Start & End Your Month with Protection

Today is March 31 and tomorrow is April 1, and we all know what is ravaging the world.

Reading the Psalms each morning, especially as part of praying, is a great habit.  Several years ago, the teens at Camp Hye Sierra were told that, but in addition that a good strategy is to see what day of the month it is (it’s the 31st, if you haven’t had a senior moment!), and then read Psalm 31, 61, 91 and 121.  You know to stop because there are only 150 Psalms!

Well, this recycled teenager on the camp staff listened and started doing it—and sees great value in it.  This means you will read the entire book of Psalms each month.  This means you will be soaking up thoughts from the likes of David who was “a man after God’s own heart”!

In the many days since, I have noticed a surprising bonus.  Well, actually, it isn’t so surprising when you discover

How amazingly the Bible is put together

Its “here a little, there a little” is a big deal testimony to the glory of its Head Writer who inspired 40 men (30 Old Testament, 10 New Testament) over a period of 1,600 years from the 15th Century to A.D. 95.

Here’s what I discovered this morning:  Today’s readings were all about “protection.”  Read Psalms 31, 61, 91 and 121 for yourself.  Psalm 91 is the special one out of all the Bible to claim during these coronavirus days.

A critic might argue:  well, a lot of the Psalms are about protection.  OK, but see if you aren’t amazed at how saturated with the subject those four are!

Prayer eBook adSo on the last and first days of each month, we can read about God’s promises of protection and claim them.  It will surely help get through the middle days.

On the 10th day of each month:  joy

I look forward to the 10th day of each month because Psalms 10, 40, 70, 100 and 130 promote joy!

It gives me great joy to see what an unbelievably-yet-somehow-we-can-believe-it superior-minded Being we serve who could not only inspire the likes of David, Asaph and Moses to write ageless individual Psalms, but apparently anticipate that His people would someday be taught to read them in groups of 30 and they’d be on the same subject!

Truly the Word of God is an awesome God and book!  It’s “the king’s privilege to discover” them (Proverbs 25:2, New Living Translation), so how wonderful for those who want to become kings in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 5:10)!

I’m now on high alert to see what other groups of 30 hit the same theme.  I’d love to hear from you which ones you find …

P.S.  We’ve all heard that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Yes, that’s alluding to weather.  But it’s interesting that March goes out with Passover usually just ahead!  The blood of the Lamb protects and provides eternal joy.

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Intercessors—We Not They

We see the world suffering, and we want to be effective intercessors.

God promises:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The often overlooked phrase there is “turn from their wicked ways.”  God does not dispense cheap mercy.  He wants to heal our land, but it’s being sickened by sin and wicked ways!

OK, God, please forgive them for all their wicked ways and rid the world of this pandemic.

People who believe in the mercy of God and the power of prayer know that God’s watchman must “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done in Israel” (Ezekiel 9:4).

OK, God, please overlook all their abominations.

That’s not the intercessory example set by people of God like Daniel and Nehemiah

Prayer eBook adWhile praying—and fasting, Daniel said, “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments … to us belongs shame of face” (Daniel 9:5, 8).  Daniel wasn’t just including himself to sound humble.  He’s not in the lyin’s den.

While praying—and fasting, Nehemiah set himself to “confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You.  Both my father’s house and I have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6).  This is why the Bible holds Nehemiah up as such a good example of leadership.  Eleven times in his book Nehemiah was praying!

At this time, with the virus raging worldwide, but especially with God’s Holy Days coming up, we who feel the heart tugs to be intercessors should be examining ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 11:28).

Temptation AdWe should ask God as David did:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).   Courageously, we should ask God what He most dislikes about me.  What wicked way do I need to turn from?  What bothers God the most about me?  We may as well ask because He’s already all too aware of it!

“Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins” (Psalms 19:12-13).

We should boldly humble ourselves in seeking this correction from God because He promises He won’t give more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Intercessors like Daniel and Nehemiah are desperately needed at this time

They prayed and fasted, and Christians know fasting about once a month is advised to maintain a close relationship with God, and is especially needed now.

This is a time for we not they.

We have got a prayer!  We will humble ourselves, pray and fast and seek God’s face—and turn from our wicked ways, as the 7 Days of Unleavened Bread April 9-15 teach.   God would love to forgive our sins—as Passover on Tuesday night, April 7 pictures—and heal our land!

