God is Faithful Daily Devotional By Chuck Bentley and Larry Burkett

God is Faithful Daily Devotional
By Chuck Bentley and Larry Burkett
Day 1-Sunday, September 22-Humility
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” 1 Peter 5:5 NIV
Humility is the priceless cornerstone of financial wisdom. It will change the way you think about money, the way you make money, and the way you spend money.
Eliminating pride is important because God is not neutral about our pride, He “opposes” those who are proud. Notice that He doesn’t just withdraw from them or look the other way. He actively opposes or resists people who think to highly of themselves. In other words, He stands against them.
The day you realize this fact, you will truly want to repent of your pride and grow in humility. You won’t mind having less notoriety in the world while others seek increasing levels of popularity and approval, because you can have far greater rewards in heaven.
Pride puts you in an adversarial position with God. And, even though your efforts to impress others may gain you some temporary notoriety, they will bring God’s opposition and cost you blessings not only in this world but also in the world to come.—Chuck Bentley
Day 2-Monday, September 23-What’s in a Brand Name?
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV
When it comes to shopping, are you trapped in a cycle of buying products with the most prestigious brand names? Have luxuries become necessities?
Satan never wants you to be happy with equality. Instead, he wants you to engage in a process of comparison that constantly drives you to buy those “top-of-the-line” brands, those that make you appear slightly better than those with lesser brands. Doing so may help you feel better about yourself, but it can put you on a treadmill that demands higher and higher levels of spending.
For many people, only the “deluxe” package will do. This means that if they have a choice of low, middle, or hight, they’ll always choose high, whether they’re considering a house, a car, a handbag, a wristwatch, or even a pair of eyeglasses.
Having a roof over your head, getting from one place to another, and keeping track of time can be had for a lot less money than what many people feel compelled to spend. And when it comes to eyeglasses, the most important thing is not the fashionable brand but whether your vision is corrected!
Don’t buy into the lie that only the “best” will do. Satisfaction isn’t found in a name, freeing yourself from the cycle of comparison can save you a lot of money and take a tremendous burden from your shoulders.—Chuck Bentley
Day 3-Tuesday, September 24-Integrity in the Midst of Fear
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house., In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
In times of great financial stress, you may be more tempted to compromise. But as a believer, it’s critical that you not allow financial fears to discredit your witness for Christ.
Always act with transparency, honesty, and complete integrity. Treat others fairly, and avoid even the appearance of dishonesty.
Difficult times may cause you to be plagued with fears and want to hold on tightly to money, but remember the wisdom of God’s Word: “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7 NIV
Remain generous to God and to His Kingdom, remembering that He, as Owner of all things, is more than capable of meeting your needs.
Continue to shine your light in every circumstance by honoring the Lord in all you do, so that others will be drawn to Him. It is in these times of testing that you will have the opportunity for your light to shine brightly for the glory of God.—Chuck Bentley
Day 4-Wednesday, September 25-Investing vs. Gambling
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Proverbs 27:12 NIV
If you or someone you know has lost money in the stock market, you may be wondering if lotteries would be a better investment. After all, don’t both of these “investments” involve risk? I have been asked this question on numerous occasions by well-meaning Christians.
The truth is, risk is present when you invest in the stock market as well as when you amble. But consider this: During the twentieth century, the average stock market return was about 5 percent. And, any rate of return is better than zero, which is what essentially all but a few lottery players will receive.
In one multi-state lottery, the odds of winning the grand prize were almost 200 million to one, which means that the lottery ticket you buy doesn’t significantly reduce your risk. In fact, one example compared the probability of winning represented by one lottery ticket to picking the correct 12 inches of a line stretched the 240,00-mile distance between the earth and the moon!
For most people, the return on investment represented by a lottery ticket is nothing more than the paper on which it’s printed.
Christians should never take the money God has entrusted to them and waste it on gambling. God is more than able to meet our needs, and when we begin putting more trust in chance than in Him, it’s time to reevaluate our priorities.—Chuck Bentley
Day 5-Thursday, September 26-God or Chance?
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV
In Proverbs 24:3-4, God taught us to rely on what He gives us in order to build our houses. This means we rely on the truth he puts in our minds to develop wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
Lotteries are promoted as a simple way to get what we need. Tickets are purchased based on chance, to obtain a large sum of money that will be gained quickly and easily.
Using that philosophy, Proverbs 24:3-4 would read something like this: “By the lottery my house has been built, and through great luck it has been established. Through random chance its rooms have been filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
When we rely on the lottery instead of on what God has given us, we put our faith in luck and random chance. And, we ignore what God taught us to use instead.
However, if we’ll rely upon God’s wisdom, understanding, and knowledge and seek godly counsel, we’ll improve our opportunity for financial success through investing, work, and business.
Don’t but your faith in luck. Go is in control. In fact, the Bible teaches that He is sovereign even in the outcome of casting lots! “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33 NIV)
The difference between investing and gambling is where you put your faith and confidence. God wants us to use the minds He gave us and trust Him for our provision, not random chance.—Chuck Bentley
Day 6-Friday, September 27-Indulgence
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.”
Proverbs 25:28
Most people don’t get up in the morning and say “I’m going to indulge myself today.” No, this attitude is much more subtle. An indulgence is almost always rationalized as being a need, but in reality it is something that has little or no lon-term utility.
Consider how many expensive pieces of exercise equipment have been purchased with the best of intentions, only to be relegated to the closet or basement, unused and forgotten. And while we go to sleep disturbed over whether to buy a big screen TV, over half the world’s children go to bed hungry or cold.
If you are constantly seeking to indulge whimsical desires, the results will be frustration and bondage.
I’ve found that before you buy something it’s best to identify the need for the item, allocate the money for it, find the best buy, and pray about the purchase.
God often allows us to have more than our basic necessities, of course, but leave the door open for Him to bless you. Don’t run ahead of Him and miss God’s best.—Larry Burkett
Day 7-Saturday, September 28-Greed
“Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Ephesians 5:3
Greed means “I want more. I want the best. I’ll not be satisfied with anything less.” Greed can separate families and friendships, and it breeds dishonesty and guilt. Greed is evident in our society in everything from bigger homes to flashier cars to obsession over hoarding money.
Many Christians are going to be ashamed to face the Lord and Explain why they hoarded money while others went hungry.
Once commitment has been made to a disciplined lifestyle, regardless of the abundance of income, the danger of greed and its by-products is significantly reduced.
It’s only when we discern the true needs in our lives, based on God’s principles and values, that we can control greed.
Jesus warned us, “Be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15—Larry Burkett
Used with permission from Crown Financial Ministries. If you would like to sign up for free daily devotionals from Crown Financial Ministries use this link: https://www.crown.org/resources/god-is-faithful-daily-devotional/. Please visit www.crown.org for more information.

