Faith Under Fire

Faith Under Fire
From the Oct. 11th reading
Where do you stand when it comes to defending your faith? How would you argue that the resurrection really happened?
READ: Luke 24:36-49
Luke 24:36
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (NIV)
  • “While they were still talking about this…” – they were discussing the empty tomb and the sightings of Jesus
  • “Jesus Himself stood among them…” – Jesus appeared to the disciples and those that were with them in the room with them.
  • He physically appeared – He was not a ghost or a spirit (V. 39)
  • They were frightened (V. 37)
  • “Peace be with you” – a common greeting
  • Then He opened their minds to the prophesies concerning Him – V. 45


  • We can trust in the resurrection
  • We can trust the scriptures and prophecies found there
  • He can open our minds to the meaning of scripture
  • We can have hope because of His resurrection – He is risen!
It has been said by many that Christianity hangs on the credibility of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There have been countless attacks on Christianity by attempting to disprove that the resurrection ever happened. Today Christianity is being tested like never before. Colleges, Universities and entire governments are attacking the Christian faith. Our faith is under fire!
That is why we must be able to defend the resurrection. It is the most foundational belief that we hold. Josh McDowell in his book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, says that without the resurrection “the cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of his career. The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that God had raised Jesus from the dead.”[i] He later quotes Michael Green and points out, “Christianity does not hold the resurrection to be one among many tenets of belief. Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all.”[ii] It is evident that we need to have a solid understanding and belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ if we ever hope to defend our faith. According to 1 Peter 3:15 we are always to be prepared to give an answer for the reason for our hope. If so, then we need to be able to defend the resurrection.
Jesus repeatedly told His disciples of what was going to happen. (See: Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:9; Matt. 17:22-23; Matt. 20:18-19; Matt. 26:32; Mark 9:10; Luke 9:22-27; and John 2:18-22) Jesus knew that His rising from the dead would be scrutinized for centuries to come, and He announced it to His followers as often as possible.
Jesus appeared to the disciples on several occasions after he had risen, and to other groups as well. He appeared to Mary Magdalene and two other women in John 20:10-18. He appeared later to Peter as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:5, and to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12). He appeared to the 10 disciples in the upper room (Luke 24:36-49), and later to all eleven of them (John 20:24-31). There are multiple appearances mentioned in the gospels, but the most compelling of them all is found in 1 Corinthians 15:6, where Paul says, “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” What is important to notice in this verse is that not only were there over 500 witnesses of Jesus resurrected body, but that many of those people were still living at the time that this letter had been written. In other words, Paul was saying “if you don’t believe me just ask them!”
There is also what is called external evidence to the resurrection account. Many earlier historians wrote about the resurrection and gave it some historical validity. Tertullian (c. 160-220) of Carthage, North Africa writes of Christ’s death and ascension. Josephus, a Jewish historian writing at the first century A.D. wrote about Jesus’ death on the cross, and His resurrection in his book Antiquities. Scientists and doctors agree, that there is no way possible for Jesus to have survived the cross, and therefore could not have merely regained consciousness later to roll away an enormous stone from the entrance to His tomb.
The fact is we can prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ both historically and legally. As Wilbur Smith put it: “Let it be said that we know more about the details of the hours immediately before and the actual death of Jesus, in and near Jerusalem, than we know about the death of any other one man in all the ancient world.”[iii] But yet, people attempt to destroy the overwhelming evidence at every turn. Josh McDowell also wrote this profound statement, “When an event takes place in history and there are enough people alive who were eyewitnesses of it or had participated in the event, and when the information is published, one is able to verify the validity of an historical event (circumstantial evidences).”[iv] The evidence is complete and the verdict has been rendered: Jesus is alive!
“The bodily resurrection of Christ is the crowning proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be, God manifested in human flesh. Indeed, the resurrection of Christ in flesh is of such importance to the Christian faith that the New Testament insists that no one can be saved without it (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:1-7).” (Norman Geisler)[v]
If we are to defend our faith, and have a healthy understanding of our Christianity, then we must have a solid understanding of the resurrection. Without it we are lost. Without it, we cannot hope to stand firm under opposition or any kind of persecution for our faith.
Where do you stand when it comes to defending your faith? Are you able to state with confidence why you believe Jesus is your only hope? Or do you struggle with how to answer some of those tough questions? The opposition is only going to get harder and the need to stand up for your faith is becoming more and more necessary. Your faith is truly under fire!
Ask God to give you the confidence to share your hope with others. Then prepare yourself for some of the tough questions by studying His word and many of the books that are available today.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict; Copyright 1999, P. 205
[ii] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict; P. 208
[iii] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict; P. 212
[iv] Josh Mc Dowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict; P. 215
[v] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics; Copyright 1999, P. 651

Stand Your Ground!

