Killers Bragging


This Week’s Sermon From Tom Fuller; How Do I Get To Heaven?

This Day's Thought


How Do You Get To Heaven?

Matthew 19:13-19:28

by Tom Fuller

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat is very small. A little girl in class stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, ”When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” The teacher asked, ”What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, ”Then you ask him”.
Kids have some wild ideas about heaven and how to get there – but when it really comes down to it, they possess a secret that we all need. When it really comes down to it – this is the most basic question of all – how to get to heaven – or, really, how to live forever.
Men have searched for thousands of years for the fountain of youth – today we think that we’ve found it in cloning. Of course, cloning isn’t creating life, it’s just playing around with it once its created and scientists are finding some disturbing things about cloning that make it not so much the fountain of youth that it was once thought to be.
But we know that if we get to heaven we will live forever. Despite lots of evidence to the contrary, many people have some strange ideas about how to get there. Today we’re going to meet one – but before that happens, Matthew shares a short story of kids coming to Jesus – and its very instructive when compared to the encounter with the man who wants to know the way to live forever.
13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Children were thought of as very incidental in that society – and Jesus’ disciples apparently thought their Master’s time was worth more. You are probably aware that this part of the world was at that time a patriarchal society – men ruled the roost. Women were secondary – a distant second – and children were way way below that.
Who do you suppose brought these kids to the Lord? Probably their parents, perhaps. The word “children” here can mean anyone from babies to pre-teens. Imagine you are one of these parents – perhaps hoping that Jesus will bless your child – laying hands of blessing wasn’t uncommon – but children? The disciples, whose heads were at times still too big for their hat size – rebuked them. Now look at Jesus’ response.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
Notice that this is a double command – “let … [them] come” and “do not hinder them.” Kids are sometimes a bother – demanding, impatient, scattered – ever try to have a prolonged conversation with a three year old? So even though we don’t treat children like they did in the 1st century – we still sometimes dismiss them – we have more important things to do than follow their scattered attentions. Not that we should just do whatever a child tells us – but we should take time to spend time with them – and learn from them.
Jesus wants them to come to Him and look what He says: “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” There is something in these kids that reveals the way to heaven. We’ll look at what it is in a moment – but first another encounter – with someone who is not a child – but, as verse 22 tells us – was a “young man.” This could mean anyone under 40 – folks – but was probably a youth who thought he had lots of assets, but really had nothing at all.
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Notice this guy’s approach – he’s looking at heaven as something he can purchase, and as we’re going to see, was looking not so much for information but confirmation. Jesus, as usual, bears right in on the heart of the matter.
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good.
Jesus is here referring to God – He is saying so much in that one little phrase “There is only One who is good.”
Jesus is telling the man that goodness doesn’t come from him but from God.
He’s forcing the man to confront just who God is – if Jesus is the source of goodness then Jesus is from God – a vital core thing to understand and embrace in the quest for human life.
Jesus is also changing the focus – from works to relationship. He’s trying to get the man to think about God, not just about himself.
This probably went right over the guy’s big head – so Jesus goes on to engage him in a philosophical discussion.
If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
This is true, of course – live up to all of the requirements of the law and you will go to heaven. There is only one problem – none of us can do it.
Paul says in Romans 3:10 “There are none that are righteous, no not one.”
We’ve all failed – in verse 23 he says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Hebrews 7:19 says the law has made nothing perfect.
James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
But this is a smart guy Jesus is dealing with here – he hears Jesus say obey the commandments – but he wants a more specific list. It’s like he’s a contract administrator or a lawyer trying to box God in.
18 “Which ones?” the man inquired.
I can just picture Jesus turning his head towards this guy, raising one eyebrow and sort of shaking His head gently.
Maybe He was tempted to say “you don’t know what you’re asking.” How many times do we play “let’s make a deal” with God. We say: “well if I go to church every Sunday and pay my tithes, then I can earn the right to sin a little bit and it won’t count so much against me.” Or we tell God that if He gives us what we want we’ll be sooooo obedient. Or we say to ourselves – if I steal but don’t murder then I’m not as bad as some …. Its ridiculous. And watch how Jesus answers.
Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Jesus just answers him – five of the ten commandments – numbers 5 through 9 – and then he adds Leviticus 19:18 about loving your neighbor, which the Jews believed summed up the last five commandments. Again, all of these have to do with relationships – relationship is the key. But look how the guy reacts:
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
The guy is obviously mistaken but believes he has kept all of the commands – yet realizes that there is something missing. “What do I still lack?” he asks. Is that not the central question that we all face? When we’ve done it all – had all the riches and glory and fun, or when we’ve obeyed God and been so good we’ve got a halo over our heads – we realize that it’s simply not enough. That’s because what we lost in the Garden of Eden was a relationship with God.
After Adam and Eve obeyed Satan rather than God they hid from the Lord – fellowship was broken and man was driven out of the garden. At that time God promised that He Himself would repair the relationship – the law serving to point us to Jesus Christ who gave up His life in order to return us to fellowship with God – but it comes in relationship to how perfectly we obey the law but whether we have a relationship with a perfect Savior.
The guy asks “what do I lack?” and so Jesus answers – no more playing around, this is the real nut of the issue.
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew is the only gospel writer who uses the word “perfect” here – and in chapter 5 where He says “Be perfect, even as you heavenly Father is perfect.” It can also be translated mature, or full grown.
This guy thought he had come pretty far and was obedient to God – but Jesus is bursting his bubble and showing him just how far from God he really is. We do this – we don’t fall into a temptation or we do some good deed and we think – “man, I’m something special.” But it’s like giving a guy a toy camcorder and telling him he’s a film director.
God says His worst is better than our best. Our good deeds are like oil rags to God. And that’s the point – not to put us down or drive us away – but to show us that the standard for eternal life is God – NOT us.
Jesus tells the guy to sell your possessions and give to the poor – and I think that’s all the guy heard.
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
The real deal – the real core of the issue were in the last three words: “come follow Me.” That’s all Jesus wants – that is the way to eternal life. Its not through external obedience to a set of rules, it’s not through having a bunch of money – in fact, having possessions can actually keep you from God. It’s a relationship – it’s a realization that are nothing special but that God is something special.
Selling his possessions wouldn’t give the guy eternal life – but it was what was standing in the way of his relationship. The question all of us must answer is: what is standing in the way of our coming to Jesus? Is it riches, or the promise of riches? Is it popularity or a favorite sin or fear of rejection or self righteousness? We all have to give up something – not that we’re earning our way – but for all of us there is something that stands in the way – sometimes its just pride.
“I don’t need a savior,” we say. Let it go – it’s not worth it for what you stand to gain – and what you stand to lose by NOT coming to Jesus. Whatever God tells us to give up we need to give that up and come to Him. Repent and believe – it’s the gospel – leave the past behind and go to Him.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
“Hard,” Jesus said – not impossible. Riches make it hard because they engender self sufficiency. If we don’t see any needs we don’t see our need for God. Our physical comfort masks our spiritual poverty.
Jesus wrote to the church at Laodicea:
Rev 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
With the camel thing – Jesus is talking in hyperbole – the point is: if you’re not willing to give up that thing that keeps you from God you aren’t going to be able or willing, really, to come to God. Riches was an idol for the young man – what is your idol? What is that thing that you serve or bow down your life to?
The disciples were understandably concerned:
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Notice the contrast – man=impossible, God=possible. No matter what we try to do to earn God’s favor it will not get us to heaven or earn us eternal life. Period. But when God reached down to us – initiated the relationship, gave His Son for US – it becomes possible. It’s still the same point – self reliance is self deception. We must rely on God for it all – our forgiveness, our salvation, our righteousness.
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Peter and the boys did what the rich young ruler was not willing to do – give up all and follow Jesus. So he was naturally curious – what do we get, anyway?
28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Jesus is really saying quite a bit here – much of which the disciples wouldn’t have understood at the time. He’s talking about at the second coming, when the disciples – and the church, really – will help Christ rule the earth.
But I like what He says next – everything you leave behind here, will be repaid a hundred fold in heaven. Wow – what a promise. Now, that doesn’t mean as the Quoran mistakenly asserts – that in heaven martyrs will get 70 virgins to themselves. We as humans can sometimes only see things in human terms. Jesus is talking about spiritual blessings – and even though we can’t understand them – when we are in heaven we will realize how totally appropriate and totally wonderful the gifts God gives are.
In conclusion I want to point out two very simple contrasts between the children at the beginning of this section – and the rich young ruler – and how this paints a picture for us as we decide how radically we want to follow Jesus Christ.
The difference between children and this young man are two-fold.
Your image of yourself
Your image of your stuff
If you’ve ever noticed, children tend to get their self image from their parents – they depend on them to feed them, clothe them, keep them safe, and nurture them. If they are abused they pull into themselves, if they are nourished they flourish – but it is up to the parents to give the child their sense of self.
For the rich young ruler – his image of himself was blown up and was plain wrong. He thought he was something when he was nothing. Who do you get your self image from – how great you think you are, how intelligent or powerful or popular or good? We need to get our self image from our Father – relying on Him to provide for everything we need including our sense of self.
Secondly, children really don’t have anything to hold them back from following the Lord. Now, I’m not talking about toys that they selfishly hold on to – but as we grow up we have a tendency to collect things – possessions, degrees, property, careers, friends – and then when it comes time to decide whether we’re going to give it all up if necessary – it’s hard.

