Bible Study: Book of Isaiah (CLASSES FULL)
A 12-week study taught by Adam Malcolm.
Wednesday Dates: Sept. 10, 17, 24; Oct. 8, 15, 22; Nov. 5, 12, 19; and Dec. 3, 10, 17 | 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Saturday dates: Sept. 13, 20, 27; Oct. 11, 18, 25; Nov. 8, 15, 22; and Dec. 6, 13, 20 | 8:30 – 10 a.m.
Forgiven and Set Free
A nine-week confidential Bible study for post-abortion women.
Tuesdays: Sept. 23 through Nov. 18 | 7 - 9 p.m.
Held in a private home near Covenant Life
Contact: Mary Beth Philips at (505) 670-4164
“How We Got The Bible”
A five-week course taught by Robin Boisvert. There is no issue more crucial to the Christian faith than the doctrine of Scripture. This course teaches what the Bible says about itself and also addresses how the canon of scripture came into being.
Wednesdays, Oct. 8 - Nov. 5 | 7:30 - 9 p.m.
Material covered includes:
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Take a biblical look at Collin’s classic principles of management theory.
The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger & Greg Gilbert
Find the freedom of a work ethic rooted in serving Christ
John Leconte leads a seven-week study of the Gospel of Mark that provides an open, welcoming opportunity to discuss what the Bible says about Jesus Christ and the meaning of life.
Wednesdays, Sept. 23 – Nov. 12 | 7 – 9 p.m.
Women at the Well
The Second Saturday of select months (See the ministry page for details) | 9 - 10:30 a.m.
Corby Megorden leads a study on A Passion for Faithfulness by J.I. Packer, highlighting the principles of leadership in the book of Nehemiah.
Third Friday of each Month | 7 - 8 a.m.
Saturday, Nov. 1 | 8 - 9:15 a.m.
“I Still Do” Marriage Conference
Saturday, Oct. 4 | 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Gospel at Work Conference
Most people spend at least 80,000 hours working over the course of their lives. God calls us to worship him with that time. This conference seeks to help you consider what God may desire to do through your vocation.
Coming to Covenant Life Church January 30, 2015. More information soon.
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September 15 2014 at 11:40 am 0 Comments
In late July Covenant Life sent a small team of educators to Western Uganda to spend 14 days at the Alpha and Omega Vocational Secondary School in the town of Kiburara. The team participated in a wide range of activities: classroom teaching, chapel worship and preaching, library organization, assessment of the school accounting system, and helping to conduct exams. The team’s involvement went beyond school and administrative functions and included financial participation in a student outreach to Kamwenge town, enjoying Bible studies and prayer with the Kamwenge team, and afternoon activities like sports, debates, drama presentations and traditional dance.
Founded in 2011, The Alpha Omega School is still in the throes of growth both as a Christian school and the physical campus, which started as a vacant plot. The students are incredibly well behaved and disciplined, and classes of 60-plus were very easy to teach, even doing lab practicals. These students have the opportunity to attend school that many of their peers will never have. The behavior evident in class reflects their gratefulness to receive such a blessing. A large number of the student body are born-again Christians and the fruit of the Spirit is evident in all school activities.
We were struck by the amount of time that the staff invests in students outside the classroom. Headmaster Frank is an incredible leader whose life demonstrates so much grace towards the staff and students. He leads with great wisdom and love following the vision that he has from the Lord to make disciples. His job description extends way beyond school hours as does that of all the teachers and staff. The teachers truly love the students and want them to succeed in life.
Students are up at 4:30 a.m. preparing for their day, and every morning at 7:30 a.m. there is chapel. The students lead a time of worship, and then a Bible message is brought, usually by headmaster Frank, but our team all took turns bringing the message. It was so great to see the team members rising to the challenge and responding to the leading of the Spirit.
After-school Clubs and Activities
On one afternoon the debating society invited us to a very enthusiastic and well prepared debate on whether Uganda should have a woman for president. The students demonstrated great talent for presenting logical arguments, and it was a great time.
All of the team members were involved to varying degrees with administering and grading the examinations. Working closely with the teachers gave us the opportunity to interact and understand them and their roles. This time was invaluable and led to many gospel opportunities.
The team ladies took the initiative to meet with all the women staff members to understand their lives, roles and challenges. This further cemented friendships and was a very good time of fellowship and prayer. According to headmaster Frank, the Lord encouraged the ladies greatly as we talked through their struggles and prayer requests. He said the issues we discussed, unbeknownst to us, were the exact things that he had been wanting to address. It is very encouraging to be used by God in this way.
