John 15:1-27 (ESV) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Psalms 141:1-10 (ESV) A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! 2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! 4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! 5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. 6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant. 7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol. 8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! 9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! 10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.
John 14:21 (ESV) Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV) As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV) And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
John 16:32-33 (ESV) Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 41:8-20 (ESV) But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; 10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 12 You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. 13 For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 14 Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; 16 you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory. 17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, 20 that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.
2 Corinthians 13:11-12 (ESV) Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Revelation 2:26-28 (ESV) The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star.
Mark 11:24 (ESV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Romans 15:1 (ESV)
1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Psalms 119 (ESV)
1 Aleph Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
[Click “Read More” to see the whole Psalm]
Students from China, India and Japan experienced a flight on a small plane at the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service public day last Saturday, where they saw how JAARS pilots use their skills to serve people’s needs in some of the most remote areas of the world. Following that, they got to attend an outdoor festival where popular bands played and the good news of God’s love in Christ was explained.
We encourage you to “adopt” an international student and invite them to join you in your everyday life, whether you are going shopping, going to a little league ball game, or just having a day of relaxation around your home with family. They deeply appreciate being included in the activities of American families, and having friends that show interest in their welfare. Of course they often don’t have a car, so joining you on a shopping run is a huge blessing to them. This is a wonderful and fulfilling way to show love and share the love we enjoy. Give it a try and don’t be scared! Most universities have an international student office, and they often have a family host or “international friendship” program that they would be happy for you to sign up for. It usually does not require any particular commitment or cost, just a desire to be a friend to an international student. Pray and give it a try!
Galatians 2:14-21 (ESV) But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the Lord , this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord .
7 Hear my voice when I call, O Lord ; be merciful to me and answer me.
8My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord , I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord ; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord ; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord .
Judges 8:22-35 (ESV) “Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.” 24 And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. 27 And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. 28 So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30 Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, 35 and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.”
This is perhaps one of the saddest eras in the history of Israel. Gideon (also called Jerubbaal - which means “let Baal contend with him”) had followed the command of the LORD to destroy his father’s idol, Baal, which he did. Then men of his town were so angry at what Gideon had done that they undertook to kill Gideon for his blatant defacement of their god, the god of the people around them, named Baal (which literally means “master”, “lord”, and figuratively “owner”). This false god named Baal was the “master”, the “lord”, the “owner” of the people of Canaan, and the people of Israel had set up this false god to worship it. They were so committed to worshiping the god of the Canaanites, that when the living God, the true God of Israel commanded Gideon to destroy and cut down this idol, and the command was carried out, the Israelite leaders of that town wanted to kill Gideon. This is how far off the worship of the true God Israel had come.
But Gideon was contending with this false god, and thus he was named Jerubbaal, which means “let Baal contend with him.” Gideon’s father said to those who wanted to kill his son, effectively, “if Baal is truly a god, let Baal contend with him”, meaning, let Baal defend himself against my son Gideon. And thus the men of the city were dissuaded from killing Gideon.
Gideon went on to deliver Israel from the oppression they were suffering under the Midianites (again because Israel had turned away from the LORD and were not following the LORD and obeying his Word). There was a huge victory, and the people wanted to make Gideon their king. But Gideon rightfully said that he would not rule over them, but that the LORD would rule over them. All Gideon wanted was for them to give him some of the gold they had taken as plunder from the victory over their oppressors. The people willingly gave him what he asked for, and Gideon made a golden ephod out of it. An ephod is something like a vest, which the priests of the LORD would wear over their garments when they were ministering in the tabernacle. So it definitely had a religious connatation, and it may have been Gideon’s way of trying to honor the Lord and set up a monument or trophy to thank and honor the Lord for the victory God had given to the Israelites under Gideon’s leadership.
The problem is that somehow that meaning and that purpose seems to have been lost. It was not clear what the purpose of the golden ephod was, and it became in itself something of an idol. Gideon’s golden ephod became an object to which the nation of Israel prostituted itself, and became a snare to Gideon and his family. We don’t know exactly what form that prostitution took, or specifically how it became a snare to Gideon and his family, but we are told that it did.