My encouragement to those of you who have not yet made a decision to follow Jesus – give it up – it’s worth it. Everything you give up He will replenish. Don’t let stuff cause you miss out on the greatest treasure of all: Jesus. For the rest of us, the stuff of this world can still choke out our real reward – don’t let it happen to you.
You know – in the end it’s all about relationships – that’s what we’re really going to care about in heaven – first a relationship with Jesus, and then relationships with our brothers and sisters – showing love and kindness and caring now, that will build lasting relationships that will bear fruit into eternity.


This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Assisting Others On Their Journey

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Assisting Others On Their Journey

Lesson 35 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder


One of the things I love about the human heart is that it’s wired to help others when they’re in need.  I see this repeated over and over:  when a natural disaster strikes a town, or when a terrible wrong is committed against someone who’s done right, or when a beloved friend passes away.  When people see a need, they often respond with caring hearts.


But even though our hearts are wired to help others in need, sometimes we need a little prompting.  Sometimes we need to remind our minds of the blessings we’ve received from others, and then our minds can nudge our hearts to respond as we should.


The Apostle Paul gives two such reminders in his letter to the Romans.  The first comes when he tells them that he’s planning to visit them in the future when he passes through Rome on his way to Spain.  Paul says:


“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:23-24).


While mentioning that he is looking forward to enjoying their company for a while, Paul also mentions that he hopes to have them assist him on his journey to Spain.  I don’t think Paul was trying to “guilt” them into helping him on the next leg of his missionary journey.  From what I’ve read about Paul in his other writings, I believe he simply knew that their hearts would want to help on his journey.  After all, his own heart was wired in the same way.


In the very next paragraph, Paul mentions that he’s on his way to deliver a gift to the Jewish brothers and sisters who were in need in Jerusalem, gifts which he had collected from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia.  Paul says:


“Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.  They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ” (Romans 15:25-29).


Paul understood this blessing of giving and receiving, that when someone blesses you in your life, it is good and right and appropriate to share your blessings with them at some point in return, freely and voluntarily.


On a personal level, I know that my heart is often moved to help others on their journey,  especially those who have been a blessing to me.


When I first became a Christian, I remember hearing about “tithes and offerings,” giving ten percent and more of your income to the work of God in the world.  I hadn’t tithed before, not because I was against it, but because I simply didn’t have this principle in my mind yet.  But once I understood this principle in my mind, my heart was glad to respond–thrilled to respond, in fact.


I remember some of the first “big” checks I wrote to support the work of God in the lives of missionary friends I knew (at least they were big to me, as I had never done this before).  I was thrilled to be able to help my friends in a significant way each month.  I didn’t feel obligated or guilted into it in any way.  I just knew the blessing of hearing about Christ in my own life, and I was glad to help my friends share about Christ with others.  It’s all part of this idea of giving and receiving–sharing with others the blessings that God has given to us.


Now that I’m in full-time ministry myself, I sometimes have to remind myself that when I share a need, God is often prompting others to respond at the same time.  I have to remember that it’s not an obligation or a burden to others to hear about and respond to needs.  It’s the way God has wired our hearts.  Knowing this has helped me to be more open about my own needs in life, and I’ve been thankful to see how people have responded to those needs.


In the past few months, I’ve been amazed again at the generosity of others, including many of you, who have stepped in and helped my wife and I as we walk through my wife’s journey with cancer.


I have been humbled and reminded frequently just how good and kind and caring the human heart really is.  Sometimes we miss this truth, especially when we are bombarded with such bad news about the wicked things that people have done in the world.


Of course there’s bad in the world.  Of course, there’s wickedness, greed, evil, and depravity. But all of this stems from good hearts that have been corrupted by sin–usually related to some kind of selfishness.  But when our hearts are right with God, something else takes over–something called selflessness; doing to others what you would have them do to you, and giving your life for the sake of others, just as Jesus gave His life for us.


Assisting others on their journey is not foreign to the human heart.  But sometimes it takes a little prompting from our minds and the Holy Spirit to get our hearts in gear.


This week, I heard about some friends who have been praying about buying a van and a mammogram machine so they can go back to their home villages in Kenya and do cancer screenings for the women their.  Perhaps because of my wife’s recent diagnosis, but my ears were especially attentive to their request, and my heart wanted to respond. I didn’t know what I could do or how I could help, but I was willing to find out.


I called my friends and listened as they talked about their hopes and dreams and prayers for this project.  I’m still not sure what I can do yet, but now my heart and mind are both engaged and attuned to the need.  As my friends move forward with their plans, perhaps we can find a way to take part along the way.


