After Sunset

April 17, 2019: Matthew 26.

Since the “We Remember” Service is Thursday, they canceled Wednesday’s adult service. Pastor Monte Knudsen is the guest speaker at the youth service in the E3 Center.

As the sun was setting, David popped popcorn. We got comfortable on the couch and watched a movie.

Some sunsets are bittersweet. The last sunset of camp. The last sunset of summer before returning to school. The last sunset of vacation before heading home. The last sunset with our loved one.

But what if you knew it was your last sunset on earth? Jesus knew.

Matthew 26:30, “After sunset,…” The Message

Jesus showed us how to finish our day on His last day.

  • Enjoy the sunset, v. 20.
  • Linger at the table, v. 20.
  • Talk about important things, v. 21.
  • Remember, v. 26-29.
  • Sing praises, v. 30.

My best memories were of conversations around a table full of dirty dishes. Dad would talk about deep things but there was always laughter.

When we were ready for bed, he would get out his guitar. He would sit on the bottom step playing. Sometimes, he played harmonica with it. Other times, he sang…

“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.”

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?”

“He washed my eyes with tears, that I might see…”

Dad died 9 years ago today. (Yes, Dad, I remember!) And our sons carry on the traditions. Luke plays the guitar for his daughter, Olivia, and sings to her.

And on this anniversary, Derek is playing the guitar and singing. He’s leading worship at the E3 Center for over 100 teens, singing,

“Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?”

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I Want You to Know God

April 10, 2109: Hosea 3-8.

Each week I “deep clean” one room. I run a damp cloth over and under everything. I wash the inside of the windows and the glass on the mirrors and pictures. I vacuüm the edges and corners. And I declutter – a lot.

This week the office was my zone. I cleared off my desk and found a place for everything currently on the floor. My goal is to get my house ready to sell. God cannot give me a different house if this house is not ready to show.

“God has written in a book everything we are supposed to do. …We ask God for the right direction. …The more we go in the wrong direction, the more callused our heart becomes. …We are to be productive, not just busy. …Learn the difference between activity and accomplishment. …Faith has a plan.”

Pastor Monte Knudsen, April 10, 2019

This is why I love going to church! I get direction for my daily life. And I love Jesus. God has a plan for me. I don’t want to miss it.

Hosea 6:6, “I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” The Message

It’s not about attendance; it’s about paying attention.

©2009-2019 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

See What Has to Be Done

March 27, 2019: 1 Kings 20, 21; 2 Chronicles 17.

I knew I shouldn’t, but I did.

I was finishing lunch and saw the Spider Solitaire icon. I clicked on it – again.

I had already lost 3 games and moved on to reading email. But I went back and got sucked in for another half hour.

My mind kept telling me, “You’ll win the next one.”

I couldn’t spare 30 minutes. I finished my tasks but did not have time to practice. It was late when I cleaned up. I dried my hair using the van air vents on the way to church.

“When you get tempted it’s from the lust of the flesh. …Fights come from lusts in our body. …“You ask, and do not receive, because you ask to spend it on your passions,” James 4:3. …If you live by the flesh, it dictates your mind, and grace stays boxed up. …” Pastor Monte Knudsen, “Blueprint of Faith,” March 27, 2019

I wanted to say the devil made me do it. But I learned this morning that it’s not the devil.

“…in the realm of our mind, that’s where the attack happens. …We’ve been calling the wrong stuff the devil. …I got a flat tire. It’s the devil. No, it was a nail. …I ate a doughnut. It’s the devil. No, it was delicious. …” Steven Furtick, “That’s Not the Devil,” 1:Minute Motivation, 3-27-19

The chapters I read this morning showed me how to battle my flesh. (It also works in bringing my finances under control.)

Do I take one thing at a time?

1 Kings 20:19, 20, “The commandos poured out of the city, with the full army behind them. (20) They hit hard in hand-to-hand combat. …” The Message

Do I stay alert? Do I build up my defenses, know my capabilities, and see what needs to be done?

1 Kings 20:22, “Sometime later the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, ‘On the alert now – build up your army, assess your capabilities, and see what has to be done. Before the year is out, the king of Aram will be back in force.’ ” The Message

Do I evaluate my generals? Are my banker, insurance agents, and investment advisor, working for my best interest? Or theirs? Do they fight for me to win or are they satisfied with the status quo? Are they leaders or experienced soldiers.

1 Kings 20:24, “Here’s the strategy: Remove each sheik from his place of leadership and replace him with a seasoned officer.” The Message

Do I make rash decisions? Or take the time to weigh the pros and cons?

