Oh the Joy of His coming!

Scripture reading for January 18th: Mark 13, Psalm 13, Proverbs 13

Mark 13: 24-27 “”But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.””

Jesus’ last major teaching of His disciples was a warning of the coming time of great tribulation before Jesus’ second coming. Jesus told them that the tribulation would be time of great shaking of the earth and even the heavens. It would culminate with the return of “The Son of Man” in the clouds with power and great glory. The angels would gather all the elect, those trusting in Jesus Christ, from the ends of the earth and heaven! The righteous would be rewarded by their faith in Jesus and faithfulness to God’s Word. They had heeded the warning of Scripture and now will rejoice in salvation and their eternal reward. Everlasting singing and worship will mark the redeemed and they drink the fountain of Life!

Psalm 13:5-6 “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”

Prayer: Father God, You have dealt bountifully with me and I am thankful and rejoice in my promised salvation! I revere Your Word of warning for those still despising Your Word. Have mercy on them and send Your workers with Good News that they might not bring destruction on themselves or their families. I look forward with joy to Your return with the clouds of heaven and power and great glory!

Proverbs 13:13-14 “Whoever despises the Word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.”

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Delighting God through faith!

Scripture reading for January 17th: Mark 12, Psalm 12, Proverbs 12

Mark 12: 38-40 “And in His teaching He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Jesus taught His disciples to be discerning and watchful. In this world and even among religious folks, pride and love of position often is a trap of the devil to catch men. The Scribes wore religious clothing and symbols of their piety, but stole goods from the widows. They loved seats of honor, and prayed long prayers to show off. But their hearts were far from God and His commandments. God will arise and care for the poor and needy, widows, and orphans. God protects and defends them. He promises safety and deliverance to the righteous. They can count on having joy from their pure hearts and will delight God in their faithfulness. His Word is pure, tried and tested!

Psalm 12:5-6 “”Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”

Prayer: Father, thank You for reminding me that You care for the poor, needy, widows, and orphans. Your Word is pure and true for all generations. Help me to walk by faith. Forgive me for the times I have been like those scribes, prideful and self-righteous. Use my lips to declare Your pure Word, warning and calling those lost in this world and deceived in Your church to peace and faithfulness, Your delight and my joy!

Proverbs 12:20-22 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.”

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The power of Faith in God

Scripture reading for January 16th: Mark 11, Psalm 11, Proverbs 11

Mark 11: 21-25 “And Peter remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Jesus taught His disciples the power of prayer and the power of our mouth and tongue to bless or curse. He used His own cursing of the fig tree that had no fruit but only leaves to illustrate the power of faith and of our words. Like the disciples of old, we face many mountains and obstacles during our pilgrimage on earth. We often fail to ask God for help or to believe His Word and speak in faith to the mountains. Jesus used an illustration visible right there to these disciples in that Herod had literally moved a mountain over about 10 years with many slaves to build his palace. Jesus likely referred to this human feat and the Dead Sea glittering in the distance to impress a vital truth on the hearts of his disciples.

Proverbs11:11-12 “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

Prayer: Father God, I choose again today to ask for Your forgiveness for my lack of faith and sometimes my failure to forgive others and belittling them. Fill me with grace and faith in Your Word that I may ask You for strength to remove and move mountains of difficulty, bitterness, and unforgiveness. May they all be cast into the sea of Your grace! May my mouth bring blessings to my family or help me remain silent!

Psalm 11:7 “For the Lord is righteous; He loves the righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face!”

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Another reminder of our 2023 reading plan!

Dear friends and fellow pilgrims,

Our reading this year is through the New Testament in a chronological format. This format is taken from the Navigators 5x5x5 reading program found free on their site: navlink.org/newtestament. It is a free download. They encourage that this plan can be followed with five minutes a day, five days a week, and five ways to dig deeper. This is elaborated on their website and with the free download.

I have added a daily Psalm chapter and a daily Proverb chapter that will help us focus on worship and wisdom as well as walking with Jesus through the New Testament. I like the chronological plan, because it spreads the Gospels out over the year, beginning with Mark and ending with John right before Revelation. Please join me in reading! Let’s enjoy the journey, dig deep, and experience the joy of Jesus and worship Him more fully in loving obedience! Pastor John Morse

Don’t hinder the children!

Scripture reading for January 13th: Mark 10, Psalm 10, Proverbs 10

Mark 10: 13-16 “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”

All children are special in God’s sight. He loves them and longs to bless them, but people often hinder the children from coming to Jesus! These disciples were rebuking parents who were bringing their children to Jesus. Jesus got angry with them! He insisted on the children being allowed to come to Him. When they did, He used them again as an illustration of how their simple faith and trust was what the kingdom of heaven was all about. They loved Jesus and found joy in His blessing. In fact, Jesus loves the fatherless and abused children and those who are oppressed and held back by mistreatment! He promises to stand up for them and bring justice! But His greatest desire was and is to bless abundantly!

Psalm 10:17-18 O Lord, You hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your heart towards the children, particularly the fatherless, the abused, the oppressed and the abandoned. I love how You long for them to come to You. Help me to bring them to You in prayer and to see Your blessing extended to them causing joy and hope to arise and giving joy to Your heart. Forgive me for neglecting the children or hindering them. Let all barriers be removed!

Proverbs 10:28-29 “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.”

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Greatness through serving!

Scripture reading for January 12th: Mark 9, Psalm 9, Proverbs 9

Mark 9: 33-37 “And they came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another abut who was the greatest. And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in My Name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him Who sent Me.”