At the same time, I was surprised this week by a note from one of our readers overseas who asked if there was anything special Lana and I needed at this time.  He had been blessed by our ministry and wanted to do something in return.  Although I hesitated to share our personal needs with him, in the end I did share a few things that we had been praying about.  Within a few hours, he had responded by saying he wanted to send a gift that would not only cover those needs that I had shared, but that would double the amount of what I had shared!


To me, this was a living example of what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Romans, when those who had received spiritual blessings responded by sending a gift of material blessings.


The human heart really is wired to respond to the needs of others, and often the only thing holding us back is making our minds aware of the needs around us so our hearts can respond.


With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you to be on the lookout for ways that God might want to use you to bless others, especially those who have been a blessing to you.  Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has gone out of their way to spend some time with you.  Perhaps you have a spiritual leader or mentor or ministry than has spoken into your life in a special way.  Perhaps you have a project or a school or an organization which has been a blessing to you, and now you can be a blessing to them.


I know your heart is good and eager to assist others on their journey, but sometimes it takes a little reminder like this to jog your memory and bring it to the forefront of your mind.


I pray that as God renews your mind in this way, that the natural response of your heart will follow.  Don’t ignore the promptings that God puts there. Don’t put them off until the feelings “go away.” Lean into those promptings and see what God may have in mind for you–and for those He wants to bless through you.


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for blessing us in various ways by the people around us.  Help us to be attentive to their needs as well, so that we can be a blessing to them.  Refresh our minds again today about practical ways that we can help them, then nudge our hearts to follow through on those thoughts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 15:23-29.  In what ways could the Christians in Rome have possibly assisted Paul on his journey to Spain?
2. Read Acts 28:7-10.  In what ways did the people of Malta respond to the blessings they received from Paul?

3. Who are some people in your life who have been a blessing to you?  In what ways might you be able to bless them in return?
4. In what ways could you open your mind still further to the needs around you in order to meet those needs yourself?  Consider praying that God would renew your mind in this area, so He can work His blessings through you.


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This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Trusting The Potter

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”)

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Trusting In The Potter

Lesson 21 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the three trees, where each one had a glorious dream for their future.  One wanted to be crafted into a beautiful treasure chest, covered with gold and filled with precious jewels.  Another wanted to be turned into boards for a mighty sailing ship, carrying kings and queens across the sea.  The third didn’t want to be cut down at all, but wanted to grow as tall as possible, pointing people towards God as they looked up into its branches.

A day came, however, when each of the trees were cut down and taken away.  The first was turned into a feeding trough, not a treasure chest.  The second was too weak to be used for a mighty ship and was was used for a common fishing boat instead.  The third was deemed too worthless for much of anything, and was cut into pieces and thrown into the scrap pile.

Rather than seeing their dreams fulfilled, each of the trees felt abandoned and without hope.  It’s a tragic story and one that has been repeated many times, in many lives, over the years.  It may even be part of your story.

Maybe you’ve had dreams of getting married, raising a family, and serving God with your whole heart, only to see your dreams dashed by divorce, adultery, and kids who have all but lost their faith.  Maybe you’ve had dreams of being wildly successful in business, giving generously to the poor and needy, only to find yourself being poor and needy instead.  Maybe you’ve stepped out in faith to start a new ministry, or a new job, or a new life in a place where you really felt God had called you to, only to find yourself far from home and wondering why you ever left in the first place.

Rather than seeing your dreams fulfilled, you may feel— like the trees in the story—abandoned and without hope.  

If so, I want to encourage you today to keep putting your faith and trust in God.  Remember that God is the Potter and you are the clay.  Keep trusting that He is molding and shaping you into exactly what He wants you to be.  As the Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 9:

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did You make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:20-21).

Sometimes we bristle at the thought that we don’t fully control our own destiny.  None of us wants to be like a puppet on a string, pulled this way or that by some unseen puppet master.  Yet when you put your faith in God and let Him take control of your life, you can trust that He will guide you and direct you in ways that are better than even you could have imagined.  

I had a friend this week who was wondering if she had been shortchanged when God passed out the BLT’s—the Brains, the Looks and the Talents.  She wondered why others seemed to have gotten so much more in some of those areas.  But the truth is, she wasn’t shortchanged at all.  First of all, she had actually been given huge amounts of each, but couldn’t see it for herself.  Secondly, I assured her that God had, in fact, given her everything she needed to fulfill His plan for her life.  As Paul said to the Ephesians:

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

If God has prepared good works in advance for you to do, He will give you everything you need for the walk He’s called you to walk.  And He’ll continue to do so, even if it seems like you’re going in a direction you hadn’t planned.  The key is to keep putting your faith and trust in the Potter, remembering that He is FOR you and will work all things together for your good.  When you put your faith in God, you put a smile on His face.  As the writer of Hebrews says:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

God is pleased when you put your faith in Him, and He will reward you when you earnestly seek Him. 

This, after all, is what the whole book of Romans is about.  Paul is continually telling the Christians in Rome that it is their faith that matters most to God, not their righteous acts or their heritage—whether they were born Jewish or Gentile.  In chapter 9, Paul laments the fact that so many Jews have missed the fact that God wants them to come to Him by faith.  Paul begins by saying:

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:2-5).

Paul sees the noble heritage that the Jews had been given because of the faith of Abraham.  Yet Paul also says that just because someone is a descendant of Abraham doesn’t mean they are actually people of faith.   

“For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’  In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Romans 9:6b-8).

Paul then goes on to describe how God raised up various people for various purposes, whether it was Isaac or Jacob or Moses or Pharaoh.  Some were for noble purposes, and some for common use, but all were for His glory.  

God wants you to keep putting your faith in Him.  And when you do, He’ll reward you!

Remember the story of the three trees?  It would have been tragic if their story had ended when all their dreams were dashed to pieces.  Thankfully, their story doesn’t end there.  Their dreams were eventually fulfilled—but in a way that went beyond all that they could have imagined.  

The first tree didn’t get to become a treasure chest that it had hoped, covered with gold and filled with precious stones.  It became a feeding trough for animals instead.  But one day, it was covered with golden straw and when the most precious treasure of all was laid inside it—the Son of God—the tree realized its dream had been fulfilled.  

The second tree didn’t get to become the mighty sailing ship that it had hoped, carrying kings and queens across the sea.  Instead, it was used for a common fishing boat.  But one day, that boat carried a group of men who were caught in a fierce storm on a lake.  One of the men stood up and said to the wind and the waves, “Be still,” and they obeyed Him.  As soon as the tree realized what had been done, it realized that it was carrying no ordinary man, but the King of all kings, the One who had created the whole universe.  

And the third tree, the one that didn’t want to be cut down at all, but point people to God when they looked up into its branches?  Eventually its boards were pulled from the scrap pile and used as the cross on which our Savior was crucified.  And when Jesus rose from the dead three days later, that tree realized that from then on, whenever anyone thought of the cross, their thoughts would be pointed towards God.

You may feel like your life isn’t working out the way you had dreamed.  You may feel like you’re not in the place that you had hoped to be.  But don’t give up on God—and don’t give up on your dreams.  God has a way of fulfilling them beyond what you could imagine.

