July 12, 2023: God’s Judgment on Rebellion

Read 1 Samuel 15:26-35.

"And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel" (v. 26).

Recently a prominent pastor in another movement was found to have abused a woman who was the wife of a younger pastor he was mentoring. He was rightly removed from all his ministry positions, and many people assumed he would never be in a ministry position again. Yet, only eight months after his removal from the pastorate, four other pastors declared that he was ready once again for ministry, and he was invited to preach in one of their churches, much to the dismay of many in the movement.
Saul tried to pass the blame when he was caught in his sin. When faced with the consequences of his sin, he made a show of repentance, but he was too late to save his kingship. Samuel distances himself from Saul from that point forward, and David eventually becomes king.
This is the kind of judgment we can expect for rebellion. Saul’s sin wasn’t something minor he was trying to overcome. He prioritized his own opinions and desires over God. We may be tempted to do the same, but we should also expect the same type of judgment. To be sure, true repentance was still possible for Saul, just as true repentance is still possible for all who have fallen. But true repentance doesn’t seek to save a high position or a good name; it seeks to save our right relationship with God. (Randy Bland)
Are you allowing rebellion to grow in your heart?

2023-07-12T16:28:20+00:00July 12th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|0 Comments

July 16, 2023: The Judgments of God

FOCUS TEXT: Revelation 6:8-17

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Joel 2:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-8; Matthew 24:1-51; Revelation 6:1-17

DEVOTIONAL READING: Matthew 24:32-51

KEY VERSE: The great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17).

CENTRAL TRUTH: God will one day judge those who persist in wickedness.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list elements of God's coming judgment.

I. The Severity of God's Judgment (Revelation 6:1-8)
II. The Justice of God's Judgment (Revelation 6:9-11)
III. The Fear of God's Judgment (Revelation 6:12-17)

2023-07-10T14:01:50+00:00July 10th, 2023|Categories: Uncategorized, Weekly Lesson Summaries|0 Comments

July 9, 2023: Our Worthy Redeemer

FOCUS TEXT: Revelation 5:1-14

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Isaiah 6:1-12; Revelation 4:1-11


KEY VERSE: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing (Revelation 5:12).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Christ is worthy to receive all honor and praise in heaven and earth.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify various ways we can honor Christ as our Redeemer.

I. The Sealed Book (Revelation 5:1-4)
II. The Worthy Lamb (Revelation 5:5-7)
III. The Praise of the Redeemed (Revelation 5:8-14)

2023-07-05T16:35:43+00:00July 5th, 2023|Categories: Uncategorized, Weekly Lesson Summaries|0 Comments

April 26, 2023: Parental Instruction

Read Proverbs 1:7-19.

"My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother" (v. 8).

Most of us want to look good in the eyes of others. For sure, some will go further to make that happen than others, but most of us want it. And the proverb writer seems to suggest that feeling is not all bad. Our text verse is combined structurally with verse 9. "For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."
Jewelry, whether a crown on your head or chains around your neck, is designed to signify dignity. But the proverb says such signs of dignity can be achieved in different ways. One of them is by obeying the instruction of parents. In well-trained eyes, submission to parents moves a person to the head of the class!
How are you trying to look good in the eyes of others? Again, the Bible does not condemn that, so long as the motives and methods are godly. (Gordon Snider)
"I would be true, for there are those who trust me."
--- H. A. Walter

2023-04-26T14:45:49+00:00April 26th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|0 Comments

April 20, 2023: Responsibility for Wealth

Thursday, April 20
Read Matthew 25:14-30.

Responsibility for Wealth
"Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury" (v. 27).

In the Parable of the Talents, the master conveys a certain amount of money to three servants. The funds represented both an opportunity and an obligation. Nowhere are the funds viewed as being intended for personal pleasure. The two "profitable" servants used the opportunity with an eye to their obligation to the master. Both were rewarded with more significant opportunities for investment, not a life of ease based on the investment or the profits. The third servant is condemned because he failed to seize the moment to enhance his master's holding but was contented to "manage" his holdings with an eye to not losing. Possessions are the Father's investment in His children with which they are to extend His kingdom. Doing so brings His commendation. Failure to do so brings His condemnation.
Contrary to the opinion of the unprofitable servant, our Father is not a demanding taskmaster. God's bounty is strikingly evident in our daily lives. But the ultimate purpose of such gifts provides both opportunity and obligation. Failure to understand these underlying purposes for His investment in us justifies the Master in removing the investment He has made in us. Blessings bring responsibility. (William Snider)

2023-04-20T13:50:46+00:00April 20th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|0 Comments

April 23, 2023: Christian Principles for Giving Money

FOCUS TEXT: Malachi 3:8-10; 2 Corinthians 9:5-15

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; Matthew 6:1-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 6:35-38; Galatians 6:6-10


KEY VERSE: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Proper biblical stewardship includes giving as God directs.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways in which their stewardship of money could be improved.

