Devotionals - November, 2021


“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” - Luke 21:25-26, 28

Although in this passage Jesus is talking about His return, we would not be amiss to also see this as encouragement for our daily lives: When times are at their darkest, lift up your heads because Jesus is about to do something wonderful!


And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25

As Pastor said in his sermon, we have a positive and encouraging effect on each other when we attend church in person. Of course, some cannot and, for them, Zoom is a Godsend. But for those of us who are able to be present, let’s remember the effect we have on each other and how our very presence can be used by God to be a blessing to another person


Tonight, starting at sundown, we celebrate what is called, in English, the Feast of Dedication and, in Hebrew, Hanukkah. This is a time when we are reminded of God's faithfulness, His unfailing provision and how He keeps His light burning in our lives even in the most difficult and darkest of times. We can think of this week of Hanukkah as Thanksgiving, Part 2.


“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let us follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us worship them,’ do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death... - Deut 13:1-3a, 5a

I often hear people dismiss passages such as this one by saying that we are no longer under Old Testament law and that seemingly harsh commandments that involve capital punishment do not apply. But those who say such things miss the point. God is telling us how critical it is to accurately represent God and to be sure to never lead or encourage someone on a path that is not of God. Let us be careful to stay away from those that would advocate for other paths and let us only guide others on the one true Path that is Jesus.


And we all... are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philipians 3:13b-14

Never be discouraged if you are not where you would like to be. It is a process and we are all being matured, delivered and perfected to be like Jesus. Sometimes it may seem to be happening slowly if at all but it is happening and it is God Himself who is doing the work.


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

In December, my son, Joshua, contracted COVID and had to isolate for two weeks. God used that time to touch him powerfully and it has changed his life.

Joshua, who is now in an intense program at YWAM, needed a break (whether he knew it or not). Four fellow students contracted COVID and, as a result, Joshua had to take a day off from classes while awaiting results of his test (which was negative).

When we moved away from East Northport, we started attending church closer to where we had moved. The replacement of in-person church services with Zoom sessions brought us back to ECC virtually and then, when the restrictions eased, in person.

All things.


All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. - Acts 4:32

If I budget ten percent of my income to give to God, that’s good. So is budgeting 20, 30 or 50%. But if I turn away from a need or turn down a request from the Holy Spirit to give because I’ve already reached my budget, then I’ve missed the point. God wishes for us to have a heart in which everything is available to Him. Available. Not necessarily given but available.


But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. - Lev 11:10

Why does the Torah prohibit eating shellfish, sharks, vultures, pigs and other various animals? More to the point, what is the spiritual significance of this law? It would seem that God is telling us to avoid taking sustenance from that which feeds on filth and death. In other words, in our personal lives, we should seek that which gives life, that which promotes life and avoid situations and entertainment that survive and even thrive on that which rejects God.


We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. - 2 Cor 1:8-9

Have you ever felt sure that God had abandoned you, that the way forward was hopeless or that your hopes and dreams had died? So did Paul. Paul, who enjoyed such a close relationship with the Father, who had Jesus personally appear to him in a vision and who was so clearly guided by the Holy Spirit, felt sure in his heart that his ministry and even his life were over. And he was wrong. God had other plans and He who raises the dead was going to resurrect Paul’s life and future. God does the same for us regardless of how sure we are that He is distant, that we have failed or that He has given up on us.


Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. - Matt 13:34

Why did Jesus always speak to the crowd using parables? Was He being deliberately difficult to understand? Have you ever found a passage in the Bible difficult to understand and wondered why God could have simply said things clearly?

Notice that it was only to the crowd that Jesus spoke in parables. Anyone who came to Him for an explanation was given a very clear one. Jesus always wants everyone to understand but He first asks if we have any actual desire to understand. In other words, are we like the crowds who were just there for to be part of the cool events and to be fed or do we really want to walk with Jesus?

If we want Jesus or if there is something that is difficult to understand, we just need to ask and the Holy Spirit will answer. Maybe right away or tomorrow of next week or next year but He will answer at the right time and in the right way.


Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:13

Why not thank a veteran today for their willingness to lay down their life for you?


When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. - Matt 8:28, 30-34

Notice the reaction of the townspeople. Jesus brings deliverance and salvation but that involves disruption and a change to the status quo. Do we see that as a good thing or are we like the townspeople who would prefer that Jesus leave and not continue to change lives? There is a cost to following Jesus. The Good News does not always feel good. Are we willing for Jesus to make the changes we so desperately need or we too comfortable with how things are?


