Today, we are focusing our attention on Revelation 18. The verse that captures my attention is verse 4 that reads, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying,”Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues”.
There is much we can bring out of this passage, but it should be noted that verse 9 reveals a close connection between idolatry and economic prosperity that was a fact of life in Asia Minor of John’s time. It was a time where allegiance to both Caesar and the patron gods of the trade guilds was essential for people to maintain good standing in their trades. The rulers lament over Babylon’s desolation because it means their own loss of economic standing and power. In verses 11-13 The merchants wail. They have the most to lose because Babylon the Great was built on luxury.
You can see this same difficulty in coming out of one’s Babylon in Acts 19 when Paul ministered to the Ephesians. Though Paul’s message was compelling, the prosperity and financial security they found as craftsman making idols of Diana was too great for them to give up.
Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in us that keeps us from coming out of the Babylon of our own culture of materialism. Anything that offers us financial security and prosperity in exchange for compromise of our allegiance to Christ, and Christ alone.
Today, I want to talk a moment about last Wednesday which was the Jewish Festival of Lots, also known as Purim. We read an abbreviated form of Esther and had fun making noise to blot out the name of wicked Haman. Although God’s name is not mentioned in the book of Esther, his providence and provision are obvious.
The story of Esther and the deliv-erance of the Jews is also a type and shadow of Christ and the deliv-erance of all who put their hope in Him. You might remember there was an irrevocable decree made by the Persian King Ahasurerus that all the Jews were to be killed (Esther 3:12-13). In the same way the irrev-ocable Word of the Lord upon us is “all have sinned”…and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23;6:23).
In Esther, when Haman’s plot was exposed, Haman was killed and another irrevocable order by the King gave the Jews the right and equipping to defend themselves against the first order. Likewise, the Messiah (Jesus) delivers all who believe in Him from that irrevocable decree as well by a higher decree of His Son taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve (Isaiah 53). For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Today, we continue to celebrate the story of Purim as we read the book of Esther. Perhaps you can also see it’s connection with the Feast of Yom Kippur, sometimes called Yom Kippurim! Something to think about today!
Psalm 56:9 reminds us, “The very moment I call to you for a Father’s help the tide of the battle turns and my enemies flee. The one thing I know: God is on my side.” This Psalm stood true in biblical times, and it proves true in this day as well. Though there is great fear surrounding the threat of disease, we can rest assured that we have a Father in Heaven who is with us in all things. This truth is true especially today with the spread of the coronavirus.
In Mark 1:41, Jesus is giving assurance to a man inflicted with leprosy that he is willing to heal him. Most translations read Jesus had compassion, or that Jesus had pity on the man. But some translations record Jesus angry, or as the older NIV reads, “Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”. Jesus was indignant, not at the man, but that this disease was ravaging lives. Like sin, we are to be angry at the continual onslaught of sickness and disease upon people’s lives, and especially the work of darkness that is behind it. Today, may we be indignant against sin, sickness, and Satan!
Today I continue to ponder the workings of the Lord. Recently a stirring among our intercessors has led to starting monthly (for now), corporate prayer on the 1st Tuesday of every month. A ‘harp and bowl’ mode will be used, which involves music, worship, praise (harp) and directed prayer (bowl) . See Revelation 5:8. In this model, the use of scripture, either in word or in song, is central.
So why am I pondering the workings of the Lord? Well, earlier in the same week that Mark Hatfield had come to me with this vision, I had been straightening some books on my discount table. These are books that have been around the store for months and just hadn’t moved. Some of them I am not sure how they ever got in the store because I don’t remember ordering them. My eyes suddenly fell on two small books called “Face to Face” by Kenneth Boa. After reading the cover I was intrigued and opened them up to discover a multitude of scripture prayers for intimate worship placed in an orderiy fashion for daily use! I looked at that and thought, “where have you been all my life?”
So the journey continues as we see what God is doing and get on board with it. So I end this blog with a quote from Gregory Peck in the old, old, old movie ‘Sergent York’ when he slowly speaks, “The Lord sure do move in mysterious ways!”
Today, I am just pondering the blessings of a Church body. The apostle Paul spoke of the members of the church as one body in 1 Corinthians 12:12 saying, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
Today, I am grateful to be a pastor of a church where its many members do work together as one body to accomplish great things and minister effectively on numerous and varied occasions.
Last week, various members spontaneously answered the need to provide a meal for a family after a funeral. Earlier that week I was blessed to see a large portion of our ministry team respond to a urgent need within the body while at the same time another ministry team was providing healing ministry for an individual in the community.
I rejoice to see a multitude of fellowship and study groups popping up throughout our congregation, meeting a multiplicity of needs. And last week we again sent one of our own off into a mission with contributions from the congregation to bless those in another land.
Multiple visions are being acted upon at once. Not everyone can, nor should, be involved in all of them; but all of us can continue to encourage, support, and pray one for another as together we P.E.D.A.L. to accomplish the work and ministry God has assigned for Liberty Life. This is a significant time in the Lord’s redemptive history.
Today, I give thanks for the body of Christ joined together at Liberty Life!
Today I will begin my thoughts with some signs that bring a chuckle. > I had a friend who was dyslexic, had insomnia and was an agnostic. He would lay awake all night wondering if there is a dog. > Puns about communism aren’t funny unless everyone gets them. Well, after reading those two comical statements I hope you ‘got them.’
On the opposite side of the comical there are the serious statements that are to be pondered, meditated on, and taken to heart. Often in the Psalms you will see the Hebrew word ‘selah.’ Selah occurs seventy-one times in the book of Psalms and three times in Habakkuk, and is often found at the end of a sentence or chapter.
Many commentators think that Selah meant ‘to pause’ or ‘to reflect.’ This could have been a request for the reader or listener to pause and think about what has just been said. Selah causes us to pause and consider what God may be saying even when we don’t fully under-stand. Selah gives us an opportunity to take a moment away from this crazy, busy, non-stop life we all tend to live and consider the immense mysteries and wonders of God. Paul speaks to this in Colossians 2:2-3, My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mys-tery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
If you are like me, it seems about every sentence of Revelation needs a ‘selah’ after it. I hope you have been taking time to really ponder, meditate on, and take to heart what John intends to communicate to the readers of this marvelous mysterious book. Selah.
Today, we are humbled and honored to welcome New York Times best-selling author, film maker, and inter-national teacher, Joel Richardson, as our guest minister. Joel will also be speaking at tonight’s special 6:00 pm service, so bring someone with you as you return tonight.
Today is a day where you may have your traditional beliefs and ideas chal-lenged. I encourage you to listen carefully to Joel’s messages, his use of scripture, his personal testimony of extensive exploration and travel, and his many, many hours of interaction with the underground church where severe persecution is a daily reality.
Today I call you to be the church who welcomes guests that have come to be a part of these special services. Please make room in the pews so others have a place to sit. Be considerate of one another.
Today I ask that we also be very generous in our love offering for Joel and his ministry. He request not com-pensation beyond the love offering received although as an international speaker he could be speaking at a much larger church or conference today. Also, he provides all the materi-al on his resource table in back free of charge. Who does that? May we show our appreciation to Joel and the God he serves in both our attentive-ness and our financial giving. As we have freely received let us freely give!
Today, as we continue our study in Revelation, I want to emphasize how relevant this book of the Bible is to us today. Revelation speaks about end times events, but it speaks of much more. It speaks of the absolute necessity of persevering in the faith today, no matter what the difficulty, no matter what the persecution, no matter what the threat upon one’s life. Revelation speaks today for individuals like Pastor Ishaku Manawa of Nigeria.
“He is no stranger to the pain of losing dear friends. He estimates that Boko Haram (a militant Islamic terrorist regime) has killed more than 50 people under his care over the years, including 37 from a single congregation that he leads. When someone he knows is killed, such as a young man he taught as a child in Sunday School, he grieves their loss. His grief is usually tempered, however, by the knowledge that they were people of strong faith… I have taken up following Christ, and suffering is part of following Him… It is not something to refuse because Christ promised us, saying, You will be persecuted as long as you follow me.” (from Voice of Martyrs magazine)
Today during a mission moment we will hear from Dina Jacques who operates an orphanage in Haiti. You may remember Dina as she shared with us last year about her ministry with the most vulnerable in one of the most impoverished nations of the world. When Liberty Life supports Waters of Grace each month, and with special offerings, we are supporting ministries like Dina. Today, a special offering box is provided in the back to specifically bless and support Dina and her children in Haiti. As she shares what God is doing there and the great need, be attentive to the Lord’s prompting in your own heart to give and obey His command to care for the orphans and widows (James 1:27).
Also, today I ask you to pray for the MOVE team now in Costa Rica. MOVE is a mission outreach of Open Bible. Beginning last Tuesday, a team of 45 men, many of them from Central Region, left for Costa Rica to be a part of a building project there until February 6. Let us join in praying for their safety while they work, and as they minister to the people of Costa Rica!
Today, I would ask you as a congregation to join with me in promoting the Joel Richardson meetings on February 9th. Take the flyer and share it with someone outside of our church and encourage them to attend one of the three meetings. Joel is on the front line of revealing how biblical prophecy is coming to pass in our world today. Many Christians are unaware that the fastest growing churches and great revival are now found in Iran and Afghanistan. Countries where persecution is the greatest, where the church owns no property, or buildings, has no central leadership, and is predominantly led by women.
The Iranian awakening is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement which is an obedience-based discipleship. It is based on the authority of Scripture and every time you read the Scripture you must obey it. This is how people become conformed to the image of Christ and sanctified. I encourage you to go to Joel’s website, joelstrumpet.com. There you will find not only some very relevant and current videos, like “Sheep among Wolves”, but also you can find the PDF’s of almost all of his books and articles at no charge. Plan on attending all of these special meetings and help us get the word out so the church will be filled and many will see the glory of our God!
Today, as we again open our bibles to the book of Revelation, I am led to begin by quoting a from N.T. Wright’s commentary on the chapter we are about to embark on.
“People find many books puzzling, but the Bible is often the most puzzling of all. People find many parts of the Bible puzzling, but Revelation is often seen as the most puzzling book of all. And people find Revelation puzzling, but the first half of chapter 11 – the passage now before us – is, for many, the most puzzling part of all. There are some other strong contenders for this dubious distinction, but chapter 11 can hold its own. What is it about?”
What it is about, we will discover, is one of the most important and central statements of what John wants to say to the churches to whom he is writing! Today, may we have ears to hear!
Today is a day of new opportunities, new perspectives, and new commitments.
As we enter into a new year, it’s time for us to gain perspective on that which needs restored, renewed, revived, refreshed, or released. Whatever sin has entangled you in 2019 does not have to gain victory over you in 2020. Whatever lie you’ve believed that’s wrecked your emotions, thoughts, and actions does not have to win the battle over your mind in this new year. Whatever wound or disappointment that has hurt you can be healed and transformed to empower you for that which is to come. God’s heart is to free you from that which weighs you down and robs you of the abundant life Jesus came to bring you.
Today, be encouraged by Lamentations 3:22-24: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
Today we are joining together for our last Sunday worship service … of the year 2019. Whew! Aren’t you glad I added the rest of that sentence? But it caused me to ponder: what if we knew this would be the last time we worshiped together! Would it make a difference how we praised? How we prayed? How we gave? How we listened? How we spoke to one another? How early we came? How long we lingered? We take a lot of things for granted in life expecting things to remain the same, but we know life is fragile. Everything can be changed in a moment, either for good or bad. Today, think on what it has meant for you to worship at Liberty Life in 2019 and your commitment for 2020.
Today we will also turn our attention to some 2020 opportunities that will begin very, very soon. One is our new nurture classes, so be sure to sign up today as the clipboards are passed around. May 2020 be a year of great discipleship and great mission. We will talk about mission some today.
Another opportunity is our Cleansing Seminar that begins January 12. A retreat with Timothy and Denise Davis is also scheduled for April 24th & 25th. Everyone in this congregation is expected to be part of a Cleansing Seminar at least once and continually be refreshed at the Cleansing Retreat. Please make this a priority! Today, let us be about the Father’s business in all things!
Today, we share in the Jewish festival of light known as Chankah, or sometimes spelled Hanukkah.
During the time of the 2nd Temple, the Holy Land was ruled by cruel Greeks and the army of Antiochus IV, who called himself a manifestation of God (Epiphanes). They robbed the Jews of their property, persecuted them, made them slaves and killed many of them. Then Antiochus set up idols in the Holy Place of the temple. They wanted to force the Jews to abandon their faith, their worship, their torah, and become Greek.
