Today…From the Pastor!
Today we continue our focus of preparing for revival. Of course, the most obvious place to start is with ourselves! I was reading the story of a British Evangelist named Rodney “Gypsy” Smith who lived from 1860-1947. He was just seventeen, converted less than a year, and barely able to read when William Booth invited him to preach. Gypsy did so with increasing success, becoming an evangelist in high demand. Thirty times he visited the United States, and twice he preached his way around the world; but no matter how famous he became or wherever he went, his routine was the same. Arriving at his place of lodging, he unpacked his belongings. Then, he reached deliberately for the old block of chalk he carried in his bag and walked to the center of the floor. There he paused before carefully drawing a wide circle. Then, with the familiar circle drawn, Gypsy Smith, crossed the line of chalk and knelt within that circle. Then he prayed, “God, send a revival, and begin it with me.”
Today…Will you “draw the circle” where you are and pray … “God, send a revival … and begin it with me”?
Today I want to first of all remind you to listen to last week’s message. You can do this either by going to our website and going to the media tab or by asking at the sound booth for a CD copy of the message. A good portion of the message focused on the mission statement and vision of Liberty Life, and the importance of us being united under the ONE vision given to us from Isaiah 61. This month we have been focusing on the need for unity as the atmosphere and the avenue by which the Lord commands His blessing, and the context for great outpourings of His Spirit. Certainly this is our longing at Liberty Life, and so, we are committed to walking together in more perfect unity of heart and mind.
Last week I emphasized one of the simplest ways we can be united is in Worship. This means after we have come through the doors of the sanctuary and once the worship leader begins to sing, we stop our conversing with one another. We stop our sharing of notes and looking at phones. We stop our moving around, and together, in one accord, we turn our attention to the throne of God. As one voice, we worship our king and sing His praise. It is in this unity of praise and worship that we believe the Lord will inhabit our praise (Psalm 22:3). Whenever we choose to not worship and visit with a neighbor we are not only destroying unity but also distracting others around us from entering into worship!
Today we will look at other important ingredients of church unity! But let’s begin by being one in worship!
Today we will continue to examine the need for unity as an essential element in preparing for revival. Paul knew the importance of unity among believers when he asked the church to fulfill his joy by “being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4) Paul then goes on to give more specifics of how that unity is achieved by examining the mind of Christ and his sacrificial life in verses 5-8.
Certainly what we discover from these verses and many more in scripture is that a commitment to fellowship is a commitment to unity—one mindedness. Notice how Paul uses “mind” three times in just two of the verses shown above. This is repetition for emphasis. He’s saying it twice so we get it. This doesn’t mean we agree in lock-step on everything; it means we agree deeply on the most important things and we give one another a lot of latitude on what’s not so important! Today, let’s continue on the path to unity with genuine revival in view!
Last week in both the morning worship and the business meeting that followed, I mentioned my belief that Liberty Life is ripe for revival. I sense a stirring and see signs of God’s Spirit moving in a fresh way. Because I have that belief, I will be sharing more of the importance of preparing for the revival to come. This week I will share a segment from Crosswalk magazine on preparing for revival.
The topic of revival brings great interest to most of us because we long for God to sweep through our country. But we must realize that it is costly, and each of us must be willing to pay the price to prepare for it.
Behind the concept of revival is the Hebrew word chayah, which means “to live”. In Strong’s Concordance, the word is translated “make alive, nourish up, preserve, quicken, recover, repair, restore, save keep alive and make whole.” Who among us does not desire that the Church be quickened, made whole, preserved and kept alive? We must pray with heartfelt passion for this to happen. And it will. When the Church is revived, she will be stronger and mightier against the powers of darkness. She will be a brighter light in this dark world. She will be victorious and attract the lost.
Today, let us prepare for revival!
Today is a great day to reflect on Philippians 4:12-14 where Paul writes – “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Certainly there are good things that have occurred in your life in 2017 that have caused you to grow in your love for God and in your faith walk. But Paul is encouraging us to not be satisfied where we are but to keep pressing on to ALL the Lord has for us and wants to do in us and through us. Therefore, as we start 2018 it is a great time to renew our discipline of daily bible reading by picking up and using one of the Bible reading charts on the back table. It is a great time to commit to prayer by signing up for the 18-hour prayer vigil on Wednesday! It is a great time to dig deeper roots in the understanding and practical application of God’s Word by being part of the new nurture classes starting next Sunday morning at 9:30. It is a great time for a spiritual cleansing and getting rid of everything that is hindering your Christian walk by signing up and committing to the Cleansing Seminar starting January 14. Certainly it is a good time to begin being a faithful steward of your God given financial resources by committing a set percentage of your income to the work of the Kingdom of God each week as you bring an offering. And certainly we press forward by committing to weekly worship and gathering of the saints and being prepared for every good work. Today is a great day to press on for all that the Lord has for us in 2018!!
There are a few people in the Bible whose births were announced prior to their conception. In the Old Testament we had Isaac, Samson, and Samuel. In the New Testament we have John the Baptist and, of course, Jesus.
The Gospel of Luke commences with the end of 400 years in which the voice of prophets had not been heard in Israel. Now God was about to break that silence.
Today I will be reading from the 1st chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Within that one chapter we discover two miraculous human conceptions. In some ways they are both very similar but in other ways they are both very different. One of the points I will make today is how in the narrative the perception of the conception determined the reception of Gabriel’s heavenly message. Wow, that was a mouthful!
Today, let’s celebrate the conception that was both human and divine. The conception of Yeshua in the womb of Mary. The conception of the life that would bring life to all who would receive Him!
Today, I am thinking about ’light.’ If you turn to Genesis 1, you will most certainly have to think about ‘light’ if you are seeking to read with understanding. For instance, Genesis 1:3 reads, “then God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.” And we see that this light divides night and day and there is evening and morning, the first day. Yet we discover it is not until the fourth day that God creates ‘lights’ (the sun, the moon and stars) to give light to the earth.
So, in thinking on these two works of creation, one must ask, how is the light of Genesis 1:3 different from the lights of Genesis 1:14? Of course there are multitudes of theological, hermeneutical, scientific answers out there that show evidence of a lot of ‘thinking’ being generated from these first works of creation. Obviously, the true ‘light’ of perfect revelation which has come into the world and is coming again, the light that gives light to every man (John 1:9), has the true answer. Let’s just keep our eyes on Him and that will be all the light we need!
Today we will be continuing our message on the prayer of Jabez as found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Last week we learned that it is not wrong to ask the Lord to bless us. Nor is it wrong to ask the Lord after he has blessed us to bless us some more! That is the intent of Jabez’ prayer when he prays, “Bless me, indeed!” But the blessing is given with the intent that it will be passed on to others. He wants to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. A pastor once put it in a way that tells it well. He said that he did not want to be a jar for God to pour His blessings into. He wanted to be a teapot or a pitcher that was designed to pour out for others. He wished to receive the blessings so that he could pour out the blessings to others.
Perhaps this is why God granted the prayers of Jabez, for he did not simply ask to be blessed. He asked to have his territory enlarged. Jabez honored God by asking for God to be with him. If God is with you, He will use you to spread the news of what He has done. If you are used by God to spread His Gospel, then you will be blessed. Your circle of influence will increase so that God can be glorified. Today, let us continue to pray, “Lord, enlarge my territory”!
Two places I enjoy going are Kitchen Gadget stores and Harbor Freight. I can go into those stores and look for an extended period of time in amazement of all the things that have been created to make life easier in the kitchen or in the workshop. Having just the right tool or apparatus for a task can not only make the task easier, it can even make it fun! I remember the first time I used my newly purchased air nailer. I just kept trying to find some piece of trim or some loose board somewhere that looked like it could use another nail. When I couldn’t find any more, I just found a couple of pieces of scrap wood and nailed them together with about 25 nails. I just enjoyed seeing this thing do the work I had struggled with when hammering brads in manually.
I thank God today for the storehouse of heaven which by His divine power is filled with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). That which once was not only difficult but impossible for us to do on our own, now has been made possible by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ministry that once was burdensome, now becomes a delight!
Today, may the prayer of 2 Peter 1:2 be deposited in you; “Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
Today finishes up a long Thanksgiving weekend for most. If the leftovers haven’t been eaten yet, it’s about time to throw them out! How about our actual thanksgiving to God? Are we still lifting up thanks? I read a devotional that spoke of two levels of gratitude. The lower level of gratitude is where we see God’s work in our lives as intermittent spurts of goodness. Only when a big blessing comes do we say, “Thank you Lord”! But, the higher level of gratitude is consistently thanking God, in the good and the bad, believing that all things will work out for good to those who love Him (see Romans 8:28).
Corrie ten Boom was sent to a prison camp for hiding Jews from the Nazis. There, her sister said they should thank God for everything in their barracks. Corrie refused to give thanks for the fleas that infested their bedding, but later she found out that those fleas kept the guards from entering the barracks, enabling them to have daily prayer meetings. So she said, “Thank you, Lord, for the fleas!”
May the spirit of thanksgiving remain in our hearts and on our lips. Let’s bless the Lord in all things, because God is good all the time!
I was amused the other day while reading an article from a mother who told of her experience reading a bedtime story to her 3-year-old daughter. It was a devotional book that relates animal characteristics to our own behavior as humans. The story chosen focused on the topic of anger and self-control using the hippopotamus as an illustration. The story revealed how a hippo is dangerous because it has a temper! It might appear friendly in the water, cool and collected as it goes about its business floating down the river, but get too close and what happens? It snaps. It turns into an angry hippo! With its sharp teeth and mighty roar, it will slash at whatever has crossed into its hippo personal space bubble until blood is drawn or even death by drowning. After the mother had read the story, the 3-year-old daughter pointed to the hippo drawing with its mouth wide and teeth exposed and exclaimed excitedly, “Mom, you could really learn from this!” Ouch!
Today we will continue to be equipped to overcome the spirit of anger and subdue it so that our households can be rid of ‘angry hippos’!
