Category: Gospels

Glory in the Temple!

Scripture Reading for April 3: 1st Kings 5-8

Solomon had heard God’s decree that he would build the house where God’s Name would reside among His people.  He had a vision and at God’s invitation had asked Him for wisdom.  He knew of the desire of his father David and willingly offered himself to the Lord to build this “House”.  (1st Kings 5:5)

In building the temple, Solomon employed many people.  Some came from lands outside Israel.  Solomon made covenants with many nations and the nations were drawn to Israel during this time of peace. The temple was made of stone, cedar and pine wood, and precious metals.  Craftsmen worked off site on the stones so that the temple could be assembled without saws, chisels or hammers used on the site.  (1st Kings 6:7)  The temple took seven years to construct with thousands of workers meticulously adding every piece and detail in precise order and design. (1st Kings 6:38) 

When the temple was completed, the priests carried the Ark into the Holy of Holies and then withdrew.  None could stand as the Presence of God in the cloud of Glory filled the temple. (1st Kings 8:6-11)  Solomon declared a blessing and thanked God for His faithfulness! Solomon then knelt down, raised his hands toward heaven, and prayed a magnificent prayer of dedication!  In this prayer are eight petitions of God to “hear from heaven” when His people call upon Him for help.  The central focus was forgiveness!  All of man’s troubles are caused by sin, either against God or man made in God’s image.  The consequences of sin bring famine, disease, plague, war, and death.  As God’s people cry out, God’s glory is that He will hear and forgive and act to bring healing and restoration!

Solomon also prayed for the foreigner and those drawn to the temple from other lands and peoples.  Solomon asked God to hear their prayer as well so all peoples of the earth might know His Great Name and fear the Lord!  (1st Kings 8:41-43, 60)  This prayer reminds us of Jesus sending his followers into all the world to make disciples of all nations! His house would be a house of prayer for all nations!  (Mark 11:17)  Examine your heart today as the temple of God. Would your house be a house of prayer for all?

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Sunday rest and reflection–Resurrection

Matthew 28:1-7 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus Who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Mary and I wish each of you a blessed Resurrection day, as we celebrate the most powerful event in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave! “He is risen” was the message of the angel to the first women visiting the tomb to anoint His body. That cry brings us to worship our King, Son of David, Son of God, Who alone defeated the “giant” of sin and death and the grave. He is alive and shows Himself to all who will humbly seek Him.

The Son of God came to dwell among us and reveal the heart of His Father–love for us through His earthly ministry and compassion for our fallen nature. This love caused the Father to give His Son, Jesus Christ, the mission of taking the sins of all people and paying the penalty for our sins through sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus, Alone, did for us what we could not do for ourselves. It is not our good works, our family, our knowledge or position, our church membership, or even our confession of faith that saves us. We are saved by His finished work of paying for our sins on the cross and by His grace extended to us through His intercession and drawing us to repentance and faith.

May God’s amazing grace fill your life today with obedience, faithfulness, and worship with His family as we all gather to declare “He is risen indeed!” Amen! Pastor John and Mary

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Extravagant grace

Scripture reading for March 27: 2nd Samuel 8-10

2 Samuel 9:6-7 “And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul you father, and you shall eat at my table always.”

David was a warrior and strong man of God.  He was always ready to fight the Lord’s battles and sought the Lord for most of his battles.  He had been involved in a struggle for leadership of the nation following the death of Saul and Jonathan, his friend.  God had brought David victory over Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth.  Now David was king, and one of the first acts of his rulership was to seek out any relatives of Saul or Jonathan that he might show kindness to based on his covenant promise to Jonathan. (2nd Samuel 9:1)

One son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, was still around and he was crippled in both feet from a fall.  David sent for Mephibosheth and greeted him warmly.  He restored all his grandfather’s land and property and placed Ziba, his servant, in charge to work the ground for him.  He gave Mephibosheth a seat at the king’s table like one of David’s own sons! (2nd Samuel 9:7)   This covenant kindness from King David towards a rival was unprecedented.