No one could stand up against them, and it appeared as if the Jewish people’s identity would be lost as they were forced to adopt pagan rituals and assimilate into the Greek culture. But a Jewish priest and his sons rose up, rallied some others, and drove the fierce Greek army from the land. The Chanukah lights remind us, among other things, of the great miracle that a small band of Jews defeated the mighty Greek armies and kept the light of faith in Yehovah God burning. Without this miracle, the Jewish messiah would never be born and we would never have a Savior. That is why this festival is so important to both the Jewish and Christian faith.
Today I want to remind you of one of our highest callings as followers of Christ and our greatest witness to the world; and that is our demonstration of unity. It seems in these days that strife, dissension, offense, and factions are the enemy’s greatest weapons in nullifying the effectiveness and influence of the church in the world today. I remind you of our Lord’s high prayer in John 17 when he with prayed for his disciples and then us: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)
I also remind you of Paul’s powerful exhortation to the church in Ephesus: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Today I exhort us all: may we endeavor (strive, labor, pursue, toil to achieve, travail, give one’s best) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Shalom!
Today, we welcome our guest minister Nelson Vargas and his wife Yvonne 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 kingpin to a Son of the King! Today we are blessed and honored to have Nelson and Yvonne with us to share in Word and Testimony. Today we also have the opportunity to bless Nelson and Yvonne for their ministry. A love offering is being received for them and I am calling this congregation to be ‘over the top generous’ recognizing the distance they have come, the multiple times we have had them ministering these past 3 days, and the amount of time Nelson has had to take off from his regular work and from their 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 (Galatians 6:6; 1Timothy 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 Corinthians 9:7.
Last week we spoke of how Revelation teaches that out of the last days’ tribulation will also come the greatest of revivals as multitudes are ushered into the kingdom. We also looked at how throughout history when the church is most persecuted is when its witness is most effectual.
If you read through the book of Acts you discover that the church in Jerusalem showed no evidence of ‘going into all the world to preach the gospel of the kingdom’ as the Lord commanded. But then we read in 8:1 how a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. And then we see in Act 11:19-20 how these who were scattered began speaking to the Greeks also. Soon missionaries were being sent out from Antioch.
I would hope that the church today would not have to go through persecution and being scattered before she would share with the un-churched and the unsaved. I would rather just be obedient now to the great commission. How about you? Please join me in reaching out this week to share the gospel and God’s love this Friday evening before and during the parade and also to invite un-churched family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers to ‘come and see’ Nelson Vargas at our special services as he and his wife Yvonne share the God News of Jesus Christ!
Today, as we continue our study of Revelation, I would like to share some thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. who was a voice and a martyr during World War II. His testimony of continuing in the work of faith in the midst of injustice and persecution is an example of how all Christians in the last day must continue to live by faith and obedience, regardless of the cost.
German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer took a solid and ultimately deadly stand against Adolf Hitler during WWII. Even when he was thrown in prison for his opposition, it didn’t deter him from speaking against Hilter and calling others to do so as well. Because of the horrible atrocities and world-wide chaos that resulted from Hitler’s regime, many Christians believed he was the Antichrist and that Jesus was coming back any day; so much so that they couldn’t understand why Bonhoeffer, to his own detriment, was opposing him. Bonehoeffer responded, “If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished.” “LORD, give us strength to serve You well this day and the next, until You return.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:46 “Come and see!” is echoed several times in the New Testament. Philip told Nathanael he had met the Messiah. “Come and see,” he urged his friend. The woman at the well told her fellow villagers, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did” (John 4:29). After Jesus rose from the dead, an angel invited the women to “come and see” His empty tomb (Matthew 26:6).
When we are excited about something, we invite others to come and see. Perhaps it is the new purchase we just made, or the project we have just completed. We want others to see things or persons that are special to us. Everywhere I go with my mom she invites people to come and meet her son. (Embarrassing for me but a delight to my mom.)
Which all leads me to ask, are you inviting people to ‘come and see’ the presence of the Lord in your church? Are you inviting people to come and meet Jesus in worship, or in a bible study, or in a special service? Perhaps I should ask, are you excited to share with people the most important relationship they can ever have?
Of course, we should be excited to invite people to meet Jesus at Liberty Life every week; but I want to especially emphasize the opportunity before us December 6-8 with evangelist and pastor Nelson Vargas will be with us. What an opportunity we have for people to encounter Jesus! Special outreach ministry is being planned for Friday night before the downtown Christmas parade as well as through the weekend. Let’s get excited now and start telling our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers and fellow students to ‘come and see’!
Today is a special time for Liberty Life as we will be led in worship by Oxana Eliahu. Oxana is a Russian born Jewish believer, songwriter, composer and producer of many music albums of praise and worship. Oxana wrote all her songs in Hebrew, but they are now translated into English, Russian, and Spanish. Oxana and her husband, Boaz, travel all over the United States, Canada, and Israel, singing her songs and sharing her powerful story.
Oxana will share some of her story today of how God brought her from being an atheist in Communist Russia, being hateful of her own Jewishness and country of Israel, to complete surrendering to Him and His will. She boldly professes, “I’m now a changed person, a new creation and it’s nothing about me, but is all about Him–Because He is an amazing God of Love!”
Today we will receive a special offering for Oxana and her ministry. Please be generous as you consider the special gift being shared with you today in music and Word and testimony. May the offering received from Liberty Life bless Oxana and her ministry to the glory of God. Oxana and Boaz’s ministry is a journey of faith, trusting the Lord to meet every need. And of course, your offering is another way in which you can bless Israel and the Jewish people.
At the center of Revelation 5 is a surprising, beautiful vision of Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus is described as a lion. He’s strong and is able to open the scroll that contains God’s redemptive plan. He alone is able to carry it out. On the other hand, he looks like a lamb that was slain. Humble and innocent, he gave himself over to death.
How could Jesus be both a lion and a lamb? The two images don’t seem to fit. The answer is that he is the King because he was willing to die. Jesus has received a crown because he carried the cross. Only by having died for us is he able to bring history to a victorious end for God and his people. As you worship today, glorify Jesus for the gift of salvation. Join with the 4 living creatures, the multitude of angels, and saints from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues in shouting out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
Today we continue our Revelation series by turning to chapter 4 and looking into the throne room of heaven. I came across a devotional by Pastor Ed Rea which makes for a good FYI today.
In Spain, before Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, they believed they were the end of the world, that there was nothing beyond them. In fact, Spain’s motto was ne plus ultra, which translates to “no more beyond.” But Christopher Columbus famously disproved their belief. And so today, if you travel to Valladolid, Spain, where Columbus died in 1506, you will see a large monument built in his honor. It depicts a lion as his large paw swipes away the “no” in the motto, “no more beyond,” leaving only “more beyond.” At least one of the reasons the Lord took John to heaven was to show John that He had prepared “more beyond” for us. If you are feeling discouraged today, press on fellow sojourner, because God has things planned for us that make these present sufferings so small. Find your fulfillment in the only reliable place, worshiping before the throne of God.
Today we come to the end of our observance of the Fall Feasts of the Lord by focusing on the birth of the one to whom all the Feasts of the Lord point… Jesus! The bible does not clearly give a date of Christ’s birth, but does leave enough clues to determine it was likely during the Feast of Tabernacles. The bible also does not give any instruction for celebrating the Lord’s birth but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important event. The Gospels, especially Matthew and Luke, are very concerned about bringing forth specifics of Jesus’ birth that affirms him as the promised Messiah. Some of the prophecies like his birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and kings bringing gifts to worship him (Ps 72:10, 11) are easy to see being fulfilled with Jesus. But there are many things that occur at the birth of Jesus that one needs some background information to truly grasp how clearly his divinity and his role as the promised Messiah is revealed.
A study of the rotations of priests at the time of John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, the relationship and interactions between Mary and Elizabeth, the timing of the census, the location of birthing of lambs for Passover, etc., will also bring clarity to the likely time, even the very day of his birth. The day when the Word became flesh and ‘tabernacled’ among us (John 1:14).
Today, let us celebrate the birth of Christ as we continue in our observance of the Feast of Tabernacles as we also rehearse the time, even the very day when Jesus will return to tabernacle among us again, this time as king and ruler of all the earth as he establishes his Millennial kingdom!
..’The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. Lev 23:34
Today is the day of Rejoicing. Today we enter into the appointed time of Sukkot on the Lord’s calendar. Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the 5th day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition from the most solemn and holy days of the year to the most joyous. We have moved from Repentance to Redemption to Rejoicing!
Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Ingathering. The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that Israel was commanded to live in during this festival in memory of the period of wandering.
As Israel celebrated the grain provision, so we celebrate every good thing that our heavenly Father provides. As the Jewish people remembered their wanderings, so we celebrate Jesus our Redeemer who brought us out of our wanderings in darkness into His glorious light!
Today, we also rejoice that we have our good friend and teacher Dale Cohen to share with us regarding the appointed times. May we be generous in the love offering today and honor Dale as he teaches us the way of the Lord. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it so great a thing if we should reap your worldly things? 1 Cor 9:11
Today we will focus on the next Fall Feast, Yom Kippur, which on our calendars is this coming Wednesday eve. Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn holy day of the Jewish people. Yom means ‘day’ and Kippur means ‘atonement’ or ‘covering’. Atonement means the reconciliation of God and humankind.
In the Old Testament, this was the day the high priest once a year would go into the Holy of Holies on behalf of all Israel and through the blood of sacrifices make atonement for the sin of the people. This had to be done every year. Also the sins of the nation were ceremonially placed on the head of a goat that was then released into the wilderness taking the sin away from the people. This became known as the scapegoat.
For believers in Jesus, the scapegoat is a picture of the Messiah, who was sent “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Like the scapegoat, Yeshua receives our iniquities and transgressions and takes them from us; unlike the scapegoat, his sacrifice is good for all time, rather than needing to be repeated from year to year.
As followers of Jesus, we observe Yom Kippur by praying for the Jewish people and the day when their eyes will be opened and accept Jesus as their Messiah and the Lord will take away their sin according to Romans 11:27 and Zech 12:10. But though our sins have been atoned for, this is a good time to ask the Lord to reveal any sin and unrighteousness in us, confess our sin and be cleansed and ready for the return of the Lord. That is why before our service Wed we spend the day fasting and then come to the service dressed in white as we spend time in seeking the Lord, confessing sin, and experiencing redemption.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. Leviticus 23:23-24 NKJV
Today, in obedience to the Lord’s Word, we proclaim the appointed time of Yom Teurah, the feast, or festival of Trumpets, also called the day of the Awakening Blast. A separate, yet concurrent, celebration on this day is the festival of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish civil new year – so we say ”Shana tova” meaning ‘good year!’
This appointed time of the Lord is a continual dress rehearsal for the Lord’s return and His final redemptive work in history. Paul had this appointed day in mind when he wrote to the Corinthians: Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV
The twinkling of an eye’ refers to the new moon of the 7th month which verifies the first day of the new month and the appointed day of Yom Teruah is at hand and it is time to lift up a shout and blow the shofar. This we will do tonight as we gather on the courthouse steps in praise to our soon coming King!
Today we are three weeks into our new nurture classes. I hope you have made it a priority to continue to mature as a Christian and be further equipped for ministry by taking advantage of these great courses.
A new class this rotation that is very well attended is ‘Switch on Your Brain’ by Caroline Leaf and facilitated by Linda Smith. Dr. Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist and a Christian who has valuable insight to share with the church. One of her recent blogs addressed some practical insights of communication. She wrote, “Are you clear with your intentions and expectations? The majority of arguments and misunderstandings happen because we are not clear or honest in our communication.”
Yes indeed, we often are either assuming people know what we want or we are afraid to be honest. So today, switch on your brain and take a few minutes to think about how you can be more clear and honest, but gentle, with your communication.
Today, you will notice that Linda and I are not with you in the service. We have taken this weekend to visit our youngest daughter, Bethany, and her husband Will, in Franklin, Tennessee. It has been quite some time since we have seen them so we are looking forward to our time together. On Monday morning we will cross over to visit our middle daughter, Bobbi, in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is working as a travel nurse there and wants to show us some of the sites. Our plans are to be back for Wednesday night worship.
Today, however, I will miss seeing all of you, as well as our good friend, Eric Barger. Eric has been with us every year for at least 10 years and often we get to see him several times a year as he travels through, or stops, in Sedalia on his way to various ministry points in the United States. So be good to my friend Eric by giving him a warm welcome, inviting others to come with you to the service tonight, and of course being generous with your love offering and taking time to look at his resource table.
Today we begin a reading through the book of Revelation. Many debate how to interpret Revelation and other prophetic books of Scripture. Despite these differences, the church has always agreed on three fundamental points regarding the future.
1) Christ will physically, bodily return to earth in victory in an event called ‘the second coming’.
2) All human history is leading up to the culmination of God’s purposes for creation. This will be fulfilled in ‘a new heaven and a new earth’.
3) These doctrines (beliefs) are intended to give us hope and lead us to pursue holiness.
