Author: Percy Parakh

We Want A Human King!


1 Samuel 8:4-7 NIV

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[a] us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

1 Samuel 10:17-24 NIV

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

We Want A Human King (NOTES)

Genesis 12:7 New International Version

7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[a] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

1 Samuel 8:1-3 New International Version

Israel Asks for a King

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.

3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Exodus 23:6, 8 New International Version

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.
8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.

Deuteronomy 16:19 New International Version

19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent.

Deuteronomy 17:14-15 New International Version

The King

14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.

1 Samuel 9:10-16 New International Version

10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was. 11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”

12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”

No Pain No Gain


💫 ❤ No Pain, No Gain 💖

🌞 Educator and author Howard Hendricks cautions parents not to bribe or threaten their children to get them to obey. What they need is firm, loving, and at times painful discipline.

Hendricks recalls being in a home where a bright-eyed grade-schooler sat across the table from him.
“Sally, eat your potatoes,” said her mother in a proper parental tone.
“Sally, if you don’t eat your potatoes, you won’t get any dessert!”
Sally winked at Hendricks. Sure enough, mother removed the potatoes and brought Sally some ice cream. He saw this as a case of parents obeying their children rather than “Children, obey your parents”.

🙇‍♀ Many parents are afraid to do what they know is best for their youngsters. They’re afraid their children will turn against them and think they don’t love them. Hendricks says, “Your primary concern is not what they think of you now, but what they will think 20 years from now.”

🙇‍♂ 🙇‍♂ Even our loving heavenly Father’s correction is painful, yet afterward (perhaps years later) “it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it”. As loving parents, dare we have less long-term vision than our heavenly Father has ?
—Joanie Yoder

We shrink from the purging & pruning,
Forgetting the Gardener who knows:
The deeper the cutting and paring
The richer the cluster that grows-Anon.

The surest way to make life hard for your children is to make it soft for them.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend   😊 🌹

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!


❤ The Only Way To Be Happy 💖

🌞 One of the major problems with which we are all confronted is that we have at the core of our being a deep thirst for God, which makes us entirely dependent on Him for satisfaction. Our weak human nature resents this, because it dislikes the feeling of helplessness that such dependence brings; it prefers to have a hand in bringing about its own satisfaction. This tendency of the human heart to try to satisfy its own thirst independently of God however, has terrible consequences.

🙇‍♀ There is no lasting earthly satisfaction. Marriage, family, money, fame, enlightenment, travel, athletics, academic achievement — nothing completes our joy. Any satisfaction we gain in our quest fades quickly and becomes a vague memory, if it can be remembered at all. Oh, to be sure, there are happy events along the way, unexpected moments when we experience pure delight. But those moments are fleeting, and we can never go back in time to relive them and recapture the sensation.

🙇‍♂ 🙇‍♂ Why then do we keep seeking for something to satisfy us ? Simply put, it’s because we have to. Whether we realize it or not, our souls are thirsting for God. Every desire, every aspiration, every longing of our nature is nothing less than a yearning for God. We were born for His love and we cannot live without it. He is the happiness for which we have been searching all our lives. Everything that we desire is found in Him — and infinitely more. And so, when you find yourself restless and thirsting for something more in life, respond to His invitation, “Come to Me and drink.” Go to Him, drink freely of His grace and experience true joy. — David H. Roper

Jesus wants us to come to Him
To quench our thirsty soul,
For from Him flow life-giving streams
To heal and make us whole. — Sper

Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on God !

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend   😊 🌹

Confidence Provides Necessary Courage


Judges 6:1-2 NIV

Gideon

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.

Judges 6:7-16 NIV

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 

I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Confidence Provides Necessary Courage (Notes)

Genesis 25:1-2 New International Version

The Death of Abraham

25 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

Judges 2:1-5 New International Version

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim

2 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this?

3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim.[a] There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.

2 Kings 7:18 New International Version

18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

1 Corinthians 15:9 New International Version

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Ephesians 3:8 New International Version

8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,

2 Corinthians 12:9 New International Version 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may

The Danger of Disqualification


When you read the apostle Paul’s letters, it’s clear that some of his favorite metaphors and analogies for the Christian life come from the realm of athletics.

For example, in Philippians, he speaks of pressing on like a runner toward the goal of knowing Christ (3:14). Near the end of his life, he describes his ministry as one in which he “fought the good fight” and “finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:7). And in 1 Corinthians 9:25–27, Paul draws a parallel—one that is worth our time and attention—between the self-control and discipline needed for both athletic competition and the Christian life.