King David’s actions are much like that of our gracious God!  God honors those who are in covenant relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  When we are crippled because of sin, He takes us into His house and seats us as one of His own sons.  He restores our property to us and lavishes us with blessing and restoration.  (2nd Corinthians 5:17) We have this amazing kindness and mercy that we can never repay!

Is there someone that you can show kindness towards today? How has God’s covenant mercy affected you ability to forgive those who have wronged you? Can you show mercy for Jesus’ sake?

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Friends that bless

Scripture reading for March 21: 1st Samuel 20-23

1 Samuel 18:1 “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 23:16 “And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.”

When I was in school, I had a best friend named Kendal and we were in the same class from kindergarten until our junior year of high school.  We tried to sit together and be together.   We camped out during the summer and loved to hunt birds and fish.  We often shared our hearts with each other.  Kendal was drafted into the Army and went to Vietnam.  I had gone to college and had enlisted in the Iowa National Guard.  Kendal gave his life serving our country.  I had the privilege of being a pall-bearer at his funeral!  Best friends are hard to find, and even harder to loose!

David and Jonathan were best friends.  The Scripture records their love for each other and how their hearts were knit together.  (1st Samuel 18:1-4) Jonathan was Saul’s son and the probable heir to the throne of Israel.  David was a shepherd and musician who God had selected to be the next king of Israel.  God placed David in Saul’s court to prepare him for his kingship.  Jonathan recognized the favor of the Lord on David and was drawn to him in a covenant love.  They became best friends and shared their hearts with each other.  They made a covenant to help each other and even their extended families.

King Saul became jealous of David’s reputation and was afraid of David’s anointing.  He was insecure and tormented by an “evil spirit from the Lord” because he was in rebellion.  (1st Samuel 17:14, 23)  David played his harp and the evil spirit would leave for a time.  The evil spirit would return and sometimes turn murderous towards David.  Saul tried to kill him on several occasions and David was forced to flee.  Jonathan always tried to patch things up or help his friend. 

Finally, David realized that King Saul was going to kill him.  Jonathan tried one more time to patch things up, but was himself attacked with a spear by his own father!  Jonathan sent David away with tears and reaffirmation of their friendship. (1st Samuel 20:41-42)  When he could, Jonathan would slip away and meet with David.  He always encouraged him in the Lord!  (1st Samuel 23:15-18)

We have a Friend in our Lord Jesus Christ!  He is faithful and true to us, even when the going gets rough!  He provides encouragement and shares his armaments with us!  We can call on Him at any time and he will come.  He will warn us of danger and help us to either face it or escape.  He is a friend by covenant and promises to help our descendants as well!  Praise the Lord–He has called us friends!  (John 15:15-17)

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God sees our heart!

Scripture reading for March 20: 1st Samuel 16-19

Our culture prizes youth, beauty, intelligence, power, and money!  We tend to judge people by what we see or know about their life.  Where do they live?  What kind of car do they drive?  Are they handsome or beautiful?  What position do they hold?  Who are their friends?  We are very driven by our senses and peer pressure.  But God sees things differently!

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance, or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1st Samuel 16:7)

God is looking for a heart after God, a heart that will trust God and live by faith in His Word! (2nd Chronicles 16:9)  When we put God first, and not our “self”, He is pleased!   He is looking for a “humble and contrite” heart. (Isaiah 66:2)  He needs a heart that can be taught, corrected, and shaped for His habitation.  Jesus taught that only those who are pure in heart can see God.  (Matthew 5:8

Jesus Christ had the perfect heart!  He was fully sold out to God, his Father.  He did only what he saw His Father do and said only what He heard His father say!(John 5:19-20)  Jesus was humble of heart–and wants to teach us the same!  (Matthew 11:28-32)  Jesus was pure of heart–completely without sin!  He offered His own life on our behalf!  If we confess our sins to Him, He will cleanse us of our sins and all unrighteousness!  (1st John 1:9)  We can have a pure heart too!  We can learn from Him by receiving the Holy Spirit of Truth. 

Praise the Lord, God still looks at the heart!  Does He see Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart today?  How would you evaluate the state of your heart for being humble and teachable?

