Taking Thoughts Captive

April 10, 2021: SOAP #4146 (mostly from #2685—I believe God wants this repeated!):  1Samuel 8-10; 2Corinthians 10

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthianas (NIV) 10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

OBSERVATION: Often the toughest strongholds to overcome are the arguments and pretenses in the mind.   If not careful, a person can become a captive of thought processes that hurt them.  Thoughts must be taken “captive.” The mind can become a battlefield.

On the battlefield facing Goliath (1Samuel 17), the Israelites were thinking, “How BIG Goliath looked compared to themselves!”  David was thinking: “How small Goliath looked compared to God!”  David’s part was the sling and the rock.  God’s part was the results.

APPLICATION: The biggest battle I will fight today will be in my mind. I am not a mind, but I have a mind. I must take control of my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about something, but I can start thinking about something else. The strategy is “thought replacement.” I must replace thoughts about my big problem with thoughts about my big God! The Bible never tells me how to feel, but often tells me how to think.  As I listen to the Holy Spirit, He brings things to my mind for me to consider. 

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the “helmet of salvation.” Being your child, and having your Holy Spirit sharing this life with me makes a BIG difference in how I think! Amen  

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Proof of God’s Calling

April 09, 2021: SOAP #4145:  1Samuel 6-7; Psalm 72; 2Corinthians 9

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians (NIV) 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

OBSERVATION: In this chapter, Paul is encouraging giving by the church at Corinth for the needs of the people in Jerusalem.  Paul was not asking for money for himself.  Paul was not asking for money for his ministry.  The truths he emphasized were to encourage giving for others.  Paul could have used these truths about giving to raise money for himself.   Paul thanked people for giving to him, but he never asked them to give to him. 

Paul never encouraged people to send out letters of request for financial.   Instead, he encouraged them to go to God, let their requests be known to God.  God was the One who would supply all their needs according to His riches in glory. 

APPLICATION: So, what do I do about my personal needs.  I take them to the Lord.  I practice giving.  I share my vision.  I share testimonies of God’s faithfulness.  I start faithfully doing what I can do. Since God has directed my steps in ministry, I can count on Him to provide what is needed.  If He has not provided what I think I need, He expects me to work with what I have. I cannot wait until He provides what I think I need.  I must start with what God has provided me now.  God’s provision is proof of God’s calling. 

God’s promises do not depend on the country in which I live or the economy!  God is God wherever we are.  He can provide in any situation.  Living by faith gives God opportunity to prove who He is and what He can do. Faith pleases God!    

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, you gave your Only Begotten Son to die for my sin—you expect me to be a giver also.  I am counting on the promises you have made to givers.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Victorious Thinking!

April 08, 2021: SOAP #4144:  1Samuel 3-5; Psalm 77; 2Corinthians 8

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm (NIV) 77:10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” 11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. 13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? 14 You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

OBSERVATION: In the preceding verses we read of the psalmist going through an extremely hard time.  He was distressed.  God seemed far away.  He could not sleep.  He wondered if God had given up on him.  He wondered if God was angry with him. 

How would the psalmist overcome such distress?  How would he change his feelings of being abandoned?  He would change his thinking.  He would fill his mind with thoughts of how the Great God of Israel had helped them in the past.  He would think about God’s holiness.  He would consider God’s strength and wisdom.  He would remember what God had done and meditate on what he knew about God. 

APPLICATION:  The God I serve today is the very same God I read about in Genesis, and in the days of the kings of Israel.  He still performs miracles!  He still displays His wisdom!  I cannot let my troubles, my circumstances, or my failures control my thinking. 

I am not a mind, but I have a mind.  The Bible tells me how to think. (Philippians 4:8)   I should not let my mind wander aimlessly.  (2Corinthians 2:5)   The Holy Spirit lives within me.  He helps me remember that the Heavenly Father loves me.  He brings to my memory what God has already done!  He assures me that God is working through all things for His glory and my good.   He helps me control my thoughts and change my thinking. 

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, I am relying on you to help keep my thoughts focused on my Heavenly Father and what Jesus has done for me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Strong Enough or Long Enough?

