My Joy…

January 20, 2021: SOAP #4066:  Genesis 49-50; Psalm 8; Luke 20

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm (NIV) 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

OBSERVATION:  God is mindful of man.  God cared for Adam and Eve, and for all who have been born of their decedents.  God has set his thoughts on man.  God is interested in how man responds to Him and His Word. 

In ability, knowledge, and strength, man does not measure up to angels, yet God has placed all His creative works in the earth under man’s care and supervision.  All creation is affected by man’s decisions.

I believe the greatest power given to man is the ability to influence the emotions of God.  Because of God’s immeasurable love for man, man can cause God great pain or bring God great joy.

APPLICATION:   I am His by creation and by the death of Jesus (He made me, and He bought me).  He loves me for just being me.  I am His child.  So, as I mature, I want to grow in living this life that He shares with me in a way that honors Him and makes Him look good.  Loving God, it is my joy to bring Him joy—to make Him smile.  Loving God, it makes me sad to think that something I have said or done cause Him pain. 

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, I want to live a life that brings you great joy.  May my love for You be well known. Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Praise the Lord!  Today I was able to get everything accomplished for the medical approval for the CDL.  This afternoon, I rode along on the route that I have driven for 10 years.  It made my heart rejoice to see the students again!  I know this is in answer to the many prayers that have been made to our Heavenly Father.  😊 

Helper of the Fatherless

January 19, 2021: SOAP #4065:  Genesis 47-48; Psalm 10; Luke 19

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm (NIV) 10:12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

OBSERVATION:  The Psalmist makes it clear; God is the helper of the fatherless.   

APPLICATION:  Here is an excerpt from “George Muller” by J. Gilchrist Lawson:   Greatest of all Muller’s undertakings was the erection and maintenance of the great orphanages at Bristol. He began the undertaking with only two shillings (50 cents) in his pocket; but in answer to prayer and without making his needs known to human beings, he received the means necessary to erect the great buildings [5 orphanages] and to feed the orphans [10,000] day by day for sixty years. In all that time the children did not have to go without a meal, and Mr. Muller said that if they ever had to go without a meal, he would take it as evidence that the Lord did not will the work to continue.   

          When we ask man to help us, we get what man can provide.  But when we ask God to help, we get what God can provide!   Of course, God will use man in many ways to be a part of His answer, but the glory must go to God alone for He alone heard the prayers.  And those participating in God’s answer rejoice in hearing His voice and being a part of His answer. 

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, anoint me to build faith in your Word.  I pray especially for those who have the responsibility to provide for the helpless and fatherless children.  Build their faith.  May their ministry be proof that you hear and answer prayer.  Give them testimonies like the one above, testimonies that can encourage others.  Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Tomorrow I go to the VA to get a printout of my night-time breathing machine, then back to the medical off to get the physical finalized, then to the Driver’s License Office, and finally to the Bus Barn!  Should start driving Wednesday morning!   Praise the Lord!!!  

A Clean Window

January 18, 2021: SOAP #4064:  Genesis 44-46; Luke 18

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis (NIV) 46:2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

OBSERVATION:   God is speaking to Jacob and giving him direction to move ahead and travel to Egypt where he will see his son Joseph.  The emphasis in this passage is not in what God wants Jacob to do, but on what God is going to do for Jacob!  

APPLICATION:   When God gives me an assignment, He is not depending on my ability to accomplish the assignment, but on His ability to work through me.  In giving me an assignment, He is looking for an opportunity to demonstrate His power, His wisdom, His provision.  He is looking to display His all-surpassing ability through my weaknesses.  He is looking to display His provision through my lack.   He is looking to display His wisdom through my obedience. 

The key is to know His voice and to do what God directs.  If it is His will, He will be responsible for everything.  If I am doing what I think is best, then it becomes my responsibility.  I have faith for His provision when I know that I am doing His will.  I have His presence promised to me! 

My goal is not to show what I can do, but to be an avenue for God to show what He can do.  My life is to be a window through which people can see Jesus! 

PRAYER:  Lord, make me a clean window so that it will be easy for people to see you in me and working through me.  Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Nothing new to report.  God’s healing work continues to be evident in my physical body!   Again: thanks for your prayers and all the glory goes to Jesus! 

Faith required…

January 17, 2021: SOAP #4063:  Genesis 42-43; Psalm 5; Luke 17

SCRIPTURE:  Luke (NIV) 17:3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

OBSERVATION:   It takes faith to forgive. 

APPLICATION:    It takes faith that God has forgiven me.  Being forgiven with the Great Forgiver living inside me, I am not given a choice, I must forgive. 