Today, it is likely that the tragedy of Sutherland Baptist Church in Texas last Sunday is still on everyone’s mind, and certainly the grief being felt in that small community reaches across the nation. Today, because of tragedies like this, fear looks for a place to dwell in the hearts of church goers everywhere. We may find ourselves looking suspiciously at people who enter whom we do not know, or any person that looks somewhat distraught. Of course, that is what the enemy of our souls wants us to do. He wants to get our attention off our full worship of the Lord. The prince of darkness wants us to be filled with fear instead of faith, to be feeling doubts instead of trust.
Today, it is important we first put things in perspective, even in the natural. Here is truth. “It’s very safe to go to church on Sunday,” said Dallas Drake, a criminologist at the Center for Homicide Research in Minneapolis. “There are very few incidents, but they are high-profile when they occur.” The most recent statistics show there is no more danger in a church setting than any other public gathering place in America.
Liberty Life’s leadership also takes seriously our responsibility to keep our parishioners safe, and protocols are practiced and in place for any number of incidents. These protocols are continually being updated.
In the spiritual, we have even more confidence when we come before the Lord in prayer and seal off our church and property from any threats and evil intent. Long before you enter into the sanctuary, those prayers have been offered with faith and confidence in the promises of God.
Today…let us pray for those who grieve and yet are gathering as a faith community. Let us also worship as those who are not bound with the spirit of fear but infused with the spirit of love, and power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)!
Today, let’s talk about hospitality. Webster defines hospitality as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers”. How would you rank Liberty Life at being a ’hospitable’ church? I wonder how much difference there would be when comparing the responses of those who are first-time guests or recently new attendees with those who have been a part of the church for some time.
Speaking to some of our more long-term attendees, are there people who have been attending Liberty Life for several weeks and you still don’t know who they are or anything about them? Perhaps they have even sat on the same pew or row as you, or you have walked by them several times and exchanged glances, but never took the initiative to introduce yourself and welcome them to Liberty Life. Yes, it is true that not everyone wants to be pointed out or publicly recognized, but almost everyone needs to feel welcomed and greeted with a sincere smile.
Today, and every time we gather, may it be known that Liberty Life is a hospitable church!
This Tuesday marks the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In the year 1517, on October 31st, a man named Martin Luther nailed a document to the Castle door in Wittenberg. That single document, known to us as The 95 Theses, literally sparked the great Reformation, and led to the intense hatred of Martin Luther by the Pope and all of Rome. Dr. Josh Buice summarized that “the Catholic Church was guilty of perverting the message of grace by offering the forgiveness of sins through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther had seen enough. After being saved by the grace of God, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to take a stand against the teachings of Rome. That passion was based upon his love for Holy Scripture, but most importantly—his love for the Christ of Scripture.” At the heart of Luther’s zeal to ‘reform’ the Catholic church was really the desire to ‘restore’ the true Church built on the foundation of faith and practice as established by Jesus Christ. By the time of Luther, the ‘Church’ looked far different than the church of the 1st century and not in a good way at all. Luther only began what is still drastically needed today. Today, we pray and wait for the true reformation and restoration of all things, including the Church!
Today is the last service of our fall feasts of the Lord and our focus will be on the Feast of Tabernacles, also called Feast of Booths or Sukkot. We remember and apply the lessons of Israel’s journey through the wilderness for 40 years. During that time they were totally dependent upon God to provide for them, lead them, protect them, and give them instruction for life as they lived in temporary shelters. Today, many followers of Jehovah dwell in booths during this week to be sure they never forget our absolute dependence upon God. Sukkot is also a time given to us by God to instruct us in what life will be like during the messianic age when the knowledge of the Messiah and the Spirit of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and … They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain (Isa 11:6-9). A time when all nations will keep the feast of tabernacles (Zech 14).
Today, at a time when all the world seems so chaotic and filled with strife and hate, may the season of Sukkot fill us with hope of the day the Lord again tabernacles with his people in all fullness as He rules and reigns!
Today we will continue bringing forth God’s Word regarding signs in the heavens. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time making out anything when looking up into the stars. Much of that is because of my own ignorance of astronomy, but I also think much of what I can see with unaided eyes today is but a fraction of what could be seen in the days of Job, or the prophets, and certainly Adam and Eve and their children. Today even in the most secluded areas of our world, light pollution has obstructed much of our viewing of the stars. According to the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness, 80 percent of the world’s population lives under skyglow. In the United States and Europe 99 percent of the public can’t experience a natural night! I guess that is what we can say about the effects of sin on the human race as well. May we endeavor to clean up ‘sin pollution’ in our life so we can see our Heavenly Father more clearly!
Today I will begin sharing some thoughts regarding signs in the heavenlies. One of the first signs in the sky that most people can identify as from the Lord is the rainbow. I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Gen. 9:13.
Today we see the rainbow and can clearly interpret it’s appearance. But what about the signs that are to announce the events lead-ing up to and including the coming of the Lord? Jesus taught of such signs in Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.”
Today let’s begin looking up to the heavens!
Today is a good day to share some stories. Today we plan to hear from Caleb and Cicily a few of the exciting things they experienced on their recent mission trip to Mexico and also from Joshua after having returned from a youth mission trip to Rockaway Beach. It is also a great time to hear stories about the block party last Sunday evening and the various ways Liberty Life just reached out and shared love and joy with one small area of our community.
Today, I have asked Pastor Linda to share some of what God has been teaching her as she has been traveling along on her ‘dash’. I am sure she will also want to encourage us to stay in our hula hoops!
Today, may the Lord break into your story and make it great!
Today Norma Ramey will be our guest speaker. Norma has been connected with Liberty Life in a number of different ways. She is the area representative for “Bridges For Peace,” a Jerusalem-based, Bible believing Christian organization supporting Israel and building relationships between Christians and Jews worldwide. Secondly, she is part of a network of ministers and ministries and has helped us get more connected with people like Chris Weber, Dale Cohen and Peter Loth. Thirdly, some of us have been blessed greatly through her international ministry, Fountain of Life, based out of her home in Alma, MO. But the connection we are most blessed with is her friendship and genuine love for the people at Liberty Life. Norma attends our services frequently, especially during the times we emphasize our Hebraic roots. At times the Lord will minister through her, often in the gift of prophecy. A recent prophetic Word spoken at Liberty Life through Norma appears elsewhere in this FYI. It is one we must be attentive to in the days ahead. Please welcome Norma today and receive graciously the word she brings!
Most of us have sung, or at least have heard of the old hymn, “Count Your Blessings” with the chorus resounding, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” This chorus has a great connection with Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 16:2 which exhorts the believer on the first day of every week, each one of you should put aside money as you have been blessed (NCV). Basically what Paul is saying is to look back over the past 7 days and see how God has blessed you. Then give to the Lord’s work based on that blessing. We often are quick to count up our difficulties through the week, but how many of us keep a running log of blessings? Blessings being our wages from our jobs, gifts and bonuses given, special favor granted, unexpected discounts, our health, a friend’s encouragement, an opportunity to take part in something enjoyable, and the list goes on and on. A key to generous giving is an intentional focus on one’s blessings. One naturally leads to the other as we become surprised and delighted in the Lord’s goodness. Let’s continue the walk of Generosity!
Today we are again blessed to have with us Marlene Klepees. Marlene is a regular minister here at Liberty Life and we consider her to be part of our church family. I know you will welcome her and give her your attention as she speaks. Let us be generous as we receive a love offering for her ministry to us.
Next week I will continue my message series on generous giving. If you were not able to attend last week, I encourage you to go on our website and listen to the message from July 2nd, which lays the foundation for generous, joyful giving unto the Lord, even while going through severe trials and extreme poverty. With the foundation that God owns everything, is the provider for every need, and that we are merely stewards of all that has been entrusted to us, we can go on to an understanding of how the Lord expects us to give and the multitude of blessings the Lord has promised to the generous giver.
Today I will continue to declare and decree that Liberty Life is a ‘Generous Church’!
Today, we continue our remembrance and celebration of the Lord’s appointed time of Shavuot, known to most Christians as Pentecost. Our theme this year focuses on how God came from heaven’s glory to earth. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, the light his glory, the brown cloth the earth. He came on the first Pentecost at Mt. Sinai and gave the law and commandments (bible). He came in Jerusalem in Acts 2 and gave the promised Holy Spirit to his Church. The outpouring of His Spirit brings out of the believer’s belly rivers of living water (blue cloth) that bring righteousness (white cloth) to the earth. This living water Jesus spoke of in John 7:38 brings life wherever it goes as portrayed with the plants and flowers. Shavuot is a harvest to be brought before Him as two leavened loaves of bread (Lev. 23:17). This firstfruits offering symbolized the first harvest of souls on the day of Pentecost as well as the harvest of all souls, Jew and Gentile, before the Lord’s return.
Thank you Donna Sawford and Linda Rhoads for this meaningful and beautiful display to the glory of God!
Today, for a few moments we will ponder the final words of John 21 in which John said, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (vs. 25). Today, if we think on that at all, we can’t help but be over- whelmed by the greatness of our God. The largest library in the world is the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., which is spread out over 8 buildings and contains around 838 MILES of bookshelves. And that is just one library of the world! Yet if stacks of books were stacked on every inch of ground of the world, their content could not even begin to exhaust the person and work of the infinitely inexhaustible Jesus! Yet, John wrote enough to accomplish the purpose of his book about Jesus. And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
I say ‘from the pastors’ today because I am sharing a thought given by my wife, Linda, in one of her Facebook blogs. It encouraged me, so I hope it encourages you also. From Linda: Reading in 1 Samuel this morning, I was encouraged and reenergized by the living Word! In Chapter 5 the Philistines (a picture of our enemy) had captured the Ark of the Covenant. They put it in their temple next to the statue of their god, Dagon. But the statue of Dagon was knocked over and destroyed. They didn’t know what to do with the ark. Take it here…put it there? “What are we going to do with the ark?” “We don’t want it!” Well, Today, that ark lives inside us, His people!!! The very Presence of almighty God!!! Rise up and carry it well because it will knock out demon gods, set people free, restore lives, and bring understanding to many hearts!! Oh, there are Philistines in the land that will want it gone. But no one can take it from you and you are the only one who can release what is in you! “Do not quench the Holy Spirit.” Today, I am thankful for the reminder of God’s presence in me!