An Alarming Thought

In Paul’s mind, self-control and discipline are not optional; they are essential. “I discipline my body and keep it under control,” he writes, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul recognizes that there is a real danger facing every Christian: the danger of disqualification.

This danger is an alarming thought. Paul says that it is indeed possible for us to run the race well for some time and yet to become disqualified. We might press on for a time but eventually fail to reach the prize of hearing our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

We may compete but miss out on being rewarded “the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8). Simply put, it’s possible to preach salvation and show others the way to heaven yet never get there ourselves.

How can we guard against becoming disqualified? Considering Paul’s own life and lifestyle is helpful. He lived with a kind of holy fear. He was under no illusions about the danger of disqualification facing his ministry.

Paul demonstrates that reverence, and not presumptuous confidence, is the best security against apostasy. In relationship to God, his perspective was one of holy faith. In relationship to himself, his perspective was one of holy fear.

It’s possible to preach salvation and show others the way to heaven yet never get there ourselves.

A Lesson from History

To flesh out his point on the danger of disqualification, Paul recounts the story of Israel in the Old Testament. He tells the Corinthians, “I do not want you to be unaware” (1 Cor. 10:1). In other words, he says, “I need you to be informed. Be alert. Learn from God’s people before you.”

He then goes on to identify the shared privileges of God’s people, pointing out that all were under the cloud, all passed through the sea and were baptized, and all drank together. All of God’s people Israel shared in God’s spiritual blessings. “Nevertheless,” Paul explains, “with most of them God was not pleased” (1 Cor. 10:5). The people enjoyed God’s blessings in the wilderness years, but they abused those blessings.

The lesson for today is clear: we must understand that the enjoyment of spiritual privileges—baptism, Communion, fellowship, etc.—does not negate our need for spiritual watchfulness. Possession of spiritual privilege is no guarantee of immunity from divine judgment.

We must be careful not to undo with our actions the truths we profess with our mouths. We must deal with the internal and not merely the external facets of our lives.

Paul wants us to learn from Israel’s bad examples. Our reading of their history should lead us away from sin and toward godliness. When we consider Israel as Paul did, we find that they displeased God in four ways.

We must be careful not to undo with our actions the truths we profess with our mouths

First, they committed idolatry (1 Cor. 10:7). Paul specifically has in mind the incident of the golden calf, citing Exodus 32:6. Second, Israel displeased God in their immorality (1 Cor. 10:8; Num. 25:1–9). Third, they tested God (1 Cor. 10:9; Num. 21:5).

To test God is to push Him, determining to discover whether God will do what He promised to do. Rather than trust, Israel would repeatedly test God’s word. And finally, they grumbled against the Lord, leading to their destruction (1 Cor. 10:10).

Yet these things happened to Israel for, among other reasons, our instruction. They are negative examples, teaching us what not to do as we aim to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

An Important Warning

Paul then gets to the heart of the matter: “Therefore,” he warns, “let anyone who stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Speaking to those who are self-deceived, those who think the bad examples from Israel’s history do not pertain to them, he addresses the issue of presumption—having an unrealistic confidence in one’s own spiritual fortitude—which is an issue that can tempt anyone.

His words stand to this day as a warning against living the Christian life outwardly to convince those around us, but not in such a way as to convince God or even our own consciences.

Consider the seriousness of Communion, for example. God gives us Communion as an outward sign of His commitment to preserve us in His grace. But it is also possible for the believer, approaching the Table, to eat and drink judgment on himself (1 Cor. 11:29). In other words, we can participate in the externalities of the meal while never dealing with the internal realities—the condition of our hearts.

For this reason, we should always examine ourselves and deal with our sin prior to participating in Communion (1 Cor. 11:28). We are not to have too high a view of ourselves at the Communion table. We are to be not presumptuous but humble, contrite, and penitent.

When such humility is our posture, we can see somebody who has fallen into sin and realize that we are a nanosecond away from the very same thing.

We guard against presumption, understanding that we have no basis upon which to stand and take the high ground with another brother or sister in Christ, and we pay close attention to our own lives, lest we also fall into sin.

A Source of Encouragement

In light of Paul’s sober warnings and Israel’s bad examples in the past, we might be tempted to despair. But Paul closes out his point by offering a word of comfort and encouragement: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Temptation is common, but God is faithful.

The danger of disqualification should produce not despair but humility, spurring us on to a deep reliance on God’s perfect faithfulness. Yes, temptation is common, but God is faithful.

