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Weekly Messages

The Day of Decision

The Day of Decision

Joel 2:28 – 3:21

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Weekly Messages

Ruined Repentant Restored

Ruined Repentant Restored

Joel 2:1-27

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Daily Devotionals

June 9, 2017: Counsel Provided

June 9, 2017: Counsel Provided

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NIV)

21  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NIV)

1  When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.

2  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

3  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.

4  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,

5  so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

I think we have our answer don’t you Ruth?” asked her husband.  Dr. Williams was not only wise in the ways of modern medicine but he had an exceptional gift of being able to take passages of Scripture and see how they could provide guidance in almost every circumstance.

Ruth was extremely curious to know what was written in Becki’s journal. “Honey, think what we could have to defend you if we find something incriminating about Becki and her pals.  This could be the way God meant for us to defend ourselves.  What are the chances that we would be walking in this remote place and at the same time find a journal of our worst accuser on campus?  This cannot be a coincidence.  This must mean that this is from God.” Routh argued, though she already knew the answer in her spirit.

No, we cannot do this.  To have such personal knowledge of Becki would do us no good.  Our God knows Becki better than we do and he has not chosen to inform us about her private life.

Ruth protested, “But he has right here.  We have what we need to protect ourselves from her attacks, Ruth argued her case once more but not with as much energy as before.

“Dear One,” Dr. Williams looked toward his wife wanting her to answer.

We could expose all her lies and half-truths and all of her plans to destroy us with false evidence.  We could win our case handily if we used this evidence.” Ruth said, as the words came out of her mouth she knew the answer.

“And just exactly how would that be a picture of the gospel to her, my Dear Ruth?”

“Well we could expose all of her sins for everyone to see and they would then see our innocence in light of our accuser’s false claims.”  Ruth was shocked at the words that came out of her mouth. “O my, I guess I am not near what I claim to be in my following our Lord, huh?” She looked up at her husband who gently put his arm around her and pulled her close. “

“Aren’t you glad that Jesus does not broadcast your sins on the campus public address system for all to hear?  I think we have just been given a clear picture of what the gospel has to be for Becki Wilson.”

For the next several minutes the Williams were embraced by the Holy Spirit as they had been given a beautiful illustration of what the gospel is for all who will trust in Christ.  The rest of the day they spent walking in silence enjoying the presence of God and marveling at his handiwork even in the midst of a fallen world.

.      .     .     .     .     .      .

Back at campus in the women’s dormitory

Does anyone know where I put my journal?  She looked at her roommate with wishful eyes.  She knew what those pages contained.  If those words were ever made public she would be exposed for the true hypocrite she was.

 

No one offered any knowledge as to the whereabouts of her journal.  The pleasure she had yesterday in her pursuit of the things of this world were now only distant memories.  They were replaced by the fear of being found out.  Becki could not think of anything else but to locate her journal.

Her fear of being found out would cause her to make some rather dangerous choices in the next few days.

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Daily Devotionals

June 8, 2017: A Divine Appointment

June 8, 2017: A Divine Appointment

Acts 17:26-27 (NIV)

26  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

27  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Dr. Williams and his wife decided to take few days off to go hiking in some nearby forests that had amazing scenery this time of year.  The trees were all turning into brilliant displays of colors across the canvass of the heavens.  It was high time they took some time to regroup and enjoy being away from everything at the University.

On the drive out to their hiking spot, they felt the pressures of the university and the town begin to fade. They found their joy in being with each other and the Lord being rekindled.

“I have been really looking forward to our time today, Honey.  I have missed just being with you.  I know our schedule has grown quite hectic but I am glad we have taken this time to get away.” Ruth expressed her enjoyment being with her husband without anyone else interrupting their time together.

“So have I, Ruth. So have I.” Dr. Williams replied with a deep sense of contentment and joy.

The drive out the hiking spot took a little longer than they anticipated but after their two-hour drive, they arrived.  When they pulled into the parking lot there was no other car in sight.  It looked like they had the whole forest park to themselves.

“This is going to be just great honey. No one to interrupt us.  We have the whole day in front of us and nowhere else to be.  This place was rather unusual because not even cell phones worked out here.  You were literally cut off from the rest of the world.

They parked and gathered the things they would need for their hike.

“Bottles of water.”

“Check”

“Compass and trail map?”

“Check”

“Backpack with lunches?”

“Check.”

“Binoculars?”

“Check.”

“Bibles?”

“What kind of wife would I be if I forgot our Bibles? “ Ruth asked in a funny sarcastic voice.

The two of them stood together enjoying the cool breeze and the fall colors.  After a few minutes, Dr. Williams expressed their gratitude to God for allowing them to have such pleasure in each other and His presence with them.

