Pray the Pledge

Pray the Pledge

It is a blessing to live in the United States of America. On a recent mission trip to Asia I came face to face with how blessed we are to have the freedoms and lifestyle we enjoy. On this trip I witnessed poverty in a country that has a 46% unemployment rate and I witnessed the effects of communism on its citizens. We are blessed to live in the United States and we need to discover ways we can be a blessing to this great country. One of the ways we can be a blessing is by praying for the country we love. As we celebrate Independence Day this year, pray for the United States. A creative way to pray for our country is to pray through the Pledge of Allegiance phrase by phrase. Let’s Pray the Pledge!

Pray the Pledge

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,

Thank God for our country and the blessing of being a citizen of the greatest nation the world has ever known.

and to the Republic for which it stands,

Pray for the political process as we are represented by those that have been elected. Regardless of your political convictions, our elected officials need our prayers. Pray for our local, state and national leaders.

one Nation under God,

Pray that our nation would return to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This is God’s formula for a nation that honors Him.


Pray for unity for our nation as the political debate continues. There are many issues that divide our country. Pray for our leaders to have divine wisdom.

with liberty and

Thank God for the religious liberty that we have and ask Him to preserve that liberty. Our country is only as strong as it’s families and churches.

justice for all.

Pray for justice for all Americans including the unborn, elderly and defenseless. Father, we pray that you would bless the United States of America. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

Guided by God’s Word

Guided by God’s Word

Guided by God’s Word

2 Timothy 3:1-17

The Textbook of Sunday School (Small Group Bible Study) is the Bible, the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:1-17 focuses on the importance of the Bible. What would our Small Groups be without the Bible as our focus? Would it be a support group, a civic club, a gathering of friends, or a prayer group? Even though a good Small Group will have some of these elements, the Bible is central to what a Small Group Bible Study is all about.

The Bible is not only our Textbook, It is the Test for the quality of our Christian walk. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

  • Teaching – divine instruction or doctrinal teaching
  • Rebuking – Reproof of wrong behavior or wrong belief
  • Correcting – The restoration of something to its proper condition
  • Training in Righteousness – Positive training in godly behavior.

These powerful aspects of the Bible lead to completeness and competence in the life of a believer.

If you are not committed to a small group of believers that meet weekly around the Word of God, let me encourage you to find a group and dig in. Your Christian walk will be greatly affected when you connect with other believers and connect with God, through His Word.

Living with Assurance

Living with Assurance

Living with Assurance

2 Peter 3:1-18

Assurance is hard to come by. We hope the economy will get better, but there is no guarantee. We hope for good health, but sickness comes. We hope our relationships will be strong, but many time we struggle and hurt those we care about. Some of the things we hope for either don’t happen or don’t happen on our time schedule. When Jesus was talking to His disciples about the hard times they would experience when He would be betrayed, falsely convicted, and killed on a cross He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33) Jesus is our source of peace and hope. Peter was there when Jesus said those words. Now at the end of 2 Peter, he is writing as “reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking” and to remind them what the Word of God says (2 Peter 3:1-2). By searching and studying the Word of God, we can live with assurance that God is in control and hold the future in His hand.

Peter warns the reader that there will be “scoffers” in the last days. Scoffers are individuals who show contempt for the Word of God and the people of God. During the time of the writing of 2 Peter, these scoffers challenged the second coming of Jesus saying, “Where is this coming he promised?” (2 Peter 3:4) Peter is continuing to defend the faith and the Word of God and offers the answer to this question. He reminds the reader that God created the Heavens and Earth. He is in control of creation and sets the timeline of history by His pleasure and plan. Peter describes how this creation is being reserved for a day of judgment and will see the destruction of ungodly men.

These scoffers question God’s timing and the validity of the claim that Christ will come again. The way we experience time is different than the way God experiences time. Peter writes, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) This verse is sometimes used to interpret the length of days of the creation account in Genesis. In the context of this passage, Peter is not explaining the length of creation, but how God is above time. We live in the confinement of time, but God does not.

