Moses Prophesied The Coming of Jesus

These words from Deuteronomy are our sermon text today:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 NIV)

Moses, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, spoke words of prophesy about the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. This was why the Jews were waiting for the Messiah to come. Unfortunately, however, many of the Jewish leaders were not open to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He sent Jesus to be born in humble circumstances in a manger.

God, open our hearts and minds to both recognize and listen to your Holy Spirit.

May God Be Praised for Good Deeds

These verses from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount remind us that we want praise to flow to God as we do good deeds and as others see our good deeds:

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)

We do not and should not seek the praise of others as we perform good deeds in the world, but always keep in mind it is God who deserves the praise!

Praying in the Holy Spirit

Today in our church service we are considering these two verses which reference “praying in God’s Holy Spirit.”

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. (Jude 1:20, 21 NLT)


Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

Our pastor (Mateen Elass) pointed out these references are not talking about speaking in tongues. Neither is this a reference to God interpreting our groans & nonverbal messages which we share as we pray.

Instead, these verses are calling us to be “in sync” with the Holy Spirit so out desires & passions are in alignment with God’s. As we read in the Psalms:

Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land. Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone. The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity. (Psalms 37:3-11 NLT)

God is not a “vending machine in the sky,” giving everyone the selfish desires of their hearts focused on sin and selfish ends. Rather, God calls us to invite his Holy Spirit into our very bodies, so we would be filled with HIS desires as well as his powers and abilities. This is what New Testament authors are referencing when they exhort the church to pray “in God’s Holy Spirit.”

Read the Bible Aloud as a Family

Does your family regularly read the Bible aloud together? Ours does not, but the following words convict me that we should. These are from a text by Charles Spurgeon:

As we sow we reap. Let us expect our children to know the Lord. Let us from the beginning mingle the name of Jesus with their A B C. Let them read their first lessons from the Bible. It is a remarkable thing that there is no book from which children learn to read so quickly as from the New Testament: there is a charm about that book which draws forth the infant mind. But let us never be guilty, as parents, of forgetting the religious training of our children; for if we do we may be guilty of the blood of their souls.

This evening for our Spiritual Parenting class we are reading chapter 3 of “Prayer Encounters,” and will consider the following verses from the Bible:

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17 NIV)

I am going to lead our family in some oral Bible reading together in the coming week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Tongue of Fire

These words from James, the half-brother of Jesus, remind me of a couple things today.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:6 NIV)

First of all, it reminds me of bullying my wife talked about happening at school last week. It can be amazing, shocking, and sad (all at the same time) to witness how cruel kids can be to each other at times. Negative, attacking language can be like a poison. The words of children, even young ones, can be incredibly destructive.

The second thing it reminds me of is a conversation my wife I had last week, talking about the use of what might be termed, “stinkin’ thinkin’.” In many ways, we are both struggling with perceptions of failure. Some of this is financial, and some is also related to our family and professional work. We are not failures, and we are not failing, but there is a great temptation to not only view ourselves in this way but also talk about ourselves in this way. We are not and would not talk about each other this way, but in the past we have used the self talk of failure. This is incredibly destructive, and at least this time I was and am able to see it for the poison it is.

Perceptions of ourselves as failures do not come from the Spirit of God. They come from a spirit of evil, which seeks to destroy rather than build up. These words from James remind me how important words are, and how important it is that I take charge of my own tongue, even when I am using self-talk and language that only I can hear.

Focus Our Relationship With God

These are my notes from Mateen Elass’ sermon today on August 11, 2013.

God calls us to focus not on the things of this world, but on our relationship with God.

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NLT)

The average house size has grown immensely for average US citizens the past few decades, at the same time storage rental facilities have boomed in popularity to store all our stuff.

No where in this story from Jesus do we see or hear the rich man mentioning God or talking with God. The man seeks advice and wisdom from himself, and “says to his soul” (the transcendent / eternal part of his life) to take it easy.

Some millionaires today have actually set up trust funds for themselves so they will have those funds when they are brought back to life hundreds of years in the future.

If you are consumed by your work, you may neglect your family, your health, and your relationship with God. We study the Bible so we will desire the things God desires. The world, however, speaks with a megaphone and says otherwise: The world tells us to focus on consumption and ourselves.

April 2011 example: “India bank termites eat piles of cash

Retired CEOs in Naples, Florida, start measuring their lives by how many rounds of golf they can play. They find themselves leading empty lives.

Story of Katie as an elementary student, collecting pennies trick-or-treating at Halloween, for a fresh water mission project in Mexico.

Remember: Life is NOT about the accumulation of THINGS.

Focus Your Mind on Holy Things

The world is constantly encouraging us to focus on the wrong things. Whether it is money, sex, power, or something else, the world (in large part now through advertisements which bombard and surround us on multiple screens) tells us to look at the wrong things. Jesus, however, calls us to focus on God, the Holy Spirit, and holy things which are set apart from the world. In Romans we read from Paul:

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:5, 6 NLT)

This day I will invite God’s Holy Spirit to control my mind, especially whenever I am tempted to focus on the values of the world.

Love, Hospitality and Spiritual Gifts

These words from the apostle Peter resonate with me deeply this morning:

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 4:8-11 NLT)

There is ancient power in the act of breaking bread together. I sincerely believe we are called to show hospitality to others in many ways, including invitations we give to others to eat in our homes, with our families. The experience of dining with another family is something that is not easily forgotten, and the relationships which deepen as a result can serve God in many ways. The basis of learning is experience, and when we get together, we experience life together in an intimate way.

The message that we should use the gifts we have received to serve others and to serve God also resonates with me. It is both empowering and intimidating to be challenged to speak as if speaking the very words of God. What a responsibility this is! But also, what an opportunity it is to show others the love of Christ not only through the words we speak but perhaps even more clearly, in the actions of service which we do together for the glory of God.

Let them know we are Christians by our love. Praise God for this wonderful day and the gifts which He will unwrap for all of us in it, as we are called together according to his purpose.


A Harvest of Righteousness

I pray for a harvest of righteousness in my life, for our family, in our community, state and nation.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 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. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11 NIV)

Eat Spiritual Food Daily

Jim Cymbola referenced this passage in his April 28th sermon, “Enough is Enough.” We must eat spiritual food, by reading God’s Word, on a daily basis to remain healthy. This is the same for the physical food we put into our bodies. Daily food is required.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

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