August 22, 2017

In ancient Israel, travelers expected hospitality, because there were few inns or other places to sleep and shelter animals. Today we will hear about a Levite and his companions that stopped in a city where his Israelite brethren dwelt. An old man took them in to keep them safe, because Benjaminites in the city had become as perverse as Sodomites in the days of Lot! When people start doing what seems right in their own eyes, we will see that things can get pretty weird. Please open your Bible to Judges, chapter nineteen, and listen as Pastor Ray Viola continues his study.

 

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August 22, 2017

In ancient Israel, travelers expected hospitality, because there were few inns or other places to sleep and shelter animals. Today we will hear about a Levite and his companions that stopped in a city where his Israelite brethren dwelt. An old man took them in to keep...

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August 21, 2017

The last few chapters of Judges reveal big problems that existed within the tribe of Benjamin. These chapters are not for the faint of heart. We will encounter those that were supposed to be people of God engaging in immorality, gang rape, murder, mutilation, and...

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August 18, 2017

Thievery and idolatry go hand in hand. Jonathan, Micah’s Levitical priest, was offered a higher position and more money. He took the offer from the tribe of Dan, and then he assisted his new employer in stealing the gods of Micah, his former employer. Idolators are...

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August 17, 2017

Religious apostasy can be very deceiving. People that worship “in their own way” incorrectly believe that they are okay with God. Micah thought that because he had a Levite as his household priest that the LORD would bless him, even though he was worshiping idols....

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August 16, 2017

During the days of the judges, Israel had no king, and the Israelites did what seemed right in their own eyes. For example, the tribe of Dan fell away from God’s laws. This apostasy led to idolatry, and before long they were looking outside their assigned inheritance...

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August 15, 2017

Samson, who had been spiritually blinded by lust, ended up being physically blinded by the Philistines. Yet, in his darkest moment, when he realized that he had given the Philistines cause to blaspheme Jehovah, Samson finally began to get serious with God. As he...

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August 14, 2017

Samson and Delilah had a relationship that was based on lust not love. Each one was in it for what they could get from the other person. After Samson deceived Delilah three times about the source of his strength, she began to nag him into bearing his heart to her....

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August 11, 2017

Men of the Old Testament, like David and Samson, were heroes of faith that had covenant relationships with God. Yet, because they lived before the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, they were very vulnerable to sinning when tempted. We should not use the flaws of these...

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August 10, 2017

As a Judge, Samson was supposed to have united Israel against their Philistine oppressors. Unfortunately, Samson usually acted alone, and his actions against the Philistines were almost always acts of revenge. Vengeance is a horrible master, and believers should not...

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August 9, 2017

Scripture warns believers about becoming unequally yoked in marriage. Driven by superficial lust, Samson convinced his parents to arrange his marriage to a Philistine woman. Before the wedding feast was even over, their marriage was already on the rocks. Using...

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August 8, 2017

God has used flawed people with imperfect faith to accomplish His purposes. Samson is a famous example. Anger and lust were Samson’s besetting sins. With no regard for his Nazarite vows, he often sought happiness outside of what God had provided for him and Israel....

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August 7, 2017

Samson’s father was absent when the angel of the LORD appeared to his wife. So he asked God to let the angel return to tell him how he should raise this child, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. God answered his prayer. However, even when God tells us how to...

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August 4, 2017

Samson was a deeply flawed person, but God lists him in Hebrews as a hero of faith. His mother, an unnamed barren woman, was chosen by God to give birth to Samson, who was to save Israel from their enemy. God told her that she was to be a Nazarite from before...

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August 3, 2017

The Bible repeatedly shows that Spirit of God hates the spirit of pride. With pride comes an inflated self-image, which spawns contention with those around us. Selective amnesia is another symptom of pride. For example, Ephraim contended with Jephthah, because he and...

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August 2, 2017

Samson’s father was absent when the angel of the LORD appeared to his wife. So he asked God to let the angel return to tell him how he should raise this child, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. God answered his prayer. However, even when God tells us how to...