Final 3 Days of the 24 Day Wordless Book Devotional – The RED – Week# 4

Final 3 Days of the 24 Day Wordless Book Devotional

9/15.  RESCUE ME!  Our Need for a Savior.

Holy God is God, and created us golden in God’s Own image to worship and be in right relationships with the Triune God, ourselves, and one another.  Sin spirals down our relationships. At the center of our black hole is the dark “My way” attitude. Something deep within us does not want God to be God.  This core attitude seeded the dynamic that killed the Lord Jesus. God being God–true, righteous, and just cannot simply blink out this, our deicide, and forget.  Consequences and punishment are due to us.

Consequently, we need more than just a little help from the “Man Upstairs.”  We need the God who truly loves us and who is God enough to make a way to forgive and rescue Sinful us.  God gave the way, the truth, and the life. God took the initiative and gave a person a God’s Own nature to rescue us—the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Now, place yourself in the following Bible passages. Realize your own need for rescue and for God whose love and grace has forgiven and saved you…. and keeps you there!

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authoritiesand put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.  Colossians 2: 13-15 ESV.

…we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved–and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ.  Ephesians 2: 1-6 ESV.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6: 20-23 ESV

Did you notice your pre-Christ condition. You were dead, a child of wrath, a slave of Sin, and with nothing but eternal death ahead.

And what did God do in Christ without any contribution from you, then offer to you as a free gift? Forgave you, disarmed the powers against Him and you; triumphed over them. Made you alive together with Christ. Raised you up with Christ and seated you with Him. Set you free to become a slave, as in servant, of God, and bear fruit, be sanctified, and receive eternal life.  Wow!

9/16. JESUS IS LORD!  Who Jesus is.

One of the earliest, shortest, and clearest proclamations of the earliest church, especially at baptisms, was “Jesus is Lord!” This implies that the Lord Jesus is a Person of the Triune God. 

“Jesus is Lord!”  This was not a title the earliest Church placed upon Jesus. Rather, this is Who He Himself claimed to be and is. 

The culture of which we are part pushes the interpretation of Jesus in another direction.  Which of the following lies have you believed?

▪ Jesus was a very good person who taught us how to live, just like other religious leaders.

▪ He never claimed to somehow be God.

▪ The Bible cannot give me a clear picture of Jesus, and people have tried for thousands of years to get a clear picture, so I go with what I feel about the legend of Jesus. Jesus is whoever I want him to be.

▪ It’s all personal preference and private opinion.

Today, let’s briefly discover who Jesus is. 

As you read the authoritative biographies Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus reveals His divine nature slowly over time through his teachings, behavior, and miracles. From conception, He has this divine nature; He does not receive it along the way. During His final days in Jerusalem, Jesus more openly reveals His divinity. His resurrection confirms His divine claim.

When you read John’s canonical biography of the Lord Jesus, you will notice that Jesus more overtly reveals Himself as Lord.1 Especially during the Jewish festivals and final days in Jerusalem, Jesus claimed divine titles and roles. He backed up his claims with miraculous signs. His claims received strong push back from the crowds and religious leaders.

As a result of His own Divine self-identification, the earliest Church proclaimed Jesus as Lord. Imagine yourself worshipping in a house as a part of the earliest 1st Century Church. Proclaim with them this statement of belief:

Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2: 5-11 ESV

Now, picture yourself in a 4th Century Church. During worship with others, you proclaim the following part of the famous Nicene Creed:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

Did you hear the echo of the earlier 1st Century statement of belief in the centuries later Nicene Creed?

Jesus is Who Jesus is: Lord–the Eternal God-Man.  No other religious leader ever claimed anything near such a thing and in such a way.

Encourage the Holy Spirit to make this personal. Imagine yourself as Jesus’ friend Peter. You have followed Him for almost 3 years. You are now in the northern region of Galilee, and Jesus initiates unwitting you into His final trip to Jerusalem:

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am.  Matthew 16: 13-18.  MSG.

As you read, did you more deeply realize that Jesus is Lord?

In contrast, imagine yourself as Thomas. You also have followed Him for around three years. Suddenly, Jesus is arrested and horribly executed. Now, your friends claim that He has risen from the dead and they have seen him. You all are grief-stricken, but you are a realist. You consider them delusional, and you bluntly let them know…

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20: 24-29 ESV.

Jesus has been raised! God reality knocks you to your knees and bursts open your heart and mouth to truthfully proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” See Romans 10: 8-13.

See the Case for Christ and the Case for the Historical Jesus, both by Lee Strobel. These are accessible materials that will help you to better understand that Jesus really is Lord.  You may also search for these titles with the author on YouTube and discover some helpful videos.

9/17. HE DIED FOR OUR SIN & IS RISEN INDEED!

You know the reductionistic lies of our culture:

▪ Jesus did not die on a cross for our sins.

▪ Jesus did not raise from the dead.

▪ It does not matter if Jesus literally rose from the dead.

▪ It’s all just a powerful metaphor laden story.

God so loved and identified with us that God gave a Person of God’s Own nature in the flesh (John 1: 1-5, 14; 3:16-17).  Without becoming any less God, the Son of God came into flesh with the name Jesus (Philippians 2: 5-11; Hebrews 1: 2-4). The Lord Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, but did not sin (John 8: 46; Hebrews 4: 14-16). Instead, He perfectly loved God and neighbor, earning eternal life for us as our representative. He so deeply knew, loved, and identified with us that He took on our flesh and our human condition so as to become this, our representative. 

Finally, representing you, He took on your sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; Luke 22: 41-42). He substituted for each of us, and died on the cross for the just punishment of our sins. 

Picture the Cross.  The vertical beam represents God’s justice. God is just and must punish Sinful us. The horizontal beam represents God’s love. God is love and does not want to punish us. In the middle of the Cross, see the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Project yourself onto Him. He gravitates you into Himself. Your representative has substituted for you!

Now proclaim the following Biblical text out loud.  The third person plural has been changed to first person singular in order to make it very personal:

For I have sinned; I have fallen short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes me right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed me from the penalty for my sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. I am made right with God when I believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he made me a sinner right in his sight when I believed in Jesus.  Romans 3: 23-26 NLT

Now, picture the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.  First, is this just fantasy or did he really, literally raised from the dead?

A famous scholar of Jesus’s death and Resurrection, Gary Habermas, presents six pieces of evidence that support Christ’s resurrection, which even sceptics themselves cannot deny:

▪ First, Jesus died by crucifixion.

▪ Second, His disciples witnessed the appearances of Jesus after His death.

▪ Third, the disciples were so transformed by what they experienced that they all expressed willingness to spread Jesus’ message of salvation even if they had to sacrifice their own lives to do it.

▪ Fourth, James, the brother of Jesus, also saw Jesus appeared after His death.

▪ Fifth, Paul saw a similar appearance of Jesus and converted.

▪ Lastly, the message of His resurrection was proclaimed within one or two years from the date of His crucifixion.