Another spontaneous event developed from the fact that we had purchased a goat to use in a biology dissection. The teachers then volunteered to roast the goat that evening and provide a meal for us all to enjoy! All decked out in the “Alpha Omega” T shirts that we had provided, we enjoyed a very relaxed time of fellowship.
We were able to participate in the teaching and testimony aspect of a women’s conference that drew over 150 women. Sue shared one message on peace and trust and one on prayer, and Margie and Kendra shared their testimonies. These testimonies had a big impact on many of the attendees and it was so great to see the how God uses great pain and sorrow in His redemptive purposes.
Although about 85% of Ugandans will profess Christianity, this belies the highly diverse spiritual condition of this nation. Many professing Christians will also participate in tribal animism and will rely on witchdoctors for healing and economic needs. The spread of the gospel is challenged by this deep-seated superstition.
After the majority of the students had gone home, a group of students along with headmaster Frank and one of the teachers, Gershom, remained at the school to prepare for a week-long outreach to Kamwenge town. This town is characterized by a strong Catholic and Muslim presence and in the past there has been much spiritual opposition there.
The preparation involved fasting every day for the week, and worship, intercession and sharing every morning and evening. We also met daily in small groups to implement the Bible study tool that we had developed and to study the book of Jonah. It was such a blessing to join with them and to observe their zeal, and it was so provoking to see the diligence with which they sought the Lord in prayer before venturing out. Our team also invested personally in this mission and provided finances for food and lodging for the outreach. We later heard that over 30 people made professions of faith during the outreach!
We were so impressed by what gets accomplished by the dedicated staff and students of Alpha and Omega. We saw first-hand the grace that is upon headmaster Frank to lead the staff and students. He has such a genuine love for the students and such a passion and reliance on the Lord to carry out his calling there. We want to help here as much as possible!
Though not an unreached nation, Uganda is a target of evangelism by Islamists and there is a great need is for doctrinal training and equipping of the evangelical churches. We see investment in this school as a Kingdom investment supporting the advancement of the Gospel in Africa.
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September 9 2014 at 10:15 am 0 Comments
More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.
By Tim Harvey
“Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated and whose land they possessed…” – Joshua 12:1
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…” – Eph. 4:1-2
My commentary devotes barely any space to Joshua 12, referring to it as simply an appendix to the history of Canaan’s conquest that is recounted in the preceding chapters. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of spiritual insight to be gained from the long list of defeated kings and their city-states, all of whom are long forgotten except for their final ignoble mention here as having been defeated by the Israelites. But maybe that’s exactly the point – God’s kingdom and His purposes go irresistibly forward, while His enemies are swept aside and remembered only because of their defeat.
However, God’s enemies seem to be faring pretty well these days, if my daily newspaper is any indication. Look close to home or across the world and everywhere we see the ascendancy of those who “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) and who do “what [is] right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). What’s happened to the irresistible march of God’s kingdom that Joshua 12 so clearly displays?
Ephesians 4, I believe, points us toward the answer. God’s kingdom is marching forward, but no longer by means of national conquest. Rather, it is moving forward with the “weapons” of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love. These weapons don’t bring down walls or cities; they break through to hard hearts and blind eyes. They don’t display the greatness of a nation or its army; they display God’s power to transform individual lives. Just as there was no earthly way the Israelites could have defeated all those kings in their own strength, there is no way that we can “walk worthy” in the ways Paul outlines apart from the indwelling power of God. As we walk in these things we demonstrate the power and presence of God as decisively as any list of defeated kings.
And our calling to “walk worthy” is not just an individual calling, but one we are to walk out in unity with our brothers and sisters – “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” as Paul puts it in verse 3. The tribes of Israel were united (unfortunately only temporarily) as they fought the Canaanite kings. God’s call to His church in our day is that we would be similarly united for His purposes and His kingdom, as we “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (v. 15).
Hope for the Pagans
by Jose Troche
Joshua 11 is one of those chapters in the Old Testament where we read about many battles, deaths, and destruction, as the Israelites take over the land that God had promised to them. Many kings had joined forces to fight against Israel (v.5). They had come out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand on the seashore (v.4). This alliance may have seemed intimidating, but the Lord was with Joshua and had commanded him, once again, not to be afraid, for He was going to give over all of them to Israel (v.6). And Joshua and all his warriors fell upon them and struck them until he left none remaining (v. 7-8). And Joshua’s army continued capturing cities, striking with the sword all who were in them, devoting them to destruction, not leaving any who breathed (v. 11, 12, 14, 17, 21).