Today we will take a few moments during our service to honor the women of our church, especially our mothers. I am grateful that my mother is now living in Sedalia and she is able to attend our worship services. I am also grateful for a mother who has encouraged me throughout my ministry. I know there are times when my message doesn’t flow all that well or fails to communicate the Gospel message as clearly as I had intended, but somehow my mother comments after the service every week “that was your best message yet!” I am sure many of you have a mother who has encouraged you with words of affirmation or just did things to make you feel special. Today is a good day to say, “Thanks Mom.” Even if your mother is now deceased you can still lift up a prayer of thanksgiving for the mother who gave you birth, or the ‘mother figure’ who raised you, or the ‘mother figure’ who took you aside and mentored you, or the ‘mother figure’ who has been a blessing in your life in some other way. Today is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of a mother!
Today I will take a few moments in the message to consider the relevance of the 153 fish caught by the disciples in John 21:11. Numbers have a special significance for Jews. In both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets the letters served as both letters and numbers and every word can also be a number. In writing and explaining the Bible, Jews regularly make use of the numerical values of words. This is evident in various places in the Bible. The book of Proverbs contains exactly 375 proverbs from Solomon (Proverbs 10:1 and 22:16), which exactly matches the numeric value of his name ‘Solomon’ in Hebrew. Proverbs 25:1 to 30:1 consists of 140 proverbs gathered and edited by the appointment of King Hezekiah. The numeric value of Hezekiah’s name is 140. Numbers are also used symbolically, such as 7 represents completeness and 6 incompleteness.
One represents unity and 3 is the number to establish or emphasize. Today let’s continue our quest for answers to questions we may have in John 21!
Today we will be taking a look at the first 14 verses of John 21. Do you ask questions when you read the bible? I hope so! Being inquisitive and learning to ask questions is the beginning of unlocking the meaning of scripture at greater depth. The first half of John 21 should cause any student of the Word to ask questions like the following: Why were the disciples fishing? Were they reverting back to their old trade since Jesus was no longer with them? If they did not recognize the man on the shore was Jesus, why would they obey his command? Why does John clarify the ‘right’ side as opposed to the ‘other side’ of the boat? Why does Peter put on clothes to jump into the water? Why was Peter the only one who jumped in? Why did Jesus ask Peter to bring some fish just caught when Jesus already had fish laid on the fire? What is the significance of 153 fish and why were the fish even counted? Today is a good day to ask questions. If you seek as for treasure you will find understanding. (Proverbs 2:4-5)
Ponder for a moment the actions of love and service you see around you each day. Often we take them for granted, as we are busy with the details of our life. Looking back over the past weeks, I am filled with gratitude as I see the body of Christ at work. How did that breakfast get prepared last Sunday…and cleaned up? How did those two beautiful displays get set up the last two Sundays? How did that storage building get put in place, the groundwork prepared and the concrete poured? How did the electric line get buried from the church to the storage shed? How do the F.Y.I.’s get put together? How do all the members of the worship team know when to sing, what to sing, and how to sing the songs? How do the nurture classes just happen and curriculum acquired? How do scriptures and announcements, and videos and power points just appear on the screen? How do the bills get paid? How did the church get cleaned? How was the bread available today…and the donuts? How does the communion just appear on the tables each week? How do we always have a nursery worker? How do people in need get cared for? How…? Well, you get my point. Join with me today in giving thanks and being grateful!
Today…we are celebrating the resurrection of the Lord. Last week we turned to Rev. 5:5-6 and saw the description of Jesus as both the Lamb who was slain and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This week we will look at Jesus as the Lion, but several had asked for the scripture references I used under the heading ‘Not the Bunny’. Here they are — It was the lamb slain from the foundation of the earth– Rev 13:8 Not the bunny! It is the lamb without spot or blemish– 1 Peter 1:20. It was the lamb who takes away the sins of the world– John 1:29. It is the lamb’s book of life– Rev. 13:8 (Not the bunny’s) Those coming out of the great tribulation will have their robes washed in the blood of the lamb– Rev. 7:14. It is the wrath of the lamb from which men will hide their face and before whom no one can stand-Rev. 6:16. It is the Lamb in the midst of the throne who will shepherd us and lead us to living fountains of waters. – Rev. 7:17 It is by the blood of the lamb we overcome! Rev. 12:11. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power & riches & wisdom & strength & honor & glory & blessing! – Rev 5:11. NOT THE BUNNY!
Today…our focus will be on Passover, which this year begins at sundown tomorrow. If you have attended Liberty Life for long, you know that we observe the Feasts of the Lord in accordance with the biblical calendar as revealed in Leviticus 23 and several other passages throughout scripture. Therefore, next Sunday, the day after the Sabbath of Passover week, is the Feast of Firstfruits and the day we observe and celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.
This year, as we observe these spring feasts, I will focus our messages on Jesus symbolized in scripture as both a lamb and a lion. As both the Passover Lamb and the Lion King! Today let us turn our attention and “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)
Today we welcome our guest minister, Nelson Vargas and his son, Joshua, from Chicago. Nelson is the pastor of the Silohe Evangelical Church, the same Open Bible Church where he had a powerful experience with Jesus, transforming him from a drug king pin to a Son of the King! Today we are blessed and honored to have Nelson with us to share his testimony and to encourage our faith. Today we also have the opportunity to bless Nelson and his ministry. A love offering is being received for Pastor Vargas and I am calling this congregation to be ‘over the top generous’, recognizing 1) the distance he has come, 2) the large number of meetings we have had him in these past 3 days, and 3) the amount of time he has had to take off from his regular work and from his congregation this weekend. The Word of God tells the church clearly to share freely with those who minister the Word and that they are worthy of their pay (Gal 6:6; 1 Tim 5:17-18). Therefore, today I ask each one to give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 97).
Today, one of the scriptures I will be referring to is Psalm 133:1, which reads, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” The Psalm ends with “For there the Lord commanded the blessing…” Last Sunday evening during the Kingdom Gathering Healing Service this Psalm was validated. Members from at least 7 churches filled the sanctuary of Bethel Family Fellowship and the atmosphere of unity in Christ was tangible. Linda and I have been to many services and conferences through the years, and we can say this one ranked up with the best. The presence of God was real, the worship refreshing, the fellowship of believers precious, and prayers were answered! We all recognized this was something we need to continue. It is my prayer that more from every congregation will take advantage of these unity services. To pray for unity among the body of Christ in the region but neglect to support such gatherings limits the blessings that the Lord desires to pour out upon us. These gatherings are also really good practice for the time to come when there will no longer be any division among believers and all will surround the one throne and together worship the Lamb!
Today I want to encourage you to begin making the next rotation of nurture classes here at Liberty Life a priority. I am often so shocked when I see the random interviews with young adults who cannot give the correct answer to who won the civil war or from whom did we gain our independence, yet can without hesitation give the answer to the last three spouses of a Hollywood star. How much more can we see how the last two generations, in general, have become biblically illiterate? Today I run into many who are 35 and younger who have never heard the story of David and Goliath or Daniel in the Lion’s Den, much less know anything about the calling of Abraham and the making of a people unto the Lord. The generation of children in America today will be far worse unless parents and the church become much more focused on the things of eternal value rather than those things of earth, which are a vapor. I am thankful for our body of believers of Liberty Life who are hungry for more of what really matters.
Today I share a warning regarding a very popular movie presently being shown called ‘The Shack’. ‘The Shack’ was written as a book in 2008 by William P. Young, which has now sold over 22 million copies. Although the book, and the movie, portray a loving God who truly cares for people and their deepest pain, ‘The Shack’ also has both subtle, and very direct doctrinal flaws, even heresy, that are leading many people away from biblical truth. Many respected theologians and apologist have recently come out exposing the danger of ‘The Shack’, including our good friend and apologist Eric Barger. I have made several copies of Dr. Michael Youssef’s resource explaining 13 heresies of the book. These copies can be found on the back table. The Shack is just one of a multitude of messages in our world today that appear and sound as something good and refreshing but are laced with deception and half truths. I believe Matthew 7:15 applies very clearly here – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Today I am contemplating the purpose of this ‘today’ article. I can’t exactly say when it started but it has been at least a year or two. I think it began as just a way of communicating something on my heart one particular day and then it quickly became an expected weekly thing because it was a filler for the F.Y.I. Interesting how easy it is for spontaneous actions to become traditional expectations. How many other things does that happen with in my life? How about in your life? How much time is wasted doing things that were good at one time but now are just done because they are expected to fill some void? Perhaps there are many who find encouragement or blessing through these words of ‘today’. Then, of course, I will gladly continue to share. But if not, perhaps we need instruction from 2 Kings 18:4 (note-you may also need to read Numbers 21:9).
Today we welcome Rabbi Dale Cohen. It is important that we hear the scripture from Dale’s perspective. Part of the reason can be found in this quote from an article of the Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies – ”While Christians in America view life with a Western mind and worldview, the Bible was written by Abraham’s descendants who had an Hebraic culture, language and worldview. This presents a real problem and challenge. We have a Middle-Eastern book that we seek to understand from our Western culture. Our Western perspective can easily cause us to misunderstand the Bible. Furthermore, our mind has been more influenced by Greek philosophy than biblical, Hebrew thought. This is why we must study the Hebraic/Jewish roots of Christianity. The Bible is a Hebrew book, telling the story of the Hebrew people. Jesus was a Hebrew Lord. We, on the other hand, are Western people sharing a very diverse and sometimes controversial heritage that comes from many sources. If the Bible is going to be understood in our day, we must develop ‘Hebrew eyes’ and ‘Hebrew attitudes’ toward life.”
Today, in part, we will be examining and applying John 1:5 to our lives. It is very interesting how this passage is translated in our English bibles. For instance the KJV reads: And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. While the NIV reads: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. From our perspective there seems to be quite a difference between ‘not comprehending’ and ‘not overcoming’. One commentator and Greek scholar writes, “The whole phrase is indeed a startling paradox. The light does not banish the darkness: the darkness does not overpower the light.”