I know of families who have weathered the storms of divorce and adultery and have come out on the other side praising God and helping many others along the way.  I know of people who have lost their businesses and homes and things of this world who are now giving away more than anyone else around them, because they’ve learned what it means to give everything to God.  I know of people who have struggled in faith and sometimes wondered if they were doing the right thing, but eventually discovered that God was in it every step of the way.

Don’t give up on your dreams, and don’t get upset if things aren’t working out the way that you had hoped.  Keep trusting in the Potter.  Whether He wants to use your life for noble purposes or common use, it’s all for His glory.  Your Father really does know best.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for reminding us that You are in control, even when our lives seem out of control.  Thank You that You are the potter and we are the clay.  Help us to be moldable and shapable by You today.  Help us to continue to trust in You, that You will reward us when we believe that You exist and earnestly seek You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Tale of Three TreesP.S.  The Tale of Three Trees is a beautiful picture book written by Angela Elwell Hunt. There’s more to the story than what I’ve told you, and if you’d like to get a copy, you can get it from  While you’re there, you might also want to pick up a few of my devotional books for yourself or your friends for Christmas.  These are inspiring books that will encourage you that God is continually working on your behalf, when you put your full faith and trust in Him.  To read more about these books, take a look at the links below:
The Tale of Three Trees
Eric Elder’s Devotionals

Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 9:1-33.  How do you feel about letting God be the potter, and trusting Him to mold you and shape you as He sees fit?  What might be appealing or unappealing about this idea?
2. What is it that Paul wishes for his Jewish brothers and sisters in this passage?
3. Why does Paul say in verse 6 that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel”?  What’s the difference?  Consider verses 30-32 in your response as well.
4. Read Hebrews 11:6.  What does God seem to want from you more than anything else right now, and what can you expect from Him as a result?

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
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Indepth Assessment of Crisis in Israel and Request For Prayer from Colorado


It’s been a scary week here in Israel!  Imagine if your city was under
attack by missiles and rockets—that’s what the children of Israel have been
going through the last several days!
Some crucial developments are unfolding right now of which God’s people
(Christians) in the nations need to be aware of so that they can pray.
Despite the Palestinian’s continued unilateral bid for statehood at the United
Nations over the last few days, an increase in terrorist missiles launched
from Gaza into Southern Israel hit several local schools and at least
one synagogue.
In an effort to reduce casualties, schools were closed for three straight days
in Southern Israel, affecting some 200,000 students.  Many of the schools
don’t have areas fortified against rocket attack.
The Israeli Iron Dome interception system has reportedly been mostly
ineffective to intercept Arab rockets.  
Once the Arab’s mobile missile launching trucks strike, they simply move to
a new place, re-arm, and fire again.  Israeli Jewish citizens, young and old,
have only a precious few seconds to dive for cover.  
Ashdod school damaged by a Grad rocket
A few days ago, a citizen of Ashkelon, Moshe Ami, 56, died in a rocket
attack on the city.  Moshe Ami is survived by his four children and five
Family members of our Bibles For Israel ministry staff also live in
this city.
One young girl was injured trying to flee from the missile attack in the city
of Ashdod, and a man in his 50s was reported injured from shrapnel in the
Gan Yavneh area attack.  Also, in both of these places our ministry
staff has family members.
A total of 16 people were reported wounded by rockets throughout the day,
according to Magen David Adom (Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross).
Most were hit by missile shrapnel.  Another 14 were listed as suffering from
post-trauma anxiety.  
Most of the residents of southern Israel were forced to spend the night in
bomb shelters.
Can you imagine all the people in your city staying in bomb shelters during the
day and night?
A vehicle-mounted multiple-launch rocket system recently
displayed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Connection to Prisoner Exchange
On the weekend, Gaza received their first visit from the Egyptian
representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The purpose of his visit was to
congratulate the leader of Hamas on their ‘successful’ prisoner exchange
of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.  
Gilad Shalit, kidnapped five years ago by Hamas, was recently returned alive
to Israel in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli
jails.  Many of the Palestinian prisoners were terrorists who murdered Israeli
civilian men, women, and children.
Since these Palestinian terrorists were released a torrent of missiles and
rockets have been launched at Israeli civilian populations.  
Can you imagine missiles and rockets being fired from miles away
targeting your home, or the apartment building where you live?

Israeli President Shimon Peres called the latest round of missile attacks from
Gaza on Israel nothing less than a “declaration of war” while speaking at the
dedication of a new medical college in the city of Safed, above the Sea of Galilee.
“Terror does not allow Gaza citizens to live normally….  I am telling our
[Arab] neighbors: You nor we want war.  But Gaza missiles are a declaration
of war,”
the President said.
At the dedication of this new hospital facility, Peres noted that almost every
hospital in Israel includes Arab and Jewish doctors and nurses working side
by side to help heal both Jewish and Arab patients. 
“If we can live in peace with the sick, why is it impossible to live in peace
when they are healthy?” he asked.
Ministry Writer’s note:  I can attest to the truth of his statement, having
given birth to my youngest son, Avi-ad, right alongside many Bedouin
and Arabic women in a Be’er Sheva hospital in Israel’s Negev.
Recently, while visiting my eldest daughter in a Jerusalem hospital after the
birth of her son, I noticed that the patients are a mix of Arabs and Jews,
and no one is given preferential treatment over another.  
Both Arabs and Jews are treated equally with courtesy, kindness and
respect here in Israel.
Netanyahu welcomes Gilad Shalit home after five years in captivity.
An Alliance against Israel is an Alliance against God
“‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name
is remembered no more.’ With one mind they plot together; they form
an alliance against You
.”  (Psalm 83: 4-5)
Hamas is not alone in utilizing terrorism against Israel; a variety of
terrorist organizations within Gaza are launching the rocket attacks.
Reports have it that President Mahmoud Abbas and his PLO organization
have also entered into an alliance with Hamas for the destruction of Israel.
Abbas began meeting last Wednesday night with the Fatah Revolutionary
Council in Ramallah, where he called on the council to consider dismantling
the Palestinian Authority.  
We must never forget that this was the place where innocent Israeli soldiers
were brutally lynched several years ago, when they accidentally entered this
Palestinian Authority-controlled city.  Their Arab murderers proudly waved
their blood-stained hands for the crowd and the world to see their barbarism.
It is speculated that a new unity government will be formed between Hamas
and Fatah, for the creation of a unified Palestinian state comprising all the
separate Palestinian factions.
Some of the more radical Palestinian elements are growing impatient with
political maneuvers and just want to deal with Israel in the barbaric way they
know – violence. 
The IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Southern
Command, Maj. Gen. Tall Russo look at some of the rockets that hit
Southern Israel this spring, when over 150 mortars, rockets and missiles
were fired by Hamas.  This week, Southern Israel is once again under fire.
Israel’s Enemies Armed with Sophisticated Weaponry
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love you.”  (Psalm 122:6)
As these missiles are launched speedily, one after another into Jewish towns
and cities, we ascertain that more sophisticated weaponry has been smuggled
into the hands of the Palestinians.  
Hamas is now using rapid-fire, multi-round, mobile launching systems mounted
on the back of pick-up trucks, capable of shooting six or more rockets in
rapid succession.
President Obama has been authorizing the transfer of high-tech weapons to
Israel’s enemies.
Obama recently announced his intention to provide two up-to-date attack
helicopters (Textron Inc Bell AH-1Z SuperCobras) to Turkey.
This is being done with full knowledge of Turkey’s threats against Israel as
well as Turkey’s alliance with Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran.  
This decision comes right after Washington’s recent announcement that they
plan to sell F-16s to Cairo, Egypt, a deal purportedly linked to the release of
American Israeli national, Ilan Grapel. 
Considering that God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse
those who do any harm to Israel (and history bears out this truth), the current
leadership in the White House is committing a serious crime against the Almighty.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly
threatened to wipe Israel ‘off the map.’
Iran: Israel’s Greatest Threat
Over 4000 years ago since the time of Abraham, all the counties which were
enemies or conquerors of Israel no longer exist, except one: Iran (Persia) – 
the country in which the story of Queen Esther took place. 
Though all the other enemy countries in the Bible no longer exist, Iran does
and poses a nuclear threat against Israel.
Addressing this threat in parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said this week, “A nuclear Iran will pose a serious threat to the
Middle East and the entire world, and it of course poses a direct and heavy
threat to us.”
On Wednesday, Israel tested a missile from Palmachim base in the
Mediterranean Sea, amid unconfirmed reports that Netanyahu was
lobbying his Cabinet to make a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s
nuclear sites.
Iran’s nuclear program is considered such a threat that Britain is stepping up
their contingency plan for potential military action against Iran, the
Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday. 
The U.S House also voted yesterday (Wednesday) to sanction Iran’s energy
sector, which funds Iran’s nuclear program.
Jewish children on their way to school in Israel on a safer day.
You Have a Part to Play
“For thus says the Lord of Armies: ‘For honor he has sent me to the nations
which plundered you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’”
(Zechariah 2:8)
We need to remember that God cherishes Israel, the apple of His eye, and
the enemies of Israel are the enemies of God.  (Psalm 83:5)
While all other nations in the world were formed by mankind, Israel is the only
nation formed by the will of God.
“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the
countries and bring you back into your own land. … You will live in the land
I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”
(Ezekiel 36:24, 28)
Please pray that just as God caused confusion upon those united to build the
Tower of Babel (Migdal Bavel), which in Hebrew means the Tower of
Confusion, He will confuse the enemies of Israel, destroying their unholy
unity and preventing the building of a Palestinian state on Israel’s land.
We need you to cover the Israeli population in prayer and intercession.
“I will bless those who bless you.”  (Genesis 12:3)
This message was sent from:Bibles For Israel | P.O. Box 8900 | Pueblo, CO 81008

