December 6, 2023: Justification Not Through Works

Read Jeremiah 2:21-24.

"For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God" (v. 22).

A former Colgate Palmolive soap factory employee relates that although there are newer processes for making soap, the essentials are more or less the same as when made on the farm from soda ash and the lard rendered from a pig. The raw ingredients to make soap are oils – palm oil, coconut oil, or even fish oil; for bar soap, caustic soda or lye from soda ash; and for soft soap, caustic potassium from potash.
These ingredients are boiled in huge vats. After the vats are cooled, and the chemical reaction results are removed, it is necessary to clean the vats, which are heated by huge, coal-fired boilers. The soot must be cleaned from the horizontal six-foot-high pipes leading to the chimney stacks. The unfortunate part of this process is that even though you have a lot of soap available, you can not get clean. At the end of the two weeks, it takes to clean the pipes, the employees have to throw their clothes into the garbage. After many showers, they still don’t look clean. They bare stains that even soft soap won’t clean!
We face the same problem. We have many remedies for cleaning up our lives that have been fabricated by man. We have seminars, AA meetings, NA meetings, self-help books, support groups, and therapy sessions, but even though these methods may give temporary relief, none of them can remove the stain of sin. Only the atoning blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse the stain of sin from the heart and life of a repentant individual who believes in the Son of God for salvation. (Gayle Woods)
Only the atoning blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse the stain of sin.

2023-12-06T14:59:30+00:00December 6th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

November 30. 2023: The Punishment of Sin

Read Jeremiah 31:27-30.

“In those days, they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge” (v. 29-30).

“You can’t tell me she’s not your daughter! She looks JUST like you!” Upon seeing my mother and I in our favorite craft and home décor store, the stranger immediately pointed out our resemblance. We smiled and chuckled in agreement. We do look a lot alike. It is easy to see we are related.
As distinctive physical traits get passed down from generation to generation, so do habits, personalities, and character traits. In today’s reading, Jeremiah addresses a proverb of his day. He was trying to balance the concept of generational consequences, though. While our forefathers may have eaten the “sour grapes” of sin, and while we may suffer some of the fallout from their decisions, Jeremiah reminds us that every generation has a choice in this area. That is both good news and bad news. The good news? We can choose differently than our ancestors and take “sour grapes” off our menus. The bad news? If we decide to follow a pattern of family sin and continue eating those “sour grapes,” we should also expect our own punishment. There will be repercussions. Serious ones, in fact. If unforgiven, we can expect to “die for [our] own iniquity.”
Yes, our parents’ choices can and do affect us. But just as their sin cannot send us to hell, neither can their salvation get us into heaven. We are solely responsible for our own actions, responses, and relationship with God. Make good choices today! (SW)
There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming;
There’s a sad day coming by and by,
When the sinner shall hear his doom:
“Depart, I know you not!”
Are you ready for that day to come?
--- Will L. Thompson

2023-11-30T14:50:12+00:00November 30th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

November 9, 2023: Help for God’s People

Read Psalm 107:33-43.

“He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly;
and suffereth not their cattle to decrease” (v. 38).

God never forsakes the righteous. They may appear to be neglected, abused, and mistreated, but God never allows more oppression than His people can handle with His help. When God’s people walk closely to Him, He may allow Satan to test them to prove their commitment to God.
Take Job, for example. He lost all his possessions, his political position, his children, his health, and finally, the support of his wife. Through all that, Job stayed true to God, and when his trial was over, God doubled his possessions and the size of his family. God stayed with Job while he was enduring his “friends” and misfortune and was right there when it was over. God is always right there by our side if we are serving Him. (Harold Carpenter)
“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last and our eternal home.”
--– Isaac Watts

Never fear; God is here.

2023-11-09T17:43:34+00:00November 9th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

November 2, 2023: The Need for God’s Help

Read Psalm 124;1-5.

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, . . .” (v. 1)..

“If it hadn’t been for . . .” We hear that phrase, and our ears perk up. Will we hear something good or something bad? Did someone make a wrong decision that ruined another person’s day? Did someone arrive in the nick of time to stave off trouble?
David points out several bad things that would have happened in this psalm “if it had not been the LORD who was on our side.” If it had been someone else siding with them, wicked men would have swallowed up the children of Israel; waters would have overwhelmed them, and they would have been ensnared. But the Lord WAS with them!
How many times can we look back and say things like: If it had not been for the prayers of the church . . . . If it had not been for the timely sermon from our pastor . . . . If it had not been for my parents’ wise advice . . . . If it had not been for that doctor who “happened to be in the emergency room . . . .”
We do not believe in chance or luck or simple coincidence. We believe that God is on our side, and we know that we need His help each day. What might happen to us if He weren’t nearby? (Steven Hight))
Whether for physical or spiritual protection, God is near!

2023-11-02T16:18:31+00:00November 2nd, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Oct. 26, 2023: Worship – When

Read Acts 2:38-47.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (v. 46).

Worship is a lifestyle. The Christians in the Early Church understood this. The idea of “continuing daily” is that they were constantly diligent in their worship. Whether they went to the Temple every day- which seems very likely- or found a place or attitude of worship every day, those Christians knew the concept and practice of lifestyle worship.
I knew a man who has since gone to Heaven, who seemed to live in the presence of God. He talked about God, he lived like Jesus, and when he prayed, he had an open line to the throne of grace.
While none of us may be exactly like the man to whom I refer, the reality is all of us have the privilege of worship, not just on Sunday and not just in a church building, but we have the privilege of worship wherever we go. (MDA)
Take the name of Jesus ever,
As a shield from ev’ry snare.
If temptations round you gather,
breathe that holy name in prayer.