April 07, 2021: SOAP #4143:  1Samuel 1-2; Psalm 66; 2Corinthians 7

SCRIPTURE:  1Samuel (NIV) 1:3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. …
6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.
20 So, in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

OBSERVATION: Hannah’s trial went on and on.  It lasted “year after year.”  Only God knows the number of prayers Hannah prayed for a child.  Yet she did not quit.  Where else could she go, but to the Lord?  She endured the provoking of her rival wife.  When Eli, the “man of God,” mistakenly thought she was drunk she refused to take offence.  She accepted the generalized blessing of the mistaken priest as a specific answer to her prayers!  She put off her sad countenance and sorrow and put on a happy face.  She had heard from God.  She would have a child!  

APPLICATION:  Persistence has great value with God.  When I desire something to the point that I refuse to give up, God sees that as faith.  It is tenacious faith.  It refuses to quit.  It refuses to let God go without answering.  It is like Moses going before God on behalf of the Israelites.  He could not visit a supermarket.  He could not order in a week’s supply of food.  Water was not available in personal size plastic bottles.  He had to go before God, and stay before God, until God answered! 

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, you have placed many examples in the scriptures of people who refused to give up.  They held on in prayer until the answer came.  My faith does not have to be so strong, even as a small mustard seed, but it must be long enough to last until the answer comes.  The strength of my faith is not as important as the length of my faith.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

A Living Temple for The Living God!

April 06, 2021: SOAP #4142:  Ruth 3-4; Psalm 64, 65; 2Corinthians 6

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians (NIV) 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” [Ezekiel 27:37]  
17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” [from Isaiah 52:11] 
18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” [Jeremiah 32:9]

OBSERVATION:  Not “we were” not “we will be” but “WE ARE” the temple of the living God.  That is what we are right now!  

The various temples I have visited were built to “showcase” the god to which they were dedicated.  The temples show what the worshippers thought of their god.  They were built to display the god in a favorable way.  They are an exhibit of what they believe the god can do.  Appropriately, they are lifeless exhibits of lifeless gods.  Worshippers often cannot give any explanation of their worship for many are just ceremonies that have long ago lost their meaning.  But they faithfully carry on hoping to appease the god’s anger or to gain some reward. 

Not so with The Lord God Almighty.  He is a living God and requires a living temple! 

APPLICATION:  My life is a temple of THE Living God!  My life should display God in a favorable way.  My worship and service should make God attractive.  My worship is not a lifeless ceremony from the past, but the living out of a current relationship with the King of kings and the Lord of lords!  We are friends!  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I know that you are working for my good, even when you are correcting me.  Lord, I want to live my life for your good.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

The Womb and The World

April 05, 2021: SOAP #4141:  Ruth 1-2; Psalm 53, 61; 2Corinthians 5

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians (NIV) 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

OBSERVATION:  We often think when a person dies their life has been swallowed up by death.  But for the believer, the very opposite is true.  What is mortal (temporary human life subject to death) is swallowed up by life!!!

As we pass through the death experience, we become absent, we leave behind our temporary home, this earthly tent, and move to our permanent home with the Lord.  (2Corinthians 5:8)   Entrance into our heavenly home depends solely on our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as the payment for our sins.  The rewards in heaven will be based on our service to the Lord and to people during our time on earth. 

APPLICATION:  In the Creator’s plan, children are no more meant to live out their lives in their mother’s wombs than adults are meant to live out their lives in this world.  The womb and the world/earth are passageways through which we all must pass. 

Sad to say, some people will not be present to receive any rewards because they missed having faith in Jesus.  They need to pray: 

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins.  I ask you to forgive me and make me clean from all sin.  I make you the Lord of my life.  Set your Holy Spirit to live within me and teach me how to live a life that pleases you.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Let Us Celebrate; He Is Risen!

April 04, 2021: SOAP #4140:  Judges 19-21; 2Corinthians 4 (re-worked from 2010)

SCRIPTURE:  2 Corinthians 4:14   …  we know that the one who (1) raised the Lord Jesus from the dead (2) will also raise us with Jesus and present us (3) with you in his presence.

OBSERVATION: This verse gives three reasons to celebrate.  First:  The treasure we have in these “earthen vessels” (our physical bodies) is the presence of our Risen Savior!  Second: as He is risen, he will raise us from the dead!  Third:  we will be with those we love in His Presence!