I am choosing to begin reading and proclaiming the book of Revelation for at least two reasons. The first being our approach of the Fall Feast of the Lord which point toward and foreshadows the return of Christ, the final judgment, and the new heaven and earth. The second reason being I want myself, and each of you, to be blessed for it clearly states, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:3 NKJV)
Today, let us affirm God’s Word and be blessed!
Today, on this Labor Day weekend, let’s talk about work! Some people hate to do it. Some love to do it. Some go to great lengths to avoid doing it. Some do it too much. While there are many different attitudes toward work, one thing remains constant: work must be done. Since the Garden of Eden, everyone has worked or depended on someone else’s work for their survival.
James Eckman rightly observes that, “Work sets a person’s lifestyle—where you live, when you sleep and eat, the time with family, even your dress.”
Another constant about work is the fact that God has a clear perspective on it, and we are to align our thoughts with His.
Today, let’s look at work from God’s perspective and commit to making it our perspective, for the glory of God!
I have recently read a book by Dan Betzer entitled, “Why Some Churches are Blessed”. Betzer is the senior pastor of 1st Assembly of God in Fort Myers, Florida, which has planted satellite churches across the country and witnessed phenomenal growth, biblical signs and wonders, including a multitude of financial miracles. When Betzer is asked the secret of their success his answer is always the same. “Every miracle of provision I’ve seen in decades of pastoring I can attribute to missions! Jesus said that signs and wonders would follow those who believe and act upon it. The signs and wonders never proceed; they follow”. Betzer affirms faith and obedience go together and obedience he speaks of is the great commission of going to all the ends of the earth with the gospel. To focus only in our own local community or region fails to fully obey the command of the Lord. In his book he gave plenty of evidence to support his conclusion.
Today we have opportunity to support missions throughout the world through a variety of passionate ministries. I pray our ears will be open to hear and our hearts be led to give in ways that we can bless others, beginning with prayer and encouragement. May missions continue to be a vital and growing part of our ministry and vision both corporately and individually. Today, Let us be faithful in well doing and sharing the Gospel with not just those near, but also with those at the ends of the earth!
Most of us are aware of the term ‘selective hearing’. This describes a person who only hears what they want to hear and blocks out what they don’t want to hear. Linda can whisper there is fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy on the counter and I can hear perfectly. But, if she adds, “and can you empty the dishwasher?” my hearing is suddenly impaired. I think the term ‘selective seeing’ is also valid. Both of these terms can too often be attached to Christians as they read and respond to God’s Word.
For instance, over recent weeks I have spoken on the spiritual gifts, and the signs and wonders that Jesus did and commanded the church to do as well. But many in the corporate church today selectively see and hear that command, and the scriptures declaring the fullness of our commission.
Another example to ponder. The new movie “Overcomer” focuses on the theme of our identity in Christ. The message of identity is what many are rushing to hear, and it is good. In Christ I am blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, sealed, loved, saved and a child of God! But we too often avoid the other side of being in Christ: I have been crucified with Christ; I no longer live; my body is not my own; I am bought with a price; I die daily; in this world I will have trouble; I will be persecuted; to die is gain; I lose my life for the sake of Christ! I take up my cross and follow HIM! In other words, it is not about us: it is about Him! Our true identity cannot be experienced without first totally identifying with Christ. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.
Today is a significant day of observation on the Jewish calendar called the 9th of Av. In Hebrew, it is Tisha B’Av (pronounced tee sha b’ahv). In scripture you will see it spoken of as the fast of the 5th month. It is a day of great tragedy, not just once, but multiple times in Jewish history. For instance it was on the 9th of Av that both temples were destroyed. The first temple (built by Solomon) was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians with 100,000 Jews perishing and millions exiled. The second temple (Herod’s) was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
In modern history the 9th of Av was the day the first crusades were declared by Pope Urban II in 1095 which led to thousands of Jewish people slaughtered in the name of Christ. It was also the last day Jewish people could leave Spain during the Spanish inquisitions of 1492 or face certain death. In I942, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were mass-deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland on the 9th of Av.
It is also interesting that these tragedies first began on the 9th of Av when God told the children of Israel they were prohibited from entering the Promised Land because of disbelief.
Today, let’s discover how this day is to be turned to gladness as we look at the prophecy of Zechariah 8:19.
Today we welcome Pastors Bruce and Leah (pronounced Lee) Hines to our Sunday worship service. I hope all of you have had opportunity to get acquainted with them in our weekend services and ministry times. What they have brought to us is a dimension of ministry that opens to us a greater revelation of the heavenly warfare and how the church can become more effective in overcoming the darkness and the territorial spirits that seek to hinder the advancing of the Gospel and the effectiveness of the saints. Their prayer and ours is to see an awakening in the Church though our Lord’s power and presence!
Bruce and Leah pastor the Church of One Accord in Arlington, Texas, and we are grateful for that congregation sharing them with us for this weekend. Bruce also leads many mission trips to South America, bringing healing and deliverance to thousands. He is the author of a series of books entitled “Exploring Secrets of the Heavenly Realms” and his books and other resources will be available at his book table in the back of the sanctuary.
Please welcome Bruce and Leah, and I ask that you be generous as we receive a love offering for their ministry.
Today we will conclude our series on Empowered by the Spirit. Throughout this series I have used a variety of resources. There is so much information available and so many testimonies and personal experiences related to the topic of spiritual gifts, I found it increasingly difficult to keep the information in a manageable format. What I had initially envisioned as a 4 to 6 part series has now extended to 9! Yet, I feel we have only scratched the surface and I am leaving the study with you having more questions than I have given answers. But I do trust the Lord will answer your questions as you seek Him and study His Word.
I will leave you with this short list of resources that will prove helpful for you if you would like to study further on the gifts of the Spirit.
- “The Gift of the Spirit: Understanding and Receiving God’s Supernatural Power in Your Life” by Derek Prince
- “Your Spiritual Gifts: Can Help Your Church Grow” by C. Peter Wagner
- “The Beginners Guide to Spiritual Gifts” by Sam Storm
- “Gifts of the Spirit” by Kenneth C. Kinghorn
A couple of very helpful websites on the gifts can be found at Ministry Tools Resource Center: https://mintools.com/gifts-list.htm; and Spiritual Gifts Class at http://healingofthespirit.org/pdf_files/GiftsbookletGENERIC.pdf
Today, may Liberty Life Center continue to be Equipped for the work of ministry!
Today we continue with #8 of our nine-part series Empowered by the Spirit. Today we will put our focus on the ‘power’ gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 which are the gifts of healings, working of miracles, and faith. They are known as power gifts because they demonstrate God’s power visibly. They convey God’s grace visually. These are the gifts that get attention because they draw attention and provide opportunity for God to be glorified. These gifts are used to confirm the validity of Jesus as the Christ and the message of the Gospel. Hebrews 2:4 speaks of Jesus ministry as well as the ministry of those who would follow him. God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.
Over and over again you will see how the message of the Gospel preached by the early church spread quickly because of the power gifts that accompanied the Gospel message. In Acts 4:29, when the church prayed for boldness, they prayed for signs and wonders to confirm the message: Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
Here are a few other passages just in Acts where you can read about the power gifts manifested as signs and wonders: Acts 2:43; 4:16; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6; 8:13; 14:3; 15:12
Today, may the message be confirmed with signs and wonders following.
Today, at the end of the service you will be able to pick up a spiritual gift inventory that can be used in connection with our study on the spiritual gifts. The purpose of the spiritual gift inventory is to be a tool for discerning one’s spiritual gifts. When kept in the proper perspective, the test can be a helpful tool, but we must remember it is limited. How can a human tool effectively measure the infinite workings of the Spirit of Christ?
Author Henry Blackaby cautions that a spiritual gifts test is limited by its nature:
“It can help identify how God has used you since you’ve become a Christian. But it shouldn’t be used as a guide for how God desires to use you in the future, for God’s purposes are based upon His strengths, not yours alone. He may choose to take you into areas of service in which you’re naturally weak, to reveal His strength and bring glory to Himself.”
With that being said, I encourage you to first pray, then take the inventory. May it help you to see things about yourself and how God is using you, empowered by the Spirit, to accomplish His purpose through you!
Today we continue our series ‘Empowered by the Spirit’ with a focus on spiritual gifts that are often neglected in spiritual gift teachings. They do not stand out as power gifts, revelation gifts, or vocal gifts as those of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, but they are nevertheless essential to the building of His Church and the advancing of the kingdom of God. Today, in connection with Holy Communion, we will look at the spiritual gifts of exhortation, helps/service, giving, mercy. and hospitality. These spiritual gifts are seldom in the spotlight but those who operate in them are not looking for a spotlight, only to serve the Lord and one another. Today as we continue our series let us be reminded of the apostle Peter’s words: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 NIV
Today we continue our series on “Empowered by the Spirit”. Since in our last teaching we focused on ‘discernment of spirits’, I will continue today in the category of ‘revelation gifts’. If you read any resources on the study of spiritual gifts, you will find various ways teachers have categorized, or classified, the spiritual gifts. There are revelation gifts, power gifts, vocal gifts, ministry gifts, manifestation gifts, leadership gifts, etc. For instance, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 has 9 spiritual gifts that can easily be divided into three categories with three gifts in each category.
Power gifts are working of miracles, gifts of healings and faith. Vocal gifts are tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy. Revelation gifts are discerning of spirits, word of knowledge and word of wisdom.
Of course, there is good argument to place several of these gifts in more than one category; but for the sake of simplicity, today I will continue our teaching on the other two ‘revelation gifts’. Today, let’s each pray for supernatural revelation of divine insight with proper application!
Today we welcome Tom Stamman, founder of Impact Ministries International, who will share about his missionary work in various countries. Pastor Stamman also ministers with a prophetic anointing. Today, look for some of the things we have learned from our Empowered by the Spirit series. As Pastor Stamman prophesies, see if you can determine if it is FORE-telling (God’s plan for the future) or FORTH-telling (declare Truth, God’s Word for the moment).
Also you can determine which of the following three categories the prophecy best fits under:
Edification – builds up, encourage, embolden
Exhortation – advises, warns, rebukes, admonishes, to urge forward.
Comfort – to console, to alleviate grief, to speak tenderly
Today, let us welcome Tom Stamman and be generous with our love offering for his ministry and mission!
Happy Father’s Day to all you awesome dads! If you are with us in worship today, that reveals you acknowledge your need for your Heavenly Father to forgive your mistakes and guide you in wisdom. All of us can agree with the letter that follows:
Dear Father, Daddy, God and Jehovah:
What a day!? A day to remember who has taught me, guided me and instilled wisdom in me my entire life. You have promised countless times that you love me. You have promised countless times that you will never leave me. You even went so far as to show me how much you love me by sending your only Son. Can I ask for anything else? Of course I can, and I always do. As any good father would do, you do what you feel is right in whether or not I should get what I ask for.
I hope one day to be even half or even a quarter of the Father you’ve been to me. I hope that when my kids need something, I’m there for them as you have been for me. I hope that when my kids have questions, that I’m there for them as you have been for me. I hope that when they are going through good times or bad that I’m there for them, just as you have always been there for me.
So I end this letter by thanking you for being my Father and by writing that I have been VERY blessed by being one of your children! Furthermore, I want to thank you for your undivided attention for me by treating me as your only child when I’m talking, even though you have countless children.
Happy Father’s Day!
Today is Pentecost! Today is Shavuot! Today is Feast of Weeks!
Today is the day we celebrate and observe the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 20 when the commands of God were written on the stone tablets.
Today is the day we celebrate and observe the gift of the Holy Spirit giving birth to the church in Acts 2 and making available the commands of God to be written on the believer’s heart.
Today is a day we cry out for another outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church. Today is a day we recognize a need for more of God’s Word to be written on our hearts.
Thank you Luanne and Monte Robertson, Gay Otten, and Vickie Embree for the wonderful images and displays to help bring forth an atmosphere of celebration and expectation.
Today we continue our series on Empowered by the Spirit. I hope after last week we can all recognize from scripture that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit are not optional for the church individually or corporately. Paul taught clearly that we are to be earnestly, zealously, fervently desiring the gifts of the Spirit. God’s intent is that all of us receive power from on high to be His witnesses on the earth. Every disciple of Jesus Christ is to be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Last week we learned how at the beginning of all four Gospels we have John the Immerser proclaiming he baptized with water but the one coming after him (Jesus) would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Because of this initial statement of Jesus as the baptizer of the Holy Spirit in all four gospels Derek Prince remarked, “The New Testament places the greatest possible emphasis upon this aspect of Christ’s ministry. The Christian Church should do the same.”
I am in full agreement as it is our desire and the primary mission statement of Liberty Life to preach the ‘whole’ Gospel of the Kingdom of God. That must include the importance of receiving power from on high to be effective witnesses, beginning right here in Sedalia, Missouri. Let us all earnestly desire to be empowered by the Spirit!