There are many aspects of the book of Ruth that can be read allegorically. This does not mean that they did not actually happen but that God is showing us spiritual truths through this story. For example, in the first chapter there are two women who have the option of choosing what certainly appears to be the easier path of going back to their former lives. The woman named Orpah does go back while Ruth chooses the more difficult life of commitment and placing her future in God's hands. It is no accident that Oprah means stiff-necked and Ruth means friend. God is showing us that if we will not be stiff-necked but are willing to put our trust in Him and take what is not always the easy way, He will call us His friends and will richly bless us as He did for Ruth.


In the story of Ruth, we see a woman (Naomi) whose husband makes a decision that can be seen from Scripture to be ungodly: in a time of famine, he decides not to trust in YHWH to provide and instead moves his family to live among the pagan Moabites. The man dies and the couple's two sons subsequently also violate Scripture (Deut 7:3) by marrying non-Israelites. Both sons then die leaving Naomi a widow with no offspring to take care of her.

We know, of course, that things work out very well for Naomi and she even figures prominently in Jesus’ family tree. But what can we learn from her story? Given the times, she had little voice in the bad decisions made by her husband and sons. But she herself remained blameless, not trying to fight against that which was beyond her ability to control. Instead, she was faithful in the areas which God had entrusted to her. God dealt with those who needed to be dealt with and blessed Naomi for her faithfulness. In fact, God, who works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), used even the ungodly decisions of Naomi’s husband and sons to bless Naomi and give us the great-grandmother of Jesus and another hero of the Bible, Ruth.

If we find ourselves in a situation in which those who seem to be in control are making ungodly decisions but God has chosen to not give us a say in those decisions, remain faithful and obedient in what God has given you and He will surely richly bless you.


Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. - John 6:32

Let us never think that it is a preacher, a pastor, a book, a musical group or anything other than God that provides us with spiritual food, nourishment, insight and revelation. Yes, God can and often does provide all of these things through human channels but the source is always Him. Let us never take our focus off of Jesus and put it on the latest source of helpful teaching or great preaching. God is everything.


In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. - James 2:17, 24

In his sermon Sunday, Pastor referenced Fiddler on the Roof and Tevye’s question to his wife: “Do you love me?” Her answer is essentially to say what a silly question; you know the answer based on what I do.

For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

For twenty-five years I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

The question for each of us is this: Would God or anyone else have to ask if we love Him? Would our actions and not just our words make it obvious?


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. - Hebrews 12:1

Pastor’s sermon on Sunday spoke of an EPIC love for Jesus. The fourth letter of EPIC stands for “consistently.” The Bible describes the Christian life as being like a race - not that we race against one another but that each of us must persevere to the end and cross the finish line with Jesus. If we have run well for a time but give up before the end, everything that we did earlier will be forgotten and lost. Like runners in a race, we must be consistent to the end, keeping our eyes on the eternal prize that awaits us.


Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If YHWH is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. - 1 Kings 18:21

Pastor’s sermon on Sunday spoke of an EPIC love for Jesus. The third letter of EPIC stands for “intentional” and speaks of the need to make decisions to follow and love God - and not just once but on a continual and daily basis. As Britannica puts it,

"...more is at stake than simply allotting to divinities their particular spheres of influence. Elijah’s words proclaim that there is no reality except the God of Israel, there are no other beings entitled to the name of divinity."

We cannot have our allegiance with YHWH and with something else. Our allegiance must be and can only be with Him.


Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. - 1 Peter 4:10

Pastor’s sermon on Sunday spoke of an EPIC love for Jesus. The second letter of EPIC stands for “personal.” Our love for God is a personal, one-on-one love and our relationship with Him is unique. No two people have the same relationship with Jesus because none of us is like anyone else. This means that each of us has a unique set of God-given gifts and that no one can take our place. Let us bless God and each other each day by using the gifts He has given us for His glory, for His people and to touch the world around us,


Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. - 2 Sam 6:14-15

Pastor’s sermon on Sunday spoke of an EPIC love for Jesus. The first letter of EPIC stands for “emotional” and reminds us that, when we are in love, there is a strong emotional component to that love. We get excited about the person we love and are thrilled to spend time together. We often express our joy outwardly by smiling, punching the air or even dancing, as David did in today’s passage. If you’ve never felt this way, spend time with Him and notice the things He does and His characteristics. He can’t help but excite. Enjoy!


The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1

Yesterday I woke up worried about what might be the next edict that might affect me, my family or my job. I had completely forgotten Who is my protector, my light and my salvation. I had forgotten there is only One who is in control!