Studying Reality

June 16, 2019: SOAP #3482:  1Kings 17-19; Colossians 2

Scripture:  Colossians (NIV) 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Observation:   It is interesting to watch a young child first discover their shadow.  Some have a little panic attack as they try to escape.

A shadow is powerless.  It has no ability to think or to choose its actions.  It cannot cause a pre-determined action.  It’s just a shadow!

But a shadow can reveal some truth about what is casting that shadow.  How big it is.  A little about its shape.  How fast it moves.

And so, the law is a shadow people could follow to its source: to Christ!  The law could not save us, but Jesus can!   The law could not make me clean, but Jesus can!  Keeping the Sabbath cannot make me holy, but Jesus can!

Application:  Jesus is the reality I need to study.  The better I know Jesus, the better I will understand the Old Testament.  Better than that, the better I know Jesus, the better I will understand what God desires of me now.  The better I know Jesus, the better I will learn to rely on the Holy Spirit as he did.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as you sent your Holy Spirit to lead Jesus as he lived on earth, so you have sent the same Holy Spirit to empower my ministry here on earth.  Teach me to rely on his guidance. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

God’s Assignment

June 15, 2019: SOAP #3481:  1Kings 16; 2Chronicles 15,16; Colossians 1

Scripture:  Colossians (NIV) 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Observation:   Paul was carrying out his service to the body of Christ with the understanding that it was God’s will.  He was not working under his own authority.  He had not chosen this assignment for himself.  He had been chosen for this assignment by God.

Application:  It is important for me to understand that I am a retired pastor writing daily SOAP devotions by the will of God.  It is God’s assignment for me.  And during the school year, I am a bus driver by the will of God.  It is God’s assignment.

Seeing my labor as being God’s affects me in two ways.  First, I must carry out my assignment to the best of my ability.  I am working for the Lord!  Sloppiness is not allowed.  God deserves only the best from me.

Second, I can count on His help and provision.  It is God’s assignment.  It is his work I am doing.  I expect that the God of all creation will take care of those doing his will.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, whatever my assignment for today, remind me for whom I am working.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

FOR or WITH

June 14, 2019: SOAP #3480:  1Kings 15; 2Chronicles 13,14; Philippians 4

Scripture:  Philippians (NIV) 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Observation:   There is something we should not do about anything, and there is something we should do about everything.  We should not worry about anything; we should pray about everything.  If we do the second, we will be less inclined to do the first.

Application:  This verse does not tell me to gather a band of prayer warriors around to take my needs to our Heavenly Father.  There is nothing wrong with asking others to pray, but this verse tells ME to pray!   When I ask someone to pray FOR me, I should be asking them to pray WITH me.  I should already be praying.

Many times, when people ask me to pray for a need in their life, I ask them how they are praying; I will agree with them.  I want to know for what their faith is reaching.  What do they expect God to do for them?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, your gift of peace that transcends all understanding is promised to those who present their requests TO YOU by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

So Much More

June 13, 2019: SOAP #3479:  1Kings 13,14; 2Chronicles 12; Philippians 3

Scripture:  Philippians (NIV) 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Observation:   NIV: surpassing greatness; KJV/YLB: the excellency; Message: high privilege; RSV: surpassing worth; Wyeth: priceless privilege.

The “surpassing greatness” of knowing Christ makes it well worth the loss of all other things.  It is the height of foolishness to allow the pursuit of something else in life to hinder one from the pursuit of knowing Christ.

This knowledge may start with reading words on a page, but it is so much more.  It is the knowledge that comes from experience.  It is meeting Jesus in real life.  It is walking though the days with him.  It is learning his ways.  It is knowing what he thinks about certain things without needing to look them up in the Bible.  It is feeling the joy he feels when seeing something that he likes.  It is feeling the sadness he feels when sin destroys his creation.  It is in knowing how to make him feel comfortable in one’s life.  It is in quickly recognizing attitudes that would cause him concern.  It is when the joy of the Lord (his joy) becomes my strength.