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August 1, 2017

People on the verge of backsliding tend to remember only a few good things that evil has brought them. This selective memory positions them to slide into open rebellion against God and the consequences of His wrath. After repeatedly delivering His people, God...

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July 31, 2017

Sometimes Scripture’s silence speaks loudly. Tola and Jair, who judged Israel for forty-five years, set righteous examples and pleased God. Scripture says little about the days of their judging, implying that Israel lived peaceful and blessed lives during that time....

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July 28, 2017

As foretold by Jotham three years earlier, Abimelech turned on the men of Shechem: He destroyed their city, salted its fields, and burned a thousand people that were trapped in a tower. However, in a nearby town, God allowed a woman to strike a mortal blow against...

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July 27, 2017

Abimelech tried to massacre all his brothers, but Jotham, the youngest, escaped. When the men of Shechem made Abimelech their king, Jotham shouted a warning to them about their sin. He told them how Gideon, his father, had risked his own life to deliver them from...

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July 26, 2017

Abimelech, a son of Gideon, was a man who earnestly desired power at a time when Israel was far from God and worshiping idols. This allowed Abimelech to manipulate the people to follow him in his evil ways. The Bible tells us that everyone’s heart is deceitful and...

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July 25, 2017

Once Gideon believed that God had called him to deliver Israel from the Midianites, he faithfully served God and obediently did what the LORD had asked him to do. However, the battle and lack of support from the other tribes took its toll on Gideon. This one-time...

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July 24, 2017

Zebah and Zalmunna, two Midianite kings, fled to the east side of the Jordan River with fifteen thousand troops after the initial encounter with Gideon’s three hundred men. Gideon’s weary army pursued them and captured them in a sneak attack. Rather than simply...

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July 21, 2017

After his army of three hundred had Midian on the run, Gideon asked for help in the mop-up operation. Instead of glorifying God, some questioned his leadership. One tribe chided him for not inviting them to the initial battle. Men from another tribe even refused to...

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July 20, 2017

God orders the steps of the righteous. When God sent Gideon and Phurah on a reconnaissance mission into the Midianite camp, they providentially overhead two enemy soldiers discussing a dream that foretold Gideon’s victory. Emboldened and encouraged by their enemy’s...

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July 19, 2017

One can never be too small or too weak for God to use, but one can be too big. God wanted to deliver Israel from Midianite oppression, but He wanted to make sure that they knew that it was God’s hand that set them free and not their own strength. Please open your...

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July 18, 2017

Are you facing a seemingly impossible challenge in your life? Be of good courage and fear not, because we have a God that sometimes does great works in the realm of what many would call the impossible. Besides our obedience and availability to Him, God will often send...

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July 17, 2017

Gideon asked God why Israel was enduring such hardships if He was really with them. God did not respond to his question. He simply told Gideon to go out and deliver Israel, for He had raised him up. God’s thoughts and wisdom so exceed ours, that, if He did answer many...

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July 14, 2017

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. While Israel thought that the Midianites were their problem, the LORD explained that misery had come upon them, because the Israelites had started worshiping the gods of the Amorites. People have been shifting blame for their...

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July 13, 2017

Rebellion against God will eventually bring a person to a life of fear, because one cannot know true peace outside of a relationship with Him. When Israel again rebelled against God, He delivered them into the hands of the cruel Midianites, not as an act of hate, but...

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July 12, 2017

God gave us freedom to choose. People willingly worshiped with Deborah as she sang her inspired song. Her greatest joy was that she was a mother in Israel. Mothers often think of themselves as insignificant, but God regards them highly. They nurture the next...

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July 11, 2017

Deborah, a judge of Israel, approached general Barak urging him to obey God and go forth into battle. Barak agreed to go, but only if Deborah went with him, which she did. Does this mean Barak was not a man of faith? No! In Hebrews, Barak is listed among the men of...

