Monday, December 21, 2009

My 10 Favorite Sermons To Preach of 2009

One of my favorite parts about being a pastor is the opportunity to preach week after week. Like those who sit in the pews, pastors have favorite sermons too. There are some sermons that I really enjoyed preaching because of how our congregation responded. Some of the sermons are favorites because of what I learned or how I was impacted in my preparation time. Some are favorites because God used them in ways that I could have never imagined during my study time. Here are my favorite sermons that I preached in 2009. All of these are available for download on iTunes by searching for Woodbury Community Church in the iTunes store, or by clicking on this link.

10. In The Beginning. . . Love - The Bible, from beginning to end is a love story between God and us. This message deals with God's love for humanity as demonstrated in creation, fall and redemption.

This is a sermon that I preached on October 4, 2009. It was the first sermon of our 2009 Spiritual Emphasis Week. God did awesome things during that week, and I remember having a hard time sleeping the night before the message because I couldn't wait to see what God would do with Spiritual Emphasis Week. The week led to four people coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

9. Getting It Right - What Is The Gospel? - Study after study shows that the majority of churched people can no longer articulate the Gospel. When asked what makes Christianity different than any other religion many are content to give trite answers like, “It’s a relationship,” or “Jesus.” But, what it is the Gospel? What is it that makes someone a true follower of Jesus Christ?

This is a sermon that I preached on September 6, 2009. I believe that it is so important that Christians understand and can articulate what the Gospel is. If we can't do that, are we truly saved? This was the sermon that introduced our series on evangelism.

8. "Perhaps God Will Go With Us" - The Armor Bearer and the Prince -Jonathan and his armor bearer are two of Scripture's most underrated heroes. They were men who in the face of insurmountable odds believed God instead of men. Their story is an inspiration to anyone who has ever taken a risk for God. People who recognize that their life is a mist, and God is most important are willing to take courageous risks for God. Big Idea: Courage happens when we persevere under pressure. It happens when we say, “No” to fleshly desires in order to say "Yes" to God's desires.

Part of our Mist Stories series, this sermon, given on May 17, 2009, was so fun to preach. There is something incredible about taking risks for God. I love the passion of Jonathan and his armor bearer. I had a lot of interesting conversations after this message. One woman told me that she had studied this passage extensively, and believes that Jonathan's armor bearer was a young King David. Another person, a friend who lives in Israel, told me that he has a friend who believes that he has discovered where Micmash Pass, the site of this famous confrontation, is located. I'm traveling to Israel in 2010 and hope to get a chance to visit this site.

7. Jesus: The Champion - It was a day unlike any other. Grief was replaced with joy. Sin's curse had been broken. Jesus had defeated Satan. Everything in John's Gospel comes down to Easter! Easter changed everything. Big Idea: Want life? Believe. The Resurrection changes everything.

What pastor doesn't love preaching on Easter Sunday? April 12, 2009 was a special day. This was my second-to-last sermon in a series through the book of John. I hadn't planned it this way, but I came to the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. God works in awesome ways during the sermon planning process. I brought EPPIC Ministries, a mime team that had traveled with me to Guatemala on multiple occasions, to act out the story of creation, fall and redemption. They came in about five minutes into my sermon. You can view that mime on the sermon page of our web site.

6. Jesus: The Good Shepherd - In John 10, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd, and he talks about who His sheep are. What are the signs of genuine faith? How does a follower of Christ live? What does it mean to hear God's voice?

It was on January 25, 2009 that I had the privilege of preaching about Jesus, our good shepherd. In the sermon I remember showing a couple videos of sheep, and telling about how dumb sheep can be. One video that struck me was how utterly helpless sheep are if they fall over. We desperately need Jesus. I'm so glad we have a Good Shepherd in Him.

5. Good Name or Great Wealth - What does your life say about you and your God to world around you? Who are you when nobody else is around? How serious are you about protecting both your reputation and the reputation of your Heavenly Father. Your name is more valuable than any amount of money, because you are created in the image of God and for His glory. Big Idea: A good name is a byproduct of a life that seeks to honor God.

On August 23, 2009 I preached a sermon in our Proverbs series on the importance of integrity. I told one of my favorite stories from childhood about meeting my hero, Pete Rose. I showed our congregation a baseball with two signatures. On one side of the ball is the autograph of my childhood hero, Pete Rose. On the other side of the ball is A. Bartlett Giamatti's signature. Giamatti was, at the time, the President of the National League. He eventually became the commissioner of baseball and banned Pete Rose from life for betting on the game.

As great a player as Rose was, he is most remembered for betting on the game. Our names matter. It's great to know that if we are Christians we carry the name of Christ with us. At the end of the sermon everyone was encouraged to come up and grab a football (this was the week Brett Favre signed with the hometown Vikings) and to sign it with their name on one side, and "child of God," on the other side.

4. When God Shapes Your Character - Elijah bursts onto the scene, pronounces judgment upon the land and then just as quickly is told to hide away in the Kerith Ravine. Sustained only by the hand of God, Elijah the Prophet learns much about the character and nature of God. This sermon will challenge us to live our lives trusting God one day at a time. Big Idea: Where God guides, He provides.

Part of our Elijah series, this sermon was preached on October 25, 2009. I think I enjoyed preaching this one so much because I could relate so much to Elijah's feelings in it. Does God ever take you somewhere that makes no sense to you, only to shape you and mold you into someone that you couldn't have become had He not? I incorporated much from a sermon by Craig Groeschel into this message. I was so encouraged by listening to some of what he preached to his congregation on this passage, and I'm glad that I did. Many people talked to me after this message about the impact that it made on them.

3. "I'm Speechless" - Zechariah's Story - Zechariah is one of the most intriguing people in Scripture. The old man dreamt of the day that he would chosen to go into the temple of the Lord to burn incense. When his turn finally came, he got more than he bargained for. This sermon will be given in the first person, as a dramatic interpretation of the life of Zechariah. Big Idea: We are tools in the hands of Almighty God. Embrace your place in His story.

Based upon congregational response, this December 6, 2009 sermon was probably the favorite of 2009. I preached this sermon as a dramatic monologue. I had a makeup artist come to our home and make me look like an old man, early in the morning. This was such a fun sermon to preach because it was unlike anything else I had done all year long. People told me that they readily identified with Zechariah. It helped them understand and appreciate the faith of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and helped them understand God's grace in a new light. The video of that sermon is available on our sermon page at WCC's website.

2. Your Life Is a Mist: What Are You Doing With It? - We all have one life to live on this earth, and only what is done for Christ will last for eternity. So, why is it so hard to not get wrapped up in the world's system of acquiring as much as we can for ourselves? This message focuses on living our lives for God and His priorities. Big idea: God has given us everything we need to know and to live the life that He desires for us.

I'll never forget what God did after this message was preached on May 3, 2009. This was the first message in a series entitled Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love. In the message I challenged our congregation to basically live like they were dying. In other words, we need to recognize that we have not been promised tomorrow, and only what is done for Christ in our lives will last. Then each attendee was given a can of Sierra Mist to keep as a reminder that our life is a mist. They were supposed to keep the can in a prominent location, and to try to give it away before the week was through. Each week, they were supposed to pick up another can. It was one small way to show love to someone else. If possible, I encouraged each member to try and find an even greater way to show love. I also asked them to e-mail me their mist stories. We started a page on our website to chronicle the mist stories of our congregation. The month of May saw over 40 mist stories e-mailed in to me. I couldn't put many of them on our web page because they were far too personal. Our congregation was changed as a result of this series. I'm still hearing stories today about how God is using members of our church to reach out to others. God has also given me the opportunity to preach this message to about 500 other people this year in various venues. You can view the Mist Stories page by clicking here.

