About SOAPs by Leon

At the end of my first year in Bible College, the Lord sent me into the US Navy. It was at a serviceman's center in San Diego where I met and married Sharon. During the final years of the ten years I spent in the US Navy, most with the US Marine Corps as a hospital corpsman, I became the pastor of Bayview Chapel A/G in Kaneohe, Hawaii. After 17 years, the Lord sent us back to my birth state, Kansas, where we were pastors of Andover Assembly of God for 20 years. In retirement, the Lord has given me two assignments: first is to write these daily devotions. You are being allowed to eves drop in on what He is saying to me. You will notice the applications are usually in the first person. The second assignment is to drive a school bus. What a privilege to serve others in this practical way and to interact with people outside the church environment. My heart smiles as I continue to joyfully serve my God and others. :) A third assignment from the Kansas Assemblies of God is to be the ministry coordinator for the Kansas Senior Adult Ministries. My wife, Sharon and myself enjoy traveling around the state of Kansas, visiting the churches and encouraging ministry to senior adults and the ministries of senior adults.

The Law that Gives Freedom

July 18, 2018: SOAP #3149: Isaiah 32-35; James 2

Scripture:  James (NIV) 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Observation:  Interesting!  A law that brings freedom!  The emphasis of the Law, through the Ten Commandments is to define sin.  And since we have all sinned, the law brings condemnation.  But it is good to acknowledge that the same law that defined and judged sin also mercifully provided a way to be forgiven.  The law graciously accepted animal sacrifices in Old Testament days, looking forward to the perfect sacrifice.  It was in keeping the law that Jesus demonstrated the greatest action of love and mercy ever seen.   He lived without breaking the law, then died as though He had broken the law.  He did it as the necessary payment for those who had broken the law.

Application:  In perfectly keeping the law, Jesus set me free!!!  In breaking the law, I reap the wages of sin—death.  In keeping the law, including the sacrifice demanded for sin, Jesus provided me freedom from the penalty of sin.  With my sins covered by the sinless blood of Jesus, I am justified—made just as if I had never sinned!   I receive mercy!  I am free from the penalty of the law!  The law that once condemned me, now brings me freedom!

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, help me to “speak and act” as one who generously gives mercy because I have received mercy in abundance.  Jesus provided me enough mercy to cover all my sins, and even more so that I can be merciful to all around me.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Important to Him!

July 17, 2018: SOAP #3148: Isaiah 29-31; James 1

Scripture:  James (NIV) 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Observation:  If I want to please my wife, I need to know what she thinks and likes.  And If I want to please God, I need to know what God thinks and likes.  In this passage, we see something that is very important to Him.

Application:  How we treat those who are dependent on others for their livelihood (like orphans and widows in their distress) is important to God.  This verse tells me that I need to know those I am helping—know them well enough to help them personally and appropriately.  If “their distress” is hunger, I should feed them.  If “their distress” is clothing, I should cloth them.  If “their distress” is loneliness, I should visit them and spend time with them.  Some “distresses” can be helped with money, but all need personal involvement.

AND there is more.  Pleasing God means that I “keep myself from being polluted by the world.”  How I think, speak, and act is also very important to God!  It is too easy to pick up the world’s attitudes.  Those attitudes are like the “hitchhiker” stickers that stick to my clothes when walking through a field of weeds.  Afterwards I must sit down and carefully pick them off one at a time.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, pleasing you is my daily goal.  Holy Spirit help me bring a smile to my Father’s face.  Help me bring joy to His heart.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

The Differences!

July 16, 2018: SOAP #3147: Isaiah 25-28; Hebrews 13

Scripture:  Isaiah (NIV) 28:24 When a farmer ploughs for planting, does he plough continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? 25 When he has levelled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? 26 His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.
27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread; so, one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing-cart over it, his horses do not grind it. 29 All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.

Observation:   God in His Wisdom made the seeds different and, in His Wisdom, teaches the farmer how to properly harvest the seeds.  Applying the differences insures a successful harvest.

Application:  The Same God who gives the farmer wisdom in harvesting the various types of seed can give us wisdom for the hearts of people.  Knowing what worked to reach one group of people, does not always work with another group.  We need to spend time with the Lord of the Harvest for His wise counsel.  He is “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.”  What worked in one city or village, may not be the key in another location.

The Lord is teaching me that ministering to senior citizens is much different from ministering to the youth.  We need to ask God for specific keys for the hearts of our families and those to which he sends us.

