Heaven’s Point of View

April 04, 2020: SOAP #3775:  Judges 19-21; 2Corinthians 4

Scripture:  2Corinthians (NIV) 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Observation:  Earlier in this chapter, the Apostle Paul tells of the struggles and hardships he has experienced in taking the gospel to new places.  He has been through some tough times.  But he has something that encourages him in discouraging times.  He has something that lifts him up when the troubles press him down.  He knows a day is coming when it will be worth it all!   His mind’s eye is so focused on the eternal that he does not bother worrying about the temporary things that have been so troubling.

Application:   Some things seem to call to me, “Look at me, I am important.”  The news media tries to fill my mind with so many things to worry about.  They tell me how bad things are, then they have their experts reinforce their message. The corona virus is the current issue, but when it passes, there will be another.

Stuart Hamblin wrote, “My heart can sing when I pause to remember a heartache here is but a stepping stone along a trail that’s leading always upward…Until then my heart will go on singing; Until then with joy I’ll carry on; Until the day my eyes behold that city; Until the day He calls me home.”   I like the phrase, “…and things of earth that cause the heart to tremble, remembered there will only bring a smile.”  Things look so different from heaven’s point of view.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, help me keep my eyes focused on heaven, on that which is eternal.  Check my heart when I start to pay too much attention to temporal things.  Interrupt my thinking when my thoughts get stuck on things that bother me.   May I consider everything from heaven’s point of view.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Living Excited About Jesus!

April 03, 2020: SOAP #3774:  Judges 17-18; Psalm 89; 2Corinthians 3

Scripture:  Psalm (NIV) 89:15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.

Observation:  Blessed are the people who have come through the good times and bad times of life and have come out of those experiences with a greater knowledge of God.  Each experience taught them something new about this Great and Mighty, Loving and Kind, Wise and Understanding God we know as Heavenly Father!   Their praise is ever new.  They always have something new for which to give thanks.

Application:   I want to live excited about the new things I am learning about God.  May I never stop talking about God!  May those coming into my presence come to understand that I am living in His Presence!   Walking with me should be taking a walk with the Lord!

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, you have promised to never leave me nor forsake me.  You are always with me.  Help my mind to be continually aware of your presence.  And may those near me become aware of your presence also. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

“Always” & “Everywhere”

April  02, 2020: SOAP #3773:  Judges 13-16; 2Corinthians 2

Scripture:  2Corinthians (NIV) 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

Observation:  Two words were brought to my attention: “always” and “everywhere.”  God is always leading us in a triumphal procession.  “Always” means we celebrate as we walk on the mountain tops of life, but we are also to celebrate in the valleys.  So what triumph are we celebrating?  We are celebrating Jesus triumph over Satan and death!  Wow!  That is something worth celebrating!

And “everywhere” God leads us (in pleasant and unpleasant places), people become aware of His presence.  It is like a fragrant rose has been brought into the room and its fragrance is noticed by everyone present.   Talking about God is so much better than complaining about being mistreated.  Our words and actions display God’s presence.

Application:   It is for me to keep God’s presence as an active part of my mind.  “At all times,” and “in every place,” I need to include God in my thinking, my talking, and my actions.

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, I need your help to keep my thoughts centered on your presence.  Help me always and everywhere be open to opportunities to celebrate the triumph of Jesus in my life and make Him look good.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Faithful to Report Back

April 01, 2020: SOAP #3772:  Judges 11-12; Psalm 50; 2Corinthians 1

Scripture:  2Corinthians (NIV) 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Observation:  The difficulties Paul and his ministry team suffered in the province of Asia had present and future benefits.  As to the present: they relied on God and He proved Himself reliable!   As to the future: they received hope and faith that God would continue to deliver them.

Why did Paul want the church in Corinth to know about the difficulties that he and his ministry team suffered?  Because they had been praying.  The deliverance in the province of Asia came in answer to the prayers of the believers in Corinth!  He wanted them to know that God had heard and answered their prayers!  Their prayers had been an important part of bringing victory.  How proper to report back to those who had prayed!