It takes faith that God will work in my feelings.  I must understand that forgetting is a process, but forgiveness is a choice.  When I choose God’s way, I can count on Him to help me.  As I meditate on what God has done for me, the many times He has forgiven me, the hurt of the memories fade and soon become like something I read in a book instead of personally suffered. 

It takes faith that God works through all things for good.  The process that brought us to owning the house in which we live, started with our rent being raised $100/month not once, but twice in one year!  There was anger; there was hurt feelings; we had been wronged.  But God used it for good! 

PRAYER:  Great Forgiver, you are my Lord; you are working to make me like you.  When I sin and you forgive me, you do not hold me at arm’s length away, but you draw me near to your heart.  Help me do the same to those who sin against me. Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  It has been nine days since the doctor drained 2.4 liters of fluid from my chest.  I have had no return of symptoms of fluid restricting my lungs.  I give God praise and I give thanks to all who have prayed for me!  God is the victor!  To Him be the glory! Tuesday I will go to the VA Hospital to get a readout of my CPAC use then take it to the clinic so they can finish my CDL physical.  A week from Monday I will have a chest x-ray and visit with the doctor to verify what God has done. 

Preparation for the Future

January 16, 2021: SOAP #4062:  Genesis 39-41; Luke 16

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis (NIV) 41:47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. … 53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food.

Luke (NIV) 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

OBSERVATION:   In Genesis we read the story of Joseph storing up the abundance from seven fruitful years to be used in the seven years of famine that would follow.  They were looking ahead and preparing for the future. 

In Luke we read Jesus parable about the steward who was about to lose his job.  He used the money in his authority to make friends for when he was out of work.   He was preparing for the future.  Jesus concludes his story telling those listening to use their worldly wealth to make friends that would welcome them into heaven. 

APPLICATION:    Financial advisors advise us on what should happen to our money after we die, but they say nothing about what will happen to us after we die.  They plan our present life as though we have no future life.  To them death is the end all.  Jesus did not make that mistake!   You need a financial advisor with the big picture!  Do not just invest your money to plan for your retirement, invest your money to plan for your eternity!

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to invest in your kingdom.  I can invest my service, my talents, my possessions, my experience, my money, and my time.  Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Another good day!  Contacted the VA for another printout from my CPAC machine.  Monday is a holiday, so, I will go Tuesday.  That should complete the bus driving physical.  Praise the Lord! 

Let’s Celebrate!

January 15, 2021: SOAP #4061:  Genesis 37-38; Psalm 7; Luke 15

SCRIPTURE:  Luke (NIV) 15:5 And when he finds it [the lost sheep], he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent…

9  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” … 

32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

OBSERVATION:    If one can understand the joy of finding a lost sheep, if one can understand the joy of finding a lost coin, if one can understand the need for a father’s celebration—then one can understand the rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents.  It is natural.  It is logical.  It is proper.  It is expected.  It is what you do when something of value that was lost is restored!  And what is of more value than a person! 

Every sinner that repents is another validation of the death of Jesus! 

APPLICATION:  Anyone wanting to bring joy to the Father and anyone wanting to honor Jesus for His great sacrifice should be working to rescue others from sin.  If I want to bring joy to the courts of heaven and cause a celebration, I should be witnessing every day to someone.  After all, “It is no secret what God can do. What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you!” 

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, make me aware of every opportunity to let others know what Jesus has done for me and what He can to do for them. Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Went back to the clinic doing the DOT physical, showing proof that I had met the CPAC requirements, but since it was not so noted on the first page, they would not accept!  I’ll try again Monday.  Physically, I am doing great, thanks for all the prayers!   

Counting the Cost

January 14, 2021: SOAP #4060:  Genesis 34-36; Luke 14

SCRIPTURE:  Luke (NIV) 14:31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

OBSERVATION:  It is important to count the cost of going to war.  If one does not have enough troops to win, the wise thing is to surrender.    

APPLICATION: “In the same way,” one should count the cost of not being a disciple of Jesus.  To be a disciple of Jesus, one must “give up everything he has!”  That is a great price to pay!  To surrender to Jesus is to relinquish control of one’s possessions, one’s choices, one’s self—everything!  But this is part one of counting the cost.

There are two other parts.  Part two would be to ask, “Where is this road taking me?”  “If I refuse Jesus, what lies ahead for me?”  Revelation (NIV) 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  That is not a desirable future! 

Part three is to ask, “Where would being a disciple of Jesus take me?”  Revelation (NIV) 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”   

When I count all the cost, losing out on part three, not having Jesus as my constant companion and guide, there is no choice!  Surrender to Jesus is the only logical choice! 