Rather than yield to sin, we are to flee from it (1 Cor. 10:14). And we can hold fast to the truth that when we are tempted to fall into sin, God will always give us a way out. Always.


This article was adapted from the sermon “The Danger of Disqualification” by Alistair Begg. Subscribe to get weekly blog updates.

Expressing Thankfulness – Out of Slavery to Nationhood


Deuteronomy 32:3-6 NIV

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.

They are corrupt and not his children;
    to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation.
Is this the way you repay the Lord,
    you foolish and unwise people?
Is he not your Father, your Creator,[a]
    who made you and formed you?

Deuteronomy 32:10-14 NIV

10 In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.
12 The Lord alone led him;
    no foreign god was with him.

13 He made him ride on the heights of the land
    and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock,
    and with oil from the flinty crag,
14 with curds and milk from herd and flock
    and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan
    and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.

Deuteronomy 32:16 NIV

16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods
    and angered him with their detestable idols.

Expressing Thankfulness (NOTES)

Romans 1:22-31 New International Version

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

Isaiah 42:8 New International Version

8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another

    or my praise to idols.

Deuteronomy 31:16 New International Version

16 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.

Deuteronomy 31:19 New International Version

19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.

Deuteronomy 32:1-2 NIV

32 Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. 2 Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

Deuteronomy 32:19-27 New International Version

19 The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful.

21 They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.

22 For a fire will be kindled by my wrath, one that burns down to the realm of the dead below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.

23 “I will heap calamities on them and spend my arrows against them.

24 I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust.

25 In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. The young men and young women will perish, the infants and those with gray hair.

26 I said I would scatter them and erase their name from human memory, 27 but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the Lord has not done all this.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 New International Version

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Psalm 103:1-5 New International Version

Of David.

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord, my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Walk In Obedience To His Commands


💫 ❤️ Love & Obedience 💖

🌞 Love is the spring of true obedience. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Now a man who is not obedient to God’s commandments is evidently not a true believer; for although good works do not save us, yet, being saved, believers are sure to produce good works.

🙇‍♀️ Though the fruit is not the root of the tree, yet a well-rooted tree will, in its season, bring forth its fruits. So, though the keeping of the commandments does not make me a child of God, yet, being a child of God, I shall be obedient to my heavenly Father. But this I cannot be unless I love God.

🙇‍♂️ 🙇‍♂️ A mere external obedience, a decent formal recognition of the laws of God, is not obedience in God’s sight. He abhors the sacrifice where the heart is not found. I must obey because I love, or else I have not in spirit and in truth obeyed at all. See then, that to produce the indispensable fruits of saving faith, there must be love for God; for without it, they would be unreal and indeed impossible.
— C. H. Spurgeon (from Strengthen My Spirit)

Happy are they who love the Lord,
Whose hearts have Him confessed,
Who by His cross have found their life,
Beneath His yoke their rest. — Bridges

Love, Joy and Peace is the result of walking with God.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹

I Thank My God Every Time I Remember You


💫 ❤️ Occupational Hazzard

🌞 My occupation is words. Whether I am writing or editing, I am using words to convey ideas so that readers can understand. I can usually see what’s wrong with someone else’s writing and figure out how to fix it. As an editor, I am paid for being critical. My job is to see what’s wrong with the way words are used. This ability becomes a disability when I carry it over into my personal life and always look for what is wrong. Focusing on what’s wrong can cause us to miss everything that’s good.

🙇‍♀️ The apostle Paul had reason to focus on what was wrong in the Philippian society. Certain people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition to add to Paul’s suffering. But instead of concentrating on the negative, he chose to look at the positive and rejoice in it: Jesus Christ was being preached.

🙇‍♂️ 🙇‍♂️ God wants us to be discerning — we need to know good from bad — but He doesn’t want us to focus on the bad and become critical or discouraged. Even in circumstances that are less than ideal (Paul was writing from prison), we can find something good because in times of trouble God is still at work. That’s just one more way He can be honored. — Julie Ackerman Link

The eyes of faith when fixed on God
Give hope for what’s ahead,
But focus on life’s obstacles
And faith gives way to dread.
— D. De Haan

When your outlook is blurred by problems, focus on God.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹

A Protective Family – Out of Slavery to Nationhood


Exodus 2:1-10 NIV

The Birth of Moses

1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 

Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

A Protective Family (NOTES)

Psalm 113:9 New International Version

9 He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

Psalm 127:3-5 New International Version

3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Deuteronomy 4:9 New International Version

9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Proverbs 22:6 New International Version

6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Matthew 18:10 New International Version

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Luke 17:2 New International Version

2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Colossians 3:21 New International Version

21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Isaiah 49:25 New International Version

25 But this is what the Lord says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you,and your children I will save.

Psalm 68:5 New International Version

5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Psalm 146:9 New International Version

9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Genesis 3:15 New International Version

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 12:1-3 New International Version

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.[a]

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 15:12-14 New International Version

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.