1. My Big Dysfunctional Family - The genealogy of Jesus is full of less than perfect people. But, it’s the stories of some of these people that help us to see just how beautiful the grace of God is. Jesus’ coming into this family should give all of us hope about what can happen when God takes over a life. Big Idea: No one is beyond the grace of God.

Nothing could have prepared me for what God did on November 29, 2009 at Woodbury Community Church. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was expecting a small crowd. We had one of our largest Sunday attendances of the year! I had been on vacation in Illinois all week, and had promised my family not to work on my message during our vacation. It wasn't until the ride home on Saturday that I was able to work on my message. (I plan my basic outline months in advance but write my messages out in manuscript form on the week of the sermon). I drove to our lunch stop in Wisconsin Dells, and then my daughter Breanna took over driving. That is when the Lord just really spoke to me as I typed my sermon out. Throughout my preparation, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to give an invitation to accept Christ at the end of the sermon. I felt that the Spirit was calling me not to just invite people to come to Christ, but to indicate it by raising their hands at the end of the prayer. I give invitations often, but not usually accompanied by raised hands. I asked my wife, Cyndi, to pray about this, because this isn't something that we do much in Minnesota.

God worked in incredible ways! By the end of the second service seventeen people in our congregation prayed to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. That is about ten percent of our average attendance. Fourteen of those seventeen people are adults. Youth for Christ has a statistic that says that 95% of those who come to faith in Jesus Christ do so before the age of 21. We saw God work in miraculous ways that day.

I'm praising God for what He did in 2009, and can't wait to see what He does in 2010.

The Challenge Is Coming!

Woodbury Community Church is sponsoring a churchwide challenge to read through the entire Bible in a year in 2010. I'm so excited about what God is going to do through this time. You can access our Challenge Blog at
http://wccchallenge2010.blogspot.com/ Click on the link to find out more!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Imagine Hearing the Christmas Story for the First Time

God is doing something amazing on the African continent. He is using a team of translators from all around the world to translate the Christmas story into nine languages. Woodbury Community Church sent the Gilmore family to Tanzania, Africa years ago to be a part of this team. Last year the Zinza people received the Christmas story for the first time in their language. This year nine language groups will receive the story. Take the time to watch this story about the Christmas translation miracle! God is doing awesome things.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"I'm Speechless" - Zechariah's Story

On Sunday, I preached a dramatic sermon entitled "I'm Speechless" - Zechariah's Story. It's a first person monologue about the birth of John the Baptist from Zechariah's perspective. This is part of our Advent Series Meet the Family: Lessons from Jesus' Family Tree.

God is doing some amazing things at Woodbury Community Church. The Sunday before this, 17 people came to faith in Jesus Christ. Keep our church in your prayers. We're looking forward to seeing what God does throughout the remainder of this Advent Season.

"I'm Speechless - Zechariah's Story" Woodbury Community Church, December 6, 2009 from Brian Schulenburg on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

God's Chisel - The Skit Guys

I showed this video in church today and many of you have asked where you can view it. It's available on YouTube, or you can just watch it right here. There is great theology here. Enjoy, and be encouraged and convicted.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spiritual Emphasis Week Preview Video

Many thanks to Erik Lundin who did an awesome job editing this expanded video preview of Spritual Emphasis Week, 2009: You + God. . . It's A Love Story, happening at Woodbury Community Church, October 4-11, 2009.

Woodbury Community Church Spiritual Emphasis Week 2009 Promo from Brian Schulenburg on Vimeo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spiritual Emphasis Week Is Coming to Woodbury Community Church, October 4-11, 2009

I'm so excited about a very special week that is coming to Woodbury Community Church, October 4-11, 2009. We're calling it You + God . . . It's A Love Story.

There is nothing like fall in Minnesota; a new school year, the start of another NFL Season with hopes of a Viking championship (or the Bears if you happen to have the privilege of pastoring this church), the MLB playoffs, the chill of fall mornings, the closing of cabins and pulling of docks, and full churches. As a new fall season approaches, how about committing to a fresh start in your spiritual life as well? Join us, at Woodbury Community Church, October 4-11, for Spiritual Emphasis Week. You + God. . . It’s a Love Story. We'll examine the theme of God's amazing love and what our response to that love should be.

Seminars are offered Monday-Saturday from 10:00-11:30 and 1:00-2:30. Seminars Include: Couples Communication Builder with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Pastor's Wife, Marsha Schauer; Parenting in Perilous Times with Brian Schulenburg and Dan Boal; Healthy Habits sponsored by UpLift Fitness with Amy Rodriguez and Jill Strand; Personal Peacemaking Seminar with John Kimball; Raising Kids With Confidence with Jason Barthelemy, Senior High Pastor at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, MN; Using Your Retirement Years To Make A Difference with Roger and Linda Proch, Building Our Faith Through Prayer and Worship with John and Kathryn Kimball, a Golf Clinic Dick Nelson, Teaching Pro at Indian Hills Golf Course in Stillwater, MN; and a Biking the Gateway Trail trip with Dan and Terri Beran. All seminars are free, and you may register for any seminar by following this link.

General Sessions will happen each evening at 6:30 and on Sunday mornings at 9:00 and 10:30 AM. The general sessions will feature nine diffferent speakers and worship leaders. Here is a schedule of our general sessions.

Sunday, October 4 at 9:00 and 10:30 AM - Speaker: Brian Schulenburg, Senior Pastor of Woodbury Community Church
Worship Leaders: Monte Abeler, Worship Director at Woodbury Community Church featuring special guest musician Huntley Brown

Sunday, October 4 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Huntley Brown, Worship Leader: Huntley Brown

Monday, October 5 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Troy Dobbs, Senior Pastor of Grace Church of Eden Prairie, MN, Worship Leaders: Lightswitch

Tuesday, October 6 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Dan Schauer, Senior Pastor of New Heights Community Church in Inver Grove Heights, MN, Worship Leader: Matt Klein, Worship Director at Brookwood Church in Shakopee, MN

Wednesday, October 7 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Rob O'Neal, Senior Pastor of Brookwood Church in Shakopeee, MN, Worship Leaders: Josiah Smith Band

Thursday, October 8 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Matt Milligan, Senior Pastor of a new church plant in Hudson, Wisconsin, Worship Leader: Kara Doten

Friday, October 9 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: Jeff Holton, Senior Pastor of Spring Valley Congregational Church, Worship Leaders: Heidi Haskin and Heartbeat

Saturday, October 10 at 6:30 PM - Speaker: John Kimball, Director of Conference Care & Church Redevelopment for the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Worship Leader: Mark Aardahl

Sunday, October 11 at 9:00 and 10:30 AM - Speaker: Ron Hamilton, Director of Church Multiplication and Placement for the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, Worship Leaders: Monte Abeler and the Youth Worship Team from Woodbury Community Church.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Camp Memories

Last week was a special one for our family. We were at Camp Lebanon in Upsala, MN for Family Camp Week B. I was asked to be the camp speaker earlier this year, and we had been to family camps before, but never as the speaker's family. Wow. What a wonderful experience.

The staff at Camp Lebanon are fantastic. Bill Abeler has been the Camp Director for over 20 years, and that experience shines through in everything that he and his wonderful wife do. He is a mentor to the high school and college students that are employed by the camp over the summer, and a tireless servant to the families.

Camp Lebanon's motto is A Meeting Place With God. The camp, which is set on the beautiful Cedar Lake truly does allow one to meet with God. There is such beauty surrounding the camp. One night as I fished on the dock I watched a shooting star blaze across the night sky. The bass fishing is great. Camp Lebanon allows campers to use the camp's pontoon boats, kayaks, canoes, etc. There are beautiful hiking trails and opportunities for recreation abound with a zip line, beach, disc golf course, and more.