PRAYER: Lord, I surrender my life to you.  Forgive my sins; be my Savior.  Come live in me; be my Lord.  Thank you for the privilege of being your child. Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Today was the day for my Department of Transportation physical.  All went find except for the CPAC report from the VA.  It showed I had not used the breathing machine for enough hours on 10 of the last 30 days.  So, I will need to finish the exam in a couple of days.  Other than that, I am doing great!  Praise the Lord!  Sharon and I met with a VA dietician today about the low/no fat diet the doctor assigned for two weeks.  That is a challenge!   

Seeable & Unseeable

January 13, 2021: SOAP #4059:  Genesis 31-33; Luke 13

SCRIPTURE:  Luke (NIV) 13:18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

OBSERVATION:    Jesus reveals two characteristics of the kingdom with two examples.  First is the tiny mustard seed which grows into such a large tree-like plant that it cannot be overlooked or ignored.  It becomes the dominant garden plant.  And such is the government of God in a person’s life.  It starts small, hardly noticeable, but grows until everyone notices.  The kingdom of God becomes the dominant part of a believer’s life.  One cannot be around them long without noticing the difference. 

The second characteristic is seen in the yeast that is worked through ALL the dough.  The kingdom of God affects every thought and every action.  It affects every attitude and every relationship.  There is nothing in a believer’s life that remains unaffected!  

APPLICATION:  How long does someone need to know me before they notice that my life is different from the kingdom of the world?  How long is it before they hear that Jesus is my Lord?   Does the presence of the Great Creator, the One who sacrificed His life for me—does His presence make any difference in Leon?   Is there a part of my life that the “yeast” of the kingdom needs to be “worked all through?”  It could be a relationship, or a pattern of thinking.     

PRAYER: Lord, keep working in my life until you are indeed Lord of all my life, the parts that everyone sees and the parts that only you see. Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Another good day!  The Lord be praised!   The Department of Transportation physical examination for bus driving is scheduled for tomorrow morning. 

Preparing for the Future

January 12, 2021: SOAP #4058:  Genesis 29-30; Luke 12

SCRIPTURE:  Luke (NIV) 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”…
Luke (NIV) 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

OBSERVATION:   In verse 16-21 we have a parable by Jesus about a rich man who built bigger barns to store up his wealth for his future years.  He died before he could enjoy it.   

In verses 33-34 we read about a way to guarantee we will be able to enjoy our wealth for all eternity.  We give it.  We invest it the lives around us. 

APPLICATION:    Notice, the way to prepare for retirement is to save.  But as I prepare for retirement, I must make sure that I am “rich towards God.”  So, how do I become “rich towards God?”  How do I prepare for eternity?  I do that by giving!    So, I prepare for retirement by saving AND I prepare for heaven by giving!    

Our death will end our enjoyment of what we save.  Oh, but what we give—that we will enjoy for all eternity! 

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, you know how important money is.  Give me your wisdom in applying the money you provide.  You know what I need.  When I am doing your will, I can trust you to take care of my needs.   Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  Today I saw a pulmonary surgeon to evaluate my leaking lymph duct.  Since the fluid removal last Thursday, I have had no problems with chest pressure.  It was decided to go on a no-fat diet and re-evaluate in two weeks.  An x-ray was taken to provide a comparison for that evaluation.  On the way home, I received a phone call saying that the x-ray showed much improvement from an earlier one.  Tomorrow I will go for a physical exam for bus driving.  I have sure missed the bus students. 

What A God!!!

January 11, 2021: SOAP #4057:  Genesis 27-28; Psalm 4; Luke 11

SCRIPTURE:  Genesis (NIV) 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

OBSERVATION:   Did I just understand what I think I did???  Here is the God of creation interacting with a single person.  He does not give man a “to do” list.  He does not give man an overview of what He is expecting from man.   

No, God tells man what HE is going to do for the man!!!  “I will give you…  I am with you and will watch over you…  I will bring you back…  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you!”  He tells the man what the man can expect from God! 

APPLICATION:    Moses asked the obvious:  “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? (Exodus 15:11)   The Psalmist wrote: “Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.” (Psalm 86:8)   There is no god like our God!!!  What god has set himself to serve man and to do what is best for man?  Yet the God of Creation has done just that!  Who would not serve a God like that???  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, with all you have done for me, how can I do less than gave my all to you!  Amen. 

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

My personal SOAP saga:  another good day.  Tomorrow to see the surgeon at the Veteran’s Hospital.