13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

It’s not OK to Question Ministries – It’s Imperative


The red flags you should and should not ignore.

Over the past several years, the headlines have been filled with stories about Christian leaders who were ultimately untrustworthy, whether that be in their relationships, their running of an organization, or their own spiritual lives. Unfortunately, this kind of dishonesty exists in many institutions, nonprofits, and Christian companies.

Many people have responded to this slew of news with skepticism, scrutinizing those who claim the name of Jesus and questioning whether any individual or institution is worth wholehearted support. Others have buried their heads in the sand, blinded by loyalty and unwilling to consider an exercise in discernment.

Neither of these responses is sufficient for Christians who want to learn from past ministry failures, make wise choices in the present, and participate in God’s future work. Fortunately, experts in ministry health say that there are clear red flags to look for before financially supporting an organization .

Not Giving Can Be the Wisest Choice

Warren Smith, president of MinistryWatch.com, says that there are some red flags that should be considered absolute non-negotiables, such as an organization:

According to Smith, if an organization fails in any of these three areas, it would be unwise to support them financially. Learning whether or not a ministry meets these standards requires that potential givers follow Smith’s most important piece of advice: “Don’t give to any organization that you don’t know.”

This may seem like an obvious statement, but consider the giving patterns in our congregations. It’s common for mercy-motivated believers to have an emotional response to hearing about compelling programs and projects that align with their core values. Combine that feeling with a belief in Scripture’s call to be generous, and, oftentimes, that’s enough for a Spirit-led Christian to make a donation without due diligence.

But it’s incomplete theology to believe that Christians should give to a ministry simply because it claims to do good work. “That’s not taking into account the full counsel of Scripture,” says Smith. “God gave us a mind as well as a heart, and we should be open to what the Holy Spirit is doing in our minds and our hearts as donors.”

Additional red flags that should be considered dealbreakers include an organization lacking a statement of faith and failing to provide senior leader compensation information to inquiring donors. Donors should also steer clear of ministries that claim IRS status of churches if they are not performing the true functions of a local church, such as preaching, baptism, and the sacraments.

Keep an eye out for what’s known as founder syndrome, as well. Founder syndrome occurs when loyalty to an organization’s founder trumps making decisions that are in the best interest of an organization. Symptoms of founder syndrome include a board that is composed of the founder’s friends and family members or an organization that is named after the founder.

Researching an organization and its leaders isn’t cynical–it’s spiritual. This kind of investigation is an act of faithfulness because it demonstrates your commitment to generosity by giving only to those organizations and causes that exhibit stewardship.

Some Red Flags Mean “Keep Learning”

While major red flags are reason enough to walk away from an organization entirely, Smith also says there are indicators that should encourage potential donors to keep researching an organization.

Calvin Edwards, founder and CEO of a consulting firm that provides philanthropic counsel, agrees. Edwards points out that some red flags should prompt thoughtful questions, and the answers offer clarity for donors.

If an organization’s board isn’t gathering regularly, for example, it may be because the members agreed to keep in communication by email rather than meetings. The lack of meetings is a red flag, but the fact that the board consistently communicates is positive. Potential givers may then determine whether the email system seems effective enough, or they may feel that regular meetings should not be replaced by technology.

Other potential red flags that require further investigation may include a high rate of staff turnover, a poor rating by a watchdog organization like Charity Navigator, or inconsistent communication with donors.

By talking to ministry leadership about the red flags they see, potential givers have the opportunity to learn about the organization’s posture and humility. If leadership is defensive in the face of questions or suggestions, it’s likely they are leaving other behaviors and processes unexamined as well. Organizational leaders who respond to questions with openness, listen to advice with grace, and welcome further discussion communicate volumes about their organization’s character.

Looking for red flags isn’t a technique to encourage frugality, says Edwards. But rather this due diligence “minimizes risk, and it’s also a blessing to ministries to have these items confronted.” As prospective donors hold organizations accountable, ministry leaders can learn and grow from the wisdom of outside perspectives, empowering them to serve with greater impact.

