We, who are many, are one!

March 25, 2019: SOAP #3399:  Joshua 21-22; Psalm 47; 1Corinthians 10

Scripture:  1Corinthians (NIV) 10:16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

Observation:  Communion: the universal participatory celebration of the church.  We celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus and the life that we now share. This morning, Sharon and I shared communion with about 100 other believers in a small church in the center of the United States.  Though it was done a little differently, it was the same sacrifice I have celebrated many times.

I remember celebrating communion every Sunday in the chapel at Camp Hansen on Okinawa.  They ministered to me, because each week a different chaplain conducted them in a side chapel.  The difference made each one fresh to me.  The bread and the cup made each one the same.

Application: In today’s communion and Bible reading, the Lord has emphasized the difference and sameness of the many who share these SOAP devotions.  We live in different countries, we speak different languages, we share the same life.  It is the same blood that was shed for our sins.  It is the same Holy Spirit who dwells within.  “We, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf!”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, your family is one, united through the sacrifice of your only begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ.  Your Holy Spirit is the life within each of us directing our energies with the one goal of glorifying you!  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

60 Years

March 24, 2019: SOAP #3398:  Joshua 18-20; 1Corinthians 9

Scripture:  1Corinthians (NIV) 9:7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? … 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? … 13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Observation:   In the Old Testament, the Priests and Levites received their food from the sacrifices that were made at the tabernacle and later in the Temple.  Specific parts of the offerings were designated as belonging to those serving. (Leviticus 7:32-34) The tithes (10%) of their money was to be given in support of the Levites. (Numbers 18:24-28)

In the verses above, Paul shows that the same principle carries over to the New Testament church.  Believers do not bring animal sacrifices as in the Old Testament, but as Old Testament Priests and Levites expected to be fed and supported by the sacrifices, so New Testament preachers/ministers can expect to receive their lively-hood from those to whom they minister.

Application:  Those who claim to be Christians should expect to give money in support of ministers and ministries today.  Tithing (10%) is a good place to start, but the New Testaments highly encourages giving even more.  Believers who do not tithe are missing out on working and living with God as their partner.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you have been faithful in providing for me, my family, and the ministry you have assigned.  60 years of tithing have proved to be the wisest financial investment I could have ever made! Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

The Freedom Door

March 23, 2019: SOAP #3397:  Joshua 15-17; 1Corinthians 8

Scripture:  1Corinthians 8:8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling-block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Observation:    Knowledge had set them free.  They knew that an idol was really nothing but a painted and decorated stick.  Knowing this, they also knew that there was no special power if the meat they were about to eat had been dedicated to that god.  But not everyone had grown in their spiritual walk to have that issue settled in their heart and mind.  Weaker/younger believers had changed their allegiance from the idol-gods to the One True God.  But some still thought the idol-god had some power.  When weaker believers saw a brother eating some meat that had been offered to an idol, they would be offended, or would think that they too could eat meat in honor of the god represented by that idol.  Maybe they thought the blessing of that idol-god would keep them from getting sick if they ate that meat.

Application:  So, what is a person to do?  Remember that the freedom door swings both ways.  We are free to eat, AND we are free not to eat!  Selfishly I may swing freedom’s door to get and/or do what I want!   Lovingly I may swing freedom’s door the other way not to offend my brother.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, if ever there was one who used His freedom to serve others at great cost to Himself, it was your Son, Jesus!  No one forced Him to take my place.  He suffered willingly.  Remind me of His sacrifice for me when I am tempted to run from the opportunity to sacrifice for someone else. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

The Greatest Testimony!

March 22, 2019: SOAP #3396:  Joshua 12-13; 1Corinthians 7

Scripture:  Joshua (NIV) 14: 6 …Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people sink. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’ 10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. … the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.

Observation:  Caleb and Joshua were the two oldest people in the nation of Israel.  Their generation had died in the wilderness during their 40 years of wandering.  It had taken them 5 years to conquer and divide up the promised land.  Now, at age 85, Caleb is still strong and ready for battle.