Jesus was the Wisdom of God in human flesh. His disciples had been arguing about who of them was the greatest of disciples. Jesus asked them what they had been discussing so energetically, not that He did not know! They kept silent at His question but He answered it for them with a short statement: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” He then picked up a child, considered among the least of that culture. He encouraged them to receive a child in His Name. That act was equivalent of receiving Jesus Himself, and not only that, receiving His Father Who sent Him! That is true greatness–serving the least in Jesus’ Name and for the Father’s glory.

Proverbs 9:9-10 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to instruct Your disciples in true greatness. I am seeking to follow Jesus’ teaching and example by applying this wisdom to my life and modeling it for those in my family and in the church. Guide me today into more wisdom and knowledge of how to properly serve each person that I meet or have relationships with. I trust You and seek You today in this time of trouble.

Psalm 9:9-10 “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know Your Name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

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Wisdom: “take up his cross and follow Me!”

Scripture reading for January 11th: Mark 8, Psalm 8, Proverbs 8

Mark 8: 34-38 “And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father will the holy angels.””

Jesus called out to the crowds and directly again to His disciples. His call was to take up their cross and follow Him. What a strange thing to ask of your followers! Carrying the instrument of their own cruel death and following Jesus would not normally be attractive. Jesus explained that loving our life here on earth would cause us to lose our relationship with Him. We would not find the way of the cross that leads to real life. Jesus explained that to lose our lives in following Him was to gain life! We must not be ashamed of Him, His death on a cross for us, or His resurrection to become our Savior! We confess our confidence by faith and take up our cross and follow Him to eternal life and victory over death!

Psalm 8:1 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens.”

Prayer: Father God, I confess my utter dependence on You and Your way of salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ, my Lord, or of His Gospel of repentance and salvation through His sacrifice on the cross. Fill me with fresh boldness to declare the Gospel message in simplicity and in power, with conviction through the Holy Spirit, opening eyes and drawing the lost to salvation.

Proverbs 8:10-11 “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”

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Our heart is where defilement dwells

Scripture reading for January 10th: Mark 7, Psalm 7, Proverbs 7

Mark 7: 18-23 “And He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not into his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and they defile a person.””

In Jesus’ day, there were many rules about what you could eat and drink and what would make a person ‘unclean.’ The religious folks loved to make a big deal about these rules about food. But Jesus wanted His disciples to recognize the true source of defilement. It was not the food they ate or abstained from eating, but what was in the heart of man. All evil and wickedness comes from a heart that is defiled by rebellion against God and His Word. Jesus declared all food clean if eaten with thanks to God and prayer of blessing. But the heart of man can only be delivered from wickedness by confession (repentance) and faith in Jesus’ sacrifice of His body and blood. These are the true food and drink of the redeemed!

Psalm 7:12-13 “If a man does not repent, God will whet His sword; He has bent and readied His bow; He has prepared for him His deadly weapons, making His arrows fiery shafts.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for bringing conviction to my heart of the evil within me, so that I might be drawn by Your goodness and mercy to repentance. Cleanse my heart each day as I read Your Word, remove any sin or evil that would bring dishonor to Your Name and bring Your wrath upon me and those I might influence. Help me to share Your great mercy through the Gospel to those yet unrepentant.

Proverbs 7:24-28 “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your hear turn aside to her (the prostitute) ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.”

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Touching the Garment of Jesus!

Scripture reading for January 9th: Mark 6, Psalm 6, Proverbs 6

Mark 6: 53-56 “When they had crossed over, they came to the land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized Him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored Him that they might touch His garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”

The word about Jesus spread like wildfire among the people in the land of Gennesaret. Jesus had just fed the five thousand by dividing the five loaves and two fish from a boy’s lunch. He had sent the disciples in a boat ahead of Him while He spent time in prayer. He had walked over the water, gotten in the disciples’ boat, and now they were met by crowds of people bringing their sick on beds. They had evidently heard about the woman who touched Jesus’ garment and was healed. They found Jesus in the marketplaces. They begged to touch His garment as well! Each one who touched was healed! Faith is simple, contagious and brings the joy of results!

Psalm 6:2-3 “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled, but You, O Lord–how long?”

Prayer: Lord God, sometimes, when we are stuck on a bed of sickness, even our bones feel troubled! Forgive us, like the psalmist of old, for crying out in our impatience! Thank You Lord for Your promises of healing from Jesus that reflect Your Father-heart. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and gifts of healing that I might touch people in Your Name in life’s meeting places and marketplaces. Amen! Hallelujah!

Proverbs 6:20-22 “My son, keep your father’s commandment and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”

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Bible Trek 2023 reading plan reminder!

Dear friends and fellow pilgrims,

Our reading this year is through the New Testament in a chronological format. This format is taken from the Navigators 5x5x5 reading program found free on their site: navlink.org/newtestament. It is a free download. They encourage that this plan can be followed with five minutes a day, five days a week, and five ways to dig deeper. This is elaborated on their website and with the free download.

I have added a daily Psalm chapter and a daily Proverb chapter that will help us focus on worship and wisdom as well as walking with Jesus through the New Testament. I like the chronological plan, because it spreads the Gospels out over the year, beginning with Mark and ending with John right before Revelation. Please join me in reading! Let’s enjoy the journey, dig deep, and experience the joy of Jesus and worship Him more fully in loving obedience! Pastor John Morse