Message From Messianic Bible People – Christians Stand in The Gap For God During The Holocaust

During the Holocaust, if you were hiding a Jewish person, the Nazis would kill you and your whole family.
Many Righteous Christians stood in the Gap for God and the Jewish people during this horrific time.
Recently, André Reeders and Aaltje Reeders-Wittermans, a Dutch Christian couple with five children were awarded for hiding and saving Jewish people in the Holocaust – THEY RISKED THEIR LIVES!  I will tell you more about these Christian heroes at the end of this email. . .

Oscar Schlinder after the war in Israel (left) and (right) during Holocaust where he saved  many Jewish lives.

It was only six decades ago at the end of the Holocaust, that the world was confronted with the gruesome reality of humankind’s inhumanity to each other.
Many were hopeful that an important lesson had been learned: war and racism must never happen again. 

Photo of the Auschwitz concentration camp (left). In the bottom center you see a Nazi SS soldier who has just sent the Orthodox Jewish woman with the infant (to his right) to join the other Jews who are being sent to the gas chamber and crematorium. To the right are the overcrowded boxcars which brought the Jewish people to the concentration in which many died of starvation and disease.  Photos of Crematorium-ovens (right). 

The lesson was not learned!  A report just released states that in the last 12 months, anti-Semitism was at its highest level since the Holocaust where 6 million Jews (half of worldwide Jewry) were wiped out.
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote in Chapter 31: 35, 36: “Only if the sun that shines by day, and the moon and stars that shine by night vanish from the sight of the Lord, will the Jewish people cease to be a nation before the Lord.”
Teresa, can you believe that in France and England alone, there were more than 2000 anti-Semetic acts last year, with a few hundred of them being violent!  Imagine around the world.
The report authored by the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism was released prior to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
This is the most famous concentration in which the movie Schindler’s List was portrayed, and where the grandparents and father of Zev Isaacs, the founder of this ministry, were tortured and gassed to death.
“International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” was created by the United Nations to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, and for UN Member Countries to develop educational programs to prevent future genocides and crimes against humanity.
Although the Holocaust brought out the worst in many people, it also brought out the best in others.
Many Gentile Christians risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
These lights in the darkness selflessly hid Jews in their homes, shared scant rations, provided visas, forged ID cards, smuggled Jew across borders, etc., instilling hope and faith in those being saved, and reminding us today that we should not be indifferent to the suffering of others.

 Left – Corrie Ten Boom‘s house in Amsterdam where she hid Jewish people during the Holocaust.  Right photo of Corrie.

Since 1963, Israel’s Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial Museum) has conferred its highest honour, “Righteous Among the Nations,” on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis persecution.
To receive this honour, non-Jewish rescuers must be brought to Yad Vashem’s attention by rescued Jews.
Recently, André Reeders and Aaltje Reeders-Wittermans, a Dutch Christian couple with five children were posthumously awarded the Yad Vashem honour for hiding Sally and Claire Gimnicher-Hirsch for three years during the Holocaust.
This Christian family hid this Jewish couple whom they had never met before. They shared their meagre rations and risked the annihilation of their own family at the hands of the Germans.

 They join the ranks of those already honoured Corrie Ten Boom (Holland), Oskar Schindler (Germany), Raoul Wallenberg (Sweden), Aristides Sousa Mendes (Portugal), Sempo Sugihara (Japan), Paul Gruninger (Switzerland), Feng-Shan Ho (China), Katarzyna Kmita (Poland), and Francis Foley (England).

Today the number of those conferred with the honour of Righteous Among the Nations is upward of 22,000 and still growing

The Beauty Of Anne Frank

I don’t think of
all the misery seen

Of those angry people
who are so mean

But of the beauty
that still does remain

Not letting the horror
my heart to stain

That’s the beauty of
this precious Anne Frank

When reading her story
how my heart sank

A life of desperation
was forced to live

When she only had
her love to give

A time of terror
hiding in a room

‘Til having no escape
finally met her doom

With tear streaming eyes
I reached the end

Feeling that I had
lost a lovely friend.