Now, more boldly imagine the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus.  Does it really matter that he literally rose from the dead?  In the resurrection, God shouted YES this real resurrection matters into a religious world of ritualized myths, allegories, and fables.  Hear this YES through God’s Word to a church that was culturally blurring the resurrection:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8 ESV.

Please go to 1 Corinthians 15:15-20 and realize the consequences of a Resurrection-less “religion”.

The Lord Jesus’ literal resurrection from the dead not only proclaimed and confirmed his identity as Lord, but also endowed those who fully identify with Him with:

▪ The benefit of the Cross–Forgiveness for your sins,

▪ His identity as a son of God,

▪ His righteousness (with the possibility for you to live a faithful life that makes an eternal difference because you are foundationally in right relationship with God),

▪ What He Promised–The Holy Spirit living in you.

▪ What He earned for you–Everlasting life.

Under great pressure, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter declare the following. Declare this out loud with him to culminate these 24 days of devotion.:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.”  Acts 4: 11-12 ESV

24 Day Wordless Book Devotional. Gold. Week #3

THE GOLD—AGAIN. Week #3. 24 Day Wordless Book Devotional

9/8. HOLY GOD

This week, we again go upward for the gold. As we do, we will more realize that God is the source and standard for all that is golden.

God is a self-existent, eternal, and optimally great being who exists by necessity. God is optimal. There could not be any greater being. God is necessary. Everything in the universe is created by God and is dependent upon God. Without God nothing would or could exist.

This God who is God is conscious and personal, subsisting as three persons who interrelate with one another. The Lord Jesus Christ himself is the ultimate revealer of this Triune nature of God.

We humans are created in the image of God. God has instilled attributes of personhood into us. Yet, God is not only uncreated and eternal, properties that we do not share. God also possesses these shared properties of personhood in an infinitely greater measure and manner. God is the source and standard for these attributes. For example, to a degree, humans can love somewhat reflecting God’s nature, but God is love. God not only loves, but is love. God’s nature is love.

God is true. God honestly reveals God’s own conscious and intentional nature through the creation and especially to humanity. We human beings are uniquely privileged to realize and personally experience God as God is.

Yes, God is true. God is the Creator and final Arbiter of reality—the ultimate revealer of “what is”.

All this is stated for us to again to proclaim, “God is God”, and realize we cannot mess with God. Thus, we proclaim with all of God’s creation, “God is Holy!”

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8 ESV God is Holy. Although God has many properties, God’s Holiness covers them all.

Biblically, God’s Holiness encompasses God’s separation, power, brilliance (ever present, pure, gracious), righteousness, love, and goodness. [See Allan Coppedge, Portraits of God, InterVarsity,2001]

God is Holy. God being and the created nature are separate and different. God is all-powerful. God is all knowing and ever-present. God is the pure standard for everything. God is gracious. God is righteous and just. God is love. God is good. These are statements about God’s nature–intransitive phrases. For example, God is love, but love is not God. This realization can deliver us from the temptation to push our notions of love onto God.

God is Holy! Yet, we need more than just more theology about God. We need God, The God Who is Holy! Moses needed more than theology. Moses was personally stuck in a spiritual shutdown. He and the people he led had experienced God’s power in the Egyptian plagues, Red Sea deliverance, provision in the desert, and on Mt. Sinai. They had experienced His presence in the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night and even more so in His voice to them at Mt. Sinai. After all of this revelation plus their Covenant to obey God’s stipulated standards, they rebelliously chose to shape their own notions and opinions of the divine into a golden calf. Completely ticked off, Moses tossed the tablets of the Ten Commandments at them. How could God take these people anywhere? How could he, Moses, ever lead such rebellious people anywhere?

Of course, Moses was shut down. He didn’t have anything left in himself. However, instead of believing that there was not enough of God to go any further, he went boldly to God and dangerously requested, “Show me Your glory.”

Graciously, God took Moses where Moses was at. God prepared him for a precariously edgy revelation so that Moses could and would trust God for the transformation of this people over the next 40 years. Moses faithfully prepared, and God intensely came at the appointed time and place,

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, Exodus 34:6-7 ESV

God had overwhelmed Moses without destroying him. God had surgically opened Moses’ heart and implanted the reality of God’s being and nature. God spoke God’s own attributes into Moses his heart. This was God! These were certainly more than just theological words. God was Holy enough to transform these rebellious people and their despondent leader to be holy as God is Holy and follow God forward.

This Holy enough God is so much more than what any theology can describe or contain… This God Who is God has you.

This week we will focus on two golden attributes of God without losing site of the others:

ON ONE HAND, GOD IS JUST, SO HE MUST PUNISH SIN. >>ON THE OTHER HAND, GOD IS LOVE, LOVES US, & WANTS US TO BE WITH HIM ETERNALLY IN HEAVEN. …In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10) …by no means clearing the guilty (Exodus 34:7b).

9/9. GOD IS JUST. Part 1. Why Sin Matters to God

Human Sin violates the reality of God. Human Sin is a cancerous lie that God is not God. Lies pyramid on lies and demonic structures emerge. Inevitably, people are not treated as people, and God is not reverenced as God. As a result, God being God will be true to his being and nature and forcefully expose foundations of Sin, the props of sins and lies, and will topple the Evil pyramid schemes of delusional humans.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20 ESV

Yes, God is just. Thus, God’s wrath is the course of action for the benefit of humanity to God’s glory. God diagnoses and calls out the Sinful cancer for what it is and what it does. Such tumors of Evil and their underlying lies, Sin, and sins had to be exposed, removed, and destroyed for terminal humans to be freed and God to be God.

Experience this reality of human bondage to Sin as you imagine yourself as the people referred to in the following Bible passage:

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes. Romans 1:18-25 MSG

God’s justice matters when you are hit and harmed personally. The pain from their sins—sins that well up from Sin and pour down from Evil… the pain has devastatingly rushed into you and those close to you. As a result, especially in our present culture, you may be prone to believe that God cannot be just.

9/10. GOD IS JUST. Part 2. Justice Matters to You

Which of these lies have you believed in part or full? ▪ God doesn’t see or care about the bad things that have happened to me, or He would have done something about them. ▪ God knows about the bad things that have happened to me, but cannot do anything about them. If he could have done something, he would have already done it.

With such lies in our heads, we believe that God cannot be trusted to be just. Thus, we often conclude that God cannot be trusted at all. We depart from God and angrily demand a justice that is never just enough. We insatiably want revenge. We obsessively dream about vengefully punishing them.

Imagine yourself above a cross looking down. Those perpetrators who got away with it are boiling in your heart and head. As you look at the crucified body from the head down, you may think and growl: ▪ “And this should have been them!” ▪ “This is what they deserve for what they did to me!” ▪ “This is what all people who are evil deserve.” ▪ “Where is the justice!”

