May 27 – I Will Remember – Remembering God in the wilderness

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I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Numbers 14:1–38; Matthew 4:1–11

Israel’s time in the wilderness wasn’t meant to last 40 years. It lasted 40 years because of their rebellious hearts. In response to the report from the majority of the spies, whom Moses sent to scout the Promised Land, the people of Israel refused to believe God’s promise. 

As a result, “The Lord responded…’none of the men who have seen my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested me these ten times and did not obey me, will ever see the land I swore to give their fathers’” (Num. 14:20, 22). 

Fast-forward thousands of years, and we see Jesus in the wilderness. And just like Israel, Jesus was led there. While in the wilderness, rather than rebel against God, Jesus obeys him and emerges ready to launch his ministry (Matt. 4). 

The wilderness is something that we all have experienced. Wilderness seasons make us feel as though we’ve been driven out to the middle of nowhere and the pleasures and comfort of life have vanished. In the wilderness, every step feels like a struggle as God seems to be far away.

In both of these wilderness accounts, there are at least three lessons for us to remember. 

First, the wilderness is part of God’s plan. The wilderness is not the destination, but part of the journey God has for us. Second, the wilderness acts as a spiritual thermometer that takes your spiritual temperature. The wilderness has a way of revealing either how far away you are from God or how close you are to God. Third, what you remember in the wilderness will either prevent you from or push you towards the promises of God. 

Most of the older generation of Israel chose to remember a distorted reality in Egypt. Rather than pressing into the presence, power, and promises of God, they chose to remember their life under an oppressive and violent regime as better. 

Jesus, on the other hand, chose to remember to live by God’s word, trust God’s faithfulness, and worship and serve God alone. 

Maybe you find yourself in a wilderness season where every day seems to be a struggle and God seems to be distant. But even when God feels distant, we must remember that he will never leave nor forsake his children.

Questions for Reflection

If you are in a season of wilderness journeying, how are you allowing it to either prevent you from God’s promises or push you towards his promises? 

How can you journey with others through this wilderness right now?


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May 17 – Extraordinary Women of the Bible – Rahab

Read Matthew 1:5-6 and Joshua 2:1-25, 6:20-25

There was a boy who made a boat and was pleased with it.  He took it to the creek to watch it float.  But the current in the creek was too strong and took the boat away.  A few days later, the boy walked by a second-hand store.  In the window the boy saw his boat.  He went home and emptied his piggy bank to buy back his boat.

This is a story of redemption.  The boy regained possession of his creation in exchange for payment.  This is exactly what God did for each of us.  We were created by Him.  He was pleased with His creation.  But the “world” carried His creation away, He redeemed/bought back His creation through His Son.  In today’s passage, Rahab experiences God’s redemption:

In Jericho — Joshua 2:1-11

Rahab lived in the walls that surrounded Jericho.  She risked her life hiding spies sent by Joshua to survey Jericho.  Rahab’s statement of faith in Joshua 2:9-11 reveals her commitment to God rather than to man.

Verse 9 –

“I know that the Lord…”  Rahab knew there is only One True God. 

“…given you this land…”  Rahab knew Israel was His chosen; Jericho was God’s to give. 

Verse 11 –          

“…the Lord your God…”  Rahab knew that God is a personal God who works on behalf of those who trust Him.

“…God of Heaven and earth” Rahab knew that He is Lord over all

Rahab, in verse 10, had heard of His miracles, but had not seen, and she believed. 

In her house — Joshua 2:12-25

Rahab invited her family to come into her house, escaping destruction and death.  By accepting her invitation, they would experience life.  The waiting was probably hard.  Not knowing the day or time of the coming destruction.  But they waited expectantly for deliverance.  Christ has extended an invitation to you to “come in.”  He has promised He will return and, by accepting His invitation, you will receive life. This is an invitation to be redeemed.  While we wait for His return, who do you need to invite to “come in?”

In Israel — Joshua 6:20-25

The trumpet sounded, the army shouted, and the walls of Jericho collapsed. However, the section of wall that Rahab and her family were in, did not fall. God’s first priority was not altering her circumstances, but altering her heart.  Rahab and her family remained in the house in Jericho where they probably heard the destruction around them. 