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July 10, 2017

This is the cycle of Israel: As long as Israel had a judge, the country did well and followed God. When the judge died, Israel’s morals declined, and they did evil in the sight of the LORD. First they forgot God and turned from His ways. Then they started worshiping...

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July 7, 2017

God tests us, not because He wonders what we will do, but because He wants us to see what is in our hearts. When a test comes, will we obey Him or disobey? We must know this about ourselves to learn to do what is right. If we obey God, then He will bless us. However,...

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July 6, 2017

Today’s youth are no different than Israel’s during the days of the judges. They did not see first hand what God had done in bringing Israel into Canaan. They only knew what their parents had told them. From disobedience, the enemy was still in the land, and their...

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July 5, 2017

Not long after Joshua died, Israel returned to their sinful ways. Israel had to forfeit many blessings because of compromise and outright disobedience to God. When the LORD revealed to them their areas of disobedience, they confessed their sins, and were sorrowful....

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July 4, 2017

At times, by God’s grace, we embrace the promises of God and complete what He charged us to do. At other times, daunting opposition causes us to stop short. For example, Israel found the iron chariots of valley-dwelling Canaanites too intimidating to drive them out of...

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July 3, 2017

Judah and Simeon joined together to wipe out thousands of Canaanites and Perizzites that remained in their inheritance, even cutting off the thumbs and toes of captured enemies to get information from them. Why did God sanction such carnage and cruelty? God is a just...

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June 30, 2017

The Bible is replete with examples to help us avoid many of life’s pitfalls. The book of Judges is no exception. This book reveals the terrible things that can happen when most people in a nation do what seems right in their own eyes rather following God’s laws....

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June 29, 2017

After rehearsing all the things that the LORD had done for Israel, starting with Abraham, Joshua charged the leaders of Israel to choose whom they would serve: the LORD or the idols of those whom they had just conquered. Whom will you choose to serve? Jesus, Who...

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June 28, 2017

Works of the flesh are rooted in pride, and they succeed or fail according to what you can or cannot do. Works of the Spirit are rooted in faith, and they rely on God’s power and our obedience. Do not under-estimate the potential of God’s power in your life: You plus...

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June 27, 2017

People react differently to aging, but far too many Christians use age as an excuse not to serve the LORD. Joshua was not this way. The latter years of his life were some of his most important, and he was still admonishing the people of Israel to follow the LORD...

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June 26, 2017

Jeremiah wrote that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: Who can know it? But the LORD knows our hearts, and by His grace, He reveals things to us that we could never find on our own, because our tendency toward self-righteousness makes us...

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June 23, 2017

Have you ever jumped to a conclusion about someone else’s motives, only to learn that you had completely misunderstood their actions? The tribes of Israel living west of the Jordan were guilty of this when they learned that the tribes on the east side of the river had...

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June 22, 2017

Today’s passage concerns two fulfilled conditional promises. After fighting seven years, Israel controlled the Promised Land, and the LORD gave her rest from their enemies as He had promised. Joshua commended the two-and-a-half tribes that claimed an inheritance east...

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June 21, 2017

As a Christian, have you ever wondered why you are where you are in life: living in a particular neighborhood or working at a particular job? It should be no mystery: God has called us to be His emissaries to those with whom we live and work. As Pastor Ray Viola...

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June 20, 2017

The cities of refuge in the Promised Land were always open, and they contained physical resources to house fugitives until the elders of the city could assess their guilt or innocence. Anyone could come to one of these cities for refuge from the Avenger of Blood,...

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June 19, 2017

After occupying the Promised Land, the LORD told Joshua to establish six cities of refuge: three to the east of the Jordan River and three to the west. Besides forming the basis for important laws in modern Western Civilization, laws concerning these cities also...

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June 16, 2017

God’s ways are amazing. Judah and Ephraim often battled and argued. Yet, by God’s sovereign plan, the lot for Benjamin the peacemaker positioned his inheritance between the two contentious territories. Zebulun, Asher and Naptali received the northern portions of the...

