Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life…

Come to Jesus…

Jesus gives mankind the deal of a lifetime, when He says…

“Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN OF ME; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat 11:28-30).

David admonishes us in Psalm 100::3,

“Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us (we did not make ourselves), and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.”

Then Isaiah goes on to say, in Isaiah 55:1-7

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—

The sure mercies of David.

Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,

A leader and commander for the people.

Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,

And nations who do not know you shall run to you,

Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;

For He has glorified you.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found,

Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him; And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

Not too many folks will tell you, “I’m an atheist.” At least not with their words; but their lifestyles and the way they conduct their lives say otherwise.

I know a lot of people (and you do, too) who are living their lives as if there were no God.

They do not take God into consideration at all, with regard to what plans and destiny He might have for their lives.

In fact when you stop to consider it, that attitude is the very nature of what sin is all about.

Sin is anything that contradicts, or goes crosswise or against God’s original plan and purpose.

This attitude, which is common to all mankind, is the very nature which we all have inherited from our father Adam; and it is the reason why we ALL must be born-again, through the propitious work and shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross, in order to have our sins forgiven and be reconciled back into God’s family.

It’s also the reason why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, because otherwise He would have carried that same sin nature as we do, that has been passed down to us through the blood of Adam.

The fact is most people leave God out of all their lives completely, their reckonings, their speech, their plans and their deeds.

They completely disregard God’s commands and precepts found in the Bible, and instead relying on their own wisdom, and are thereby refusing to hope in the goodness of God the Father.

This attitude is prevalent and can be seen all around us today, in our present day society; and this is the reason why Jesus (in Mat 7:13) tells us to,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

In the Jewish culture this is what characterizes the “evil” and “wicked” people (as mentioned in the Bible); they are all those who are not actively pursuing GOD, who are not abiding by, nor following His Word, and are not seeking the Rhema mysteries that can only be found in His Word.

The character of the Wicked Person(s) In the Bible…

WICKED: (Heb. rasha) is the unrighteous who are evil, being guilty of willfully and purposely violating the standards of God.

In the Old Testament it refers to the one who refuses to acknowledge or obey God.

In the book of Proverbs explicitly, it refers to the foolish one who ignores or refuses to follow the divine teachings of God.

It is a state or condition of evil that focuses on the violating of God’s laws or standards. – Prov. 3:33; 18:3.

The Characteristics of Evil Men in the Bible…

2 Timothy 3:1-17
Separate from the ungodly

3:1 But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come.

3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful,
arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3:3 without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers,
without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good,

3:4 traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;

3:5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof.

Turn away from these, also.

3:6 For of these are those who creep into houses, and take captive gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,

3:7 always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

3:8 Even as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so do these also oppose the truth;
men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith.

3:9 But they will proceed no further.
For their folly will be evident to all men, as theirs also came to be.

Identify with the godly

3:10 But you did follow
my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, steadfastness,

3:11 persecutions, and sufferings: those things that happened to me at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. I endured those persecutions. Out of them all the Lord delivered me.

3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

3:13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

3:14 But you remain in the things which you have learned and have been assured of,
knowing from whom you have learned them.

3:15 From infancy, you have known the sacred writings
which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

3:16 Every writing inspired by God (literally, God-breathed) is profitable

for teaching,
for reproof,
for correction, and
for instruction which is in righteousness,

3:17 that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The way you live your life speaks louder than words, and so don’t let your life deny your belief in God; and also don’t be foolish enough to think that you can ignore or reject the gospel and Jesus Christ, and that you will somehow get into heaven on your good works.

Jesus said, I AM the WAY, the truth and the life and NO ONE can come unto God except through Me. (John 14:6)

And to Nicodemus Jesus said (in John 3:3-21),

3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?

Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You MUST BE BORN AGAIN.’

8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?

11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

16 FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Yes it’s true, Jesus is the ONLY WAY to heaven...

Such an exclusive statement may confuse, surprise, or even offend, but it is true nonetheless.

The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ.

He is not a way, as in one of many; He is THE ONLY way, as in the one and only.

No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.

We MUST be born-again!

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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The necessity of our learning to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our mind…

It’s all about our learning to Surrender…

Romans chapter 12 starts out by answering the question: How should those who have been justified by grace respond in their everyday lives?

In Paul’s epistles we hear him talking about a broad range of subjects: our duties towards God, other believers, toward the community, toward our enemies, toward the government, and toward our weaker brothers.

However what Paul teaches in the first two verses of Romans chapter 12 is key to how God expects each one of us to walk out our faith in our everyday life.

(12:1-2) Sacrificing oneself to God is accomplished by applying a RENEWED MIND (a repentant mind) to the pursuit and achieving of the will of God.

12:1. This verse is one of the most important in all the Bible, and contains more key theological terms and truths for its size than perhaps any other verse of Scripture.

Having completed his explanation of sin, salvation, sanctification, and sovereignty, Paul now does to the Roman believers, in a manner of speaking, what the Holy Spirit does in our lives—he urges the Rome believers to act on the truth they have received.

I urge you is the translation of parakaleo (to urge, call, exhort, encourage), from which is derived the noun parakletos, or paraclete.

This is the term Jesus used to refer to the promised Holy Spirit who would come to the disciples after His ascension into heaven (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7).

Paraclete is translated as “Helper” in the NASB and NKJV, “Comforter” in the KJV, and “Counselor” in the NIV.

As is widely understood, the paraclete’s ministry is pictured from the formation of the word para (along, beside, together) and kaleo (to call).

Therefore, the paraclete is one called alongside to do that which the verb, parakaleo, suggests— exhort, urge, comfort, counsel.