O the precious name of Jesus!
How it thrills our souls with joy,
When His loving arms receive us,
and His songs our tongues employ!
--- Lydia Baxter

2023-10-26T16:22:04+00:00October 26th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|0 Comments

October 11, 2023: Recalling God’s Past Help

Read Psalm 44:1-8.

“But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us” (v. 7).

Notice how verse 3 ends: “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them” (v. 3).
Have you ever played peek-a-boo with a baby? When your face comes into view, the baby often breaks out into a big smile. While a baby might not recognize or appreciate all that is done to protect and care for it, he or she does recognize a smiling face! I think of this when I read how God used His sword and strength and gave us the gift of the “light of [His] countenance.” He also let the light of His wonderful face shine on us. He has done more things for us than we will ever know or perceive, but He did not stop there.
As your relationship with God deepens and matures, you will recognize more and more ways He has helped you in the past. We can take great comfort in remembering His past help, but our present troubles also look much smaller when we see the light of His loving face shining down on us. (Karen Speak)
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
In the light of His glory and grace."
--- Helen H. Lemmel

Let the light of Your face shine on me!

2023-10-11T15:30:59+00:00October 11th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Sept. 14, 2023: Christ’s Transfiguration

Read Mark 9:2-8.

“And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son: hear him’” (v. 7).

In this mountain-top experience of the transfigured Jesus, the Lord showed the His glory to His inner circle, Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah were also present. Jesus is seen as the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament law given by Moses and the prophets’ messages represented by Elijah. Jesus’ glorious appearance and approval by the voice of the heavenly Father, “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (v. 7) revealed Him as the eternal Saviour of the world.
Dr David McKenna said Jesus’ sinlessness, Sonship, and suffering were all revealed when God the Father said, “Hear him" v. 7. Peter wanted to build three tabernacles on the mountain. Still, they were to “follow” Jesus until His death, resurrection, and ascension. So we are to “hear Him” and follow Him today.
“And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.”
---C. Austin Miles

Don’t just “hear” Jesus, but tell others who He is. (David Fruth)

2023-09-14T19:36:08+00:00September 14th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

Aug. 31, 2023: The Lord Most High

Read Psalm 92: 1-9.
"But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore" (v. 8).

Occasionally, I see the phrase “Make Jesus Famous” used in church circles. As an old “fuddy-duddy,” this sometimes bothers me because I perceive it to mean that Jesus is not already famous. But then I am reminded that this may be how a newer generation expresses the need to praise God. God sees the hearts that are truly desiring to be reflections of His glory. The psalmist starts this song by stating that it is good to give thanks and to sing praises to the most high, and then also includes the reasons to praise and use instruments as part of that celebration. I sometimes wonder when I am a part of a song service that seems to be merely going through a routine where our hearts are. Our praises to God are an act of worship to him and a testimony to his greatness! I have encouraged people to let their faces know and show their praise to God! If what I observe from the platform is at all what God sees from heaven, there is often a lack of exaltation or gratitude. People, we have much to praise God for! (Tim Brubeck)
He is the most high for evermore!

2023-08-31T16:43:32+00:00August 31st, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

August 24, 2023: Obedient until Christ Comes

Read 1 Timothy 6:12-16.

“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14).

As the Apostle Paul is bringing this letter to Timothy to a close, he is emphasizing that Jesus Christ is coming again! In light of that fact, he is charging Timothy to be ready when Jesus Christ shall return. Readiness required adhering to the precepts that Jesus taught throughout His earthly ministry; making them his daily practice as the rule of life. His faithful commitment to the commandments of Jesus would enable Timothy to be a godly example to those around him.
A chorus we sang as children said, “Obedience is the very best way to show that we believe.” As the apostle charged Timothy to demonstrate that he believed Jesus was coming again by how he lived, the charge is ours as well. Obedience to Christ’s commandments is evidence that we, too, believe Jesus is coming again! Furthermore, an ongoing relationship is enriched when we daily practice doing God’s will God’s way! (Rodney Stearns)
“I and my house will serve the Lord: But first, obedient to His word
I must myself appear;
By actions, words, and tempers, show That I my heavenly Master know,
And serve with heart sincere.”
--- Charles Wesley

Obedience is a declaration that I believe God.

2023-08-24T15:57:22+00:00August 24th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

August 9, 2023: Satan Cast Out

Wednesday, August 9
Read Matthew 17:14-21.

Satan Cast Out
“And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour" (v. 18).

I remember a situation when I was a young teen at Stoneboro Camp in Pennsylvania. Several saints gathered in the main tabernacle to pray earnestly for a young girl who appeared demon-possessed. God’s power was evident as the

evening wore on, and the demons had to release the girl. This reaffirmed to me that no power or manifestation of Satan is a match for God and His people.
Satan cannot inhabit anywhere that God does not permit. However, as Christians, we have a part to play in removing Satan and his demons. Jesus instructed His disciples that it takes prayer and fasting to throw demons out of a person. In other words, we must be earnest and committed to praying for a person's release from Satan's grasp.
It is not in our power to rebuke Satan – we are no match for him ourselves. All things are possible with God, so we immerse ourselves in His strength, and He does the rebuking and casting out. (HVC)
“At the sign of triumph, Satan’s host doth flee; On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!”
--- Saine Baring-Gould

With God, all things are possible – even casting out Satan!

2023-08-09T16:05:15+00:00August 9th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments


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