Teresa Marie  10/6/11

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Becoming Conscious of Sin

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 
Becoming Conscious Of SinLesson 7 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder

Some people have no problem recognizing sin in their life.  In fact, they magnify their faults in their mind, whether real or imagined, thinking less of themselves than they ought to think.
Other people have the problem of not recognizing sin in their life.  They magnify their strengths instead, whether real or imagined, thinking better of themselves than they ought to think.
Most of us fall somewhere in between:  we magnify some weaknesses out of proportion, while minimizing others.  
God wants to give us an honest and objective look.  For those of you who think you’re perfect, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news today.  And for those of you who don’t think you’re perfect, I don’t want you to magnify what I’m about to say and feel worse about yourselves.  But here’s the truth, according to what God says through Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; 
  there is no one who understands, 
   no one who seeks God. 
 All have turned away, 
   they have together become worthless; 
there is no one who does good, 
   not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
So far, this is a pretty inspiring message, right?  But the truth is, the gospel—or good news of Jesus Christ—is often bad news before it’s good news.  If you’re not aware of your sinfulness, you’ll never be aware of your need for a Savior.  And if you don’t recognize your need for a Savior, you’ll never find salvation. 
God didn’t give you the laws of the Bible—the ten commandments and the more than 600 additional laws that followed in the Old Testament—to crush you.  He gave them to help you and protect you.  And to the extent that you can keep those laws, you’ll be blessed.  But when you fall short of being able to keep those laws, God sent Jesus to make up the difference—to fill the gap between the best that you can do and the best that God wants for you.
And since the Bible says that “there is no one righteous, not even one,” that means that God sent Jesus for each one of us.  If you want to renew your mind and get a new perspective on life, it’s important to see your sins as God sees them.  For when you see how short you’ve fallen from God’s righteousness, you can see what needs to happen to make up the difference:  put your faith in Christ!
This is not a message just for non-Christians to encourage them to put their faith in Christ.  This is just as much a message for Christians, who need God’s grace just as much after being saved as before.  As professor and philosopher Dallas Willard says:
“The sinner is not the one who uses a lot of grace.  The saint uses more grace.  The saint burns grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff, because everything they do is a manifestation of grace.  But we have to learn how to use it.  It means we no longer trust just our efforts to manage our lives.”  
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul addresses the differences and similarities between Jews and Gentiles—or non-Jews.  What good is it being a Jew, some have asked, if both Jews and Gentiles both can be saved by grace?  Here’s what Paul said:
“What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?  Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:1-2).
God gave His words in the form of the Scriptures to the Jews, and to the extent that they heeded those words they were blessed.  But to the extent that they didn’t heed those words, there was a gap.
God gave them ways to fill that gap, through sacrifices of atonement that they and their leaders could make.  But as good as this was, it was never enough to completely fill the gap.  Paul said that it was only because of God’s forbearance—His patience, self-control, and restraint—that He never brought upon them the full punishment that they deserved for their sins.  Paul said:
“Because in His forbearance, He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Romans 3:25b).
But when the time was right, God provided a way to fill the gap completely, once and for all.  He filled it by offering His own Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins.  That’s the gospel, or good news of Jesus Christ.  Even though none of us are righteous on our own, we can become righteous by putting our faith in Jesus Christ.
If you feel like a sinner today, hallelujah!  When you become conscious of your sins, you’ve hit upon a truth of God.  That means you recognize your need for a Savior—someone who can save you from your sins!  And that means you can be saved, if you recognize Jesus as your Savior!  It really is great news, see?
Becoming conscious of sin is one of the main purposes of the laws that God gave us.  As Paul said:
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20).
If you want to renew your mind today, ask God to help you become conscious of sin in your life.   Then, when you become aware of what needs changing in your life, invite Jesus in to do his work.  Remember, God’s grace is just as much available to you after you’ve become a Christian as before.
At the same time, as you ask God to help you become conscious of sin in your life, don’t let Satan magnify your weaknesses out of proportion.
I had a friend this week who shared with me that she was struggling to hear from God.  She felt like God wasn’t answering her prayers and she wondered what she might be doing wrong.  At one point in our conversation, she confessed to me this that she felt God wasn’t answering her prayers because she had gone off her special diet that she had for a particular health condition, and had eaten some candy bars.  She felt awkward saying it, and said she hadn’t told anyone else what she was thinking.  But from the way she said it, I knew she was dead serious and completely distraught.  I looked at her and said:  
“Satan is lying to you.  The truth is that God loves you so much that He has already paid the ultimate price for you—by sending Jesus to die for your sins.  There’s nothing He wouldn’t do for you if it’s in His will for your life.  There may be good reason for you to be careful about what you eat for the sake of your health.  But that’s a different issue.  I don’t believe that God is holding anything back from you because you ate some candy bars.  If you believe that God wants for you what you’re praying for, then keep on praying for it!  Believe that God will answer your prayers and don’t let anything stop you from praying for it.”
My friend listened intently to what I was saying, and when I was finished, asked if I could repeat it all for her one more time, which I did.
I confess that I fall into the same mental trap at times, and maybe you do, too.  Maybe you’ve had thoughts like these:
“I don’t have enough money because I haven’t made enough contacts this week—God must not love me, or He thinks bad about me, and He’s not answering my prayers because of it.”  (Maybe there’s a connection between your contacts and your money, but maybe not.  Your work matters to God, but don’t let Satan lie to you that it’s because God doesn’t love you because you haven’t done enough.  If you fall short in what you can do, ask God for forgiveness and let Jesus fill the gap.)
“My kids are a mess because of a sin I committed in high school and now they’re just following in my footsteps, even though I’ve repented a thousand times for it since then.” (No, don’t let Satan lie to you.  If you’ve confessed it, you’re forgiven.  God has wiped the slate clean and starts all over again with your kids on their own.)
“I’ve been praying for a husband or wife, but no one will marry me.  It must be because of my ____ (fill in the blank:  nose, temper, scar, income, freckles, hair, lack of hair, etc.).”  (No, don’t let Satan lie to you, either.  There are plenty of people who have gotten married in spite of having a multitude of traits that seem to be ignored, and even adored, by a devoted spouse.  While there may be qualities or characteristics about yourself that God does want you to work on, that’s likely a different issue.  Trust God that He is answering your prayers and working on your behalf, behind the scenes.  At the proper time, you will see the fruit of your prayers.)  
If there’s a a gap between you and perfection, there’s good news for you—even as a Christian.  Jesus came to fill the gap!
God want to renew your mind.  He’s given you His law to so you can become conscious of sin.  But once you’re aware of it, don’t wallow in it!  Put your faith in Christ, and let Him make things right again.   As the Apostle John said:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for helping us to become conscious of our sins, so that we can see our need for a Savior, so that we can find salvation!  Thank you for the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to fill in the gap between the best that we can do and the best that God has in store for us.  We ask that you would fill the gaps in our lives today where we fall short, as we put our faith in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Loving Thoughts