It is striking how closely Paul fulfills the ministry of the Holy Spirit predicted by Jesus:

“But the Holy Spirit. . . will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Paul has certainly taught the Roman Christians “all things,” and is now about to remind them of the consequences and application of what he has taught them.

Paul is going to urge them to act on the truth they have received, letting that truth be the foundation of their Christian practice.

The key action verb in Paul’s urging is to offer. But before getting to that key action step, Paul justifies his exhortation.

He does not simply command them to offer themselves; he appeals to their reason (logikos).

In view of God’s mercy, Paul says, it is only reasonable that you offer yourselves to God.

The only thing that saves a human race lost in sin is the mercy of God.

In view of God’s mercy, Paul urges his readers (and us) to offer [their] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.

What would be a reasonable (logikos) response to the cancellation of judgment?

Offering oneself in gratitude for the grace that has been shown would not be unreasonable.

It is not by accident that in Greek one and the same noun (charis) does duty for both ‘grace’ and ‘gratitude.’” .

The reason that offering oneself to God is both reasonable and spiritual is based partly on the meaning of logikos and partly on Paul’s context.

Logikos derives from logos, the Greek term for word or reason.

But Paul is also drawing a contrast here between the physical sacrifices of the Old Testament and the spiritual sacrifice of the New Testament.

The spiritual act of worship which Paul is encouraging is one that springs from the inner man, the realm of the mind (see v. 2).

It is therefore a reasonable as well as spiritual form of worship.

Worship has always been accompanied by sacrifice, but the form of sacrifice has changed under the new covenant:

In the Old Testament, there were sacrifices for sin as well as sacrifices of gratitude and praise.

Christ has obviously fulfilled the sacrifice for sin once for all (Heb. 9:26; 10:10,12,14), and there is nothing that the believer can add to that sacrifice.

But living sacrifices of gratitude and praise are the appropriate (reasonable, spiritual) sacrifices to be made by those who live only by the mercy of God.

These sacrifices are as much the act of worship of the believer today as the sacrifices of dead animals were the act of worship of Old Testament Israelites.

Latreia is the word Paul used for the worship practices of Israel in Romans 9:4, so he obviously has the same concept in mind for New Testament believers.

The root of worship is latreuo, to serve.

God was served in the Old Testament by sacrifices of property owned by the believer, but He is served in the New Testament by the sacrifice of the believer himself or herself.

Paul does not tell believers to “make” a sacrifice, but to “be” a sacrifice.

The sacrifice we are to offer is our bodies, which recalls Paul’s earlier words in Romans 6:13:

“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin. . . but rather offer yourselves to God… as instruments of righteousness.”

God’s mercy resulted in our being bought out of the slave market of sin and adopted into the household of righteousness.

Therefore, our bodies are to become living sacrifices as we worship the One who redeemed us by His mercy.

It takes many times of hearing this truth for the contemporary believer to get it right.

God is not asking the believer to dedicate his gifts, abilities, money, time, ideas, creativity, or any such thing.

He is asking the believer to sacrifice himself or herself.

Oswald Chambers says,

“We have the idea that we can dedicate our gifts to God.

However, you cannot dedicate what is not yours.

There is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself.

If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you— and His experiments always succeed.

The one true mark of a saint of God is the inner creativity that flows from being totally surrendered to Jesus Christ”
(My Utmost, June 13).

On a continual, daily basis, our attitude should be that of Theodore of Heraclea, a Christian martyr from Pontus who died around A.D. 306:

“I know not your gods. Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, is my God. Beat, tear or burn me, and if my words offend you, cut out my tongue; every part of my body is ready when God calls for it as a sacrifice” (Ward, p. 26).

God, through the apostle Paul, is calling for the body of every believer to be offered daily as a sacrifice in worship)—and if necessary, in death. 12:2a.

The person who has truly sacrificed himself or herself to God will be distinguished by one overriding characteristic that informs the rest of life.

That characteristic is the unwillingness to be conformed to the pattern of this world.

Or, as J. B. Phillips put it in his widely-known translation of this verse, “Don’t let the world. . . squeeze you into its mold.”

Paul gives the offensive key to this defensive posture— but first a closer look at that which the believer is committed to avoiding.

The NIV rendering of aion by world is not quite as telling as its primary translation, “age.”

The NIV’s pattern is not in the Greek text. It is an expansion of the verb suschematizo, to conform to.

Literally, the verse says: “Do not be conformed to this age.”

“Age” carries with it a sense of the beliefs, the philosophies, the methodologies, and the strategies of the fallen world in which we live.

It is not just the world and its people in their fallen state.

It is the worldviews and practices that derive from the fallen state that define the age in which humans live at any time in history.


As we immerse ourselves in the Spirit, through our study of scripture and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to rewrite the corrupt programming we all have received from the world.

We then develop a spiritual sensitivity and perception—as we learn to look at life on the basis of God’s view of reality.

Paul emphasizes the need to develop understanding of God’s ways.

Christians are called to a responsible freedom of choice and action based on the inner renewing work of the Holy Spirit.

Once we offer ourselves to God, our relationship to the world is altered.

Paul urges us not to be conformed to this age, meaning the world system that leaves God out, but to be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.

Notice that both commands are passive.

We aren’t conforming or transforming our minds.

Someone else is.

When God has all of us, and when the world has none of us, God does the work of renewing our confused minds.

He brings our thoughts in line with His own so that we think God’s thoughts after Him (see 1 Cor 2:16).

God has a goal in renewing our minds.

This renewal allows Him to merge His thoughts with our thoughts so that He can bring His plans into our lives.

He calls it the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives—one that finds us when we are fully surrendered.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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God will make a way even when there doesn’t seem to be one…

God is always working behind the scenes, in hidden and mysterious ways we know not…

Psalm 143
The Message

1-2 Listen to this prayer of mine, God;
pay attention to what I’m asking.