Stand Your Ground!
From the Oct. 5th reading
Are you living a life of faith? Do you trust Him for the outcome of your situation? Are you prepared for whatever He has for you next?
READ: Esther 4
Esther 4:14
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (NIV)
  • Haman had sent out a decree approved by King Xerxes to wipe out all of the Jews throughout the entire kingdom
  • Mordecai went to Esther to seek her help
  • She was fearful for her life and the loss of her position
  • God would find a way to rescue the Jews, but not her family if she didn’t act
  • God had lifted Esther to the position of queen for just this occasion.


  • God is sovereign – He plans ahead!
  • He will protect us
  • We just need to be faithful and prepared to stand when it is time

MOTIVATION: There have been several times in my life when I have felt God saying to me, “Just be faithful. Keep your eyes on my Son, and be ready for whatever I call you to do next.” In ministry things are not always very stable. You don’t always know how long you are going to be at a particular church or ministry. Things change, and sometimes they change very rapidly. It can be difficult at times not to worry about tomorrow, especially when you have a young family. But during those times we always sensed God telling us to just be faithful. We didn’t always know where things were heading or where we would end up, but in many cases it was freeing to know that He was in control. Our job was just to be ready for the next chapter!   When I read this passage about Esther I am reminded that God is sovereign – He is in control. Haman was King Xerxes’ right hand man, and he had tricked the king in to signing an edict to wipe out all of Mordecai’s family and the entire Jewish nation. Everything was about to come to a skidding halt for the Nation of Israel with one stroke of the pen. But, God knew that this day was coming. And months or years prior He had placed Esther in the palace to steal the heart of the king. Not just any king, but the king of Babylon – the most powerful man in the world! And I love Mordecai’s words to this young, shy queen, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   How many times has God worked out things, in just the right way and time? God seems to know what He is doing. He appears to have a plan, and He is working out that plan towards His good pleasure.   Our job throughout all of this is to remain faithful, and to always be prepared for what He is going to do next. Here are some passages that illustrate this point:

  • Matthew 24:44 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
  • Titus 3:1 “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
  • 1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness.”
  • Matthew 24:42 “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
  • Mark 13:34 “It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.”
  • Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.”
  • Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
  • Revelation 2:10 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”
Over and over God asks us to do these same things: Be faithful! Be prepared! Be ready! We never know what life has for us just around the corner, but God does. He knows how all of this plays out, and all throughout scripture He instructs His followers to remain faithful, and to be prepared.
Are you living a life of faith? Do you trust Him for the outcome of your situation? Are you prepared for whatever He has for you next? Because if you are, He will show up, and He will see you through. But don’t be surprised if it turns out to be a great adventure along the way!
Ask God to show you how to be faithful, not to show you how it is all going to turn out. Ask Him to help you to be prepared for whatever He has in store for you.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

From Ordinary to Extraordinary
From the Sept. 27th reading
What is God asking you to do as an ordinary believer?
READ: Luke 10:1-24
Luke 10:21
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (NIV)
  • When the 72 returned with their excited reports of what ministry they had accomplished (v. 17) it brought Him great joy!
  • Jesus praised the Father because of what He had chosen to do.
  • God uses the children, the weak to accomplish great things