Perhaps you are beginning to realize that you are keeping God somewhat distant. Yes, you know how real and good He is, but you may wonder why you internally resist going further with Him?

Sometimes we cannot and will not trust God that much because of traumatic things that were too much –things done to us in the past.

We shout, “God where is the justice?” with such a shout, we have a choice. We can just shout at God and walk away, or we, like Job, can shout and stay—sensing in the silence after the shout that there is something more to life and God than this.

Still, if we stay with God, we have to ask: Do You really know what happened to me?

After your shout, picture yourself remaining with God in the silence. What does God’s Word say to you?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV

According to God’s Own self-revelation, God is all knowing. God knows what traumatically happened to you, exactly what was said and done. God knows how this affected everyone involved emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. God knows the real heart intentions of each person involved. So God knows and knew.

Now, if we are to stay with God, we will need to ask a further question: Since You know what happened to me, do You really care about it?

Sometimes we forget that Evil almost pummeled and slashed the earliest Church into oblivion. They were in great pain, and cried out for justice. The Holy Spirit spoke to them through the Apostle Paul. Remember the traumatic event, and imagine the Holy Spirit speaking to you personally through this Scripture.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

What will happen to them and you? The Holy Spirit continues to speak to you through Paul:

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

You can trust God to be just. God is God, and God is righteous and just. God’s justice is speaking to what you have suffered: ▪ God knows and will expose the right and wrong of every action and thought of the heart.
▪ God will weigh the responsibility of each person, and enact a just punishment. ▪ The Holy Spirit of God convicts people of their sin. The Holy Spirit challenges them to confess: ▪ exactly what they did, ▪ how it affected others, ▪ the wrongness of their actions and heart, ▪ and the right punishment for this. ▪ If a person does not take ownership of and responsibility for their actions and intentions, if they do not tell the truth about their sins, they will face the truth as a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ or as an unbeliever at the Great White Throne of God.

▪ The Holy Spirit of God convicts people of their sin. The Holy Spirit challenges them to confess: ▪ exactly what they did, ▪ how it affected others, ▪ the wrongness of their actions and heart, ▪ and the right punishment for this. ▪ If a person does not take ownership of and responsibility for their actions and intentions, if they do not tell the truth about their sins, they will face the truth as a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ or as an unbeliever at the Great White Throne of God.

9/11. GOD IS JUST. Part 3. Our Self-Justifying Ways

Apart from God, we human beings have a tendency towards self justification. We self-righteously excuse and cover our sins.

When Evil has harmed us and the perpetrators seem to go unpunished, we may have this selfjustifying thought: ▪ What I have gone through has atoned for any sins in my personal life. Anyway, God owes me because justice has not been served!

Do you remember looking down on that cross yesterday and thinking, “That’s what those people that did that to me and those I love deserve”.

Also, recall what God wants to do with them? God wants to bring them to repentance. Did this intention agitate you?

Yes, Repentance. This is where we often have a big problem with God, and can get stuck.

We know what God wants, but we may feel, “They are the devil. I want them to burn in Hell.”

This is where we often have a problem with God’s mercy and love. As we will soon more deeply realize, God is love.

God seeks their honest confession and true repentance–and mercifully forgives those who take such honest responsibility. In contrast, we are like the Old Testament prophet Jonah.

Jonah hated the Assyrians and what they had done to his people and him. They deserved God’s justice, full wrath, and total annihilation. God called Jonah to go to the Assyrian capitol, Nineveh, and serve as a prophet to these horrible people. They would get what they deserved!

Yet, when God beckoned him, Jonah ran in the other direction. He hated these people and knew enough about the God Who is God to sense that this God had something up God’s sleeve – grace, repentance, and more grace.

God turned Jonah around, physically but not spiritually, and Jonah entered Nineveh and preached damnation. Although very scary, this probably felt down deep very good to him.

And yes, God being God, guess what happened? The Assyrians realized their demonic attitude and behavior and the consequences. They repented.

Imagine yourself as Jonah shouting at God about the repentance of those who did horrible things to you personally:

Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at GOD, “GOD! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! So, GOD, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” Jonah 4:1-3 MSG

Like Jonah, sometimes we can get stuck in our hatred and away from God. Jesus asks you:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:7-8

God is faithful. He will repay. Justice deferred is not justice denied. Yet, will you so fixate on getting justice and punishing the perpetrators that you become unfaithful?

In other words, will you only consider listening to God and following Him further only after He does what you want Him to do and when you want Him to do it?

Who ends up playing God here?

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Romans 12:19

Healing will only begin when you give yourself, the situation, and the perpetrators totally over to God. As you do, God will lead you to a decision necessary for your healing—to choose to forgive and let God settle you into this faithful decision. Only with God can you then be like God, to want and pray for their repentance. The other person(s) may not change, but expect healing in you.

Without God, filled with bitterness and hatred over what has been done to us, we become so tempted to excuse and self-justify our own sins. We end up giving the Devil a foothold. Consider these lies you may use to cover your sins:

▪ Compared to others, what I have done and do isn’t that bad, so I’m fine. ▪ God understands why I do what I do and have done. God is my big buddy and overlooks my “mistakes.”

Which of these do you typically utilize? For which of your sins have you used these as cover?

When we drift away from God, we enter the whirlpool of self-righteousness, self-justification, and Injustice towards others.

And God is just! This presupposes that God is righteous. How may we picture this?

As God has revealed, God subsists as three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another, but not separate. In a human being, body, soul, and spirit are distinctions. If you separate these, the human is dead. Distinctions are permeable boundaries for the Persons of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit value and honor these distinctions and the Personhood of the Others. This right relationship among the Persons of the Trinity root God’s righteousness in God’s being. God is righteous and acts accordingly with human beings who are created as persons in the image of God. God is the powerful and pure standard for right relationships between humans.

Consequently, God is just with human beings and requires justice in all human interrelationships. Our injustice toward one another violates God.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

9/12. GOD IS LOVE. Part 1. Much More Than Emotional Mush

God is just. Without God, humans are insatiably addicted to Sin. Why doesn’t God just end us under the gavel?

God is love. We declare and graffiti this everywhere. What does this truly mean?

Everyone has their personal opinion, and these certainly are not all correct. Consequently, let’s awaken to some dead wrong understandings about God’s love. Which of the following lies or parts of them do you believe? ▪ God’s love is a ruse. God is really out to expose and shame me. ▪ If I do enough good things, these good things will cover the bad things, and I will become more lovable to God. ▪ It doesn’t matter what I do. God loves me anyway.

Our relational history as well as our culture affects our approach to God. If love language was utilized to manipulate your affections and control you, then you may be suspicious of God’s “love” motive. If positive attention and affection were given in your family for performance, then you may expect God’s love to be performance-based. If you come from an affectionate but permissive family with little accountability, then God’s love can be the pain to sign off on any accountability for a libertine lifestyle. We do our own thing, the consequences bite us, and we feel violated. We feel that God’s love hasn’t come through for us.