Today we see a world in which the ‘light’ of the Gospel is proclaimed in every corner and yet darkness continues. In 2016, Christianity, the beacon of the light of Christ, was the most persecuted group with 90,000 Christians being killed. Yet, today, just as when Jesus walked the earth, we are called to ‘let our light shine’, even as darkness cast a thick veil that will not ‘admit’ the rays of light.
Today we are called to look also into our own lives and examine if any darkness within has pulled the shade and said ‘no more light. I would rather stay in the darkness in this particular area of my life’. If so, we have a decision to make!
Today we will focus on Hanukkah and temple dedication. Of course, before the temple could be rededicated, it had to be cleansed. I found of interest an article that referred to the first temple that needed cleansed was the Garden of Eden. Recent scholarship has argued that the Garden of Eden was a miniature replica of the cosmos; the cosmos itself being created as a giant temple of the living God. On this view, the entire universe is the heavenly temple and Eden is a replica of this temple. Seeing Eden in this way sheds light on a familiar Old Testament passage. In Genesis 2:15, Adam is placed in the Garden to “work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). G.K. Beale notes that when these two verbs occur together elsewhere in the Old Testament, they have reference to priestly service in the temple. It is fair to conclude, then, that Adam was not simply a farmer but the first priest in God’s microcosmic sanctuary. Part of Adam’s sin was his failure to keep what was unclean out of the garden-sanctuary. Today we are called to be priest of our body temple and discern what is unclean and clean! Is temple cleansing needed today?
Since I know your eyes are gazing upon the large item in the center of our sanctuary, let me just give some info on that subject and make this article short. The Hanukkah menorah or ‘hanukkiah’ is a nine branched candelabrum lit during the eight day feast of Hanukkah, as opposed to the seven branched candelabrum used in the Holy Place of the ancient Tabernacle and Temple. On each night of Hanukkah a new branch is lit. The ninth candle, in the middle and above others, is called the shamash (“helper” or “servant”), used to light all other candles. It of course points to Christ! This beautiful 8′ Hanukkiah in our sanctuary today was constructed and transported by our wonderful brother in Christ Chris Weber. We will have use of it through all of this wonderful festival. THANK YOU CHRIS! Oh, in case you are wondering, the world’s largest hanukkiahs are in New York City. Both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Grand Army Plazas display 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound steel Hanukkah menorahs!
Today we are blessed to have Dale Cohen share with us during both the nurture hour and the morning worship service. I know in part he will be focusing on the Jewish feast called Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication. The title I especially like for this celebration is the ‘Festival of Lights’. Light is primary for life. The first thing God created was light – “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” Gen 1:3. The first thing John communicates about Jesus is that he was ‘light’. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4.
One fascinating discovery in science recently is the fact that human life begins with a bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg. Video footage proves, for the very first time, that at the exact moment of conception, an explosion of sparks erupts from the egg. I find that fascinating. Thinking of how Jesus most likely was conceived at Hanukkah, I can only imagine the fireworks of light in Mary’s womb when the divine connected with the human! Truly, a Festival of Lights!
Today I will once more look to the book of Nehemiah. The final chapters of Nehemiah speak often of the joy of the Lord and the people. Chapter 12 is filled with praise. Certainly Nehemiah wanted to take the fullness of David’s final psalm and apply it to the dedication of the rebuilt wall.
Just as Psalm 150 builds into a chorus of praise with singers and instruments, the description of Nehemiah’s celebration almost bursts off the page with music and joy. Instruments of cymbals, harps, lyres, and trumpets were appointed for praise (Nehemiah 12:27, 35–36, 41). Singers gathered from around Judah, and Nehemiah divided them into two large choirs “to give thanks” (12:31). Then he sent them in opposite directions around the wall, in effect surrounding the city with a citadel of praise. What a beautiful picture of the power of praise literally encircling the city along with the rebuilt wall! The rejoicing was so full, rich, and loud that it could “be heard far away” (12:43). Today, as we praise and worship may we consider the multitude of other congregation surrounding our city with joyful praise. Today, I dream of a time when literally all Christians of our community would genuinely come together as one to surround our city with such praise and worship. Today, may that be our prayer!
Today, we continue receiving the Word from the book of Nehemiah. If you spend time in Nehemiah you will observe Nehemiah’s focus was not just on building the wall around Jerusalem, but also of restoring a people from ruin and despair to right relationship with their God. Jerusalem is not only an historic city that for centuries has been the center of the life of the nation of Israel, it is also a symbolic city. What it pictures is the place where God desires to dwell. He instructed David and his son Solomon that Jerusalem was the place where He wanted a temple built for his name and where he would dwell among His people. But also, according the New Testament, people are to be the dwelling place of God. God seeks to dwell in the human spirit. That is the great secret that humanity has largely lost today but which New Testament Christianity seeks to restore. Paul’s great statement in the letter to the Colossians is,
Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). This is God’s provision and desire for us. Jerusalem-in-ruins is a picture of a life that has lost its defenses against attack and lies open to repeated hurt and misery. The book of Nehemiah depicts the way of recovery from breakdown and ruin to a condition of peace, security, restored order, and usefulness.
Today…From A Pastor
I say from a pastor because I didn’t write this, but it is so good and it fits so well into our study in recent weeks that I wanted to share it!
What breaks your heart? What makes you say, “Somebody should really do something about that?” Maybe that somebody is you. We are all called to make a difference. We might think we are not qualified or that we don’t have the resources. We might fear doing something uncomfortable or worry what people will think. Nehemiah has been through all that and more. Nehemiah’s heart was broken because Jerusalem’s walls were destroyed. Instead of just mourning and praying about it, Nehemiah decided to do something about it. He looked for the opportunities God gave him and courageously took steps to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah gathered a team to make a difference with him, and he never gave up despite challenges and opposition. The book of Nehemiah gives us a blueprint of what making a difference can look like. Let Nehemiah’s faith, boldness, and obedience encourage you as you take steps to make a difference for what breaks your heart. (devotional from NewSpring Church)
Today…and especially Thursday, is a day to give thanks unto the Lord. Today you may be inwardly responding, “If you knew my life right now you would know it’s hard to give thanks“. Well, perhaps you can start with giving thanks that you have breath. Or if you are a Christian, giving thanks for eternal life. Or giving thanks that the Lord is with you and will never leave you. I read a post recently that offered the following suggestion. “Today sit still where you are and exercise the gift of noticing. Notice what you see, what you have, and who is with you. Notice the color, beauty, and variety around you. Keep noticing, and make a list of the gifts you notice. Then give thanks to God, the great giver!” Yes, there are many in difficult circumstances. But remember, we are not told to give thanks ‘for‘ all circumstances, but ‘in‘ all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18). Today, you can know you are in the will of God if you are giving thanks. Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!
As I watched the election coverage on Tuesday night, I was most enamored with the changing rhetoric of the news commentators. Even though I was listening to the more conservative of stations, even they were in disbelief of what was occurring. Through the evening, as the shift became evident, a multitude of opinions began to come forth as to the reason Donald Trump was now winning the election. There were comments of how he connected with the working class and how he took advantage of massive rallies and key states and worked incredibly hard and smart the last week of the election. Then of course there was the “Comey factor” and the investigations of Hillary Clinton that never went away. But only very briefly did I hear about the ‘evangelical’ factor and of course there was no mention of the incredible prayer movement for this election.
Today I would boldly say the #1 reason for the ‘miraculous’ election of Donald Trump was the steadfast relentless prayers of the remnant of grass roots, bible believing, God fearing, faith declaring, love for our country Christians! I believe we are witnessing the answer of 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people will humble themselves and pray … I will heal their land!” No, I am not saying that Donald Trump is THE answer. Most certainly he can be used to open the doors to a great revival as well as administer justice in the land. But I believe the real change agents are the hearts and voices of God’s people who recognize the importance of praying and continually voting their biblical values, while ultimately trusting in Jehovah God. This is what will lead us back to a blessed nation whose God is the Lord. (Ps 33:12) I am glad we have a President who knows the greatness of our God. Mr. Trump recently commented on a golf course he had made a great deal to purchase, saying, “That’s what I want to do for the country. Make great deals. We have to, we have to bring it back, but God is the ultimate … there’s nothing like God!”
Today, let us CONTINUE to pray for our nation at this time of transition. Pray for wisdom for President elect Trump as he builds his team of leadership and pray for healing to begin as all of us together rebuild our nation in the love of God!
Today we will be emphasizing the importance of our responsibility to pray for our nation and leaders, as well as exercising our right to vote for such a time as this. The first and foremost act of faith is to pray. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”
On the back table are several prayer guides as practical help in your times of prayer in the next few days, especially during our 24 hour prayer vigil. In these guides you will find a list of petitions and prayers covering a variety of topics that address the issues being faced in this election. A scripture text is referenced with each topic. However, I would encourage all to turn to a scripture prayer that is an excellent resource on prayer that changes a nation. In Daniel chapter nine, Daniel poured out his heart in prayer. What happened? Heaven was moved, a nation was changed, and generations felt the impact. His prayer can easily be adapted to communicate the cry of the church in America today. I ask you to join me in praying Daniel 9:1-14 for the next 3 days and to personalize it. Certainly ‘shame of face’ belongs to us as a church and nation, and we have so much for which we need to repent. But righteousness, mercy, and forgiveness belongs to our God (vs 7-9)!
Today I want to remind all that Election Day is fast approaching, and there is much at stake. In many ways, the future of our state and our nation hangs in the balance. Christians around the country are being called upon to devote themselves to focused prayer for the upcoming election. As your pastor, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the 24 hour prayer vigil we will be having here at Liberty Life before and during election day. Prayer guides are available on the back table so you can begin praying now! And of course, make sure you vote. I expect nothing less than 100% of our qualified voters at Liberty Life to actually vote in this election. Amazing that in 2012 the majority of Christians didn’t vote. If Christians would just vote, and vote their biblical values, then elections in this country would be much different. The old proverb is still true: “Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.” The Christian community, which has been commanded by Christ to engage our culture as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16) and participate in government (Matt. 22:21), must seize these opportunities to vote its values. Next Sunday we will look more closely at the issues at stake and our responsibility as Christians.