1 Kings 20:29, “The two armies were poised in a standoff for seven days.” The Message

Do I stay focused? Or do I get distracted and work on other things?

1 Kings 20:40, “But I got busy doing one thing after another and the next time I looked he was gone.” The Message

Do I protect the important things? Or sacrifice the important for the unimportant?

1 Kings 21:4, “…’I’ll never turn over my family inheritance to you.’ …” The Message

Do I have a good defense system? Do I have the right insurance? Do I have enough or too much? When was the last time I evaluated it?

1 Chronicles 17:1, “Asa’s son Jehoshaphat was the next king; he started out by working on his defense system against Israel.” The Message

What am I going to do? I can’t tell you!

Proverbs 27:1, “Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow; you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.” The Message

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For the Rock Who Saved Us

March 17, 2019: Psalms 95, 97-100, 132.

I was happy to see Mary at church. Grief has made her a bit of a recluse. But when her grandson asked her to come to church with him, she agreed. It’s a decision she will never regret.

Pastor Monte Knudsen preached on “Dealing with Doubt.”

“Satan uses doubt to steal your purpose; kill your potential; and destroy your possibilities. …We have to recognize the source of doubt, resist it, and believe what God has said over our circumstances. …God keeps His promises and brings order to our chaos.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, Faith Christian Outreach Church, March 17, 2019

Austin, Mary’s grandson, decided he was done living in doubt. He went forward and prayed the “Save me, Jesus, Prayer”. Mary wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes.

Psalms 95:1, “Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!” The Message

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What You Believed Could Happen Has Happened

“Let’s read Mark 11:23 in the Modern English Version. ‘For truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes what he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says.’ How many times did we read the word ‘believes’? Once. How many times did we read the word ‘says’? Three times. …Be careful what you say.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, 1-2-19

In Matthew 8, the captain’s servant was sick. He believed Jesus could heal him. He said to Jesus, ‘Just give the order.’

Matthew 8:13, “Then Jesus turned to the captain and said, ‘Go. What you believed could happen has happened.’ At that moment his servant became well.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Last night we attended a cousin’s funeral. While talking with aunts and uncles another relative joined us.

She said, “You should read Pam’s Bible posts. They’re really good. She uses the messenger Bible.” (I think she meant The Message.)

Two of our uncles are preachers. I thought I would get chided for not using the King James Bible. I told them, “I grew up on Bible schools reading the King James Version. I didn’t understand it. I don’t speak Elizabethan English. I read the modern versions so I can understand what I’m reading.”

* * * * * * *

Funerals today are much different from in Bible times. We remembered good things and there was a lot of laughter.

Matthew 8:21-22, “Another follower said, ‘Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father’s funeral to take care of.’ (22) Jesus refused. ‘First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life!’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

“…No son whose father had just died would be talking with Jesus in public before the father’s body had been laid in a tomb. …Even today in the Middle East, the expression ‘Wait until I bury my father’ expresses a desire to wait until the father has died before embarking too far from home. …Jewish people in the 1st century let the flesh rot off of a corpse’s bones for a year, then returned to the tomb and gathered the bones into a box which they deposited into a slot in the tomb wall. If the disciple was referring to such a reburial, known as ‘secondary’ burial, then he was asking for as much as a year’s delay in following Jesus. …” Chronological Study Bible Notes

Your business is life! Pursue life! What are you believing for?

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#bible

An Honest Days Work

Mom called and asked about the problems with my blog posting on social media. I told her everything – about everything.

Judges 9:16, “Now listen: ‘Do you think you did a right and honorable thing?…’ ” The Message

Talking about it made it worse. I considered tossing my task list and making fudge…

Judges 9:19, “If you think this is an honest day’s work,…” The Message

…I could watch Christmas movies while I rolled Buckeye centers.

Judges 10:15-16, “The People of Israel said to God: ‘We’ve sinned. Do to us whatever you think best, but please, get us out of this!’ (16) Then they cleaned house of the foreign gods and worshipped only God. And God took Israel’s troubles to heart.” The Message

It’s cleaning day – no Christmas movies for me. I washed the inside of the medicine cabinet and tossed old medications. Then I cleaned the house from top to bottom.

When I finished my task list, I got out the ingredients for Buckeyes. The butter must not have reached room temperature. I dumped it in with the peanut butter and powdered sugar anyway. I put my hand mixer in the bowl and turned it on. That sprayed powdered sugar all over my freshly cleaned floor. (Sigh.)

