By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.   – Matthew 7:16-20

It is not always easy to discern truth from error.  The Bible tells us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15).  We must always be thoughtful and prayerful before we accept or reject the teaching of others.  A former mentor of mine in ministry once told me that he used the following 3 simple questions whenever evaluating the truth of a teacher’s message.
1.    What do they say about Jesus?
2.     What do they say about the Gospel?
3.    How does their life match up to their own teaching?

In the passage above, Jesus says we should evaluate teaching by what it produces. That is, what is the outcome of this teaching?  What happens in the lives of the people who follow this guide?  (Not the results. Not just the immediate outcome, but the long-term outcome.)  How would God judge it?

One of the key ways Jesus gives us to tell the difference between a teacher who is genuinely teaching God’s Word and one who is falsely claiming to teach God’s Word is by their “fruit”, their lifestyle.  Does their life support their claim to follow Jesus?  Do they themselves obey?  Be wary of spiritual leaders who live by different rules than the rules that apply to everyone else.  For those of us who teach and/or preach God’s Word, we should be continually asking ourselves this question; am I living the kind of life that I am teaching others to live?

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.    – James 3:1

Does this mean we must have perfect obedience to communicate God’s truth. Thankfully, No.  No one is perfect.  If this were the case, there would not be anyone left to speak truth.

However, this is why a significant moral failures often destroy a pastor’s or a leader’s ability to preach or lead a church.  Almost anyone can put on a good act. But no one can hide forever. Someone’s true character eventually comes out in their actions.

Without a doubt, the best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth!  To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing.  FBI agents who work in the counterfeit dept. spend countless hours studying genuine American currency before they can begin to spot the clever counterfeits.  They become experts in spotting the fakes because they know the real thing so well.  Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can begin to identify false teaching.

If you want to dig deeper on this issue, you might want to study those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the early church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude.

Father in heaven, you are the god of all truth and the author of our salvation.  Help us to immerse ourselves in the truth of your word so that we can discern truth from error.  May your truth be lamp to our feet and a light to our path – Amen.


Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. – Matthew 7:15

Last week I received an e-mail from some Christian who is supposedly related to a Nigerian princess. Apparently, they have recently come to possess a huge amount of money that is being hidden from corrupt government forces. They’re writing to me because they want the money to be used for God’s work. They said that if I would just help them get a million dollars or so out of the country, they would be happy to share with me (and my church of course) what God has provided.
(The truth is that I have received more than a few such e-mails, apparently I am well known among Nigerian royalty – who knew?)

All around us today are voices that claim to speak God’s truth. They tell us what to believe, what to do, how to vote, how to spend our money and our time, how to raise our children and how to navigate our relationships. They even claim to tell us our destiny. They claim to be voices of truth. But the truth is that many of the voices out there that claim to speak to us on behalf of God—are, as Jesus puts it “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

Wander through any bookstore or flip your way through a few religious programs on TV and you will encounter the fakers, the phonies and the frauds. Their words are confident and persuasive. Their followers are often many. Their results may even seem remarkable. But they do not speak the truth!

The Bible is a dangerous book—perhaps the most dangerous book in the world—dangerous because it claims to be God’s own words, the infallible, inerrant, authoritative voice of God. So it is no wonder that people turn to the Bible to back up their own ideas and values. Down through history, and even in our own day, the words of Scripture have been twisted to support all kinds of perversions and abuses.

Nobody likes to be told what to do. And given the choice, most of us would choose to be given a choice. We want selection. We like to leave our options open. We want to be able to decide things for ourselves. And fortunately for us, we do have a choice.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus talks about the two gates and the two roads. In verses 18-20, he talks about two different trees and two different kinds of fruit. In verse 24-27, he talks about two houses built on two different foundations. Clearly there is a choice to be made. But the trouble is that this choice is not as easily made as we might like to believe.

The Bible says there are two teachers you can listen to for directions. And you are free to make the choice. God gives you that freedom. But as you decide, there is something you should know. One of these teachers speaks the truth and the other one does not. The path you choose will determine whether or not you find the WAY. The teacher you choose will determine whether or not you find the TRUTH.

Father in heaven, protect us from deception and keep us from believing the lies we are told everyday. May your Son be our example and may your Spirit be our teacher and guide – Amen.

Jeff Frazier

Friday, August 27

Give me understanding and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Psalm 119:34

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

It was the very last step in what had been a six-month short term missionary assignment in Bolivia, South America. Lorene and I had spent most of the first year of our marriage serving as teachers at an evangelical university in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and while we loved our time there, we were also VERY ready to return home.

As we climbed the last set of stairs to get to our departure gate, we were greeted by a man who was dressed in what looked like a uniform of some kind – who looked like some sort of airport or government official. When he asked for my passport I simply assumed he would check our visas – put yet another stamp on the page – and send us on our way. But instead, he said in Spanish, “This visa is not valid.”