P.S. We’ve had another 500 people download our new, short eBook this week called “Loving Thoughts.”  It includes quotes from Christians throughout the ages written to help those who are passing from this life to the next and those who love them.  The eBook is free and I’d love for you to get a copy for yourself, whether you need it now or in the future.  Although it’s a short book, don’t let that fool you about the life-changing perspective it can bring to those who are facing death.  It also includes a short gospel message for those who haven’t yet put their faith in Christ, so I encourage you to get a copy for your friends, whether they’re saved or unsaved.  You can also order a copy of this little book in a beautiful paperback edition that we’d be glad to ship to you anywhere in the world for a donation of any size to our ministry.  Your gifts help us to keep creating resources like these, as well as to offset the cost of printing and shipping, so thanks in advance for your gifts!  They really do bear fruit all over the world!  Here are the links to download the free eBook or to request a paperback:
To download the free eBook version, please visit:
To make a donation and get the paperback, please visit:
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 3:1-20.  Why does Paul say, in verse 20, that no one can become righteous by observing the law, but through the law we become conscious of sin?
2.  Read 1 John 1:8-10.  How do John’s words compare with Paul’s?  
3.  In your own life, do you think you tend to magnify, or minimize, your sins?  How might God help you to get His perspective on them?
4.  Have you ever experienced the good news of Jesus Christ for yourself, putting your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sins?  If not, why not ask Him to fill the gap for you today in prayer?  And if so, why not ask Him for extra grace today to fill any other gaps in your life where you feel like you’re falling short?
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The Ninth Day of Av


Shalom Teresa,

In the Hebrew calendar this month is called Av, and on the ninth day of Av, Orthodox Jews will fast while mourning the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

According to the rabbis, both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on the exact same day – the 9th of Av which corresponds this year to July.

The central point of Christianity is in its name: Christ or Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). However, Christians have little understanding of The Temple as they are not taught about its significance in relation to God, the Jewish people, or the Coming Messiah.

On the other hand, every day millions of Orthodox Jewish men read from their prayer books, petitioning God for the re-establishment of the Temple and that the Messiah will come speedily in our days.

And today there are 12 Orthodox organizations in Jerusalem that have everything ready for the rebuilding of the Third Temple.Jewish priests have been identified through DNA testing, priestly garments have been woven, and a Yeshiva has been set up for their training. The vessels and furnishings for the Temple have been recreated, and the Sanhedrin has been reinstituted. Now, it’s only a matter of time…Just over 1900 years ago, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and one million Jews were murdered by the Romans and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Today we are living in exciting times. Here in our lifetime we have witnessed Israel reborn in a single day when the United Nations approved the creation of the Jewish State on May 14, 1948. Unfortunately 6 million Jews perished in Hitler’s Holocaust before they fled to their ancient Homeland.

This national event was a fulfillment of prophecies made 2500 years ago in Isaiah 11:11-12 and 66:8, Ezekiel 36:24-28, and Jeremiah 16:14-15, as it says that Israel would be created in a day, and the Jewish people would be re-gathered back to the Holy Land. Is this not proof that we are living in the End of Times? No other ancient nation in the world has ever re-emerged! God keeps His covenants.

Currently the United States, the European Union, China, Russia, and the other G20 countries are trying to negotiate a two-state solution so that the “Palestinians” can have their own country within Israel. A major contention in these negotiations is Jerusalem and the place where the Holy Temple once stood.Today this place is occupied by the Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock Mosques.Though some countries want to see Israel and a new Palestinian State divide Jerusalem, some UN member nations adhere to the UN proposal that Jerusalem should have “international status” and be controlled by an IGO (International Governmental Organization) which is made up of these UN member countries. In other words a “one world government body” that oversees Jerusalem and the Temple Mount Area.Is this another sign that we are living in the end of times?Make an everlasting difference for Eternity Teresa, please click here now

The “Temple” was first created by Moses as God told him the exact details of how the Jewish people were to create the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the wilderness.

Exodus 25:Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.” It details the types of offerings such as gold, silver, bronze, yarns, fine linens, ram skins, acacia wood, oils, spices, incense, and precious stones.These would be used to make the Ark of the Covenant (which was where the Ten Commandments were kept), the Table of Showbread, the Golden Menorah, and all the other furnishings.Then God goes into great detail of how Moses is to consecrate the Priests who will perform all of the daily rituals and services before the Lord in His sanctuary. It is a whole chapter about different type of offerings including the sacrificing of lambs and bulls for sin offerings, and how to cover the alter with the blood.Exodus 29: 34 ends with: “So I will consecrate the TENT OF MEETING (TABERNACLE) and the altar, and will consecrate Aaron and

his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.”

Over the next 400 years, the priests continued their duties, but the people worshipped other gods, and the Ark of Covenant did not remain with the Tabernacle. At one point it was stolen by the Philistines, though it was later returned after the Lord sent a plague on them.

When David became King his desire was to build a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant. He wanted a Temple which would fill the skyline of Jerusalem and be a place of worship to the Lord.

1 Chronicles 28: King David said “I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it.’ But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’… The Lord said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts.’

King Solomon built the Temple in all its glory. Every morning before dawn, the Priests dressed in their fine white linens would line up, and blow their silver trumpets, other priests would sing Praises to the Lord, while the morning sacrifices (various offerings along with sin offerings) would begin. Imagine, thousands of Jewish people worshipping Adonai (the Lord) on the Temple Mount.

This lasted 371 years until 586 BCE, when King Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews captive to Babylon and destroyed the Temple on Tish B’Av (9th day of Av). For seventy years the Jews were in exile in Babylon.

The Temple’s destruction was actually prophesied by both Isaiah and Micah, about 150 years before it happened. Isaiah was very specific, even stating WHEN the Temple would be rebuilt (70 years after its destruction). And it happened! He also prophesied WHO would help rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, even though the person (King Cyrus of Persia) was not even born!

The Lord says to Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,” and to the Temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” Isaiah 44:28

Ezekiel and Jeremiah also prophesiedabout 100 years later that the Temple would be destroyed and the Jews scattered, only for God to re-gather them again to His holy city Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple.These prophecies have historically been proven.
We need to show them to the Jewish people today!If the Jewish people are made aware of these prophecies, then they will also be open to what the prophets said about Who and Whenthe Messiah comes, and you can help us do this Teresa.Now, let’s skip forward some 500 years to a climatic event in history… the Messiah is born!
Yeshua was the firstborn male child in his family, therefore after he was born, he was taken to the Temple to be dedicatedby Miriam and Yosef. Luke 2:22Every year Yeshua went with his family to the Templefor the festival of Passover. One year his parents thought he was lost and after three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:41At age 30 Yeshua proclaims that he is the Messiah and the Son of God and he chases the money changers out of the Temple as he calls it, “My Father’s House.”

Yeshua went to the Temple, to celebrate Chanukah (the festival of dedication). John 10:22-23

While celebrating Sukkot at the Temple in Jerusalem, Yeshua declared during the Water Pouring Ceremony, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” John 4:13-14

Yeshua said, “I am the Temple, destroy me, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2:19. Yeshua was crucified, there was an earthquake and the veil in the Temple was torn in two.

Then 37 years after Yeshua ascends to heaven from the Mount of Olives, the “Second” Temple was destroyed, again on Tish (the 9th day) of Av, by the Romans. A million Jews were killed, and the majority who survived were taken captive into the Roman Empire.

And that is why on the 9th of Av, the rabbis proclaimed it is as a holy (fast) day. Jews will mourn the destruction of the Temple, as the Islamic Dome of the Rock stands in its place.

As Believers in Yeshua, we don’t mourn, we celebratethat Yeshua fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Temple (Daniel 9) and that He will soon return, as King Messiah to reign in Jerusalem.




