Archive for the ‘ Holidays ’ Category

Video Lesson: Plagues & False Hopes

We are getting close to the Passover time of year! How fitting that we are currently in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic at the time of posting this!

Why? Because the Passover started during … THE 10 PLAGUES ON EGYPT!

You should read Exodus chapters 7-12 before reading/listening to this lesson.

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

Does God allow or even send things like pandemics and plagues?

Is there a purpose to suffering?

Can God use evil for good? How do we define good and evil?

Now, to the big question of the day:

Can we learn from the 10 Plagues today?

Plagues and False Hopes
Exodus 7-12

Ten/10 is the number of completion, so God’s judgment is thorough and complete.

God gave Egypt plagues for each of their most powerful gods and goddesses.

  • #1 – Plague of the Nile into Blood
    • Hapi – god of the Nile
      This lasted 7 days, the number of perfection.
  • #2 – Plague of Frogs
    • Heket – goddess of Fertility and Water
      She had the head of a frog. Magicians made more frogs appear, but only Moses and Aaron could get rid of them.
  • #3 – Plague of Gnats/Lice/Mosquitos
    • Geb – god of the Earth
      1st plague the magicians couldn’t copy
      (8:18-19)
      Remember that we are made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)
  • #4 – Plague of Flies
    • Khepri – god of creation, movement of the Sun, and rebirth
      He had the head of a fly.
  • #5 – Plague of the Death of Livestock
    • Hathor – goddess of Love and Protection
      She had the head of a cow
      Economic disaster: food, transportation, and farming is affected.
  • Plagues 1-5 remove sources of sustenance and income.
  • #6 – Plague of Boils
    • Isis – goddess of Medicine and Peace
      Egyptians were neat-freaks and germophobes.
      This plague announced their uncleanness.
  • #7 – Plague of Hail and Fire & Brimstone
    • Nut – goddess of the Sky
      First plague to affect the household of Pharaoh himself.
      Affected the crops of flax and barley: used for making clothing and beer. The Egyptians would not be able to cover their nakedness nor “forget their woes” with alcohol.
      Wheat was not affected, showing God provides bread …
  • #8 – Plague of Locusts
    • Set – god of Storms and Disorder
      Locusts eat everything. This devastates even the food supply.
  • #9 – Plague of Darkness for Three Days
    • Ra – The Sun god, the highest god
      Their god of light was controlled by God.
      Darkness symbolizes spiritual blindness and death, judgment and hopelessness.
  • Plagues 6-9 remove sources of health and peace.
  • #10 – Plague of the Death of the Firstborn
    • Pharaoh – the living god
      If their worshiped king cannot stop a foreign deity from killing his son, is he really worthy of their worship? (No.)
      Most obviously, this points to Christ, the only Son of God and firstborn of the Resurrection, all others finding salvation from death through His shed blood.
  • Plague 10 removes our self-reliance.

God will allow and even send calamities, pestilences, and pandemics to show His power and sovereignty, and He might also do it to bring judgment on nations.

Think of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, or the locust swarms in Africa at this time. Or think of all of the wildfires in 2019.

Is this a buildup to Christ’s return? Maybe. Maybe not.

At the very least, God is in control, and our world has been pushing Him away like crazy. Just as the Egyptians claimed differing gods and had prophets declaring false things, we see this all over the world today, even within Christianity.

Just as the only salvation from death in the 10th plague was blood, the only way we know we are saved from eternal death is through the blood of God’s firstborn, Jesus Christ. We may not escape earthly suffering, but we are saved from eternal judgment. (And see the last lesson about those who have not heard the Gospel!)

Happy New Year 2020!

So, a lot happened this year.

We will avoid the political stuff for now, some the results of television and cinema drama, and much of the sadness, stupidness, and crazy.

On some positive notes, my wife started her Masters degree and should be done in five months!

Our friend started his Doctorate, and he and his wife had their adorable daughter.

I began working for my friend at Third Shot Coffee. That is pretty cool. I have not given up on my own dreams, either, but they are not at the forefront at this time.

Oh. And we have a house of our own again!

But this next year should be … 2020.