God did not change Rahab’s circumstances, He changed her heart.  Rahab’s faith in God lifted her out of her circumstances:

“…she lives among the Israelites to this day.”Joshua 6:24b

You were created for God’s pleasure.  The “current of the world” took Rahab far from God.  Romans 3:23 says that we all have sinned.  We have all drifted away from our Maker.  He knows, He sees you drifting. Through the blood of His Son Jesus, we have been redeemed, He has bought us back. Rahab heard and believed in the work of God.  This Gentile woman, a sinner, is listed in the lineage of Christ.  She was redeemed and God will do the same for you. 

You have now heard!  Will you choose to believe and, as Rahab did, confess with your mouth that He is LORD?

Janene Nagel

May 12 – A Changing Culture – Hypocricy

Read Matthew 23:23-32

There is a big difference between solid wood and veneer furniture. Certainly, there is a difference in price as a piece made of oak through and through is more expensive than a thin oak sheet glued on to something cheap underneath. There is a difference in quality as, under the veneer, you often find some kind of particle board that is subject to swelling if it gets wet and to crumbling if it is hit.

In today’s reading, Jesus speaks pointedly to those in His day, who were merely veneered followers. Externally, one could see their attention to the smallest detail of giving, but internally they lacked a genuine heart of care and concern for others. Outside, they seemed clean and appealing, but inside they were all about selfish pursuits and pleasures. They were like beautiful tombs filled with the remains of the dead. Seven times in this chapter, Jesus expressed “Woe” to these veneered hypocrites.

You have probably noticed, but Jesus reserved some of His most critical words for those characterized by hypocrisy…this inconsistency between appearances and reality. But hypocrisy is not a problem unique to the first century. In fact, it is something that captures the attention of God and of our culture today when it is uncovered. Unfortunately, news reports go viral when prominent Christian leaders are exposed as money-hungry managers, substance abusing shepherds, power-hungry pastors, or adulterous elders.

Leaders aren’t the only ones who run those risks and face these pitfalls. The Father desires integrity and authenticity from every one of His children. And even though many unbelievers in our changing culture don’t embrace the person of Jesus, they often have an internal expectation that, as a Jesus-follower, you will demonstrate those two ingredients: integrity and authenticity.

So, if others were to cut below the superficial, the external, the visible aspects of your life, what would they find? Would it be solid oak through and through? Or would they discover something far different than what the surface seems to indicate? For God’s glory and for the sake of His gospel, be the same sincere Christ-follower in the recesses of your heart and life that is portrayed to others.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

(Ps. 139:23, 24)

Steve Kern

May 11 – A Changing Culture – Managing Money

Read Ecclesiastes 5:10 and Matthew 6:24

The subject of “money” is a tough one, especially for the Church. The Bible mentions several warnings of its temptations. Yet, we also know that money is a significant resource to help those in need and a natural effect of hard work and biblical perseverance.

So… to want money or to not want money?

My personal thought is that money in itself is not the problem; it is our desire toward it that gets us into trouble. Most people whose primary drive is financial gain lead themselves to their own suffering: arrogance, selfishness, elitism, loneliness, regrets of corrupted character, broken relationships from the sake of the pursuit. With a list like that, you’d think we would learn to stop our foolish desires toward money.

Ask a wealthy person and they will agree that “Money creates more problems than it solves.” Ask a financially strapped person and they will reply, “I will freely take those problems off your hands and not complain about it.”

I try to manage my outlook on money within two guidelines:

Never trade your calling or integrity for monetary gain. God will never ask this of you. Ever. In fact, you may be tested in very grey, minimal moments before given greater opportunity. I believe every success story of a Christian in business includes a moment where they had to say “no” when worldly logic would say “yes”. They must rise up and deny themselves an easy pass when even colleagues around them say “Don’t worry, no one will ever know” Make no mistake, there is no greater worship for those called into business than this moment. We are nothing different without our integrity. Stay strong.

