February 29 – People of the Earth – Future Praise

Read Revelation 7:1-17

I have often been asked, “If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?” Now, sure there are decisions I have made that I would absolutely take back. There are even some experiences that I’ve been through that I would rather not have endured. There are things that I said, things that I thought, things that I did that I would definitely take back if I could.

However, all those things that I did, all those trials I have been through, have made me into the person that I am today. If it weren’t for the low points in my life, I wouldn’t be as strong, spiritually, as I am today. I am positive that some of you can relate and have had a lot worse experiences than I  have, but we can all agree that those experiences, whether good or bad, have made us into the people we are today.

In Revelation 7, John gives an account of the interlude in Heaven (this is just before Pastor Nick’s “halftime” in chapters 10-11) which includes the sealing of the 144,000. After that, John describes a massive amount of people coming forth, of which no one could count, all wearing white robes and praising God (v. 10). An elder approaches John and asks if he knows who these people are and where they have come from. The elder answers his own question when he says they are the ones who endured the Tribulation and in the process have given their lives to Jesus.

Imagine what these people have just been through. They have just experienced the worst period of the entire history of the world and, after all of that, they are praising God! They recognized that what they went through was so that they could prove faithful and get to the point of celebrating in the throne room of God.

In reaching out to people of all walks of life, it is important to get them to understand that their past mistakes have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus but have also made them who they are. The trials that we all go through in life make Heaven that much sweeter. We realize that, through it all, God was with us and His plan was for us to end up in the throne room praising Him!

I encourage you, when you look at your past, remember that that isn’t who you are. Your identity is anew and that who you were and what you did, was used by the Lord to mold and shape you into the person you are today.

Jake Lawson

February 28 – People of the Earth – Faith as Righteousness

Read Galatians 3:1-29

I have never been good at mathematics. In school, I would find myself doing an elaborate math problem and as it progressed, I would feel like things were going well; the numbers didn’t seem too high or low and my temper was in check. I would get an answer that I could live with and submit it, only to find out that it was wrong. “What?! I wasted all that time and I got the problem wrong?!” When I would go back and look over the problem, I would find that I forgot a single negative sign, ONE! One sign determined whether the solution was right or wrong. The whole entire math problem was made or broken by a single negative sign.  Christianity is a lot like that.

To some, it appears to be a very complicated and broad topic. Many thesis papers, books and journal articles have been written about Christianity and yet there is still more to be learned. Some people look at Christianity and are turned off because they feel there are too many rules and regulations to being a proper Christian.

While there may be a lot of debate on the topic of Christianity, it all boils down to faith.  Faith is what makes or breaks it.  Without faith,  there is no Christianity. The idea of faith is one that the church of Galatia struggled with. They were overly concerned with their actions or living under the Deuteronomic law. They were getting so bogged down by all the details that they were losing sight of the main goal.

Paul tells the Galatians in chapter 3 that anyone can come to faith in Jesus, only if they have faith. It is nothing that they can do by themselves; it is only through the faith that they possess. It is NEVER Jesus + something = salvation! It is just Jesus, faith in Who He is.

In reaching the people of the earth, while there may be some difficulties, the one thing the lost need is faith. Faith in Jesus: His life, His death, and His resurrection. That alone is what saves someone.  It is not a result of anything they can do. Knowing that anyone can be saved, we need to be good stewards of the opportunities God has given us.

Jake Lawson

February 27 – People of the Earth – Glorious Unity

Read Romans 15

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! (vv5-6, MSG)

The church in Rome was full of Jewish Christ-followers as well as non-Jewish. In fact, one reason Paul wrote his Romans letter was to deal with some tension that had been mounting between them in the church. He knew they needed unity. The kind Jesus talked about in John 17.

The goal is for all (believers) to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me (Jn 17:22-23, MSG)

So as Paul begins to close his letter, he hits the topic of unity among Christ-followers with gusto. He writes of the strong looking after the weak and the neighbor looking to serve others rather than only himself. Paul even writes about the Jew and the Gentile working together in Christ to bring glorious praise to His name.