I replied in my very inadequate Spanish, “Huh?”

He pointed to the signature on the stamp in my passport and said, “This man does not work for the government anymore, therefore this passport is not valid.”

Then I understood. This was a guy in a uniform who looked like he might be an airport employee of some kind who recognized we were foreigners and was trying to shake us down for a small bribe in return for letting us board our flight. We could have given him a few dollars and been done with it. But I had had enough – I wasn’t going to pay a bribe. So I turned to the front page of my passport and pointed to the stamped signature of then U.S. President Ronald Reagan. I half shouted in half Spanish, “See this, this is El Presidente, Ronaldo Reagano, and he is my amigo! We are getting on that plane!” And the man looked stunned for a moment and then gestured with his hands as if to say, “What can I do?” and he let us pass.

The point of this story is that sometimes it’s not about who you are – but who you know! We enter the narrow road of salvation not based on who we are – but on who we know. We receive the gift of eternal life not because of all we have accomplished, or because of how good we have been, but because of what Jesus has done for us.

This is the gospel. This is the good news. It’s not about you! It’s not about me! It’s about who we know. And because it’s about Jesus – the narrow gate is open to all who are willing to let him stamp the passport of their hearts with his truth, love and salvation.

Close you time with God this week by thanking him for his word and for his salvation, and ask him to help you continue to grow in your spiritual understanding and ability to share his truth with others.

Brian Coffey

Thursday, August 26

My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. Psalm 119:20

Spend some time in personal confession today; bring the sin, fear, anger, and anxieties of your heart before the light of his love and forgiveness.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:5-6

Those of you who pay attention to professional gold will recognize this story. Last weekend a golfer named Dustin Johnson lost his chance to win a major tournament when he unknowingly violated an obscure rule by barely touching his club to the ground while in what was identified as a sand trap (although it looked little like a traditional bunker) while playing the last hole of the tournament. Although he finished the course in an apparent tie for the lead, he was approached by a tournament official who asked him a simple question. “Did you ground your club before that shot?” Johnson answered truthfully that, yes, he had grounded his club. The result was a 2-stroke penalty that cost him a chance to compete in a playoff with two other golfers tied for the lead.

To me this is not just a story about golf and an opportunity lost, it’s a story about the nature of truth.

All truth is exclusive. As human beings we know this is so. We know that it cannot simultaneously be true that Mr. Johnson’s club touched the ground AND that it did not touch the ground. We know that he cannot have won the golf tournament while at the same time finishing in 5th place. We know that one cannot trust the truth of gravity to hold a car on the road while at the same time jump off the roof hoping it will not also apply to your body!

But when it comes to spiritual truth – many fight against the exclusivity of truth. They read Jesus’ words, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and they say, “How can there be only one way?” Or maybe they think, “How can Christians be so arrogant and exclusive?” Or even, “Don’t all roads lead to God?”

The truth is that all roads DON’T lead to God any more than all roads lead to Wisconsin. Just as some physical roads lead to California, some spiritual roads lead to destruction. Just because I might sincerely believe I am driving to Wisconsin, if I am heading west I will wind up in California. Spiritual truth is like that. Jesus claims to be the only way to God. That cannot be true and untrue at the same time. Jesus cannot be the only way to God while simultaneously affirming that “all roads lead to God.”

Someone said it this way: as human beings we do not create truth, we discover truth. Truth - whether it be a road map, gravity, or Jesus - simply is what it is. And we must either accept it and build our lives on it, or fight against it by insisting on creating our own truth.

Have you discovered and trusted the truth of Christ? Have you learned to see, hear and identify that which is untrue? Do you have family members or friends who are still trying to create their own spiritual truth? Ask God to continue to anchor his word and his truth in your heart and mind – and ask him to help you share that truth gently and effectively with others.

Brian Coffey

Wednesday, August 25

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Take a few deep breaths and give the concerns of your heart and mind to God. Then ask him to allow you to focus completely on his voice through his word.

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Don’t play in the street!
Don’t play with matches!
Don’t play with sticks – you’ll poke your eye out!

Why do parents establish guidelines, boundaries and rules for their children? Is it because parents are committed to limiting the creativity, fun and joy of their children’s lives? Of course not! Parents establish boundaries precisely because they want to preserve and enhance the joy of their children! Parents have lived long enough to know the truth about the world – that some things, no matter how attractive to a child, are actually dangerous and potentially life threatening. A wise and loving parent will establish reasonable boundaries to protect children from their own inexperience and immaturity.

This Psalm reminds us of why God warns us of the danger of sin and of why Jesus warns us of the peril of the “wide road that leads to destruction.” God sets before us the “path of life,” that is, a way for each of us to know all the blessing and joy that he wants for us. God loves us; and because he loves us, he goes to great lengths to teach, warn, guide and confront us through his word and by his Spirit.