Peter then writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Once Jesus comes again, the opportunity for people to repent of their sins and place their faith in Him will be over. For this reason, Peter writes about God’s patience with those who don’t know Him. Believers in Christ live to share the Gospel with a lost and dying world while looking forward to His coming.

Peter describes the “Day of the Lord.” New Testament writers used the term “Day of the Lord” to point to Christ’s final victory and the final judgment of sinners. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary) Pastor Hank will be describing this day during his series through the book of Revelation.

Since this day of judgment is coming, Peter describes the kind of people we should be when he asks the question, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11)

Peter answers this question:
Believers ought:

  • To live holy and godly lives. 2 Peter 3:11
  • Look forward to the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, 14
  • Speed his coming by sharing the Gospel with all nations. 2 Peter 3:12
  • Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. 2 Peter 3:14
  • Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men. 2 Peter 3:17
  • Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Peter’s love for the church is evident as he writes to “stimulate” the church to wholesome thinking and action. Relying on the Word of God leads to assurance that God is in control. His is neither early nor late. He is perfectly on time and His purposes and His people will endure whatever future holds.

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Truth

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Truth

Living with Troublemakers by Standing on the Word of God

2 Peter 2: 1-22

Since the church began, there have been false teachers who would corrupt the church and the truth found in God’s Word. God’s Word is the standard by which one can confirm or reject the validity of spiritual teaching. Eternity for unbelievers and victorious living for believers hangs in the balance when truth is challenged by false teaching. The Apostle Peter wrote a strong rebuke to false teachers in 2 Peter chapter 2. He identifies the presence of false teachers, the content of their teaching, and describes the judgment that will come on them.

Peter starts this chapter by writing, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1) He lets the reader know that false teachers exist and that the reader should beware. These teachers “secretly introduce destructive heresies”, and many will follow them and their teaching. Peter is issuing this strong warning to protect the reader from being captivated by these false teachers. The twisted truth of these false teachers is like a disease to the body. When false teaching is discovered, every means necessary must be taken to eliminate it so the body can return to health.

Throughout 2 Peter 3, Peter describes the content of the false teaching of his day.

False Teachers:

  • Deny the Sovereign Lord v. 1
  • Bring the truth into disrepute v. 2
  • Make up stories that exploit people v. 3
  • Follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature v. 10
  • Despise authority v. 10
  • Slander celestial beings v. 10
  • Blaspheme in matters they do not understand v. 12
  • Carouse in broad daylight v. 13
  • Have eyes full of adultery v. 14
  • Seduce the unstable v. 14
  • Are experts in greed v. 14
  • Have left the straightway v. 15
  • Appeal to lustful desires v. 18
  • Promise freedom while they are enslaved by sin v. 19

This list from 2 Peter 1-20 demonstrates the condemning words that Peter used to describe these false teachers. Any teaching that is described by this list is false and should be rejected. The most powerful weapon against false teaching is the Word of God. It is central in determining truth and conduct.

Peter also describes the judgment that awaits false teachers. He writes, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” (2 Peter 2) Peter begins by giving Biblical examples of God’s judgment for false teaching and apostasy (2 Peter 2: 4-9) This passage describes how God judged the angels who sinned and rebelled against Him (2 Peter 2:4), the ancient world with the flood in Noah’s day (2 Peter 2: 5) and the city of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2: 6-9). Peter also demonstrates how God is able to save the godly from these judgments when he writes, “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.” (2 Peter 2:9) God protects the godly, those who live according to His Word, while He judges the false, ungodly teacher.

Anyone who would endeavor to teach the Word of God and to lead people spiritually should pay close attention to 2 Peter 2. Consider the commitments a teacher of truth must make:

  • The Bible is God’s gift to the world and the source of truth
  • The Bible was written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit
  • The Bible is the inerrant Word of God
  • The Bible is the infallible Word of God
  • The Bible describes how one can know God and live for Him.
  • The Bible has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. (Baptist Faith and Message)
  • The Bible is the source of Christian truth and teaching

A teacher who makes these commitments about the Word of God need not fear the judgment of false teachers. A teacher who stays close to the Word of God can confidently proclaim and teach truths found there in. Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2: 1-2)

Living in Community for God

Living in Community for God

Living in Community for God

1 Peter 4:1-11

The older I get, the more interested I am in making sure that I am living my life to the fullest for God. When I was young, it seemed that time went by slowly and I was always waiting for what was next. Now that I am older, times seems to fly by and I am constantly wondering where the time went. In the passage before us, Peter describes four attitudes a believer should have to make the most of the time they have. As you read about these attitudes, ask yourself if you have these attitudes present in your life and what adjustments you may need to make to live your life to the fullest for God.