But, it was the people who made Camp Lebanon truly special. There were about 80 campers last week, from a wide variety of denominational and church backgrounds. My highlight, by far, came on Tuesday night. It was my last night in my thirties and I had the opportunity to share the Gospel. Ten people invited Christ to be their Savior and Lord, including an entire family. What a wonderful way to end a decade of life! God worked in an awesome way. I'll be back at Camp Lebanon for "Family Camp A" next year. It happens towards the end of June. I hope your family will consider joining us. Everyone in our family loved their time at Camp Lebanon. You will too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicago Mission Team Departs

My daughter and son (Breanna and Chris) left for a youth group mission trip to Chicago this morning with our church youth group. It's the first time that either one of them have done a mission trip without me. I'm so excited about what God is going to teach them as they minister in the city this week. And, as a former youth pastor, I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous that I won't be with them. You'll be able to follow the progress of the trip at http://wccmissiontrips.blogspot.com. Please keep our team in your prayers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day Fifty-Eight

Psalm 136, Numbers 18‐19, Isaiah 56‐57,1 Thessalonians 4:1‐12

Psalm 136

Ps. 136 - The theme of this Psalm is obvious. The psalmist wanted those who sang this song to remember that no matter what the steadfast love of the lord endures forever. There are many times in my life that this Psalm has been particularly special to me. I remember a time in my childhood when my parents gathered their children in their living room for a family devotion time. My Dad read this Psalm and like a worship leader. He'd read the first half of the verse and then we would respond with the words: His love endures forever.

I also remember a time a few years back when I took a group of students to Guatemala for a mission trip. It wasn't the best trip. We'd had some problems with team unity and sickness. One night during our team devotions I read this chapter. Like my Dad I had our students respond with the words His love endures forever. For the rest of the trip this chapter became our theme. We looked for places where we saw the truth of these words on that trip. By the end of the trip we had many examples of the steadfast love of the Lord.

Take some time this week to look for God's steadfast love. If you seek, you will find.

Numbers 18-19

I did not add any notes to this section of my Bible. These chapters deal with the duties of the priests and Levites and the laws for purification.

Isaiah 56-57

Is. 56:1 - Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. - Justice and righteousness are themes that are repeated throughout all of Scripture. God is passionate about His children pursuing justice and righteousness. He cares about those who are oppressed. He cares about the way that we live our lives. He cares about us pursuing those things that He is passionate about.

Is. 57:20-21 - But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” - A stern warning is given by God to those who are wicked. There is no peace for the wicked. Sometimes it seems like those who walk with God are living it up here on earth without a care in the world. But, if the truth was known, all men and women who walk without God experience a life with no real peace. They place their faith in things or circumstances or people that will fail them, and therein have no lasting peace. Rejoice, those of you who walk with Christ. While you may face hardship in this world, you can do it with God's peace and joy.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

1 Thess. 4:7-8 - For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. - 1 Thessalonians 4 deals with a life that pleases God. Paul begins by challenging the Thessalonian Christians to live a life of purity. I love these two verses. God has called us to live holy lives. It's simple. And, if we don't we disregard God. That is a serious thing. Why is it that sometimes we think we know better than God? Why is it that we think that our ways are better than God's ways? He is ALWAYS worth following. His ways are ALWAYS worth trusting. His ways will NEVER fail you. Don't fall for Satan's lies.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mist Stories from the Woodbury Community Church Web Site

Your Mist Stories!

On Sunday, May 3rd, Pastor Brian Schulenburg began a new series entitled: Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love. At the conclusion of his sermon each person received a can of Sierra Mist. The can is supposed to be kept in a prominent place where you will see it every day as a reminder that your life is a mist. Then, at some point during the week, you are supposed to find a way to show love a friend, neighbor, co-worker, complete stranger, family member, etc. by using the can of Sierra Mist. We're not limiting you to showing love through a can of pop. The Sierra Mist is an idea generator that we are hoping will spur our congregation on towards pouring out God's love towards others in practical ways.

This page records your stories. If you have had a chance to share God's love in a practical way with someone this week, please e-mail Pastor Brian at bschulenburg@wccmn.org and share your story.

Loving Through Weed and Feed

"I had 1/3 bag of Weed and Feed left over after doing my own grass. So I spread it over my neighbor’s yard as well. He had just purchased a bag and can now take it back to the store." -- Anonymous

Giving Mom a Sierra Mist

"My mom was working very hard in our back yard. And, I was planning to give her my Sierra Mist after she was done working. So, after like an hour of work she asked if she could have water. So, instead of giving her water, I instead thought, 'Well, this is the perfect time I could give her one.' So then I went to get a glass, opened my Sierra Mist can and poured it in the glass. Then I stuck ice cubes in it and I gave it to my mom. And, first she thought it was water and she said, 'Thanks for the water.' And then she realized it was the Sierra Mist and she thought that was funny that my whole plan was to give it to her." -- Jeremy

Sharing a Sierra Mist With Neighbors

"My neighbors were working very hard also. So my mom and my dad said that I should get a Sierra Mist can, pour it in two cups and give it to my neighbors, because they were working so hard. Then I took a glass and filled it with ice and poured my Sierra Mist in again. I stuck on my shoes and went outside with my little brother. Finally when I got into the yard with my little brother he had the glasses and I was the one who was going to talk. So, I told them about the challenge in church we were having and my little brother gave them the Sierra Mist. Later, my other neighbor was working in his lawn. And so I decided that I would get him a Sierra Mist. And, so I brought that over to him and they were very happy that I gave it to them." -- Jeremy

Hoping For A Mist Story Revolution

"Our daughter was visiting for the weekend. As she began her trip back to her home in WI on Sunday afternoon I gave her my can of Sierra Mist telling her about what we were doing at WCC for the next month with the Mist series. She thought that her church would be interested in hearing about our Mist plans. We enjoy sharing information about our churches with each other and this is just one more connection for us." -- Linda

Baking Cookies for the Hospital

"Linda and I have been volunteering at the Hudson Hospital for the past year. Our task is very simple. We bake ( made from scratch) cookies in the kitchen and then distribute to patients, and visiting family members. In addition, we visit various areas in the hospital to share cookies with people waiting for scheduled appointments.

Most staff members of the hospital know us as "The Cookie People" The experience has given us the opportunity to meet a lot new people,share conversation, help brighten their day, and make a difference in our community. Blessings to all." -- Roger

Hosting a Garage Sale

One family agreed to host a Garage Sale for someone that couldn't have it at their home. They don't normally do Garage Sales, but saw this as a way to show love.

Bible Study Invitation

"I didn't hand out my Sierra Mist - but with it in mind - I invited my new neighbor to BSF on Thursday morning." - Kari

Sharing Sierra Mist Over Lunch

"This week I visited my sister at her work for lunch. We have enjoyed doing this for several years especially since I retired. Part of the joy is that I get to bring her lunch to her so she doesn't have to pack one. Her beverage this time was a can of Sierra Mist. Sharing our Mist Series information and some bible passages made for a wonderful lunch even more wonderful for us." - Linda

Barking Dog Mist Story

One member of our congregation has a neighbor whose dog barked for over an hour after 11:00 PM earlier in the week. After calling the man to let him know that he needed to get control of his dog, this church member went over to his home with a can of Sierra Mist and an invitation to join his small group. That barking dog may have just led to a life that will be changed.

Sharing Christ With A Stranger at Lunch

Two men in our congregation had an opportunity to go to lunch together. When one offered to pay for the other and the person refused, the man behind them in line said, "You can pay for me." So, they did. And they enjoyed a deep spiritual conversation for about an hour. The man did not receive Christ as his Savior, but he was very open to conversation and there are hopes of meeting again.