We can picture smoke coming out from burned cities, corpses infesting the landscape, utterly defeated armies, ubiquitous devastation… For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed (v. 20). What a sobering and horrifying passage! Many find these events perplexing and disturbing.
The pagans that heard about the breathtaking wonders that the God of Israel was performing responded with consternation, their hearts melted and no spirit was left in any of them (Joshua 2:10-11). The Bible openly paints a terrifying image for those who are against the Lord. His judgement is unbearable. It is certainly a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
As I try to fit myself into this story, an extremely troubling reality dawns in my mind. I am not an Israelite by birth, I am a pagan! If all I have is the Old Testament, I am left in a hopeless condition. If I do not belong to ethnic Israel, I am destined to be devoted to destruction, just like the heathen of Joshua 11.
Praise be to God for Ephesians 3, for the amazing mystery that was hidden for ages but revealed to Paul and the apostles (Eph. 3:5), that we, the Gentiles, the pagans, are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (v.6). Praise be to God for extending undeserved mercy to helpless pagan sinners like me, so we can comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (v.18-19), who shed his blood for the forgiveness of our traspasses (Eph. 1:7), so we can be members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).
To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:21)
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September 8 2014 at 12:46 pm 0 Comments
Here is a brief recap from Linda Benjamin of how God used members of our church to serve the people of Japan. Below that, is a brief note of thanks from the Grace Harbor Church in Tokyo with whom our team partnered to provide the classes.
You know so many people were praying when you felt like you were walking on the water the whole time you were on a mission trip!
On August 4 the five members of the Japan team made up of Linda and Christina Benjamin, Tori Chow, Kristen Emelio and Hannah Moore, traveled to Tokyo to serve Grace Harbor Church by assisting in their Kids English Week from Aug. 4-11.
Despite having less than three weeks to plan, we couldn’t have imagined a better outcome! We were able to bless about 100 children with songs, fun activities and crafts throughout the week. But, not only the children had a fantastic time; we were also able to connect and build friendships with many of the children’s parents and the Grace Harbor Team. Even on our ‘free’ time, we were able to spend time with some of the kids, having deep, heart-to-heart talks.
Through a Mom’s tea time that was also held during the week, one of the Grace Harbor missionaries gave a short message on parenting, translated by a CLC team member. It was a powerful time where many women were affected by the wisdom and care that they heard. One woman was so touched that she is now going to host the a class on parenting at her home, and inviting more interested people. The Gospel work continues!
Even though we were not able to share the Gospel in words due to language barrier, the love of Christ was shown in many ways and some moms have expressed their gratitude in tears of joy. We are so grateful to be able to witness God’s unfathomable love at work among the Japanese people as well as amongst our team, and the Grace Harbor team, through their selfless service, “being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
One of the Grace Harbor Team commented: “Praise God! We hope you send them back!” Thank you so much for your support and prayers and please continue to pray!
Dear Covenant Life Church,
Thank you so much for sending this wonderful team to help with Grace Harbor Project’s Kids English week! It was so well prepared and very lovingly executed by your team. Hannah amazed us with her creative and organizational skills. And ChiChi and Tori were real troopers to keep up with the demanding schedule. They enjoyed the children and reached out to them in warm and loving ways.
Your church blessed us in so many ways through them, and through your most kind generosity. First, by sending them to us — especially on such short notice! Also, by providing the refreshments for the moms of the camp kids over “Tea Time” as we, Linda and I and a few other staff, made ourselves available to have conversation. The staff loved being treated out to a Monja restaurant! Thank you!!! And Bob and I thank you for your personal financial blessing to us. God has dealt so kindly to us!
I wish I could stand before you now and tell you about these blessings and about how Linda was such a blessing to so many women she met — including me! For example, when I became sick and did not have strength to prepare a meal for some friends we had committed to have over, Linda took over and prepared the meal. She also blessed me and moms at the camp by translating for me when it seemed like the thing to do was to share some insights about parenting. Some moms at my table, the English table, were pouring their hearts out about their struggles with parenting and asking for advice. That Linda translated for me made it possible for all the moms to hear these insights.
It turned out that this resulted in a desire for some moms to attend a parenting class. So, now I am hoping to start up a parenting class in the fall. Moms who do not speak English signed up, too, so we need to pray God will provide a bilingual translator for this class.