In any event, may you receive an abundance of bunches of blessings this year. And though life may take some effort to trudge through, fall on the promises of God, this year and always.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24‭-‬26 ESV

In His Love,

Daniel

Still Saying Thank You

Most people agree: 2019 was rough.

So, if you are reading this, be thankful you made it through the year!

Even if 2019 was the hardest year of your life, or you hate the politicians, or circumstances could have been better …

… give thanks to God. And start the year in thanksgiving.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15, NIV

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18b-20, NIV

We can do it with the words of Mikeschair:

All I Can Do (Thank You)

I could write a love song
Tell you what I think you want to hear
But it wouldn’t be good enough, no
Yeah, I could try so hard
To give it everything I’ve got
But I’m not ever gonna measure up

(Chorus)
All I can do is thank you for this life I never deserved
Wanna thank you for the grace I know I don’t have to earn
You love me, you love me, your mercy is proof
All I can do is say thank you
All I can do is say thank you

It would have been easy
But I’m glad you never walked away
Cause your love runs deep for me
And I see this beautiful world and it brings tears to my eyes
And I think it’s beautiful to be free

(Chorus)
All I can do is thank you for this life I never deserved
Wanna thank you for the grace I know I don’t have to earn
You love me, you love me, your mercy is proof
All I can do is say thank you
All I can do is say thank you

For love, for hope, for all the ways
Yeah, for everything you do
What else can I say but thank you
Thank you

I could write a love song
Tell you what I think you wanna hear
But it wouldn’t be good enough

(Chorus)
All I can do is thank you for this life I never deserved
Wanna thank you for the grace I know I don’t have to earn
You love me, you love me, your mercy is proof
All I can do is say thank you
All I can do is say thank you

All I can do, all I can do, all I can do is say thank you
(repeat)

Preparing Your Heart – The Fourth Week of Advent 2019

We are finishing up our advent series, first shared five years ago!

It is now the fourth week of Advent! (See the last three weeks’ devotional thoughts here (and here) and here (and here) and here (and here).)

Again, Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

There is a slight twist today in presentation, as well, as we prepare for Christmas!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

At first we are reminded that sometimes life is going well.
Then we are reminded that sometimes life is hard.

Life seems perfect and flawless.
Or we are dealing with an illness, a tragedy, or the loss of a loved one.

The answer, in any circumstance good or bad, is to fall on our knees and acknowledge that we need a Savior, to seek the God who came to save us from our sin and suffering by coming to us as an infant, the weakest of all things.

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

The Light of the world calls us to Himself, and only the wise heed His call. Only the wise understand that He truly understands all of our hurts and needs and can help us because He has been through it all.
And He deserves our adoration and worship.

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

It is not only our trials and pains which he helps, but He has called us to love all other people.
We not only see our need for salvation from sin and God’s wrath, we see our need for His love to fill our hearts, to treat our friends, enemies, and strangers alike as brothers and sisters, with love and compassion.

And for ever we shall worship Him and declare His awesomeness!

For He has come to save and will come again a final time to fully redeem His own, and that is the full promise of the gospel!

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Revelation 22:20-21, ESV

Preparing Your Heart – The Third Week of Advent 2019

We are continuing the series originally posted five years ago!

____________

It is now the third week of Advent! (See the last two weeks’ devotional thought here (and here) and here (and here).)

Again, Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old“

. . .

“for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 1:68-70, 2:30-32, ESV

The first part of the quote is from Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, at John’s birth. The second part of the quote was said by Simeon, an old and devout man, when he saw the baby Jesus at the Temple.

These two men knew that the Lord’s salvation was at hand. If you read all of chapters one and two of Luke, you can see that even they did not understand His plan of salvation. They were on the right track, but they were not aware of how things would unfold.

The Lord had come, Emmanuel, God with us, and he brought salvation. It was first brought to Israel, the Jews in Jerusalem in particular, and then it spread to “all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) over the past 2,000 years.

What most everyone then did not know was that first the Lord would bring spiritual salvation, the forgiveness of sins and the repairing of the relationship with God and humanity; the physical redemption from all enemies is still to come.

Let us remember that salvation has come, but we await our salvation from the pain and evil of this world (see Romans 8). We do not understand fully how it will all happen, but we know Jesus will return!

May we not get caught up in the knowledge we have and miss the signs of His coming. May we remember that we are not home yet, and we await our coming Savior. May we bring as many as we can to all of this knowledge of the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father!