Have you sometimes felt that being a follower of Christ is too restrictive, that the Bible has too many “rules” or that God doesn’t want you to have any fun? The Psalm is reminding us that exactly the opposite is true! It is BECAUSE of God’s truth and God’s command that our hearts can be set free! And it is BECAUSE God wants to give us eternal pleasure and joy that he calls us to the narrow road of faith, trust and obedience.

The next time Satan tempts you by saying, “Hey, you deserve a little fun, too; after all, everyone is doing it!” – remember that sin is what imprisons our souls, not God.

Ask God to protect your heart and mind from the confusing voice of the enemy, and to help you trust the truth and promise of his word.

Brian Coffey

Tuesday, August 24

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statues, O Lord, do not let me be put to shame. Psalm 119:30-31

As you read this today, ask God to cause your love for his word to grow and to enable you to apply his truth to your daily life.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12

Could there be two more different men than Robert Frost and Robert Plant? In case you don’t recognize both names, Robert Frost was an early 20th century American poet and Robert Plant was a late 20th century British rock and roll icon who founded the band Led Zeppelin.

Yet both, in their own way, offered words oddly reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. In 1920 Frost wrote a poem entitled “The Road Not Taken,” which began and ended with the following words:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both…
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.”

A half century later Plant (along with Jimmy Page) wrote “Stairway to Heaven,” which included these lines;

“Yes there are two paths you can go by,
But in the long run,
there’s still time to change the one you’re on.”

Nearly two thousand years earlier, Jesus said, essentially, that there are two roads when it comes to spiritual truth. One road is wide and easy – but leads to destruction. The other is narrow and hard, yet leads to eternal life. Robert Frost reminds us that the road we choose makes all the difference; and Robert Plant reminds us that there’s still time to change the road we are on. I believe Jesus would agree with both “Roberts.”

Do you know which road you are on? The Bible teaches that we all start out on the “wide road,” that is, the road of selfishness, sin and ultimate separation from God. We only turn around and step on the “narrow road” that leads to life when we consciously put our faith in Jesus Christ and what he accomplished through his death and resurrection.

If you aren’t sure which road you are on, or if you aren’t certain of your spiritual destiny, you can be sure by opening your heart to Christ and asking him to come into your life as Savior and Lord. The Bible teaches that when we confess Christ as Lord and believe in our hearts he was raised from the dead, we are saved (Romans 10:9-10), that is we enter the narrow gate that is marked “eternal life.”

Close your time with God by either asking Christ to become Lord of your heart and life; or by thanking him for leading you onto the road marked “eternal life!”

Brian Coffey

Monday, August 23

Psalm 119:14-16
I rejoice in following you statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on you precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to God’s truth and to allow your heart to rejoice in the riches of God’s word.

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Everybody has a “Chicago traffic story” – and here’s my most recent debacle. Just last weekend Lorene and I drove to the city to meet my brother, Joe, and his wife Karen, along with their good friends Chris and Anne. The occasion was Joe and Karen’s 30th wedding anniversary – and we had a wonderful dinner together. The way home, however, was not quite so wonderful! I managed to find my way back to 90/94 East, but as soon as I merged with traffic I saw the sign for 290 West – the road I needed to get on – but the exit ramp was all the way on the other side of the freeway – like 4 lanes away – and I couldn’t get across fast enough without risking our lives in the process – so I missed my exit. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just take the next exit, circle around, and be back at the 290 exit in no time. So I got off and circled back – only to discover there was no exit for 290 West going the other direction. So I (not so calmly) got off at the next exit and tried to circle back again – and proceeded to almost get us killed trying to cross four lanes of traffic – and again missed my exit. By this time our wonderful evening had taken a decided turn toward the highway marked “stressful” – and only after two more passes did I finally find my way onto the exit ramp that would lead me safely home!

In this brief portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cuts right to the chase. Every human being is on one of two spiritual roads; the road that leads to salvation or the road that leads to destruction. There is no “third road.” Just as I knew that I had to find my way to the road that would lead me home – so we each must find our way to the spiritual road that is true and promises the destination of salvation. Jesus is warning us that it is very easy to find ourselves caught up in the “fast lane” traffic – that is, with all the others who are speeding along the “wide road” that is easy, popular, and leads away from God. On the other hand, he says, the “narrow road” is harder to find, more costly to travel, but leads to the life and presence of God.

If you are reading this devotional, there’s a good chance that you are already walking the “narrow road” that Jesus is talking about! But it is also true that you might be struggling to keep your eyes and feet on that road! We live in a world where people are moving in all kinds of spiritual directions – perhaps even some of your friends and family are going in a different direction and trying to drag you along. Remember, that just because there are a lot of cars on the highway it doesn’t mean that road will get you home! Sometimes you may feel like you are the only one traveling on the road Jesus has called you to – and it can be hard to persevere when everyone around you seems to be going the other direction! But, remember you are not alone! There are many who have gone before you, and many who are willing to walk with you, and Christ himself – in the person of the Holy Spirit – promises to guide you each step of the way!