Garage Sale Love

Our congregation hosted a community-wide garage sale last weekend. While working the garage sale I had an opportunity to purchase toys for a number of the children who came through with their parents. The smile on their face was priceless as they left the Garage Sale. - Anonymous

Day Fifty-seven

Psalm 135, Numbers 16‐17, Isaiah 55, 1 Thessalonians 2:17‐3:13

Psalm 135

Ps. 135:5-6 - For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. - This is an amazing psalm. When you read it you are immediately struck with the majesty and glory of our God. There is no one like Him. He is the God that is above all gods. And, He will do whatever H pleases. If anyone but God were to have this power, we would have reason to fear. But, God is good. His plans for us our good. That doesn't mean that we will always like what God does, but it is always good. Sometimes God allows trouble to come into our life to teach us something. Sometimes God allows it to come so that we will be dependent upon Him. Sometimes He displays His power in our weakness. Sometimes He makes us wait. God is good, and His love endures forever.

Ps. 135:16 - Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.- Recent surveys have shown that the fastest growing category of religious belief is that of no belief. Atheism is on the rise in America and the world. We have replaced God with thinking, reason, science, feeling, compassion, causes, humanism, or any number of other things. Try as those who are mockers of God might, God's name will endure forever. His renown will be throughout the ages. May we be a people who say, "I don't care what the rest of the world says, as for me and my house, I will trust the Lord and praise His name forever!"

Numbers 16‐17

Num. 16-17 - As a pastor of a local church, my heart aches for Moses as I read Numbers 16-17. Moses was a man of God. He was God's chosen leader for the children of Israel. He was one of many spiritual leaders that the children of Israel looked up to. The descendents of Levi were priests. Korah was one of the priests. An influential leader, Korah was not pleased with the way that Moses was leading. He was also jealous of Moses' position. And so, Korah led a rebellion against Moses. He criticized Moses' leadership, undermined his authority, questioned his motives, cast doubt on Moses ability to lead to a group of spiritual leaders and those that he led. It was an all out attack on Moses, Moses' character and Moses' spiritual life.

The results for Korah and those who rebelled was not good. God killed every one of them. God was not pleased with the attack against his chosen leader. The next day the children of Israel grumbled to Moses and Aaron that the spiritual leaders, the priests had been killed. God became furious. He struck the people with a plague and 14,700 more died. So, in just a couple of days 14,950 people were killed. Why? Because they were rebelling against the Lord's anointed one and causing disunity in the camp. May we not be such people. It's important to be involved and ask the tough questions. It's also important to lovingly pray for and support those in leadership. To aspire to leadership is an honorable thing, and it can also be a lonely path.

Isaiah 55

Is. 55:6-9 - “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
- This Old Testament passage spells out the grace that is offered to all of us through Jesus Christ in a marvelous way. I'm preaching a series at my church called, "Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love" right now. It's based off of James 4:13-17, where we are told that our lives are a mist that appears for a little while and then are gone. Isaiah reminds us that we need to seek the Lord now, while He can be found. We are not promised tomorrow. And then he spells out for us just how gracious and loving and forgiving that our God is. Have you gone to the mercy seat of God? Have you found forgiveness at the table of God's grace? He wants you to experience life to the full. He wants you to know true joy. Give your sin, your burdens, your grief, your dreams, your life to Christ today. If you'd like more information on beginning a life with Jesus, or want to know how to experience forgiveness, joy and peace call 1-800-NEED-HIM. There are wonderful counselors waiting there to talk and help you experience the grace and compassion that these verses so eloquently speak of.

Is. 55:12-13 - “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” - What a picture of joy! Where there was sorrow before God's grace, there is now joy because of it. Have you experienced that type of joy? Jesus wants to give it to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13

1 Thess. 3:8 - For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. - Have you ever led someone to faith in Jesus Christ? Paul had. In fact, Paul had led people to the Lord all over the world. I love that Paul was deeply concerned for the spiritual welfare of those he had ministered to. I can echo Paul's words when he says that he and his co-laborers are most alive when they hear about the faithfulness of the Thessalonians towards God. May we all experience such wonderful moments!

Days Forty-six through Fifty-six. . .

Did not happen. Today is day fifty-seven. Let's see if we can get this going again.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Day Forty-five

Psalm 125, Numbers 6, Isaiah 42, Philippians 2:12‐30

Psalm 125

Ps. 125:1-2 - Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. - Trust is a beautiful thing. To trust someone means that you believe in them. When our trust is broken it can be a painful thing. It's hard to feel the betrayal of someone. The psalmist assures us that when we trust in the Lord, we won't be let down. He will not fail us. Trusting in the Lord brings security to us, because He is faithful and won't let us down. He is the safest place to place our trust.

Numbers 6

Num. 6:22-27 - The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” - Numbers 6 begins with teaching about the Nazarite vow and ends with the priestly blessing that Aaron and his sons were to give to the children of Israel. I love this particular blessing. The first time I heard it was at my eighth grade graduation. My class actually sung the blessing as a song of blessing for each other. It's interesting to me that this blessing was given by God to Moses to give to Aaron and his sons to give to the people. In other words, God wanted this particular blessing to be given to the Children of Israel. "The Lord bless you and keep you" speaks of the wonderful blessing and security that is available to followers of Jesus Christ. While we may not be materially wealthy, we are spiritually blessed beyond measure. To be kept by God is HUGE. No one is going to take away from God what is His. "The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you," speaks of the presence of the Lord in the life of His followers. God is watching over us. And, when the Lord watches over us we experience His grace. "the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace" speaks of God's ministering presence. He is there to give us peace when our world seems shaky. He is near.

Isaiah 42

Isaiah 42 is a beautiful chapter that is ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Isaiah writes about the Lord's chosen servant. As you read the chapter look for ways that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy in this chapter.

Philippians 2:12-30

Phil. 2:12-13 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Paul charges the Philippian believers to live a life of obedience to the Lord. He then goes on to describe what this looks like in verses 14-16. I love his use of the words "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." We need to constantly be adjusting our lives to God's standards. We need to recognize that our faith is a daily thing. We can't rely on past successes. We should live our lives to glorify God each day.

Phil. 2:19-20 - 19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. - I love Paul's description of Timothy in this passage. Timothy was a dedicated servant of Jesus Christ. You see Paul's leadership in these verses and the verses that follow. He describes his relationship with Timothy and Epaphroditus and you can see how he has equipped them for leadership in the local church. I want to be this type of leader.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Day Forty-Three

I missed this day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Day Forty-two

Psalm 122, Numbers 2, Isaiah 39, Ephesians 6:10‐24

Psalm 122

Ps. 122:1-2 - I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! - Psalm 122 is a song celebrating Jerusalem, the Holy City. David begins the psalm by remembering a pilgrimage to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. He was thrilled to be able to worship God in Jerusalem's majestic temple. The psalm ends by urging the singers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. There is a longing in David that the people of God might always be able to celebrate the great city of Zion. As Christians we can celebrate our King, Jesus at our house of worship. Jesus is always present with His followers.

Numbers 2

Numbers 2 gives us the details of how the Children of Israel were to camp in the wilderness. 603,550 men, not including the Levites was a massive amount of people to look after. God had specific instruction for how the people were to camp, who the leaders should be, and where the people were to camp.

Isaiah 39

Is. 39:8 - Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.” - Isaiah 39 is a short chapter of Scripture that tells a tragic tale. Hezekiah was considered to be on of Israel's good kings. But, when envoys from Babylon come to visit him, Hezekiah foolishly shows them all that God has blessed him with. God tells Hezekiah that a day would come when all of Hezekiah's wealth would be taken away to Babylon. His own sons would be taken away to become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Hezekiah responds with joy because at least in the days that he ruled their would be peace and security. What a sad statement from a king and a father. He may have been one of Israel's good kings, but he was a weak leader and a terrible father.

