine receives its support entirely from private sources, it is often in need of funding to sustain its important work.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday - Jeremiah's Call and Commission - Jeremiah 1:4-10 - 7/16/17

God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He knew you, thought about you, and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and has had a purpose in mind for you.

Each Christian has a purpose in life, but some are appointed by God for a specific kind of work. Samson, John the Baptist, and Paul were each called to do a particular job for God. If God gives you a specific task, accept it cheerful and do it with excellence. If God has not given you a specific assignment, then seek to fulfill the mission common to all believers - love, obey, and serve God - until such time as his guidance becomes more clear.

Often people struggle with new challenges because they lack self-confidence. They feel they have inadequate ability, training or experience. Jeremiah thought he was too young and inexperience to be God's spokesman to the world. But God promised to be with him. We must never allow feelings of inadequacy to keep us from obeying God's call. He will always be with us. If God gives you a job to do, he will provide all you need to do it.

God's message to Jeremiah was like his message to Moses: the God who made our mouths can provide the words he wants us to speak.

Jeremiah predicted that after the destruction of the nation, God would send a new Shepherd, the Messiah.

God still restores his people by renewing their hearts. We can have assurance of a new heart by loving God, trusting Christ to save us, and repenting of our sin.

Jeremiah served God faithfully for 40 years. During that time the people ignored, rejected, and persecuted him. He remained faithful to God.

People's acceptance or rejection of us is not the measure of our success. God's approval alone should be our standard for service. We must bring God's message to others when we are rejected.

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

Sunday - Isaiah in the Temple - Isaiah 6:1-8 - 7/9/17

Isaiah was considered the greatest Old Testament prophet. He had powerful messages of both judgment and hope.

God is purely and perfectly holy, and just, and loving.

In Jerusalem - Isaiah was a Scribe and Prophet.

King Uzziah died of leprosy for trying to take over the High Priest's duties. Although he was generally a good king and his reign was long and prosperous, many of his people turned away from God.

The lofty throne, the attending angels, and the threefold holy all stressed God holiness. We need to rediscover God holiness. We need the Bible's view of God as high and lifted us out of our problems and concerns.

Isaiah's vision was his call to be God's messenger to his people. Isaiah was given a difficult mission. He had to tell people who believed they were blessed by God that God was going to destroy them because of their disobedience.

The seraphims are an order of angelic beings created by God. Here they functioned as God's agents in commissioning Isaiah. Isaiah could understand them when they spoke to him and when they praised God. They were awe-inspiring and powerful creatures - their singing shook the Temple!

Listening to the praise of the angels, Isaiah realized he was common and unclean before God, with no hope of measuring up to God's standard of holiness. When his lips were touched with a burning coal, however, he was told his sins were forgiven. It wasn't the coal that cleansed him, but God. No matter how difficult his task would be, he said, "Here am I; send me." Before we accept God's call to speak for him to those around us, we must be cleansed as Isaiah was. Letting God purify us may be painful, but we must be purified so that we can truly represent God, who is pure and holy.

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sunday - Moses & the Burning Bush - Exodus 3:1-12 -7/2/17

The burning bush

Moses was an Egyptian prince. As a prince he had everything done for him; he was the famous son of an Egyptian princess. As a shepherd he had to do everything for himself. He was holding the very job he had been taught to despise (Genesis 43:32; 46:32-34). What a humbling experience this must had been for Moses. But God was preparing Moses for leadership. Living the life of a shepherd and nomad. Moses couldn't see this himself.

God spoke to Moses from an unexpected source: a burning bush. God often uses unexpected sources when working in our lives too, whether people, thoughts, or experiences. Be willing to investigate, and be open to God's surprises.

Moses saw a burning bush and spoke with God. When the slaves were freed from Egypt, God led them by a pillar of cloud and fire. God made such appearances to encourage his new nation, to guide them, and to prove the reliability of his verbal message.

At God's command, Moses removed his shoes and covered his face as well. God is our friend, but he is also our sovereign Lord. If necessary, adjust your attitude so it is suitable for approaching a holy God.

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday - Samson's Call - Judges 13:1-7, 24-25 - 6/25/17

The Philistines lived on the west side of Canaan, along the Mediterranean seacoast. From Samson's day until the time of David they were the major enemy force in the land & a constant threat to Israel. The Philistines were fierce warriors; they had the advantage over Israel in numbers, tactical expertise, & technology. They knew the secret of making weapons out of iron. But none of that mattered when God was fighting for Israel.

