Category: Romans

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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Sunday rest and reflection

March 3, 2023

Greetings!  Hopefully, you are spending part of this day with God’s family in a place of worship!  God redeemed us from slavery to sin to lead a life of worship!  We are to worship personally and corporately.  We come together to meet with God and His family and prepare ourselves for a week of ministry and witness. We come together to hear the Word of God preached and taught by those with gifts of teaching and preaching.  We use our gifts to encourage other believers and pray. The gifts in the body help us to become equipped to do the work God has for each person and the church family.  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Moses is one of my favorite Old Testament characters.  He was strong and vigorous at 120 years of age.  Evidently the manna and water diet kept him healthy and strong!  Moses was greatly concerned for the next generation.  He wanted them to be blessed and and take by faith all that the Lord had promised as their inheritance.  He clearly understood how their sinful human nature was a danger to them.  He shared that nature and because of his own anger and dishonoring of God would not be able to go into the promised land himself.  Deuteronomy is the record of his last messages preached to this next generation before he died.

God chose the preaching of His Word to be the vehicle of teaching and inspiring this next generation. (1st Corinthians 1:21)  Faith comes by hearing God’s Word!  (Romans 10:17)  Faith also works by love and God calls them to love Him and love each other! (Galatians 5:6) Love is not a feeling, but a commitment to act for the highest good of another.  God’s promises show His love and our faith and obedience show our love in return!  God’s love hasn’t changed!  He is still using preaching to reach people and inspire faith in them. (Romans 10:14-15)  He still desires faith and obedience as a show of our love for Him.   (1st John 5:2-4)  When we walk in faith and obedience and love Him, His face shines on us! (Number 6:22-27)   Have a great day of rest and reflection! In His Love, Pastor John

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Easiest choice ever offered?

Scripture Reading for February 28: Deuteronomy 27-30

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord Your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.  For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

This verse has always baffled me.  God so clearly spelled out His desire for His people’s blessing and life.  He had redeemed them and shown them His love by the signs and wonders and continuous provisions.  Their clothes and shoes had not worn out.  They ate the manna each day for forty years and had meat too.  They drank the water from the rock. (Deuteronomy 29:2-6)  Their enemies had been defeated and God had cared for them. (Deuteronomy 29:7-8)  Moses asked them to make a choice.  Do they want “life and blessing”?  Or would they prefer “death and curses”?  He even gave them the answer: “Choose life!”

But we often think that God’s way is too narrow and too restrictive.  It’s too difficult to try! Moses told the people it wasn’t too hard for them (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) and the Apostle Paul quoted him in Romans:10:6-12.  It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we can be saved from the curses of the Law and the penalty of death.  It is our confession of faith in Jesus Christ’s work for us on the cross that saves us. 

“But what does it say? “The word is near you: it is in your mouth and in your heart”, that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

Have you made excuses for not making the choice of ‘life and blessing’ in Jesus? What is hindering you today from applying your faith to make a choice for life? Jesus is the only ‘Way’ and ‘Life!’ (John 14:6)

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Are your children ‘impressed?’

Scripture Reading for February 23: Deuteronomy 5-7

“Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your foreheads.  Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

This passage is known by faithful Jews as the “Shema”, which means “listen”. The Shema is quoted twice daily by devout Jews around the world reminding them of the importance of a relationship with the One true God.  This passage was quoted by Jesus in part when he was asked which was the greatest commandment.  He answered with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.”  (Matthew 22:37-38)  This ancient word from a sermon of Moses around 1500 years before Christ was foundational in the devotional life of God’s people and has great application for believers today.

Hearing is important!  God wants us to have ears to hear His voice!  Remember that the nation of Israel did not want to hear God’s voice speaking His commandments.  They had asked Moses to hear for them so they would not die.  Moses was repeating what God had told him.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God! (Romans 10:17)  God sends His people out to speak His Word to bring faith and obedience and the resulting blessing.

There is no other God but God!  He is the creator of heaven and earth.  He is holy and complete in Himself.  He desires the love of His children and loves them infinitely, desiring the best for them.  His love is expressed in his Word and commandments.  When we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will actively respond to His Word in a life of daily obedience.  (John 15:9-11) If we love Him, we will pass them on to the next generation.   His joy will be in us and our life will be full!