“Well let’s be off to see the great wonders of our God,” Dr. Williams gave a walking stick he had made for his wife years ago. She always used it on these hikes.  He had also brought the one he made for himself.  They both found having a walking stick made the hike much easier than to walk without one.

They had been hiking for over an hour when Ruth saw something on the path ahead of them.  “Is that what I think it is?” Ruth asked her husband.

“It looks like someone’s journal or diary.”  Dr. Williams remarked.

Ruth bent down to pick it up and she almost stopped breathing when she read the name on the cover of the journal.  “This must be some sort of joke.  There is no way this belongs to the Becki that we know at the University. What are the chances of her journal being found by us in this extremely remote place?” Ruth exclaimed.

Dr. Williams opened the journal to see the words written on the inside jacket cover.

“This journal belongs to Becki Wilson.  If found please return it to this address.

Becki Wilson, Smith Hall Women’s Dormitory, 105 College Street, University Campus, Blairsville, Pennsylvania.

“Well this does make for a very interesting hike doesn’t it?” Ruth offered.

“What should we do with this knowledge?” Dr. Williams asked

““What does God’s word offer by way of counsel in this regard?” Ruth asked her husband.

 

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Daily Devotionals

June 7, 2017: Asleep at the Wheel

June 7, 2017:  Asleep at the Wheel

Mark 14:37-40 (NIV)

37  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

38  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39  Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.

40  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

 

Pastor Henry was growing concerned about what was happening on the campus and in the town so he called other pastors who were of a like mind and gathered them together.

“Dear Brother Pastors, I am glad you are here today.  I am concerned about what is happening in our community and on our campus.  It seems the enemy has come in like a flood and we need to develop a strategy to deal with this.” Pastor Henry offered a few suggestions and other pastors chimed in on what they thought could be done.

There were many suggestions and strategies proposed at that meeting. The meeting was adjourned with a brief prayer for God to bless their efforts.

The town’s leading elders of the churches got together and no one saw it coming.  The strategies were impressive.  Bring in the best apologist for the Christian faith, even though their speaking fees were quite high this was certainly worth the cost to be able to counter the arguments the other side would be offering.

No one saw it happening, the church was busy in making plans and printing tracts and talking about the Gospel with others.  There was more activity in these small churches spread across the city than there had been in years.  Yes, the church was really coming alive for this moment in her history.

At one of the planning sessions, one of the leading pastors was overheard by some of his members, “Yes all those at the University are liberal heretics.  They are blinded by the god of this world.  They are filled with hate for us and that is as it should be because our Lord told us we would be persecuted for his name so let us rejoice when we see these things happen.”

It was a young college student who had just become a follower of Christ that overheard that conversation.

At the next Bible study, this young freshman attended he began to talk of those without Christ in the same way his pastor did.  “Yes, you can certainly see how blind Professor Peterson is.  He cannot even see the evidence around him staring him in the face.  He hates God and seeks to get others to hate him as well.  We should pray for God to bring him great agony so he can see his way to Christ.”

With each new conversation being held among followers of Christ you could overhear it in the tone of their voices. Jud mentalism was fast exposing its head among the churches.  Then there were those who thought it was their unique calling to be able to discern who was and was not a follower of Christ.

Church prayer meetings became where they preyed on those who did not follow Christ instead of pray for those without Christ.  The compassion in their prayer meetings dried up.  Seldom were any tears shed for those without Christ.  Lots of prayers for the “unsaved, the Lost, The sinners, those who do evil were offered.  Not much was heard about the prayers of the young single mom who had not been in church in years because she had been so battered by the harshness of those who were followers of Christ.

It all happened so suddenly no one saw it coming.

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Daily Devotionals

June 6, 2017: A Heart Grows Harder (Part Two)

June 6, 2017: A Heart Grows Harder (Part Two)

Ephesians 4:17-19 (NIV)

17  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

 

Everywhere Becki Wilson went she found herself finding more and more evidence that seemed to clearly support the statement that there was no God.  The more she became convinced in her own mind the better she felt.  Her depression lifted, her feeling of significance and value even increased.  She was surprised by that because so many of the Christians told her that she could only find meaning and purpose and significance if she found Christ.  Well, this was certainly not true because now she was able to think far more clearly and with less distraction.

There was a party at the frat house this weekend and Becki found herself longing for the weekend when she could really let her new attitude about life take its first full flight.

 

Becki was a top student in her freshman class. She took her studies very seriously and found much pride in her ability to remember facts and figures for tests.  She possessed a very strong intellect and there were few in the class that were her match.  She even intimidated many Christians who were also great students.

Her cell phone vibrated and she took one look at who it was and she quickly dismissed it.  It was a call from her father.   Voice told her that her father was among the outdated ones.  He would never be able to understand her so why should she give much more energy into their relationship.  She determined that she would keep her conversations with her father as brief as possible over the next few months.