  • God wants to use people like us to accomplish great things
  • God doesn’t usually choose politicians or powerful people to accomplish great things – He uses the ordinary (See Judges, Esther, the 12 Apostles, etc.)
  • God wants to use us!
I remember this particular Christmas in our family. I was sixteen, and I had saved up some money for Christmas from a part time job washing dishes. My stepdad had become my “dad” over the last several years, and I wanted to do something special for him. So I went out and bought him this really nice charcoal Weber grill. It was the best one on the market at the time. It was in this huge box, and I wrapped it as carefully as I could. I put it under the tree and I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning, and for him to open it. It finally came and I stood there with my camera in hand, and a huge grin on my face. He seemed really surprised to find his name on the package, and especially perplexed that it was from me. My mom explained to him that I had bought it with my own money. He quickly unwrapped it, and the moment he saw the picture on the box his face lit up! I was so proud at that moment. The look of pure joy on his face was priceless.
When I read this story of the 72 being sent out to preach the gospel, and to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus to come into these towns several things jump out at me. One of the things that comes to my attention is found in verse 2 where it says, “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Notice that it is “laborers”, not spectators, who are to pray for more laborers! Too many of us are praying for somebody else to do the job that we are unwilling to do ourselves.
Another thing that I notice in this passage is that Jesus chose 72 ordinary men. Even though the word used here is the same word for “apostles”, does not mean that they were Apostles. It merely means that they were “sent with a commission”. Jesus didn’t choose religious leaders or men of influence to go and perform great acts of service. He chose ordinary men like us to go and do some amazing things for His Kingdom!
One commentary said this about the 72: “The people who were following Jesus were not the important people of the nation; they were not considered the wise and learned. They had become like little children to enter into the kingdom, and thus they knew the Son and the Father. The disciples were living in an opportune day which many Old Testament prophets and kings longed to see—the day of the Messiah.”[i] God used new believers who were still brand new in their faith, and showed them things that people had longed to see and do for many generations.
And lastly, what I notice in this passage is something that I never really noticed before. It is found in verse 21, “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit…” What brought Jesus such great joy? It was seeing these young men come back from completing a mission that He had sent them on, and to witness their excitement and jubilation at what the Spirit had done through them. That is what made me think of the look on my step-father’s face when he opened that gift on Christmas morning. That is how I picture how Jesus must have looked when he heard these men tell their stories, and the pride that He felt towards them. He was full of joy!
I don’t know about you but I love it when I put a smile on someone’s face. Especially if it is someone that I look up to and respect. When I see that look of pride and joy on their face because of something that I did, well let’s just say that it pretty much makes my day. And that is how I picture this event that we read about in this passage.
When I read about these men and what they accomplished it spurs me on to want to do great things for my Savior. I want to be the one to put a smile of joy on His face. I want to be a part of that team that comes back excited and jubilant about what we had just seen the Lord do through us!
I have tasted some of this before. I have witnessed God do amazing things through a team of ordinary men and women. I have heard their retelling of the stories, and have seen the utter joy and amazement on their faces.
The good news is that Jesus is still in the business of using people like us. His strategy has not changed over the years. He is still looking for ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We just need to stand up and say, “Send me Lord Jesus!”
What is God asking you to do as an ordinary believer? What is He asking us to do as a group or as a church? What task does He have in store for us, which is bigger than we are, but He has prepared us to do?
Father, send out more workers for your harvest is ready!
Ask God to show you what special task has he laid out for you. Or what team does He want you to join in order to accomplish His plan?
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 233). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home
From the Sept. 16th reading
How have you begun your eternity? Have you made your reservations?
READ: Revelation 21
Revelation 21:2
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (NIV)
  • New Heaven and New Earth
    • No oceans (V. 1)
    • No sun, moon or stars (V. 23)
  • The Holy City of Jerusalem – the wife of the Lamb (21:9)
  • The city will shine with the glory of God (V. 11)
  • A great wall with twelve gates will surround it.
    • 12 angels at the gates (3 at each gate)
    • 12 gates = 12 tribes of Israel
    • 12 foundations = 12 Apostles
    • 144 cubits thick or high = 216 ft.
    • Foundation made of precious stones
    • Wall made of jasper or possibly diamond (unknown in 1st century)
    • 12 gates = giant single pearls
  • The City
    • Streets of pure gold (transparent glass)
    • No temple in the city
    • 1,400 mile cube or pyramid form
    • Both Israel and the church will be in the city
    • The glory of the Lord is its light and the Lamb is the lamp
    • The Throne of God will be there
    • River and water of life will flow from under the throne
    • The Tree of Life with 12 fruits along the river
    • Its gates will never shut
    • No night there
    • Nothing impure will ever enter it
    • Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life may enter
    • His name will be on their foreheads