Proverbs 21:2-3, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. (3) To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” New International Version

After supper, David turned on the movie, “Polar Express.” He had never watched it and Pastor used it in his sermon on Sunday. (I went to bed.)

Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” New International Version

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#bible

You Make God Tired

Last night, Pastor Monte Knudsen spoke about dealing with temptation.

“All temptation is common. …Temptation means you think about it, until you justify it, and then sin is conceived in you. …Flee temptation. …Take your thoughts captive. …Deny yourself. …Recognize the horrible cost of sin. …” Pastor Monte Knudsen, September 26, 2018

He read the temptations of the Israelites in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. They are the same things we are tempted with.

Today was a quiet day. I didn’t fall for any temptations. But, according to Malachi, “normal” days are dangerous.

“Most of life is not lived in crisis…when things are… ‘normal,’ our interest in God is crowded to the margins…and we become preoccupied with ourselves. ‘Religion’ during such times is trivialized…calling God into question or complaining…treating worship…as a mere hobby…managing our personal affairs (such as marriage) for our own convenience…going about our usual activities as if God were not involved. …Malachi…wakes us up…during the times when the only thing we are concerned with is us. He keeps us on our toes, listening for God, waiting in anticipation for God, ready to respond to God, who is always coming to us.” The Message Introduction to Malachi

Many things Malachi listed still happen today.

Malachi 1:7, “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority, ‘that’s defiling.’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

Malachi 1:12-13, “You profane me when you say,… ‘I’m bored – this doesn’t do anything for me.’ (13) You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air…” The Message

* * * * * * *

Malachi 2:13, “And here’s the second offense: ‘You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God.’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

Malachi 2:17, “You make God tired with all your talk. ‘How do we tire Him out?’ you ask. By saying, ‘God loves sinners and sin alike. God loves all.’ And also by saying, ‘Judgment? God’s too nice to judge.’ ” The Message

I don’t know about you, but I feel conviction.

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#bible

Things That You Could Never Figure Out On Your Own

“Understanding” was the subject of Pastor Monte Knudsen’s sermon on Wednesday night. We read 30 verses in Proverbs about understanding. Then he pointed out several details in Mark 6:35-52. It was where Jesus fed the 5000 men.

  • There were not enough resources to meet the need.
  • The disciples wanted to send them to buy food in the city.
  • We think our resources are somewhere else.
  • All the resources needed are in Christ.
  • Look at what you have in your hand.
  • Because we don’t have enough, we never think about what we have.
  • They prepared for a miracle by having them sit down in groups so everyone’s needs were met.
  • Jesus blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples.
  • The food multiplied in the hands of the disciples.
  • God was teaching them something through the miracle, not trying to impress them.
  • “Their hearts were hardened” means their minds were closed.

Pastor Monte Knudsen, August 22, 2018

Faced with a sticky situation – an unsolvable problem – I asked God for understanding.

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” The Message

I told God that I could not figure out what to do. I gave the problem to Him and did nothing. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to do something!

  • When Jesus gets into our boat, the wind stops.
  • When Jesus called the disciples, He called them to be with Him.
  • We are human beings, not human doings.

Pastor Monte Knudsen, August 22, 2018

I went to bed with the problem unresolved. God worked out an answer without my help! Had I gotten involved, I’m sure it would have made matters worse! All I did was “be” with Jesus.

“Miracles” by Jesus Culture

“…The One who made the deaf to hear is silencing my every fear…

The One who does impossible is reaching out to make me whole…”

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#bible

Christ Thought of Everything

Grief. The family is walking through the five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Everyone grieves differently. Four members of the same family can start in four different stages. Some are in shock and cannot cry. Others can’t stop crying.

There are so many decisions – so much to do:

  • Find the best pictures.
  • Pick verses that reflect their life or were favorites.
  • Remembering everything for the obituary.
  • Choosing a final resting place.
  • Dispersing all the stuff.
  • Re-homing the animals.
  • Explaining everything to his granddaughter.
  • Which songs?

Acts 28 is a wonderful example of how to survive grief or another trauma.

1. Build a campfire.

Acts 28:1-2, “Once everyone was accounted for and we realized we had all made it… (2) went out of their way to be friendly…they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it.” The Message

The grieving need to look around make sure everyone is there. The friends of the family are to gather around the family. They are there to listen or just cry with you.

2. Take them home.

Acts 28:7-9, “The head man…Publius…took us into his home as his guests, drying us out and putting us up in fine style. … (8) Publius’s father was sick…Paul…laid hands on him and prayed, the man was healed. (9) Word of the healing got around fast, and soon everyone on the island who was sick came and got healed.” The Message

Send the grieving to your guest room for a nap. Or to rest and let their mind stop spinning. Take them out to eat to let them set the grief aside for a bit.