Once again the cycle of sin, judgment, & repentance began. The Israelites would not turn to God unless they had been stunned by suffering, oppression, & death. This suffered was not caused by God, but resulted from the fact that the people ignored God, their Judge & Ruler. The warnings in God's Word are clear; if we continue to harden our hearts against God, we can expect the same fate as Israel.

The angel of the Lord could have been a special divine messenger sent from God or a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus Christ. The reason for the angel's visit was to give Samson's parents the vital news that Samson would begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.

Samson was to be a Nazarite - a person who took a vow to be set apart for God's service. Samson's parents made the vow for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes temporary, but in Samson's case, it was for life. As a Nazarite, Samson could not cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol.

Although Samson often used poor judgment & sinned terribly, he accomplished much when he determined to be set apart for God. In this way he was like the nation Israel. As long as the Israelites remained set apart for God, the nation thrived. But they into terrible sin when they ignored God.

Manoah's wife was told that her son would begin to rescue the Israelites from Philistine oppression. It wasn't until David's day that the Philistine opposition was completely crushed. Samson's part in subduing the Philistines was just the beginning, but it was important nonetheless. It was the task God had given Samson to do. Be faithful in following God even if you don't see instant results, because you might be beginning an important job that others will finish.

Samson's tribe, Dan, continued to wander in their inherited land, which was yet unconquered. Samson must have grown up with his warlike tribe's yearnings for a permanent & settled territory. Thus his visits to the tribal army camp stirred his heart, & God's Spirit began preparing him for his role as judge & leader against the Philistines.

God uses a variety of means to develop & prepare us: hereditary traits, environmental influences, & personal experiences. As with Samson, this preparation often begins long before adulthood. Work at being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading & the tasks God has prepared for you. Your past may be more useful to you than you imagine.

Samson's Ventures: He grew up in Zorah & wanted to marry a Philistine girl from Timnah (Timnath). Tricked at his own wedding feast, he went to Ashkelon & killed some Philistine men & stole their coats to pay off a bet. Samson then let himself be captured & brought to Lehi where he snapped his ropes & killed 1,000 people.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

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

The Second Soil of the Heart: Rocks, Scorching & Withering.

Let's examine the second soil of the heart & what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop & become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. The second soil of the heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. The seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace & joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God & allowing it to grow & become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart.

Importance of a Strong Root System. For the seed of the Word of God to prosper & grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward! Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, & shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The truth in Psalm 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

The word "blessed" describes the condition of our heart should be in daily & it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word "blessed" conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being & righteous. Bad company will corrupt the heart & destroy its root system. Our delight, desire, & longing must be to know God & His Word as the great treasure of our heart.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet & chatter of the trival that relentlessly bombards our lives daily?

When we delight in the Word of God & mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God.

Jesus Christ is the true vine & we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, & let your lives be built on him.

Let's examine tribulation & persecution in more depth & see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart. The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, & crush. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil & the squeezing of grapes to produce juice.

The Lesson of Joseph. Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt.

The world specializes in thlipsis.

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis. Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, & unbearable pain. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin & crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure & overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure & emerge over every burden & weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis & the Birth of Extraordinary. God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ & the Word of God.

God uses the word "thlipsis" to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary & amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes & works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. How tragic that we never give birth to God's amazing plans & purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion & bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

God birthed an extraordinary calling & work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel & a man after God's own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ & the Word of God & endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots & persecution. His ministry turned the world upside down, & he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution. Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The Book of Revelation speaks of this. (Revelation 12:4b-5,7,9,12b,17)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God's plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha & Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, & the door to God's kingdom. He restored everything that Adam & Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden & conquered sin & death.

The Greek word for "hatred" in John & Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, & to abhor.

Surprising Source of Most Persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our inner circle: our churches, fellow-christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors, & community.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God & is an easy facade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests & scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The great religious men & their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends, & close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God & His Word.

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers & disciples cried out "Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!" This whole multitude rejoiced & praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave & had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved & the multitude declared "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!"

The Greek word for "seize" means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody & arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder & restrain, to prevail & rule over, & to take into one's possession.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness & soundness. It is an inward & outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, & a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, & satisfaction in life.

God is the source of all peace, & we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. Peace can not live in a heart of unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history & classics. He is president of Goodness of God's Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.





Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday - Gideon's Call - Judges 6:11-18 - 6/11/17

Gideon - A farmer - To deliver Israel from Midian

Midian, Midianites ... Person & clan name meaning "strife." Midian was the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:2). Abraham sent him & his brothers away to the east, leading to the association of the Midianites with the "children of the east" (Judges 6:3). When Moses fled from Pharoh, he went east to Midian (Exodus 2:15). Here he met Jethro, the priest of Midian, & married his daughter.