Ephesians 6:10-24

Eph. 6:10-20 - We are in a spiritual battle, plain and simple. Ephesians 6:10-20 gives us the most profound teaching in all of Scripture in regard to spiritual warfare. Take some time to read these verses and think through the significance of each piece of the armor of God. I know many people who are in the habit of praying on each piece of the armor of God each day.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Day Forty-one

Psalm 121, Numbers 1, Isaiah 38, Ephesians 5:22‐6:9

Psalm 121

Ps. 121:1-2 - I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.- I love this simple phrase. Where does our help come from? It comes form the Lord, who, by the way, happened to make the heaven and the earth. Need help today? I can't think of a better place to turn. God is good and able to meet our needs better than anyone or anything else on this earth. Why don't we turn to Him first?

Numbers 1

God instructs Moses to take a census of the people in Numbers 1. The only tribe excluded from the census was the tribe of the Levites, for they were the priests and were not to be counted. The total men counted in Israel during that time was 603,550! What a massive amount of people to be in charge of moving into the Promised Land.

Isaiah 38

Isaiah 38 records the story of King Hezekiah on his death bed. He is about to die, and pleads to the Lord for more time. God tells Hezekiah that he will have 15 more years to added to his life. Hezekiah responds with a song of praise to God. Hezekiah had not been walking with God. He had at one time, but he was no longer faithful. He promised to live once again for the Lord, and God promised to deliver Hezekiah and the Israelites out of the tyrannical hands of the Assyrians.

Ephesians 5:22-6:9

Friday, May 01, 2009

Day Forty

Psalm 120, Leviticus 27, Isaiah 36‐37, Ephesians 5:1‐21

Psalm 120

Ps. 120:1 - In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. - Psalm 120 is a psalm of deliverance. The psalmist in this case is asking for deliverance from those who are lying about him, his God, etc. He lives amongst these liars. He know what to do with his distress. He takes it to God. Why? Because, God has proven faithful in the past to answer prayer, and he is sure that God will answer prayer in the future. God can be trusted with any problem that we face, no matter how daunting it may seem.

Leviticus 27

Lev. 27:34 - These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai. - The book of Leviticus ends with laws about vows. In this interesting book we've seen how seriously God took the law as He delivered it to Moses. The people took these laws seriously too. That doesn't mean that they continually obeyed God. When they didn't they paid the consequence. Aren't you glad that we do not have to follow the letter of the law that was prescribed in Leviticus? Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law. He did not do away with the law, but He summed the law up for His followers. May we be a people who love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength, and may we love our neighbors as ourselves. According to Jesus, all the law and the prophets hang upon these two commands.

Isaiah 36-37

Is. 37:5-7 - When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’” - The odds against Israel were huge. King Hezekiah was about to enter a battle that he had no business being in. The mighty Assyrian army was mocking Israel. Even Hezekiah's most trusted advisers told him that he would lose. But, Hezekiah went to Isaiah and to the Lord. He prayed. He sought God's protection. I love his prayer. And God answered. In Isaiah 37:36 we read, "And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies." So, what are you having trouble trusting Jesus for today? I know for me it's been a home selling. But, God is so much bigger than a housing market. He is the God who answers prayer. Let Him show you His wondrous works.

Ephesians 5:1-21

Eph. 5:1-2 - Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. - These verses are some of the reasons that I love this book. Paul writes so plainly and simply to the Ephesians. We are to be imitators of Christ. When we do that, we walk in love esteeming others as more valuable than ourselves.

Eph. 5:15-17 - Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. - The verses preceding this one are some of the most practical verses in all of the Bible in how to live the Christian life. I like Paul's warning here. As Christians we should seek to know and understand what the will of the Lord is concerning us. On Sunday, I'll be beginning a new series at Woodbury Community Church entitled, Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love. The sermon this Sunday deals with James 4:13-17, where James is very specific that we know and follow the will of God. We should not be so arrogant as to think that living outside of God's will for our life will bring us to a better spot than being in His will.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day Thirty-nine

Psalm 119:89‐176, Leviticus 26, Isaiah 35, Ephesians 4:17‐32

Psalm 119:89‐176

In 2007-08 I spent 176 days going through Psalm 119. I'd encourage you to look back on my blog, beginning in August of 2007 to that time period. I love this chapter. There are so many verses here that changed my life. It was during this period of time that God gave our family clarity that Woodbury Community Church was where He would have us spend the next chapter of our lives.

This Psalm celebrates the law of God. To the Jew, the law represented the way, the truth and the life. When Jesus came to earth and announced that He was the way, the truth and the life, He shook up the establishment. In a sense, Psalm 119 is as much about Jesus as it is the law. Take some time to reflect on these beautiful verses today.

Leviticus 26

Lev. 26:12 - 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. - Leviticus 26 records the blessings for obeying the Lord. God gives the people a grocery list of benefits to obedience. But, the best benefit in my opinion is that which is recorded in verse 12. God would walk amongst the people. He would be their God and they would be His people. There could be nothing more awesome than that!

Lev. 26:14-46 - Unfortunately, Leviticus 26 also includes the consequences for choosing to disobey God. The consequences aren't pretty. Our God is a jealous God, and the heart of God towards those who would spurn Him is laid out in graphic detail here. His jealousy isn't like a human jealousy. God doesn't sin. His jealousy is motivated by love, and His desire to see His children walk in His ways, to walk in the truth, and to be shielded from Satan's schemes.

Isaiah 35

This chapter records the final outcome for those who fear the Lord. They will experience salvation, while those around them experience desolation. Are you one who has experienced God's salvation? Salvation can only come through Jesus Christ. It' s important for us to recognize that Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it to the full. He came into a world of sinners as the sinless one. He died the most awful death imaginable on a cross so that we might find forgiveness. He wants you to experience that forgiveness that comes when we place our trust in Him. We must confess with out mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has saved Him from the dead, and then we will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Ephesians 4:17-32

Eph. 4:17-32 - 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Want to know how a Christ-follower lives? Look at these verses. Paul gives the Ephesian church a beautiful description of the new life that is in Christ. This type of living looks peculiar in the world in which we reside. And, that's part of the point. Christians look different than the rest of the world. It's a God thing. As God works in our lives, we are transformed into His image. We should be reflecting Him to the world around us.

Day Thirty-eight

I missed day thirty-eight.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Thirty-seven

Psalm 118, Leviticus 24, Isaiah 30:18‐32:20, Ephesians 3

Psalm 118

Ps. 118:8-9 - It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. - Psalm 118 is a bold declaration that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. And then the psalmist goes on to show us reasons that God is more to be depended upon than anything this world has to offer. I wish we'd remember that we can depend upon the Lord better than we can man, 100% of the time. It's easy to lose sight of that when going through a difficult time or trial. But, God's faithfulness is not dependent upon whether or not we believe that He will be faithful. He is. It's part of His character. And, He will prove it over and over again.

Ps. 118:14 - The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. - Notice the word "become" that the psalmist uses in this verse. He was growing spiritually. He was beginning to understand the depths of God's love and grace.