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June 15, 2017

Before assigning the last seven portions of land, Joshua stopped at Shiloh to remember the most important thing. Do you have times when you are depressed? Downcast? Discouraged? Overwhelmed? Stop what you are doing and worship God. Put your focus on Him, Who is truly...

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June 14, 2017

Though Israel had conquered Canaan, each tribe still had pockets of resistance to clear on their own. Ephraim and Manasseh did not do well. They compromised. Instead of fully driving out the inhabitants of the land, they tried to increase their wealth by making the...

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June 13, 2017

Do not be afraid to ask the Lord for big things. Do not limit the God of Israel. Be filled and refreshed with the living waters of the Lord. Today’s passage includes a list of cities inherited by the Israelites. God promised them this inheritance before their...

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June 12, 2017

Christian life is not a video game, but a real war. God calls us be soldiers. We are not playing to win points; God wants us to overcome evil and to win souls! We, like Caleb, should call upon the name of the LORD to receive strength and blessing. Caleb, who was...

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June 9, 2017

Chance. Accidents. Luck. Christians can remove these words from their vocabulary, because Proverbs 16:33 declares that all disposing of our actions are of the LORD. When God's people obey Him, they have a double portion: God blesses their obedience, and they have God...

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June 8, 2017

Everything in the Bible is there because God considers it important. In Joshua twelve, Scripture lists all the kings conquered by Moses and Joshua. While it makes for tedious reading, we must remember the victories God establishes in our lives so that we can be...

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June 7, 2017

Joshua left nothing undone that God told him to do. Joshua recognized authority and submitted wholly to God’s direction, and the result was victory. Our nation is in a bad way, because so many people have no regard for authority and the rule of law. How do you respond...

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June 6, 2017

For this message, it might help to have a Bible map of Israel nearby. As Israel worked its way north through the Promised Land, the battles intensified. Likewise, many Christians find that their battles get more intense as they mature in the Lord. God told Joshua to...

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June 5, 2017

When you read the Word of God, do you believe His promises? Do you believe that He can back up what He says? Joshua believed, and he mixed his belief with faith: In the midst of a battle, He asked God to keep the sun from setting, and God miraculously answered his...

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June 2, 2017

Jesus does not want us to live lives filled with anxiety and tension. When you are under attack, cast all your cares upon Him. God gives Christians power, love and sound minds. Do not feed your fear! Pray and watch God defeat the enemy! Please open your Bible to...

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June 1, 2017

It is exciting to be in a war if you are on God’s side, and you know ahead of time that you will win. Do you feel like you are in a battle? The God who was with Joshua can also be with you. If you ask Him to, He promises to fight with you. Battles are a part of life....

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May 31, 2017

We must be on high alert in all areas of our lives, especially when faced with important decisions, because we live in a war zone. Outward appearances and the lies of our enemies can easily fool us, but God sees all, including what is in people’s hearts. To avoid...

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May 30, 2017

Throughout history, God has used armies of men, angels, or other creatures, along with forces of nature to miraculously judge nations. When Israel conquered Canaan, many died, including woman, children, and even animals. Many question God’s character over this, but...

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May 29, 2017

Have you ever made a horrible mistake? Rejoice! We serve a God that gives second chances in this life. Moreover, with that second chance, He will provide what you need to do well, if you ask Him and trust Him. With God’s power on your side, He can turn an area of...

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May 26, 2017

The parable of the sower tells us how the Gospel can grow to fruitfulness in a properly prepared heart. The story of Achan shows how sin and disobedience grow out of a dissatisfied heart. It begins when when see something that appeals to our flesh. Then we covet it so...

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May 25, 2017

When people experience defeat in life, they commonly blame God. However, far too often, our defeats are simply the result of reaping what we have sown. Israel’s loss in their first battle with Ai shook Joshua. His agonizing prayer revealed his confusion concerning...

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May 24, 2017

After taking the great city of Jericho, Israel prepared to capture the little city of Ai. Overconfident after their first victory, they did not bother to send their entire army into battle, nor did they seek the LORD’s counsel on how to conquer Ai. This huge tactical...

