Our Position in the Kingdom

“And the Lord also delivered… And the Lord delivered… The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel… I will deliver all of them… And the Lord delivered them.” Joshua 10:30, 32, 42; 11:6, 8

We have come to a section of the book of Joshua that summarizes Israel’s conquests of faith in the southern and northern cities of Palestine. As I was reading through this section this morning, the five verses above jumped off the page and into my heart as I was continually reminded, “The Lord delivered all of them.”

Extraordinary Love

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Unfortunately, we all have enemies. Let’s take a minute and consider who our enemies are today. A family member? A friend? Our spouse? A co-worker? A neighbor? President Trump? Have one in mind? Have two, three, four or twenty in mind? That’s good. Now before thinking of all the reasons why that person is your enemy, pray for them. Stop reading this right now and pray that God would rain down His blessings upon them and would give you a heart of compassion for them.

Leave it to the Lord

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39

How do you respond when you first hear of some sort of evil happening in the world? While some get mad and seek justice, others get really mad and seek revenge. The principle of “an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” is called the principle of retribution and gave judges the formula for dealing with crime. It’s the same idea as “making the punishment fit the crime.” But in Jesus’ day the Rabbis were teaching that people should carry out this punishment themselves rather than going through the legal system. This led many to seek personal revenge. The problem with this is that when really angry people seek revenge, often they don’t just get even, they get more than even.

The God of Miracles

“Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped…” Joshua 10:12

Are we listening now? In the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas I wonder if we are listening now? Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, terror attacks, wars and rumors of wars have been coming at us furiously and frequently, but have they caused us to listen? We keep searching for solutions to the problems as though there are solutions to the problems. We talk about better gun control or climate control, not understanding that we are not in control. But, God is in control, and when we walk by faith and not by sight we will see the only solution to the problems is for Him to do a miracle. Do you believe in miracles?

Be Trustworthy

“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Matthew 5:37

The devotional for Sunday’s message is a very simple one. As Christians, we need to be trustworthy. We need to keep our word. We know this issue is close to our Savior’s heart or else He wouldn’t have included it in His Sermon on the Mount. All of the practical teachings within the Sermon on the Mount are given to us in order to shape us into Christ’s image and set us apart from the ways of the world.  

Christ in Yom Kippur

Good morning NCL Church family,

The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei runs this year from the evening of September 29 until sunset on September 30 on our Gregorian calendar. Many Jewish people consider this the holiest day of the year. If you would like to know why it is their holiest day and see how Jesus fulfilled it, check out this wonderful two-part article titled, “Christ in Yom Kippur.” You will be blessed!

Jesus' Heart on Divorce

“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you...” Matthew 5:31-32a

This Sunday morning I will boldly go where few good preacher men have gone before. In fact, this morning when I went to read one of my favorite authors, I was shocked to see how little he had to say on the dreaded subject of divorce.

God is God Even When We are Goobers

“Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask the counsel of the Lord.” Joshua 9:14

After the conquest of Ai, Joshua and his leaders knew the kings of Canaan were not going to give up without a fight. So Joshua and the children of Israel prepared for battle. They sharpened their swords and checked their armor, but they didn’t seek the Lord and the Gibeonites took advantage of this.   

Heart of Hearts

“You have heard that it was said to those of old… but I say to you…” Matthew 5:21a, 22a

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus never contradicted what the law said, He only contradicted the interpretation of the law men came up with. This is an extremely important distinction as we move forward because as we learned last week, Jesus didn’t come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. He came to shed proper light on it and reveal the depth of it.

Jesus, the Law and You

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17a

In Jesus’ day there was a lot of confusion and consternation about the Law among the Jews. They were asking questions like: “Does Jesus believe in the Law? Has He claimed to destroy it? Is He teaching some new way to God or some new way of pleasing God?”

Salt & Light

“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13

Since ancient times, salt has been used as a food preservative due to its ability to absorb moisture and create an environment where bacteria and mold are unable to reproduce and survive. After sharing the beatitudes - which describe the character of a genuine Christian - Jesus simply states that Christians are the salt of the earth. Although this metaphor can be applied a number of different ways, undoubtedly one of the main applications is the Christian’s duty to preserve the world from deteriorating. Just as salt fights off the bacteria and mold on the food it has been put on, we too should be fighting off the sin and immorality in the communities we’ve been placed in.