Close your time by thanking God for calling you to the “narrow road” that leads to eternal life, and ask him to help you keep your eyes focused on him!

Brian Coffey

Friday, August 20

Luke 10:2 The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

King Jesus…today I pray that the words of this 10 minute with God would penetrate souls and those who have yet to cross the line of faith would be inspired to do it…TODAY! Amen.

Revelation 3:19-21
19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Throughout the week we have saturated ourselves in the importance of continuing to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK. Often reflecting on the persistence necessary to relentlessly go after God with that which makes us complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29). The passage above from Revelation (often referenced…Revelations…but there is NO “S”!) is one that I want to conclude the week with because there just may be ONE person who has been reading and been equipped and yet if you are honest with yourself you know that you actually have not yet fully opened the door of your heart and invited God to come in!

Seriously, this may not be necessary for many reading but “just in case” there is someone going through the motions as a Christ follower I want to encourage you to stop and respond to the “knocking” that God is doing right now!

I feel as though we often “assume” faith on to people because they attend church, listen to a sermon, or even read a few web devotionals each week. That can be so dangerous. I share with students – going to Church on Sunday doesn’t make you a Christ follower any more than sleeping in your garage makes you a car! It often generates a laugh, but the reality is quite true.

Spiritual formation IS a process and at FBCG we are committed to journeying with you. However, in this process there are “times” when decisions are necessary to get us to the next benchmark. Today please consider opening the door and receiving God’s free gift of salvation – His Son Jesus Christ. It is as simple as the prayer below…

Dear Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness.
I believe that You died for my sins.
I want to turn from my sins.
I now invite You to come into my heart and life.
I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior.
In Jesus' name.

Bruce McEvoy
Pastor of Family and Serving

Thursday, August 19

Psalm 119

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Certain passages from the Psalms are special to me. These seven verses from the longest chapter in the Bible were memorized last year by my son and I because my Father challenged us! So honestly I do have a 10 Minute with God additional CHALLENGE.

Who wants to commit this to memory and join the club?

Don’t do this by yourself! It is more fun and easier if you do it in community…with a spouse, as a whole family, with a friend, or perhaps a small group or even Sunday School class this fall.

These verses are a great reminder four days after our passage in Matthew 7 because they admonish us to remain faithful with precepts as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount.

Heavenly Father thanks for all the good gifts that you give. Thanks for knowing what is best for me and when it is best for me. I confess that I am impatient and want to trust you more for my daily bread. Please give me an opportunity to share your love and my transformation with someone else today. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Bruce McEvoy
Pastor of Family and Serving

Wednesday, August 18

Psalm 27:7-9
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

I’m getting more convinced to persevere. How about you? Coolidge’s quote can preach and it certainly inspires. If you have not considered writing down those attributes and characteristics of Jesus that you’d like to possess more of please do that today and begin asking, seeking, and knocking for those things that are spiritually good for you!

Luke 11:5-13
5Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Luke writes this immediately following his instructions to his disciples on how to pray…using the “Lords Prayer.” It validates the examples that scripture uses to persist. Look back at another…the persistent widow.

Luke 18
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

I really love how the MESSAGE paraphrases verse five…

But because this widow won't quit badgering me, I'd better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I'm going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.

Now we can’t take that out of context and assume that we can “badger” God into giving us what He does not deem fit or right or at the right time for us. However, Jesus is awesome at using story (parables) to communicate his precepts and paradigms.

I think I can be a bit more like the badgering widow. How about you?

Dear Daddy, give me the strength and energy to continue to faithfully approach you with the attributes and characteristics that will make me more and more like Jesus. You know my heart and you know my weakness. Help me to trust you to bless me with what is spiritually good for me. Amen

Bruce McEvoy
Pastor of Family and Serving

Tuesday, August 17

Psalm 63
1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

If you read this "10 Minutes with God" you just read four verses. Really good. But now go back and pray those verses back to your Father in Heaven!

Luke 11:1-4
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
2He said to them, "When you pray, say:
" 'Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.' "

Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray prior to his illustration on persistence (tomorrow’s blog) can’t be ignored in this week’s devotional! I’m more and more amazed at how few know the Lord’s prayer. Even still caught in awe when Christ followers don’t “get” that it is a template for prayer, rather than one that is to be prayed as a “memorized” prayer. Now don’t get me wrong…lets get it memorized, but be aware that it is a guide most importantly. And one that prays – “Your Kingdom come.” I’m praying that the Kingdom would come in our FBCG community!

I’d like to share an adaption of the Lord’s Prayer by Max Lucado. Perhaps you’d like to copy/print and allow it to facilitate abundant prayer for you during this season. Or you can email me and I’ll send it to you in an attachment (bmcevoy@fbcg.com).