Today is the 8th day of the Feast of tabernacles (Lev. 23:39)which is known as Shemini Atzeret. Shemini means the 8th day in relationship to the 7 days of Tabernacles. Atzeret means a day of assembly. So today it is good we gather together in worship as we end the Feast of Tabernacles. But today, we also celebrate another special day that may seem a little strange to some who have been brought up in the traditions of celebrating Jesus’ birth on the 25th of December. Today and tonight our worship will focus on Jesus birth because there is both biblical and historical evidence Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles. It makes sense he was born in a sukkah, a tent where the animals were kept, since he was born in a manger. It also makes sense the Lord established an appointed time each year for all to dwell in tents in order to identify with the humble birth of our Lord. It was also very likely he was circumcised on the 8th day on Shemini Atzeret. When eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Yeshua, which was given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21). Wow! What a wonderful day to rejoice and celebrate the birth of our Savior according to the Word, and not the world!
Today we turn our attention to the last of the seven feasts of the Lord—The Feast of Tabernacles. It was certainly something our Savior did as he walked the earth.
Jesus, being a man who perfectly lived out Torah, was well aware of the passage in Deuteronomy 16:16 where we read, “Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Passover], the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles.” Therefore, Jesus attended the feast and began to teach the people. By doing so he was continually revealing himself as the Messiah and giving opportunity for people to believe in him. In John 7:31 we read how many in the crowd put their faith in Jesus during the feast of tabernacles. We too must all come to a personal revelation and realization that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Jesus revealed Himself until the people during “The Feast of Tabernacles” over two thousand years ago. As we read in John 7:37, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’” To me that is good news and another reason we should celebrate during the “Feast of Tabernacles” each year. Amen.
On Yom Kippur I always think of two goats. During the days of the temple, the high priest slaughtered the goat chosen ‘for the Lord’ and sprinkled its blood before the atonement cover in the Holy of Holies. This was to atone for or ‘cover’ the sins of the people. The apostle Paul explained that Jesus has become our atoning sacrifice. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood (Rom 3:25). Isaiah foretells of Jesus’ brutal death and how his blood will sprinkle many nations (Isa 53:6)
The other goat, called Azazel or scapegoat, bore away the sins of the people into the wilderness where it died. Isaiah foretold that Jesus would carry all our sins away…the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6)
Today Jews who haven’t accepted the Messiah try to find atonement for their sins through prayers and good works, even swinging chickens and cutting their throats, yet only Jesus can atone for sin. Today we pray for all, Jews and Gentiles alike, who need to have the veil removed from the eyes of their heart so that they can truly experience cleansing from sin by repentance and faith in Christ. Then they can have assurance their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Today you will see a ‘gate’ as a central display. It is s symbol of our fall feast celebration. There are two verses I would have us consider. One is from Ex 23:16 which reads, “Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field”. This is speaking of the appointed time of the Lord to come together and give thanks to the Lord for all that He has provided. This appointed time is the true source of our Thanksgiving holiday. All God’s people were to enter into the gates of the city with thanksgiving and offerings to the Lord.
This brings up the second verse for us to consider: Ps 100:4. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name”. Yes, as we read the Bible we see the people coming to offer thanksgiving for the past year’s blessing. However, they also came to offer up prayer for the rains for the next year’s crops. It was a time of examining hearts, repenting of sin, getting rid of anything that would hinder Yahweh’s blessing of rain upon the land. The fall feasts were a time of repentance as well as a time of rejoicing.
Today, we also rejoice in the blessings of God, especially we give thanks for Jesus. But it is also a time we examine our hearts, and rid ourselves of anything in our own life, and the life of the church, that hinders revival and the harvest of souls into the kingdom of God. Today, on this feast of trumpets, there is a call of the shofar for the church to awake unto righteousness and prepare the way of the Lord!
Today Bruce Pfadenhauer, the vice president of Open Bible Churches and the executive director of our region, will be sharing with us one of the key elements of Open Bible’s mission – planting churches! Church planting is the establishing of an organized body of believers in a new location. The process of church planting involves evangelism, the discipleship of new believers, the training of church leaders, and the organization of the church. It was by church planting in the power of the Holy Spirit that the New Testament church exploded across continents. With our connection to Open Bible Churches, Liberty Life Center can be effective in church planting by planting a church ourselves or coming alongside one or more other Open Bible Churches with resources and prayer as they plant a church. Either way, the Kingdom of God is advanced and Christ is exalted and we have been faithful to our calling. Today, may we be attentive to the message and honor the Lord’s servants, Bruce Pfadenhauer and his wife Robin.
Today you will hear the term “normalcy bias”. It is defined as a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare. Simply put, the bias is a defense mechanism that causes our brains to insist that all is okay. Everything will return to normal. For most of us who have never faced true peril, ’normalcy bias’ tells us that nothing bad will ever happen. This is America to- day and this is sadly even most of the church today. Social collapse, even end time tribulation is at hand but incredibly, the most obvious warning signs are ignored. The Holocaust was a good example. The “bias” explains why so many Jews continued living in Germany, even after they were forced to wear identifying yellow stars and discriminatory laws were passed against Jewish people. Life had been so good for so long that, surely, things would get better. Jews who could have easily afforded to move out of the country stayed, and perished. How are you prepared for things to come?
Today is a day we proclaim loudly ‘Bless the Lord oh my soul’ as we acknowledge and receive the benefits of the cross and the power of the resurrection. Psalm 103 reveals how the Lord forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems us from destruction, crowns us with loving-kindness, and satisfies our mouth with good things. Today we are blessed to receive from the Lord in multiple ways. Marlene Klepees will deliver a Word from the Lord and minister under His healing anointing. We also will partake corporately in Holy Communion where literally our mouth will be satisfied with the good things, the best things, of the Lord: his body, his blood, his very presence! As you receive communion think upon the presence of Jesus going into every part of your body, permeating every cell, bringing new life to each part of the body that is dis- eased. By faith, see the blood of Jesus circulating in your own cardiovascular system, bringing light into every part of your body and His healing presence into every part where there is dis-ease. As you hear the Word, may it go deep and stir up faith. As you receive prayer, receive His love and His power for any and every situation and allow His presence to be manifested in new life.
It happens every so often. A person returns a Bible because I made a mistake on the imprint. Although it is a substantial loss, I offer the customer a replacement of the Bible and a new imprint. However, there are occasions when the Bible is not available or cannot be received quick enough. Most customers are aware of the expense of replacement and simply ask, “Can you fix it”? When we started the store 15 years ago, I was told by other imprinters it was impossible. However, over the years, with opportunity for trial and error, I have become pretty efficient at repairing and ‘hiding’ mistakes. For our customers that is a good thing, but the spiritual application of hiding mistakes is just the opposite. As we grow older and gain more life experience, we can get pretty good at hiding mistakes, hiding sin. But that will never fare well for our self, for others, and certainly not with God. No, as we mature as Christians we should become more efficient at recognizing our shortcomings, failures, and sins and confessing we can never ‘fix them’. To truly make things right we give them over to Jesus who alone can fix them. He takes care of the total expense and gives me a new life without fear of condemnation. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities. Ps 103:2-3
The Olympics were well known in the 1st Century. The apostle Paul in 1 Cor 9:25 took these games, explains John Piper and “taught the Christians to transpose them into a different level, and to see in the Games a reality very different than everyone else is seeing. He said in effect, “The Games are played at this level of reality. They run at this level. They box at this level. They train and practice and deny themselves at this level. They set their sights on the gold at this level. “Now I want you to see all that at another level. I want you to transpose the temporary struggles and triumphs of the Olympic Games onto a different level of reality — the level of spiritual life and eternity and God. When you see the athletes run, see another kind of running. When you see them boxing, see another kind of boxing. When you see them training and denying themselves, see another kind of training and self-denial. When you see them smiling with a gold medal around their neck, see another kind of prize.”
Today we will be talking about temptation. James tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed (James 1:14). We can be led away by temptation (Luke 8:13) and can be tempted by Satan when we fail to have self control (1 Cor 7:5). We are instructed in the Word to pray that we will not be led into temptation (Lk 11:4) and that we will not enter temptation (Lk 22:40). The promise of the Word of God is that we will never be tempted beyond what we can bear and when we are tempted the Lord will provide a way out (1Cor 10:13) because the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation (2 Peter 2:9). Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are but was without sin (Heb 4:15), so that he could help us when we are tempted (Heb 2:18). So a good question to ask ourselves today is, why do we still fall into temptation and sin? Let’s talk about it!
Today, we continue to look at what it means, as Christians, to be salt and light in the world. Today, we will look at Jesus’ word regarding oaths as found in Matthew 5:33-37. To be salt and light in the world, we are called to be people of integrity; people whose behavior matches their words; people whose private life matches their public life.
During any election year, and especially this year, campaigns spend far more time seeking to expose character flaws of the opponent than they do in addressing the current issues. I was a bit humored the other day when I heard a preacher say you know a politician is lying when you see their lips moving!
Today, just as in the time of Christ, many are looking for people who say what they mean and mean what they say. No extra words like “I swear on a stack of bibles” or “with God as my witness” or even “cross my heart and hope to die” are needed; a people who can be believed, who keep their promises, and follow through with a commitment made with a handshake.
Today, let us be a people of integrity and may our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and our ‘no’, ‘no’!
When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it “sings,” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it goes back into the oven.
The character of a person is also checked by thumping. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us. They catch us off guard. They aren’t big enough to be crises, but if you get enough of them, watch out!
Do I sing? Or do I thud? Jesus said that “out of the na- ture of the heart a man speaks” (Luke 6:45). There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the true nature of a heart. If you have a tendency to thud more than you sing, take heart. Remember, no thump is disastrous. All things work for good if we are loving and obeying God.