It appears that Gideon did not want to rule over Israel, he rightly said that the Lord should rule over Israel, but what did Gideon do to use his influence and his position of honor to turn the people of Israel back to the Lord? It appears that he may have had some vague, unclear desire to point people to the Lord by making a golden ephod (remember, an ephod was something that was worn by the priests in their service in the tabernacle), but it seems to have been very unclear, uncertain, undefined exactly what was meant by it. Perhaps if someone had asked Gideon personally why he made the golden ephod, he may have gone into either a short or a long explanation about how he wanted to honor the Lord for the victory that God gave to Gideon and all Israel in their deliverance from the Midianites. Maybe he would have even said something about how God can work through ordinary people who make themselves available to God’s service.
But somehow none of that is clearly known or recorded, and the bottom line is that the people of Israel were not turned more to the Lord because of the golden ephod, they were turned away from the Lord and prostituted themselves to it. And even Gideon himself and his family found it to be a snare. It became a hindrance to Gideon and his family, and a snare, something that tripped and captured, ensared them, enslaved them.
As ministers of the Gospel, we must be very careful that we do not build a monument to our past victory and fool ourselves that we are honoring God by doing so. If we truly want to honor God, we must be very clear and deliberate about pointing others to His ways, living out his ways and his Word.
Please pray for Rhoda for the next two weeks as she takes a course of intensive medical training that she can use in the many places she works. She just returned from two weeks of ministry in the Bahamas where she was helping victims of the recent hurricane that devastated much of the island. She is always moving towards the neediest people on earth, soon to be returning to central Africa for work among people with AIDS, HIV+, AIDS orphans, people suffering from leprosy and the malnourished. She brings hope in the midst of trauma, and life in Jesus’ name. Please pray for her safety and effective learning and ministry.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 91 (ESV)1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place--
the Most High, who is my refuge--
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
2 Corinthians 5
3 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
One of the big areas of spiritual battle in this life is in our minds, our thoughts.
We must learn to take every thought into captivity for obedience to Christ.
Our thoughts come from many sources. Our thoughts can come from what our parents said to us, either as a child or as an adult. Parental pronouncements can have a huge impact on our view of ourselves, rooted deeply in our emotions thus increasing the influence they can have on our opinion and view of ourselves.
Similarly, friends or acquaintances from our daily life can say things to us or about us that have a huge impact on how we see ourselves.
Furthermore, in many ways ideas are promoted which may or may not be true, but said enough times, can tend to influence our opinions about ourselves, our world, our circumstances, etc.
The Bible also reveals that the devil himself can speak to us and plant ideas in us that are destructive and deceptive, seeking to cause us harm.
In addition to all of this, our flesh, our pride, our desires, and even sins such as jealousy, envy, selfish ambition, and fear can influence what we think and say and do.
Because of these many sources of potentially false and destructive thoughts and ideas, we must learn to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive for obedience to Christ.
Matthew 18:1-35 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:13-16 (ESV) And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Luke 18:15-17 (ESV) Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
At the Dufatanye Organization in Rwanda, we hold a weekly gathering for those who are malnourished, to help provide them with additional nutrition to bring them towards more robust health.
Yesterday, at the clinic, a mother of two twins came in, and it was discovered that she has a serious malady on her foot.
I just received this note and three pictures from Godfrey at the ministry center.
Godfrey writes, “Pastor Ross was deeply moved to see this twin mother in the morning yesterday coming for our malnutrition program to have milk for her babies. After seeing the condition in which the babies are and the mother he decided to help take her at the hospital for good treatment. We are now at Kigali since morning. We went to see Dr Albert and after consultation he directed us to a good Dr in a private clinic where we are now.
Pray for us to go through this and also to have a safe drive back home .
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)
"When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory." Ephesians 3:4-13 (ESV)