Consider your own family of origin. How does your upbringing affect your understanding of God’s love?

In contrast, God is love (See 1 John 4:16b). God is the source and standard for love. We may picture this in the relationship among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As mutually respecting and distinct persons, they give themselves totally over to one another in love and inseparably think and operate as one–as love. The Gospel of John especially reveals this love relationship that shines forth into a dark, Sinful world

Yes, God is love. As a result, God is more than just merciful with Sinful humans. God is gracious with us. You know the Christian placard by heart:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

But notice what substantiates this well known verse:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17 ESV

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19 ESV

Sinful Humanity deserves the gavel, but gets the Son. God is love.

Although love involves affection, God’s love is primarily a verb signifying a choice. God takes the initiative, choosing to love Sinful us. Place yourself personally in the following passages and experience the depth of God’s love for undeserving you.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 ESV

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:9-12 ESV

Thank God that God is love!

9/13. GOD IS LOVE. Part 2. God’s Love in Truth

God is Love. As a result, God speaks and enacts the Truth in Love. God’s core value for the Body of Christ is Truth telling and living in Love (Ephesians 4:15-16). Just as without truth, there will not be justice, so without truth, there will not be love. Concurrently, truth without love is not True. The Devil knows your sins, but seeks to use these facts to destroy you.

God loves humans so much that He tells us the truth.

Sinful people had stuck God in a box and went off and did their own thing. Yet, they used this “Box o God” as a magic amulet to protect them from harm. God love them enough to expose the lie and point the way out – repentance and a new direction.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Jeremiah 7:3–8 ESV

The Lord Jesus spoke the truth in love to a superficially powerful man trapped in an Evil structure:

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 19:37–38 ESV

For pilot, truth was whatever unified power could get away with.

God loves you enough to tell you the truth. Ask God what God is trying to show you that you are presently choosing not to see.

God loves humans so much not to let us to get away with lies.

God does not gleefully swat at Sinful humans with a gavel. Rather, God is often pain with the necessary consequences. God worked with many of his prophets so that they realized the necessity of the consequences and the depth of his pain and love for the people. He transformed these profits into people who saw and felt like God.

The Lord Jesus lamented the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem just a few decades after his death and resurrection. He loved these people, and did not desire their destruction. He had spoken the truth to them about their sins and need for Him as Savior, but they were so stuck in their delusion:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37–38 ESV

God loves you enough not to let you get away with the lies that you believe. Ask God to reveal stubborn lie that you are believing about God, yourself, others, or life. Then, go to God and God’s word to realize the truth. Renounce the lie. Receive the truth. Keep declaring the truth each day thereafter.

God loves humans so much not to leave us stuck and damned.

Instead of the gavel, God gave us a Person of God’s Own nature—the Son. Experience the unmerited love of God’s unmerited love in the following Old Testament passages:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV

God did not give up on Humanity. God did not give up on you. God made a new way for impossibly stuck you through the sacrificially punished body of the Son. Then, God gave you the resurrected Son as a new lead for faithful, truly righteous living. Through the Holy Spirit implanted in you, God gives you the lead in power to fully live.

Now. You are ready to experience the loving depths of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Place yourself as the second person singular in the following passage {the “you”}:

…the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 ESV

Thank God that God is Love!

9/14. FAITHFULLY HANDLING JUSTICE & LOVE

What do we do with all of this? It’s very overwhelming! People have done things to those we love and us. We ourselves have done more stuff than we are perhaps willing to acknowledge. On one hand, it’s rather refreshing to know that God is just and doesn’t just overlook those horrendous things done to people in this Sinful world, including those we know, and us. On the other hand, you may be distressed that our just and loving God did not just blink through our sinful stuff, but will confront us with the truth regarding our own sins and participation in Evil.

So, what is Holy God’s moral standard for us as human beings? What are we to do? What does God’s word say to you?

You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. 1 Peter 1:15

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 ESV

If this does not feel over the top, then you are probably not breathing. Let’s slow things down. Now experience each of these phrases as addressed to you personally in their original contexts:

For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45 ESV

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,… 1 Peter 1:14-18 ESV

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 ESV

Did you notice? God expects us to be holy as God is Holy and perfect as God is perfect. You already know the problem with this. This is impossible! You cannot be holy as God is Holy and perfect as God is perfect. Multiplying consternation, these are commands, and not just suggestions for improvement. So, is God baiting us to try, keep trying, then burn out as “never good enough” perfectionists? Why even try?

Stop! Right now switch from a should, ought, gotta attitude to the God Who is God can and will reality! Begin this switch by pondering the following Bible passage:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Is this some guilt producing punishment because we chronically fail to perfectly love God and neighbor? No, this is an invitation for you! Imagine this verse in its context as personally addressed to you:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:16-19 ESV

God is love and takes the initiative to love you and cast out Sin, sin sins, and their old accomplice “fear” out of you. By His perfect love, God perfects you as a lover!

If you have decisively put the weight of your trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then you are like a branch on the Lord Jesus’ Vine. As you allow the Vine to love and fill you more and more, you love God and neighbor, stranger, and enemy more and more. Empowered with His love, as you increasingly respect and love these people as God loved people, your love for God grows. Thus, you grow in respect and love as you are loved and love.

You grow as the Lord Jesus loves out of you those old “My way” patterns of Sin and hew ways of righteous loving. Those old familiar sins and their dead to you Sin master are now in your new being loved and loving way. You want them gone! The Lord Jesus cleanses them out!

In light of this great news about God’s initiating and perfecting love, ponder this invitation from Jesus:

“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Now, imagine yourself in this scene. You are the rich young man. You have strived to study and obey God’s law, and almost everyone in your circles has applauded. You also are feeling good about your moral performance, but something keeps nagging at you. You become drawn to this poor, uneducated country preacher. For some strange, unknown reason, you want his affirmation of your moral performance: And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16–22 ESV

Yes, the Rich Young Man was possessed by his possessions and loved the stuff more than God. Yet, more than this, what held him back from receiving the love of God and following the Lord Jesus into a faithful life of love? What did these riches represent? What did they do for him? How did his riches uphold his moral self-justification? What prompted him to turn around and walk away with sorrow?

Would you have walked away? Would you have in sorrowful? Why?

Early on in this interaction, what did Jesus say? Only God is Good—and only God is Holy and perfect. Only God can perfect us by his love into his love for people and make us holy.

And let’s honestly remember where Sinful us are coming from: In wanting to be You, to be God—we, I, nailed you to the cross. Unforgiveable!

As we fall from our moral high ground: Have mercy on us…on me.

And in the dust at the foot of the Cross we weep: My arrogant pride. A pride birthed through what I have suffered, what I have gone through. A pride fed by the applause of others. A Sinful pride justified by me.