Another heart Linda reached was the heart of a mom of a distressed boy we found when we got off the bus in front of our apartment. The boy was pacing and crying. Linda went over to find out his problem. His mom had dropped him off to meet a friend at a place. The friend was not there and the place was closed. Linda stayed with him until his mom was found!
Through Linda and the team the love of Christ was clearly shown to many. Praise God! We hope you send them back!
Love in Christ,
Sharon and Bob (Tokyo Team)
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August 22 2014 at 9:45 am 0 Comments
More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 | Joshua 5
By Jessica Kendal
Praise God for a second crossing through the waters! In Joshua 5, the Israelites had finally begun their transition into the “promised land.” God in His kindness showed them His might once again as the waters of the Jordan piled up and His people walked through on dry ground. But even while the Lord was melting away the resistance of many enemies, there is still a battle on the horizon: Jericho. Walls that seem unbreakable, and yet God is calling them to move forward in confidence. How? What can prepare a person—or a people—for this sort of conquest?
Consecration—and even a renewing of the Covenant! (vs. 1-9) God’s people had been wandering in the wilderness so long, even the physical marks of their covenant with Him had all but disappeared. The Lord commands that the new generation be circumcised, starting fresh and rolling away the “reproach of Egypt.” What is the Lord asking you to cut away today, so that you can renew your love for Him and start fresh?
Remembering His Faithfulness (vs. 10-12) In God’s perfect timing, following the renewal of their covenant with the Lord, it was time to celebrate the Passover. In doing this, the Lord also began to show His people His new provision for them: the “fruit” of the land, no longer the provision of manna. Remembering His faithfulness is crucial to having the strength for spiritual battle and opens our eyes to new things He’d like to do. What might God want you to remember about Him as you face your battles of today?
Choosing God’s Side (vs. 13-15) I once read that our gut reaction is often the same as Joshua’s, faced with the “commander of the army of the LORD”—we blindly approach Him and ask if He’s on our side, or not?? But what God really wants is to know if we are on HIS side! To do this, we’ve got to recognize who He really is. When Joshua realized who he was actually talking to, he fell on his face, and asked what was required of him! The reply? “Take off your sandals…for the place where you are standing is holy.” Friends, in Jesus Christ, we walk on holy ground every day! Remind yourself of His astonishing holiness and greatness. How can you choose to be on God’s side today, rather than asking if He’s on your side?
Lord, we pray today for grace to see You for who You really are. You know that we are facing battles that seem too big to fight—but if YOU are our Commander, no walls are too high. Help us ask what You require of us, and give us confidence in Your strength, not ours. We love You, Jesus, and pray this in Your precious Name!
What God Does and What He Says Will Stand Forever
By Rhoda Dixon
“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Joshua 4:23-24)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
The instruction from God to Joshua to the people regarding the setting up of the memorial stones are to direct God’s people to remember always what God has done for them. His mighty act in this moment in leading them safely through the Jordan is part of a greater work of His enduring mercy and faithfulness to His people. The instructions are to accomplish a work in God’s people in two ways: The command to build the memorial stones and the crossing of the Jordan are to build faith just prior to their entering the land He has promised. And these stones are to direct their hearts to worship and trust God always.
While the stones were to be a reminder to God’s people of what God has done, Jesus provides words of comfort in the midst of great difficulty and suffering detailed in Matthew 24. Both the fall of Jerusalem and the end times are being described here, but with His words and life Jesus provides hope for all who know Him. Jesus Himself is the answer to the difficulties and anguish, and His words of life and salvation will never pass away. Throughout history the Lord has preserved His church, and at the end of time His people will be with Him, in the place He has provided in His presence for them for all of eternity—the eternal rest that is the ultimate fulfillment of the promised land we will read about in Joshua. As God’s people, we can remember all our God has done, finding rest in knowing that our Lord’s words provide everlasting hope.
As He led His people through the Jordan, He will be faithful to lead and remain with His people, leading them through the end of time, until we are finally in our promised Home with Him forever.
Dear Lord, I thank You because You always lead and guard Your people. You who is in control over creation, time and all that has been and what will come ahead; You alone are our hope in every step, today and forever.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes when Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ‘tis His hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me. (Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862)
By William Li
Matthew 23: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
The nation of Israel was truly in dark times during this era of their history. Politically, their homeland was ruled by Rome. Religiously, the people were being lead by false guides. With no good shepherds in the community, Jesus gives us some words of wisdom in this passage. He points people to follow the teaching of the Pharisees despite being hypocrites.