It is also possible that as a special messenger from God, the angel had authority to speak for God. God sent a special messenger to deliver an important message to Gideon.

Threshing was the process of separating the grains of wheat from the useless outer shell called chaff. This was normally done in a large area, often on a hill, when the wind could blow away the lighter chaff when the farmer tossed the beaten wheat into the air. If Gideon had done this, however, he would have been an easy target for the bands of raiders who were overrunning the land. Therefore, he was forced to thresh his wheat in a winepress, a pit that was probably hidden from view & that would not be suspected as a place to find a farmer's crop.

Gideon questioned God about the problems he & his nation faced & God's apparent lack of help. What he didn't acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey & neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability & blame our problems on God & others.

Gideon had heard about the great miracles God had done for his people, but he hadn't seen any. It had been almost 250 years since the ten plagues & the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14), & 200 years had passed since the last great miracle, the parting of the Jordan River (Joshua 3). But it was the people who had given up on God. They knew what God expected of them. They had his laws, but they chose not to obey them. God's blessings, as Moses & Joshua had foretold, came only when the people were obedient.

"Surely I will be with thee," God told Gideon, & God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. He failed to see how God could work through him.

Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Don't spend time making excuses. Instead spend it doing what God wants.

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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

When King Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought to the temple at its dedication, he had the Levites play cymbals, harps, lyres , & trumpets. Singers raised their voices to praise God with this magnificent musical accompaniment. The glory of the Lord filled the temple with a cloud after this musical display. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14).

When a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites, & Meunites came against Jerusalem, King Jehoshaphat & all of Judah stood before the Lord & prayed. When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem in victory, they went to the temple of the Lord with harps, lutes, & trumpets praising God in music & song. (2 Chronicles 20:21-22,28).

In 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 we read that King Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple & cleansed it from idolatry, one of the first he did was reestablish music & song there. He furnished the Levites with cymbals, harps, trumpets, & all the instruments of David.

After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah immediately established the singers in the temple.

The book of Nehemiah indicates in the time of David there were directors of music for the singers & songs of praise & thanks. Nehemiah realized how important music was in the service of God in the temple & for the worship of God among the people.

After Jesus instituted communion as a memorial of His death, Matthew 26:30 says, "When they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives." Mark 14:26 states that Jesus sang this hymn along with His disciples right before He prayed in Gethsemane shortly before He was crucified. This was probably not the first time that they had sung together, but this is the only time recorded in Scripture that our Lord sang.

This hymn is believed to be from the psalms called the "Great Hallel" or the "praise Psalms," which were Psalms 113-118 & 136.

A song can lift us into the presence of God & comfort our hearts even in life's darkest hours.

Paul & Silas was severely beaten for preaching the gospel & thrown into prison with their feet in stocks, but they sang praises to God in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation. God moved with a great earthquake that shook the entire foundation of the prison & they were set free.

Throughout time, great men in Church history have understood the profound effect of music on the heart & the importance of godly music in the life of a Christian.

Martin Luther, who is credited with igniting the flame of the Protestant Reformation, was a wonderful composer.

One of his greatest hymns, which was one of my favorite growing up, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Martin Luther had a legendary love for music. He often played after dinner with his family & guests & composed songs for his children. Music was not just a recreational tool for Luther - it was an integral part of his life & he found a source of strength & comfort in music.

Luther was well aware of the power of music & insisted that its proper use was "to the glorification of God & the edification to man."

During the Wesleyan Revival in the 18th Century, Charles Wesley wrote more than six thousand hymns, including some that became classics of the Church, like "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sink," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," & "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

Listening to music is not meant to replace a Christian's time in studying & mediating on the Bible, or prayer & intimate fellowship with the heavenly Father & our Lord Jesus.

Music either pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of the world. God is crying out to the Church & to every Christian believer, "Do not be ignorant or fooled by music & think your listening choices are harmless to your walk & relationship with me!"

Since the fall of Lucifier, music has been a major weapon in the battle for the heart.

Often our greatest songs of praise are borne in trials & temptations.

Many Christians today have lost the song in their hearts for God. When the heart is bitter & unforgiving, when the heart forgets God, when the heart becomes entangled with the things of this world, it loses its song.

In Exodus 15, the children of Israel sang the right song when they were delivered from the army of Egypt, but they sang it on the wrong side. They should have been singing this song even when they were in bondage in Egypt, not simply after a great miracle & deliverance from God.