  • We have something magnificent to look forward to.
  • This will be our new home forever.
  • We will live in His presence forever
  • No more suffering. No More shame
  • Don’t get too attached to this world!
When I read Revelation chapter 21 I am amazed at the beauty and the magnitude of this New Jerusalem. First off, remember that his is after the Millennium, Christ’s 1000-year reign on the earth. The earth and universe as we know it will be gone, and will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. Heaven here, is referring to space or the atmosphere. God will reside in the New Jerusalem along with Christ. Their thrones will be in the middle of this great city.
The symbolism that John uses to describe this new city is incredible. He attempts to describe it to us in the best terms possible. Imagine for a moment a city that is 1,400 miles square and 1,400 miles high. To help us understand the distance of 1,400 miles let me use existing land marks. This city would from San Diego, Ca. to Dallas, Tx. And from San Diego to Seattle, Wa. That is massive! We don’t know if it is shaped like a cube or a pyramid. Many scholars believe that it will be shaped like a pyramid. Either way this city will be enormous!
This great city will be the dwelling place for the Old Testament Saints and the believers of the church (the bride of Christ). Only those whose names are written in the Lambs Book of Life may enter. There will be no more death, no more mourning, and no more sin or shame!
What does this mean for us? What can we take away from this? First, I would encourage you to not to get too attached to this world that we are living in today. It is temporary, just like everything else around us. We tend to get so wrapped in what is now, but the reality is it won’t be here in the future. We think that this is all there is. When in reality this is only a shadow of what is to come. So don’t hold on too tight!
Eternity began for you and me the day that we placed our faith in Jesus. It doesn’t start in Revelation 21. It has already begun. Sometimes we think that eternity doesn’t begin until we die. When in reality death is merely us falling asleep here, and then waking up in His presence. Our time here on this particular globe is temporary.
So how have you begun your eternity? Are you ready to be in His light? Your room has been reserved. He is preparing it even now, and it has your name on it. The question is are you ready for it? Let’s worship Him with everything we have now. Let’s serve Him with all our hearts now, because eternity has begun!
Ask God to change your perspective from the temporary to the eternal. Ask Him to get your mind right today, and not wait until then.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at

Taking a Stand

Taking a Stand
From the Sept. 11th reading
Can God count on you to be faithful even when no one is looking?
READ: Daniel 1:8-17
Daniel 1:17
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. (NIV)
  • God gave these men special understanding – He blessed them
  • He gave Daniel the ability to understand visions and dreams
  • He had given Joseph this same ability (Gen. 41)
  • God blessed Daniel and the others by giving them authority in this foreign land
  • Daniel gave all the glory and credit to God


  • God is able to give special abilities to whomever He chooses
  • When we use our gifts we are to give Him all the glory and credit
  • God will bless us when we are obedient
  • They were faithful in the small things (their diet) and God blessed them with more. (Mt. 25)
Several years ago there was a pastor that was out of town for a conference. He was far from home and far from the eyes and ears of his community and church. He was all alone, and lonely as he stayed by himself in this nice hotel. One evening on his way back up to his room he stepped into an elevator. At the next floor two beautiful young women got on the elevator as well. They struck up a conversation, and before they got off for their floor they asked him if he would like to join them in their room for a few drinks. He blushed, and was a little surprised that these young ladies would be interested in a middle aged man such as himself. But he quickly declined and thanked them anyway. He pushed the button for his floor and proceeded to his room alone. After using his key card, he went to the phone and quickly called his wife to tell her that he was thinking of her, and that he loved her and the kids. That man later came to be known through radio and television as the great preacher Chuck Swindoll.
We hear the phrase all the time, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. But does it really? How many marriages and reputations have been ruined forever by this mindset. How often do men and women throw their moral compass out the window because no one is around to witness what they are doing?
Daniel and his friends were in a similar situation. They could have said “Hey, what happens in Babylon, stays in Babylon!”. But they didn’t. They remained true to their convictions and to the Law of God. They could have easily blended in with the other men that were being trained in the King’s court, but they chose to obey in a very small way – their diet.
Daniel’s desire was to please God in all that he did. He was so resolved to be obedient that even though he was not in his own land he would consider himself under the law. And because he chose to be faithful in the smallest of things God blessed him with even greater things.
One commentary said, “Daniel had trusted his situation to God who intervened on Daniel’s behalf to move the official’s heart to show favor (ḥeseḏ, “loyal love”) and sympathy (raḥămîm, “compassion”) to Daniel.” [i] Because Daniel was faithful God moved in the heart of the guard to have sympathy on them, and to even be loyal towards him and his friends.
Later we see in verses 19-20 that “The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” Imagine that! The kingdom of Babylon was the largest and most powerful in the history of mankind, and Daniel and his group of men were the wisest in all the land.
The author goes on to say, “Daniel’s ministry in the royal court of Babylon continued until the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire by Cyrus in 539 B.C. God had said, “Those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). Daniel determined to honor God even though he was living where people did not have the high standards God demanded. And God honored Daniel’s obedience to the Law and promoted him in the king’s court.” [ii] Nebuchadnezzar depended on Daniel to interpret a number of dreams over the years. Daniel’s influence over him finally paid off. In Daniel chapter four we see the king returning from a period of insanity, and he confessed these words, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praise the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever.” (Daniel 4:34a)
Imagine how this simple act of obedience elevated Daniel to such a position of influence that the King of Babylon was able to praise the Most High God! Nebuchadnezzar was the pagan of all pagans. He was responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands. And because of God’s blessing in Daniel’s life, we find this evil king praising the God of the Universe!
God still desires to use faithful men and women today. We still live in a sin sick world and God still needs heroes of the faith. He still needs men and women who will stand and be counted as faithful. Even when no one is looking.
What about you? Can God count on you to be faithful in the small things? If we will, He will bless us and we will find ourselves doing things that we never imagined possible.
Ask God where He would like you to be faithful? What is it that God is calling you to do? Where do you need to take a stand?
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Pentecost, J. D. (1985). Daniel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1331). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[ii] Pentecost, J. D. (1985). Daniel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1332). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