All the people of the earth will praise His name. Jews and Gentiles, weak and strong. Each person will have a part in bringing glory to the One all-deserving God. And Paul wanted to encourage the Christ-followers in the first-century church to work together in such a way that together they would glorify God in a most-beautiful way.

It’s one way God uses mankind for His glory — believers working together, living for His praise.

That means you and I, together, can bring a special kind of praise to God if we will work together with the single-minded purpose of bringing honor and glory to the One who deserves all praise.

Bria Wasson

February 26 – People of the Earth – Importance of Israel

Read Romans 11:1-36

God’s plan for humanity started with the nation of Israel. The Messiah would come through the royal line of David. In His ministry on earth, Jesus would deliberately minister to the people of Israel. As we know, the people of Israel did not appreciate the calling of Jesus. They didn’t listen to his commands and even hung Him on a cross. Then, we see in Acts and in Galatians, Paul explaining the great mystery to the Jews; that salvation had now been extended to the Gentiles.

Seemingly everything that happens in Israel, nowadays, is telecast across all major platforms. Israel holds a lot of weight…politically and spiritually. Ever since the beginning of the nation as described in Genesis 12, there has been a lot of pressure on Israel.  We find ourselves asking, “What importance do they really have? Why should we care about Israel? Why should what happens in Israel influence us?”

The historic hardening of Israel is well documented throughout the Bible. No matter how much they rebel against God, Romans 11 tells us how they have not drifted too far. We should look at this hardening as a blessing because it is due to their rebellion that we have salvation. Verse 25 explains that the partial hardening will occur until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” There is the blessing, for all Gentiles, once again. Until EVERYONE has heard about Jesus, His chosen nation will have a blinding on their hearts. Yet, this, also, brings up the issue of predestination and the question, “Did God already have a set number of people that He knew would accept Him?” People question predestination by saying that, if God already knows who will accept Him, do they even have a choice?

Events in our lives are determined by God through our free choices. We have the choice to follow Him and we can choose to do so or let the opportunity pass us by. God, being an all-knowing God, knows what we will decide but still offers the gift of relational collaboration of choice to make for ourselves. Sooner or later, the door will be shut for us and all Israel will be saved.

I encourage you and challenge you to make the most of this mystery. Accept God’s free gift of salvation and continue in sharing and showing who He is to the lost world.

Jake Lawson

February 25 – People of the Earth – All Nations

Read Matthew 28

It is finished (Jn 19:30).

When Jesus hung on that cross that Friday on that hill, the task was complete. All of time had hinged on the work of the God-man, Jesus Christ, and what He finished on that cross. The death and the pain and the suffering He endured up to the last taste of the horrible sour wine the guards gave Him in their merciless act — He took it up in all its terrible fullness so that Sunday could happen.

He finished death that day on the cross. Then He proved His victory when He left the grave empty three days later — the victory He attained for all the people of the earth.

Great is the name of the Lord God Almighty! Worthy of all worship. He holds all the authority of heaven and of earth. And the peoples of the earth will worship Him.

All nations included. There is no one He didn’t want to deliver, nobody He meant to leave out of His inheritance. For all can come and worship Almighty God. That is why Jesus came.

That is what He finished.

And it’s why He wants us to tell everyone we know about Him. He calls us to make disciples of all the people of the earth so all can worship the One Who holds all power.

So, let me ask you — are you living up to the call He has given you? Are you making disciples of all nations? Maybe you’re not over in Africa or somewhere else in the world, but do you have a hand in the making of disciples? All the world includes Wayne County, Ohio.

God has a plan for all the people of the earth to bring glory to His name. Are you spreading the word about Him? Are you pointing people to the One worthy of honor? Are you helping them know the One they were created to worship?

Bria Wasson

February 24 – People of the Earth – All People Praising God in Jerusalem

Read Isaiah 66:10-28

Isaiah had been prophesying Israel’s captivity since chapter 40 of his book. But, don’t worry, God made sure he told them, I will restore the nation I love! In fact, I will bring all nations to Jerusalem, and all the people of the earth will bring glory to My name.