Answer me—you’re famous for your answers!

Do what’s right for me.

But don’t, please don’t, haul me into court;
not a person alive would be acquitted there.

3-6 The enemy hunted me down;
he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.

He put me in a black hole,
buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.

I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,
my heart heavy, like lead.

I remembered the old days,
went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,

Stretched out my hands to you,
as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain.

7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!
I’m nearly at the end of my rope.

Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!

That would be certain death.

If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.

Point out the road I must travel;
I’m all ears, all eyes before you.

Save me from my enemies, God—
you’re my only hope!

Teach me how to live to please you,
because you’re my God.

Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.

11-12 Keep up your reputation, God—give me life!

In your justice, get me out of this trouble!

In your great love, vanquish my enemies;
make a clean sweep of those who harass me.

And why? Because I’m your servant.

It is amazing how many different subjects and moods can be touched in a Psalm of twelve verses.


Like the preceding psalm, this one describes a person who is facing overwhelming troubles and feels he has reached his limit (vv. 3-4, 7; cf. 104:29).

All he has left is a prayer that God will restore his hope and rescue him from his desperate situation (vv. 10-11).

This psalm of David was most likely written when he was running for his life from jealous King Saul.

Although the psalm writer is experiencing isolation and loneliness without any human support, companionship or sympathy, he still realizes that the Lord is his refuge, friend and helper.

When we are suffering or in trouble, rather than remaining silent and depressed, we should cry out to God.

He has promised to be our comforter and helper in time of need (see Jn 14:16-26; 2Co 1:4-5).

In our minds, the way God weaves remarkable events in and through our lives may seem illogical and beyond our understanding.

However, we walk by faith, not by sight. Christians know that God’s thoughts are above our thoughts and God’s ways are higher than ours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

God’s ways are not only higher than ours, but they are also better than ours.

The big struggle we have is whether or not we will embrace them.

There is a blessing and a hope that comes from embracing God’s ways.

The good news is that the blessing comes even when you don’t understand what God is doing.

God will always make a way, even when there doesn’t seem to be one.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Friday, July 29, 2022
Worthy Brief


“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; In You I take shelter.”
— Psalm 143:8-9

During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific Island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades. Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves.

Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed. As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one..”

Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave. “Ha,” he thought. “What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.

Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. “Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man. “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”

God’s resources to protect you are vast. When you pray for protection, believe that He hears you and is able to manage it with great skill, and even perhaps a stroke of humor.

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,

George, Baht Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah
Knoxville, Tennessee

The wisdom of putting God first: Thy will be done, not mine…

The Danger of Living Without God…

“First and foremost, I give all the glory to God. He is the rock on which I stand, and I would publicly like to ask Him to forgive me for my sins, of which there are many.”

— Danny Wuerffel (upon accepting the 1996 Heisman Trophy)

People who live without God face five dangers:

1. It stifles the prayer life.

2. It makes them a friend of the world and an enemy of God.

3. They neglect God’s will in their lives.

4. It produces insult and slander of fellow believers.

5. It produces people who plan their lives without seeking God.

Read James 4

God wants His people to live with a conscious commitment to follow His divine will.

People who make their own desires the chief goal of their lives need not expect answers to prayer.

4:1. Two rhetorical questions try to locate the source of struggles and fights among Christians.

Such fights and quarrels come from desires that battle within you.

The fights and quarrels involved conflicts among Christians.

The plural form of both words indicates the conflicts were chronic rather than a one time incident.

The disputes could have taken the form of arguments and controversies between teachers and factions in the churches.

It could also have involved struggles about worldly affairs such as personal influence and financial gain.

The Greek word translated “desires” is related etymologically to the English word, hedonism, the philosophy that the chief purpose of living is to satisfy self.

Jesus used the same word to describe people “choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and… do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

Their “pleasures” described any personal goal such as money, reputation, or success, which contributes to personal accomplishment rather than God’s will.

These sinful desires lay within each Christian.

Even believers find in themselves an alien army which seeks self rather than God.

These desires express our pre-Christian nature still seeking to control our lives (see Rom. 7:14-25).

Christians will never be freed from the evil influence of these subtle desires, but by God’s grace we can escape their domination.

4:2. Verse 2 is difficult to interpret because punctuation was not an original part of Scripture.

“You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

We must use our best interpretive skills to decide how to punctuate this verse.

Compare the punctuation in NIV and NASB.

The NIV lists three sentences before it concludes that You do not have, because you do not ask God.

“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

Like the NKJV, the NASB uses two sentences before it makes the same conclusion.

“You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”

The NASB suggests that murder is the result of desiring something and not getting it.

It points out that fighting and quarreling are the results of having envy and being unable to obtain what you want.

“Lust” is frequently used in the New Testament in a bad sense to describe the act of coveting something belonging to someone else (see Matt. 5:28).

“Envious” in this context refers to a quest for position, rank, or fame—an evil expression of personal ambition.

What type of “killing” did James have in mind?

James was probably not thinking of physical murder.

The Roman government would have executed murderers as criminals.

Jesus linked an attitude of hatred and contempt with murder (Matt. 5:21-22).

Hatred and jealousy produced by greed and worldliness are potential acts of murder because they can lead to actual murder.

The inner attitude is wrong just as is the outward act of murder.

Thus, James was not likely accusing his Christian readers of actual murder, but was showing them that their fights and disagreements were as offensive to God as killing.

At the conclusion of verse 2 James outlined the startling truth that his readers lacked what they sought because they failed to ask God.

They hankered after satisfaction, but they looked in the wrong places.

They did not ask God as Jesus had taught (Matt. 7:7).

They allowed their lives to be governed by pleasure, selfishness, and greed.