When God Spanks Us

When God Spanks Us
From the September 5th reading
Has God ever taken you behind the wood shed? Is His discipline really for our good?
READ: Ezekiel 28:24-26
Ezekiel 28:24
‘No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD. (NIV)
  • God used the Assyrians and the Babylonians to remove all of Israel’s enemies and warring neighbors
  • While punishing Israel He was also setting the way for their return
  • They could return in peace


  • We can trust God and His justice
  • Even when we are disciplined He is thinking and planning for our good.
  • God is sovereign and always finds a way to bring about His will (the removal of all the ungodly from the Promise Land)
The nation of Israel had failed from its earliest beginnings. God had sent them into the Promise Land and had commanded them to subdue it. They were to remove all of the foreign nations from the land so that they would never be a stumbling block to this young nation. But, they had failed, and these uncircumcised nations would remain to be a constant temptation to them. Eventually Israel did fall to their ways of life and worship, and began to commit idolatry towards their false gods. As punishment for their idolatry and rebellion against Him, God used Assyria and later Babylon to remove the Israelites from the land. But what is so interesting about all of this is that after God had finished disciplining His chosen nation, He turned His attention to the surrounding nations. All of the nations that Israel had failed to remove and committed adultery with (see Isaiah and Jeremiah), God would now use Babylon to remove them from the face of the earth. God would pave the way for Israel to eventually return to the land in peace.
The message found in this historical event is that even though God was punishing the nation of Israel He still had a plan for their redemption. He never gave up on them. In fact, in His Sovereignty He had a divine plan for them all along. He knew from the beginning that they would rebel as a nation, and He knew that they would never truly repent. He knew and planned for their punishment by establishing and drawing these two northern kingdoms to take them into exile. And He used these foreigners to clear the way for Israel’s eventual return.
God does the same in our own lives. We rebel again and again, and God has to discipline us one way or another. Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” God many times has to take us behind the proverbial wood shed to spank us. But know this – God does it because He is a loving Father, and because He has a plan to redeem us.
Ezekiel 28:26 says, “They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.’” After disciplining Israel for her countless years of rebellion He would return a remnant to the land in safety. They would return to find all of their malicious neighbors gone. They would live for many years in peace so that they could rebuild their land and even their temple.
One commentary said, “Restored to her land, Israel will enjoy God’s blessings, including safety and prosperity. This promise, made through Ezekiel, has never been literally fulfilled; it awaits fulfillment in the millennial kingdom.”[i] In other words there are parts of this promise that are yet to be fulfilled. The nation of Israel has repeatedly rebelled against God, ultimately in their refusal to accept their promised Messiah. The fulfillment of their true redemption is yet to be realized in His Second Coming and during the Millennium.
But what was true for the nation of Israel is true for us today. God still disciplines His followers, and uses events and situations to bring us back into His grace. But even during these difficult times He has a plan.
Whatever your situation know that God always has a plan. He is always working together things for our good, for those that love Him. Hebrews 12:10 says, “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
God always has a plan, and even during our times of rebellion we can not stop its eventuality. God will bring about His will and His glory no matter what. The cool thing is that He is always working in our lives and He never gives up on us! So don’t you ever give up on Him!
Pray that God will work out your circumstances for His good. Pray that He will use difficulties and even times of discipline to draw you closer to Him and to be more like Christ.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Dyer, C. H. (1985). Ezekiel. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 1284–1285). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