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father Thank you for adopting me into your family.
who is Thank you, my Lord, for being a God of the present tense: my Jehova-jireh (the God who provides), my Jehova-raah (the caring Shepherd), my Jehova-shalom (the Lord is peace), my Jehova-rophe (the God who heals), and my Jehova-nissi (Lord, my banner).
in heaven, Your workshop of creation reminds me: if you can make the skies, you can make sense out of my struggles
Hallowed be thy name. Be holy in my heart. You are a "cut above" all else. Enable me to set my sights on you.
Thy kingdom come, Come kingdom! Be present, Lord Jesus! Have free reign in every corner of my life.
Thy will be done, Reveal your heart to me, dear Father. Show me my role in your passion. Grant me guidance in the following decisions...
On earth as it is in heaven. Thank you that you silence heaven to hear my prayer. On my heart are the ones you love. I pray for...
Give us this day our daily bread. I accept your portion for my life today. I surrender the following concerns regarding my well-being...
Forgive us our debts, I thank you for the roof of grace over my head, bound together with the timbers and nails of Calvary. There is nothing I can do to earn or add to your mercy. I confess my sins to you.
As we also have forgiven our debtors; Treat me, Father, as I treat others. Have mercy on the following friends who have wounded me...
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one, Let my small hand be engulfed in yours. Hold me, lest I fall. I ask for special strength regarding...
Our Father...give us...forgive us...lead us Let your kindness be on all your church. I pray especially for ministers near and missionaries far away.
Thine - not mine - is the kingdom. I lay my plans at your feet.
Thine - not mine - is the power, I come to you for strength.
Thine - not mine - is the glory, I give you all the credit.
Thine - not mine - is the power.
Forever, Amen.

Bruce McEvoy
Pastor of Family and Serving

Monday, August 16

Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

King Jesus, hear the cry of my heart to be more like YOU! Help me to surrender my selfish ambition and release my weaknesses to you.

Matt. 7:7-12
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

These past two weeks should have been preparing me for the weekend’s sermon and the five devotionals ahead. Sterling reflected on NO WORRIES and Ken’s thoughts gave me the assurance that I was not going to be “judged” being the final preacher in the series. But what I am getting at is that I both worried and feared being judged. Bottom line…living as Jesus outlines in the Sermon on the Mount is NOT as simple as the sermon text preaches in Matthew 5-7! Can I get an AMEN!

Who is still hiding their light under a bowl, holding back their generosity, getting worried, judging others so quickly after last weeks message. Honestly, I have never been as convicted as I am while writing this at how undeserving of God’s extravagant love I am. I disappoint and God responds with relentless love.

My encouragement again today is to rest in your Father’s (Abba…Daddy’s) arms and feel His embrace back and his unconditional love! I often believe that one of the best phrases that an adolescent can hear as they begin to process their new life in Christ is: Nothing you can do or not do stops God from loving you through and through. His love is amazing and unchanging as the chorus reminds us!

I can’t imagine many adolescents are reading this 10 minutes with God, but the above is a TRUTH regardless of your age or stage of life. Get up in God’s lap and…Close your time with God by asking him to reveal all the attributes of a disciple that you lack and begin to persistently pray with confidence that God will give you his Best.

Bruce McEvoy
Pastor of Family and Serving

Friday, August 13

Let’s finish the week by meditating on the Cross. After all, it is through the cross that we have all received mercy.

Every gospel writer tells us that Jesus was crucified between two criminals.

Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. - Matthew 27.38

They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. - Mark 15.27

32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. - Luke 23.32-33

18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. - John 19.18

We have to keep in mind that this death, being nailed to and hung on a cross, was not for everyone, it was reserved for the worst of the worst. It was reserved for criminals who were sentenced not only to die, but to suffer along the way. Jesus dies the death of a criminal. What do you think the implications are of the kind of death Jesus died?

Look at Philippians chapter 2

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2.5-11

It was at the cross that Christ humbled himself most, and he did it on our behalf. He died our death for us. Therefore each one of us out of gratitude and humility ought to take on the very same nature of humility. Humility before Christ and humility before others.

Ken Lippold
Director of Equipping Ministries
First Baptist Church of Geneva, IL

Thursday, August 12

Yesterday James instructed us that the solution to keeping our hearts pure is fresh water, so today, let’s look at the source for fresh water.

37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. - John 7.37-39

Verse 37 gives us the context we need to fully understand what is going on here in this passage. It says “On the last and greatest day of the Feast.” The feast referred to here is the Feast of Tabernacles when they would celebrate GOD’s provision for Israel as they wandered in the desert for 40 years. And on the last day of this feast they would have this elaborate ceremony having to do with water to pray for rain for the next year. In this moment, standing in the Temple on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus is claiming to be the messiah and he is filling up what that means by this celebration about water.

They were performing this water ceremony in order to pray and ask GOD for the much needed rains to come so that next year’s crop could grow.