“God is With You Every Day” ~Max Lucado
Today we will be talking about the title Jesus gave to his followers in Matthew 5:16 “You are the light of the world.” Of course It was the title he took upon himself in John 8:12 when he said “I am the light of the world” and then inferred that we are to be light carriers when he continued, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Think about that. In Christ we have the ‘light of life’! We alone carry the true revelation of what real life is and how it is obtained. We alone have intimate fellowship with the giver of life, the sustainer of life and the source of eternal life. No wonder Jesus demanded that we let our light (which is really his light in us) shine before others. The world is in darkness. And even though there are multitudes that love the darkness and won’t come to the light, there are yet many who are ready to come to the light, if only it would be shown (John 3:18-21). This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine! Will you join me?
Last week a phenomenon hit the digital app world with the introduction of Pokémon Go. Pokémon, short for ‘pocket monster’, is quite the craze in our culture and much of the church is right in the midst of its promotion. Just a game? Hardly! Created in rebellion to Christianity, the game conditions children and youth into accepting occult and evolutionary principles. As Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (C.A.R.M.) contends, “I do not see how allowing children to play with games that encourage fighting, reading of minds, use of poison, mimicry, taunting, teleportation, hypnosis, and evolution can be a good thing. This is not training a child to righteousness; it is accepting the occult and secular evolution. Is this what we, as Christians, want our children to meditate on? Of course not.”
Tragically, most of the church will not heed the warning and continue in rebellion to the clear mandates of God’s Word to have nothing to do with such activity because it is an abomination unto the Lord (Deut. 18:9-12). How much longer will we continue down the steep slope of apostasy before the Lord says, ‘enough’? It could always be … today!!
Today, even though I am not with you, is a good day to start that ‘to do’ list you keep putting off. In case you don’t have one, let me give you ten items that, when accomplished, will bring you great blessing:
- Spend time with Jesus (Psalm 27:8)
- Let Jesus prioritize my day (Matthew 6:33) Make Him part of everything
- Pray instead of worrying (Philippians 4:6) Worry is a lack of trust in God
- Be honest about my sins (James 4:10) Realize that excusing sin hurts me more than anyone else
- Think of others (Philippians 2:3-4) Discouragement is of- ten the result of being self- focused
- Wait patiently for God to act (Psalm 27:14) He knows the best time for all things
- Be willing to do the hard stuff (Matthew 16:24) Everything worthwhile requires hard work
- Read God’s Word (Psalm 119:9-16) It’s my lifeline
- Do what it savvy (James 1:22) Love for Christ = obedience
- Let Christ lead me (Matthew 11:29) Remember I’m His FOLLOWER
Today, we worship freely without persecution. During this 4th of July weekend we celebrate our independence as a nation and the benefits of living in a free nation. Today is a day to recognize just how blessed we are. For instance, today 50,000-70,000 Christians suffer unspeakable torture in political prison camps within North Korea. They will rise in the predawn hours, eat a few mouthfuls of corn porridge and cabbage, and trudge to an as- signed workplace. They then spend about 15 hours toiling in coal mines, cleaning and maintaining the camp, or doing farm work or construction work. In late evening, they return to housing units or apartments above their workplace to eat the same meager meal before falling to sleep on concrete floors. The believers in these concentration camps are prisoners of a war being waged on Christians in North Korea. Forty percent of these believers will die in prison by torture and starvation. Today we celebrate our religious liberty as we pray for the millions of Christians in the world who yet suffer under oppressive regimes do not have liberty to worship openly and without fear of persecution.
Today, we are blessed to have Rev. Tom Stamman with us. Tom is a man of great passion and perseverance. Yes, Tom is known to most for his gifting in prophesy, but the gifts of administration, compassion, and encouragement are very strong in his life as well. He and his wife’s work in Honduras will amaze you.
Today you will see and hear the operation of the gift of prophecy 1 Corinthians 14:1-4 reveals that we are to “pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” It is desired because through prophecy the church is edified, receives exhortation, and experiences comfort. I believe the Lord uses Tom to do just that and you will leave encouraged, expecting and hopeful. You will also leave knowing your generous love offering will bear tremendous fruit!
Today, a couple of verses from the hymn “This is my Father’s World” seem appropriate.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget, That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done: Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and Heav’n be one. This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face, I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.” This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above, The Beloved One, His Only Son, Came — a pledge of deathless love.
Today, we give thanks for earthly fathers and spiritual fathers, but most of all we acknowledge and give thanks for the everlasting faithful love of our Heavenly Father!!
Today is the 4th feast day, or appointed time, on the Biblical calendar. In Hebrew it is called Shavuot, meaning ‘weeks’, but we know it as Pentecost. This prophetic feast of the Lord of Leviticus 23:16 finds its fulfillment in Acts chapter 2 as God poured out the Holy Spirit to birth the church and empower her for witness and ministry.
It should also be noted that on this day, 1200 years earlier, the nation of Israel was birthed when God gave the Torah, the law, on Mt. Sinai. A birthday shared by both the giving of the Word and the Spirit. Another reminder of the need to keep the two in balance.
Today, let us keep in remembrance the quote of Derek Prince so applicable for these last days. “To seek the manifestations of the Spirit apart from the Word will always end in foolishness, fanaticism, and error. To profess the Word without the quickening of the Spirit results only in dead, powerless orthodoxy and religious formalism.”
Today we will talk about ‘giving’! Certainly not the most favorite subject matter in the church. That fact only reveals just how far we are in understanding the kingdom of God.
In the kingdom, giving is a means of receiving: ‘give and it shall be given unto you’. Giving unto the Lord is a gesture of faith (Mt. 12:41-44). Giving unto the Lord advances the work of the kingdom (Acts 20:35). Giving unto the Lord is the first act of worship (Gen. 4:3). Giving honors the Lord (Prov. 3:9). Giving and the subject of finances appears in scripture three times more than the subject of prayer.
So why is giving unto the Lord our least favorite subject? Perhaps because it so quickly reveals which kingdom truly has our heart. Giving unto the Lord reveals our faith in God, our priorities in life, our obedience to the Word, and our compassion for others.
Today, may giving unto the Lord bring us great joy, glorify His name, and advance His kingdom!
Today, let us remember. The first official Memorial Day observance, then known as Decoration Day took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, which held the remains of 20,000 Union soldiers and several Confederate dead. The speaker at the first official Memorial Day service urged the audience of 5,000 to tend the graves of the dead soldiers to testify that our country had not forgotten the cost of a free, undivided republic.
After World War I, citizens expanded the observances to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and changed the date to the last Monday in May. In recent years, many use the occasion to decorate the graves of loved ones.
May we also remember that when we take part in the Lord’s Supper we are testifying that we remember the cost of our salvation. We are celebrating a “Memorial Meal” in honor of the One who won the war against death and sin. Today, we remember and give thanks for the gift of freedom that comes with a cost … a cost of blood!
Today we recognize our graduates and celebrate this milestone in their earthly journey. My wife calls the journey a ‘dash’ referring to the line between the birth date and the death date. The Word of the Lord gives good counsel so we don’t waste any time on the dash. Here are three verses that encourage the youth to not try and plan out your life! Let the Lord direct your steps. If David would have planned out his life to be a shepherd or a musician, he never would have accepted the opportunity to be a king.
Now is the time like no other “Lord, I am your servant. What would you have me to do?” Jeramiah 10:23 – O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. Proverbs 19:21 – There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel – that will stand. Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.
Don’t make the mistake of most people, including Christians, who plan their life and then fit God in. Rather give your life to Him and let Him direct it and fill it. Today that is good advice for all of us, regardless of where we are on the dash!
Today is a day the church often honors mothers. Although ‘Mother’s Day’ on our civil calendars came about because of the efforts of Ann Jarvis in 1908 to honor her own mother and motherhood in general, the honoring of mothers is certainly biblical. In fact, after the first four commandments that deal with our relationship with the Lord, “Honor your father and your mother…” is the first of the final six commandments regarding our relationship with each other. What is more, it is the only commandment given with a promise attached- “…that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you”.
Regardless of how well we were ‘mothered’, all humanity was given life through the womb of a mother. And for this, all of us are required to give thanks!
The word for today is FREEDOM! We were able to witness much freedom this weekend at the Cleansing Retreat and trust we will see more over the next 3 days as Dr. Timothy Davis brings us a word on the renewed mind. Talking about freedom, I found these comments from a 1928 committee on ‘Worldly Amusements’ quite revealing: “The Word of God teaches that the Christian is a free man and should ‘stand in the freedom which Christ has made him free.’ What is meant by Christian freedom? What is freedom in general? We answer: it is not the right and the ability to do as one pleases, but the ability to move without constraint in the sphere for which God made us. Freedom therefore is not inconsistent with limitation and law. The bird is free only when it can move in the air unhindered. A worm is free when it is not prevented from moving in the ground—-in a sphere that would mean bondage and death for many other creatures. A locomotive is not free unless its motion is confined to the two rails on which it was made to run. Man was made in the image of God to be like Him and to reflect his holiness. Consequently he is free only when he moves without constraint in the sphere of holiness and obedience to God’s law.”
Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The older we become, and the longer we have walked the journey of Christian faith, the more this day will stir our hearts with precious memories and expectations. Today which scriptures will be read? Will we hear of the women going to the tomb early in the morning to find the stone rolled away, or the message of the angels asking why they were looking for the dead among the living, or Mary’s private conversation with the Lord, or perhaps the race be- tween Peter and John to get to the empty grave? Will we sing ‘Up From the Grave He Arose’ or ‘He Lives’? Will 1 Corinthians 15 and Jesus becoming the Firstfruits of the resurrection be on our lips? Today, expect the comfort of the known as well as the freshness of the new. Today, let us celebrate the resurrection of our Lord!
Today we begin a week of special opportunities as we celebrate the special season of Passover and Firstfruits (Resurrection Sunday). I en- courage you to take in all of our planned events as well as set aside some ’alone’ time reflecting on the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. Today we are blessed to have Pastor Chris Weber of Mt. Carmel Farms in Marshall sharing the message of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Wednesday Rabbi Dale Cohen will lead us through a complete Seder service with full dinner. Friday will be a day of prayer from noon till midnight with a corporate prayer service at 6 p.m. The week will finish off with a Sunday morning breakfast served by the men before we all join together in worship to our Risen Lord and King! There will be special displays and presentations throughout the week so you won’t want to miss a single event.