From the Aug. 28th reading
Have you lost that “in love” feeling?
READ: Revelation 2:1-6
Revelation 2:4
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. (NIV)
  • To the church in Ephesus (V. 2) – this is the Church that Paul started 43 years prior
  • Jesus commended the church in vs. 2
  • They worked hard and they persevered
  • They did not tolerate wicked men or false teaching
  • They had endured hardship
  • But they had forsaken their first love (forsaken = abandoned, deserted)
  • Vs. 5 – “Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first.”
  • They were busy doing things but they had forgotten their devotion to Him.


  • Doing for the Lord is important
  • Standing firm against false teaching is a must
  • But if we do not seek Him and lay at His feet it will not mean anything
  • Don’t be a “Martha” (see Luke 10:38-42)
  • He desires our heart and our devotion
Remember being a Newlywed? Or have you seen a Newlywed couple? That first year of marriage is wonderful. You can’t get enough of one another! You can’t spend enough time with the other person, and nothing they do seems to bother you. But, over time little things start to creep into your marriage. Kids, life, work, and even ministry. And before you know it, that “In Love” feeling seems to have disappeared. Where did it all go? And you begin to miss it. You begin to wonder did I make the right choice; did we make a mistake? Just know that God didn’t design it this way, and with some work and with the work of the Holy Spirit in your life you can have that spark back in your marriage. I know, because after almost 35 years we have it in ours. It hasn’t always been there, and sometimes life gets in the way, but we still love to hold hands and to gross out our children in the middle of the kitchen (kissing – just to clarify)!
That is exactly what John is writing about here in the beginning chapters of Revelation. Jesus instructed John to send the church in Ephesus a message. Jesus Himself commended them for their hard work and for their devotion to correct doctrine. Warren Wiersbe describes the church in Ephesus this way: It was also a sacrificing church, for the word labor means “toil to the point of exhaustion.” The Ephesian Christians paid a price to serve the Lord. They were a steadfast assembly, for the word patience carries the meaning of “endurance under trial.” They kept going when the going was tough.[i] This fledgling church had toiled and continued its faithful service to God for more than 40 years. But as we will see that wasn’t enough. Not even close.
This busy, sacrificing church really suffered from “heart trouble” – they had abandoned their first love! They were doing and saying all of the right things but they were not motivated out of love for Christ. One author explained it this way, “Most of the Ephesian Christians were now second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ.”[ii] They had forgotten their first love.
What is “first love”? Wiersbe says that “It is the devotion to Christ that so often characterizes the new believer: fervent, personal, uninhibited, excited, and openly displayed. It is the “honeymoon love” of the husband and wife (Jer. 2:1–2). While it is true that mature married love deepens and grows richer, it is also true that it should never lose the excitement and wonder of those “honeymoon days.” When a husband and wife begin to take each other for granted, and life becomes routine, then the marriage is in danger.”[iii] Is it any wonder that scripture likens our relationship with Christ to that of a marriage!
How the church today needs to heed this same warning, that devotion to doctrine and service are not enough. Jesus wants our hearts as well as our hands and our heads. And the only way that I know to restore that “first love” for Christ is to spend time with Him. To read His Word, and to spend time talking with Him. For the last two years I have used the Life Journal to help me to restore my “first love”. If you aren’t already doing it, I challenge you to do the same.
Pray a prayer of repentance. Ask God to forgive you for losing your “first love”. Then ask Him to restore that in your life. Ask Him to give you the desire and the determination to spend time with Him.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 571). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[ii] Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 933–934). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[iii] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 572). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love
From the Aug. 22nd reading
How are you at loving your brother?
READ: 1 John 3:16-18
1 John 3:17
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (NIV)
  • “Has material possessions” – has more than they need
  • “Sees his brother” – Christian brother or sister
  • “But has no pity on them” – doesn’t help them out of Christian love
  • Pity – “a deep seated emotional concern or sympathy”
  • How can the love of God be in him? – Are they truly saved?