We are now on the 36th day of counting the Omer as we count toward Pentecost (Shavuot) on the 50th day after Christ’s resurrection.
The counting of these days commanded by the Lord in Leviticus 23:15-16 is relevant to us today. it is a reminder that just as Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt would not be complete until 50 days later when they received the Instruction of the Lord (Torah) on Mt. Sinai intended to keep them out of bondage and walk in God’s Ways, so also our deliverance from the penalty of sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ would not be complete without the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on the believers in the upper room 50 days later at the Feast of Pentecost. It is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that gives us power over sin and the power to be His witnesses.
Just as it is one thing to be delivered out of darkness, it is quite another thing to be walking as children of the Light.
Today let’s begin a series on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, including the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as we journey toward the observance and celebration of Pentecost, as commanded of the Lord on the 50th day after the firstfruit offering (coincides with Jesus resurrection). This 50th day of counting on our calendar will be June 9.
Today we are blessed to have as our guest speaker Dan and Beverly Egley of Duluth MN. The Egley’s are really not ‘guests’ as they have been part of the Liberty Life family since 2011. Dan, Beverly and their son Christopher were an active part of our Cleansing Discipleship team until they moved to Duluth where Dan took a teaching position there at the University of Minnesota. Perhaps most will identify Dan with his exuberant shout of “F..R..E..E..D..O..M!“
Soon after becoming part of the community of Duluth they launched Paving Stone Ministries to help people find practical steps toward freedom through prayer, encouragement, and God’s Word. The ministry is based on Matthew 7:13-14- “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Today they will be sharing a message entitled, “Launch in the Deep”. May we give them a warm Liberty Life welcome and be attentive to their message. A love offering will be received to help with their travel expenses and support Paving Stones ministry.
Today, we first and foremost honor the Lord. But today we also take a moment to honor our mothers. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in West Virginia in 1912. Mothers were to be recognized as an important part of our culture and lives.
The heart of a mother is like a rare jewel. They love their children during the worst and best of times. Yet all mothers are not the same. Author and speaker Patsy Clairmont says, “Normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer.” We are all different. She shared that as women we may “struggle, fail, start over, and celebrate.” But we are mothers who can love unlike any other person.
Martha Noebel sharesthat ”God created families and gave mothers a unique place in that unit. We can love, give of ourselves, cook, clean, wash clothes, put Band-Aids on scrapes … be the first one up in the morning or the last one down at night. We juggle a lot of things including raising children, working at jobs, managing a home, and sometimes finding time for ourselves. Each day is a new beginning of what lies before us. As mothers, we need to find the strength to face each day knowing that God loves us.”
The first three verses of Ephesians 6 makes clear the importance of honoring our mothers (and father). “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Today, we honor our mothers.
Today is the 15th day of counting the Omer as we make our journey toward Pentecost (Shavuot). There is not much emphasis put on this ‘counting’ in the church today but it is something the Lord commanded as he gave instruction and observance of HIS Feast Days. The command is found in Leviticus 23:15-16 and basically says after the Firstfruits offering (Resurrection of Jesus) count 50 days to the day after the 7th Sabbath and you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. This new grain offering was the offering of the first fruits of the wheat harvest and would be the very day the Lord would pour out his Spirit and give birth to His Church. So, as we are ‘counting up’ to Pentecost we are going to emphasize the power that was to be given to the believers to be the hands and feet of the Lord until his return. That power included the power to cast out demons. Today, Mike Cummings will share personally how the power of the Holy Spirit was made manifest in his life and how Jesus’ purpose to ” to destroy the works of the devil” (1John 3:8) became reality.
I just need to make a huge shout out to a great congregation here at Liberty Life. It has been a flurry of activity this month but all of it was a work of the Kingdom and I am so grateful to so many!
First thank you to the great Cleansing Discipleship team for their work and anointed ministry during our recent Cleansing Retreat. There were many shouts of freedom! Special thanks to Vickie Embree and Pam Vaught for their leadership of the team and in making preparation for the retreat. And as usual we were so blessed by the music ministry of Steve Graff and the Antioch Worship team.
Secondly, thanks to the multitude of individuals who have made our celebration and observance of the spring feasts such a blessing. The decor and displays are a powerful witness to the redemptive work and presence of our great God. Thank you Luanne Robertson for taking the lead with that and all the artists and builders who helped you.
All will agree Fred Bauer and Mark Hatfield led the men in serving an over the top breakfast last Sunday!
So many thanks to Ariana Reed and her family for the tremendous Passover Seder! Also to Pam Vaught for overseeing the reservations to the Seder and the Saturday teaching and luncheon with Dale Cohen.
And a great shout out to Chris Weber for his leading last Friday’s Shabbat gathering!
And yet we still are being blessed in this Passover season. We certainly look forward to our time with Dale Cohen this morning. May we be generous with our love offering toward his ministry!!
Today is the day of celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstfruits of all who will be raised with Him. Today we will affirm together that the Resurrection changes everything! Here are just a few of the things it changes:
The resurrections changes us!
The resurrection changes our destiny. Because He lives, we, who by faith are in Christ, shall also be raised with Him. (Romans 6:5).
Because we know our destiny has changed, our purpose on this earth is changed. We no longer live for ourselves but we abound in our work for the Lord knowing that our labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The resurrection changes us because it gives hope even in the most difficult circumstance of life just as Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame because of the joy that was set before him on the other side of the grave (Hebrews 12:2).
And of course, the resurrection changes our power to overcome sin, death, and the devil. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us (Romans 6:10)!
But the resurrection just didn’t change us. It changes all of creation. The resurrection of Jesus activated the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. All things will be made new! Death, decay, sickness and disease will be no more. “O Death, where is your sting… But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today we proclaim the Resurrection of our Lord changes everything!!!
Today we continue our journey as ‘people of the way’ (which was the most prevalent title for Christians in the 1st century) as we make our way to the special time of Passover and the remembrance of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today I will be looking briefly at four special focal points as Jesus entered into Jerusalem four days before the Passover, and His death by crucifixion. So many prophecies were being fulfilled this last week of Jesus’ earthly life, many of which we pass by in our reading without recognizing their significance.
Today I would like for us to turn our attention to “A special day, A special way,” “Palms and coats, A donkey and a colt!” It was not until after I began to write down these four focus points that I realized the rhyme and rhythm of these points as they are spoken out loud. I pray that special characteristic will be a means of remembrance to recall their spiritual significance in the days ahead.
Today let us again tell the old story while gaining new revelation, all to the glory of our soon coming King!
Today we begin to turn our eyes toward the passion, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The observance of the Spring Feasts are before us in just a few short weeks. Today we will look at a turning point in Luke’s Gospel as Jesus ‘set his face to go to Jerusalem’ (Luke 9:51). He is aware of the cross that awaits him there, yet he is determined in heart and mind to fulfill the purpose of the Father for his life. This journey toward Jerusalem will cover ten chapters in the gospel of Luke. Along the way, Jesus will be rejected and persecution will grow stronger. But along the way there will be teaching moments for his disciples where they learn that following Jesus is not easy. Like Jesus, all of his disciples, ourselves included, must learn to set our face toward the cross, to be united with him in his death so we can also be united with him in his resurrection. Today let us join the disciples of Jesus along the way as they journey toward Jerusalem.
Today we conclude our series on Elementary Principles with the message of ‘Eternal Judgment’. Eternal judgment really involves two distinct judgments. One has to do with ‘where’ we spend eternity and if our name is in the book of Life. This is determined by or acceptance or rejection of our only source of salvation which is Jesus Christ. The other judgment involves the rewards or lack of rewards in eternity. These two judgments can be seen in Revelation 20:12. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead (all the dead) were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Today, let us take seriously this final elementary principle. Daniel Lancaster writes.
Today we will look at the 5th elementary teaching from Hebrews 6:1-2. This is the principle of the resurrection of the dead. We begin to get a solid understanding of this principle from the perspective of a Jewish believer in Yeshua in the 1st century. This is the perspective of the author of the book of Hebrews. So, we may have to challenge some of our current concepts of ‘resurrection’ and ‘heaven’.
I will begin by emphasizing this resurrection of the dead is not just a resurrection in some form after death. This resurrection of the dead is the resurrection of the ‘body’! This was ‘the hope’ of the 1st century Christian and was the central tenant of their testimony, as it should be ours! Discussing this central tenant today is important for us to understand if we are to nightly communicate what happens to us from the time we die to the time of the Lord’s return. Let’s talk about that today!
Today I am pre-empting our ‘Elementary Principles’ series in order that we may hear from Daniel Mironichenko of Living Christ Ministries in Orlando. Daniel is currently staying a few weeks with his parents, Paul and Lana Mironichenko. Daniel has interned and been endorsed by International Evangelist Daniel Kolenda of Christ for the Nations.
Daniel is passionate for reaching the lost and making disciples. The specific direction of his ministry is currently towards the Slavic nations, but they are also doing ministry in Slavic communities in the United States.
Daniel has just finished another discipleship school in his home where he brings in 8-12 students with an emphasis on living out the gospel, together. At a recent evangelistic outreach meeting, one-on-one with people in the community, 50 people received Christ!
Today, please welcome Daniel and prepare to be touched by his passion for Christ and the fire in his bones!
Today, we continue our series on the elementary teachings of the faith as listed from Hebrews 6. Today we will focus our attention on the “laying on of hands”. The laying on of hands is mentioned in a variety of places in scripture, for various reasons, and to accomplish various purposes. I would suggest 5 primary categories of laying on of hands: 1) for ritual substitution; 2) to bestow blessing; 3) for healing 4) for commissioning; and 5) for impartation of Holy Spirit and Spiritual gifts.
Spend some time reflecting on passages of scripture in both the Old and New Testaments where you see this act of laying on of hands. Perhaps it was Jesus blessing the little children, or the patriarchs blessing their adult children, or the priest laying hands upon an animal before the sacrifice, or the multiple references to the laying of hands upon the sick. There are also those references where the laying on of hands took place to transfer authority, or to initiate into ministry and service, like those set apart in Acts 6. Given what we have been sharing about the elementary teachings being progressive starting with repentance of dead works, what do you think the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he mentioned this fourth principle in Hebrews 6:1-2? Jot down your answer and see if it agrees with today’s message. ____________________
Today we continue our series on ‘Elementary Principles’ with the ‘Doctrine of Baptisms’. We will be looking at some quotes from a book called the ‘Didache’, also titled ‘The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’ or ‘The Teaching of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations’ (gentiles).
The Didache is an early Christian manual with a consensus of scholars agreeing it was written from 50-90 AD. It was considered to be part of the New Testament by many early churches but fell away from the canon when lists began to be compiled of which books were being used by all churches. The Didache was lost for centuries until a Greek manuscript was discovered in 1873 by a Greek Orthodox bishop inside a monastery in modern day Turkey. A Latin manuscript of the first five chapters was found in 1900.
Today, let’s discover what the author of Hebrews and the teaching of the 12 apostles had to say about the doctrine of baptisms!
Today we continue our series on elementary principles of the Christian faith. Just as review last week we covered the 1st principle as listed in Hebrews 6:1 being ‘repentance from dead works’. We learned that the Jewish believer in Messiah who wrote this book did not understand repentance as simply a change of mind as often is implied. Repentance from the Hebraic perspective was a change of behavior and a change of heart.
We also learned dead works had nothing to do with trying to be saved by good works or obedience to the Law (Torah). Dead works are simply the works that lead to death, the works of sin. Sin being defined as a violation of God’s commandments.
D. Thomas Lancaster summarized it well saying, ” The response to the gospel message that Jesus and the apostle demanded was not merely belief or confession of belief; they called for a complete revolution of the heart, a complete renunciation of the old life of sin, sensuality, self-indulgence, selfishness, and the acts of the flesh.
Today, let’s move on to the 2nd principle – Faith toward God!
Today I begin a series of messages that take us to the very foundation of our faith. Hebrews 6 begins with these words: Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
This passage comes immediately after the readers are being confronted as still being spiritually immature. The author admonishes them, saying that by now they should be eating meat not still drinking milk. He spoke of how someone needed to teach them again the first principles of the oracles of God! I must admit, we, including myself, are yet to be subject to this confrontation. Can we, with assurance, explain the six most elementary principles of the Christian faith listed above with the same accurate meaning the apostles and teachers of the first century church would have understood and taught them?
In recent weeks of study I have come to the conclusion that at least part of the problems so afflicting the church today is due to a faulty foundation of some of the most basic doctrines of our faith. Let’s take a journey through these elementary teachings over the next few weeks and see if we can’t ‘raise up the age-old foundations!‘ (Isaiah 58:12)
Last week we began a series on how we are to be distinguished from all the nations of the earth. One of our distinguishing characteristics is in our purpose. Our purpose can be summed up under ‘love’. The great commandment is to love God and love one another.