Always remember that money does not buy happiness. No matter what I feel I want, God is all I will ever need. Happiness comes from being content. And, luckily, contentment costs us nothing. Rather, it is a hard-fought mindset that shouts to the world, “I do not need to need more!” There is something so freeing in that statement. Fight to find holy contentment.

If you are truly in need – be it food, shelter, clothing or medication – please reach out to us. That is what our church is here for.

If you do not need any of the above, take a moment to be thankful to God for all you do have, it’s more than most. If you live in plenty, pray about where you may be willing to deny yourself the next time you find yourself spending. There is nothing you can buy that feels better than giving!

Nate Torrence

May 10 – A Changing Culture – Handling Success

Read Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 16:3 and Psalm 101:5b

“Just bought a book on narcissism. It’s great. It’s all about me.”

Have you ever watched the old video segments of The Beatles in 1963 from The Ed Sullivan show? You would see that these guys were hungry for success and had worked hard to produce pleasant music. They were young and ready to make some money. They were enthusiastic, excited and singing love songs such as THIS BOY (my favorite), SHE LOVES YOU and I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND.

Then, as I watched old video segments from 1965 through 1969, their attitudes changed. A lot of my friends say that their music got even better but what I saw were guys who weren’t as hungry and excited. They were burnt out. How could they not have been burnt out with the fame they experienced?

As they approached 1970 when the band broke up, they became drug addicts. Their music changed from love songs to drug songs such as LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS and DAY TRIPPER. Many people liked the music better. I didn’t. What changed?

Then on March 4, 1966 The Beatles’ John Lennon said, “We are more popular than Jesus.”

Reactions included radio stations banning Beatles music and rallies of boys and girls stomping on their records and bonfires of Beatles material.

Audio Adrenaline, a band of 5 Christian men aged twentysomething, sang a song titled NEVER GONNA BE AS BIG AS JESUS in 1996. This song was a response to The Beatles’ claim that they were bigger than Jesus.

“Never gonna be as big as Jesus
Never gonna hold the world in my hands
Never gonna be as big as Jesus
Never gonna build the promise land
But that, that’s all right, O.K. with me.
I could build a tower to heaven
Get on top and touch the sky
I could write a million songs
All designed to glorify
I could be about as good
Good as any human could
But that won’t get me by.”

How do you handle success? Do you work to avoid arrogance? When you become successful, it is natural to become arrogant and not realize it – too much pride, personal superiority and thinking you are more important than others.

But Jesus said to seek Him first:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”Matthew 6:33

That is how to avoid arrogance and handle success in a modest way.

Today, we have a culture that has changed. Arrogance and narcissism seem to be common. Jesus said to seek Him first.

Pray for humility!

As Christians, many parts of our life are UPSIDE DOWN from the rest of the world.

Avoid arrogance.

Do you seek Him first in all that you do?

Tom Weckesser

May 1 – Sermon on the Mount – The Two Foundations

Read Matthew 7:24-25

Did you know that the Apostle Peter’s name translates into the word ‘Rock’? I love this fact because Peter’s name originally was Simon and it was Jesus who changed his name as He told him in Matt 16:18 and that it was:

“…upon this rock that I will build my church and all the powers of Hell will not overcome it.”

I am enamored by the Apostle Peter.  He is one who laid his life on the line for his Lord, and his strengths and weaknesses are exposed for the world to see through the Bible. He demonstrates moments of brilliance, faithfulness and loyalty driven by a personality of passion beyond compare.  Likewise, the Bible shares with us how his weaknesses revealed times of doubt, impetuous action and neediness. However, there are some incredible connections to Peter’s life that Jesus (and the Bible for that matter) show us in the kind of person it takes to follow Jesus. 

To start with, Jesus words in Matt 7:24-27 paint a visual of a wise and a foolish builder.  One choosing to build his house on a rock, unmoved by the storms, water and wind due to a firm foundation, and the other on sand which could not stand the pressure. Now consider this in light of the previous verses that Jesus shared.  He spoke of the road to hell being wide, the gate to the Kingdom as narrow and for few.  He spoke of trees and teachers as being revealed by their fruit and His message to the crowds at the sermon dug deep.  His connection to building a house on an immovable foundation becomes clear- let the foundation be driven by truth.  