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”  (John 3:35-36)

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Sunday rest and reflection

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 21:25

Reading through the book of Judges, I am impressed with how much it describes our contemporary culture and the world view of secular humanism.  When people have no king or supreme authority in their lives, they become the authority themselves.  This was the original lie of the serpent: “You can be as God.” The result is catastrophic!  Society becomes full of sin, immorality, and rebellion.  Our enemies enslave us and blind us with lies. God, our Father, longs to intervene. Passionate prayer is required!

In the time of Judges, the ministry of the priesthood was also corrupt.  Ministers were often hirelings.  (John 10:11-13)  Many have positions and go through the motions, but do not really care for the people.  They tickle ears and tell their people what they want to hear.  (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)  Some love money and use God’s people to line their own pockets.  We must be discerning of the same idolatry and religious scams in our world today!

God’s remedy for the people caught in religion has always been the same.  He listens for His people to cry out to Him in prayer!  When they do, He begins to act.  (Psalm 50:14-15)  He raises up a person who will walk with Him by faith and preach the Word of God.   When these people preach the uncompromising Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, then healing, restoration, and deliverance takes place.  (see Judges 4:1-11 for an example)  How God longs to be our King and lead us into the abundant life!  Call out to Him in passionate prayer. Allow Him to touch your heart today!  God bless you and your family!  Pastor John

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The ‘Kinsman-redeemer’

Scripture reading for March 14: Ruth 1-4

“Who are you?” he asked.  “I am your servant Ruth,” she said.  “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9)

The story of Ruth is set in the time of Judges between 40-100 years before the time of David (1000 BC).  This simple story unfolds as a famine forces an Israelite family to leave Israel for Moab.  Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, move to Moab.   While there, Naomi’s husband dies. Both sons marry Moabite girls and then they die as well.  Naomi is left bitter and ready to return to her land and people. Naomi tells her Moabite daughters-in-law to go on back to their own people.  She is too old to have more sons for them to marry.  Orpah goes back, but  Ruth committed to follow Naomi and Naomi’s God until death!  What conviction and faith are exhibited by this descendant of Lot!

Ruth, a poor widow with only Naomi, an older widow, returns to Israel.  The law in Israel left the corners of the fields and the grain that was dropped for the orphan and widow. (Deuteronomy 24:19)  She would trust God for her provision.  God’s divine providence placed Ruth in the field of Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s.  Boaz was also a descendant of Rahab, the harlot that hid the spies!  God’s favor guides these widows to find a place in God’s family again!

Boaz heard about Ruth’s humble service and showered her with favor and generosity. (Ruth 2:11-12) Naomi gave her instructions on how to approach Boaz and appeal to him for marriage covering as their “kinsman redeemer!” Boaz responded to Ruth’s humble appeal, purchased the field, and took her as his wife!  Both Boaz and Ruth are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ as grandparents of King David! (Matthew 1:5-6)

Jesus Christ is our “kinsman-redeemer”.  He is a “close relative” who has bought us back from slavery to a family of God.  Ruth is a type of Gentile bride for Jesus Christ.  Through this beautiful story, we get a glimpse into the heart of God!  Have you humbly appealed to Jesus to spread His covering over you?

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Taking a courageous stand!

Scripture reading for March 7: Joshua 22-24

Its been said that “if you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for anything.”  I am not ashamed to tell people publicly that I love Jesus Christ!  I have repeatedly told our children that our family serves the Lord and we are known as followers of Christ.  I don’t want the Lord to be ashamed of me because I have been ashamed of Him! (Luke 9:26)

Joshua was giving his farewell address to the people God had allowed him the privilege of leading into their inheritance.  He had lived a hundred and ten years and understood their propensity for stubbornness.   As he was ready to die, he made a strong declaration of faith to provoke them to serve the Lord.  Life and death are in the power of our tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) 

The closing chapter records the famous confession of Joshua:”. . .but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)  This confession has stood over the years as a beacon to fathers, pastors, and those who fear the Lord.  Joshua’s confession brought a positive statement from the Israelites as well!  (Joshua 24:16-18)  Despite their positive response, Joshua stated:  “You are not able to serve the Lord.  He is a holy God; He is a jealous God.  He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.  If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, He will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end to you, after He has been good to you.” (Joshua 24:19-20)

God knew His people well. He gave Moses a song and God’s prophetic word that told of Israel’s future unfaithfulness.  (Deuteronomy 32:15-22)  God had warned these leaders so that they could do what they could to preach and prepare the people to avoid the temptations of idolatry and unfaithfulness.  Joshua also knew God’s holiness and his jealous nature!  (Exodus 34:14)  God would not put up with these sins.  .  Prophesy was God’s way of helping His people and showing them love and care!