Leviticus 24

Leviticus 24 sets harsh punishments for blasphemy, calling for the stoning of the member of that society that blasphemed the name of God. God's name is to be kept holy. In verses 17-23 the principle of "eye for an eye" punishment is laid out. I like this note that was included in my study Bible:

Lev. 24:17–23 These verses deal with the principle of lex talionis (Latin, “the law of retribution”). It is a form of ironic justice in which the punishment for the crime is found in the crime itself. The principle applies to everyone in Israel without exception (see Ex. 21:23–25; Deut. 19:21). It is unlikely that fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth actually implies mutilation as the punishment for the offender; rather, the value of the injured member will be the imposed fine (cf. Ex. 21:18–19). This law, when properly applied, guides the judges in assessing damages and sets a limit on the thirst for revenge. Since this is a rule for judges to follow, it should not be invoked in ordinary daily relationships (cf. Jesus' stance, Matt. 5:38).

Isaiah 30:18‐32:20

Is. 30:18-32:20 - Is. 32:1-8 speaks of the wonderful coming reign of Messiah. It is quite a contrast to what Isaiah has been prophesying earlier. He promised that God will be gracious but gave specific warnings to those who travelled to Egypt, Assyria, and even the complacent women of Jerusalem.

Ephesians 3

Eph. 3:6 - 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. - If you like Indiana Jones, you've got to like Ephesians 3. Listening to Paul describe the mystery of the Gospel is like being in the first century. Gentiles are fellow heirs with Jews. That was and is a radical thought. It was earth shattering news. And, it's the news that Paul loved sharing around the Roman Empire. God loves people and wants to see people forgiven and accepting His gift of salvation. What wonderful news!

Eph. 3:14-19 - For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - How cool is it that every family in heaven and on earth is named by the Father? What an awesome theological truth!

As I read Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, I prayed the same for the congregation that I am privileged to pastor. What beautiful things for a pastor to pray for those God has called him to shepherd.


Eph. 3:20-21 - 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Perhaps my favorite benediction in all of Scripture.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day Thirty-six

Psalm 117, Leviticus 23, Isaiah 29:1‐30:17, Ephesians 2

Psalm 117

Ps. 117:1 - Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! - This short psalm is a beautiful example from the Old Testament of God's plan to open salvation up to all who would trust in Him. My study Bible says that Paul quoted this verse in Romans 15:11 to help argue his point that Jewish and Gentile Christians should welcome one another and worship together. I'm grateful for these encouraging words.

Leviticus 23

This is a beautiful chapter in that it outlines the feasts that the Jewish people were to observe. These feasts are still observed across the Jewish world. I love that the weekly Sabbath was the first of those feasts that God gave instruction about. It is important to Him that we keep His Sabbath Day holy.

Isaiah 29:1‐30:17

Is. 29:13-16 - And the Lord said:“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14therefore, behold,I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15Ah,you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? - These are powerful words of warning to those who honor God with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him. Jesus used these very words to describe a group of Pharisees and Scribes in the New Testament (see Matthew 15:8-9). May He not have to say the same of us!

Ephesians 2

Eph. 2:4-10 - 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Paul begins this section of his letter to the Ephesians by reminding them of their life before Christ, which he describes as being dead in trespasses and sin. And then, in such stunningly beautiful words Paul writes about the riches of God's grace. God's grace is a gift. We can't earn it. We don't deserve it. And that is what is so wonderful about it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day Thirty-five

Psalm 116, Leviticus 22:17‐33, Isaiah 28, Ephesians 1

Psalm 116

Ps. 116:15 - Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. - It is beautiful to think about what the homecoming of a Christian is like. The psalmist tells us that the moments are precious to the Lord. He looks forward to our eternal arrival. But, He also wants us to live a life that glorifies Him here until our time has come. What are you most looking forward to about your eternal home?

Leviticus 22:17‐33

The second half of Leviticus 22 deals with offerings that are acceptable to God. He wanted the best, not animals that were lame or had defect. That tells us something about our God. He desires us to sacrifice, not just throw in a token gift every once in awhile.

Isaiah 28

Is. 28:5-6 - In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people, 6 and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. - As Isaiah declares the Lord's judgment on Ephraim and Jerusalem he offers hope to those who are faithful to God. I'm encouraged when I think about the fact that God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to Him, no matter how dark the days can become. I'm also encouraged at the fact that the people still recognize the majesty and glory, the beauty and the power of Christ in these dark days.

Is. 28:29 - This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. - How awesome that even given the difficult task of sharing these prophecies that Isaiah can rejoice in the wonderful counsel and excellent wisdom of God. Even though the religious elite may have scoffed at Isaiah, he wasn't deterred. Why should he be? He knew that if God was for him, who could stand against him.

Ephesians 1

Eph. 1:3-6 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. - How beautiful that even before the foundation of the world, God, knowing that we would need to be redeemed, had a plan, in Christ, to redeem us. His desire is that all would come to salvation, but only those who come through Christ can be redeemed.

Eph. 1:16-23 - I love the depth of Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church. I can't help but wonder what the Lord might do if we prayed for each other in this way.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day Thirty-four

Psalm 115, Leviticus 21:1‐22:16, Isaiah 26‐27, Galatians 6

Psalm 115

Ps. 115:1 - Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! - Chris Tomlin has written a beautiful song that uses Psalm 115:1 as part of the chorus. It's called Not To Us. It's important that as Christians we live our lives in a way that makes God look good. We need to be people of our word. We need to be people who show love and kindness. We need to show God's grace to the world around us.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day Thirty-three

Psalm 114, Leviticus 20, Isaiah 25, Galatians 5

Psalm 114

I did not add any notes to this chapter of my Bible.

Leviticus 20

God give his children specific rules regarding a number of sins in Leviticus 20. The key to the chapter is that God has called us to be holy. He is a holy God and expects the same from His children.

Isaiah 25

Is. 25:1 - O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.- Does God know the future? Yes! His plans will unfold, be sure of that. They always do. And, God's plans are good. Are there difficult things that come? Sure. But, ultimately, God is glorified in His plans.

Galatians 5

Gal. 5:1 - For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. - So many people that I talk with say that they won't submit their lives to Christ because they don't want to be controlled by someone else. The sad thing is, they are controlled by something else -- sin. Christ desires to set us free from bondage to freedom in Christ.

Gal. 5:22-23 - 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - These verses are so key to the Christian faith. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us, this is the fruit that we will produce. When I began my ministry as Senior Pastor at Woodbury Community Church I preached a nine week series through these two verses. There is so much to be learned about living our lives in the Spirit way. The fruit of the Spirit is everything mentioned here. We can't pick and choose which of the fruit we want to display in our lives. It is all important and a true believer displays all of these characteristics.

Here is how I defined each of the virtues when I preached my series.

Love is the relentless pursuit of teh lifting up of others.

Joy is the result of living our lives with God's priorities.

Peace is the ability to recognize the sovereignty of God in life's ups and downs.

Patience is extending to others the grace that God has shown to us.

Kindness is knowing and acting upon the truth that small things done with great love will change the world.

Goodness is love in action directed towards God.

Faithfulness is following God no matter the cost.

Gentleness is the ability to love those who don't love you or God so that they might be drawn to Christ.

Self-control is when we yield control of our lives to God.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day Thirty-two

Psalm 113, Leviticus 19, Isaiah 24, Galatians 4

Ps. 113:3 - From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised - Have you ever sung the modern day worship song based upon this song? It's one of my favorites. The simplicity of the words and the cry of the psalmist are humbling. God deserves our praise all day long. He is worthy of our praise.

Leviticus 19

Lev. 19:2 - 2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. - Leviticus 19 reminds me more of a chapter out of Proverbs than it does the Levitical law. The chapter is full of wise admonitions for the Children of Israel. It begins by telling the people to be holly, because God is holy,. This is not the first time that we have read this. God desires His people to be a generation that is set apart unto Him. We live lives that look different than the rest of the world, and He gives us the power to live pure lives.