Enter Peter.

What an amazing, intentional and unconventional move by Jesus to pick Simon and change his name to ‘Rock’ – and to state that He is building the church on the Rock! Furthermore, the gates of hell (there is that word again “gate”)- the hell that is easy for many to get into, the hell where the road is wide and false prophets are waiting to devour people into – cannot stand against the church and the Rock!  Praise God that, despite the stories that Peter is known for where he stumbled, the foundation that he is known for was built by the ultimate craftsman.  The victories in Peter’s life far outweighed the shame of losses.

Remember, only Peter stepped out of the boat in Matthew 14.

Our prayer for the Church, and for ourselves as individuals can this week be:

  1. God, thank you for showing us (me) the way to build my life.
  2. God, thank you for giving us the foundation which is founded in truth.
  3. God, thank you for your faithfulness to teach us how to be wise in building our faith in you.
  4. God, thank you for exemplifying through Peter that, though the storm may come, that, which is built on the rock, will not be washed away.

Joe Rubino

April 30 – Sermon on the Mount – Tree and its Fruit

Read Matthew 7:15-23

My wife and I were in southwest Italy one time, celebrating our 25th Anniversary. There were endless amounts of orange and lemon trees dotting the coastlines of the places that we went. They were beautiful and there was no doubt what kind of trees they were, even from a distance. Due to the fact that I, Ohio born and raised, am not used to seeing trees other than the ones that leave leaves in my yard, I drew a new connection to Jesus’ words from this passage.

Jesus compares false teachers and those who preach the truth to trees. He states that we are to beware of people that preach a false message and we will know who they are by the fruit they bear.  He likens false teachers to wolves in sheep’s clothing, waiting to devour. His visual descriptor is vivid and His purpose is clear: to get into the Kingdom, you can’t follow them. It is powerful to envision that the road to destruction is wide and many will fit on it, but the gate to get into the Kingdom is narrow and only a few get in.   

Anybody can claim to be of God… and lots of people do. We are inundated with messages daily from those who claim to be of Him with prophesying a kingdom built on “needed” financial luxuries, moral progression and patriotic duties.  They promise us that this can be found in Scripture or that this is how God really is. They seek to convince us that the Words of God found in the Bible must be met with a question, “Did God really say…?”.  

How do we avoid this pitfall and highway to hell in exchange for fidelity to the true kingdom of God?  We must cling to Jesus’ words found in Matthew 7, the way in which He lived His life and measure the words of others’ claims and their lifestyles against His.

If Christians and the churches that they belong to were supposed to be built on luxury, moral progression and patriotic duty, then why didn’t Jesus say that this was the fruit to look for? Furthermore, why didn’t He model it?

The Bible describes the kind of life, the one that has good fruit, fruit that can be seen by anyone who sees the tree.  When you encounter someone claiming to be of God, check to see how their life and words measure up to the fruits of the Spirit talked about in Galatians 5.  Do the people demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (like Jesus did), or is it visible, even from far away, that they demonstrate something else? What kind of fruit are you producing?

Joe Rubino

April 29 – Sermon on the Mount – Which Way to Heaven?

Read Matthew 7:13-14 and Colossians 3:2

Many people consider Heaven and how to get there. Our culture is full of songs and movies considering heaven.

Many people write, sing and talk about heaven. They may ask, “How do you get there”?

Jesus said in Matthew 7 that only a few find life – eternity with Jesus. The word FIND means “to discover by searching.” Are you searching for it?

The Bible says it is crucial that you say – out loud – that Jesus is Lord and that you must believe that God raised Him from the dead. That is how you are saved! That is how you find Heaven!

Have you done this? (see Romans 10:9) If you have, your next step may be to be baptized!

The key to understanding verses 13-14 is that many people choose the broad way of this world but few choose the narrow way of following Jesus. The broad way has a wide gate and the narrow way has a small entrance.

The wide ways of this world – immorality, ungodliness and debauchery – are all around us.

Which way is Heaven? The way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ!

Following Jesus requires setting your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2), running the race before you (1 Corinthians 9:24) and obeying the word of God (Psalm 37:5). Many people know this way but are not willing to choose it – they love this world so much and can’t just let go of it.