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May 23, 2017

Because Jericho was Israel’s first victory in the Promised Land, all its contents belonged to the LORD. Taking any of the spoils for personal use would bring a curse on the entire nation. This is sobering, because it implies that the sins of a single person can affect...

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May 22, 2017

The ark of the covenant not only symbolized God’s presence, it also represented security for God’s people. When the Israelites went up against Jericho, the ark (God’s presence) was in their midst. They obeyed God’s commands, and He won the battle. Are you facing a...

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May 19, 2017

After forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s army stood before the intimidating walls of the first fortified city that they had seen in a generation. Joshua had received battle plans from the Captain of the Lord’s Host, and their week-long siege of Jericho began with...

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May 18, 2017

Circumcision reminded all the men of Israel that their bodies and hearts belonged to God. When God ordered the circumcision of Israel’s army in the sight of their enemies, He was making a point to the Israelites: Unless your hearts are right with me, you will not win...

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May 17, 2017

After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel’s faithless generation had passed, and a new, obedient generation had a established a beachhead in the Promised Land at Gilgal. The name ‘Gilgal’ implies that ‘their reproach had been rolled away.’ Likewise,...

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May 16, 2017

God wants us to remember that He is faithful and in complete control; He always has been, and He always will be, for He never changes. Joshua understood this, and his unquestioning obedience to the LORD’s commands (some of which defied human reasoning) are a powerful...

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May 15, 2017

When you face a daunting obstacle blocking the path in which God has called you to walk, what should you do? Israel was in such a situation on the banks of the swollen Jordan River. The command that Joshua gave them was this: Sanctify yourselves, because the LORD is...

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May 12, 2017

After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel was poised to enter Canaan. They had God’s directive and His assurance that they would conquer Canaan’s giants. Only one thing stood in their way, the swollen Jordan River! God had sovereignly arranged it so...

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May 11, 2017

Though God had given the Israelites the land of Canaan, Joshua did not shirk his duties as their commander. He sent two spies into Canaan to gather information about those whom God wanted them to conquer. Meanwhile, the Israelites spent three days on the east bank of...

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May 10, 2017

God admonished Joshua to be strong and courageous, because he and the people that he was leading would be battling giants. The key to victory was remembering God’s word. Likewise, as we face giants in our own lives, our key to victory is no different. We should...

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May 9, 2017

Moses, the Lawgiver, was unable to take the Israelites into the Promised Land. Before he died, Moses transferred his authority to Joshua, whose Hebrew name means Jehovah is salvation. Jesus, a Greek name, has the same meaning as Joshua. So, Moses typifies the Law,...

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May 8, 2017

Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were three godly servants in Corinth. These men were addicted to meeting others’ needs spontaneously. Moreover, they labored to the point of exhaustion to do so, because they were committed to their relationships with others. Only...

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May 5, 2017

Paul’s closing comments in his letter to the Corinthian church contained some very important points. The key word for Paul’s closing is love, and the big question for the Corinthians, and for us, from this passage is this: Do we really love the people around us with...

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May 4, 2017

Do you know that there is a work of the Lord that only you can do? Do you know what that work is? Do you have a plan for doing it? Are you committed to work through opposition and obstacles to complete it, or will you just give up and walk away when things get...

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May 3, 2017

It has been said that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. Many have plans for business, finances, or education, but they have no plans for spiritual growth and service. Are you planning to fail in this vital area, or do you have a plan for your spiritual...

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May 2, 2017

Hebrews 10:25 urges believers not to forsake going to church, especially as the Day of the Lord approaches. Unfortunately, in a time when Christians should be gathering more frequently, many have lost their conviction about attending church on Sunday. Predictably,...

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May 1, 2017

God commanded His people to set aside one day a week to rest from their labor and to worship Him. As a remembrance of Christ’s resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Christians historically have observed Sunday as a day for corporate worship,...