Application:   The joy of the Lord is my strength.  It gives me strength when I know I am giving him joy.  There is a great satisfaction when I know I am making him smile.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, In a world so full of things that cause My Heavenly Father concern, help make my life a place for his enjoyment.  May the attitudes of my heart and the words of my mouth cause him to smile.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Our Assignment

June 12, 2019: SOAP #3478:  1Kings 12; 2Chronicles 10,11; Philippians 2

Scripture:  1Kings (NIV) 12:13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

Observation:   The people had come to King Rehoboam with a valid request.  They had been overworked by his father King Solomon; they requested relief.  King Rehoboam asked them to return for his answer in three days during which he sought counsel.  The elders advised him to serve the people and acknowledge their complaint.  Give them the relief they desired.  Then the new king rejected their counsel and listened to the younger counselors.

How foolish I say, until I read the next verse:  15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfil the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. (Note 1Kings 11:29-39).  God’s hand was bringing judgment!

Application:  And, so it is in the USA today.  The political party in control of the House of Representatives is so taken up with a desire to impeach our president, that they have no time to deal with our southern border where millions of illegal aliens are surging into our country.  Their confusion is of the Lord who has promised to bring one illegal alien into our country for every child we have aborted.  Let us pray for our president to truly understand what is happening, call our nation to repentance and prayer, and work to develop these illegal immigrants into the army of workers and taxpayers our aborted children should have been.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as your hand of judgment is upon our nation, give us hearts willing to acknowledge our sins and repent.  Give us leaders who understand what you are doing.  As you have given our president favor in other nations, so give him favor in our nation.  Holy Spirit, for those who reads this SOAP, use each one to win one illegal alien to you.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My part/His part

June 11, 2019: SOAP #3477:  Song of Solomon 5-8; Philippians 1

Scripture:  Philippians (NIV) 1:18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Observation:   Paul has confidence, knowing that what he is enduring will end up for good.  It is not an exercise in futility.

Paul realizes that the good will come as the result of two causes.  The first is in answer to their prayers.  The second is through the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit’s work is in coordination with the prayers of the saints. Paul often speaks appreciatively of the prayers of his readers.  He understands that they work for his benefit.  In this verse, those prayers are coupled with the Spirit’s working and Paul has confident that things will work out well.

The sovereign God could work totally on His own, yet he holds back and waits for our prayers.  It is his way of preparing us to rule and reign with him.

Application:   John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” My part is to pray in faith according to the Father’s will.  His part is to answer those prayers that are in keeping with his will and prayed in faith.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, reveal to me the heart of Father God so that I my prayers may serve to further his Kingdom.  Teach me to walk and pray in faith with full confidence that the answer is on the way.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Ever Increasing Faith

June 10, 2019: SOAP #3476: Song of Solomon 1-4; Ephesians 6

Scripture: Ephesians (NIV) 6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Observation: The shield of faith is not in place of all the aforementioned items of our armor, it is in addition. There is no part of the armor that is unimportant. We need to keep it all in place.

And as all the others are important, so is the shield of faith! It must not be left behind. It is our faith that extinguishes all the “flaming arrows” or “fiery darts” sent our way at the impetus of the devil. He is wicked and desires to destroy us. But our faith is stronger than anything he can throw our way. After all, the Bible says we can extinguish ALL the flaming arrows/darts! Praise God!

Application: I am thankful for “the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) that God has given to all men. Faith does not have a steady level in my life. My faith can dwindle (1Timothy 4:1); My faith can grow (2Corinthians 10:15; 2Thessalonians 1:3). A Smith Wigglesworth book is entitled “Ever Increasing Faith.” That is what I want to be said about my faith.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, work in my life to increase my faith. Help me to understand God’s Word. Help me to apply God’s Word to my life. May each “flaming arrow” that the enemy shoots into my thoughts be quickly extinguished. Guide me in putting my faith into action. Anoint me to better serve as you work to continue the ministry of Jesus in the world today. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!