Lev. 19:9-10 - 9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. - What a beautiful principle. God wanted His children to take care of the poor and oppressed. It was important to Him that we not hoard everything we produce, but that some be left for those who were poor and destitute. This principle is seen lived out in the book of Ruth, when Boaz leaves out food for Ruth and Naomi.

Lev. 19:18 - 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. - God makes it clear from the beginning that love is what He desires to see in us whether it is in our relationship with Him or others. This includes not holding a grudge against someone, even if you have the "right" to do so. Forgiveness is one of the legs that love stands on.

Lev. 19:31 - 31 “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God. - I believe that Christians have become far to lax in our day in age when it comes to evil and the occult. There is no question that seeking out the advice of psychics, palm reader, etc. is forbidden in Scripture. I would extend this to exposing ourselves to things like witchcraft, paganism, etc.

Lev. 19:32 - 32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. - Do you have some elderly people that God has brought into your life? If so, thank the Lord. They are a gift to you. We need to honor those who are older than us. We need to honor their wisdom and experience. We need to seek them out. And, we need to help them when they have a need, sometimes before they even ask.

Isaiah 24

Isaiah 24 speaks about the judgement that shall come upon the entire earth when God pours out his wrath. I did not add any notes to this section of my Bible.

Galatians 4

Gal. 4:3-7 - 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. - These are some of the most beautiful verses in Scripture referring to the deep theological truth that God has adopted those of us who are followers of Christ as his daughters and sons. He has set us free from bondage to slavery and given us all of the rights and position of his children. We are princesses and princes in the kingdom of Heaven.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day Thirty-one

Psalm 112, Leviticus 18, Isaiah 23, Galatians 3

Psalm 112

Ps. 112:7 - He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. - Psalm 112 is a psalm about the righteous. Verse seven particularly ministered to me today. There are many times that I fear bad news. In my natural self, bad news about any number of things can set me back. I'm challenged as I read this verse. The psalmist is talking about not fearing bad news about a battle, because ultimately God will prevail. But, I believe that the principle is transferable to other areas of our life as well. It comes down to trust. Do we trust that God is control or not? If God is in control then even bad news should not shake our faith. We need to look at it as an opportunity to grow in our walk with God and to strengthen our faith.

Leviticus 18

Lev. 18:29-30 - 29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” - Leviticus 18 records the laws concerning unlawful sexual relations. "But, everybody else is doing it," may have been the cry of the Israelites. God wanted his people to be different than the rest of the world. A society's lax attitude towards sexual sin is one of the markers that the society is in danger. The spread of sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, broken hearts, and more can be traced to sexual immorality.

Isaiah 23

Is. 23 - Isaiah's oracle concerning Tyre and Sidon is interesting. This seaport region was a powerful city. Important to the trade routes of many countries, it was a wealthy city and a popular and sinful destination. The lack of the fear of the Lord would lead to their being punished but the chapter ends with the hope that at the end of 70 years, God would once again bless this city. He would make their goods holy. He would supply food, materials, etc. for His children through this punished region.

Galatians 3

Gal. 3:13-14 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. - I read this verse, coming out of the Easter holiday just ten days ago with a deep appreciation for what Christ did for me at Calvary. He became a curse so that I might be redeemed. It reminds me of the popular line from the song Amazing Love, which says, "I"m forgiven because He was forsaken. I'm accepted He was condemned. I'm alive and well and His Spirit lives within me, because you died and rose for me."

Gal. 3:28 - 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - What a beautiful picture of the ground being level at the foot of the cross. The cross changed everything. How beautiful that the grace of God now extended to Jews and Gentiles.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day Thirty

Psalm 111, Leviticus 17, Isaiah 22, Galatians 2

Psalm 111

Ps. 111:3 - Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. - What a beautiful and fitting description of the work of the Lord. Have you ever partnered with God in His work? It's an amazing and awe-inspiring process. I had a chance recently to see God just perform miraculous works in the life of a person that I know. It was so great to see their despair turn to hope, and their hope turn into reality. Keep your eyes out for where God is at work, and join him. His work is the best!

Ps. 111:7-8 - The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.- Do you ever just need to see the proof of something before you will believe it? I do. And, sometimes I need to be reminded of a truth that I know by seeing it on paper, in a life, or on a screen, right in front of me. These verses are like that. I need reminders many times about the faithful and just work of the Lord. I need to be reminded that He is trustworthy. I need to be reminded that even though following Him can sometimes hurt, it is always worth it. If God says that He will do something, He will. Take confidence in Him today!

Ps. 111:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! - I was fortunate enough to spend my elementary years as a student at the Wheaton Christian Grammar School. It was a good place for me and my brothers. Our school's key verse was this one. It's an appropriate verse for a Christian school, and an appropriate verse for any Christian. True wisdom begins and has its end in God. If we have no fear of God, we are ignorant and we are seeing the world through warped lenses. That is not to say that a quality education cannot happen in a secular institution. The best education should happen in our homes and in our churches. May we remember that if we are not seeking God, we are not wise. Pity the person who tries to live their life with minimal interference from God.

Leviticus 17

This chapter deals with the laws regarding the place of the sacrifice and laws against eating blood. I did not add any notes to my Bible in this chapter.

Isaiah 22

This chapter deals with the oracle against Jerusalem. I did not add any notes to my Bible in this chapter. But, I was stuck by the judgement that God pronounced on His holy city. It was sad to see God have to punish the city He loved so much.

Galatians 2

Gal. 2:16 - yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. - Aren't you glad that we aren't made right before Christ because of our good works? It is God who justifies, through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness, new life, hope, joy, peace, true love cannot be found apart from Jesus. He is our hope and our salvation.

Gal. 2:20 - 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is always a tough verse to read, because we see in it the demands that are placed on the follower of Jesus Christ. To be a follower of Jesus requires that it is He who lives in us, and not ourselves. We die to our desires to live for His desires. And, that is the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Mist Stories at Woodbury Community Church

How will the pages of history record the story of your life? We’re all only given one life to live. How we live that life matters. James 4:14 says, “14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” The pages of Scripture are full of the stories of people whose lives were mist. They lived. They died. Their stories live on. Sometimes inspiring, sometimes sober, they were people like you and me. They experienced life’s highs and lows, failure and success. God is the common thread in their lives. Join us for Mist Stories: The Intersection of Faith, Life and Love.

May 3: Your Life Is A Mist - What Are You Doing With It?
May 10: Faith In The Midst Of Grief - One Mother's Unwavering Faith
May 17: “Perhaps God Will Go With Us” – The Armor Bearer and the Prince
May 24: Mist In A Fire
May 31: For Such A Time As This

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day Twenty-nine

Psalm 110, Leviticus 16, Isaiah 21, Galatians 1:11‐24

Psalm 110

Ps. 110 - This is considered a royal psalm. It tells about the special place that David's Kingdom had in the heart of God and in the life of the Children of Israel. God had a special place for David's Kingdom. David was a man after God's own heart, chosen by God to rule His people. The psalm deals with the favor that God would grant David's kingdom.

Leviticus 16

Lev. 16 - The law for the Day of Atonement is laid out in Leviticus 16. I'm blown away as I read this chapter the grave seriousness with which God required Aaron to come into His presence. I'm also stuck tonight at how God chose to use Aaron as His priest despite all of Aaron's obvious flaws, not the least of which was leading the Children of Israel into the worship of a golden calf in the desert. God is merciful, holy, and uses flawed people for His holy work. I'm glad he does.

Isaiah 21

Is. 21 - Isaiah's oracles from the Lord continue in Isaiah 21. This oracle concerns the fall of Babylon. It is a terrifying oracle describing the riders who will come in and take the land. Words like traitor and destroyer are used to help complete the picture of an empire on the brink of collapse. The oracle ends by stating that the collapse will be in the next twelve months. What terrifying words to receive.