Do you want to give wisely but don’t know what questions to ask or information to seek? The experienced donors at Strategic Resource Group can help you learn more about stewardship, generosity, and how to identify trustworthy ministries. Interested in learning more? Email [email protected].

Approval of Human Beings or of God?


1 Peter 5 New International Version (NIV)
To the Elders and the Flock


1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;

3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen

Persevere In Times Of Difficulty – God Calls Abraham’s Family


Genesis 32:22-32 NIV

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Persevere In Times Of Difficulty (Notes)

Genesis 28 New International Version

28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d] 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”


Genesis 32:1-21 New International Version

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

1 [a]Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.[b]

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now.

5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups,[c] and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group,[d] the group[e] that is left may escape.”

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.

11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Ephesians 6:18 New International Version

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

What Does It Mean To Be Born Again


The Bible uses several metaphors involving birth to help explain what it means to have a saving relationship with Jesus. We find terms such as born again (John 3:3), born of God (John 1:13), and born of the Spirit (John 3:6). They all mean the same thing.

Birth metaphors are used because we all understand physical birth. When a baby is born, a new person emerges into the world. The new life will grow, and the young person will come to resemble his or her parents. When we are born of the Spirit, a “new person” arrives with a new spiritual life. And as we grow, we come to resemble our Father in heaven (Romans 8:29).

People try to know God through a variety of means: some try religion or following an ethical code; some turn to intellect or logic; others try to find God in nature; and others through emotional experiences, believing that God inhabits whatever feelings they can muster when they think about Him.

None of those bring us one step closer to actually communing with the God of the Bible because He cannot be known through our moral codes, our minds, our environment, or our emotions. He is Spirit, and those who would worship must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Imagine trying to paint a portrait using a hammer and nails or trying to bake a meal using pen and paper. It would not help to try harder or cry over it because both tasks are impossible given the tools mentioned. So it is with the flesh and the Spirit.

We cannot commune with a holy, incorporeal Being using sinful, fleshly means. Unless our spirits are reborn with life from God’s Spirit, we simply do not have the capability to fellowship with Him. We must be born of the Spirit.

God has instituted a way for fallen human beings to enter His holy presence, and it is the only way we can come to Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

When Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin (John 10:18) and rose again, He opened a door that had been locked. When He died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two, symbolizing the fact that He has made a way to enter God’s presence. God has opened the door to heaven so that whoever trusts in His Son’s sacrifice can be born again in his or her spirit (Mark 15:38).

When we place our faith in the risen Christ, a divine transaction takes place (2 Corinthians 5:21). God removes from us the sin, guilt, and condemnation we deserved because of our rebellion against Him. He throws our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

At the moment of repentance and faith, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into us, and our bodies become His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). Our spirits can now commune with God’s Spirit as He assures us that we belong to Him (Romans 8:16).

We might think of the human spirit like a deflated balloon that hangs lifeless inside our hearts. We are scarcely aware of its existence until God calls our names and an awakening begins.

When we respond to God’s call with repentance and faith in what Jesus Christ has done for salvation, we are born of the Spirit. At that point the balloon inflates. The Holy Spirit moves into our spirits and fills us. He begins His transforming work so that we begin to resemble Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17Romans 8:29).

There are only two types of people in the world: those who are born of the Spirit and those who are not. In the end, only those two categories matter (John 3:3). Our earthly lives are extended opportunities for us to respond to God’s call and become born of the Spirit (Hebrews 3:15).

If Jesus paid the price for our sin, why do we still suffer the consequences of our sin?

Sep 17, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

The Bible gives the good news that Jesus paid the price for our sin (Ephesians 1:7), yet in many ways we still suffer the consequences of our sins. For example, a drug dealer may become a Christian in prison, but that doesn’t mean he will be released from prison the next day—he will still experience the consequences of his past sin. A born-again Christian who falls into adultery may lose his family, his career, etc.—even after he confesses and forsakes his sin, the consequences of his sin remain. Coming to Christ does not erase the temporal effects of sin; rather, our salvation guarantees that we will not face the eternal consequences of sin.

The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). As sinners, we deserve to be eternally separated from God and His holiness. On the cross Christ paid the penalty of our sin with His own blood. He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the basis of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, those who believe are no longer under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1).

It’s important to understand that, when the believer in Christ experiences consequences for sin, it is not because he is under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1), His wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), or His retribution (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Believers are under God’s grace (Romans 6:15). Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself (Isaiah 53:10). Sin’s consequences still experienced by believers could be classified in one of these ways:

Universal consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are experienced perpetually by every human being on earth, because we are all children of Adam. We all have weeds growing in our gardens, we all face natural disasters, we all get sick and grow old, and we all eventually die physically (Romans 5:12). As sinners living in a sinful world, there’s no avoiding these consequences of original sin.