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When Bad News Is Really Good News

Yesterday I dropped off our Ford Fiesta to get the tires rotated. Ominously, the owner asked me to come back to take a look and asked me if we had been having any trouble with the ignition. Not a single bit!   And the mechanic had no trouble when he drove it in!

But the ignition stopped working! The key wouldn’t turn on the car! Of course I wanted to grumble and moan. Who needs such bad news when all you did was come for tire rotation! The rotation was free but who wants a car bill now!

But good news in disguise

What better place to have the ignition conk out! What worse place might we—or Mary—have been stranded in! We could actually count it all joy (James 1:2).

Even as the mechanic tenaciously battled for over two hours to install the new ignition switch when it was expected to take only 15 minutes.   We had to just sit and wait patiently.  While remaining thankful that they didn’t leave us stranded and they didn’t charge us the extra shop time.

I hope this serves as a good reminder for the virus situation we’re all battling together.

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Tonight Is the Real New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year!

Thursday, March 26 is the first day of the new year for 2020.  Oh yeah, who says so!

God, in Exodus 12:2, and that’s good enough for me.   It’s Nisan 1, and odds are it’s going to be a glorious day to enjoy the ride.

God’s days begin at sunset rather than midnight, and here while the whole world is wringing its not-washed-enough hands, God says tonight is the night to ring in the new year!

Rather than the dead of winter, life is springing forth.  Our gravel driveway is sporting a glaze of green sprouts.  Daffodils are showing off.  Trees are budding.

Yes, physical glory, but the real story is spiritual.   Nisan 1 is not a Holy Day, but

It signals that God’s Holy Day season is close at hand

Keep reading in chapter 12 for the thrilling life-and-death saga in Egypt in 1446 B.C. that instructs us today.

footwashingPassoverPassover is Tuesday night, April 7.   Those fixated on washing hands will focus their attention in this solemn service on washing feet.  Also on the crucial importance of the body and blood of Christ.

The next night, Wednesday, April 8, is the Night To Be Much Observed.  That night starts the seven Days of Unleavened Bread lasting through April 15.

Building the Family of God ad
These amazing days picture so much spiritual significance.   Nothing less than building our relationship with God and preparing to be in His eternal family!

But on this day of God’s New Year, I like to remind myself of this:  “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:  ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’  And he replied:  ‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'”—Minnie Louise Haskins, broadcast by King George VI in 1939 at the beginning of World War II.

What will you do about God’s New Year?

You should give it some serious thought because it’s all about a completely different way of life than the one satan has deceived the whole world about (Revelation 12:9).  God for now is shepherding only a “little flock” (Luke 12:32).  His way is the narrow path that only a few find now (Matthew 7:13–14).    God’s way is completely different from what everybody else does.

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried”—Gilbert K. Chesterton.

We still have about two weeks to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28)—not to come up with empty resolutions we already know we will soon break, but to be ready to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

When God hands us wondrous knowledge even as simple as what day He considers to be the New Year, let’s not drop the ball!

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“The Night To Be Much Observed? What’re You Talking About?”

The Night To Be Much Observed (NTBMO) will be Wednesday night, April 8, 2020.  Sometimes it is called the Night To Be Much Remembered.

We’re talking about a special event in God’s annual planner.  That we can take part in!

The night before is the New Testament Passover partaking of foot washing, bread and wine.  This night begins the Seven Days of Unleavened Bread where we submit to God the Father and Jesus Christ our Unleavened Bread of Life living in us through the Holy Spirit and transforming our “old man” into a “new man” (Eph. 4:22-24).

The NTBMO is the night portion of this first Day of Unleavened Bread.  “It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt.  This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations” (Exodus 12:42).

Generations later, here’s where we come in:

English-speaking nations today, though few know it, are descendants of the lost 10 Tribes of Israel!  And far superseding that, all Christians are spiritual Israelites (Galatians 6:16)!  Paul taught New Testament Gentile Christians “let us keep the feast” (1 Corinthians 5:2-8), and they would have observed the opening night.

All of us should be observing God’s NTBMO!  And experiencing the joy!  This will be my 51st!

After God’s 10th plague killed all the firstborn males of Egypt, Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to get out!  This incredibly hardy people spent the day receiving plunder from the weary Egyptians, which was essentially back pay for 210 years of slavery, and assembling in Ramses [Today the excavation site is called Avaris.].  It is calculated that some Israelites living the farthest away had to walk as much as 20 miles just to get to the departure point!