.       .       .       .       .       .

 

 

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Daily Devotionals

June 5, 2017: A Heart Grows Harder (Part One)

June 5, 2017:  A Heart Grows Harder (Part One)

Proverbs 29:1 (NIV)

1  A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy.

 

Becki did not hear Barry’s last words, she was lost in thought as she was reminded of how the young man who killed his parents claimed to be a Christian.  She even remembered him admitting his guilt at the trial.  He did not hesitate at all to admit his guilt.  He even went further in telling the judge it was all his fault.  He confessed he had recently become a Christian and knew what had happened was because of his sin.

When Becki remembered the young man’s testimony she was furious because he was still alive without a scratch. Her mom and brother were both dead.  “Nice thing this God of the Christians,” she thought.  They can live however they want and then just confess their needs for Jesus and everything is fine.”

With those thoughts she felt herself fuming. “How could God be trusted if he let everyone off who just admitted their need of a Savior. No this was not right and this is not what she would choose to believe.  If this was the way it is then this God of the Christians could not be fair.”

Her guilt over her lying about the Williams soon dissipated. She now felt more bold and confident in her assignment to take down the Williams.  In fact, she was alive more than ever before.  She found more energy than she had felt in a long time.  Thoughts of pleasure were coursing through her mind.  She no longer felt the sting of guilt.  For the first time in four years, she had found something that made her feel alive again.  She could not see the enemy was tightening his grip on her.

As she entered her freshman biology class she would find more evidence to confirm her new found faith.

. . . .

Across town one of the larger mega-churches that had a great attraction for students had invited a professor of theology from one of the leading east coast seminaries to hold a series do open dialogues where students could come and ask whatever question they had concerning the Christian faith.

‘We need to get the word out about our professor from the Bible seminary on the East Coast.  It is not usual to be able to have a professor of his stature visit us.  Let us do whatever we can to build our attendance<” The lead pastor of Enjoy Church stated to his staff.

“Anyone have any ideas about how to get the students here?”

One of the younger staff, trained in marketing suggested, “Why don’t we see if we can hold these meetings on campus close to where the students are.  Let’s not ask them to come to us, let’s go to them>”

“That is a great idea, but how can we get space at the university. They are not very friendly to outsiders coming on their campus?” the lead pastor replied.

“I have several friends in the religion and philosophy departments and I think we can get them to go to bat for us.  These campus fundamentalists who hold to the Bible being true in every area need to be stopped soon,” came the reply of the wife of the most admired professor on campus, Mrs. Peterson.

“I have seen it before but this time they seem overzealous in their proselytizing attempts. They prey on the freshman, internationals and transfer students.  They seek to go out of their way to engage new students on campus and they are giving our University a bad name because so many of our students are being harassed by them,” Mrs. Peterson continued.

“Well, Mrs. Peterson we certainly appreciate your candor.  It looks like you are the one we can count on to secure a lecture hall on campus.  Can we get the large lecture hall for three dates over eh next month as we move toward the week-long series of topics that our new spiritualists will bring in at the end of October?” the pastor asked.

“Considerer it already done.” Mrs. Peterson replied with a flair in her voice.

.  .  .  .  .  .

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Daily Devotionals

June 4, 2017: A Rich Man Counts the Cost

June 4, 2017: A Rich Man Counts the Cost

Luke 14:25-33 (NIV)

25  Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:

26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

27  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

29  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,

30  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

31  “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

33  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

 

The conversation in her room last night was brought to an abrupt halt by a false fire alarm.  Just when Ruth Wilson was getting ready to finish her story someone in the dorm pulled a fire alarm and everyone had to exit the dorm. Becki never got to hear the rest of the story from Ruth last night.

What she heard resonated with her.  She too had been angry at God for all the things that happened to her over the past several years.  The death of her mother and brother were still very fresh and she found that her anger at God had not subsided much at all.

There was something that was startling to her though when she began to listen to Ruth Williams share her story last night.  She found herself being drawn to listen to Ruth and just as she was beginning to feel for her the fire alarm went off and that was that.

As she walked across campus her mind was turned to the payment she would receive when the Williams were once and for all fired from the University.  She began to dwell on all the things that $50,000 could buy for her.  She thought about Barry Johannsen’s sports car he drove.  She wondered what it would be like to be able to drive such a car.  Her dad only bought her older models, nothing she really liked but they did work.

“Hey, Becki,” she knew the voice of Barry Johansen.  They had met many times over the past several weeks as they plotted together to bring down the Williams.  They had spent countless hours in the conference room on the third floor of the library scheming and plotting how it would all go down.  Their plans, for the most part, were well underway and things did look like they were progressing very nicely toward their desired outcome.