Can you let go?

Jesus answered in John 14:6 by saying there is only one way!

Do you know the one way to Heaven? Who can you tell about Jesus so they can know and believe as well?

Tom Weckesser

April 28 – Sermon on the Mount – Prayer and the Golden Rule

Read Matthew 7:7-12

We will never truly know how much God loves us until we stand before Him in Heaven. The Bible is full of passages describing, the best that human words can describe, the immeasurable love that God has for His children.

Do you ever wonder what it is truly like? How much more do you think God loves us than we have read in Scripture?

Our reading today describes, or proves, God’s love through the topic of answering prayer. When many people think of prayer and read certain passages of Scripture, they misinterpret that God is somehow obligated to answer whatever request you make.

Whereas we think God will or should answer “yes” to every prayer we pray, the promise is that:

“…the door will be opened.”

We have the opportunity to gain an audience with God Himself through prayer. When we bring our trials and issues before Him, He promises to hear us.

Where people are confused is when He doesn’t respond in the way they think He should. I know I have been there many times where I’m left saying, “I appreciate this and all…but this isn’t what I wanted.” As hard as it may be, we need to come to grips with the fact that God has a divine perspective. He knows what NEEDS to happen in our lives in order for us to become who He intended us to be.

He promises to take care of us. As fallen people, we even care for our children so, Jesus asks, why would we expect God not to do the same?

I’m sure this is the case for every parent, but I love giving my kids things. Kelly and I bought Mattie a Lego Hulk set and, seeing his eyes light up when we handed it to him, made me so incredibly happy. Did he NEED a new Lego set? No. On the other hand, God knows exactly what we need and promises to love and care for us through life’s many journeys.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to prayer is to be direct and ask God for what you need. However, be prepared for His answer. It may not be what you want but, rest assured, it’s what you need. He loves us so much that He promises to meet all of our needs…according to His view of our life. We need to trust that His plan is best for us and He will never lead us astray.

The implication of verses 7-11 is made explicit in verse 12. The perfect love of the heavenly Father is most reflected in His children when they treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.

“So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”

God has blessed us with so much that we would be missing the point by not extending that love to those around us.

After reading this section of Scripture, do you need to trust God’s plan for your life more than your own? Do you realize just how much He loves you? Do you trust that He will be with you through all of life’s trials? Have you internalized His love for you to the point that you are extending that love to others? If not, what steps are you going to take in order to do so?

Jake Lawson

April 27 – Sermon on the Mount – Judging Others

Read Matthew 7:1-6

It’s easier to say “don’t judge people” than to live it out, am I right? There are times where I need to be reminded to give people a chance and not jump to conclusions. This is a big area of my life that the Lord has helped me in through the last 13 years of following Jesus.

As a child who grew up in church, only knowing what the Bible said and not what it meant contextually/historically, this was a verse I used out of context, A LOT, as a teenager and young adult.

In our reading today, Jesus is saying this for a reason. People liked to point out each other’s faults and prove their opinions to be correct and their points more important. He is telling His followers to go before the Lord and examine their own life first before pointing out someone else’s life choices.

As followers of Christ, the word or phrase “to judge” is used again in Paul’s writings to the Church of Corinth. His word “judge” is used to mean “to correct” like iron sharpening iron.

As I studied this text, it began to make sense. Jesus was telling me to examine myself before I go to a brother or sister in Christ. Paul then teaches us that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to sharpen each other – to hold each other to a standard of righteousness and holiness.

It’s not always the easiest to be held accountable or have the crucial conversations with each other, but they are necessary. If we are living with the same goal in mind, to please Jesus and live righteously, this also means we must examine ourselves daily before we examine the choices of others. We must allow ourselves to be worked on the potter’s wheel in order to be made better and also encourage those around us to do the same. 

I challenge you to go before the Lord and see where you may have stepped from potter’s wheel to potter. Where have you begun to judge others? Where do you need to examine yourself and your choices and change your ways towards righteousness? Spend some time today to focus on these questions and step into a place with the Lord to allow Him to show you.

Kelly Lawson