Then that night, illuminated by a full moon and led by the preincarnate Jesus Christ as their Rock and pillar of fire (1 Corinthians 10:4), an estimated 3 million ex-slaves walked out (Deuteronomy 16:1).   That’s how they much observed it!

Spoiled and soft us, we gather for a special dinner with brethren, usually in homes or private rooms in a restaurant.   Alas, this year we will be observing this special night as individual families quarantined for social distancing in our homes.   But hey, two or three gathered together with great promise! (Matthew 18:20).  The story today is as then:  We walk together.  By faith, led by the same Jesus Christ!

In 1446 B.C. the Israelites “baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait” (Exodus 12:39).  Hopefully we can’t wait to get out of spiritual Egypt!  We will eat unleavened bread for the next seven days to remind us to be humble and not puffed up.

This night was all about deliverance from Egyptian slavery.  Egypt is a type of sin, Pharaoh of satan.

This night

we reflect on how God brought us out of spiritual Egypt and Babylon (Rev. 18:4) and put us into His Body of Christ.  Many go around the table and share stories of how God called each one and opened their mind to understand His truth.

This happens to be the night of Jewish seders, but it’s not like that at all, as you can tell by the subject matter.   It’s not a dinner full of rituals.  We remember but we look forward.  It’s a night full of spiritual fellowship and rejoicing.   As back then, we go out “with a high hand” (Exodus 14:8).

Exodus 12:41 notes that the NTBMO occurred to the very day at the end of “the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt” (Exodus 12:40).  Adding 430 to 1446 equates to 1876 B.C.   Some associate this with God’s covenant with Abraham.   I’ll go with it being 430 years to the end of Israel living in Egypt, just as it says.

God’s parts covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 says Egypt will afflict Abraham’s descendants for 400 years (verse 13).  History indicates that Israel served as slaves only about 210 years.   It’s thought the 400 years could be from Isaac’s birth to the Exodus (Acts 7:5-6).  Or possibly Abraham’s death until possession of the Promised Land.

Regardless, what’s really important is that the NTBMO is special to the Master Timer who decides when is the absolute best time to call each of us and open our mind to understand His awesome truth.

The man of God and his wife who taught me kept the Holy Days out of simple childlike obedience for seven years before God showed them what they meant!  My first NTBMO was almost over before I learned I was keeping it!

My first NTBMO back in 1970

Brethren asked me if I could get myself up to Denver via bus.  I would stay all night at a home in Englewood and we’d keep the first Day of Unleavened the next day.  I arrived at their home about 11 p.m. thinking they’d all be in bed.  The house was filled with people laughing, singing and fellow shipping!  They asked me if I was hungry.   Starving!  But I didn’t want anybody putting themselves out to come up with some food for me at this late hour!  That’s when they showed me a buffet table still laden with eats!  That’s when I learned about the NTBMO and what a joy it is to observe it!

Disclaimer:  Most years since, we haven’t stayed up observing quite so much!  It is wise to be rested for the all the next day’s important parts.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you now

Building the Family of God adjust over two weeks before the NTBMO:  So you can read Exodus 12:40-42 and decide to humbly observe it that night.  Even if you only understand that God says to do it, and I guarantee that He will bless you for doing it!

Sit down to a special dinner after sunset on Wednesday, April 9, alone or ideally with family.  Include some matsos [I recommend egg & onion] or rye crisp.

Read and remember what God did in bringing Israel out of Egyptian bondage.  Tell God that you would like to come out of spiritual Egypt and Babylon.  And ask Him to teach you the meaning of His special days and lead you into a deeper relationship with Him and His people in these end-times.

Email me ( if I could help you in any way.

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How Can We Uphold the Coronavirus Directives While Keeping God’s Fast-approaching Holy Days?

That’s a question nobody’s addressing in the daily briefings, but it’s in the forefront of the minds of God’s people who understand the necessity for keeping His Holy Days given in Leviticus 23.

The New Testament Passover service with footwashing, bread and wine for 2020 is Tuesday night, April 7.   The Night To Be Much Observed is the next night, Wednesday, April 8.  That night begins the seven-days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Building the Family of God adGod calls them moedim (Lev. 23:2)—His commanded holy sacred convocations—appointments—He expects us to show up!  I have for 50 years.  They are such joy!  I’m not going to stop now.  We have to observe them to understand God’s incredible plan of salvation.