Galatians 1:11-24

Gal 1:18-19 - Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. - God has afforded me the unique privilege of serving alongside of some of this generation's choice servants for Jesus Christ. These are men and women that have taught me much about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I'll be forever grateful for the love that they have shown me and the lessons learned. But, I have to admit that as I read Gal. 1:18-19, my human jealousy gets me a bit. I would have loved to have been able to be present for the 15 days that Cephas (the Apostle Peter) and Paul spent together. James, the brother of Jesus and the leader of the church at Jerusalem was there too. So, who are some of the Christians in your life that have had the biggest impact on your walk with Christ? Take some time to thank the Lord for them today.

Gal. 1:23-24 - They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me. - What a beautiful picture of how God changed Paul's life. Don't you love that we have a God of grace who loves to transform people? I wonder how many people we will meet in heaven some day with similar stories to Paul -- people that no one would have expected God's love to reach out to, but who received it and were changed by it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day Twenty-Eight

Psalm 109, Leviticus 15, Isaiah 19‐20, Galatians 1:1‐10

Psalm 109

Ps. 109:26 - Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! - David was at a difficult time in his life when he wrote this Psalm. His accusers were all around him, lying about him and seeking his destruction. When his world was falling apart, he knew that he could trust in God's steadfast love. Isn't it great to know that God will never fail us?

Leviticus 15

I added no notes to my body from this section of Scripture.

Isaiah 19-20

This is an oracle against Egypt and Cush. I added no notes to this section of Scripture.

Galatians 1:1-10

Gal. 1:6-9 - I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. - Paul was so sad that the Galatians were deserting the Gospel and falling for false doctrine. Like a good pastor/shepherd, Paul calls the Galatians on this and calls them back to the faith. He knew this wouldn't be popular, but he wasn't seeking man's approval, he was seeking God's approval.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day Twenty-seven

Psalm 108, Leviticus 14:33‐57, Isaiah 17‐18, 2 Corinthians 12:14‐13:14

Psalm 108

Ps. 108:5 - Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! - Psalm 108 is a psalm of David, and as he does in many places, David emphasizes the glory of God. God's glory is displayed throughout the earth. It is displayed above the heavens. But, there was something in David's writing that inferred that he wanted to glorify God everywhere that he went as well. I love people like King David. Those who truly glorify God with their life are inspiring and encouraging people.

Leviticus 14:33‐57

Lev. 14:33-57 - deals with the laws for cleaning houses where cases of leprous disease have been. I did not add anything to the notes of my Bible in this section.

Isaiah 17‐18

Is. 17:1b - Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. - What awful words! Think about being a resident of Damascus and hearing this oracle delivered to you. The city of Damascus had so enraged God that destruction was their ultimate end.

Is. 17:10-11 - For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain. - It's too easy to forget the good things that God has done for us. What is it about human beings that makes us want to be so self-reliant, and to take credit for the things that God deserves credit for?

Is. 18 - is an oracle concerning Cush. I added no notes to my Bible in this section.

2 Corinthians 12:14‐13:14

2 Cor. 12:20-21 - For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.- Paul's pastor's heart is shown in this passage. His concern for the Corinthian believers and the Corinthian church is so evident in these words. He is sickened by some of the things that he hears are going on in the church.

2 Cor. 13:5 - Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! - Paul warns those who are living lives that don't glorify God that they should examine themselves to see if they are truly Christians. Paul's advice is good for all of us. It's important to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. When our lives look no different than the world around us, when we run to the same things that the world runs to, and when we don't run to God, then we need to ask the tough questions.

2 Cor. 13:12 - Greet one another with a holy kiss. - When I was in high school, this was my life's verse. Okay, just kidding. But, the Eastern European church still practices this. I'll never forget my first time speaking in Russia and being kissed by all of the believers in the church. While it seemed strange to me as a western Christian, it was really a beautiful picture of the love that the Russian believers had for one another.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day Twenty-six

Psalm 107, Leviticus 14:1‐32, Isaiah 15‐16, 2 Corinthians 10:13‐12:13

Psalm 107

Ps. 107:2 - Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble - Psalm 107:2 really sums up what this psalm is all about. This is a psalm of celebration for the multitude of times that God had saved his people from their distress. We too should be quick to give God the credit for His marvelous works in our lives.

Leviticus 14:1-32

Lev. 14:1-32 - deals with the laws for cleansing lepers. Whereas chapter 13 dealt with what do do when a person has leprosy. It must have been a wonderful thing to be cleansed from this afflicting disease.

Isaiah 15-16

Is. 15-16 - This is the third oracle that Isaiah shares, and it concerns Moab. The oracle begins with the sudden destruction of Moab. It is so severe that even God mourns for them. The lesson to learn from Moab is that pride placed in anything but God is misplaced. God is the only one Who has a right to be proud. The people of Moab needed Him, and their rejection of Him would lead to their humility, three years after this oracle was given.

2 Corinthians 10:13-12:13

2 Cor. 10:17 - “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” - This is a great reminder in light of the passage we just read in Is. 15-16.

2 Cor. 11:16-33 - This is one of the most mind-blowing sections in all of Scripture. It is a direct rebuke to the false Gospel of prosperity theology that is taught in so many churches. Following God meant that Paul endured incredible hardship. From shipwrecks to stonings, to beatings, to hunger and thirst, to exposure to the cold, lies and so much more, Paul endured so much for God. But, to Paul, it was worth it! It is a joy to suffer with Christ. Never let anyone ever tell you different.

2 Cor. 12:9-10 - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - I love these verses. Paul has just finished talking about his vision of heaven, and then talks about his weaknesses. He can boast in his weakness because the power of Christ shows through him when he is weak. I love when God works shows His power in my weakness.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day Twenty-five

Psalm 106, Leviticus 13, Isaiah 13‐14, 2 Cor 10:1‐12

Psalm 106

Ps. 106:6 - Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.- I appreciate the fact that the writer of Psalm 106 confesses the sin of his people, not just the ancestors of his people. Psalm 106 is a historical look at the grievous sins of the Children of Israel. Throughout the history of the great nation, there had been sin. Over and over again the Israelites turned from the God of Israel to pagan gods. And, over and over again God forgave them. When we have sinned, we need to confess it. We need to own up to the fact that we have sinned. And, we need to turn from that sin and to God. Don't blame others for the sin in your life. Humanity has been doing that from the beginning (see Adam blaming Eve for his sin in Genesis 3) and it's not very original.

Ps. 106:20 - They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.- In the long litany of sins that the psalmist writes regarding the Israelites relationship to God, this one stuck out to me. It seems crazy to me that a group of people would exchange the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. How stupid can you be? And yet, so many of us do the same thing today. We trade the glory of God for our own pleasures that cannot now, or ever, compare to God's glory. Don't be like the Children of Israel! Worship God, and God only. Nothing else is worth it.

Leviticus 13

Lev. 13 - This chapter concerns itself with the laws about leprosy. Leprosy was a terrible and all too common disease in the ancient near east world. It's sad to read how difficult life was for those who struggled with the disease.

Isaiah 13-14

Is. 13:11 - I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. - The proud Babylonian people had ignored God. They tried to make a mockery of the Jewish religion. But, God warns Babylon that judgment is coming.

Is. 14:12-20 - There is a major parallel shown here between the fall of the King of Babylon and the fall from heaven of Lucifer.

2 Corinthians 10:1-12

2 Cor. 10:1-12

2 Cor. 10:5-6 - We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. - There is something so beautiful about Paul's defense of his ministry in this section of Scripture. I love that Paul and his partners in ministry were taking every thought captive., so that they might obey Christ. This is never easy but always worth it.