Pastor’s Pennings

Holy Week – Day 3

April 7, 2020
Holy Week – Day 3

Good Morning Fellow Believers,

On this the third day of holy week there were many events that took place. However, there are three that stand out in my mind. The Pharisees hotly dispute Jesus’ authority. Later, Jesus leads the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and delivers what has become known as the Olivet Discourse. This is also the day most scholars believe Judas conspires to betray Jesus.

The day begins with Jesus teaching in the temple:

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism–where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So, they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. Matt 21:23-27 (NIV)

Jesus would not let himself be caught; turning the question on them, he exposed their motives and avoided their trap. Jesus’ question seems totally unrelated to the situation at hand, but Jesus knew that the leaders’ attitude about John the Baptist would reveal their true attitude toward him.

Jesus teaches in the Garden:

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matt 24:1-3 (NIV)

These verses are the beginning of what is known as the Olivet Discourse.

Jesus predicted the destruction of the Jewish temple, He spoke of signs of the end of the age. His teachings include the parable of the ten virgins, used to illustrate the need to be ready at any moment. The parable of the talents was given to show the rewards and judgments that will be experienced at the end of time. And the parable of the sheep and the goats speaks of those who demonstrated their faith through faithful actions. Those who do so will be rewarded; those who do not will go away into eternal punishment. For more information on the Olivet Discourse you can read Matthew chapters 24-25.

Judas conspires to betray:

Then one of the Twelve–the one called Judas Iscariot–went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So, they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matt 26:14-16 (NIV)

After a tiring day of confrontation and warnings about the future, once again, Jesus and the disciples returned to Bethany to stay the night.

May God richly bless you as you go through your day today, and reflect on Jesus’ work on this day so many years ago.

Pastor Dennis

Holy Week – Day 2

April 6, 2020
Holy Week – Day 2

Good morning Saints,

Yesterday we learned about the triumphant entry. But what happened in the days following this magnificent day? Three significant events took place. The withered fig tree, the clearing of the temple and the children worshiping Jesus.

The fig tree withers:

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11:12-14 (NIV)

On the day after the triumphal entry Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit. Some scholars believe this cursing of the fig tree represented God’s judgment on the spiritually dead religious leaders of Israel. Others believe the symbolism extended to all believers, demonstrating that genuine faith is more than just outward religion, true, living faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life. Soon after cursing the fig tree, Jesus enters the temple courts.

Cleansing the temple:

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’ ” Matt 21:12-14 (NIV)

Here, Jesus rejected the Jewish system of money-making from God’s Passover. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. The temple was to be known as a house of prayer, not as a place where merchants took economic advantage of people.

Children worship Jesus:

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” Matt 21:15-16 (NIV)

The clearing of the temple and the children praising Jesus caused the Jewish leaders to hate Jesus all the more. Leading them to seek to have Jesus executed.

On Monday evening Jesus stayed in Bethany again, probably in the home of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night. Matthew 21:17

God’s blessing to you,
Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 10

April 3, 2020

God is Our Refuge and Strength

Good morning Family,

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalms 46:1-3 (NIV)

When the world seems to be falling apart around us, we have the only Source of real security – God our Father. Our world with all its advancements in education, technology and science, is no safer today than it was a thousand years ago. Anything can happen, at any second. The perfect example is what we are seeing in our world today. It is evident to all that there is no real security unless we have placed ourselves into the hands of our eternal God. When you think of the word refuge, what do you think of, maybe a safe place?

God is a refuge to His children in that He protects them. The fact that God protects His own is a truth He wants us to know and be comforted by. However, the fact that God is our refuge does not mean that no danger will threaten, and no harm will befall a believer. God is who we turn to in troubled times.

God is also a refuge in that He protects us from ourselves, our own sinful natures. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God sanctifies our hearts and makes us more and more like Christ.

…and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Matt 6:13 (NIV)

How is it that God is a refuge to his children? God is a refuge for His children in that He brings them peace.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14 (NIV)

God is our strength. Believers are to be strong in the Lord.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Eph 6:10 (NIV)

Our faith and trust in Christ is where we receive the strength from God to go through tough times.

No matter how strong we think we are, our flesh is weak. Left to our own devices, we will fall into temptation and fail in any worthy endeavor. The weakness inherent in human nature is why the Bible instructs us to take our refuge and strength from the Lord. As we learn to rely on God’s refuge and strength instead of our own, we experience joy, peace, and contentment during the storms in our lives.