Love sets our God apart from the gods of every other religion. Other religions say strive, our God says, “Love.” Everything He made and everything He’s done was an act of love for us. When we see love in the world, it’s a reminder that we were made in His image. Love exists among us because it’s part of God’s character; and if we are truly the children of God, that character should be very pronounced and make us different from all other people of the earth. As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love”.
Certainly we will be distinguished from the world if our love is patient and kind, not envious, boastful, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered; not delighting in evil but rejoicing with truth; always protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering! (1 Corinthians 13)
Today, may we be empowered to be different by the way we love God and one another.
Today we are going to open up another area of God’s Word that will be the focus of my messages over the next several weeks. In the Exodus story, in the midst of the 10 plagues, we have the Lord speaking through his servant, Moses, to Pharaoh and declaring, I will make a difference between My people and your people. Exodus 8:23. And this declaration becomes a prominent theme throughout scripture. From Exodus to Revelation the Lord works for, and in, and through His people to distinguish them from all the other people of the earth. So even today, we must ask, what makes us different? How does the world see us different? How does the world see us as a unique or peculiar people? I don’t know if the world sees us different, but they should because our perspective of life and life eternal should be different. The power at work in us and through us should be different. Our daily practice should be different. Our praise should be different. Our purpose should be different. Our source of protection and provision should be different. Our proclamation should be different. Our pattern of life should be different, and our preparation in life should be different! Today, and in the weeks to come, ponder these statements and ask, “Is there a difference between me and the people of the world that is clearly evident for all to see?”
Today I am grateful for the body of Christ. One of the great revelations of being part of the body of Christ is the recognition that I am only a part, one small part. Going along with that is the revelation that the more individual parts of the body that are operating in their giftings and are participating in the work and activity of the body, the more the body will accomplish, and the more love, power, and wisdom the body will demonstrate. At the beginning of the year I said I wanted to be more intentional in leading the church to be the church that our Lord called it to be. I would like for us to try something as we gather on Wednesday nights for the next few months. There is a bible reading plan in the back of the church that we are using as a guide for our church in 2019. I would like for everyone to come on Wednesday nights having read at least the Monday through Wednesday New Testament selection of the reading plan for that week. If there is something in those two or three chapters that has stirred you, or you sense is a message for the church today, I want you to be prepared to share and participate during the time of the service designated for such sharing. At times we have special speakers or special messages on Wednesday nights, but when we do not, this is a way we can all intentionally be united in the Word of Life together. As a heads up, this Wednesday we will be looking at John 14-16! Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Today we continue to learn what it means to ‘wait upon the Lord’.
Joyce Meyer shares two ways of waiting as she writes, “All of us will wait passively, or we’ll wait expectantly. A passive person hopes something good will happen and is willing to sit around waiting to see if it does. After a short time, he gives up, saying, “That’s it! I’ve waited and waited and nothing’s happened.” The passive person has a lot of wishbone but not much backbone!
The expectant person, on the other hand, is hopeful, believing the answer is just around the corner, due to arrive any minute. His belief is not a passive thing. His heart is full of hope, expecting his problem to be solved at any moment. He wakes up every morning expecting to find his answer. He may wait and wait, but suddenly what he’s been waiting for happens….
We know the word wait means “to expect” or “to look for.” But remember, it also means “to serve” — just like a waiter waits on your table at a restaurant. Our act of waiting isn’t supposed to be spent sitting around passively hoping that something will happen sometime soon.”
Today is a good day to prepare our hearts for our 12-hour prayer burn this Wednesday. The focus of this month’s prayer burn is ‘Wait upon the Lord’. I read the following section from a Daily Bread devotional and found it appropriate to share with you today:
…waiting for the Lord can transform us into a people of growing faith. King David spent many years waiting to be crowned king and fleeing from Saul’s wrath. David wrote, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart” (Psalms 27:14). And in another psalm he encourages us with these words, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He…set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps” (40:1-2). David grew into “a man after [God’s] own heart” by waiting on the Lord (Acts 13:22; see 1 Samuel 13:14).
When we become frustrated with God’s apparent delay in answering our prayer, it is good to remember that He is interested in developing faith and perseverance in our character (James 1:2-4). Wait on the Lord!
Today we sit on the very edge of a new year. In Proverbs 16:3 the Amplified bible reads, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”
As you seek and discover the Lord’s plan for your life in 2019, it is important that you make goals for those plans to succeed. We know the Lord’s plan for each of us is to continue to grow spiritually. So, maybe you have a goal to read the bible in a year. A reading plan is available on the back table to reach that goal. Maybe you have a goal to be more physically healthy. Consider being part of the new nurture class on that topic. Perhaps something the Lord is asking of you is to get rid of everything in your life the enemy is using to entangle you and hold you in areas of bondage. The Cleansing seminar and retreat will assist you in reaching that goal. In seeking the Lord He may be calling you to step outside your comfort zone and be more vocal in your witness and sharing your faith with others. What about growing in your prayer life? Or how is the Lord leading you to give of yourself in mission, locally or abroad? What plans are you putting in place to achieve those goals?
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” In application to our topic today I would paraphrase it this way: “the one who diligently makes plans and carries them out will find success, but the one who just quickly makes a resolution without really thinking about how with God’s help to bring it to be accomplished will surely fail in their attempt.” Today is the day to start a plan for success.
Today, I am in great anticipation of Daniel Mironichenko of Living Christ ministries being with us this next Wednesday. When you go to his website it reads: “The world awaits to see what Jesus looks like. Therefore, we go to show them. Not just with words, but with the very irresistible Presence of God. Our hearts burn to give what we’ve received.” I can’t help but hear ringing through those words the message of Paul to the church in Thessalonica; For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance 1 Thessalonians 1:5
As an anointed minister and evangelist, he has been in places around the world. I can only imagine the experiences he had while ministering as a uniquely chosen intern of Daniel Kolenda (successor of Reinhard Bonkke). No doubt part of crusades of tens of thousands, but also in multiple encounters in street ministry.
His website also shares his passion for youth, and though much of the youth culture of today seems far from the Lord, “We know that one touch from God is all that’s needed to bring a heart to love Jesus”!
Today, let’s start praying for Daniel and that the proclaimed word will come with power and be confirmed with signs, wonders, and miracles and the birthing of new disciples of Jesus.
Today, I want to say a little something about Tomorrow! D. Thomas Lancaster will be with us tomorrow night at 6:00. He comes as a representative of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ), which specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context.
The modern Messianic Jewish movement began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as Jewish believers in Jesus sought to reconcile their faith in Jesus with their Jewish heritage, and has become a bridge between the Jewish people and the broader church—helping the church to better understand its origin and identity. Abram Poljak, a pioneer of the twentieth-century Messianic Jewish movement, wrote: “If the Bible is true and if Yeshua is the Messiah and the King of the Jews, then the Messianic Jewish movement is the most important phenomenon of our time—the distinguishing feature indicating that the world has come to a turning point.” – Abram (Bram) Poljak
FFOZ’s objective is to help rejuvenate the believer’s faith, encouraging him or her to become zealous for Messiah, discipleship, and the whole Word of God. They are driven by a heart for the restoration of the body of Messiah. Their website is ffoz.org. Hope to see you tomorrow!
Today, we observe and celebrate the 8th day of Hanukkah. Why 8 days? Well, first and foremost we will discover historically that it was an 8 day celebration when it was initially celebrated in 165 BC (2 Maccabees 10:5-7). In that same passage there is reference that, because they had not been able to participate in the 8 day feast of Tabernacles because of the war, this time of dedication and thanksgiving would be its substitute for the year.
Besides that, we know that 8 days is a biblical pattern of dedication (Exodus 22:30, Leviticus 22:27) and the original altar in the tabernacle was sanctified on the 8th day (Leviticus 9:1). Also the dedication of the rebuilt temple after the Babylonian captivity lasted 8 days.
The miracle of the 1 day’s supply of oil for the rededicated temple lasting 8 days is a central story of today’s Hanukkah celebrations. Yet, one must note, such a miracle was not recorded until over 400 years after the dedication and is not mentioned by the books of Maccabees or the historian Josephus. Nevertheless, the historical event of Hanukkah is a miracle in itself and the 8 day dedication has significance in God’s redemptive work. I receive blessing from taking time during these 8 days to reflect on the many powerful messages of hope in, and deliverance by our great Jehovah God!
Today begins the 8 day Jewish festival of Lights called Hanukkah. It dates back to 165 BC and is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev of the Hebraic calendar. The word Hanukkah means re dedication and celebrates one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history. The festival reminds Jews of a time over 2500 years ago when Antiochus, a Syrian king, tried to make the Jewish people abandon their faith and assimilate into the Greek culture. A statue of Antiochus was erected in the Jewish temple and the Jews were ordered to bow down before him.
A small group of Jews called Maccabees rebelled, and after a three year war they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. But the temple was all but destroyed. The Jews had to clean and repair the Temple, and when they were finished they rededicated it to God on the 25th day of Kislev. It was both a spiritual and a military miracle. The greatest miracle was in that increasingly assimilating and Hellenistic Jewish society, there rose up a family of faithful Torah-observant, God-fearing Jews who made a courageous stand against those who were ignoring the Covenant of God. But not only did Mattathias encouraged his own family to live for the Lord, they also, in turn, were able to inspire others in their nation to do so. In the end, God honored that courage and that dedication to Him.
The message of Hanukkah becomes increasingly relevant in our day. In a time of increasing compromise of biblical truths and the assimilation of the world into the church the Lord is calling the saints to remain steadfast in the faith: Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus. Revelations 14:12
This week has been a week of ‘thanksgiving’. Of course we know such an attitude is not just for the third Thursday in November but something we are to exhibit at all times and in all circumstances. God’s Word tells us “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
This is what God wants us to do and whatever the Lord asks of us we know it is for our best interest and for His glory. But many of us may not be aware of some of the natural benefits of a thankful heart. For years, Skip Prichard has studied “the benefits of an attitude of gratitude… Studies demonstrate that gratitude helps us: Reduce depression, Get promotions at work, Improve our self-esteem, Increase our energy, Develop a strong immune system, Decrease blood pressure, Increase sleep quality, Reduce and cope with negative stress, Eat healthier, Have deeper friendships, Increase productivity, Improve job performance, Become more likable, Reach goals faster, Increase feelings of happiness and well-being, Reduce negative emotions such as envy, hatred, and anger, and Increase positive emotions such as love and empathy!”
Today, with all these benefits to look forward to, as well as pleasing the Lord, let’s continue in thanksgiving!
Today I would like to continue our study of Jacob’s dream at Bethel. This is one of several passages of scripture that makes reference to heaven being opened or an ‘open heaven’.
It appears Jacob understood that an open heaven was connected with a certain location and made sure he marked it so he could later return to it.
When God spoke to Moses and the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 28:12, it seems an open heaven is connected to obedience and is available at any location. “The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.”
What is the good treasure of the open heavens? Is it just rain? Ezekiel saw visions of God when the heaven was opened (Ezekiel 1:1). John heard voices and was shown things to come (Revelation 4:1). At Jesus baptism the Spirit came down as a dove through the open heaven (Mark 1:10). When the heavens were open Peter saw a sheet (Acts 10:11) and Stephen saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). These are just a few scriptures referencing an open heaven or the opening of heaven. What are we to make of all of this?
Oh my, so many questions, so little space, so little time! Today, may we see and open heaven!
You probably haven’t thought about this, but do you know that these words written in this blog called “Today…from the Pastor” were not written today at all! They were written last week, normally pretty early in the week like Monday or Tuesday in order that Vickie can have it to start the F.Y.I. for the next Sunday. However, when I write these words, I am writing knowing they will be read that next Sunday.
In the same way, as people of God we are to speak today into our tomorrows so that in our tomorrows we will see the fruition of what we speak today! (You may have to read that a few times to get hold of it.)
Remember faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen(Hebrews 11:1). Today, by faith, we should be speaking what we want to see in our tomorrow for the glory of God. See yourself growing in prayer, holiness, spiritual understanding, and anointing to help others. Speak out in thanksgiving to the Lord for transforming you more into his likeness each day and using you in the earth to advance His Kingdom.