Natural consequences. We live in a world of cause and effect, where the law of sowing and reaping is in full effect. Some of sin’s consequences are built-in and practically guaranteed, no matter if the sinner is saved or unsaved. The Bible warns that sexual immorality is a sin committed against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). If you steal something, you should expect to get caught and face the natural consequences that follow the sin of theft. If you resist arrest when you get caught, you pile on more consequences. Sowing and reaping.

Instructional consequences. Very likely, God allows some of sin’s consequences to remain in our lives to teach us the heinous nature of sin and to remind us to depend upon God’s grace. Sin is a serious enough problem for God to have sent His Son into the world to die. We dare not take sin lightly. In the face of sin’s consequences, we humble ourselves and seek God’s kingdom and righteousness all the more (see Matthew 6:33). When Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined for their sin, it was instructive for the church: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11). See also 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20.

Disciplinary consequences. Some of sin’s consequences are the result of God’s treating us as a father should his children. There’s a difference between a penalty for sin and discipline for sin. As God’s children, we experience discipline designed to guide us back to the right path. “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:5–6; cf. Proverbs 3:11–12). Note how many of God’s children undergo discipline: “everyone” (Hebrews 12:8). We are all wayward at times. God’s purpose in allowing us to experience disciplinary consequences of sin, true to His nature, is perfect: “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

The church of Corinth provides an example of Christians facing the disciplinary consequences of their sin: in partaking of the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner, they brought God’s displeasure: “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30). We see similar disciplinary action taken in 2 Samuel 12. Even after David confessed his sin and was forgiven, God allowed certain consequences to befall David and his household (verses 11–14).

God allows us to experience some of the temporal consequences of sin to show His love for us. If God never disciplined His straying children, He would not be a good Father. If we were never disciplined or never suffered the consequences for our wrong action, we would never learn right from wrong. We tend to learn from our mistakes more readily than we learn from our successes.

Praise the Lord for His goodness. He allows us to experience the temporal consequences of sin (for our own good). But He has saved us from the eternal consequences of sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so we will never experience the second death, which is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Believers in Christ are promised that the curse and consequences of sin will be completely removed one day, and “nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9, NLT).

An Unexpected Choice – God Calls Abraham’s Family


Genesis 25:19-34 NIV

Jacob and Esau

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[a] and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.[b] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[d])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

An Unexpected Choice (Notes – scriptures)

Genesis 25:1-11 New International Version

The Death of Abraham

25 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites.[a] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

Genesis 17:4 New International Version

4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

Genesis 25:19-34 New International Version

Jacob and Esau

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram[a] and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.[b] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[d])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 24:15 New International Version

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.

Genesis 24:10 New International Version 10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim[a] and made his way to the town of Nahor

Proverbs 8, 9 Message Bible – Lady Wisdom Calls


Proverbs 8-9 The Message
Lady Wisdom Calls Out

8 1-11 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—
I can’t stand the taste of evil!
You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
whose ways I hate with a passion—
pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

22-31 “God sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—
before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago,
well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean,
yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape,
I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons,
and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place,
I was there.
When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
built the vast vault of Heaven,
and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea,
posted a sign that said no trespassing
And then staked out Earth’s Foundations,
I was right there with him, making sure everything fit.
Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause,
always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures,
happily celebrating the human family.

32-36 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”

Lady Wisdom Gives a Dinner Party
9 1-6 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.
Having dismissed her serving maids,
Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place,
and invites everyone within sound of her voice:
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

* * *

7-12 If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face;
confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer;
all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life,
that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,
insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,
and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
mock life and life will mock you.

Madame Prostitute Calls Out, Too
13-18 Then there’s this other woman, Madame Prostitute—
brazen, empty-headed, frivolous.
She sits on the front porch
of her house on Main Street,
And as people walk by minding
their own business, calls out,
“Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?
Steal off with me, I’ll show you a good time!
No one will ever know—I’ll give you the time of your life.”
But they don’t know about all the skeletons in her closet,
that all her guests end up in hell.

Confronting The Toxic Power In Me


I(Jamin) can still see their faces. Every Wednesday night we gathered in a living room, and about 40 high school students fixed their attention on me as I taught on a passage of Scripture. I was in seminary at the time, so my teaching was infused with a unique brand of arrogance that comes from the rare opportunity to immediately speak authoritatively about things you just learned for the first time yourself.