May God be Your refuge and strength,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 9

April 2, 2020

God Loves You

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

How can I know that God loves me? Many people believe that if God gives them everything that they want he is showing love. Yes, God’s love is an action, but, no, God is not some kind of genie that grants all our wishes. We know that God demonstrates His love to us through his actions. To help us understand this, let’s look at the nature of God’s love, the focus of His love, and the goal of His love.

God’ very nature is love.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV)

Every blessing that we receive come to us through God’s love.

The focus of God’s love is redemption.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned. John 3:16-18 (NIV)

God’ love brings us to faith in His son and prepares us for eternity with Him.

The goal of God’s love is relationship.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jer 31:33 (NIV)

This is God’s heart’s desire. To be in a love relationship with you and I.

God does demonstrate His love by taking care of our physical needs. But more importantly our spiritual needs are at the top of His list. So, how can we know that God loves us? By looking at how He met every one of our Spiritual needs. Top of the list is our sin problem. We owed a debt that we could never repay. Mankind has nothing valuable enough to pay the debt. The required price was the sacrifice of perfect blood. Jesus paid the price for our sin by shedding His perfect blood on the cross of Calvary. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate outpouring of God’s love for us.

God Bless you all,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 8

April 1, 2020

Jesus is Always with You

Good Morning Saints,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6 (NIV)

Let’s break this down into three sections:

1. Instruction from the Lord. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified.”

Often when the world seems to be falling apart, we fall into despair. We worry, are fearful, even fall prey to depression. To Christians, Jesus says be careful to not be like the world. It is your time to shine. Put away your fears, worries and depression. Take a stand on me. In essence be strong and courageous. Be a shining example by trusting in me. Our strength and courage come from our confidence in God.]

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Cor 16:13 (NIV)

2. A reminder. “He will never leave you.” This calls to mind a verse in Matthew.

And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:20 (NIV)

How is it that Christ can be with us wherever we are?

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:10-11 (NIV)

His Spirit Dwells in you.

3. Comfort. “…nor forsake you.” The word forsaken means to abandon or desert.

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. 1 Cor 6:19-20 (NIV)

Remember, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, he said My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. Jesus was forsaken by God so that you will never be forsaken. The born-again believer has the Holy Spirit within. This means that wherever we are we are not alone. Remember – the Holy Spirit is also our seal marking us as children of God. Thus, we will never be forsaken.

God Bless,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 7

March 31, 2020

Jesus Prays for Believers

Good morning brothers and sisters,

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34 (NIV)

Let’s think for a second about storms in our lives. These could be financial needs, health scares, emotional upheaval, spiritual matters. We all face them. In fact, Jesus tells us that we will have storms.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV)

Some of the storms that we face in our lives we create ourselves. Sometimes these storms are the consequence of an unrepentant sin. Other times we are simply caught up in a storm not of our making. Think for a minute of Jesus’ disciples in Mathew 14:

Jesus instructs the disciples to get into a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. Matthew tells us the boat was buffeted by waves during a storm. One might think that because Jesus was on earth and had sent them on this journey there wouldn’t be a storm. But Jesus allowed this storm in order to teach His disciples a valuable truth. The truth that He is always there for us.

This side of Heaven life comes with storms. In fact, many storms will come to you and I as believers. Too often people try go through these storms on their own. At first the disciples tried to battle the storm with their own physical power – rowing harder and faster in an effort to overpower the storm. However, when Jesus showed up the storm subsided.

Please remember that Jesus prays for us when we forget to pray, when our faith doesn’t seem strong enough to pray, even when we are full of doubts and fears. Jesus prays before you before you go to your next job interview. He prays for you to have wisdom when you need it. When you are stress and worried, He is praying.

Ponder this promise, right now, at this very moment, amid the coronavirus: Jesus is praying for us. The King of kings and Lord of lords is speaking on our behalf. He is calling out to the Father and He is urging the Holy Spirit to help.

God Bless you,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 6

March 30, 3030

Co-Heirs with Christ

Good morning Saints,

Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17 (NIV)

The Jews of Paul’s day were convinced that they were the Lord’s inheritance, and that as such they would inherit the Promised Land. Paul, speaking to believing Jews, explains that God’s promise includes all who believe in Christ both Jews and Gentiles. Because we are God’s children, we are his heirs and will share his treasures. The Jews thought that their inheritance was only to be the Promised Land. Instead, our inheritance is another “land”; it is everything of God. His love, our relationship with Him, His blessings and eternal life with Him.