And so we are humbled in the dust at the foot of the cross.

Only God…

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-25 ESV

I Love Tanzania – The Journey to Winning Souls to Christ

The Mennonite Theological College of Eastern Africa (MTCEA) in Musoma, Tanzania; in Collaboration with the Community United Methodist Church of Dayton, Ohio, USA
Join hands with the Tanzania Mennonite Church in the Eastern Diocese TO PLANT THE FIRST MENNONITE CONGREGATION IN SONGEA.
Pastor Peter and Joyce Rajoro who will be leading the church planting team to Songea Sept. 16-22, 2019
His Profile:
Pastor Rajoro was born April 10th, 1972 in Rorya district of Mara region, northern part of Tanzania on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria. He grew in a poor and polygamy family of many wives and children. He only went to a primary school before he was baptized in the Mennonite Church December 1983. The Mennonite Church was the only option during his time following its roots in the area since 1934.

Pastor Rajoro is married to Joyce since April 23, 1997. God has blessed them with three boys and a girl. Naomi (1998), Josiah (2002), John (2004) and Edrey (2010).

He went to the Mennonite Theological College of Eastern Africa (MTCEA) for a two years Certificate Course of Theology, 1998-1999. After a few years of ministry work as an evangelist, he was ordained 2002. Since then he served in various congregations in North Mara Diocese before he went to Dar es Salaam, Eastern Diocese 2011. His core call in the ministry is evangelism and church planting.

In the Eastern Diocese Pastor Rajoro has served in three congregation including Tanga which is mainly dominated by Muslims. He is gifted in preaching to the open air meetings and crusades. God has used him tremendously in his ministry.

He is the right fit for Songea, the area dominated by Muslims and traditional beliefs. He will plant a church with a mix of the Mennonite culture of quietness and Pentecostalism. His ability to teach the WORD of God without compromising it will make this church strong and rooted to the truth. Pastor Rajoro is also a prayer warrior and well connected to the Holy Spirit especially in the spiritual warfare. He is a man of God who stand firm in the moment of casting demons.

We are praying for him and his family that God may provide him his Grace and become his provider during his journey to Songea. My Lord go with him and bless his work now and forever more!

SONGEA CHURCH PLANTING TEAM, SEPTEMBER 16-22
The following are the people who have confirmed to join force to go to Songea for HIS mission:

  1. Bishop Nelson Kisare Dar es Salaam
  2. Pastor Peter Rajoro Dar es Salaam
  3. Pastor John Wambura Musoma
  4. Evangelist Mary Yunga Moshi
  5. Pastor Migire Benjamin Dar es Salaam
  6. Pastor Zedeckia Bwire Mtwara
  7. Evangelist Daniel Migera Dar es Salaam
  8. Evangelist Naftal Magai Dar es Salaam
  9. Evangelist Josiah Marandi Dar es Salaam
  10. Evangelist Esther Barnabas Musoma
  11. Tentative Schedule:
    04:30 – 06:30 Morning Prayer moment
    06:30 – 08:00 Personal Hygiene
    08:00 – 09:30 Breakfast
    09:30 – 01:00 Door to door Evangelism/witnessing and In House Training for new Believers
    01:00 – 03:00 Lunch and Break
    03:00 – 04:30 Praise & Worship
    04:30 – 06:00 Open Air Meeting: Testimonies, Teaching and Preaching
    06:00 – 07:30 Dinner and Break
    07:30 – 09:00 Cinema Shows and Preaching
    Pastor Peter and Joyce Rajoro with their last born son, Edrey
    Joyce, Pastor Rajoro’s wife

Day Wordless Book Devotional. THE DARK. Week #2

24 Day Wordless Book Devotional.  THE DARK.  Week #2

9/1.  DARK.: WE HUMAN BEINGS ARE SINNERS & WE CANNOT SAVE OURSELVES

Sin is anything we think, say, or do that displeases God.  These instances represent patterns of thought, words, and behavior that mess up our relationship with God, others, and even with ourselves.  At root, Sin wants something or someone to be bigger–more real, powerful, and ultimate than God.  Self-Absorbed, Sin habitually desires to make things “My way”.  As we will come to realize, all sins and Sin violate the reality of God.

  • …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Place yourself in the above definition of sin. How could you stop the power of Sin in your life and quit sinning?

9/2.  GOOD PERSON MYTH.  Part 1.

Our culture feeds us a dishonest story about ourselves and God:

The Good Person Myth: All people are basically good. I am basically a good person, who would do anything for anyone, and even give you the shirt off my back. It’s God’s job to protect me in my goodness, give me the good things I deserve in this life, and heaven ( any positive after life, if such a thing exists) when I die.

Which parts of this self promoting story have you bought into? Typically, what personal situations and feelings prompt you to enter sections of the story–or the whole thing? During these times, what does this myth say about your sins, Sin, and God?

Today, let’s break down this cultural lie.

In the following passages, how does God’s truth confront the lies in the cultural narrative?

Addressing religious people from a Jewish background, confronting those who proudly “know” God’s right and wrong, the Apostle Paul states:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  Romans 2: 1 – 5 ESV

They considered themselves basically good people. They were God’s people. They certainly viewed themselves better than the other peoples around them.  Yet, what did God expose about them? How does this exposure also speak into your own attitude and actions?

So, if God’s standards (God’s Law, such as the Ten Commandments) for good and bad do not allow us to prop up our “good” selves and feel superior, what do they do? What does God’s Word say?

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  Romans 3: 19-20. ESV

Since through God’s standards come knowledge of sin, God levels the sinning field and places us on it.

What do you look like on this level field of sin?

Encompassing all of humanity, the Apostle Paul answers this question:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— Ephesians 2: 1 – 5 ESV

Go back and put yourself in the place of a sinner as described in the first part of the above Bible passage.

Through this passage, what has God just said to you about you? About Him?

Ask God the same questions as you put yourself in the following passage:

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Romans 3: 22-24 ESV.

What is God revealing to you about Himself and you through this and the other scripture passages today?

9/3.  GOOD PERSON MYTH.  Part 2.

Today, let’s begin by going in another direction.  Do you hold any thoughts or storylines about yourself that are contrary to yesterday’s Good Person Myth?  For example, do you sometimes believe, “If anyone knew me deeply, they would know that I am a mess and I will ultimately mess up everything I touch.”

So, are you basically a bad person?  What does this mean? How bad is bad enough? How could you know?

Everyone is created in the Image of God.  Each person has  God rooted value. This means that no one can destroy the Image of God within themselves or anyone else; God given value cannot be eradicated.  We are people created in the Image of God with every bit of our being tainted with Sin.  We are not intrinsically bad, for we bear God’s Image and God declared us good. Yet, we are Image bearers direly infected with parasitical Sin.

Or, are you basically a good person? What does this mean? How good is good enough? How could you know?