Blessed are The Persecuted

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

We have come to the end of the beatitudes and without a doubt Jesus has saved the best for last. The first seven beatitudes are a description of the character of the Christian. They reveal the way we are supposed to be - we are to be like Christ. You would think people would love the person who displayed the beatitudes, but the fact is the people of the kingdom of the world hate people like Christ. Jesus said it would be so in John 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Blessed are The Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Good morning NCL family,

In the wake of what happened in Charlottesville on Saturday, I have been wanting to write something that would help give us a little understanding of why these types of things keep happening. To be honest, the task of writing something like that seemed too ominous. Every time I tried to write I became so overwhelmed I couldn’t begin.  

Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Although there are many reasons why Southern California has the reputation of being one of the most coveted places to live, there is one thing we have that gives us a bad reputation - the smog. Smog is the haze we see when we look out across the horizon due to the abundance of pollutants in the air. In Orange County, one of the best ways we can tell how bad the smog is on a certain day is by how well we can see Catalina, an island 30 miles offshore. When the smog is really bad we can barely see it, but when there is hardly any smog we can see it so well we can make out the details of the landscape.

Turn Mistakes into Victories

“Then the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.’” Joshua 8:1

Have you ever made a huge mistake? In Joshua 6, the Lord told the children of Israel, “By all means keep yourself from the accursed things,” but in Joshua 7 we read, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan took accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.” It was a huge mistake for the children of Israel not to listen to the Word of the Lord, and they all suffered as a result, especially Achan and his family.

Marvelous Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

What is mercy? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “I think perhaps the best way of approaching it is to compare it with grace. You notice in the introduction to the so-called pastoral epistles that the apostle brings in a new term. Most of his other epistles start by saying ‘grace and peace’ from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but in his pastoral epistles he says ‘grace, mercy, and peace’ and there is thus an interesting distinction implied between grace and mercy. The best definition of the two that I have ever encountered is this: ‘Grace is especially associated with men in their sins; mercy is especially associated with men in their misery.’ In other words, while grace looks down upon sin as a whole, mercy looks especially upon the miserable consequences of sin.”

Hunger & Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Hunger and thirst are the most powerful forces our physical bodies experience. They compel us to do whatever it takes to give our bodies the food and water they need to function properly and be healthy. In an article for Forbes titled “Hunger Beats Fear As Nature’s Strongest Motivator” JV Chamary wrote, “Hunger is even stronger than fear, a vital emotion that helps protect prey animals from being killed. Given a choice between a dangerous location containing food and staying in a safe zone, hungry mice would spend more time in the scary place. In nature's ranking of motivations, hunger comes out on top. This suggests that when food is available, the brain circuits that control feeding behavior will suppress the activity of neurons that regulate other behaviors.”

Blessed are the Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

I believe most people today would look at meekness as being weakness, but meekness is not weakness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. William Barkley defined meekness as “strength under control.” I was fascinated to learn that Southern horse breeders claim “the meekest horse wins the race. A meek horse is the one who has most responded to his training. All his strength is harnessed and brought under focused control.”

An Achan Heart

“Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.” Joshua 7:26

In this one verse we see the amazing love of our heavenly Father. It was in the Valley of Achor where Achan and his entire family were judged for disobeying God’s word. Although the word “Achor” means “trouble”, later in Hosea 2:15a we read, “I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope.” What our heavenly Father is saying is that if we obey His word, He will deliver us from the valley of trouble by opening a door of hope.

Blessed are Those who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Wow! What a paradox to the way men think today. Most of the time we attempt to avoid the things that cause us to mourn. For instance, money and entertainment help distract us from mourning, but Jesus states that the man who mourns will be blessed and comforted. There is much to say about the subject of mourning that will have to wait till Sunday, but for now I thought it would be helpful to define the man who mourns in order to prepare our hearts for our time together on Sunday.