We are God’s children only because of Christ’s suffering on our behalf. As believers, therefore, if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

1. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  2 Tim 3:12 (NIV)
2. We will enjoy our inheritance only in relationship with Christ.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:29 (NIV)

What is this inheritance? Some of our inheritance we enjoy now and some we will receive in glory.

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7 (NIV)

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lam 3:24 (NIV)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Rev 21:3 (NIV)

…through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Romans 5:2 (NIV)

…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Heb 1:2 (NIV)

Every born again believer is co-heir with Christ and will receive by divine grace the full inheritance Christ receives by His divine right. Everything of God will be ours through the death, resurrection, and saving grace of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

God’s blessing to you,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 5

March 27, 2020

God Hears and Answers Prayer

Good morning Fellow Believers,

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chron 7:13-14 (NIV)

Let me help to put this into proper context. Just prior to this scripture God had appeared to King Solomon. This is what the Lord said. I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. This promise is for faithful followers. Ultimately this promise was for faithful Israel, however I do believe it still applies to faithful believers today. Let’s break down this promise into 3 sections:

  1. God sometimes allows negative things to happen to His people (to get our attention).
  2. If God’s people are willing to do four things – humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. These practices are taught throughout Scripture. It is never wrong to humble ourselves before God, never wrong to go to him in prayer, never wrong to seek Him through his Holy Scripture, and never wrong to repent of our sinfulness.
  3. God hears and answers.

This is the type of person talked about in the book of James.

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

Please consider joining me in prayer for our nation.

God bless you brothers and sisters,

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 4

March 26, 2020

God Brings Joy

Good morning Friends, 

I am wondering, have you have felt an undermining of your joy during this coronavirus outbreak?

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:19 (ESV)

Consolation – the comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

These verses bring to mind a story I heard from the wife of a godly man. Her husband had spent the better part of a half hour reciting his woes. He was feeling overwhelmed by commitments. He had been feeling sick, there was tension at work, he had just returned from a long flight and was experiencing jet lag. One of his friends called to tell him he was getting a divorce. He had begun worrying and complaining, he let the dismay, gloom and dejection of life settle in. His wife said he knew better – he was a godly man, a leader in the church, even preached from time to time. 

After hearing him speak for more than a half hour she asked him a simple question. “Honey, is God in this anywhere?” At this the man realized that he had not talked to God, he hadn’t consulted or turned these things over to God. That is when he remembered the words of Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

After remembering these words, he went off to work, opened his Bible and through the words of God he found relief. God brought joy into his heart. Let’s look at a few more scriptures to gain a little more understanding. 

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1 (NIV)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NIV)

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

What are roots to a tree? Strong holds. A firm foundation and a source of nutrient.

Next time we begin to grumble, complain, show fear, or worry, let’s put our roots of trust down deep and pray to the Lord, trusting that he will take care of our every need. Please remember only turning to the lord helps us overcome. This will bring joy.

God Bless you my friends, 

Pastor Dennis

God’s Promises Day 3

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Satan’s Doom and Your Power

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:20 (NIV)

Good morning Family,

In the bible God talks a lot about the devil. Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:16-17

You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Ezekiel 28:12-15

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So, I threw you to the earth; Ezekiel 28:17 (NIV)

The sad story is that even though the bible talks so often about Satan many Christians do not believe he exists. 40% of all Christian strongly agree that Satan is not a living being but only a symbol of evil. Another 20% would agree with this statement. Most Christian, in other words, refuse to believe in the existence of Satan. This is a scary thought. If we refuse to believe that Satan exists, we are not taking the enemy of our soul seriously. If we don’t take our enemy seriously, he is free to work his evil in our lives.

Peter and Paul make it quite clear that our enemy is indeed a real being.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

Jesus came to disarm the enemy in the Christian’s life. Please learn to take the devil seriously. Recognize that he is actively trying to kill steal and destroy. How do we begin this process?

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NIV)

You have been given power to resist Satan.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

How do we resist?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil 4:8 (NIV)

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)

God Bless and Stay Healthy,

Pastor Dennis

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