  • If we have the means, we should help our brothers and sisters in Christ
  • If we don’t then where is the proof of our salvation?
There was a family at our church in Alpine whose husband had passed away. This particular man was a hoarder. I had never met a hoarder before. There were piles everywhere! There were shelves with four toasters, and six stereos, and multiples of everything stacked on top of one another. Out back there was one of those big metal shipping containers. It was chalked full of stuff – floor to ceiling. The wife and daughter were overwhelmed with what to do with all of this stuff. We scheduled a work day to go over to help the family. When I got there I was shocked by the number of people from the church that were there to help. There were teams of people everywhere. One of the men from the church brought a dump truck from his business, and we loaded truck load after truck load of junk and took it to the dump. It took a couple of weeks, but they got it done. This was a true demonstration of love and devotion to one of our own.
This is how we recognize a loving church. This is how brothers and sisters in Christ should be towards one another. When we see a need we step in, we fill the gap, we roll up our sleeves and get dirty for one another.
In verse 16, John tells us, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Every Christian knows John 3:16, but not every Christian is living out 1 John 3:16. We see needs all around us, and many times we set aside our responsibility, and simply allow the state to handle it. With so many government agencies available today, we tend to ignore the mandate found here for us as believers.
Warren Wiersbe says in one of his books, “Christian love involves sacrifice and service. Christ did not simply talk about His love; He died to prove it.” He goes on to say, “But God does not ask us to lay down our lives. He simply asks us to help a brother in need.[i] It is easy to talk about helping a brother in need, but it is another thing to actually do something.
Another author said it this way, “The true test of love is not one’s verbal profession of it (loving with words or tongue) but his willingness to help and thus to love … with actions and in truth.”[ii] In a church our size there are plenty of opportunities to share our love, and to help one another. We currently have a young family that desperately needs an extra car so that the wife and kids aren’t trapped at home without a vehicle while dad is at work. We have an older gentleman who is at the stage of life where driving himself to doctors appointments is becoming more and more precarious. We have elderly widows who sit at home staring at the same four walls day after day hoping that someone will call or visit.
The needs can be overwhelming, and sometimes just communicating those needs takes organization and planning. We are all busy and have places to be and things to do. But when do we take the opportunity to love as Jesus loved? Being a part of a family takes time and initiative, and yes even sacrifice.
I have witnessed many men and women step up to help one another in many ways here at our church. But the needs don’t stop, and there is plenty to go around. Help isn’t always about money or things, sometimes it is just a listening ear or knocking down some weeds. Help your church wherever you may be attending to live out this mandate. Help us to be the church that we were called to be.
Ask God to show you the needs that are around you, and how you can be a part of the solution.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 511). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[ii] Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 897). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

One Church

One Church
From the Aug. 17th reading
Whose kingdom are we building anyway?
READ: John 17:20-23
John 17:20-21a
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one” (NIV)
  • He wasn’t just praying for His disciples
  • He was praying for us – those who would believe through their message.
  • “That all of them may be one.” (Vs. 21)


  • Jesus knew that we would follow
  • We need to be as one in our church
  • Our churches should work as one
  • No more competition!
  • We should work together for His Kingdom!
Just recently I met with some pastors in our area to talk about our upcoming event Praise in the Park. It was so refreshing to sit and talk and pray together. We are from four churches all within a few miles of each other and we weren’t concerned about competition or stealing members from one another’s church. We did discuss possible trades and future draft picks though! While praying one of the pastors prayed that this event was not about building our kingdoms, but about building His Kingdom. When this was said there was a resounding “Amen!”. We were all in agreement.
You see this was Jesus’ prayer. Not that we would all be uniform or that we would all be indoctrinated into one institutional church. But that we would love one another! Jesus’ desire was, and still is, for us to work together for one purpose – TO MAKE DISCIPLES!
One author says it this way: Jesus requested unity for future believers (cf. vv. 11, 22). This verse is a favorite of promoters of the present ecumenical movement. Admittedly the divided church is in many ways a scandal. The cure, however, is not institutional union. Jesus was not praying for the unity of a single, worldwide, ecumenical church in which doctrinal heresy would be maintained along with orthodoxy.[i]
Jesus also wasn’t talking about a concept that is found today called Universalism. Universalism is focused around the idea of universal reconciliation. Also known as universal salvation, it is a doctrine stating that every human soul will ultimately be reconciled to God because of divine love and mercy. [ii] Scripture clearly teaches that it is by faith alone that we are saved and can have any hope of a relationship with God. So when it comes to working with other churches we need to be careful who we join up with doctrinally, but it does not mean we are to build a wall around ourselves either.
Unfortunately, many churches take this to mean that they aren’t to team up with any other denomination but theirs. This kind of feeling or practice isn’t anything knew. In fact, there was disunity found among Jesus’ disciples. Warren Wiersbe gives us a glimpse: “The disciples had often exhibited a spirit of selfishness, competition, and disunity; and this must have broken the Saviour’s heart. I wonder how He feels when He sees the condition of the church today!”[iii] It is sad when we consider all that Jesus must have intended for us when He prayed this prayer, and then we see what we have today.
We need to find more ways to combine our forces to break into the enemy’s line of defense. To steal away those that are broken and enslaved in this sin sick world. We need to join hands and find ways to worship together as One voice and One church. Where people can witness our love for one another, and our love for our Savior!
Ask God to show you where you have become prejudice against other like-minded churches? Have you been guilty of being critical towards other churches or pastors? If so ask for forgiveness. Find ways to encourage others from other churches.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
Event: Praise in the Park. September 15th at Memory Park in Chino Valley, AZ. For more information go to
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 333). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[ii] Wikipedia – Universalism
[iii] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 371). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The People Pleaser