Our God will never fail us. Our God will never leave us, or forsake us, & His strength is perfect in our weakness.

Yes, indeed - God is my Salvation. God - yes God! is my strength & song, best of all, my salvation!

Our song is never a song of anxiety, fear, or worry. He is our strength, our defender, our provider, & our deliverer. We should be raising the roof with our praise - song to God.

We cannot keep silent about the wonder of our God & His amazing works. God cries when the song of our hearts goes silent.

Don't lose your love song for God by turning away from Him when things get tough.

Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by His love, He will dance with shout of joy for you (NJB).

This song of God is a hymn of deliverance; victory, & Salvation. Psalm 32:7 says that God "surrounds us with songs of deliverance." God sings because He knows that He has made you in Christ & that He has given you a name & divine destiny.

But God, says, "No matter anyone says, you are my beloved, My treasure, My pearl more valueable than all the treasures of the earth."

God sings to us. We sing to God.

Nothing is more important to our life than the thoughts that occupy our minds on a daily basis. The critical question becomes "What are you thinking?"

Our hearts are built on the foundation of our thoughts. The heart is molded & shaped by our thoughts. Thoughts are the blueprint of the hear, & the heart becomes the image of its thought. We are what we think.

We can't ignore the importance of our thinking if we want to love God with all our heart.

Tozer encourages Christians to "form the habit of a holy thought life."

God commands us to love Him with all our mind (Luke 10:27).

Our thought life should prepare our hearts for the Lord so that He might live & reign from its throne room. King David, in his last admonishment to his son Solomon & the children of Israel, exhorts them to frame their thoughts carefully so God can prepare their hearts to love & serve Him above all else.

The heart is like a mirror, reflecting the image of its thoughts. God should be the only image that dominates our thinking.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, & classics. An attorney & author. He is the president of Goodness of God Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sunday - Deborah & Barak - Judges 4:1-10 - 6/4/17

The Bible records few women in national leadership positions, but Deborah was the best person for the job, & God chose her to lead Israel. God can choose anyone to lead his people, young or old, man or woman. Don't let your prejudices get in the way of those God may have chosen to lead you.

We don't know Barak's character, but we see the character of a great leader in Deborah, who took charge as God directed. Deborah told Barak that God would be with him in battle, but that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God's promise. A person of real faith steps out at God's command even if he or she must do so alone.

She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that, she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together & commanded the respect of even Barak, a military general. She was also a prophetess, whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. Those who lead must not forget about the spiritual condition of those being led. A true leader is concerned for persons, not just success.

Israel's sin was not only "in the sight of the Lord"; it was also against the Lord. Our sins harm both ourselves & others, But all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his commands & his authority over our lives. When confessing his sin David prayed, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned & done this evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51:4). Recognizing the seriousness of sin may be the first step toward removing it from our lives.

This is the only time during the period of the judges when the Israelites' enemies came from within their land. The Israelites had failed to drive out all the Canaanites, & they had regrouped & were attempting to restore their lost power. If the Israelites had obeyed God in the first place & driven the Canaanites from the land, this incident would not have happened.

Chariots were the tanks of the ancient world. Made of iron or wood, they were pulled by one or two horses & were the most feared & powerful weapons of the day. Some chariots even had razor sharp knives extending from the wheels designed to mutilate helpless foot soliders. The Canaanite army had 900 iron chariots. It was not within Israel's power to defeat such an invincible army. With such power Jabin & Sisera had no problem oppressing the people - until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God.

After 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally turned to God for help. But God should be the first place we turn when we are facing struggles or dilemmas. The Israelites did things their way & got into a mess. We often do the same thing. Trying to control our own lives without God's help often leads to struggle & confusion. By contrast, when we stay in daily contact with God, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves. This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to seek him first, giving him top priority in our lives.

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sunday - God's Pervasive Love - Jonah 4:1-11 - 5/28/17

Pervasive: Having power or tendency to persuade. To win to full belief. Plead or argue with.

Why did Jonah become angry when God spared Nineveh? The Jews did not want to share God's message with Gentile nations in Jonah's day. Jonah thought God should not freely give his salvation to a wicked heathen nation.

Jonah was angry that God had spared Nineveh. How much better it would have been if he had rejoiced that sinners had repented (Luke 15:10).

Jonah reveals the reason for his reluctance to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3). He didn't want the Ninevites forgiven, he wanted them destroyed. We must not forget that, in reality, we do not deserve to be forgiven by God.