Read again the above Good Person Myth.  Think about it…

Would you really do anything for anyone? Who are those “anyone’s” for whom you would not do “anything”? Where does your anything stop?  Be honest. You can be honest in Christ! 

Now, describe your “good life” that God is supposed to protect.

What “good things” do you deserve in this life?

What are the reasons you deserve these good things?

Do you believe that you deserve heaven?

How is God supposed to serve your life? What is God’s job description?

Your honest answers to these questions lead to a bottom line—You are impossibly tangled in your own definitions and self- justifications of “good” and “bad”; you are through and through incurably tainted with Sin.  Only God is truly good and can rescue you!  See Romans 7: 21-8:2.

9/4. SINNERS SIN & CANNOT SAVE THEMSELVES.

Our culture tells us that, with enough gumption, we good autonomous individuals can overcome anything.  Remember those famous Frozen words, “No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free.” We can be anything we want to be and do anything we want to do without restraint. As we do, somehow we will find our true selves and be happy. Today’s “right” seems to mean to do whatever I can get away with.

Yet, look at our culture. Instead of producing strong, interconnected individuals and a more united culture, we are dissolving as a people and as isolated individuals.

Here are some ways Sin lies to you: 

▪At heart, we are all basically good people and want to do good things; we just need a little bit more information, training, and support to get us there.

▪ I can define myself, find myself, and be happy; I am being victimized by a culture that represses my self expression.

▪ God is a crutch that some people need to overcome their problems. Strong people do not need such a crutch.

▪If I choose to believe in any higher power, he, she, or it is supposed to serve me, my self-expression, and My way.

Have you bought into any or all of these lies? You have the freedom to be honest by the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives in you.

Sin within us basically says, “I want things ‘My way’ ”.  Sin pushes outward to create a realm in which things are “My way”.  We become little gods who have created our own little universes.

Where did this come from? Imagine that you are both Adam and Eve. Take in what God is saying to you as Adam and Eve in this text of Scripture:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Genesis 3:: 1-7 ESV

How did you experience these temptations? Did you give in? In what ways does this help you to better understand how Adam and Eve could have fell for them? Have you ever felt intense shame for something you did and how it affected your relationships?

Having gone insular and detached from God, Adam and Eve were cast outward, out of the Garden into a “My way” universe with its dire consequences including futility and death.  We, their ancestors, have continued to cycle this “I am a god” delusion.

As you read through the following, include yourself with “they” (Adam, Eve, and their descendants):

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1: 21-25 ESV

And if you read onward from Romans 1:26, you realize how our God created personhood and relationships with one another became and still become so messed up.

What is God saying to you personally through all of this? Ask God?

Sin says “yes” to “My way” and “no” to the God Who is God.  Sin posing as “My true little god Self” claims our identity and life.

Just as the earthly presence of Christ Jesus brought people to a point of yes or no regarding God, the Holy Spirit confronts us presently with His resurrected presence and a choice: yes or no:

 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:concerning sin, because they do not believe in me…  John 16: 8-9 ESV.

We identify with Sin and are addicted to it.  See Ephesians 4: 17-18. We cannot save ourselves. See Romans 7: 13-25.

Re-read the first three paragraphs from today including the lies list.  Based on today’s Scriptures, reflections, answers to questions, and overall experience of God, which lies do you need to renounce? What are God’s truths that address these lies?

Out loud, in Jesus name, renounce the lies and declare the truths.

9/5. EVIL.  IT EXISTS.

Our increasingly secular culture has a diminished sense, framework, and courage for recognizing, understanding, and confronting Evil.  How have you bought into the following cultural narrative regarding Evil?

Lies:  People make mistakes and poor choices; the consequences multiply.  However, punitive moral concepts and language such as wrong, sin, and Evil, just stigmatize and shame the basically good individual and make things worse.  Evil does not truly exist except as a concept in the irrational minds of dangerously extreme people.

We realize Evil again at the Cross.  Let the Holy Spirit of the living God take you back to the Cross.

Realization…

Picture a cross from afar at dusk. There is a dark, obviously mangled something on it. Shocked, you stare and think:

That’s horrible and hideous! Is that a person? 

It is! Just look at this person.

Look at what evil does to people! 

As I look, I think about:

Those killed in Dayton, El Paso, and….The migrants  dying in the Mediterranean Sea…Syria…,The Twin Towers in New York….

This is the mangled body and tortured soul of an innocent victim,.

A person…disfigured. . depersonalized… dehumanized…

This is what Evil does to them.  Yet, come closer to this Cross. Look up.  See. Feel. Remember…

Now, as I look more closely at this person, that was me, my relative, my friend…

That’s what I felt like… what they felt like…

That’s what happened to them and that’s what happened to me!

This monstrous memory that haunts me!

You realize what Evil has done to you.  Let your realization flow into the words of Psalm 22 (Message paraphrase)….

I was a bucket kicked over and spilled,
    every joint in my body was pulled apart.
My heart was a blob
    of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
    my tongue black and swollen.

A pack of wild dogs, they came at me;
    those thugs ganged up on me.
They pinned me down hand and foot,
    and locked me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage,

Pause.  Perhaps you are feeling and thinking:

“That destroyed my life…”“They destroyed my life…”

Now, continue…

And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
    something to step on, to squash.

And, return to the beginning of Psalm 22:

God, God . . . my God!
    Why did you dump me
    miles from nowhere?

Doubled up with pain, I called to You
    all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I kept at it all night, tossing and turning.

And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,


Amidst such a realization of Evil,  we may begin to shut down, feeling, thinking, crying… 

“But I don’t want to talk about it!  I will not talk about it anymore!”

But it happened…  Yes, Evil exists… 

9/6.  EVIL.  GOD GETS IT…

Imagine…

Before you fully shut down and run away, you look at the cross one more time. Something has drawn you. When you look, you notice that the one on the cross is looking directly at you.  Thoughts pop into your head:

You are hearing me.

You are looking directly at me.

As I see your eyes, I realize:

You really do get it. You really do understand.

Like me, you are in such pain, such agony.

Who are you?

Looking into your eyes, now I see.

You are Jesus who claimed to somehow be God.

You are God! You are in such pain, such agony.

And You are identifying with me!

And who are you?

You are God!

You now fully realize some of His last words on the Cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The Lord Jesus Christ has personally experienced what Evil does to people because Evil did it to him.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  John 3:19 ESV

Now imagine again….

Jesus’ stare pierces your soul and exposes the thoughts and reality of your own heart.

You are in such pain, such agony.

And You are identifying with me!

And who are you?

You are not me.  You are God!  Yet, somehow I feel like I’m in you.

Now I feel the shock.

You are God.

I am not God.

You are God.

I am feeling the pain of my pride.

My arrogant pride.

A pride birthed in Sin and justified by what I have suffered.

My arrogant pride… It multiplies with the arrogant pride of others….