This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Getting To The Heart

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Getting To The Heart

Lesson 6 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder

I have thought for some time now that someone should make a movieabout two men engaged in an epic battle with one other.  In some ways, it would be like every other movie:  the hero and villain would be at war throughout the movie, with the hero having the upper hand at some points, and the villain gaining the upper hand at others.  Near the end, the hero would deliver the fatal blow that sends the villain to his doom forever.  But the difference in this movie would be that just before the closing creditsbegin to roll, the camera would back up from the final battle scene, revealing to the audience that the hero and the villain were one and the same person, fighting atop of a brain inside a man’s head.  Fresh from the victory in his mind, we would see the man finally stand up and walk forward to do what’s right.  No longer bound by the thoughts that were raging within him, he would finally be free to live the life he was called to live.An audience of such a movie might think that they had been tricked into thinking that the whole battle was “real” for the entire movie, when it was only being played out inside the man’s head.  But to those who saw what was taking place at a deeper level, they would realize that what took place inside the man’s head was no less real than what took place after he stood up at the end.  

The victory in our mind is often just as critical as a victory in the physical world.  In fact, we often need to secure the victory in our mind first before we can secure the victory in the physical world.

There are, however, ways to cover up our true thoughts and feelings with words and actions that make it look like we’ve got it all together on the inside.  This kind of activity might deceive men, but it never deceives God.  God wants us to win the victory in our minds and in the physical world.  When there’s a disconnect between what’s going on inwardly and what’s going on outwardly, God wants us to get to the heart.

Paul addressed this disconnect in his letter to the Romans.  The Jews were priding themselves on the outward signs of their faith, like the fact that they were circumcised whereas the Gentiles, or non-Jews, weren’t.  But Paul said:

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.  Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

In some ways, the Jews could have seen circumcision as one of the symbols of their salvation.  It was a physical sign imprinted on their bodies that they belonged to God, that they were children of a special covenant between God and His people.  But Paul said that if their circumcision was external only, then it would only merit praise from men, not from God.  

God wanted their circumcision to be a “circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”  Paul said that the Gentiles, who didn’t have the law of God written down for them, would be more honoring to God than the Jews if the Gentiles kept the requirements of the law by doing what’s right.  Paul said:

“If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?  The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker” (Romans 2:26-27).

This isn’t to say that circumcision and the law was of no value to the Jews, as we’ll find out next time in chapter 3 of Paul’s letter.  But it is to say that God wants our inward reality to match up with our outward reality.  And when we get to the heart first, the outward actions will flow much more naturally.  

I got an email from a friend who is struggling with p..n ogr.phy (I didn’t type out the full word so that this email will get past people’s spam filters).  For years, this friend has battled this battle, thinking of himself as an addict.  He hasn’t been sure if he will ever break free.  Although I believe he can and he will, it’s hard for him to believe it, because of the length and the strength of his battle.  

Yet in his most recent email, he said he had just been to a counselor who asked him many in-depth questions about his struggle.  After reviewing the situation, the counselor said that he doesn’t think my friend has an addiction and he told my friend several reasons why.  This was news to my friend because he’s been feeling like an addict for years!  It changed my friend’s thinking about his situation and he’s already had some small victories in his battle since then!

My friend’s actions are beginning to change because he has changed the way he thinks about his problem.  He now sees that there’s a possibility that he really can be free from this battle that has dogged him for so long.

God cares about what’s going on inside your brain.  He cares about what’s going on inside your heart.  And He cares about what you do as a result of what’s going on inside your brain and heart.  What happens internally is just as important—and just as real—as what happens externally.

In one of the final scenes of the Harry Potter series, Harry has a fairly surreal experience and talks about it with one of his most trusted mentors.  As their conversation comes to a close, Harry asks:

“Tell me one last thing.  Is this real?  Or has this been happening inside my head?

His mentor replies:

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

Sometimes we think that the thoughts in our head are separate from, and unrelated to, the actions that we take in our lives.  We treat the two as different realities.  But the truth is that our thoughts influence our actions.  Both are real and God cares about both.

God wants you to have the victory on the inside so you can have the victory on the outside.  

He doesn’t want you to be obedient just so you can say you have faith in Him.  He wants you to have faith in Him so that you can be obedient.  

While there can be value in just doing things because you know they’re right, even if you don’t feel like doing them, there’s much more value if what you do on the outside matches up with what you think and feel on the inside.  When they match up, you’ll feel better about what you’re doing, others will feel better about what you’re doing, and God will be honored by what you’re doing.

As God said to Samuel when Samuel saw a man that he thought God would choose to be as the king of Israel:  

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7-8).

Ask God to renew your heart and mind this week.  Ask Him to reveal anything within you that is improperly motivated, or that seeks for anything other than the good of others and the glory of God.  Then, if God reveals anything to you that needs to be changed internally, ask Him for help to know how to change it.  Ask Him to remake you from the inside out.  Give Him permission to do that work inside you, whatever it takes.  

Then, when God is done remaking you on the inside, you’ll be able to stand up, move forward, and do what’s right.  No longer bound by the thoughts that were raging inside you, you’ll finally be free to live the life you were called to live!

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for caring about what goes on inside us—our thoughts and feelings—just as much as you care about what we do on the outside. Thank You for the reminder that both are real, and both are really important to You.  Fill our minds and hearts with Your will for our lives and help us to believe and act on Your will.  We pray that doing so will make an tremendous difference to us and to those around us in the weeks and months and years ahead.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. I met a great band at a music festival this month and thought you might like to listen to one of their songs, which they graciously shared with me so you could listen to in its entirety for free at the link below.  The band is called Fue, and the song is called “Abide in Love,” based on the Song of Solomon.  Here’s the link to the song, and the link to their website below that:

Loving Thoughts

P.P.S. Over a thousand people have downloaded our free eBook that we offered last week called “Loving Thoughts,” a book of thoughts and quotes for those who are passing from this life to the next and those who love them.  Many have also ordered copies of this book in paperback for themselves and as gifts for those they love.  I’ve even had two people pass away this week who were close to us and have given them copies of this book as they grieve their losses.  It’s a very small book, but the thoughts will help to give you a clear perspective on what it means when a Christian passes away.  If you’d like a copy, you can download the free eBook yourself by visiting the link below, or you I’d be glad to send you a beautiful 24-page paperback for a donation of any size to our ministry.  Someone yesterday just ordered 10 copies to give out to friends and family, and you’re welcome to do the same.  Your donations help us with the cost of printing and shipping, plus they help us to continue to create resources like these in the future, so thanks so much in advance.  Here are the links to download or request a copy:
To download the free eBook version, please visit:
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Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 2:7-29What was the problem that Paul was addressing with the Jews in this passage?
2.  What did Paul mean when he said that “circumcision is circumcision of the heart”?  And how does that take place?
3.  In what ways can our thoughts and feelings differ from our actions?  And in what ways are they related?
4. Are there any areas in your life where your thoughts and feelings are disconnected from your actions?  What might you do this week to help them line up more closely?
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