It wasn’t a church sanctuary filled with 3,000 people, but it might as well have been. I can remember feeling powerful in that room. As I wielded my gifts and abilities, I received adoration and respect. The constant affirmations by well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t help curb the pride growing within me. Each affirmation was like a puff of air stoking the flames of the early embers of grandiosity smoldering in my heart. I can still remember them: “You’re wise beyond your years,” “You’re a uniquely gifted communicator,” “You’re going to be a senior pastor one day.”

These stories often go unreported. Only the pastors with notoriety and status make headlines. In recent months, the primary story making headlines regards Bill Hybels, the former senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. I (Kyle) became a Christian at Willow Creek, and my young faith was fostered in that place.

The stories of sexual misconduct are painful and grievous to me in a very personal way. As I witness the resignation of the elder board and the exodus of senior leadership, I can only pray and grieve for the people of Willow Creek for the days ahead. But this is not a new story. We’re all well aware of other high-profile pastors who, in recent years, have made headlines for the wrong reasons.

For many years, when stories like this surfaced we would often respond with swift judgment. Not just judgment of the individuals caught in sin, but judgment of the megachurch model. It was an easy turn to make. We decried the vices of pastoral celebrity and dictatorial authority that seemed so endemic in ecclesial settings. To be sure, pastoral idolatry and totalitarian forms of leadership have no place in the church of Jesus Christ. Yet this move to judgment was especially easy because it allowed us to avoid the caldron of toxic power brewing in our own souls.

In our early years of ministry, the Lord began to show us the problem of power wasn’t just “out there,” at those megachurches and in those celebrity pastors. It was “in here,” within our own hearts. It turned out I (Jamin) was just as tempted to wield my talents and abilities to wow the crowd in my youth group of 40 students as a celebrity pastor on video screens at multiple venues.

Toxic power is not bigoted; it cuts across all socioeconomic, racial, and denominational lines. It does not focus its attention only on obviously powerful pastors. It is an equal opportunist. It crouches at the door of every church, regardless of Sunday morning attendance. If you are a pastor, you will be tempted to embrace toxic forms of power in ministry.My teaching was infused with a unique brand of arrogance that comes from the rare opportunity to immediately speak authoritatively about things you just learned for the first time yourself.

You might fall prey to the false belief that the solution to this problem is to eschew power altogether. But this would be a rejection of our vocation. The Christian life is a call to power (2 Cor. 12:9–10), and more specifically, God has vested the pastoral office with authority. Power isn’t the problem, but not all power is created equal.

The problem in the church concerns toxic forms of power. Toxic power is power in strength for the sake of control. It is power grounded in pride and autonomy, and wielded for the sake of control, coercion, or domination. Toxic power is the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil (James 3:13–18), and as such is opposed to the power of the cross.

While toxic power is surely a dangerous and corrosive agent in the church, there is another form of power we are called to embrace. Kingdom power is power in weakness for the sake of love. It is power grounded in humble dependence upon God and wielded in service and blessing. This is the power modeled by Christ. Therefore the cross defines kingdom power, and as such the world deems it foolish and weak (1 Cor. 1:18).

It is easy to point fingers at “fallen pastors” as icons of toxic power, but the story is far more complex and nuanced than the salacious headlines suggest. Toxic power isn’t only at work through explicit and demonstrative forms of failure or abuse in ministry. More often toxic power is content to be the hidden leaven in the lump of bread (Luke 12:1).

It shows up in a myriad of subtle, yet destructive ways in pastoral life. Toxic power shows up when we leverage our personality or intelligence in preaching to generate an artificial response in our congregants. It shows up in our vision casting, when guilt and shame are the primary motivators we appeal to in order to get people engaged.

We see toxic power at work when we relate to people in our congregation as resources to use in accomplishing our goals, rather than as people to love. It is on display when we tailor our ministerial vocation to our personal strengths in order to hide areas of weakness from congregants.

Toxic power is at work when our evangelism strategy is to reach the powerful, influential, and wealthy in the community, rather than the weak, marginalized, and poor. We see it when our tools for ministry are not primarily Scripture, prayer, and faithful presence, but are instead worldly business practices and techniques.

I (Kyle) have seen in my own heart the temptation to craft my preaching style as a way to cover my weaknesses and play to my strengths, fearing to show any element of vulnerability. I did this not because I thought God was calling me to do so, but because it was an assumed cultural norm. People need an example to look up to, I thought, so it’s my duty to appear as polished as possible.