How would you evaluate your hearing of God’s Word? How do you show your love for God and seek to impress it on the next generation? Take time this week to listen to God’s Word and take action towards one of your offspring, if you have them.

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Our God provides everything!

Scripture reading for February 20: Numbers 34-36

The God we serve knows everything!  God told Moses about the boundaries of the land He was giving them and how to divide it when they took possession of it.  (Numbers 34:2) They had yet to own any of it.  They were to cast lots for their portion in the land.  “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)

As the Israelites entered the land and took possession of it, God had Moses appoint a leader from each tribe to oversee the assignment of the inheritance.  The only name that stands out in this list is Caleb.  He and Joshua were the only ones left from the generation twenty years old and older who had not perished in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. These two are examples of  the veracity of God’s promises.  “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19) God alone knows the end from the beginning and He speaks to His people to build their faith, inspiring them to possess their inheritance.

In these last chapters of Numbers, we find provision for cities of refuge.  God knew that His people would need mercy.  Emotions get out of control and things happen.  Revenge instincts are strong and sometimes violence  that causes death erupts.  The cities of refuge were scattered throughout the land and provided a place where someone who had killed another could flee from the avenger of blood.  (Numbers 35:6)  These cities were Levite cities.  The Levites had no inheritance but were given cities and pastureland throughout the promised land to use and to minister to the people.  Six of these forty eight towns were cities of refuge. They were to mediate the serious situations when someone came for refuge.

Our God does know everything and has good plans for us.  He wants us to know those plans and walk by faith and claim our inheritance!  He has provided a refuge for any who sin through Jesus Christ!  Take time today to ponder some of these promises and by faith possess those that you need today!  Our God is on your side!

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

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Ancient snake-bite remedy!

Scripture Reading for February 16: Numbers 21-25

As they were guided by God through the desert wilderness, the Israelites were doing what they did best–grumbling!  As they grumbled against Moses and God, God sent poisonous snakes which bit the complainers and caused death.   (Numbers 21:5) The Israelites asked Moses to pray for them and confessed their sin. (Numbers 21:7)  God answered Moses as he prayed with some strange instructions. He was to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole in the camp.  Anyone who was bitten by the poisonous serpent could look at the bronze snake on the pole and he would be healed! (Numbers 21:8-9)

What can we learn from this ancient story?  One lesson is that sin causes death!  God has repeated this over and over but His people seem to forget!  Another lesson is that grumbling against leadership isn’t pleasing to God.  When we do, we are actually grumbling against God.  A third lesson is that when sin’s consequences come, we run to our leaders for help and prayer–and God does answer.  We then must have faith to do what God asks in order to be saved or healed!  True faith is obedience to God’s revealed truth.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus referred to this story.  The snake that was lifted on the pole is a picture of Jesus Christ crucified.  He was made sin, Who knew no sin, that we might be healed from the serpent’s poisonous bite.  If we will look with faith to Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we will be saved and healed!  God loves His people and wants to save them from the poison of sin’s bite and the consequence of sin–eternal death! (John 3:14-18)  If we refuse the remedy provided by God, then we will die!  This ancient snake-bite remedy turns out to be the only remedy for all mankind!

Have you been obedient to God’s Word in dealing with sin in your own life? Was there a time in your life when you asked another believer or Christian leader to pray for you?  Thank God today for providing His “snake-bite” remedy through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Being intentional with unintentional sins

Scripture Reading for February 2rd: Leviticus 4-7

Leviticus 4:27-29 “”If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.””

What is the difference between an “intentional” sin and an “unintentional” sin?  Does ignorance excuse us?  How does God look at the person who doesn’t know anything about God’s law?  Is there really such a person who is totally ignorant of God’s basic laws?  If after we “ignorantly” sin, someone informs us that what we “ignorantly” did was a sin in God’s eyes and reads us God’s view from the Bible, are we thereafter guilty of an “intentional” sin?   Is there any sacrifice for a willfully defiant sin?  These questions come to my mind as I read these chapters of Leviticus. (See Leviticus 4:1, 13, 22, 27.)