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, you are “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.”   Teach me, and those reading these SOAPs, how to specifically reach the individuals, and families, and nations to whom you have sent us.  Give us the key for each heart, we pray.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

No One Escapes

July 15, 2018: SOAP #3146: Isaiah 22-24; Hebrews 12

Scripture:  Isaiah (NIV) 24:1 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—2 it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor…. 17 Terror and pit and snare await you, O people of the earth. 18 Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. The floodgates of the heavens are opened, the foundations of the earth shake. 19 The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. 20 The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again.

Observation:   There are many things in life that separate people into different groups.  Sex, nationalities, skin color, language, wealth, education…  Some people live in huge gated homes, others live on the streets.  So many differences, yet we all live on the same earth.  What happens to the earth happens to all of us.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes—no one escapes.  Disasters that come from nature do not check to which group we belong.  And so, eternity awaits all.  As Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after death, the judgment.”   No one escapes.

Application:  The holy nature of God, the Judge, demands that sin be punished.  But the loving nature of God, the Heavenly Father, demanded that a way of escape be made for those who trust Him.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you for your love for me and your wisdom to provide a way for me to share eternity in your heaven!  Thank you for your Son, Jesus who died for me and rose again.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit who is helping me to grasp the wonder of your perfect holiness, your immeasurable love and your great wisdom Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Faith

July 14, 2018: SOAP #3145: Isaiah 19-21; Hebrews 11

Scripture:  Hebrews (NIV) 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

Observation:  All the people mentioned in this eleventh chapter of Hebrews had one thing in common—they had faith.  Yet each one mentioned in the chapter did something different.  Their actions were based on something they accepted as truth even though it was unseen and unprovable.

Application:  Faith is a common and normal part of our everyday life.  I accept someone’s word and adjust my actions accordingly even though I cannot prove that they will keep their promise.  I order food at a restaurant and eat it with faith that those I could not see have prepared it properly.   I drive at 65 miles an hour down a two-lane road with faith that the cars coming toward me will remain in their lane.  That is faith!

If I can have faith in people, how much more should I have faith in God!  If I trust the word of man, how much more should I trust the Word of God!  But God has an enemy, satan, who sows doubting thoughts in my mind.  He makes doubt seem so logical that it appears I have no choice but to believe what he says.  But, in reality, I do have a choice!  I can choose to believe God and His Word!

Prayer:   Holy Spirit, God has an enemy, but I have YOU!  Keep whispering truth into my mind.  Keep planting truth in my thoughts.  Keep pointing me in the right direction.  Keep reminding me of what I have been reading in God’s Word!  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Repeated again and again vs. Once for all time

July 13, 2018: SOAP #3144: Isaiah 15-18; Hebrews 10

Scripture:  Hebrews (NIV) 10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming— not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices REPEATED ENDLESSLY YEAR AFTER YEAR, make perfect those who draw near to worship…3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; AGAIN, AND AGAIN he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered FOR ALL TIME ONE SACRIFICE for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

Observation:  Reading through the book of Hebrews thrills me as I consider the great work of Jesus on the cross.   In one mighty act, Jesus showed the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God, the cruelty of man and the Love of God.  Having been tempted and tested in every way as man, he died as a sinless man—the only man who did not deserve to die.  Truly He died for the sins of others—for my sins.

Application:  Today we can rejoice in the cross.  We can glory in the cross because, as He declared on the cross, “It is finished!”   He does not need to suffer and die again.  His sacrifice of himself was sufficient to cover the sins of “for all time.”

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, how proud you must be of your Son.  How thankful I am for my Lord.  Holy Spirit, help me to live in a way that expressed my thanks and honors Him.  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Forgiven & Forgiving

July 12, 2018: SOAP #3143: Isaiah 11-14; Hebrews 9

Scripture:  Hebrews (NIV) 9:13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Observation:  I have read about people who have been involved in a very repulsive action have an inner drive to wash themselves, and wash themselves, and wash themselves again.  There is a strong desire to wash away the terribleness of the incident.  The incident made them feel dirty, but soap and water cannot wash that dirt away.  They need a cleansing on the inside.  The Old Testament law with the sacrifice of animals offered a “soap and water” type of cleansing.  Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse our conscience on the inside.

Application:  When by faith I ask the Lord to cleanse me from my sin and the sins against me—to cleanse me by His blood poured out for me on the cross—it is then I am truly set free.  I am free from the bondage of guilt.

His death is the payment for the sins of the whole world.  That means He can forgive all my sins…AND all the sins against me!  That is an amazing truth that enables me to forgive others.  Because of His death, God forgives me, and because of that same sacrifice, I can forgive others.  His death is sufficient to pay for all my sins against God and all the sins of others against me.

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, what a freedom you purchased for me!  It is a freedom you give me when I reach out in faith, confess my sins and make you the Lord of my life.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!