Application:  It is good to hear testimonies of God’s deliverance from life controlling sins.  We can rejoice in the victories.  But it is even greater to see what God can do with a life that has not been scared by sin—one that has “wholeheartedly followed the LORD!”  Young people need to be told this story!

Prayer:  Lord, fill your church with people who have a testimony like Caleb!  Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

Fighting For Me

March 21, 2019: SOAP #3395:  Joshua 9-11; 1Corinthians 6

Scripture:  Joshua (NIV) 9:1 Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—those in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Great Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)—2 they came together to make war against Joshua and Israel.
Observation:   Israel was doing what God had commanded them to do.  They had victory over Jericho and Gilgal.  But then something happened that they did not expect.  Five kings made an alliance to fight Israel!

Scripture:  Joshua (NIV) 10:13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!
Observation:  Waging war with five kings seemed impossible to them, but it was not their battle!  God was just simplifying things—He was taking care of five kings at once.  God was using His power in support of Israel!

Scripture:  Joshua (NIV) 11:20 For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Observation:  The same God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart did the same to the inhabitants of the Promised Land!  The added challenge was God’s plan!

Application:  With Jesus as my Lord, I need to see Him as the Lord of my circumstances.  When He brings, or allows, increased challenge, I can count on Him to “fight for me.”  Afterall, it is HIS plan!  I can count on Him to use His power in support of me.  Walking in obedience and in His Presence assures victory!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, any challenge I face is not too big for you!  I am going to keep my eyes on you and my ears open to your voice. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity! 

For His Pleasure

March 20, 2019: SOAP #3394 (from #2299): Joshua 7-8; Psalm 69; 1Corinthians 5

Scripture: Psalm (NIV) 69:30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. 32 The poor will see and be glad—you who seek God, may your hearts live!

Observation: Verses that give a way to please God stand out to me. There is so much in this world that causes Him pain, there muse be some people whose highest goal is to Him pleasure. I want to be one of those people.

Even more than doing what was required in the law, the Psalmist realized that God desired a personal relationship with His people. If he was going to really please God, he had to bring something from his heart.

Application: God is blest when I choose to please Him and do what is required. He is even more pleased when I do what is required with a willing heart. And He is even more pleased when I go beyond what is required. How His heart must overflow when He finds someone doing something, not because they have to, and not because they want something from Him, but simply because they want to honor Him and bring Him pleasure. I want to be like the Psalmist and know the heart of God and know what pleases Him!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I was created for your pleasure. May your heart be pleased with what you see in me. Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!

Not dragging my feet

March 19, 2019: SOAP #3393:  Joshua 3-6; 1Corinthians 4

Scripture:  Joshua (NIV) 4:10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the LORD had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the LORD and the priests came to the other side while the people watched.  …
18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran in flood as before.

Observation:   The people had seen the priests step into the waters of the Jordan river.  They had seen the river stop running.  They had seen the dry land appear.  They saw the priests with the ark on their shoulders standing in the middle of the river bed.  Then the writer adds a short descriptive note.  It is not needed to add to the narrative.  If it was not included, any reader would assume that it was true.  “The people hurried over…”  They were not taking a leisurely stroll.  They did not take time to sit in the sun.  They did not build castles in the river-bottom sand.  They were in a hurry.

God had promised this land to the Israelites.  This had been their destination since leaving Egypt.  The river was held back, and they hurried in.

Application:  When God opens a door of opportunity to a vision He has been building in my life, I need to be quick to move through it.   When God arranges an unexpected time together with a person for whom I have been praying, I need to hurry to the opportunity.  I need to walk in faith that God has arranged that opportunity in answer to prayer.  That is not the time to be dragging my feet.

Prayer:   Heavenly Father, when a door of opportunity opens, may I hurry through it, expecting to find you already at work.   Amen

Pastor Leon
Making friends for time and eternity!