“There is, to be sure, no prayer that we all need to pray so much as the prayer that we may love what God commands and desire what He promises” (R. V G. Tasker).

James mentions the most common problems in prayer: not asking, asking for the wrong things, and asking for the wrong reasons.

Do you talk to God at all?

When you do, what do you talk about?

Do you ask only to satisfy your desires?

Do you seek God’s approval for what you already plan to do?

Your prayers will become powerful when you allow God to change your desires so that they perfectly correspond to His will for you (1 John 3:21-22).

4:3-4 There is nothing wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives us good gifts that He wants us to enjoy (1:17; also see Ephesians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:4-5).

But having friendship with the world often involves seeking pleasure at others’ expense or at the expense of obeying God.

Pleasure that keeps us from pleasing God is sinful; pleasure from God’s rich bounty is good.

4:3-4 Why does James say that it is impossible to be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time?

These two paths lead in opposite directions and to very different destinations.

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

[NOTE: Mammon (Greek: mammōnasis –
mammon, treasure, riches, where it is personified and opposed to God); it is the things of this world that can divert our attention and love from God to the pleasures and comforts of earthly desires.

Although mammon can provide fleeting happiness, ultimately it is a deadly distraction from the salvation of our souls.]

God, the one who was the both Author and Creator of our life, gives us Free Will in how we spend our life – either on Him or on self.

The Bible teaches that friendship with the world leads to quarrels and fights (4:1-3), materialism (1 John 2:15-17), self-centered living (James 4:3), and death (Proverbs 14:12), all of which centers around are personal choice to live our life in order to satisfy our own greed, avarice and appetites.

Whereas the God chosen path leads to faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and eternal life (John 3:16).

4:5 This verse may mean that because of our fallen nature we have a tendency toward envy and must keep it in check, or it may mean that God, who puts His Spirit in believers, wants intimate friendship with us.

James is not quoting a specific verse or passage—he is summing up a general teaching of Scripture.

4:6-7, 10 What can help us combat our selfish tendencies?

Learning humility (also see Proverbs 16:18-19; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

Pride makes us self-centered and leads us to conclude that we deserve all we can see, touch, or imagine.

It creates greedy appetites for far more than we need.

We can be released from our self-centered desires by humbling ourselves before God, realizing that all we really need is His approval.

God not only gives us good gifts but also gives us good desires (see Philippians 2:13).

When the Holy Spirit fills us, we see this world’s seductive attractions for what they are—only cheap substitutes for what God has to offer.

4:7-10 How can you come close to God?

James gives five ways:

(1) “Humble yourselves before God” (4:7). Yield to His authority and will, commit your life to Him and His control, and be willing to follow Him.

(2) “Resist the devil” (4:7). Don’t allow Satan to entice and tempt you.

(3) “Wash your hands [and] purify your hearts” (that is, lead a pure life) (4:8). Be cleansed from sin, replacing the desire to sin with the desire to experience God’s purity.

(4) “Let there be tears for what you have done” (4:9). Don’t be afraid to express deep, heartfelt sorrow for what you have done.

(5) “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor” (4:10; also see 1 Peter 5:6). Recognize that your worth comes from God alone.

To be humble involves leaning on His power and guidance and not going your own independent way.

Although we do not deserve God’s favor, He wants to lift us up and give us worth and dignity, despite our human shortcomings.

4:7 Although God and the devil are at war, we don’t have to wait until the end to see who will win.

God has already defeated Satan (Revelation 12:10-12), and when Christ returns, the devil and all he stands for will be eliminated forever (Revelation 20:10-15).

Satan freely influences our wills now, however, and he strives to win us over to his evil cause or, when he can’t, destroy us.

But he cannot defeat the Holy Spirit. We have a choice to either follow our natural tendencies or ask the Holy Spirit to fill us.

With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can resist the devil, and he will flee from us.

4:11-12 Jesus summarized the law as loving God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40), and Paul said that love demonstrated toward a neighbor would fully satisfy God’s law (Romans 13:6-10).

When we fail to love others and instead constantly judge them, we are actually breaking God’s law.

Examine your attitudes and actions toward others.

Do you build people up or tear them down?

When you’re ready to criticize someone, remember God’s law of love and say something positive or encouraging instead; even if you have to speak a difficult truth, you can do so in a constructive, respectful manner.

Saying something beneficial to others will cure you of finding fault and increase your ability to obey God’s law of love.

4:13-16 It is good to have goals, but goals can disappoint us if we leave God out of them.

Why make plans as though God does not exist when He holds the future in His hands?

Seizing opportunities or being assertive without considering what God wants will lead to frustration.

Good planning starts by asking these questions:

What would I like to be doing ten years from now? One year from now? Tomorrow?

How will I react if God steps in and rearranges my plans? We should plan ahead, but we must hold on to our plans loosely.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

If we put God’s desires at the center of our planning, he will not disappoint us.

4:14 Life is short no matter how long we live, and no one knows the length of his or her life.

So don’t be deceived into thinking that you have lots of remaining time to live for Christ, to enjoy your loved ones, or to do what you know you should.

Live for God today! Then, no matter when your life ends, you will have fulfilled God’s plan for you.

4:17 We tend to think of sin as doing what is wrong.

But James tells us that sin is also failing to do what is right.

(These two kinds of sin are sometimes called sins of commission and sins of omission.)

It is a sin to lie; it can also be a sin to know the truth and not tell it.

It is a sin to speak evil of someone; it is also a sin to avoid that person when you know he or she needs your friendship.

You should be willing to help as the Holy Spirit guides you.

If God has prompted you to do a kind act, to render a service, or to restore a relationship, do it.

You will experience a renewed and refreshed vitality in your Christian faith.

Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

James 4:1–17

God planned for His people to be distinct by their peaceful and humble attitudes.

Both words and actions mark these qualities.

People who are self-sufficient must recognize that their plans and their lives are not their own but could change in a moment.

There are certain mountains only God can climb.

The names of these mountains?

You’ll see them as you look from the window of the chapel in the Great House of God.

“Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.”

A trio of peaks mantled by the clouds.

Admire them, applaud them, but don’t climb them.

It’s not that you aren’t welcome to try, it’s just that you aren’t able.

The pronoun is “thine,” not “mine”; “thine” is the kingdom, not “mine” is the kingdom.

If the word “Savior” is in your job description, it’s because you put it there.

Your role is to help the world, not save it.

Mount Messiah is one mountain you weren’t made to climb.

Nor is Mount Self-Sufficient.

You aren’t able to run the world, nor are you able to sustain it.

Some of you think you can.

You are self-made.

You don’t bow your knees, you just roll up your sleeves and put in another twelve-hour day . . . which may be enough when it comes to making a living or building a business.

But when you face your own grave or your own guilt, your power will not do the trick.

You were not made to run a kingdom, nor are you expected to be all-powerful.

And you certainly can’t handle all the glory.

Mount Applause is the most seductive of the three peaks.

The higher you climb the more people applaud, but the thinner the air becomes.

More than one person has stood at the top and shouted, “Mine is the glory!” only to lose their balance and fall.

“Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

What protection this final phrase affords.

As you confess that God is in charge, you admit that you aren’t.

As you proclaim that God has power, you admit that you don’t.

And as you give God all the applause, there is none left to dizzy your brain.

(From The Great House of God by Max Lucado)

List five experiences that make you proud.

Pray that real service would begin as God humbles you.

Ask God to help you realize that you can’t make life work on your own.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Wednesday, July 27
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment

James 4:13-16

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

Is God leading things, or are we?

Perhaps better put, do we recognize—and desire and seek—God’s leadership, or do we prefer to take matters into our own hands, make our own plans, and look to God for a blessing only after we have decided what needs to be done?

If we actively seek God’s leadership, and submit to it as He provides it, our belief will be evident in the fruits produced and the faithful witness made.

If, on the other hand, we—individually or corporately—are self-directed, the results will be confusion, division, contention, and all the other fruits of following the wrong sovereign.

James rebukes those who make too much of their own plans and leave God out of the picture.

He calls such self-directed plans “boasting” and its source “arrogance,” reinforcing the fact that in his natural state, man is in continual contention with God.

In this case, carnality’s symptom is confidence in one’s own ability to bring something to pass without taking God into account.

Psalm 10:4 (KJV) describes a wicked man as one who “will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”

The same man may inquire of God—He could be in some of his thoughts—but he will not wholeheartedly seek Him.

The man is self-directed, purpose-driven, and intent on bringing his own plans—”strategic visions,” we call them today—to pass.

By inference, the righteous man does seek after God, rather than merely inquiring occasionally, and God is in all his thoughts.

God will look on such a man: one of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2).

At various times the leaders of ancient Israel, good and bad, inquired of God.

Sometimes, because of idolatry—including setting up idols in their hearts—Sabbath-breaking, rebellion, and general disobedience, Israel was so far from God that He would not even allow them to inquire of Him (Ezekiel 14:1-11; 20:1-4)!

Of those who inquired of God, not very many are shown actually seeking Him.

The Bible records bad rulers inquiring of God like an adolescent might play with a Magic 8-Ball: desiring an answer, but not truly recognizing God’s sovereignty.

King Saul, for example, inquired of God at one point, but God did not answer him.

It seems that he never bothered to consider why God would not answer him.

Rather than trying to restore the breach with God by repenting, he just decided to try a different way to make his decision: by consulting a spiritist.

He was determined to have his own way.

Even when he sought guidance, he demanded it on his own terms—even if it meant seeking “wisdom” from an unclean source.

The Bible does not say of many men that God specifically killed them, but Saul made it onto this list for his unfaithfulness (I Chronicles 10:13-14).

In contrast, King David frequently inquired of the Lord, but he is also known for being a man after God’s heart—he had a tremendous track record of seeking God.

Those who truly seek God will be answered—positively—when they inquire of Him, for they will be a breathing incarnation of the phrase “if the Lord wills.”

This is a major part of the witness that God desires us to make of Him: that He is God, and there is no other sovereign—least of all a puny man.

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Learning to trust God with all of our heart, in the knowledge that He will go before us and make our path straight (Prov 3:5-6)…

Our times are in God’s hands…

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
— C. S. Lewis

Even when we cannot understand the “why,” we can trust that God is in control of when each life begins and ends, and also of our times of suffering.

The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6), because anxious thoughts do nothing to change our circumstances; they only change us, by robbing us of our peace and our trust in God.

Psalm 31:14-16
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

14 But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God.

15 My times are in Your hands; deliver me from the hands of my foes and those who pursue me and persecute me.

16 Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me for Your mercy’s sake and in Your loving-kindness.

Adversity does not make us frail; it only shows us how frail we are.

David prayed, my times are in Your hands, recognizing that ALL the events and circumstances of his life were under God’s sovereign control, which is always tempered by His unfailing love.

Every human weakness is an opportunity to trust in God’s strength and gain experiential knowledge of Him in our life, as we learn to cast the whole of our trust upon the reliability and trustworthiness of His Word, which tells us I AM with you always (Mat 28:20) and I will NEVER leave you nor will I ever forsake you (Heb 13:5b).

The awareness of our personal impotence should always lead the believer to cast himself on divine omnipotence.

This was David’s experience as recorded in Psalm 31.

He found himself in yet another painful experience of life, and this ordeal drove him to trust God and His power more fully.