Today, speak and believe for blessing in your tomorrow! (Job 22:28) You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways. (Proverbs 18:20) A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
One thing I really enjoyed on our recent vacation was snorkeling in the clear waters of the Caribbean. During one of these times I found, what I discovered later to be, a very large and perfectly formed heart urchin shell (Imagine a sand dollar inflated to the size and shape of a small potato.) Very pretty, hollow inside, and very fragile. I carefully brought it in and cleaned it up and we enjoyed viewing it over the week. When packing to go home I wrapped it in several pieces of soft clothing and placed it in the middle of our check in bag. Upon arriving home I discovered it crushed in a multitude of pieces. I too was crushed as I was looking forward to setting it as a display with other tokens of remembrance of our special vacation. It was then that I also had to admit that even though I had taken some time to protect it I would have done a much better job packing it if I had really placed a high value upon it. For one, I would have first put it in something solid, like the coffee mugs we bought, then boxed it, then wrapped clothes around it, etc.
The things we really value we go to great ends to protect or we go to great expense to purchase or we go to great effort to show our love. I pondered Jesus parables on the Kingdom of heaven like in Matthew 13:45-46 he says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Today, let us ponder how our words, attitudes, and actions really reveal the value we place upon our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and with others, beginning with our own family. When all of life is unwrapped will we discover broken pieces or a beautiful treasure to be cherished forever?
Today, as part of our occult awareness month I found these statements from pastors Bud and Betty Miller insightful: “The great scholar C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.’
“A recent Gallup survey shows that just about three in four Americans hold some paranormal belief–in at least one of the following: extra sensory perception (ESP), haunted houses, ghosts, mental telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation, and channeling.” Just seeing all the demonic influenced movies and television shows our modern age is exposed to is strong proof of this unhealthy fascination. Some of the top rated television shows currently running include such titles as Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Mind Games, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Heroes, Grimm, Lost Girl, True Blood, Medium, Witches of East End, not to mention the continuous reruns of the Harry Potter movies, and former TV series like Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Witches of Eastwick.
Today, let us remain in the Word of the Lord, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 101:3. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23″
Today we are celebrating the last day of Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles. Much of our attention over the past week has been on Rejoicing in the Lord for His provision, His redemption, and rehearsing his second coming to tabernacle with us. But today our emphasis will be on the Lord’s first coming to dwell with us as Jesus birth was most certainly during the feast of Tabernacles. This can be determined by examining carefully the scriptures dealing with both Jesus’ and John the Baptizer’s conception and birth. But there are also just so many other clues. For instance, remember Sukkot is called the season of rejoicing. Remember how the angel announced Jesus birth.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)
Why was there no room at the inn? Bethlehem is only about 5 miles from Jerusalem, and all the men of Israel had come with their families to attend the festival of Tabernacles as required by the law of Moses. Every room for miles around Jerusalem would have been already taken by pilgrims, so all that Mary and Joseph could find for shelter was a ‘stable’, a temporary shelter used for animals, most likely the tent of shepherd’s tending the birth of Passover lambs in the fields surrounding Bethlehem .
Also of note is the fact that the 7 day Feast of Tabernacles is joined with an eighth day celebration in Israel called Simchat Torah or Rejoicing in the Torah (Law). If Jesus was born on the 1st day of Sukkot he would have been brought to Jerusalem on the 8th day for circumcision according to the Law of Moses.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21)
Wow, how cool that Jesus, born THE Passover Lamb was brought to the temple on the 8th day, the very day all Israel was rejoicing in the written Torah, All the heavenly host were rejoicing in the Living Torah!!!
From … Jill Ruoff.
FEAST OF TABERNACLES (SUKKOT)
From its appearance in Leviticus to its prophetic fulfillment in Revelations, the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot was and is God’s command: “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:34 NKJV
The purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles is twofold: a celebration in thanksgiving to God for the autumn harvest, and a remembrance of the 40 years God spent with the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings, after they were freed from their bondage in Egypt. They were commanded: “You are to observe it as a feast to ADONAI seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah, so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra’el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.” Leviticus 23:42, 43 CJB
The sukkot (plural-booths) are essentially temporary shelters, likened to what the Israelites lived in while wandering in the wilderness with God for 40 years. The sukkah has at least three sides, constructed of any material (wood, brick, or tarp), and the roof (skhach) is to be anything that grows from the ground (i.e. branches, bushes, wood).
Yet to come, the ultimate prophetic fulfillment of this holy day, which commemorates God dwelling with His people: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’ “Revelation 21:3 NKJV
There is so much more information, as regards the Feast of Tabernacles, throughout the Bible. Please take time to read: Leviticus 23:33-43, Psalm 118, Isaiah 12:3, John 1:14, John 7:37-39, and Revelation 21 and 22, to name a few.
Today our word comes from Andrea Hatfield.
We are currently in a time known as “The Days of Awe,” the 10 days leading up to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Yom Kippur begins on sundown this Tuesday and ends on sundown Wednesday (the 10th day of the Hebrew month Tishri). The fall feasts are called the High Holy Days, and Yom Kippur is considered the “holy of holies” and the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” In Leviticus 16:29-34, the LORD gave specific instructions to Israel regarding this day.
Jewish Voice Ministries explains that Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism…because on this day alone each year the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice onto the Mercy Seat (kapporet or seat of atonement). The sins of Israel were then symbolically placed on the head of another animal, and it was led outside the camp. Thus, Israel’s sin was removed from them. Jewish tradition maintains that on Yom Kippur, God seals His judgments of people for the coming year. Messianic Jews celebrate the Day of Atonement with the understanding that Yeshua’s death was the final sacrifice making atonement once and for all.
The writer of Hebrews reminds believers that now “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.” (Hebrews 10:19) “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)
Today our word comes from Dennis Ehlert.
Yom Teruah (yohm tuh-roo-AH) Feast of Trumpets
In the autumn of the year and on the first day of Tishri, trumpets are blown to announce Yom Teruah. Biblical Christians refer to this day as the Feast of Trumpets, this day was established by God during the time of Moses (Moshe).
“On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and no regular work. It is a day for you to sound trumpets (shofar).” Numbers 29:1-2.
Trumpets (shofars) play an important part in this festival with their symbolism. They are often used as an instrument of spiritual warfare. There are four primary types of shofar blasts:
Tekiah – A long single blast (the sound of the King’s coronation).
Shevarium – Three short wail-like blasts (signifying repentance).
Teru’ah – Nine staccato blasts of alarm (to awaken the soul).
Tekiah ha-Gadol – A great long blast (for as long as you can blow).
“When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the LORD your God and rescued from your enemies. Also, at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:9-10.
The ram’s horn is used to remind us that Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac (Yitzhak), and God in his mercy provided a ram whose horns were entangled in a nearby thicket, to die in Isaac’s place. Thus, when the ram’s horn is blown it is a reenacting of this amazing act of devotion. Also, the bent shape of the ram’s horn is emblematic of our contrite state, as we humbly approach GOD and ask Him to grant us a good new year.
Today we will take a little time to prepare you for an annual church building project! The project I am referring to is families being invited to build a temporary shelter called a ‘sukkah’ to observe the final fall feast of the Lord called Sukkot which we will celebrate with a Sukkot party on September 22 and continue with a variety of activities until September 30.
In Leviticus 23:33-43 the children of Israel were commanded to dwell in booths (temporary shelters, a sukkah) for 7 days, “that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'” (vs 43)
The Hebrew word for “know” is the word “yada.” It means to cause to discern, discover, observe and understand, gain instruction, truly perceive. There are 3 clear reasons we join with the children of Israel in building booths.
- Dwelling in a sukkah was a physical reminder and yearly declaration that the Lord is our provider in every way! While the Israelites were wandering the desert with nothing – not even the ability to provide for their own basic needs – they had to recognize and rely on God daily.
- Dwelling in tents is to remind us this physical earth we live upon and this physical tabernacle (our body) that we live in is not permanent. It is temporary, and thus our lives should not be lived as if this earth is our home.
- Dwelling in temporary structures was and is a time to recognize that as we are on our journey to the eternal promise, we are always prepared to move. Yahweh is a moving God and we must be prepared to move with Him.
Today I hope many of you will make plans to join us in the Lord’s annual building project. Stay tuned for more details!
Today we continue through the 40 days of Teshuva (returning to the Lord). Mark Hatfield of our Feast Team shares these comments.
Sharing with someone is a way of caring for someone and caring for someone reveals the charity that is in one’s own heart! If your heart is full of charity, or a desire to share your heart openly with others, then you are truly repentant and have mastered Teshuva. But it is written in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The act of Teshuva is not a one and done act; to repent and return to looking to God for his favor is an act of daily worship. Making Teshuva by the power of God’s Spirit is a wholly life changing experience. Moses, after coming down the mountain and seeing that his people had returned to the gods of Egypt and were looking for favor in their sight, said to God, “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, show me Your way, that I may know You, and that I may find favor in Your sight.” Exodus 33:13 TSB. Thru Yeshua’s (Jesus’) sacrifice, we, the Bride, have found favor in God’s sight, and now, we, the Bride of Yeshua, can, by His Spirit, know intimately God’s way. If we can know God’s way intimately thru Yeshua, we then can show our family and friends the Way and then they too can make Teshuva (return to God). Moses found favor in God’s sight and the Lord showed him the way! Sharing, caring, and charity are truly the way of God our Father in Heaven, blessed be his Name. Let us the Bride of Yeshua make Teshuva daily and pray, “If we Your people, by the blood of Yeshua, have found favor in Your sight, then look on us with Your favor, and empower us with Yeshua’s Spirit to know Your way and daily find favor in your sight. Amen.”
Often we are asked, “Why does Liberty Life celebrate Old Testament Feast days?” The feasts they are referring to are the ‘Feasts of the Lord’ as recorded in Leviticus 23 and other central biblical passages. Today, let me again briefly answer.
God has an appointment calendar! In the opening verses of Genesis God begins to announce his event planner for history. It doesn’t always match our (Gentile) calendar of time, but any student of the Word should know God’s ways are not our ways. God’s calendar was established in the beginning and will not change until time is no more.
In Genesis 1:14 the Lord spoke of the sun, the moon and the stars, and said let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. Notice the two part purpose. Not only was the sun, moon, and stars put in place and motion to keep chronological time and markings for hours, days, weeks and years, but also for “signs” and “seasons”. The Hebrew word used here means for “signals” and for “appointed times”. The signals, we will discover, are for the Lord’s appearing in history and the appointed times of His works of redemption and judgment. As history proceeds, this becomes more and more obvious as major biblical events take place on days and weeks God appointed from the beginning of time according to his timetable. The fall feasts we are about to celebrate mark the appointed time, the very days of the Lord’s return, judgment, and establishment of his Millennial reign. Therefore, every year, we are commanded to keep watch and to be ready! That’s why we observe the Feast of the Lord!
Today you will likely hear the word ‘Teshuvah’ come up as our guest speaker Dale Cohen is sharing. I know he will define it clearly, but just to give you a heads up, let me share some basics.
Teshuvah comes from the Hebrew word ‘shuv’, meaning to return or repent. Among the Jewish people, a 40-day season of Teshuvah begins on Elul 1 of the biblical calendar, which was yesterday on our calendars. It continues through the first of the fall feasts, Yom Teruah, and ends at the most holy day on the Jewish calendar with the feast of Yom Kippur, declaring atonement or redemption. This time traditionally parallels the 40-day period Moses spent on Mt. Sinai after Israel’s sin with the golden calf and the breaking of the original tablets. After 40 days, Moses descended with the new tablets, and the covenant with the God of Israel was renewed.
The season of Teshuvah and the three fall feasts of the Lord (Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot/Tabernacles) are a time we prepare for, and rehearse, the second coming of the Lord and the establishment of his Millennial kingdom.
Today, let us prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord as we learn about Teshuvah and the blast of the shofar!
Today we will continue to share some thoughts from a Hebraic perspective. Last week our focus was on the meaning of ‘law’ as we read it in the New Testament. But as I concluded that message, some may have felt I was saying we have to keep the Torah, keep ‘the law’, to be saved. Nothing is farther from the truth. We don’t obey the commandments of God to be saved, but rather, we obey because we are saved. It matters not whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, all are under the curse of sin and death. All need a Savior. The law was never given to save but rather to reveal the will of the Father and point to the Savior. Both Jews and Gentiles stand equally unrighteous before God; no one, Jew or Gentile, will be declared righteous by keeping the law (torah); Salvation for both Jew and Gentile always has been, is now, and ever will be, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Both Jew and Gentile need to be born from above; born again!
Perhaps the best way to see the connection between our calling to walk in the ways of the Lord and our status as saved by faith in Christ is to remember Jesus is the Living Word, the living Torah. When we by faith receive Christ as Savior and Lord, we are in Christ and He is in us. We are therefore in faith fulfilling ’the law’ because Jesus has done it for us as well as pay the penalty for our failure to keep it; but as we, by His empowering grace, follow Him and His ways, we become like him and ‘the law’, the Torah, the Word, the Way of the Father begins to be revealed in our life! This is sanctification. Today, let us by faith in Christ be transformed into his likeness as He reveals his likeness to us in ALL his written Word.