After their exile and captivity, God would extend peace to (Zion) like a river, He promised, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream (v12).

The nation of Israel had been the exclusive children of God, the sole recipients of His abundant inheritance. They grew comfortable with that idea to the point that they refused to believe other nations, non-Jews, could have any part in what God would accomplish — bringing glory to His name.

So when Isaiah proclaimed the Lord will execute judgment on all people (v16), I imagine the Israelites had no problem believing it. But, according to the first few verses of this chapter, all people meant even the Jews. Yes, even the Israelites would face God’s fierce judgment if they refused to come humbly to Him, trusting His Way (Jesus Christ) alone for their salvation.

It follows, then that all people who trust in Jesus Christ, God’s only way to true salvation and real life, will bring glory to His name — all Israelites as well as Gentiles. The purpose for which all men were made will indeed one day come to fulfillment by the mercy of God.

The Israelites whose religion had them performing ceremonies out of mere ritualistic motivation would face God’s wrath because Almighty God demands humility, true dependence on Himself. He alone is worthy of the glory anyone’s life can give.

And one day all men and women on earth will bow down before Him and bring Him praise.

I want to be on the right side of that praise. Don’t you? In fact, I want to live solely in honor of the One worthy of the honor. I’m done with pretending to be some awesome religious person. Rather, I want to live surrendered to God because Jesus Christ made a way for me to live for the glory of God’s name.

Bria Wasson

February 23 – People of the Earth – Marked with Blessing

Read Psalm 67

God, mark us with grace and blessing! The whole country will see how you work . . . (v1, msg)

The children of God are marked with blessing so it can’t be denied — we are the children of God!

He draws people to Himself as He brings grace upon grace. So those living on earth will know what (He is) like; all nations will know how (He) deliver(s) (His) people (v7, NET). It’s why He sent Jesus — to make Himself known and make it possible for mankind to respond to His pull, to find true salvation and life. The Almighty wants to bring glory to His perfect and mighty name.

Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind. How everyone throughout the earth will praise the Lord! (vv2,3, Living Bible)

We are God’s painting, His handiwork displaying His glory so all the peoples of the earth might realize His amazingness. We live for His glory, tell of His goodness, speak of His grace, and He works His plan for praise.

He blesses so His name will be praised. Every blessing points straight back to God.

But the way He blesses might confuse some of us. Because crises occur. Earthquakes shake lives and hurricanes ruin homes and evil people use guns to kill marines. And, really, where can the blessing be inside all of that?

He works His mighty hand and offers deliverance still and the blessing is given and His name will be feared. Because God is always good, even when fallen earth is not.

Still, God’s name will be praised throughout the earth. His purpose still stands, and it will be fulfilled. All the peoples will one day pay tribute and fall to honor the One and Only King of Kings.

How will you honor God’s name today? How will you recount His blessings? Even if you’re in a really tough place, can you find God’s blessing still?

Can you hold on to the undeserved gift of real life and freedom that He’s given you through Jesus? Then you are blessed beyond measure. Even if you’re in the middle of a great big storm. So praise His name.

Bria Wasson

February 22 – People of the Earth – So that He may be known

Read 1 Kings 8: 41-4360-61

Outside of the first century A.D., in today’s day in age, Christianity has been looked down upon more than any time before. When you say the name of Jesus, people look at you differently. If you take the time to think about it, our world is full of people who speak out against anything that they disagree with and many Christians are just like that. The problem is we speak out to the point of judgment and condemnation. People look at us and judge us because we can be so hateful with our words and proclamation.

We are called to love people, not hate them. Our call is to be a people that attract others to Jesus, not deter from Him. As we look through Scripture, we see that this is a common theme throughout the book of 1 Kings.

In chapter 8, Solomon dedicates the temple to God. He speaks to people outside their nation that came to the temple and prays that, when they come to this holy temple, they would meet God. He prays that they would be amazed by the answering of prayers from Heaven and that, through this answering of prayer, people will know that this temple was built in the name of God.

