Monday, July 22, 2013

The Deceit of Man and the Favor of God

Genesis 37:1-39:23              June 21, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

Even though Joseph was favored by his father Jacob and he was disfavored by his brothers – he came to know the favor of God’s presence in the midst of his struggles and sufferings with the deceit of fallen, human sin. Sin, and the deceitfulness of sin, is a given for all of us. That being said, suffering is then inevitable. It is our fallen, human condition. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus entered our suffering and died for our suffering on a cross, so our souls might be healed with God, when we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God - Viewing Earth from Saturn

July 19, 2013 image from the Cassini spacecraft provided NASA shows the planet Earth, annotated by NASA with a white arrow, lower right, below Saturn's rings. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.   Psalm 19:1

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

God's Faithfulness to Sinners

Genesis 34:1-36:43              July 14, 2013           Link for audio/video/document

God’s a faithful God to sinners. God’s faithfulness extends to us even in spite of our sin. God loves us – just because. He’s a faithful God who’s given a way to life – the only way to life – through his Son’s work on the cross. Even in our sin, God’s faithful in sending us a Savior and choosing us to be members of his Church – his universal church.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Blessed are the Peacemakers in "Holding the Line" for Jesus

This year: An Idaho Air Force base removes a painting called “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” because it references a Bible verse. The Air Force yanks off You-Tube a video tribute to first sergeants because its statement, “God created a first sergeant,” is “highly suggestive of the Book of Genesis in the Bible and has Christian overtones.”

Also this year: An Army Reserve training brief on hate groups declares that evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics are extremists as dangerous as al-Qaeda. A commander tells a chaplain to “stay in your lane” when he offers spiritual advice about the military’s exploding sexual assault problem. 

Last year: A superior tells an Air Force major to remove from his desk the Bible he had kept there for 23 years. An Army lieutenant colonel instructs his subordinates to recognize the “religious right in America” as a domestic hate group like the KKK and Neo-Nazis. An Army master sergeant with 25 years of service faces punishment for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party.

Two years ago: Christian prayers banned at veteran funeral services in Houston’s National Cemetery. Bibles temporarily banned at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A Christian cross banned from a military chapel in Afghanistan. A chaplain called into his supervisor’s office and chewed out for closing a prayer with the words “In Jesus’ name.”

Coincidence that all these incidents occurred recently? About 80 military chaplains who gathered in South Carolina for a three-day conference last month didn’t think so. George Washington established the military chaplaincy, but Doug Lee, a retired Army chaplain who achieved the rank of brigadier general, told attendees, “You are in the military in a new era.”

From “Holding the Line” World Magazine, July 13, 2013 - Click here to read the entire article

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:9-12

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Wound of Grace and the Limp of Faith

Genesis 32:1-33:20                 July 7, 2013             Link for audio/video/document

 We are just like Jacob. Our sinful nature will not die easily. We are also like Jacob in that our greatest struggles in life are with ourselves and with God. We tend to wrestle out our struggles with ourselves and God in wrestling matches with one another whenever our expectations are not being met. By God’s grace He wounds us so that we will always have a limp in our walk of faith with God to remind us who is our weakness and who is our strength. Our only hope is to desperately cling to God - and to humbly confess our sin of our self-sufficiency and the reality our great need for Him.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seven Ways to Pray for Your Heart - Jon Bloom

Over the years, as I’ve prayed for my own heart, I’ve accumulated seven “D’s” that I have found helpful. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as well.
With seven you can use them a number of ways. You might choose one “D” per day. Or you could choose one “D” as a theme for a week and pray through these every seven weeks. You’ll also note that I have a verse for each prayer. But over time as you pray more verses will come to mind and you might find it helpful to collect them so they are right at hand as the Spirit leads.
I begin each prayer with the phrase “whatever it takes, Lord” because the Bible teaches us to be bold and wholehearted in our praying, not reticent. I also use the phrase because it tests my heart. How much do I want God and all he promises to be for me in Jesus? Do I really want true joy enough to ask for my Father’s loving discipline to wean me from joy-stealing sin? And how much do I trust him? Do I really believe that he will only give me what is good when I ask in faith (Luke 11:11–13)? “Whatever it takes” prayers help me press toward and express childlike trust in the Father.
Delight: Whatever it takes, Lord, give me delight in you as the greatest treasure of my heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
Desires: Whatever it takes, Lord, align the desires of my heart with yours.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9–10)
Dependence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my awareness of my dependence on you in everything so that I will live continually by faith.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Discernment: Whatever it takes, Lord, teach me to discern good from evil through the rigorous exercise of constant practice.
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
Desperation: Whatever it takes, Lord, keep me desperate for you because I tend to wander when I stop feeling my need for you.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)
Discipline: Whatever it takes, Lord, discipline me for my good that I may share your holiness and bear the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
“He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:10–11)
Diligence: Whatever it takes, Lord, increase my resolve to do your will with all diligence.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16)
These are just suggestions. The Lord may lead you to pray in other ways. But however he teaches us, whatever means we find helpful, may God cause us all to grow in faith until we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and never lose heart (Luke 18:1).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Grace of God and the Hard Way Home

Genesis 28:1-31:55                   June 30, 2013                 Link for audio/video/document

More often than not we fight to gain what God wants to give us in the first place. Though God’s power and resources and approval had been Jacob’s from the beginning – he still fought and scratched and lied and deceived to achieve what was already his, by the grace of God. Jacob faced the music, and he turned back to God. We begin the process of becoming that God intends us to be when we stop trusting ourselves and our efforts, and begin trusting and obeying God. Jesus is the grace of God that leads us to the glory of the hard way home!