As I continue to grow as a believer in Christ and seek to truly know His ways, I know I must do my best to read, interpret, and apply the Word of God correctly. One thing that has made a big difference in how I look at and study the Word is knowing that Christianity was originally Jewish. I affirm these words by E. Thomas Lancaster in his book, Restoration:
“Jesus, the apostles, and all the first disciples were practicing Jews who considered themselves part of Israel and the Jewish people. They did not envision themselves as the authors of a new religion; they considered themselves to be a sect within greater Judaism – a reformation movement inspired by the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth and by their conviction that he was the long promised Messiah King. They belonged to the sect of the Nazarenes, a first century school of disciples centered on Yeshua. They did not hold Yeshua or the gospel message in antithesis to the Torah of Moses. They upheld the words of Jesus: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law…” (Matthew 5:17)
Today, I challenge you to seek to see Jesus and the Word of God in such a context. You will be astonished how scripture will be made alive as never before and misunderstandings given clarity!
Today, we are blessed to have our good friend and faithful minister Marlene Klepees with us. For me, she is the validity of God’s Word to us today in flesh and blood. Recently I was listening to a clip of a guy who is very prominent on YouTube by the name of Todd Freil. He is host of a radio show called “Wretched”. Now, it doesn’t take long when listening to him to realize that he is very convinced that God no longer does, or needs to do, any supernatural activity on the earth today, other than change people’s hearts. When doing a show asking the question “Does God do miracles today?” he responded with a very strong, “NO”! He then said, “We have looked for some form of affirmation and we have not been able to find one verifiable, organic healing that is certifiable. Not one!”
Wow! That was a very arrogant and grossly ignorant statement, considering there are multitudes of verifiable organic healings that have been certified throughout history. And one of the multitude of such miracles is standing before you today in the person of Marlene Klepees, who was healed instantly of crippling cerebral palsy by the power of God while still a patient of the Mayo Clinic, which verified the miracle! Today, I believe in miracles because I am looking at one! Today, I expect to see more!
Today we will continue the message of “Higher Ground” that we began last week. To make it easier for you to follow along today my blog will be an outline that you can fill out as I share the message. From Exodus 34 we discover some characteristics of ‘higher ground’.
- Higher ground is a place of personal____________, ____________, ____________, and ____________.
- Higher ground is a place of ____________, of ____________.
- Higher ground is a place to expect ____________ and ____________.
- Higher ground is a place we are called to ____________. Higher ground is a place of ___________.
- Higher ground is a place we are ____________.
As a church, may the Spirit of the living God continue to stir us to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).
Today I am excited as we start a set of new classes in our nurture rotation. Over the next three months you can learn why John wrote his three letters, or what it means to follow a Jewish Jesus, or how you can strengthen your relationships by learning how God created you. Also, you will be in an environment where learning and growing will come from much more than just the curriculum used or what is presented by a teacher!
During last Sunday’s message in the worship service I introduced the topic of “team ministry”. In ministering as a team, be it a worship team, a prayer team, or a greeting team, not only do individuals come together to accomplish a task or fulfill a purpose, but also to build relationships, to encourage, and to find a sense of belonging. Nurture classes at Liberty Life are similar. Not only do you have opportunity to learn and grow in Bible truth and the ways of the Lord, you also have opportunity to grow in relationship with others in the church body that is not as possible in a corporate worship setting.
The early church grew because “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching AND the fellowship…” (Acts 2:42). Notice both elements are emphasized. Revelation and relationship is a good balance to maintain. So if you missed getting started in the new nurture classes this week make it your aim to get on board next week. We need you there. You have something to add that is missing without you!
Today, I share a devotion from Selwyn Hughes reflecting on Romans 8:26 …the Spirit helps us in our weakness…”
One of the most exciting words in the Greek language is this word ‘help’. It is a combination of three words; sun– “along with,” anti– “on the opposite side,” and lambano– “to take hold of.” All together; sunantilambanotai. It means “to take hold of, together with us, over on the other side.” Doesn’t this throw a new and illuminating light on the work and ministry of the Spirit in our lives? The words of Jesus in John’s Gospel could be paraphrased thus; “I will send you a Helper who comes alongside when you call, and who will take hold of any burden of problem and carry it with you.” Oh how we ought to thank God for this great ministry of the Holy Spirit – He is with us to take hold of and help us carry our infirmities, our weaknesses, our heavy loads, and give us the comfort we need.
The Greek experts tell us that the more technically we look at the word, the more exciting it gets. It is in the indicative mood and represents a fact. It is in the middle voice, indicating that the Holy Spirit is doing the action only with our cooperation, and it is in the present continuous tense, speaking of a continuous action. He is always there!
Today we are blessed to have Tom and Teresa Stamman with us. You may have overheard someone talking about Tom and saying something like, “He really read my mail!” Then you begin to think, “Why was Tom reading his mail? Did he bring Tom some personal letters or bills to look over?” No, the phrase ‘reading one’s mail’ is a church term for someone operating in the spiritual gift of a ‘word of knowledge’ which is often given by someone with a ‘prophetic’ gifting.
When we speak of prophecy, we most often associate it with speaking divine inspiration by the Word of God foretelling the future. And that is one area of prophesy. But the majority of prophecy has to do with speaking by divine impartation something of Christ into people for encouragement and building up of the church (see 1 Corinthians 14:3).
The gift of prophecy is often paired with the gift of the word of knowledge that is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:8. A word of knowledge is the supernatural ability of one person to know what God is currently doing or intends to do in the life of another person. It can also be defined as knowing something about another person they couldn’t have known naturally.
Our humble servant Tom Stamman operates effectively in this gifting and shares it freely for the edification of the believer and the building up of the church, both locally and abroad, especially to accomplish the call of God upon his life to care for the orphans and widows.
Today, let’s welcome Tom and Teresa Stamman!
Today is Father’s Day. I will not be with you today because I am visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Tennessee! I love it when I get to see my daughters and they run up and throw their arms around me and say, “Love you dad”! In the case of my youngest, Bethany, it is the title, “Daddy”. Of course, for some of you this day is not necessarily filled with good memories because of an absent father, an abusive father, or a father that lacked any affection.
But today every Christian should have a testimony of a Heavenly Father who loves them, who is always present, a provider of every need and a father who knows and interacts with our deepest hurts and greatest joys. We are called the children of God because he introduces himself to us with the title Father. Today, you can crawl up on his lap and as a child say, My Father, Abba, Daddy, who is in heaven, holy is your name!
Today, as our guest speaker, we are blessed to have Matthew Herren, a father who intimately knows The Father! Please warmly welcome him and his family and be attentive as he opens up the Word of God.
Today, included in your FYI, is a love letter tract that you will find beneficial to read anytime you need to be reminded of the Father’s great love for you or to give to a friend or coworker that you discern needs to know the Father’s love.
Today I want to invite you to a short ‘move out and clean up’ time we will be having after our worship time this Wednesday night. It is a time we will work together to move items that are taking space up in our classrooms and closets out to the storage shed. It will also be a time to organize our inside storage areas while they are being cleaned out. Trusting several of you will make yourself available and we can accomplish the task within an hour’s time.
Speaking of cleaning closets, here are some words from A. W. Tozer in an article called ‘Cleaning Out the Closets’.
“Another question to put to yourself is, ‘Do I have any habits I am ashamed to let anybody know I have? Have I any personal habits that I am ashamed of? Do I hide something when the pastor is coming? If everything were known in the church about how I lived, would I go back to church?’ You can dodge this, twist it around and answer evasively, but the snow will lie on your heart. If you answer God honestly and go to work to get rid of it and clean it up, springtime will come for you.”
Today read Matthew 15:18-19 and Psalm 139:23-24
Today I have pondered the great burden many in the body of Christ are experiencing in these recent days. In our congregation alone it seems the battles against sickness, accidents, financial burdens, relational issues, and just a lot things breaking down have increased. As a pastor and business owner, I also hear from other believers in other congregations facing the same upswing of troubles. Of course we can look worldwide and see a surge of activities in the natural and political realm causing unrest and uncertainty.
In the midst of this, I am brought back to reflect how even before these difficulties have increased, there was an increased call to prayer among God’s people. Prayer that has increased not necessarily in REACTION to the upheaval of difficulty, rather in PREPARATION for it. It is as if the Spirit of Intercession was being dispersed among the body of Christ so that when the day of trouble comes, believers are not caught off guard or ill equipped.
Every weekday, focused prayer by the Liberty Life family is being lifted up during the noon hour. Every month 18-hour prayer burns are taking place in our sanctuary. Please take these times of prayer seriously. I believe these prayers are availing much and testimonies are being brought forth.
Therefore, today I encourage you as I encourage myself, “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come.” Colossians 4:2 TLB
Today, I give thanks for Liberty Life’s awesome demonstration last Sunday of being the body of Christ. It was such a blessing to see how everyone came together to adorn the sanctuary for worship with all kinds of flowers, plants, fruit, drawings, paintings, even a bird and some fish! Everyone brought something unique yet it all blended together as a beautiful offering to the Lord.
And talking about offering, again our Liberty Life family came together with each giving joyfully, generously, and purposely. By doing so we exceeded our special offer goal and two great ministries were blessed, demonstrating our part of the even greater body of Christ!
Even more, I celebrate the many who gathered after worship for the carry in dinner. The quantity and variety of food was awesome and tables of laughter and conversation filled the entire fellowship hall. It was great!
Liberty Life sought to be obedient to the Lord’s command on His Feast Days for no one to come empty-handed. But also I celebrate no one seemed to be sitting with idle hands either. I rejoice to see Liberty Life demonstrate working as a team under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Although leadership was in place to provide some direction and structure for worship and the fellowship meal, people just jumped in and served in places that had a need, like arranging items brought for the service and helping with set up and clean up of the luncheon. Also, so many stepping up to provide ministry and service throughout the week! How true the Word from 1 Corinthians 12:14 is: “For the body is not one member, but many.” Well done Liberty Life, well done!
Today is an exciting day filled with expectation. I have prayed that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon Liberty Life afresh as we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. So many symbols and words that connect us with this day. Instead of writing a blog today I will just let you unscramble the words in the first two chapters of Acts that you will identify with Pentecost. If you need help I have included the verse where the word can be found.
Unscramble the Words!
scrambled unscrambled verse
EPADZBIT __________ 1:5
DWNI ______________ 2:2
STSWSEENI _________ 1:8
GOUSETN __________ 2:4
EFRI ______________ 2:3
DARCOC ___________ 2:1
MIPOERS __________ 1:4
EOPRW ___________ 1:8
DUONS ___________ 2:2
PITRS YHLO ________ !!!!
Today we obviously are doing a lot of recognition of wonderful people in our church, like mothers and our graduates! And we will share those things in the service, so I want to use this space to talk about something that is going on next Sunday – the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost! The focus on Shavuot is to spread the Word and be filled with the Spirit! It is to be celebrated in freedom and joy! Certainly we don’t want to get burdened by all the traditions, but as one writer wrote “the worst thing you can do on Shavuot is to do nothing!”
So today, let’s prepare to do something! Let’s prepare to come before the Lord next week with joy and expectation. We will have extended worship and praise. Wear festive clothing. You may be interested to know it is traditional in Israel for girls to wear floral head wreaths! You can bring flowers, plants, even fruit baskets to adorn the sanctuary and the tables downstairs! We will have extra places in the sanctuary to set such items. Make a banner or drawing for Shavuot, if you wish, depicting the Holy Spirit, Harvest, Giving of Torah, Jubilee, etc!
Shavuot is a time of sharing with others. We will have a special offering for both Jewish and Gentile ministries. The offering will go to plant trees in Israel (Jewish) and also to partner with Open Bible’s church plant, Resonate Church (Gentile).
Yes, we will have a carry-in fellowship after worship to share your favorite recipes and continue our joyful atmosphere. Common foods for Pentecost (Shavuot) celebrations include anything with milk, cheeses (don’t forget cheesecake!), pastas, breads, nuts, fruit, and honey.
No stress. Just come next Sunday to Praise, Rejoice, Worship, Give, Fellowship, Feast, Bless, and Be Blessed; but to honor the Lord, don’t come empty handed!
Today I am still giving thanks for the ‘liberty’ and ‘life’ that was received at the Cleansing Retreat last weekend. I heard a couple of great testimonies that blessed me of how the Lord took what the enemy meant for evil and transformed it into what is good! What the enemy meant for destruction, our God will turn it into that which will destroy him. The cross is the ultimate example!
Mark Hatfield shared seeing lots of chains falling off participants during the retreat. He asked, “Lord, what are you going to do with all these chains?” He heard the Lord say, “I am going to melt them down and make armor for those set free so they will be protected from the advances of the enemy”. Another person said he could see those chains being used by the believers to give them traction, so they are now equipped to not slide down the slippery slope of the enemy.