Friends can get you away from the grief for an hour or so. But, even in grief, look for ways to serve. Doing something kind for someone else lifts our spirits.

3. Meet their needs.

Acts 28:10, “We spent a wonderful three months on Malta. They treated us royally, took care of our needs and outfitted us for the rest of the journey.” The Message

Offer water and food. Loan them what they are lacking – an umbrella on a rainy day. Guard them like royalty. Be a buffer for them.

4. Realize their grieving is not permanent.

Acts 28:15, “Paul, brimming over with praise, led us in prayers of Thanksgiving.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Acts 28:20, “…I’m a hostage here for hope, not doom.” The Message

Time eases grief. It becomes easier to bear. You never stop missing your loved one but you find reasons to smile again. We start to see things differently.

* * * * * * *

Death is not the only hard time we will experience. Divorce, unemployment, accidents, and serious illnesses all take us through a valley.

“We want God to change the situation but not us. God wants to change us.” Pastor Monte Knudsen, 6-27-18

* * * * * * *

“…He wanted me to learn that His grace is sufficient in the pit. …God didn’t rescue Daniel from the pit; He delivered Him from the power of the enemy while he was in the pit.” Pastor Sarah Utterbach – Redeeming Love Christian Center in The Word for You Today, 6-27-18

God has a plan for our lives. We will not stay in this valley or pit forever.

Ephesians 1:8-9, “He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, (9) letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Ephesians 1:11-12, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. (12) …He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” The Message

Lean on your church family during hard times. They want to bear your burdens. Their prayers will carry you when you can’t go any further.

Ephesians 1:22, “…The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.” The Message

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Strength is for Service, Not Status

A week ago Wednesday, Pastor Monte Knudsen taught us how to bless people. You listen to them. When God gives an opportunity, ask if you can pray for them. Then take their hand or touch their shoulder, and ask God to bless them. Pray over any needs they share with you.

Last Wednesday, Pastor Monte asked if we obeyed. Several shared their stories. (My favorite was Simon who said, “A guy sneezed and I said, ‘God bless you!’ “)

I refused to make eye contact with Pastor because I failed the assignment. (I prayed with Derek when he was sick and my sister during a rough day. But I hadn’t blessed someone outside of my family.)

* * * * * * * *

Yesterday we went shopping for a new dress for our son’s wedding in the fall. I looked at stores in Cedar Rapids without success. On the way home, we stopped at Dillard’s in Iowa City.

I pulled every navy blue dress in my size off of the racks. I tried a couple on and realized – I’m no longer that size. *Sigh*

I asked David to bring me a larger size. He saw one dress he thought would look nice on me and brought it.

When I put it on, I realized something was wrong. The side zipper was open across my torso.

It was a “form-fitting” dress with only half of the material covering my form! I wriggled and rolled the material up trying to get it off. The chiffon cape covered my head and I couldn’t see to get out of it!

When I was finally free, I looked at the size – “6!” The only place it fit was around my neck! (In his defense, the number on the hanger was correct.)

We narrowed it down to two dresses. The one he liked was all lace. I pointed out it would require an expensive undergarment. The one I liked covered everything from my neck to my knees! But, it made me feel young and pretty.

During this process, David visited with my saleslady. She ended up with a pile of dresses in 4 different sizes to put away!

David kept talking to her after we checked out. (She’s my mother’s age, so I didn’t feel jealous.) She shared that she was still working because she couldn’t live on social security. She was alone and had arthritis.

He asked her if she went to church. She replied she was Catholic. I exclaimed, “Wonderful!” because we both serve Jesus. Then he asked her if he could pray for her.

She said yes and we had a holy moment in the middle of Dillard’s! (The store was empty because it was a gorgeous day. Everyone was out enjoying nature, not shopping.)

It may surprise you that we didn’t try to convert her. But that is not our job. We are to love her and share in her burdens.

Romans 14:1, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Romans 14:4, “…If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.” The Message

During Paul’s time, the controversy was over eating meat offered to idols. Some ate only vegetables just in case the meat was offered to an idol.

Romans 14:6-7, “What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. (7) None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.” The Message

* * * * * * *

Romans 14:17-18, “God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness sake. It’s what God does with your life as He sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. (18) Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. …” The Message

* * * * * *

Romans 15:1-3, “Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. (2) Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, ‘How can I help?’ (3) That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.” The Message

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