“What is it Barry?” Becki said, not wanting to continue the conversation at all.

“I just was wondering what you thought of what Ruth Williams said last night,” Barry asked

“I don’t know what to think of it frankly.  I was willing to listen to her but when that alarm went off and I just could not get myself interested in listening any further.’ Becki said wishing this conversation would end.

“Well, I have been thinking about what she said last night and I has got me asking some questions I did not think I would have the courage to ask.”

‘Just what do you mean Barry?  You are not believing any of this nonsense that the Christians talk about are you? You are not wanting to become a Christian are you?” Becki asked almost condescendingly.

Well, I have been listening to the Williams at their house the two times we had dinner.  Then there are a few others who call themselves Christian that have begun to challenge me in what I think.  I don’t know either what to think of all this but I find myself being drawn to listen to them more every time I am with them, “Barry countered.

“Well, that is fine and dandy for you.  I do want you to think about the cost of such a decision.  Remember your father has invested a lot of his own money to see to it that this University rids itself of those who seek to undermine the real education on this campus by promoting an outdated belief in the Bible.  I should think your father would not be happy if he knew what you are thinking<” Becki replied.

“I have thought about that too. I just do not know what I am going to do with all that I have heard in the past few weeks.” Barry said, contemplating as he spoke.

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Daily Devotionals

June 3, 2017: The Clash of Two Kingdoms

June 3, 2017: The Clash of Two Kingdoms

1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV)

20  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

“Campus Health Center, This is Sally. How can I help you?”

“Well what do you know, you really do work at the Health Center”

“I’m sorry who is calling?” Sally asked.

“Excuse me for trying to sound funny.  I have never been very good at humor. This is that stranger you met in the parking lot last night.”

“O yes, the one who could not get my car started and then offered to take me home in a golf cart.  I must say that was a first for me. Never had a date with anyone on a golf cart before.”

“You consider what we had last night as a date? You do not need much to be impressed I see.”

The banter continued for a few moments.  “Sally, I really enjoyed our time together last night.  I have not had a night like since.”

“Since what Michael?” Sally asked compassionately.

A wave of emotions washed over Michael Wilson while he tried to regain his composure.  He had never experienced feelings like these.

“Sally, the reason I am calling is that I would like to hear more about what you are hearing on campus.  I am finding myself very interested in what is happening on our campus presently and I think you may be able to help me sort out some things.”

“I am free tonight, but I do not think it wise for us to be seen together on campus.  I am a good friend of Dr. Williams and his wife.  It might look rather suspicious.”

“I understand.  I don’t want to sound too forward but I know this great little out of the way restaurant about twenty miles from here and I don’t think anyone else from the university will be there.  They even have small remote dining rooms that seat two or three people so we could be secluded to continue where we left off last night.”

“Where should I meet you?” Michael asked.

“I will be at the Williams until five.  Why don’t you pick me up at their house.  There is a private entrance in the back by the alley.  You can come in that way and you won’t be seen by anyone. See you at five?”

“Thank you, Sally.  I will see you at five at the Williams.”

The enemy had dropped his guard.

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Daily Devotionals

June 10, 2017:  A Note from a Friend

June 10, 2017:  A Note from a Friend

Micah 7:18-19 (NIV)
18  Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

The Williams returned to campus in the late afternoon with the journal in their possession.  “What should we do with this journal?”  Ruth kept asking her husband, who had been deep in thought on the ride back to town.

“I have been asking the Lord that question and here is what I think we should do.  Let me know if you agree with this idea.”

“I think we should type out a note that would present the gospel to her inn some way that she would not know who had it.  The note should contain some passages of Scriptures that speak of God hiding our sins and forgiving us of all that we have done or will ever do.”

“Becki has got to be living her life in complete fear right now.  Can you imagine what you would feel if you had written down all of your dark secrets in a journal and it fell into the wrong hands?”

Ruth went completely silent as she thought about Becki.  “Honey, if she does not know the Lord how will she deal with this?”

“Ruth, you have seen how other college students try to hide their fears of being found out.  Rest assured that Becki will try one or several of these ways we have witnessed here.  Only this time I think the pressure on Becki will be more than she can handle.  She has allowed the root of bitterness to take control of her so I do not thin her immediate future looks too hopeful.”

“Let’s pray together and then I will write the letter but I want you to type it out and then print it on one the printers at the library and then we will send it to her dormitory address by campus mail.”

They met Sally at the door and she told them of her meeting with Chancellor Wilson.  They were a little taken back with the announcement, but it was not really a date, it was just an informal meeting where she could offer her defense of the Williams to Chancellor Wilson.

“Well, go get dressed and we will entertain the Chancellor until you are ready,” Ruth offered.