As Christians, it is our job to create an environment worth visiting. It is God’s job to work through them for life change, but it is our job to be attractive. Are we acting in a way that invites people to visit our church? Are we acting in a way that shows people we are different and that difference is Jesus?Are we acting in a way that causes other people to want the hope that we have?

So what are we supposed to do? Verse 61 gives us a pretty good idea; we need to let our heart be fully devoted to the Lord and fully committed to His plan for humanity no matter what walk of life they are in. Also, it tells us that we need to continue to have a favorable walk with God. We need to be an example to people of what it looks like to love God and love people, so that we may have the opportunity to lead them to salvation.

A good next step is subscribing to www.everydaywithgod.com so that you may be spiritually fed and can then impart that on others. If you haven’t been plugged into a Grace Group, it is a perfect way to grow closer to God while also growing closer to others.

Jake Lawson

February 21 – People of the Earth – Priestly Kingdom and a Holy Nation

Read Exodus 19:3-6

It didn’t take me long to realize,at 13 years old, that public schooling would be different than the private schooling I was so used to. I was very quickly baptized by fire into the language and attitude of the world. I heard words that I didn’t even know existed and I was never allowed to repeat. Jesus was nowhere near the central focus of people and those people would even curse at the name of Jesus.

As my education went on, I started slipping into the mix. It was getting harder and harder to tell that I was a Christ follower. Halfway through high school, I came to realize that the way I was living needed to change. I was put in that school for a reason and that was to show the light of Jesus to people, not to pull them farther down into the dark.

Exodus 19 contains a similar idea. God had just brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. God called their leader Moses saying that the nation was to be set apart as holy: “…you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Priests were often viewed as the most prominent figures in the ancient Israelite culture. They were set apart because they were the only people that could enter into the presence of God. God was calling the Israelites to no longer fit into the culture of the Egyptians but to stand out as a light among the nations. From then on, people were to view the nation of Israel as different than all the others.

In the same way, Romans 12:2 talks to us Christians and says how we, too, are to stand out as holy people. We are not to allow the influences of this world to take us away from the influence we can have through Christ. When people see us they should see Jesus. We should be set apart and there should be no question.

Are you living in a way that separates you from the pack? When people encounter you, do they question why they don’t have what you do? There are people in all walks of life that God has placed in our lives, from this nation or another, and they are hungry for change. Be that change for people, be that “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Jake Lawson

February 20 – People of the Earth – One Key Nation

Read Genesis 12:1-20

I remember my bachelor years when my room tended to get a little messy; clothes were everywhere and my bed was very rarely made. There were some days that I would walk over a pile of clothes and think to myself that I had better clean this up before I’m asked by my parents to pay rent and the electric bill. Looking at the huge mess, I ‘d plug in some music and tell myself, “You just have to start somewhere.”

God’s plan for humanity is one that spans thousands of years. There are a lot of ups and downs, praise and disgrace, good and evil mixed throughout the story of mankind. In Genesis 12, we see God starting His great nation of Israel. This very important nation that would produce the Savior of the world started with just one man.

God comes to Abraham and promises him that, if he leaves his home and goes out into a foreign land, Abraham’s name will be made great and that, from his line, a great nation will be born. God’s promise included that people who bless Him will be blessed and those who curse Him will be cursed. What a promise! Abraham was up to the challenge and set out in obedience. We learn from Abraham that, at any time, we need to be ready to drop everything to follow God.

But we also learn something else. We learn that, after the high points of our lives, we are the most susceptible to temptation. Even Abraham’s story included some pride and disobedience.  When Abraham went to Egypt, he lied about his relationship to his wife Sarah so that he would be safe (Abraham said she was his sister). In turn, for taking Sarah to be his wife, Pharaoh’s house was stricken with plagues; Sarah was quickly returned and Abraham was told to leave.

The very important nation of Israel started with just one man who was willing to sacrifice everything for the better good. From this point on, the nation of Israel would be God’s chosen people. Many people would try to attack the Israelite people but they would never be successful without the okay from God. When Abraham accepted God’s challenge, he made himself to be the father of God’s chosen people, Israel. Just as God worked miraculously through Abraham’s obedience, He can do the same through you!

Jake Lawson