So for all these people, rain or water equalled salvation. And what Jesus is doing is so brilliant. He is doing the same thing he did when he claimed to be the Temple, when he claimed to be living bread–He is filling up people’s concept of who the messiah is, of who he is, by using these common religious and cultural symbols of the day.

And so he is claiming to be the water of salvation-messiah. And he says “if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.”

What Jesus is offering is permanent salvation, water from a pure source. Now, there is some debate as to exactly how this passage should be translated from the original Greek. The reason is because there is no punctuation, or even spaces in the original Greek manuscripts. When they wrote stuff down they just wrote it down as one long line of text. So you can see why there might be some debate every once and a while on how exactly to translate something into modern English.

The text quoted above is from the NIV, but the New Living Translation translates it this way:

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” - John 7.37-38 (NLT)

For reasons we don’t have time to go into here, nor would many of you be interested to read about grammar and punctuation, I think this is a better translation of the passage. Basically, the difference between these two translations is that the NIV explains that streams of living water will flow from within the person who drinks of the water that Jesus offers and the NLT translates it as water flowing from the Messiah himself. In light of the context I think the NLT makes more sense.

So back to our core discussion here... Jesus is claiming to be the water of salvation-messiah. And he says “if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink because streams of living water flow from within me.

And so what Jesus offers is permanent salvation, water from a pure source, himself.

Now, there are several implications to this, but I want to look at one in particular. Look back at verse 39.

What John is pointing to is that the agent who is responsible for continually freeing us from our sin is the Holy Spirit. So I want you to wrestle these two questions (it will be very helpful if you look at the passages related to the each question).

1. What happens when we drink of the water Christ offers [2 Corinthians 5.17-21]?
2. What are the implications of receiving the Holy Spirit [Galatians 5.16-26]?

Here’s what happens when we drink of the water Christ offers. The gospel begins to break through our compulsiveness to sin. The Holy Spirit begins to free us. And the passage in 2 Corinthians that you looked at says that GOD begins to view us like we are perfectly clean because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

And here’s what this means for us today, tonight, tomorrow. We are not a slave to it anymore. Now, of course this will be fully realized when we are in heaven, but we can begin to live like it now. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is attempting to do in our lives right now, help us to live like we were meant to. Not only does the Spirit free us from our compulsion to sin, but it helps us live as though we are this new creation.

There is something else I think these passages help us to realize, that there is overflow. The Fruit of the Spirit is the overflow of what GOD is doing in our lives as we drink of the water offered to us by Christ, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control will flow out of us.

Remember what James taught us: what goes in is what comes out.

Ken Lippold

Wednesday, August 11

Maybe someone said something about you. They didn’t like something you said so they took it and blew it out of proportion. They don’t like your new boyfriend so they told everyone he’s a socialist or worse, a White Sox fan. They saw you do something they didn’t approve of, and rather than talk to you about it they just went around and told everyone else about it.

Maybe you have that friend, or that family member who is always telling you other people’s business. So they are constantly telling you about his drinking problem, or her anger issues. They always seem to know what really happened and love to tell you about it.

Maybe you said something. Maybe your sister did something and your first reaction is to make sure everyone knows it. Maybe a co-worker made you angry and you find yourself word vomiting stories about them that paints a bad picture of their character.

Whatever the case may be, we’ve all found ourselves in similar situations where she said something about you behind your back, or he told you something about her, or maybe it’s you, you’re the one who tells the news.

James deals with this quite clearly in chapter 3.

3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
- James 3.3-12

Is James saying that if we can keep our tongue in check, we’ll be perfect? Like if we never swear, never say something mean about anyone, never complain, never lie, never gossip, then we’ll be perfect?

I think James is saying that the tongue is an indicator of the whole.

So, if the tongue is an indicator of the whole, the question is: what is it indicating?

Before James answers that question, he points out that the tongue can really only be used for good or for evil. The tongue, though only a small part of the body can be use for good and can steer us in the right direction.

But James points out that the opposite is true as well. This little tiny part of the body, can destroy the whole thing.

I like this phrase: “a world of evil.” James uses the greek word “kosmos”, which when linked to the word evil, usually suggests opposition to GOD. Essentially, he’s saying that the tongue indicates whether or not we are in opposition to GOD.

So, once again, if the tongue is an indicator of the whole, the question is: what is it indicating? Look back at verses 9-12. The tongue indicates what is in our hearts, it shows whether or not we really, genuinely love GOD and love OTHERS.

Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. It’s impossible. This is essentially what James is saying. You cannot love GOD and at the same time hate another human being. And for James the indicator of this is what comes out of our mouths.

If you have praise of GOD coming out of your mouth and cursing of men, then one is disingenuous.

Love of GOD and hatred of others are not compatible. The two things cannot occupy our hearts at the same time. The deeper reason is because we are all made in the image of GOD, so cursing of men is cursing of the image of GOD.