God has made his basic laws known to all men through the conscience.  Each person has a conscience and it must be trained to know and recognize sin. (Romans 2:12-16)  Each person will be judged by God according to the light he has.  The conscience can be seared by repeated sin.  We are to keep a “clear” conscience by walking in love towards others. (1st Peter 3:16)  Deacons must hold the deep truths of the faith with a “clear” or “pure” conscience. (1st Timothy 3:9)  The conscience is the elementary voice of God that acts like a stoplight, letting us know when to stop and when to go and when to be cautious! All have sinned and sin must be confessed and turned away from to be covered by Christ’s sacrifice.

“If we confess our sins, , He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9) 

Our priest, Jesus Christ, has already made the blood sacrifice for us.  He offered his own blood as atonement for our sins and bore them on the Cross!  We can “intentionally” be made clean from our “unintentional sins”!  Praise the Lord!  What amazing love! 

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The wonderful laughter of faith!

January 9th Scripture Reading:  Genesis 21-24

In 1992 while attending a pastor’s conference in California, a man gifted in prophetic ministry gave my wife and I a word from the Lord.  He told us we would have children in our later years and that they would be a blessing.  Several months later at our home church, a visiting evangelist picked us out of 700 people and gave us the same word.  At this time, we already had three children and had no plans for more.  We chuckled a bit, but mostly wondered at these interesting words.  Seven years later, in August of 1999, we traveled to Russia and adopted two daughters!  As we prepared to do this, we had forgotten the prophecy.  Our son reminded us and I found in my file one of these words that had been typed out for me, confirming God does know the end from the beginning!  (Isaiah 42:9)

God promised a son to Abraham and Sarah in their later years.  They waited 25 years and the promise finally came to pass.  God waited until it was impossible for them to have a child and then did the impossible!  Sarah had laughed at the angel’s announcement a year earlier.  Abraham named the child “Isaac” which literally means “laughter”.  In their old age they experienced the sound of laughter–the laughter of faith. 

Have you ever had to laugh at the amazing fulfilment of God’s promises? Have you ever received a word from God that has come to pass? Or is still awaiting fulfilment?

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:18-21

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Wise to what is good!

Scripture reading for June 6th: Romans 16, Psalm 112, Proverbs 19

Romans 16:17-20 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise for what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Paul closes his letter to the Roman believers by personally sending greetings by name to over thirty workers there, plus their families! His last appeal is for watchfulness over the brothers for those causing doctrinal divisions. These people are not serving Christ Jesus, but their own appetites. They try to seduce those who are young and immature. Paul encourages them in their obedience. His pastoral desire is that they stand firm, opposing evil and standing strong for good. He encourages them that God’s power will soon crush Satan and his evil schemes through the grace flowing from Jesus Christ! He rejoices in this prospect and their obedience!

Psalm 112:1-2 “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed!”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for being a God of peace that gives His people victory and discernment. Thank You for Your amazing Word and instruction and the peace that is ours through Your promises. I claim that my offspring will be mighty in the land and that those following me in faith will be blessed by You and protected and used for Your glory!

Proverbs 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.”

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Endurance, encouragement and hope!

Scripture reading for June 5th: Romans 15, Psalm 111, Proverbs 18

Romans 15: 4-7, 15 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through the endurance and through the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Jesus Christ, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. . . . .May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Our God knows exactly what we need and even before we were born, He has written it down for our instruction. His purpose is to encourage us because He is for us, not against us! He has a glorious future planned for us so He wants us to hold fast to Him and His awesome and glorious Name. He wants us to dwell together with our brothers and sisters in harmony, and with one voice to bring Him and our Father glory! We are called to be encouragers and show hospitality by welcoming others into God’s forever family! This brings God eternal joy and fulfills His desire to share His eternal covenant of love, mercy and peace with all people! Praise His awesome and holy Name!

Psalm 111: 9-10 “He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and awesome is His Name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

Prayer: Father God, Your Son Jesus Christ is my strong tower of encouragement and hope in a world that is sometimes very dark and foreboding. Thank You for the eternal covenant of life and peace which brings me hope and joy each day as I anticipate Your coming. Help me to live in harmony with others of like-precious faith and to welcome them into Your forever household. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today!

Proverbs 18:10 “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

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