Consider the question, how can a person distinguish if something a hypocrite said was true? If we disregarded everything any hypocrite said, we would have to discard everything every man has ever said. For we all falter and fall short at some point as a result of the Fall. The question then becomes, in a world of hypocrites, how can I seek truth?
As Christians we are called to be faithful to God rather than a person. Often times it is difficult to distinguish truth from falsehood when words and actions do not line up. Jesus teaches us that even a hypocrite can teach us truths. However Jesus was able to live a life free of hypocrisy. He is the living embodiment of truth and righteousness. Only in His life was truth and personhood fully unified.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
The Pharisees were a group that had more access to the Word of God than the rest of the population. But instead of leading people into the Kingdom of Heaven, they were putting obstacles in their way. Hypocrisy is one of the biggest obstacles the Israelites had to overcome in order to seek God during this time. My encouragement to anyone who wants to see a true life, untainted by hypocrisy is to study the life of Jesus. It wasn’t just the fact that Jesus said the truth but that He was Truth itself.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
When God lead the people out of Egypt using Moses he opened the Red Sea allowing the people to walk across on dry land. But Moses sinned and was forbidden to cross over to the Promised Land. So Joshua was now commanded to lead the Israelites. God invokes the same miracle except now it is over the Jordon instead of the Red Sea.
In Numbers 14 Joshua and Caleb were sent to the land of Canaan to survey the land. Many spies were sent out but only Joshua and Caleb trusted the Lord would give the Israelites the land. All of the other spies came back reporting how it was impossible to go against the people of Canaan. When the Israelites heard the report from the spies they were ready to stone Moses for leading them there.
Joshua had great faith to follow the Lord. Not grumbling or rebelling against the Lord who intended to do good to him and his countrymen. It is fitting that Joshua become the leader of the Israelites and be the one to take his people over to the Promised Land. He had become God’s chosen instrument to deliver His people.
How many times have we grumbled in our hearts against the Lord? We ask for blessings but not hardships. But the Bible teaches us that God uses both to sharpen and shape us, for we are all clay in the potter’s hand. Joshua demonstrates how important it is to trust God in all situations. Joshua trusted God in the 40 years in the desert enduring the trials with patience. In that time of faithfully trusting God, he was molded to become one of the greatest leaders in Biblical history.
by Tim Harvey
“…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:11
“Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” - Matt. 22:9
If there was ever someone gathered in by God’s grace from off the highways of life, it was Rahab. Consider her spiritual résumé: a pagan and also a prostitute perhaps associated with one of the idolatrous fertility cults of ancient Canaan. No hint that she was a sincere seeker of truth along the same lines as the magi who visited Jesus, nor an exemplar of righteous living like the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. Yet in biblical history Rahab is well-known as one of the heroes of the faith, commended by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 11:31) and by James (James 2:25), and an ancestor of David and Christ Himself (Matt. 1:5). How could this happen? Is Rahab just another example of the mystery of God’s providence, or do we have something to learn from her life and example?
I believe the answer is yes on both counts. Certainly no one – no matter how well taught in the Scriptures or how righteous in their living – is saved apart from God’s sovereign call. The fact that He would choose someone like Rahab is a dramatic reminder that we are all saved by grace and grace alone.
But Rahab’s words in verses 8-13 illuminate the work that God was doing in her life, and I believe offer us guidance on how we ought to pray for His work in our lives and the lives of others. Rahab did not have any more information than other people in Jericho – the news of the Israelites’ amazing military victories and the power of their God were obviously common knowledge. But Rahab, through God’s provident work, was given eyes to see through these mere events to perceive the God who was behind them. Her words reveal an astonishing grasp of who God is and what He was doing through the events that had so stirred the region. In marked contrast to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, she was given “eyes to see and ears to hear,” and she did not hesitate to act on what she had seen.
I want to have the same eyes of faith that Rahab had! I want to see, as Rahab did, my circumstances and the world around me in light of who God is and His eternal purposes. And I want the same for those around me who walk in spiritual blindness. That’s why I am praying earnestly for God to do this kind of work that only He can do.
by Jose Troche
It had been a long and tedious journey for the people of God. Several years wandering in the desert, doubting, rebelling, and sinning against the LORD. He had so mightily delivered them from dreadful slavery to lead them into wonderland, a place of indescribable fruitfulness, prosperity, peace and rest. The type of place where all human beings deeply long to be.
We read in Joshua 1 about God declaring that no man will stand against Joshua, because the Almighty himself will be on his side. God had chosen Joshua to be the successor of Moses, and to lead his people into the land that he had promised to Abraham several centuries before. The Hebrew name Joshua means “Yahweh saves”, and in a real sense that is what God was going to do through Joshua: to save his people from his enemies as they conquered the land.