I. The Pattern for Giving (Malachi 3:7-12)

II. The Principles of Giving (2 Corinthians 9:5-7)

III. The Privileges of Giving (2 Corinthians 9:8-15)

2023-04-17T15:20:31+00:00April 17th, 2023|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

April 16, 2023: Christians and Money

FOCUS TEXT: 1 Timothy 6:6-21

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURES: Proverbs 8:18-21; Ecclesiastes 2:12-23; Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

DEVOTIONAL READING: Matthew 19:16-26

KEY VERSE: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Biblical stewardship recognizes that all our possessions belong to God.

OBJECTIVE: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify several ways in which the use of money can show they are good stewards.

I. Avoid Materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

II. Establish Right Priorities (1 Timothy 6:11-16)

III. Use Riches Rightly (1 Timothy 6:17-21)

April 5, 2023: The Suffering Servant

Wednesday, April 5
Read Matthew 27:26-37.

The Suffering Servant
“And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (v. 29).

The cross of Jesus had to be carried to Golgotha. Another person around the crucifixion after Jesus was before Pilate and crowned with thorns and carrying his cross was Simon of Cyrene. He was “compelled to bear his cross” (v. 32). Dr. Ralph Earle comments: “Jesus started out carrying His cross. But weakened by all He had gone through, He was unable to carry it far, so the soldiers picked out a passerby and placed it on his shoulders.”
When we are saved or born again, we have a “cross” to bear, identifying with Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Our “cross” includes dying to our selfish ways, identifying with His mission, and being His witness to others. Jesus told us, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). (David Fruth)
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for ev’ry one,
And there’s a cross for me.
--- Thomas Shepherd and others

Are you bearing your cross daily?

2023-04-05T16:14:51+00:00April 5th, 2023|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dec. 11, 2022: The Dead Raised

FOCUS TEXT: Luke 7:11-17; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Corinthians 15:53-56

KEY VERSE: For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will (-- ).

CENTRAL TRUTH: Our God is a God of life.


I. Past (Luke 7:11-17)

II. Present (Colossians 2:13-15)

III. Future (1 Corinthians 15:53-56)

2022-12-06T16:44:37+00:00December 6th, 2022|Categories: Front Page, Uncategorized, Weekly Lesson Summaries|Tags: , |0 Comments

Christmas: Winter Holiday or Divine Encounter

                                                                                                        Essentials for Christmas

When Nancy and I moved to Ukraine, we knew we were in for a lot of surprises as we learned the culture. But one of the surprises we did not expect was the believers’ questions about how to celebrate Christmas. Each time we would say, “We celebrate Christmas by…” they would respond. “We do that for New Year’s. So what special do you do for Christmas? You see, their culture had created a winter holiday that sounded to them almost identical to Christmas.

So how would you answer? What is the difference between Christmas and a winter holiday? For many people, there is none. Christmas, for them, is a time to spend with family, eat lots of food, enjoy the good life, and maybe get away from the routine to do something you especially wanted to do. In short, exactly what Ukrainians called a winter holiday. For many people – even Christians – that is Christmas. Our culture has influenced us to substitute a man-made festivity for a divinely orchestrated event.

A biblical Christmas does not require beautiful lights, gift exchanges, human relationships, or even vacation time. There is certainly nothing wrong with any of those, but they are not the key elements of Christmas. So what are the essential elements of a biblical Christmas?

The message of Christmas repeatedly occurs throughout the Old Testament, almost like dress rehearsals for the main event. And whenever it does, it seems to me that three significant themes always are involved:
     1. An unsolvable personal/human dilemma.
     2. A reminder of God's Promise.
     3. A vibrant but tested human faith in that Promise.

There are many narratives in Scripture where those three themes converge to create the spirit of Christmas. I want to mention three of them. I will only give you the outline, so you can enjoy filling in the blanks.

Event #1 – Mt Moriah (Gen 22)
1. An unsolvable personal/human dilemma.
2. A reminder of God's Promise.
3. A vibrant but tested human faith in that Promise.

Event #2 – The Choice of Ahaz (Isaiah 7-9)
1. An unsolvable personal/human dilemma.
2. A reminder of God's Promise.
3. A vibrant but tested human faith in that Promise.

Event #3 – Bethlehem (Luke 2; Matthew 2)
1. An unsolvable personal/human dilemma.
2. A reminder of God's Promise.
3. A vibrant but tested human faith in that Promise.

Come to think of it, those three themes are present in your happiest memories of Christmas.
     a. There was a need/want that seemed impossible.
     b. There was a promise – likely from an earthly parent – that "something good is going to happen"
     c. There was a faith – however child-like – that the problem could be solved.

If we deny or ignore the unsolvable human dilemma we are facing, we will never again have Christmas. If we find our satisfaction in anything other than God's Promise, we will never again have Christmas. If our faith is in our own resources rather than God's provisions, we will never again have Christmas.

The church at Laodicea illustrates the point. They admitted no personal/human dilemma. They said, "We are rich, increased with goods, and have need of nothing." The result was spiritual disease rather than delight in the Promise.

The angel told Joseph, "His name shall be called Immanuel – God with us." The great human dilemma is that humanity is separated from God! God's promise from Eden on is that someday The Promise would come – the separation would end. The challenge for Joseph, and for us, is to believe that Jesus is that Promise. If we fail to join those three elements, all we have left is a winter holiday.

2022-11-22T17:21:41+00:00December 1st, 2022|Categories: Banner Editorial, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments


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