The People Pleaser
From the Aug. 10th reading
Where in your life have you placed the approval of men over the pleasing of God?
READ: 12:37-43
John 12:42-43
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (NIV)
  • Many of the Jewish leaders believed in Him – community leaders
  • Because of fear they would not confess their faith
  • They loved the praise of men far too much


  • We should not allow fear to hold us back from proclaiming our faith
  • We should not desire praise from men
  • We should only seek to please God
  • Don’t be a people pleaser
I remember as a young man wanting so much to impress my friends and being so worried about what they thought about me. I was so concerned about what they thought about me that I did and said things that I wouldn’t have normally done. I remember one day we were all at the beach in San Diego. It was a great day! We had spent the morning snorkeling and exploring under the waters of La Jolla. Afterwards we saw some other people near us cliff jumping. Us four guys were standing there egging one another on to jump off this 30-foot cliff called “the Clam”. They were all in front of me looking over the edge, and with their attention drawn away I took off my shirt and shoes and then proceeded to run and jump off of the cliff. My very first thought was, “What in the world did I just do?”. After falling for what seemed like forever, I finally hit the water. It was exhilarating, but totally out of character for me. After climbing back up the cliff they were all commenting that they couldn’t believe what I had just done. Neither could I!
It is amazing the things we will do to impress others or to get others to like us. For many of us we think that this is a thing of the past; only young people do that. But the reality is, many of us are still guilty of wanting others to notice us or even to praise our accomplishments.
In this passage we can see that this is not a new problem. These community leaders who had placed their faith in Jesus were more concerned about their reputation and their success, then they were of what God thought of them.
Warren Wiersbe addressed this passage in his commentary. He said, “In the early church, there were numbers of Pharisees (Acts 15:5) and even priests who believed(Acts 6:7). It was the old struggle between the glory of God and the praise of men (John 12:25–26). It was a costly thing to be excommunicated (John 9:22), and these “secret believers” wanted the best of both worlds.”[i]
We are guilty of wanting the best of both worlds. We want what this world has to offer and what heaven offers. We want to hear and feel that God is pleased, but boy it sure feels good when someone credits us for a job well done. But what happens when no one notices or when they do notice they scoff or call us a religious nut?
In Romans 10, Paul tells his readers, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” (Rom. 10:9-11)[ii]
Where in your life have you placed the approval of men over the pleasing of God? It is a struggle that we all face. Do I openly declare my faith in Jesus or do I keep my mouth shut?
One of my hearts desires is to one day hear my Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. I am proud of you.” This should be your desire as well. Strive to follow Him boldly wherever He may lead, and don’t worry about what others might say. After all, it really doesn’t matter in the end.
Ask God to show you where you have fallen short when it comes to seeking others approval. Ask Him to give you the courage to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and Him alone.
Each week’s Monday Motivation is taken from the reading schedule found in the Life Journal. If you are ready for the next step in your discipleship, then order yours today or see me for a copy.
If you would like help in growing in your faith, or if you would like to know how to have faith in Him, then please contact us at (928)636-2949 or email me at
[i] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 343). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[ii] The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 10:9–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.