In wanting to be You, to be God—we…I nailed you to the cross.

When the Demonic sperm entered our Image bearing Humanity, this delusional “My way for I am a god” pride was conceived.  Then our little solar system selves came together with other solar systems in order to create a universe that didn’t want God to be God and conspired together to kill him when he intimately and honorably came into this rebellious universe.

Notice what Peter said to the Jewish people assembled on the day of Pentecost, and to us…

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Acts 2:36 ESV

And how did they respond? How are we to respond?

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  2:37

Take to heart Peter’s answer…

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 2:38.

Yes, Evil is in our own hearts, and only the God Who is God can rescue us.

“Don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.” Jordan Peterson.

9/7. FAITHFULLY HANDLING SIN:  MINE & THEIRS

If you are to faithfully handle the sins of others against you, you must first deal with your own temptation to act like a slave instead of as a adopted son or daughter of God. Begin by remembering from where God has brought you and how God has borne you here.

Although much of the Jerusalem crowd rejected Jesus, some were drawn to Him. Imagine yourself among those somewhat persuaded. Ask the Holy Spirit for help, and place yourself in the story (John 8: 31-47):

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A disciple is an apprentice. Such a person follows the master, obeys the master, and becomes like the master. To be a disciple, you have to stay with Jesus and trust Him more and more deeply.

If you remain with him and trust more deeply, you will realize the truth that will set you free. Although you wonder about this truth, you have already taken offense with his implication that you are not free, but a slave:

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

You know your heritage. You are proud of your heritage. Your rooting in this heritage has empowered your people through many overwhelming challenges and great indignities for two millennium. You are not dominated by the cultures around you, some of which have tried to destroy your culture and identity.  You are a free son or daughter of your independent founding father, Abraham.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus has now explicitly exposed your slavery to Sin. Contrarily, you claim direct biological and religious ties to Abraham, and proclaim yourself to be free. However, Jesus uncovers your Sin identity; this is the root from which you operate.  You are using your heritage as cover. As a result, you are only a temporary resident in the house of Abraham.

Jesus states that He is the only one  who can set you free, being the only real Son in the household of Abraham. You quake, “Who does He think He is?”

Now, Jesus reveals your real root:

I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

You Are of Your Father the Devil.

Jesus’ cutting words have deeply wounded, shamed, and provoked you; they go right to your root. Sin and the Devil want to lead enraged and enslaved you on a mission to destroy the word, the Word, and His Father.

Even though Jesus conveys Heavenly words, you will not listen because you prefer a delusion.  Truly your Sin is in bed with the Devil; he, not Abraham, is your source—your father.

You are feeling the unnerving truth, and the truth is filling you with rage. So you again growl Abraham as your father:

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” 

Abraham heard God’s word.  He believed and trusted deeply. Also, he later welcomed God’s Word bearers.

In contrast, you who use Abraham as cover are a part of the Demonic dynamic that seeks to eliminate the truth and kill God in order to maintain a delusion.

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.”

Now, you declare that you have not prostituted yourself with other gods and cultures. You have been faithful to God. You inwardly shout, “Look at our root Jesus. See! We are innocent and pure of your charges. God is our father just like he was the source for Abraham.”

 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

You do not love him. You hate him because he keeps saying what you refuse to hear.  He keeps jabbing into your delusion, exposing and threatening your foundational lies.

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The Devil exists in a realm of delusion founded upon the lie, “I am God.”  He keeps lying and murdering in order to maintain and even extend this delusion.  His moral right is “whatever I can get away with”.  He dupes Sinful humans to chase the lie and be mastered by him. Those so caught in a delusion can not and will not listen to anything that undoes this.

But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Not only Jesus’ words, but also his actions demonstrate that He is not rooted in Sin. Jesus is claiming to be sinless.  It demands proof If it is otherwise.  Free from bondage to Sinn, He is Who He is, the only true seed of Abraham and Son of the Father.

He is who he is and their presents and says what he says in order 2 bring them to terms with their condition so that He can set them free.

For if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

The precondition for your freedom and adoption into Christ’s Sonship is to realize and admit your bondage to Sin and the Devil, that you have eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and have a responsibility for the dynamic that crucified the Son of God.

I Love Tanzania Mission

In less than two years, our brother and sister in Christ, Hassan and Judith, will return to the Tanzanian mission field. At that time, Judith’s nursing training will be completed along with channels for sustainable mission support. Community Church has the privilege of serving as one of these channels. We have known and loved this family for seven years. They are a Jesus centered family of humility and integrity. None of us will forget when the bishops of Hassan’s Tanzanian Mennonite Church came to Community Church to ordain him.

Now, Hassan and Judith are more intensely planning for their mission back in Tanzania. They will thoroughly utilize the training they received here in the United States. Hassan, an experienced evangelist and now an ordained pastor, will serve as a leader of a strategic mission team. Judith will most likely serve as a field nurse in the targeted mission regions.

In these next 2 years, Community Church will work with Hassan, Judith, and the Tanzanian church to develop a channel for their mission support.

Breakthrough Prayer

I love God and tend to be a hard-working, creative person, yet I still can find myself sweating and digging, confined in that same old circular trench. I imagine our Lord Jesus sitting on the edge of that trench saying,

Are you done yet? When you get over yourself, follow me.

The Breakthrough Prayer and Scriptures that follow have helped me to wake up, get over myself, and be straightened out.

When I do awaken and find that I’ve dug myself into that comfortably familiar, circular trench –digging the stuff in it more than I love God — then, I just stop and let Jesus embrace me. After this, I let go of the shovel, begin to follow him afresh, and let Him straighten me out.

Breakthrough Prayer

Almighty God, as we forsake former ways and things, recommitting and rededicating ourselves to You as our First Love, we pray for the Holy Spirit to penetrate our lives in a fresh and renewing way.

Break through into our hearts, Lord, that they may be renewed, revived, and emboldened to go forward into the joy of accomplishing that which cannot do ourselves.

As we seek You with all our heart, give us courage to trust and to step out as good soldiers into the unknown, into the way we may not now see, but are promised You are making – with streams of abundant provision.

By Your Spirit, we will have faith in the fulfillment of Your gracious promise to lead us step by step, little by little, into Your plans for a future of hope!

All to Your glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen

Who are you and what matters?

Who am I? We are tempted to introspect, worship our conflicting impulses and, with the help of an online gaggle, awaken to our true selves. Then, we shame anyone who does not applaud our dress up.

What really matters? We are so chronically distracted and busy that we do not even ask the question. Yet, the question haunts us.

I have found Tim Keller’s address to these questions especially helpful. Please watch them and let me know what you think.

Watch Tim Keller’s “Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity’s Story” on YouTube https://youtu.be/Ehw87PqTwKw

Watch Tim Keller’s “Hope Beyond the Walls of the World” on YouTube https://youtu.be/SD5LYJ3us0U