Preparing Your Heart – The Second Week of Advent 2019

Once again, this series is a re-post from five years earlier, with some additions by me.

________________

It is now the second week of Advent! (See last week’s devotional thought here and here.)

Again, Advent is a time to remember our Lord’s first coming as we look forward to His imminent return.

So, let us prepare hearts for encountering the Lord!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14, ESV

It is important for us to remember that God’s people, the Israelites, those who painstakingly preserved the written Word of God and pursued righteousness, failed to recognize Him when he came to them quite literally in the flesh.

Jesus said just three chapters later, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23). Our culture today is largely spiritually dull, even in many churches.

Ask yourself, “Would I recognize God if He approached me today?” Seek His face in prayer, Bible reading, and the fellowship of believers. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Too many missed Him the first time around. Seek the living Lord! Have faith that He is returning soon!

“For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 16:7b, ESV

Sermon: Signs You’re a Christian – 1 John 3:10-24

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

Signs You’re a Christian (1 John 3:10-24)

Read 3:10-11

        1:1, 2:7: Nothing new, known from the beginning

Read 3:12

        Genesis 4:3-5: Why did Cain murder Abel? His sacrifice was not accepted.
Why?
2 theories: 1) He could have asked Abel for an animal sacrifice. Could have, yes, but …
          2) He offered “an offering of the fruit” versus Abel’s “firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel offered the first and best, but Cain went for the bare minimum.
Genesis 4:6-7: Bare minimum can lead, at best, to complacency, and at worst to proof of not being saved.
Genesis 4:8-9: Our selfishness leads us to hatred, as John reminds us …

Read 3:13-15

        Testimony: Know I am saved, because I have loved the Church.
-Jim Harper – Pastor on the Titanic
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Pastor in Nazi Germany

Read 3:16-20

        Two things to remember:

  • Our sinful hearts:
    • Jeremiah 17:9-10
    • How righteous are we really?
      • Illustration with three volunteers (preferably one of the Paul’s, Jadon, and Scott as our prime example):
        • 1 at the left, representing Hitler and anti-christs
        • Student at the right, representing Christ
        • Scott (or someone) being moved for how much righteousness he has, starting out close to student, moving him until he is right next to “Hitler” to demonstrate how much better we are apart from Christ. Then, back over to hug “Christ” who has covered our sins with his own blood.
    • Romans 8:23 – awaiting the redemption of our bodies
  • Christ commanded that we help others, especially the Church (Galatians 6:10, John 13 especially v. 8)

Read 3:21-24

  1. If we believe, we are washed by Christ. Since we are washed by Christ, we should have clean consciences
    1. Sometimes, we struggle to let go of the past, making our consciences feel burdened …
    1. This is one reason Hebrews 10:19-25 (vv. 23-25) tells us to keep meeting together and encouraging each other, but also …
  2. Whatever we ask: See Ephesians 3:14-21 (v. 20)
    1. He meets all of our needs, knowing what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8, 7:7-11)

What does this all mean for us?

  1. First, realize we can do nothing good apart from God
    1. Romans 3 – None are good nor seek God, all have sinned
    1. Luke 18:18-19 – Only God is good
    1. Philippians 4:13 – Through Christ alone can we do good things
  2. Second, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. (Ephesians 2)
    1. Realize our full need for Christ, repent of sins, and believe in His atoning work on the cross.
    1. As Ephesians 2 continues and reminds us …
  3. Third, we are made one with Christ and each other through Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
    1. We love Christ and His Church.
      1. Read your Bible
      1. Pray
      1. Meet regularly with other Christians
        1. Not just go to church on Sundays!
      1. Live out love for God
        1. Do good works as a response to the great love God has given
        1. Especially toward our brothers and sisters in Christ
        1. These reveal the Spirit’s work in us, that we love Christ by obeying His commands (John 15:12-14), all to the glory of the Father (meaning people see our love and good works and come to believe the Gospel!)

So, then, what are the commands we are to obey?

  1. Love God with all that you are (Matthew 22:37-38)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40)
  3. Love one another as Christ has loved us (Sacrificially and with a servant’s heart) (John 13:34)
  4. Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)