Today we worship our God who loves us, and in every circumstance offers us hope and a future. His plans for us are always good. Jesus came so that those who are in darkness can be brought into his marvelous light and experience life abundantly and eternally.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Today, and for the next three evenings, we welcome as our guests, Pastor Timothy and Denise Davis of Cleansing the Church Ministries. We are always blessed by their ministry and better equipped to live a life of freedom. I hope you will invite others to attend these special services. In this way you become a channel of blessing and freedom!
Today, I am encouraging the family of Liberty Life to be generous in giving to the special offering being received at each service for their continual ministry throughout the United States and internationally. In the 12th chapter of Nehemiah we read of overflowing offerings because “Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered (Nehemiah 12:44)”. May such words be written in heaven on every occasion when guest ministers come to Liberty Life.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7-9.
“Special Offering” can be designated on your envelopes and placed in the offering plates up front or in the designated box in the back of the sanctuary.
Today we will be seeing how important it is that we know God’s ways. Two weeks ago the Lord spoke through an interpretation of tongues declaring ‘My ways are not your ways’. Certainly that should cause us all to ponder, what are God’s ways? I am reminded of the story of David’s attempt to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from Kiriath Jearim. You can find the story in 1 Chronicles 13. David had placed the ark on a new ox cart, which was the ‘way’ the Philistines would move their sacred items. But man’s ways are not God’s ways. The oxen pulling the cart stumbled and Uzzah, one of David’s men, put his hand on the ark to steady it. As a result of his action he died, and the journey of the ark to Jerusalem was delayed. It mattered not whether Uzzah had good intentions or whether he just acted on instinct. God’s ways are not our ways, and to assume God will be pleased with our good intentions while neglecting to seek and know His ways is a dangerous assumption. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). Today, let’s seek to know and obey God’s Ways!
Today I was pondering how this little blog in each week’s F.Y.I. could be a way for many of you to share a brief devotional thought, a spiritual insight, or a particular God encounter that others in the congregation would be interested in reading. I share enough already and would love to hear more from you, and let others hear from you. I am not saying I am going to quit writing these blogs but from time to time it would be good to read a thought from another brother or sister in Christ.
So if you are reading this and you are quickened by Holy Spirit to send me your contribution, please send it to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If for some reason it is not appropriate for publication, I will help you make any necessary changes. Also notice the length of this blog is restrictive, usually 200-250 words.
Today, I leave you with this word from Psalm 102:18 as you never know how what you share may touch another person or even a generation! “This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. “
Today, since we had such a great time last week, we will continue our theme on resurrection out of the tomb! I pray you are convinced that the Lord desires that we follow him, the firstfruits of the resurrection, out of the grave, not just into eternal life, but also to new life here and now! He calls us out of the tombs of despair and defeat, fear and failure, addiction and apathy, and so many other ‘tombs’ the world and the devil have put us in. He calls us to step up and out into his glorious day of freedom, joy, peace, and abundant life.
But that stepping up and out is most often met with great resistance. You may notice from our display, the way out of the tomb is not a level smooth path! There are steps to climb, and when you have been weakened by sin and the world’s mindsets, those steps can be difficult. It is interesting that the day of the empty grave and Christ’s resurrection also begins the day of ‘Counting of the Omer”. A counting up for 49 days in anticipation of the day of Pentecost on the 50th day. It was during these 49 days the Lord appeared to the disciples to continue to teach them, strengthen them, and prepare them for the new life they were entering.
Today, let’s be encouraged in our journey out of the tomb into His Glorious day!
Today the focus of the church is on an empty grave as we recall these words as the angel of the Lord met the women coming to anoint the body of Jesus early on the morn after the Sabbath: “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:5-6.
How that announcement so radically changed humanity’s hope for life beyond the grave, as well as for abundant life on earth today.
Today, the central display has each of us standing inside and looking out of the empty tomb. It is an interesting perspective that can call to mind several different responses. One I have pondered is, Jesus’ resurrection means that every person has the opportunity to move from death to life! After all, outside of a Savior, everyone is under the penalty of death and the grave. But now, in the power of the risen Christ, the stone is rolled away and you are free to live a new life in Christ. What is your decision? Accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and walk out of the tomb in faith, OR remain in the tomb until the opportunity passes and the stone is moved back in place? What will it be? Remain in bondage of the world and its meaningless routines, or step out in the faith of your calling and who you were created to be, and be a vessel that truly gives glory to God. Today the empty tomb is an open door!
Today, we welcome as our guest speaker Marilyn Griffin, founder of Ministries of New Life. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to meet Marilyn and have her speak at our church. My only regret is not knowing her before now! Marilyn has been used as a vessel of honor before the Lord for a number of years in the Kansas City area specifically; but, also around the world, due to the spread of her messages and actions in uniting churches in prayer, as well as calling the church to repentance for forsaking the Torah and the Jewish people.
I am in awe of how Marilyn, with humility, perseverance, disciplined learning, and a passionate love for the Lord, effected change in the hearts and minds of so many in the body of Christ for the true advancement of the Kingdom of God. In the early years of her ministry, she was instrumental in bringing pastors and churches together for the city-wide prayer movement. In more recent years she has led the way in gathering the church for seasons of repentance (teshuvah), hosting large-scale meetings and convocations, as well as publishing and circulating newsletters and teaching materials, and appearing on or in various media outlets and documentaries.
Today, let us welcome Marilyn Griffin and be prepared to respond to her message.
Today, we will, among other things, be celebrating water baptisms. When giving instruction to those seeking water baptism, we look at scripture and the rich depth of meaning this act carries. We discover water baptism is the first act of obedience in following Christ (Acts 2:3). It represents being initiated into and belonging to the family of God (Galatians 3:26). Baptism represents being buried with Christ and raised to new life (Colossians 2:12). It also represents new birth (John 3:5). And of course water baptism represents spiritual cleansing and a public testimony of faith (1 Corinthians 6:11; Acts 22:16). For this reason, some people like to be baptized again; not for salvation, but to reaffirm their faith and celebrate new seasons in their life.
Today we also recognize that baptism is more than just something we do. Throughout the bible we see how often God acts through the water of those who come to it by faith. Think of Noah and the ark, Moses and the Red Sea, and Joshua and the Jordan River. Water baptism is a means of God’s grace (power) being poured out upon the believer who comes by faith.
Today, let us celebrate the goodness of our God in those being water baptized!
On our flight home from San Francisco last Monday, I spent a good deal of time just pondering the daily readings from Hebrews 1-3. The focus of these chapters is Christ being greater than the angels. But also, it reveals the necessity of Christ for a time being subject to the angels as he took on human form. His suffering and death was necessary for our restoration and authority over all creation as in the Garden of Eden. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)
As I pondered the reality of who we are in Christ, given authority and dominion over all things, I also recognized the tension of the present reality and the not yet fully realized rule and reign of God. There is still the ultimate putting “all enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). Certainly, I don’t feel greater than the angels, which do not need a plane to fly! But I also know man‘s nature is exalted in Christ now, so that angels are our “fellow servants” (Revelation 22:9) and we are “brethren” of Christ in a nearness not enjoyed even by angels (Hebrews 2:10-12, 16). Today, let’s see Christ far greater than the angels and let’s see how that revelation raises us to new heights in Christ Jesus!
Today, you will notice Linda and I are not with you in worship. We flew to the state of California to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of Linda’s parents, Bill and Katie Wright. As you read this, we are most likely on our flight back to Missouri. Amazing, isn’t it, how you can just get on a plane and in a matter of hours reach a destination hundreds of miles away? Before planes, an automobile would take days to make the same journey; and before automobiles, horses and covered wagons would take weeks, and even months, for the same journey.
Today, I ponder what would happen if every Christian’s spiritual maturity advanced in the same manner as our technology! How often do we still find ourselves taking days, weeks, months, even years to break off an addiction, forgive an offense, live out our identity in Christ, walk consistently in the spirit and not the flesh, discovering and activating our spiritual gift(s), and regularly demonstrating the power of God. My brothers and sisters, this lack of advancing should not be! If we are maturing in our Christian walk, our ‘overcoming’ time should become shorter and shorter, just as a travel times with advanced technology. As years pass, we should be more faithful in His Word, quick to forgive, slow to anger, abounding in love, going from glory to glory at an increasingly faster pace. Yet, too often I find myself still at ‘covered wagon’ pace! Just some thoughts for today.
Also today, welcome and encourage Mike Cummings, one of our deacons, as he shares the Word of the Lord and leads in corporate communion. Another great example of how Liberty Life prepares the saints for the work of ministry!
Today is a good day to give thanks, as is every day, of course! Sometimes when life throws us difficulties, we may fall into despair, depression or hopelessness. Sometimes we get focused on the negative and cannot see beyond the difficulty. That is when we need to be washed in the Word, and a good place to turn is Philippians 4.
First we have the “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS” of verse 4. Not sometimes, but ALWAYS! And to emphasize his point Paul says it a second time, “Again I will say, rejoice!”
Then in verse 6, we turn to prayer. But again, notice how we are to pray- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God.” With all this rejoicing and thanksgiving, the difficulties of life will have less and less of our focus.
But then we go on to verse 8 and we are called to an even greater focus on what is good and lovely “and if there is ANYTHING PRAISEWORTHY, MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS!” To meditate is to think upon, fix one’s mind upon, and stay there. So when life throws you difficulty, get yourself in a place where the Lord becomes bigger than your difficulty and REJOICE, GIVE THANKS, and PRAISE THE LORD! Today is a good day!
Today I will conclude our conversation which has focused on preparing for revival. Of course, a primary essential element of revival is the preaching of the Gospel. And to preach the Gospel it is important we know what it is. Having spent some time in the book of Acts in recent weeks, I have been reminded of the number of sermons that can be found in this recorded history of the early church. Over and over again we find the ‘preacher’, be it Peter or Paul or Stephen or Philip, sharing with listeners how Jesus was sent by God and was the one of whom all the prophets spoke. In the book of Acts you find several clear, concise summaries of the Old Testament which those presenting the Gospel believed was essential for people coming to genuine faith, whether they were Jew or Gentile. A great example of this is found in Acts 8.
God brings Philip across the path of a man from Ethiopia who is confused about a portion of scripture he is reading. He then proceeds to ask Philip what it means and we read how Philip begins with scripture and tells him the good news about Jesus. Philip did not use John 3:16, because they did not have the New Testament. Phillip did not lead him down the Romans road. Philip used the Old Testament to share the good news of Jesus. The gospel can only be good news when it is presented in the context of the entire Word of God. This is why genuine revival always includes deep conviction of sin, repentance, and then a blessed peace and joy when Jesus is recognized and received as the Savior and Deliverer. Today let us be reminded the Gospel does not consist of just the last third of our bibles. It begins in Genesis 3:15!
Today, our focus is on the connection between personal testimony and revival. In my own lifetime, I can mention several moves of God that were ignited by simply sharing what the Lord had done in a person’s life. In the 1970 and 1980s, there was a renewal (not full blown revival, but certainly renewal) in the Methodist church as lay people would go from church to church and share their personal testimonies of what God had done in their life, and invite others to share what God was doing in theirs – both struggles and successes. There was lots of prayer and lots of love; and God moved. Linda and I witnessed many occasions in various churches across Missouri where a congregation and a community were touched and changed by these services. We can also think about the move of God for many years through the Full Gospel Business Men’s breakfast that impacted communities. This was mainly just people sharing their testimony.
When we look to the scriptures we can see the impact the testimony of individuals who met Jesus had on spreading the Gospel throughout the world. Read the story of the Samaritan woman at the well or the Gadarene demoniac and how sharing their personal encounter with Jesus moved others to seek him. In Acts, we read how Paul often shared his personal testimony when ministering in the synagogue, with the Gentiles, or before kings. Today, let us be reminded of the importance of our personal testimony in igniting revival!
Today I will be sharing a key that unlocks revival which many people do not really want to turn. And that key is ‘persecution’. It is important that we do not forget that the gospel we see spreading rapidly across the known world in the book of Acts is the gospel being proclaimed and testified to by the persecuted church. Paul made it clear to his spiritual son Timothy as he wrote… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
A visitor in China asked a leader of the growing house church movement how he could encourage people to pray for them. The Chinese pastor said, “Stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.” Then to his great surprise the pastor added, “We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.”
Quite honestly, I am not eager for that prayer to be answered, but scripturally and historically I know there is merit behind such a prayer.
Dr. Harold J. Sala has commented that “the blessing of persecution is one most of us never ask for, yet the fact remains that when you stand fast in the face of opposition, God does something deep, something lasting, something purifying in your heart and soul—something that would never happen apart from what you have gone through”.
Today, let us pray for the persecuted church. I know they are praying for us!
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 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’s 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. 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.