Righteous Attitude Toward Sin 1 Peter 4:1-3

Peter encourages the reader to have a righteous attitude toward sin. “Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because He who has suffered in His body is done with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1) Remembering what Christ did in His own body to pay for the penalty of our sins helps us combat the sin that is present in our own lives. The person who remembers Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross does not live to satisfy the evil desires of the flesh, but lives to fulfill the will of God. Peter reminds us that we spent too much time living as “pagans” before we received Christ. He lists the prevailing sins of the day to make a contrast between the “pagan” lifestyle and the believer’s lifestyle. Nothing will sabotage the time that we have to live for God more than sin. In light of what Christ did for us on the cross, why would we want to return to a sin-filled life?

Understanding Attitude Toward the Lost 1 Peter 4:4-6

I was twenty when I received the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers those who will trust Him. The change in my life was dramatic and noticed by my family and friends. Many of them did not understand why my life style changed so dramatically and why I was so passionate about the things of God. Peter describes the need for a understanding attitude toward the lost. He writes, “They think it is strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, that they heap abuse on you.” (1 Peter 4:4) They too will be judged for the way they live their lives and what they do with Jesus Christ. The truth is they don’t understand because they don’t believe. Having an understanding attitude will not only help you stand up to their abuse, but you will have opportunities to be a light for Christ in a very dark world. Take every opportunity to minister to those who do not know Jesus. Time is too short to miss these divine appointments.

Expectant Attitude Toward Christ’s Return 1 Peter 4:7

Since time is short, we should have an expectant attitude toward Christ’s return. Peter writes, “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7) The early church expected for Christ to return during their lifetime. Every day that passes is an opportunity for us to minister to those around us. When Christ comes back, it will be too late. The truth is that we will all see Jesus one day. We don’t know when, but we know it is closer today than it was yesterday. The quality of our lives today will determine our reward on the day we see Jesus face to face.

Servant’s Attitude Towards Others 1 Peter 4:8-11

The final attitude Peter encourages the reader to have that is described in this passage is a servant’s attitude toward others. He encourages love, hospitality, and the proper use of our gifts. Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California, describes the unique ministry S.H.A.P.E. that God has given each one of us.

  • S – Spiritual Gifts
  • H – Heart
  • A – Abilities
  • P – Personality
  • E – Experience

The unique blending of these five areas of our lives equip us for a the unique ministry God has for each one of us. Peter goes on to emphasize that our gifts should be used for the glory of God, not ourselves. This will ensure that God receives His proper glory. Peter ends this passage with a fitting doxology, “To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Family Matters

Family Matters

Family Matters

I Peter 2:1-10

1 Peter 1: 3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”. In the first part of Chapter Two, Peter continues to give the reader reasons we have for hope.

Peter starts by instructing the reader to rid themselves from malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. These vices keep the child of God from living a hope-filled life that honors God. He then goes on to encourage them to “crave pure spiritual milk”. (1 Peter 2:1-3) God’s Word is the source of spiritual nourishment that the believer needs to experience new, hope-filled life. If a child of God stops feeding on the Word, he becomes unhealthy and stops growing. This keeps him from enjoying the grace and peace of God working in his lives. The child of God who feasts on the Word gets the spiritual nourishment needed to live as a stranger in this world and live in the hope that new life in Christ brings.

The next reason that Peter gives for hope is that we can take our place in the building God is constructing – the Church. (1Peter 2:4-8) Jesus is described as the living stone because He was raised from the dead on the third day. He is now the foundation for the church. (Matthew 16:17-19) We take our place in the church as we act as priests and offer God spiritual acts of worship. (Romans 12:1-2) For those who do not believe and are unwilling to worship Him, Jesus becomes a stumbling block.