In this sense, when he was weak, then he was strong.

On this particular occasion David was confronted with a conspiracy so powerful that even his closest friends and most ardent supporters had abandoned him.

Alone and forsaken, he found himself emotionally distressed and physically drained, with no one to turn to but God.

Filled with deep anxiety, David had to trust in the Lord.

His anguish was transformed into assurance.

This psalm conveys an unwavering trust in God as the psalmist rejoiced in the all-sufficient resources of God.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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God promises that He will go before us and that He will give us rest…

In Exodus 33, Moses sees the Glory of God…

The backstory:

The golden-calf incident that we read about in Exodus 32, created a deep rift between God and His people.

For their safety, God now refuses to travel with them to the land of promise; instead, He sends His messenger to guide them.

The people’s response to God’s threatened absence is to mourn and refuse to wear their jewelry and fine clothes.

The meeting tent and the congregation tent reflect this rift too.

The congregation tent is to be God’s unique dwelling with His people, so it is located right in the middle of the camp.

But now there is another tent, the meeting tent set up a long way from camp, far from the contagion of evil spreading there.

From time to time, God and Moses meet there to talk; and Joshua stands watch over this intimate encounter, for only Joshua and Moses are not imperiled when the rest of Israel violates God’s directive and worships the golden calf.

Moses speaks with God and does his best to get God back on good terms with His covenant people.

Read Exodus 33

The Glory of the Lord (33:1-23)…

The presence of God is not to be taken for granted but humbly and eagerly sought.

33:1-6. What follows here may be hard to understand, but it becomes quite plain when we see the whole picture.

At first God seemed simply to renew His covenant with the Israelites and promised to take them successfully into the land.

He would even send an angel to go before them to ensure their safe arrival.

The covenant, the same one He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be renewed with them and their descendants.

But one key element would be missing: God’s presence.

The angel would indeed go before them, but God’s own presence would not.

What Israel lost in their sin was the near presence of God.

The greatest priority for any child of God is to walk with God at all times so that he or she does not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).

God’s words shook the Israelites, and they began to mourn and strip themselves of their customary ornaments.

Their sorrow was heightened when Moses told them precisely what God had said.

If God went with them, He might destroy them on account of their presumptuous ways.

God then enforced what they already had begun to do—take off their ornaments (probably permanently) as a sign of true repentance.

They divested themselves of these things at Mount Horeb.

33:7-11. Before the actual construction of the tabernacle, Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away.

The tent was used to seek God’s presence. But when Moses himself went into the tent, the people watched carefully because they knew he enjoyed a unique relationship with God.

In fact, God spoke to Moses face-to-face in the most intimate fashion.

Subsequent men and women of God would not enjoy this kind of relationship with God.

When Moses entered, the pillar of cloud stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

During this time God spoke with Moses, and as the people beheld this, they worshiped God at a distance.

When Moses departed from the camp, he left behind his faithful aide, Joshua, to stand guard over the tent.

33:12-17. Moses asked God to clarify His relationship with him and the people.

Would He go up with them personally or not?

Moses wanted to know more about God, and this tells us something about Moses’ dynamic faith.

Through all his adverse circumstances he grew in his faith and spiritual hunger.

He wanted to know more of God’s ways so the favor of God would rest not only upon him but on his people as well.

God reassured Moses that His presence would go with them.

33:18-23. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God agreed but with certain restrictions.

He would pass by Moses and proclaim His personal name Yahweh (YHWH) to him.

But Moses would not see the essence of God’s presence.

To see God in the sense Moses wanted involved knowing something of His person and character.

God was not a man that He should lie nor the son of man that He should change His mind (Num. 23:19).

God is sovereign and answers to no one, offering mercy and compassion only to chosen vessels.

God chose to display His glory before Moses, who would stand upon a rock to behold the sight.

As God passed by, He would put Moses in a cave or small enclosure in the rock and cover Moses.

So Moses did not see God’s face but his back.

Moses wanted assurance of God’s presence with him, Aaron, and Joshua, and he desired to know that presence experientially.

Because we are finite and morally imperfect, we cannot see God as he really is and live—apart from Jesus Christ (John 14:9).

The good news is that Jesus has promised to show Himself to all those who love Him (John 14:21).

Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

Exodus 33:1–23

God wrote the Ten Commandments, gave them to Moses, and revealed His glory to Moses.

Because Moses took so long to come down from the mountain, the people grew weary and built a new god for themselves made of gold.

We will never be able to see all of God’s glory on this earth.

Read carefully, very carefully, the following verses.

Read to answer this question—what did Moses do in order to see God? . . . Moses said, “Please, show me Your glory.”

“And the LORD said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.

So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.

Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen’” (Exodus 33:21–23).

Did you see what Moses was to do?

Neither did I.

Did you note who did the work?

So did I. God did!

God is active. God gave Moses a place to stand.

God placed Moses in the crevice.

God covered Moses with His hand.

God passed by. And God revealed Himself. . . . All Moses did was ask.

But, oh, how he asked.

All we can do is ask. But, oh, we must ask.

For only in asking do we receive. And only in seeking do we find.

And (need I make the application?) God is the one who will equip us for our eternal moment in the Son.

Hasn’t He given us a rock, the Lord Jesus?

Hasn’t He given us a cleft, His grace?

And hasn’t He covered us with His hand, His pierced hand?

(From When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado)

Do you know someone who rebels against God? Classmates? Colleagues? Neighbors?

Intercede on behalf of these people today. Ask God to reveal Himself to them and bring them into a relationship with Him.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Sunday, July 24
God Calling
by Two Listeners


“And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
— Exodus 33:14

Our Lord, guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything.