And here is what James is saying. If cursing comes out of your mouth, if you swear, if you gossip, if you slander, if you lie, if you find yourself complaining, that is an indicator of what is truly in your heart and it is not love of GOD and love of OTHERS.

The solution is fresh water, what you put in is what comes out. If you want fresh water to come out, you have to put fresh water in.

James is teaching us that the tongue is an indicator of what we put in. Essentially, our tongues reveal what is in our hearts.

So, what is in your heart? What have you been putting lately? Is that what has been coming out?

Ken Lippold

Tuesday, August 10

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
- Psalm 51.1-7

Read that again, but this time read it slower.

Let’s be honest, sin isn’t a comfortable topic. We all do it, and to some degree we all hide it. We hide it from our spouses, our kids, our friends, and what I find most ironic, we all, at one time or another, attempt to hide it from GOD. We hide it because we are seeking to escape judgment.

Maybe it is a good idea to hide our sin from others, after all we don’t want to set a poor example for our families right? In all truth, I think we need to have some people in our lives who we confess our sin to, it’s biblical (James 5.16) But I know for sure it’s a terrible idea to attempt to hide our sin from GOD. First of all, we’re not fooling anybody, when we sin, GOD is aware. In fact all sin is a sin against GOD (Romans 3.22-24). But the truth about GOD is that we don’t have to hide our sin from him (Romans 6.10). He is ready and willing to offer grace and mercy through Christ.

1 John 1.9-10 tells us: 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Not only are we heaping sin upon sin if we either attempt to hide our sin from GOD, or if we claim we have not sinned, but we are missing out on the blessing that GOD wants to give each one of us. GOD desires to offer us his grace and mercy and to purify us.

So, what is it that you have been attempting to hide from GOD? Confess it with confidence. Hebrews 4 tells us: 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Read Psalm 51 once more as a prayer to GOD, but this time pause after each verse and allow the truth of that verse to settle in.

Ken Lippold

Monday, August 9

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
- Micah 6.8

Today let’s dive into these three concepts mentioned in Micah 6.8: justice, mercy, and humility.

What comes to mind when you think of justice? Certain Illinois’ governors? Oil spills? O.J.? The Hebrew usage here could be literally translated as “to pass judgement”. Does that mean this verse is saying the opposite of what we talked about on Sunday (or Saturday night)? Does this verse give us the right to be judgmental? As always, let’s look at this verse in context.

The next concept mentioned in the verse is “mercy”. In fact, the verse says that we are to “love mercy.” The Hebrew could be translated as “love lovingkindness.” Remember, the word mercy means not giving someone what they deserve. So, what does judgment look like in light of mercy?

And finally, the verse says that we are to “walk humbly with your God.” All throughout Scripture when it is said of someone that they walked with GOD, it means they had an intimate relationship with GOD. Enoch walked with GOD, Noah walked with GOD, Jotham walked with GOD, and over and over again when describing people who are obedient to GOD, it says that they walked in GOD’s ways, or according to GOD’s law. In order to walk with GOD, or to walk in GOD’s ways, it requires humility. It requires that we humble ourselves before GOD. Does humbling one’s self before GOD fit with being judgmental? Does being judgmental of others fit with being merciful?

Remember, passing judgement on someone else is essentially putting yourself in the place of GOD, and in the end it’s about controlling people. I think it’s more likely that the passing of judgement mentioned in this verse has more to do with passing judgement on what is moral or immoral in our own lives, rather than passing judgement on people.

Who have you been passing judgment on rather than extending mercy to? What sort of judgment do you need to pass on your own life?

Ken Lippold

Friday, August 6 Consider the Birds of the Air

Jesus tells the crowd that has gathered on the side of this mountain to “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them….. "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:26-29)

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus cites creation as evidence for why we can trust him. The Psalmist says it like this

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
Psalm 19:1-2

Paul, in Romans, reminds us that creation not only declares the control and compassion of the Father who sustains all that He has created, but it points is to the future hope that we have in him.

Romans 8:18-25:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Take a moment this morning to look around you, to see the beauty in God’s created world, the uniqueness of each individual person and the “birds of the air” that surround you, allow them to serve as a reminder that the One who gave us life and formed our bodies is faithful and able to provide for our needs now and in the future.

As you enter into a time of prayer this morning, begin by praying that God would give you “eyes” to see the subtle reminders that God places all around us and in doing so enable you to “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness” trusting that “all these things will be give to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Sterling Moore
Pastor of High School Ministries

Thursday, August 5 The Struggle

Jesus begins this portion of the Sermon on the Mount by connecting the struggle with worry with what he is about to teach us about the nature of worry. The reality is that most of us are to painfully aware of being in the midst of this struggle. Consider these statistics from the American Physiological Association

  • 3/4 of Americans report that they experience symptoms related to stress in any given month...