Finally, Peter describes our place as God’s children in the People of God. Peter is very careful with His description of God’s people. 1 Peter 2:9 describes the child of God as a “chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in His wonderful light.” When we understand who we are in Christ and the place we have in the “people of God”, we will gain strength for our journey and find hope for hard times.

Clear Application Questions for Today

  1. Do you hunger for the “pure spiritual milk” of the Word of God? What adjustments do you need to make in your life to make more time to get into God’s Word?
  2. Do you actively serve God and offer him the worship He deserves? What evidence is there in your life that you belong to the “People of God”?

Do you understand your place in the “people of God.” Read 1 Peter 2:10 to be reminded on the change that has happened in your life.


Hope, Love and Redemption

The book of Ruth in the Old Testament is a compelling story that contains hope, love and redemption.

During the time of the Judges, there was a famine in the land. The book of Ruth is the story of Naomi and Ruth making a pilgrimage back to the Promised Land where they encounter their Kindsmen-Redeemer, Boaz.

Elimelek, Ruth, and their two sons traveled to Moab to find food during the famine. While they were in Moab, their two sons married Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth. After the father and two sons die Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth are widows with a bleak future. Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. During this journey Naomi tells her daughter’s-in-law to return to Moab where they can remarry and live out peaceful lives. Orpah decides to return, and Ruth refuses by expressing her commitment to Naomi and to her God.

Ruth 1:16-17 says,

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

This amazing confession represented Ruth’s commitment to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and a decisive rejection of the pagan religion of the Moabites. This is a bold statement of her faith in the God of Israel.

When they arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth begins gleaning in a field owned by Boaz. Ruth has a face to face conversation with Boaz which starts the most famous love story found in the Bible.

This love story becomes a representation of Jesus Christ and His relationship with His bride, the church. Like Ruth, we are lost and outside the covenant family of God. We are bankrupt with no hope of God’s mercy. But God took the initiative and provided a way for us to enter His family through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Clear Application for Today

  • Commitment to family is valuable.
  • God blesses hard work.
  • God blesses His children in the midst of their circumstances.
  • God provided a Redeemer, His name is Jesus!


Gideon’s Poor Finish

Gideon was used by God to defeat the Midianites and restore peace to Israel. He is remembered as the reluctant leader that had a great victory with 300 soldiers. His story however is tarnished by how he finished the race of his life.

In Judges 8, Gideon conquers the two kings of the Midianites, Zebah and Zalmunna. Judges 8:22-23 records how the Israelites wanted to make Gideon King. To his credit, he refused this offer and redirected the people back to their real ruler, the Lord. Although Gideon refused kingship he began living an extravagant life style of wealth with many wives and children. Gideon then used his wealth and influence to build an altar to foreign gods that caused God’s people to prostitute themselves. This altar also became a snare to Gideon’s family.

The Scottish Presbyterian pastor Andrew Bonar said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”

It is painful to see leaders that God used in a great way finish poorly. This is a wake up call for all of us, who follow Christ in a leadership position, to make sure that we finish well.

During our staff meeting this week, Pastor Hank encouraged the staff to stay humble and stay clean. This is a great prescription for finishing strong.

Gideon let his wealth, success, and popularity lead him to pride. When we go the way of pride we get into dangerous territory. Only when we remain humble, realizing that we need God to fight our battles can we walk close to Him and avoid pride. We also need to realize that we are nothing apart from God. This will help us stay close to God and finish strong. Stay humble.

Gideon began living an extravagant lifestyle with riches and many wives. He turned to the gods of the Canaanites and forsook the Lord. He became so confident in himself that he stopped placing his faith in God. Gideon’s service as a Judge and mighty warrior was marred by pride and unholy living. This resulted in a “dirty” finish to his life.

As a child of God, you must stay clean before God. Where there is sin, confess it. Where there is harmful habits you cannot break, get help. Holiness is to be the pursuit of every believer. Stay Clean.