Keep close to Me and you shall know The Way because, as I said to My disciples, I am The Way.

That is the solution to ALL earth’s problems.

Keep close, very close to Me. Think, act, and live in My Presence.

How dare any foe touch you, protected by Me!

That is the secret of all Power, all Peace, all Purity, all influence, the keeping very near to Me.

Abide in Me. Live in My Presence.

Rejoice in My Love.

Thank and Praise all the time.

Wonders are unfolding.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
— Jude 1:24-25

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God’s destiny and plan for your life is for you to operate in Oneness with Him…

Jesus and the Father are one…

John 17:20-21
New Living Translation

Jesus speaking: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.

I pray that they will ALL be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.

And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me.

“Oneness” in this case simply means in complete agreement in terms of purposes and goals.

Similarly, Jesus prays that the disciples are one in the same way that Jesus and God the Father are one.

In the Bible we are called, as born-again Believers, Ambassadors for Christ, meaning we represent Him and come in His name.

Jesus said also that when we pray, we are to pray in His name (John 14:13-14).

What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?

In John 5:43 Jesus said,

“For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them.”

Obviously the disciples are not one in any literal, physical sense of the word, but we are one in the spirit.

Jesus is praying in John 17:21 that the disciples be united in purpose and fellowship, just as Jesus and God the Father are united in purpose and fellowship.

This is the life we were created to have, to have 24/7 fellowship and communion with God, just as we see Jesus had.

Jesus is called the last Adam:

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-48)

Jesus, as the last Adam, demonstrated in His Earthly Ministry the relationship that God has always intended to have with His Covenant children.

While Jesus was God incarnate, He did not move in His Earthly ministry as God, but only as a mere man, totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit, just as we are.

Jesus demonstrated in His Earthly Ministry what this unity with the Father and absolute dependance on the Holy Spirit looked like.

John 5:19-23
New Living Translation

Jesus Heals a Lame Man
19 So Jesus explained,

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does ONLY what he sees the Father doing.

Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.

In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man.
Then you will truly be astonished.

21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

22 In addition, the Father judges no one.

Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge,

23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.

Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.

5:19-23 Because of His unity with God, Jesus lived as God wanted Him to live.

Because of our identification with Jesus, we must honor Him and live as He wants us to live.

The question “What would Jesus do?” may help us make the right choices.

Eternal life—living forever with God—begins the moment you accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

New life begins in you (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God completes the transaction.

The rest of your life on earth will go better for you, even though you may face many hardships, because you are living in fellowship with the almighty Creator, who loves you.

And though you will still face physical death one day, when Jesus returns again, your body will be resurrected to live forever (1 Corinthians 15).

In saying that the dead will hear his voice, Jesus was talking about the spiritually dead who hear, understand, and accept Him .

Those who accept Jesus, the Word, will have eternal life.

Jesus was also talking about the physically dead.

He raised several dead people while He was on earth, and at His second coming, the believers who have died will rise to meet him (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

God is the Source and Creator of life, for there is no life apart from Him, here or hereafter.

The life in us is a gift from Him (see Deuteronomy 30:20; Psalm 36:9).

Because Jesus is eternally existent with God, the Creator, He, too, is “the life” (John 14:6) through whom we may live eternally (see 1 John 5:11).

When you consider all that Jesus has done for us on the cross to make all of this possible, and having our sins forgiven and being reconciled back into God’s family, I suggest that you don’t take any of it for granted; because if you do, you do so at your own destruction.

All of those who depart this life without their Savior, having either rejected Him or ignored Him, will have to spend eternity outside of God’s family, totally estranged and separated from God.

Consider rather…

John 3:16-21
New King James Version

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD (Ps 150:6)…

For God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps 22:3)…

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago (Isa 25:1).

Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water, and His promise is “I will take away all sickness from among you” (Ex 23:25).

Enter into worship and allow God’s Shalom-peace to envelop you!

“It’s in the environment of worship that we learn things that go way beyond what our intellect can grasp”
— Bill Johnson

From Bethel Church in Redding

CLICK HERE to listen to Bethel’s worship service, that was recorded on July 21

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The faithfulness of God…

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is ALWAYS faithful to His Word and fights on the side of His Covenant Believers…

It’s amazing however when you consider how much He is taken for granted, a pattern that we find throughout the Old Testament and also in the church today.

The same warning that Moses gave in Deuteronomy 8, to Israel, also applies to the church today:

Deuteronomy 8:11-17
New King James Version

11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today,

12 lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;

13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;

14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock;

16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

We can readily see how this same pattern has developed in many of the churches in America today – just as Paul said to the Galatians church – describing how they, after beginning in the Spirit (in faith), they were now trying to finish by means of the flesh (Gal 3:3).

As we look at the last chapter (Deut 32), we read how,

(32:10-11) In his song, Moses uses powerful imagery from the natural world to help us grasp aspects of God’s character.

The Israelites had no excuse for abandoning God. He had shielded them like a kindly shepherd.

He had guarded them like a person protects his own eyes.

He had been the encircling protector, like a mother eagle who protects her young.

The Lord alone had led them. And He alone leads us.

Let us remember to trust in Him.

(v. 15) Over time the Israelites grew soft and entitled (sound familiar?) .

They enjoyed all the blessings showered on them by God, yet they made light of Him (lost their fear and reverence for God and took Him for granted).

They did not take Him seriously. The same can happen to us when life goes well and we are surrounded by material wealth or experiencing success.

The seed planted in us by God can get choked out by other distractions (Matthew 13:7, 22).

Sometimes God will use hardships in life to toughen us up again and strengthen our faith.

If you are experiencing blessings in life, be sure to be thankful to God and watch that you don’t allow a blessing you receive from Him to be the very thing that turns you away from Him.