Application:  While we are going through the Corona-virus plague we can only rely on God.   His “gracious favor will be granted in answer to the prayers of many.”  So…be encouraged to have faith in God.  …be encouraged to pray.
…be encouraged to recognize the prayers of others.  …be faithful to report back to those you asked to pray for you.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, you like it when I depend on you.  And you like it when I am thankful.  My heart overflows with thanks to you for all you have done for me.  And my heart should overflow with thanks for those who pray for me.  Holy Spirit, help me not to take those prayers for granted.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Looking for Someone to Bless

March 31, 2020: SOAP #3771:  Judges 9-10; Psalm 49; 1Corinthians 16

Scripture:   1Corinthians 16:17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.
18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Observation:  These three men had traveled in person from Corinth to visit Paul in the province of Asia.  Their effort in making the journey communicated the esteem in which they held Paul.  Their visit caused him to look away from his present struggles and look back on times when God was using him in Corinth.  They made the load seem lighter. They talked about what God had done while Paul was with them in Corinth. They filled him in with news of what was happening to people he loved.  They refreshed his spirit.

Application:  The Lord wants to use me today to refresh someone’s spirit.  I can do that by being with them, making a phone call, or sending an email.  I might remind them of how God has used them to bless me in the past.  I can encourage them to be hopeful.  I can build up their faith.   I can talk about how big and loving God is!

Prayer:  Lord, use me to lift my friend’s thinking out of the gloomy news about the coronavirus to the glory of Your presence.  You will be a part of the conversation.  May their heart become joyful and their burden become lighter as we talk of Your Presence and what You do for us.  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

 

The Stinger is Gone!

March 30, 2020: SOAP #3770:  Judges 8; Psalm 42; 1Corinthians 15

Scripture:  1Corinthians (NIV) 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Observation:  When I swallow something, it is no longer seen.  It is gone from sight.  It gets digested and becomes strength for my body.  When death is swallowed up in victory, what remains to be seen is the victory.  The struggle of the sporting contest is forgotten in the victory.

What makes death something to be feared is sin.  If sin is carried into death’s door, it is a key that opens the door to hell.  But when sin has been removed by the blood of the Crucified Son of God, the stinger is gone!  The One living inside has the key to Heaven.  He opens the door and walks with us through death’s door into the glorious throne room of heaven!

Application:  The choice is clear, which door will I pass through when I come to death’s door.  There are two things that are the same beyond both doors.  They both lead to an existence for eternity!   And both doors open to a life of memory of earthly life.   The memories in hell will be ones of eternal regret.  The memories in heaven will be thankful memories of the grace of God to forgive me and save me from judgment.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, out of your great love for me, you sent Jesus, your Son, to save me from the deserved judgment for my sin.  I repent and humbly beg your forgiveness.  With confidence in your Word, I thank you for your forgiveness.  Help me live my life in thanksgiving for your salvation, for your grace and mercy.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Demonstrating My Faith

March 29, 2020: SOAP #3769:  Judges 6-7; Psalm 52; 1Corinthians 14

Scripture:  Judges (NIV) 6:14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

Observation:   It was a big assignment: “to save Israel out of Midian’s hand.”  It was a huge assignment for someone who had no standing, no potential in themselves, no following, and no resources.  But God was requiring from Gideon what He requires from everyone.  “Go in the strength you have…”   Gideon had to use the strength he had.  Could Gideon blow a trumpet?  Yes.  Could Gideon hold a lamp and pitcher in his hands?  Yes.  Gideon could do the little things God required.

Application:  I have what God requires.  I can do what God gives me to do.  My part in the ministry is something I can do.  Everything I cannot do is God’s part. God’s hand is moved by my faith.  Doing what I can do demonstrates my faith that God has spoken to me and He will do what I cannot do.  The investment of my time and resources is my faith being put into action.  This is not me trying to get God to do what I want Him to do, or what I think He should do. My faith must rest upon HIS Word, HIS plan, HIS directions to me.  The resources I do not have, He will provide.  When the assignment is complete, God graciously lets me enjoy the accomplishment.  I make sure He gets the glory!

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, what a privilege to partner with You in accomplishing Your will.  Doing Your will, I use the strength I have and You make up the difference.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!