Johan had run from the job of delivering God's message of destruction to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2,3); now he wanted to die because the destruction wouldn't happen. How quickly Jonah had forgotten God's mercy on him when he was in the fish (Jonah 2:9,10). He was happy when God saved him, but angry when Nineveh was saved. God's forgiveness was not only for Jonah or for Israel alone, & extends to all who repent & believe.

God ministered tenderly to Jonah just as he did to Nineveh & to Israel & just as he does to us. If we will obey God's Word he will gently lead us.

Jonah was angry at the death of the plant, but not over what could have happened to Nineveh. How easy it is to be more sensitive to our own interests than to the spiritual needs of people around us.

God feels compassion for the sinners we want judged. What is your attitude toward those who are especially wicked? Do you wish that they could experience God's mercy & forgiveness?

God spared the sailors when they pleaded for mercy. God saved the people of Nineveh when they responded to Jonah's preaching. God answers the prayers of those who call upon him. We can be saved if we heed God's warnings to us through his Word. If we respond in obedience, he will be gracious, & we will receive his mercy, not his judgment.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday - Fruit of Justification by Faith - Romans 5:1-5 - 4/18/17

Consequences of justification. 1:1-5: When we rely utterly upon God's grace and not at all upon ourselves, we have peace, reconciliation, or a state of harmony with God. Hope of ... the glory of God, though we had fallen short of the glorious destiny God intended for us, we now find ourselves confidently expecting it.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Expanded Edition, An Ecumenical Study Bible, RSV

Saturday, April 1, 2017

God as our Shepherd - Psalm/Tehillim 23 - April 2, 2017

An expression of confidence in God's protection (a song of trust). The LORD is compared to a shepherd. Soul means vitality, life. Path of righteousness, or "of rightness," that is, right paths which suits the context better. Shadow of death is the reading of the scribes, but "deep darkness" is the better rendering; where the same Hebrew expression occurs. The LORD is compared to a gracious host. Dwell in house of the LORD means to worship in the temple. For ever, Hebrew "for length of days," meaning as long as I live.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. At night, sheep were often gathered into a sheepfold to protect them from thieves, weather, or wild animals. The sheepfolds were caves, sheds, or open areas surrounded by walls made of stones or branches. The sheepfold often slept in the fold to protect the sheep. Just as a shepherd cares for his sheep, Jesus the Good Shepherd, cares for his flock (those who follow him). The prophet Ezekiel, in predicting the coming of the Messiah, called him a Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23).

The life that Jesus gives is abundantly richer & fuller. It is eternal, yet is begins immediately. Life in him is lived on a higher plain because of his overflowing forgiveness, love, & guidance.

A hired man tends the sheep for money, while the shepherd does it for love. The shepherd owns the sheep & is committed to them. Jesus is not merely doing a job, he is committed to love us & even lay down his life for us. False teachers & false prophets do not have this commitment.

The "other sheep" were non-Jews. Jesus came to save Gentiles as well as Jews. This is an insight into his worldwide mission-to die for the sins of the whole world.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Expanded Edition RSV & The Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday - God's Love Manifest - John 15:1-17 - 3/19/17

The grapevine is a profilic plant: a single vine bears many grapes. In the Old Testament grapes symbolized Israel's fruitfulness in doing God's work on the earth. In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolized, God's goodness to His people.


Christ is the vine, & God is the husbandman who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with followers are as good as dead & will be cut off & cast aside.


Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning (1) separating & (2) cutting back branches. Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth. God must sometimes discipline us to strength our character & faith. But branches that don't bear fruit are cut off at the trunk, because not only are they worthless, they often infect the rest of the tree.


Prayer, joy, & soul-winning are also fruit.


Abiding in Christ means (1) believing he is God's Son (2) receiving Him as Saviour (3) doing what God says (4) continuing in faith (5) & relating to the community of believers. Christ's body Jesus says to only live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from him our efforts are unfruitful.


When a vine bears "much fruit," God is glorified, for daily He sent the sunshine & rain to make the crops grow, & constantly be nurtured each tiny plant & prepared to blossomed. What a moment of glory for the Lord of the harvest when the harvest is brought into the barns, safe & ready for use! This farming picture shows how God is glorified when people come into a right relationship with him & begin to "bear much fruit" in their lives.


Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily keeps us levelheaded no matter how high or low our circumstances.


We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, & He loved us enough to give His life for us. Give all the love you can, & then try to give a little more.


Jesus made the first choice --- to love & to die for us; to offer us eternal life. We make the next choice --- to accept or reject His offer. Without His choice, we would have no choice.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale Publishing House, Inc., Wheaton, IL