Preaching style can become akin to choosing the best possible photo for your profile picture on Twitter, meant to highlight what you want highlighted and to hide everything else. I was using the pulpit to wield a kind of power that was antithetical to the gospel, yet in my mind it was all being done to the glory of God. I liked the idea of “power in weakness for the sake of love,” but at the end of the day, I preached in the hope that power was ultimately found in my strength to control my destiny.

These are the stories that must be told. We must be wary of the temptation to gather around the bonfire of social media outrage over the most recent celebrity pastor to fall from grace, as a means of minimizing or avoiding the fire ablaze in our own hearts. To be sure, the headline stories of power mongers who domineer and abuse in the church are deeply troubling and ought to be lamented.

Yet they should also serve as occasions to open our hearts to the truth of our own temptations toward power. Perhaps we have not committed the obvious “pastoral sins” of adultery or stealing money, but we all, at times, have wielded power in strength for the sake of control. Therefore in recognizing our desire to embrace toxic power, our first response should be repentance.

As Peter told Simon the Magician, who sought the power of the Holy Spirit for his own purposes, “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22, ESV).

If we desire to become the kind of pastors who seek the way from above, the way of power in weakness for the sake of love, there are a few practices that can help us participate in the Spirit’s work.

First, we must cultivate the habit of honesty in prayer. Repentance of toxic power is not a one-time prayer, but must be an ongoing conversation with God throughout our lives. For those in a position of leadership or influence, the temptation toward toxic power will always lurk right around the corner.

Second, we must commit to practicing honesty with others in regards to our temptations with power. Real vulnerability is required. It is imperative that we not only have conversations about power fellow pastors, but that we also do so in appropriate ways with people in our congregations.

Power in strength for control is a temptation faced by the whole body of Christ. When we are vulnerable and speak honestly about our temptations with power it will pave the way for a much-needed ongoing conversation between pastors and congregations.

We need to be known by God and others in truth. As we open our hearts before God and in relationship with others, we are invited to stay present to our weakness and frailty. It is here that we come to know kingdom power in our vocation as pastors. It is here that Christ declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Jamin Goggin is a pastor at Mission Hills Church in San Marcos, California.

Kyle Strobel teaches spiritual theology for Talbot’s Institute for Spiritual Formation and is on the preaching team at Redeemer Church, La Mirada, California.

Jamin and Kyle’s journey to understand pastors’ temptations to embrace worldly power can be found in The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Unbroken Promises – God Calls Abraham’s Family

Genesis 12:1-5, 7 NIV

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”[b]

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[a] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 15:1-7 NIV

The Lord’s Covenant With Abram

15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,[a]
    your very great reward.[b]

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

Unbroken Promises (NOTES)

Joshua 21:45 New International Version

45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Joshua 23:14 New International Version

14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

Philippians 1:6 New International Version

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Numbers 23:19 King James Version

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Jeremiah 29:11 King James Version

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Genesis 3:15 King James Version

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 6:6 King James Version

6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Genesis 15:7 New International Version

7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”

Nehemiah 9:7 New International Version

7 “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

1 John 2:15 King James Version

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Genesis 12:10 New International Version

Abram in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Genesis 12:14 New International Version

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.

Genesis 12:1-3 New International Version

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.[a]

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”[b]

Romans 4:3 New International Version

3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]

Galatians 3:6 New International Version

6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]

James 2:23 New International Version

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[a] and he was called God’s friend

Genesis 15:8-21 New International Version

8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

All Things Work Together For Good!

Sep 3, 2022 the_title_attributes by Percy Parakh

💫 ❤️ His Good Purpose 💖

🌞 Randy Alcorn, in a book he has co-authored with his wife Nanci, offers some insights. He quotes the NAS translation of verse Romans 8:28 : “God causes all things to work together for good.” Randy points out that it doesn’t say each individual thing is good, but that God works them together for good.

🙇‍♀️ Recalling his boyhood days, Randy tells how he often watched his mother bake cakes. One day when she had all the ingredients set out — flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla — he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven.

🙇‍♂️ “It didn’t make sense to me,” he recalls, “that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product.” Randy concludes that God likewise “takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crisis, and produces a perfect result.” Let’s look beyond our immediate circumstances and remember that God has an ultimate good purpose. — Joanie E Yoder

Though I do not know the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest;
God is love, and God is faithful,
So in perfect peace I rest. — Anon.

The growth we gain from waiting on God is often greater than the answer or result we desire.

🎊 Stay Blessed My Friend 😊 🌹