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April 28, 2017

God has revealed a mystery that could only be opened to us by the Holy Spirit. How can our corruptible bodies be changed into incorruptible immortal bodies? Pastor Ray Viola expounds on three “Be’s” in today’s passage to help us towards this end: Be steadfast, Be...

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April 27, 2017

Paul used the phrase “flesh and blood” to refer to our earthly bodies. These earthly bodies are unsuitable for living in heaven or in the new heavens and the new earth that God will create after the White Throne Judgment. Corruption cannot inherit incorruption. What a...

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April 26, 2017

The works of man cannot make us spiritual. Only the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of men to renew them by Christ’s grace and mercy. We then become heirs, according to the hope we have in Him. Please open your Bible to First Corinthians, chapter fifteen, and...

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April 25, 2017

The natural man, housed in a worldly body, cannot receive anything from the Spirit, and it will eventually die. However, when a person gives their life to Christ, He makes their spirit alive, and when He raises believers from the dead, He will give them glorified...

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April 24, 2017

Jesus’ resurrection will impact our future, and it should also affect the way that we live now. For example, the ordinance of baptism is a public visual testimony in which believers identify with Christ’s death and resurrection. If the dead are not raised, then this...

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April 21, 2017

If you had the power to change your bodily appearance, would you? Many attempt to do this by going to the gym, eating well, and so on. But, if the Lord tarries, all of us will die. Fortunately, Jesus’ bodily resurrection gives Christians a guarantee of permanent...

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April 19, 2017

Bodily resurrection from the dead is a vital part of the Gospel. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then neither would His followers. This would make our faith vain: We would still be in our sins, and we would be without hope. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to...

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April 18, 2017

Jesus’ resurrection was an unprecedented event, but the testimonies of many eye witnesses have made it part of the historical record. If you believe their testimony that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified, then it changes everything for you: not only your...

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April 17, 2017

What is the essence of the Gospel? God has done something new and amazing in our midst, and Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to truly understand what it was. Please open your Bible to First Corinthians, chapter fifteen, and listen as Pastor Ben Hiwale helps us to...

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April 14, 2017

Jesus’ resurrection was an unprecedented event, but the testimonies of many eye witnesses have made it part of the historical record. If you believe their testimony that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified, then it changes everything for you: not only your...

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April 13, 2017

What is the essence of the Gospel? Paul wanted his readers to know. God had done something new and amazing in their midst, and he wanted the Corinthian Christians to truly understand what it was. Please open your Bible to First Corinthians, chapter fifteen, and listen...

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April 12, 2017

As foretold by the prophet Isaiah, Jesus was punished for our transgressions and our iniquities. This means that everyone has crossed the line with God, and seeking our own way has made us twisted. Christ accomplished atonement on the cross, but you are not saved...

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April 11, 2017

More than seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah penned a passage that contains graphic details of Christ’s passion. Some have called today's text ‘The Mount Everest of the Old Testament.’ Please open your Bible to Isaiah chapter fifty-three,...

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April 10, 2017

When discussing the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ, people often gravitate to one of two undesirable extremes: excessive reserve or excessive liberty. Both extremes obscure the true purpose of the gifts, which is to supernaturally...

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April 7, 2017

When believers congregate for worship services, everyone that comes should do so with the intent of not only receiving but giving. That is, we should not come as spectators, but as participants seeking to bless, edify, and encourage others using gifts imparted to us...

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April 6, 2017

God gave us the gifts of the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus Christ, edify and encourage the Body of Christ, and to spread the Gospel to the lost. If a tongue or a prophecy is unclear or does not do any of those things, then one should question the truth of what is being...

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April 5, 2017

The spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy are controversial topics in the church today. As one might expect, some emphasize or distort these gifts beyond what the Scriptures declare. Others, in an effort to avoid controversy, try to downplay or suppress these gifts....

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April 4, 2017

Any loving relationship inevitably carries with it certain expectations. It is also inevitable that there will come a point in your relationship in which your partner will fail to live up to your expectations. When that void occurs, how will your mind fill it? Will...

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