Today I will be sharing on the importance of blessing. I caught this at the end of an article by John Ortberg and I was ‘blessed’ by it. Therefore I speak these words over Liberty Life today also!
May the Lord God Almighty, in his mercy, obliterate every word, statement, experience, and invisible barrier you may have constructed that is keeping his blessing from reaching your heart. May the unrelenting love of God pursue you and surprise you with his compassion for you. May the forgiveness of Jesus Christ restore and renew your hearts. May the living waters of the Holy Spirit fill you and flow through you to a struggling and broken world. May God’s peace rest upon you, and may the Lord fill you with his joy. May his joy become your strength. In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Today I notice a growing sense of weariness among the saints. The battle of advancing the Kingdom of God is often unrelenting. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the strength of the enemies on the earth. There seems to be so many needs and so little resources, so much bondage and so little deliverance, so much pain and so little comfort, so many lies and so few voices of truth, so much destruction and so little restoration, so many fragmented lives and so few testimonies of wholeness, so much weakness and so little power. But today is not a day to focus on what ‘seems to be’ but what ‘is’ in Christ and what we are called to be in Him!
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4); Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37); And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9)
Today is not a day to lose heart. Today is a day to remain in the fight and claim the victory already won in Christ!
Today is the last Sunday in March. Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday was January 1st. Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by activity and information. The internet and phones that are suppose to save us time too often seem to rob us of time. Information from all over the world downloaded by the second keeps us always struggling to filter the important and the trivial, the serious from the light. For every bit of information we receive we have to respond in some way, even if it means we choose to ignore. Yet the time it takes to evaluate and make such a decision has been consumed and is no more. Today, information of tragedies like the bombings in Brussels, or the political, economical, moral and spiritual crisis of our country cannot be ignored. Nor can our time in God’s Word or fellowship with believers, or intimacy with Christ. Today will all too quickly be tomorrow and tomorrow will be our today! Today, let us make the most of our time together. Let us give all for the One who has given all so that we can enjoy the gift of endless tomorrows and fulfilled todays!
Today I would like us to ponder a ‘Deja vu’ of our daily bible readings, which is now in 1 Corinthians. Deja vu is French for ‘already seen’. I found it interesting that Paul used pretty much the same phrase in both chapter 3 and chapter 6 while commenting on two different issues facing the church. In chapter 3 the issue was how we are building on our foundational faith in Christ and in chapter 6 theernet and phones that are suppose to save us time too often seem to rob us of time. Information from all over the world downloaded by the second keeps us always struggling to filter the important and the trivial, the serious from the light. For every bit of information we receive we have to respond in some way, even if it means we choose to ignore. Yet the time it takes to evaluate and make such a decision has been consumed and is no more. Today, information of tragedies like the bombings in Brussels, or the political, economical, moral and spiritual crisis of our country cannot be ignored. Nor can our time in God’s Word or fellowship with believers, or intimacy with Christ. Today will all too quickly be tomorrow and tomorrow will be our today! Today, let us make the most of our time together. Let us give all for the One who has given all so that we can enjoy the gift of endless tomorrows and fulfilled todays!
Today I would like us to ponder a ‘Deja vu’ of our daily bible readings, which is now in 1 Corinthians. Deja vu is French for ‘already seen’. I found it interesting that Paul used pretty much the same phrase in both chapter 3 and chapter 6 while commenting on two different issues facing the church. In chapter 3 the issue was how we are building on our foundational faith in Christ and in chapter 6 the issue is sexual immorality. Yet in both chapters Paul confronted the recipient by with a question using very similar wording, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (3:16, 3:19).Obviously, whenever a phrase is repeated in scripture it is worthy of special notice. Perhaps all of us would do well to listen to the Lord speak those words over us! Knowing we are his temple on this earth and that He dwells in us should have very strong influence on how we demonstrate the life of Christ on a daily basis. How did I, in Christ, advance the Kingdom of God this week? How did I, in Christ, destroy the works of darkness in my life this week? Today, check the temple!
Today, I have included an article in the FYI giving information as to why Liberty Life does not celebrate ‘Easter’ as the majority of churches do, but rather seek to be faithful to honor the Lord in all things, especially the appointed time of his passion, death, and resurrection. If you continue to have questions concerning our days of celebration I encourage you to sign up for the Feast of the Lord class that will begin April 3rd. The bible says we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of God so that we are not carried away by error (2 Peter 3:18). Let us be faithful to His Word.
Today, I would also like to remind you to not neglect voting in this week’s primary election. As Christians consider the candidates’ stand on welfare (helping the needy with hand up, not necessarily a hand out), caring for widows and orphans, taxes, the economy, freedom of religion (separation of Church and State), racism, education, marriage, family, homosexuality, parental rights, prayer in public schools, the nation of Israel and peace for Jerusalem, war, national defense, right to bear arms, and especially the sanctity of life which impacts all the others. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and give wisdom in our decisions for such a time as this.
Why doesn’t Liberty Life have an ‘Easter’ Celebration Service?
Since 2008, Liberty Life Center has celebrated Christ’ resurrection, the foundational truth of the Christian faith, on the day clearly appointed in scripture as the Sunday after Passover. This day on the biblical calendar is also called the Feast of Firstfruits. Resurrection Sunday this year will be April 24. By celebrating the resurrection on the day given in scripture we, along with a growing number of churches, seek to remain faithful to the Word of the Lord and to not compromise with pagan beliefs that have infiltrated the church.
The Early church, for many years was faithful to keep the biblically appointed days such as Passover and Unleavened Bread, of which First fruits is a part (Lev 23-4-14), celebrating the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. As anti-Semitism grew in the latter 2nd to the early 4th century, Gentile church leaders began to distance themselves from Jewish pract of life which impacts all the others. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and give wisdom in our decisions for such a time as this.
Why doesn’t Liberty Life have an ‘Easter’ Celebration Service?
Since 2008, Liberty Life Center has celebrated Christ’ resurrection, the foundational truth of the Christian faith, on the day clearly appointed in scripture as the Sunday after Passover. This day on the biblical calendar is also called the Feast of Firstfruits. Resurrection Sunday this year will be April 24. By celebrating the resurrection on the day given in scripture we, along with a growing number of churches, seek to remain faithful to the Word of the Lord and to not compromise with pagan beliefs that have infiltrated the church.
The Early church, for many years was faithful to keep the biblically appointed days such as Passover and Unleavened Bread, of which First fruits is a part (Lev 23-4-14), celebrating the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. As anti-Semitism grew in the latter 2nd to the early 4th century, Gentile church leaders began to distance themselves from Jewish practice and holy days. By 325, at the council of Nicea, while Emperor Constantine dictated the agenda, the date of Passover celebrations would be moved to the Sunday after the 1st full moon of the vernal equinox. This is the day the pagans of a variety of cultures venerate their gods, one of the greatest being the goddess of fertility ‘Ishtar’ or ‘Easter’. With this pagan worship came the traditions of rabbits, colored eggs, and eating of ham.
We do not believe God’s set times should be changed. Daniel warned of such arrogant leaders when he prophesied “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws (Daniel 7:25).
We choose to insure Jesus’ name is central to the celebration of the Christ’s death and resurrection and not the name ‘Easter’ which is certain- ly an abomination to the Lord. How can the church even think of using the name of a pagan goddess to honor the Lord’s most holy day!!!!
Deuteronomy 12:3- Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah (Semitic name for Easter fertility goddess) poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
Note: “The word [Easter] does not properly occur in Scripture, although [the King James Version] has it in Acts 12:4 where it was translated from the Greek word ‘Pascha’ meaning Passover. All other translations rightly render it as Passover.
Today is Valentine’s Day. It is one of the few holidays in our western church calendar that has a Christian origin.
Two centuries after Christ, there was a Roman priest named Valentine. This priest secretly married young Christian couples at a time when it was illegal to marry because of an edict by Roman emperor Claudius. Claudius believed unmarried men fought better than married men because married men would be more afraid of getting killed and not being able to care for their families. Valentine, like the church, believed marriage was sacred and must continue. Valentine was eventually caught and, in 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of beating, stoning, and finally decapitation, all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to a young girl who had been blind but received prayer from Valentine and received her sight. He signed the note “from your Valentine.” Today, we also celebrate Holy Communion. It too is a message of love and martyrdom. Jesus is the ultimate Valentine!
Today, our brother in the Lord, Jack Dukes, will be bringing a relevant message from the book (or better said, ‘letter’) entitled ‘Philemon’. Since this letter from Paul in the New Testament is only 25 verses long, it may be considered by some as not all that important. I would remind you that the books of the prophets in the Old Testament were divided into two sections called the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets with the only reason being the size of the book. Yet, some of the greatest Messianic prophecies come out of the Minor Prophets like Zechariah, Hosea, and Micah. Likewise the church has much to gain from this ’minor’ letter of Paul to the prominent slave owner named Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, a runaway and deserter, thief, and formerly worthless slave, but now a brother in Christ to Paul AND PHILEMON. It should be noted that the letter was written not just to Philemon but also to the ‘church’ that met in his house. May the church of Liberty Life receive also the word of the Lord from this letter of grace!
At the end of today, what will you say, and what will others say about your day?
I am sure you have heard it said, “today is a gift, don’t waste it.” Of course, there are many other things spoken about today. Here are some you may have heard:
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ~ Mother Teresa
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” ~ Bil Keane
“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” ~ Jesus, Matt. 6:34 NKJV
So, at the end of today, what will you say about this day? The clock is ticking! (7.26.15)
Today, there will be men making a resolution. Men determined and declaring they will be the husband and father God has created them to be. They are choosing to be courageous in these times of compromise and complacency. On numerous occasions in the scripture the Lord commands, “fear not” and “be courageous.” One such passage was Joshua 1:7. The Lord tell Joshua to ‘ be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go’.