  • 1/3 of us feel as though we are living with extreme stress

  • over 1/2 indicate that their stress is only increasing

  • Workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress-reduction

As we think about living in the midst of this struggle, consider the example of Martha and Mary, who responded very differently when Jesus came and entered their home.

Luke 10: 38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

I find Martha and Mary’s example extremely relate-able. On the one hand I want to, like Mary, sit at the feet of Jesus and find my supply in him. I want to be about his business, his priorities and operate according to his values and yet I find myself so often in the place of Martha, busy with all the wrong things and missing the opportunity to rest in the One who is both my Master and my provider.

What is the balance here? Some has to be the Martha, right, or nothing would ever get done? The question becomes one of priorities. How do we, like Mary, make Christ our first priority? As you think about the day in front of you, how can you go about your day while at the same time making Christ your highest priority? What will that look like for you today? Look again at the Words of Jesus to Martha, "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

As you enter into a time of prayer, ask God to help you order your day according to His priorities. Ask him to free you from the demands of the day and to enable you to live today “at the feet of Jesus”.

Sterling Moore
Pastor of High School Ministries

Wednesday, August 4 Perspective

“Because we have the option, in reliance upon Jesus, of having abundant treasures in the realm of the heavens, Jesus gives us another of his “therefores.” Therefore don’t be anxious for your physical existence, concerning what you will have to eat or drink, or how you will cloth your body (Matt. 6:25). Life is not about food, he continues to say, nor the body about clothes. It is about a place in God’s immortal kingdom now. Eternity is, in part, what we are now living.”

Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy

2 Corinthians 4:18- 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Hebrews 12:2- Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on Mount that worry is rooted in a perspective that is caught in the here and now. The challenge becomes one of learning how to keep a proper perspective on all the things that surround us, all the temporary things. When we look around, we see looming mortgage payments, a car that needs repaired, kids who need new school clothes and countless other things that are demanding our attention. Through all the noise and chaos that is created by all of these “temporary things”, how do we maintain the sort of perspective that allows us to live with freedom that Christ offers in the Sermon on the Mount?

I think that answer lies in what Jesus has been teaching up to this point through the Sermon on the Mount. This morning, skim through what Jesus has been teaching on up to this point (Matthew 5 – 6:24). Jesus has spent all this time building a worldview, a way of thinking about all that we see around us? What has stood out to you about the perspective that Jesus is establishing? What component of Jesus ‘s teaching has challenged you, convicted you or altered that way you look at the world around?

Living with an eternal perspective begins by taking our eyes off the temporary, the things that distract from what God is really about. What I have discovered for myself is that this is a conscious, intentional and purposeful process. This perspective comes through prayer and the deliberate effort to focus on the Kingdom business that Jesus has laid out in front of us. Mortgage payments, car repairs and new clothes for the kids don’t go away but they can lose their place as primary concerns as grow in our eternal perspective.

Sterling Moore
Pastor of High School Ministries

Tuesday, August 3, Creating a Reminder

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The point that Jesus makes here is one of knowledge. Effectively he is making the point that we know better. This would have called on the rich history of Israel, all the times that God proved himself, parting seas, stopping rivers, supplying manna each morning, making walls fall down, water flow from a rock and consuming an offering with fire. Jesus is saying. “don’t live as ones who don’t know this, who haven’t experienced it.” The same it true for us. In the midst of surrender as we learn in walk in trust, we can call on the times that we have seen God prove himself, the answered prayers, the moments when he has met us in our need and know that this is the same God who knows our need now.

Throughout the history of Israel, when the people saw God move in very incredible and awe inspiring ways, they would commemorate the moment setting up a monument. Read Joshua 3:14 – 4:7, for one such example:

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight."

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."

These stones where meant to serve the people of Israel as a reminder of this moment. When you and I are facing doubt and worry, we need to look back at the moments in our lives when God feels so real, proving himself faithful to us and draw on that strength to make it through the day.

What memorial can you set up set up for yourself or your family? Allow that reality to be a source of strength when the concerns of this world begin to overwhelm.

Sterling Moore
Pastor of High School Ministries

Monday, August 2 Choose Your Provider....

Matthew 6: 25-34:
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Last week, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asked us to consider the question "Who is your master?". This week Jesus is now essentially asking a follow up question, that being, "Who is your provider?"

The question is no less relevant than it was 2000 years ago when Jesus originally asked it. Although the culture and the context has changed drastically, the reality and impact of worry remains just the same. Through out the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus employs the use of questions to teach. Reread the above verse and ask yourself the questions that Jesus asked so long ago.

In these verses Jesus invites us to place our trust in One who cannot fail and to acknowledge that the one who feeds the birds and brings the flowers to bloom is the very One who knows exactly what you will need for today and who gives generously.

As you go to prayer, ask yourself "what I am worried about today?" As you pray, ask God to be your supply for the challenges that you face today and trust that we will be there to do the same for you tomorrow.

34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Sterling Moore