Have you made a bold confession of faith in Jesus Christ and received God’s promise of salvation? As a believer, have you been baptized in water to declare your faith? Today is the time to act on God’s Word! 

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Declare God’s faithfulness!

Scripture reading for March 6: Joshua 18-21

“So the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there.  The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their forefathers.  Not one of their enemies withstood them, the Lord handed all their enemies over to them.  Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:43-45)

Our family has been through a number of trials during our journey here on earth.  When we farmed, we experienced a severe drought in 1974 and harvested very little.   But God brought us through!  We had a fire in 1975 that destroyed a large hog building and a large number of animals.  It was the only building not listed on the insurance policy, but God brought us through again!  In 1976 a tornado struck our farm.  destroying barns, cattle sheds, machine sheds and trees on both sides of our house.  We all survived and God took us through!  In 1981 a severe economic crisis hit agriculture.  Many farmers lost their farms and we were deeply in debt.  God showed us a plan and brought us through again!  In 2001, we were 2 miles from the center of a 6.9 earthquake that shook our house, church and city in Olympia, Washington.  God brought us through again!  I could go on, but the point is that God is faithful!

Joshua was dividing the land because the war to possess the land of Canaan was essentially over. (Joshua 18:2)  Joshua followed God’s instructions for seven years.  Not one enemy could stand up against them when they were obedient!  Not one promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ever failed!

Are you currently walking with Jesus through the land of His promises? Have you listened to His plan for giving you victory? What’s stopping you from declaring His promises true in your life and situation?  

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as He has promised.  Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through his servant Moses.” 1st Kings 8:56

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God stopped the earth for Joshua!

Scripture reading for March 4th: Joshua 9-12

Sometimes the days aren’t long enough to get done everything that we would like to.  Joshua had just such a day when he responded to the call to help the Gibeonites. Joshua prayed to the Lord and asked God to cause the sun to stand still while the nation of Israel attacked it’s enemies.  God listened and a great miracle helped bring victory!

The Gibeonites had earlier deceived the Israelites in order to save their own lives.  Joshua made a covenant with them and then found out that they had lied to him. (Joshua 9:22-23)  As a result, this Canaanite tribe became servants to Joshua and Israel.  A lack of prayer and discernment caused this problem.  A short time later, five Amorite kings had formed an alliance and were attacking Gibeon.  God spoke to Joshua and told him to go and attack and He would give him the victory.  (Joshua 10:7-8)  Joshua and his troops marched all night long and the fight was on.  God helped the Israelites out with a heavy downpour of hailstones, killing more of the enemy than did the Israelites!  The fight was going well, but daylight would soon be gone.  Joshua prayed to the Lord.  God listened to this man and the sun literally stood still in the sky for nearly a day! (Joshua 10:12-14)

This miracle is amazing because of what happened to bring it about.  For the sun to stand still in the sky, the earth had to quit rotating 24,000 miles per hour!  The moon would stand still too!  It is orbiting the earth!  Only God could make this happen!  The hail storm that killed the enemy but did not affect the Israelites is also a miracle! (Joshua 10:11)

Joshua brought the five kings out of the cave they were hiding in and had his men put their feet on the kings’ necks. (Joshua 10:24-25)  They got a visual picture of victory and what God wants us to do to our enemy Satan!  (Romans 16:20)  God alone got the glory for these victories!

What do we learn from this ancient record of Joshua’s exploits?  With God, nothing is impossible!  (Luke 1:37)   Do you have a request that sounds too difficult for the Lord today?  Why not take time to humbly ask God for directions to victory?

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