The intent and meaning of ‘very courageous’ here is that special kind of courage that comes only from a right relationship with God, through sincere obedience to His commands, creating an inner confidence in knowing that El Shaddai (God Almighty) is with you.
Today, each of us is called to be the man or woman, church and people God Almighty has called us to be according to his ways and his commands. Today, as never before, it will take courage. But the source of the courage is always clearly given; for I am with you … I will neither leave you nor will I forsake you! (Joshua1:5)
Today, I will conclude my comments regarding our declaration of W.A.R. against darkness in 2016. We have covered the “W” for the Word, and the “A” of Active Faith. Today we will emphasize the importance of Relationship in the Body of Christ to overcome the enemy of our faith. Last week I mentioned scriptures like Deut. 32:30 where, if 1 can put 1,000 to flight, 2 can rout 10,000! We are very vulnerable when alone. It is not by chance that the bible has 59 “one another” verses commanding believers to encourage one another, love one another, serve one another, and pray for one another. In Hebrews, we are urged not to neglect meeting together and all the more as we see the day of the Lord’s return approaching (10:25). Why all the more? Because, the enemy knows his time is short and he is coming down in great wrath (Rev. 12:12). Today, I encourage you to continue to strengthen your relationship with the Lord and with one another so that you may continue to persevere, overcome, and be victorious against the enemy of our souls.
In 2016 we are declaring W.A.R. against the darkness. As you may remember ‘W’ is for the Word, ‘A’ is for Active Faith, and ‘R’ is for Relationship in the body of Christ. Today, we want to emphasize that to win the war against darkness our faith must be active.
James says that faith without works (work of faith) is dead (James 2:17). Hebrews 11 gives an expanded list of biblical characters whom God mightily used because their faith was active. If we have faith that prayer works then we will have an active prayer life.
If we have faith that 1 can put a 1000 to flight and 2 can put 10 thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30) or 5 can chase 100 enemies and 100 can chase 10,000 (Leviticus 26:8) then we will be active in joining together in worship and prayer. If we have faith that we have been commanded and given authority to preach (share) the gospel, pray for the sick, and cast out demons then we will be active in doing so. Active faith is an essential weapon against the enemy. Today, may our faith be activated!
Today, we return to our marching orders for 2016 as we are reminded to Wage W.A.R. and be on the offensive against darkness! ‘W’ is for the Word. ‘A’ is for Active Faith. And ‘R’ is for Relationship in the body of Christ. Today, may we be reminded that our primary offensive weapon against the enemy is the Word of God.
Jesus battled Satan during his 40 days in the wilderness with a response of ‘It is written’ (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Paul speaks of the offensive weapon of our spiritual armor being the ‘sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God‘ (Ephesians 6:17). Satan isn’t afraid of your words, but he is afraid of God’s Word! But today understand that the Word of God doesn’t become your sword until you memorize it and hide it in your heart. Today, start with key verses in areas where you’re often tempted — like sex, impatience, or anger. Then, when you’re tempted, you’ll be able to use God’s Word against Satan.
Today, as your pastor, I would like to invite you to join with me in ‘making war’ in 2016. I pray that all might have the revelation of how the works of darkness are increasing their strategies against the kingdom of light and the people of God. Today, I am reminded of Jesus’ words at Caesarea Philippi as he stood in front of the rock precipice of pagan worship and the cave called the ‘gates of Hades’ or ‘gates of Hell’ at the base of Mt. Hermon. After Peter’s confession of Jesus being the Messiah and son of the living God, Jesus, looking to the cliff replied, “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Gates are defensive weapons so Jesus was saying it is the church that will be the one taking the offensive against darkness. Today, as never before, the church must take the offensive against darkness. Let us continue all the more to ‘wage war’ in 2016! W is for the Word. A is for Active Faith. And R is for Relationship in the body of Christ. I will elaborate more on this acronym over the next three weeks. But today, let us prepare for W.A.R.
Today, we are on the brink of a new year. Today, as Daniel 1:8, I challenge you to purpose in your heart in the new year to not be defiled by the world in any way, but rather to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you (Philippians 3:12). Today, don’t make resolutions, pledges, or goals derived from mental determination, mere hopes or ideals. Rather, purpose in your heart to be what the Lord created you to be, called you to be, and destined you to be in the power of His Spirit!
Daniel knew that faithfulness to God does not occur by accident or by a flippant decision. It requires commitment, sacrifice, and a predetermined resolution. For Daniel, purposing in his heart also meant he was willing to, make the sacrifice necessary to obey the Lord. Today, we must ask ourselves the question as we look to a new year. Are we willing to make the sacrifice necessary to obey the Lord in regards to worship… study of the word… prayer… sharing the Gospel… making disciples… living a holy, blameless life… and being true light in the darkness? Today, what do you purpose in your heart to be and do in 2016?
Today I am breaking into conversation about the unseen realm of spiritual beings, namely angels and demons. Recent polls show almost 80% of Americans believe in angels and a lesser number, around 67%, believe in demons. However, I am confident, that if asked why there are such beings and where did they come from, you would fail to get much agreement in the answers and probably a lot of “I don’t know”. Today, we will take a closer look at the subject matter of angels and demons beginning with Daniel (Chapter 10) and his conversation with one of these beings who spoke of a battle in the heavenlies, even over specific territories. The battles are unseen by us but yet very real. Suddenly, the words of the Apostle Paul in the sixth chapter of Ephesians takes on a new clarity.
12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Today, let us explore the realm of the unseen an perhaps not only discover the reason for their existence, but also ours!
Today we are blessed to have Open Bible missionary Ron Wilson with us. You can see some of the details of his ministry in this FYI. As a pastor I have been very much blessed and impressed by the ministry of Ron and his wife Linda because of the ‘wholeness’ of their mission and ministry. Not only are they faithful in sharing the gospel with words but also in deeds of faith. They come alongside indigenous pastors in various countries to equip them for ministry. They work to see not only that a church is built but that it also houses an orphanage and serves as a community center. They make sure a well is dug to provide clean water to the community and they help the community sustain itself by providing livestock and teaching the people how to become productive. They then train them to go out and build 5 new churches in the area…and they do! Today, I am thankful that two years ago Liberty Life provided funding to dig a well in India and that investment continues to reap eternal reward. Today, we pray for the continual vision of Ron and Linda Wilson.
Today is a day of celebration. Today we celebrate and gather corporately for worship, prayer, giving of offerings, as well as reading and proclaiming of the Word. Today we celebrate the observance of corporate communion as well as water baptisms. Today we will send off a missionary with our prayers and blessings.
Today, I would like for us to explore how much of what the church is called to do is to be done frequently and routinely, so that we never lose our focus or lose touch with the essentials of our faith. The Lord told the church to not neglect regularly meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) , to be prepared to give regularly (1 Corinthians 16:2), to partake of communion often ( 1 Corinthians 11:25) , and to read the Word continually (Joshua 1:8).
Today we will look at the importance of regular prayer and take a deeper look at the prayer life of Daniel and how it applies to our life TODAY!
Today, I trust you have come to church with a thankful heart. Our yearly ‘thanksgiving’ festivities certainly help us focus on the blessings of our life. As Christians, we know thanksgiving isn’t just for once a year. It is an attitude to be maintained, even in the midst of possible ongoing difficulty, loss, or pain. In 1 Thess. 5:16-18 we are told ‘to be joyful always; pray continually; and give thanks in all circumstances’. We are then told why we should do this- ‘for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’. Many among us can quickly make a long list of ‘thanksgivings’ including, family, employment, health, friends, home, and on the list goes. For others it has been a difficult year with a barrage of health issues, death of loved ones, a financial crisis, unemployment, even struggling for basic needs of food and shelter. Yet we are to ‘be joyful’ and ‘give thanks’. God isn’t saying to be thankful that something awful has happened. He knows we are human, we get hurt, we lose hope, and suffer grief. No, rather he wants us to give thanks in the face of it. In Christ we have a hope that does not disappoint and a heavenly Father who comforts the broken-hearted, never leaves us or forsakes us, and strengthens us to persevere. Sadness may last for a time, “But Joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Today, and every day, let us give thanks!
Today, Christian apologist, author, and radio host Eric Barger will be sharing presentations in both the morning and evening service. Some have asked “What is a Christian apologist”? The term ‘Christian apologetics’ doesn’t refer to apologizing (or saying ‘sorry’) for being a Christian. It comes from the Greek word apología meaning defense.
Christian apologetics is the reasoned defense of the Christian faith against objections, but also advocates for right beliefs. It is the duty of all Christians, because:
- The Lord Jesus Christ commanded: ‘Love the Lord your God … with all your mind.’ (Matthew 22:37)
- The Apostle Peter commanded Christians: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15)
- Jude’s inspired epistle said: ‘I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’ (v. 3)
- The Apostle Paul said: ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Today, may all of us be more prepared to defend our faith!
Today, we will continue in the book of Daniel. A large portion of Daniel involves the experience of dreams and vision. Our Lord communicates through a variety of ways including dreams and visions. In fact about one third of the Bible deals with some kind of visionary experience. Much of the details within Eschatology (the study of the end times) are based on the dreams and visions of people like Daniel and John. Without those visionary experiences we would be largely in the dark concerning the culmination of this age. Visions and dreams were used by the Lord to give direction, give warning, save lives, provide answers, make humble, and to glorify God. Today, I challenge you to consider more carefully your own dreams and the dreams and visions that others are testifying about in these last days!
Today was a time we get once a year to set our clocks back one hour. For most of us it just means an extra hour of sleep for one day. For me there is always that wonderful thought before going to bed that I will be able to have a little more rest tonight than I usually would! But out of this yearly time change ritual comes this thought! What if we really could turn the clock back on any given hour of yesterday and do it over? Which hour would you choose? Which hour did you feel like you wasted? Which hour did you say something or do something that you wished you could go back and have a ‘do over’? Which hour did you miss an opportunity to make a difference in another person’s life that you may never get another chance? This is a good time to reflect on Paul’s counsel to the Ephesians – “So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise, redeeming the time as you make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.” (Eph 5:15-16 KJV, NLT)