APPLICATION: Paul did not expect to be by himself in the presence of the Lord.  He expected his readers to be with him.  Today, as we celebrate with those we love, we will miss some who were with us in earlier years.  But in our sorrow, there is joy.  Soon we will celebrate “with you (them) in his presence.”  What a day that will be!  Soon SOAP readers from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America will celebrate together in the Presence of our Risen Savior. 

PRAYER: Lord, the best thing about birthday parties is being with the person whose birthday we are celebrating.  The best thing about your resurrection celebration today: you are here with us now!  And the best thing about heaven: we will be celebrating the One we love with those we love!  Amen.

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Personal note:  I pray each of you have a wonderful time as you join with others in celebrating the resurrection of our Lord!  And for those who cannot join with others, be assured that you are not alone; our Risen Savior is with you!  🙂

The Same Spirit!

April 03, 2021: SOAP #41389:  Judges 17-18; Psalm 89; 2Corinthians 3

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians 3:3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart….
6  who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life….
8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?…
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

OBSERVATION: This chapter shows that the Christian life cannot be separate from the Spirit of God.  The Spirit of God living in us frees us from the letter of the law.  He causes us to “see” the Lord and then works to transform us into the Lord’s image.  Instead of the fear of punishment, or the reward of obedience found in the law, we live in the freedom of pleasing God because we love Him.  The Holy Spirit is working to make our lives a letter about Jesus that other people can read by hearing our words and watching our actions. 

APPLICATION: As I read the gospels, I see the life of Jesus as He lived in a human body on earth.  The Holy Spirit works through the four pictures of Jesus presented in the four gospels.  He is working to transform me to be like Jesus was on earth.  He is working to transform my character to be His character.  The Holy Spirit is making my life and ministry a continuation of the person and ministry of Jesus.  It is the same Holy Spirit living in me as was in Jesus in the days of the gospels!   What a privilege is mine! 

PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, I pray that it will be easy to work in and through my life.  I want to yield to your leading.  Flow through me, Holy Spirit, flow through me. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

“…in Christ…before God…”

April 02, 2021: SOAP #4138:  Judges 13-16; 2Corinthians 2

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians (NIV) 2:17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

OBSERVATION:  Getting ahead was not the motive for Paul’s ministry.  His desire was to be known as one sent from God.  He saw himself as being “in Christ.” The crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended Jesus was back and living in this world through Paul. 

Pail was moving around in this world “before God.”  Every word Paul spoke was heard by God.  Everything he did was seen by God.  There was nothing hidden from God.  Paul was not drawn to a city by the size of the honorarium he would receive.  His letters were not for sale.  Living “in Christ” and “before God” required sincerity.        

APPLICATION:   I can see myself as living on a stage.  I live out my part in the body of Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, and for the benefit of the audience—God the Father.   Knowing that God the Father is my audience, and He knows me perfectly and understands me completely, makes me want to do everything sincerely.  

I am humbly amazed at how God has arranged for the SOAPs to be provided free.  The internet provides free access to most nations in the world.    

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, my life is an open book before you. I know there are others who watch me, and I understand that I will not be able to please everyone, but my goal is to make you smile.    Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

“…gracious favor…”

April 01, 2021: SOAP #4137:  Judges 11-12; Psalm 50; 2Corinthians 1

SCRIPTURE:  2Corinthians (NIV) 1:9 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:  Paul recognized that the hard trials had a purpose. 
-They were not to cause Paul to rely on his own strength or wisdom.  He did not need some special training to deal with the hardships.
-They were not to teach him how to rely on others.  They were not to give him practice in sending out appeals for help. 
-They were to give him practice in relying on God.  …and not just any god, but THE GOD WHO RAISES THE DEAD!!!  

APPLICATION:  What God has done for me in the past, gives me faith that He will help me in the present and hope of His continued help in the future. 

Like Paul, the Lord brought Sharon and I through a recent time when we had to rely on God.  We could feel being lifted in the prayers of our church family and friends and many SOAP readers.  It was an unexpected blessing received from writing the SOAPs.  Now, some people give “thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, thank you that you are reliable.  I can depend on you!  And thank you for “the prayers of many.”  You granted me “gracious favor” in answer to those prayers.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!