(vv. 46-47) Moses urged the people to think about God’s Word and teach it to their children.

The Bible can sit on your bookshelf and gather dust, or you can make it a vital part of your life by regularly setting aside time to study it.

When you discover the wisdom of God’s message, you will want to apply it to your life and pass it on to your family and others.

The Bible is not merely good reading—it’s real help for real life.

Deuteronomy 33

Now as we moved into Deuteronomy 33, let us note the difference in blessings that God gave to each tribe.

To one he gave the best land, to another strength, to another safety.

The combined tribes, working together, had the potential to become a strong nation.

Too often we see someone with a particular blessing and think that God must love that person more than others.

Think rather that God draws out in all people their unique talents.

All these gifts are needed to complete His plan.

Don’t be envious of the gifts others have.

Instead, look for the gifts God has given you, resolve to do the tasks He has uniquely qualified you to do, and rejoice that He is calling you to play a unique role in accomplishing His plan on earth; and we must always remember that God ALONE is our Source in all things!

In Moses’ song, he declares that God is our refuge, our only true security.

Yet how often do we find ourselves entrusting our lives to other things—perhaps money, a career, relationships, a noble cause, or a lifelong dream.

But our only true refuge is the eternal God, who always holds out His arms to catch us when the shaky supports that we trust collapse and we fall.

No storm can destroy us when we take refuge in Him.

Those without God, however, must forever be cautious.

One mistake may wipe them out.

Living for God in this world may look like risky business, but it is the godless who are on shaky ground.

When God is our refuge, we are on firm ground, so we can dare to be bold.

Peter in the New Testament admonishes us to,

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remembering that your family of believers, all over the world, are going through the same kind of suffering as you (1 Peter 5:8-9).

And then James tells us, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

In Deuteronomy 33:25-27 (AMP), we read about God’s watchful eye and protection over His Covenant people, and how even in spite of their faithlessness, in the end, God always keeps His promise.

God says to Israel, “Your castles and strongholds shall have bars of iron and bronze, and as your day, so shall your strength, your rest and security, be. There is none like God, O Jeshurun [Israel], who rides through the heavens to your help and in His majestic glory through the skies. The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He drove out the enemy before you and thrust them out, saying, Destroy!

In the closing verses of chapter 33, we celebrate the greatness of God as He acts on behalf of His people.

The God of Israel is unique in the heavens to help.

Millions have been fortified by these words in verse 27:

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

God’s future destruction of Israel’s enemies and the promise of safety, peace, prosperity, and victory close the Song of Moses.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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Through it all we learned to trust in Jesus…

Jesus is the way – the narrow way…

Jesus said that there are few who find the narrow way.

Jesus is the way. The way to the Father. The way of life. The way to salvation.

Jesus lived on earth to show us the way.

To follow Jesus on this way means that we are to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6).

We are to follow in His footsteps, living as He lived.

A way indicates progression, and when we follow Jesus, we are fulfilling our god-given destiny!

The quest in life for all humanity (for all the sons and daughters of Adam), from God’s point of view, is that we each gain experiential knowledge of God, through all the trials and tribulations we face in our Earthly pilgrimage (see Rom 8:29-30).

“It is not the path which is the difficulty; rather, it is the difficulty which is the path…” (Hebrew for Christians)

The trials and tribulations we face in life are not to defeat us, but rather they are to make us strong.

God’s message and covenant with Father Abraham was that He would bless ALL the nations of the world through his seed (Gen 22:18).

The Bible goes on to say, regarding ALL the promises of God found in the Bible, written to all those who are in Covenant relationship with God the Father, through Jesus – through His propitious sacrifice and shed blood on Calvary’s Cross – that we each are assured, in regards to each and every promise, that we as believers should hear a resounding “yes” and amen to ALL of God’s many promises.

And this is the reason we say “Amen” (assuredly let it be) through Jesus, while always giving glory to God (2 Cor 1:20)!

John 16:33
The Message

Jesus message to His disciples, before going to the cross:

31-33 Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me.

But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me.

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.

In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

As happened with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see Daniel 3:16-28), God never promises to keep us from the fire, but rather to be with us through it…

Isaiah 43:1-5
New Living Translation

The Savior of Israel
1 “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.

2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.

3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

4 Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you…”

In fact even beyond all of this, God promises to His beloved covenant children that whatever we go through in life – the good, the bad and the ugly – that He will work into every situation we face and cause it to work together for our good; and this promise is for ALL who love Him and are called to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

From Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

Isaiah 42:1—43:28

Isaiah looked ahead to the time when Jesus would bring justice to the world.

Isaiah pointed out that although the Israelites were unfaithful to God, God would still deliver them from captivity (43:8–28).

God never gives up on us. He always pursues us when we wander from Him, always drawing us back so that we can do what He has planned for us to do.

God made you and broke the mold.

“The LORD looks from heaven; He Sees ALL the sons of men (Adam).

From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works” (Psalm 33:13–15).

Every single baby is a brand-new idea from the mind of God.

Scan history for your replica; you won’t find it.

God tailor-made you. He “personally formed and made each one” (Isaiah 43:7 MSG).

No box of “backup yous” sits in God’s workshop.

You aren’t one of many bricks in the mason’s pile or one of a dozen bolts in the mechanic’s drawer.

You are it! And if you aren’t you, we don’t get you.

The world misses out. You are heaven’s Halley’s Comet; we have one shot at Seeing you shine.

You offer a gift to society that no one else brings.

If you don’t bring it, it won’t be brought.

(From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)

Let us thank God for the lengths He went to bring us to Himself.

Reflect on the extreme measures Jesus took to purchase your salvation.

Remember, that as you go through each day, Jesus continues to work in your life helping you be the you that you were meant to be.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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