We also read that God calls Joshua to be careful to do according to all the law, without turning to the right hand or to the left, and not allowing it to depart from his mouth, but rather meditating on it day and night so that he may have good success and prosperity wherever he would go (v. 7). His triumph depended on his careful observance of the law. The standard for him was high because he was a representative of his people; as Moses’ successor, he was also a mediator between God and men.
Although deep knowledge of the law is very important, it is not sufficient, as we learn in Matthew 21:18-46. The Pharisees and chief priests were a respected religious group in the time of Jesus. They knew the law inside out, and they thought they obeyed it. But Jesus assessment was different. In that passage, Jesus curses a fruitless fig tree. Later, he tells a parable where he compares the religious leaders to children that do not do the will of their father. Finally, he states his judgment announcing that the kingdom of God will be taken away from them and given to a people producing fruits.
So here is the dilemma. God offers good success as long as the law is perfectly obeyed and fruit is produced. But who can do that? Who can act according to the law, without going to the right of to the left, meditating on it day and night?
It turns out that there is another man with the same name as Joshua and with a similar mission. Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua. And we read in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus received that name because he would “save” his people from their sins. As important as Joshua was in the history of Israel, he was really pointing to a greater representative, mediator and Savior. He was pointing to Jesus, who magnificently makes honor to his name as we contemplate how “Yahweh saves” his people through him. He is the only one who perfectly obeyed the law. He is the one who triumphantly and ultimately will lead his beloved to wonderland.
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August 19 2014 at 8:59 am 0 Comments
Jesus had a busy, difficult life.
From the moment he was baptized and stepped into the public eye, the Messiah rarely had any time alone. If he wasn’t teaching huge crowds or performing amazing miracles, he was spending time with his disciples or dealing with constant attacks from Israel’s hateful, faithless religious leaders.
But Jesus always made time for children. Consider the accounts of Matthew 19 and Mark 10. In the latter stages of his earthly ministry, Jesus left his home area of Galilee, traveled south into Judea and crossed the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him, wanting to hear his powerful words and see his remarkable healings.
Then the Pharisees showed up. These hypocritical leaders and Old Testament law experts were always trying to trap Jesus in his words. On this day, they tested him with a random question about the lawfulness of divorce.
After a lengthy, contentious conversation—and then a follow-up discussion with his slow-to-understand disciples—it would’ve been perfectly understandable for Jesus to want some time alone. But then people began bringing little children and infants to Jesus so he could bless them. Jesus’ disciples tried to shoo the children away. They considered the kids a nuisance.
But Jesus rebuked his disciples and then spoke some of the most beautiful words in Scripture: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). Then he gently laid his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus clearly loves children and places a high value on them. His heart toward children reflects the intimate care God the Father shows for each individual life (Ps. 139:13-16). He used children as an example of the simple faith and humility that Christians are to emulate. And he issued a stern warning to anyone who would harm a child (Matt. 18:6).
Jesus’ joy around little ones is instructive. If the eternal, all-powerful Son of God has a tender heart for children, we should, too. As a member of Covenant Life, one of the greatest ways you can mirror the Savior’s love for children is by serving in Discovery Land. Jesus didn’t let busyness and other responsibilities keep him from loving the next generation, and neither should we!
No matter what your spiritual gifts are, there’s likely a place for you in Discovery Land. Visit the website for a list of available positions. We still have a great need for volunteers in most of our departments.
There is great joy in caring for little ones and teaching them about the Savior! But don’t just take our word for it. Here are a few testimonials from some current volunteers:
“I appreciate serving on the Safety-Security team for the joy it brings, to know you are serving the children, the church and the Lord in a practical way. It seems to be comforting to the parents to know we are there to help protect the children, to give directions or be helpful in other ways as needed.” —Scott Bates, Safety-Security
“Serving in Discovery Land worship is awesome! When the kids first come in at age 2, it’s just blank stares (and some crying), but by the end of the year, many of the kids sing along and with enthusiasm. It’s been a blessing to watch these kids grow and develop a joy for praising God!” —Paul Kim, Traveling Worshipper in Discover (ages 2-3)
“Serving in Discovery Land has strengthened my faith to overcome my weaknesses. I have learned how to humble myself (e.g. listen more than speak), be patient and show compassion towards the little ones in different situations. Serving with kids is a wonderful experience!” —Kartika Dougherty, Adventure (1st-5th grade)
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