But the Bible also clearly says

we must obey the governing authorities

for they serve at His behest (Rom. 13:1), though surely not always with such awareness.  If there is an impossibility of doing both, we know “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  Most of the time, with wisdom we can please both God and man.

It’s encouraging to see officials from President Trump on down saying that we must all act together in unity and harmony to stop this dangerous virus:  out of compassion!  Out of loving concern for others!  That sounds like Php. 2:1-5!  That sounds like love which is unselfish outgoing concern for others!

The Bible teaches quarantining.  The Bible teaches that “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father” is taking care of widows, the elderly and the vulnerable (James 1:27).  Many of God’s people are over 65 and the most in danger from this coronavirus.  I keep overlooking that I’m 69!

So God’s people want to do their part to love Him first (the first four Commandments) and also love their fellow man (the last six Commandments).

The key compliance is to “socially distance” with no more than 10 gathered together.  So last Sabbath we stayed home from meeting in services across the United States and tuned in to an Internet service that had a song leader, sermonette and sermon speakers, and a small choir but no audience.  It was inspiring, and it was a treat to have special music that smaller congregations can’t offer each Sabbath.  This will continue as long as necessary [; select Webcasts, Saturdays 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard time].

Passover service, as has always been the case when people couldn’t travel to a meeting place, can be conducted at home.  It’s not as special as “coming together” (1 Cor. 11:20), but it has one consolation:  My wife and I have done it twice before, and it’s special to wash each other’s feet, without words professing our special loving service to each other.  In the group one, women wash women and men wash men.

Of all the changes, the Night  To Be Much Observed will feel the most different.  The concensus advice is that rather than trying to meet in somebody’s home with 10 or less brethren, anybody over 65 should exercise wisdom and observe it at home so as not to unnecessarily expose themselves.  So it looks like Mary and I will share a special dinner together at home and review the special meaning of the observance.  We’ve never done that before.

The Days of Unleavened Bread will have Internet services to connect with on the two High Sabbaths.   Knowing they have such an audience motivates participants to make them even more special.  There is something really inspiring about knowing so many brethren across the whole United States and who knows where else are connected together at this moment in time that has so obviously reached end-time status.

Keeping these Holy Days in 2020 will be so different but still be spiritually rewarding and probably more so because

Nothing will be old hat about it

We still have over two weeks to prepare for God’s awesome Holy Days and examine ourselves thoroughly.  And we will worship our Great God with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.

All of us will experience the inconvenience of confronting this worldwide virus.  I hope you are part of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) that will experience our Great Shepherd’s Holy Days.  I’m sure God will do His part to make them even more special and meaningful this year.

So, so what if we’ll be limited to no more than 10 in any one place?

“Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

HD or holidays

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From Beam to Gleam

beamWhy is it so easy to spot motes in others
but we can’t see the beam in our own eye (Matt. 7:3)?
You’d think it’d be so obvious to us,
with it protruding right out of our eye.

But while others see the hardened steely carnality protruding from us, and probably we feel the weight of it pulling on us, look what we see:  the big “I”!

Our normal self, pretty much what we expect,
so alas, we go right on and deceive ourselves (Jer. 17:9).  Self-pride.  Self-deceit.  Self-importance.

Paul said it’s time to examine ourselves.  He isn’t talking about selfies so put away the camera.  And he isn’t talking about looking ourselves over for suspicious lumps or blemishes, so back away from the mirror.

Paul said to examine ourselves

whether we “are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).

It’s only three weeks until the spring Holy Days, and Paul said to examine ourselves so that we will be ready to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).

Passover 2020 is Tuesday night, April 7.  The Night To Be Much Observed is Wednesday night, April 8.  The seven Days of Unleavened Bread continue through Wednesday, April 15.

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).  So examine ourselves?  In a real sense we can’t really do it.

In 50 years trying to live the Bible, I’ve encountered lots of messages about how to examine yourself.  Let me share with you the simple, practical solution I heard in a perceptive sermon years ago.  The secret is to

Ask God to show you the one thing He wants you to change

Ask Him to make it plain to you what he dislikes the most about how you are thinking or acting—the one thing that is most keeping you from being the new man or woman He wants you to be.  That makes you a character all right!  But not with the character God wants!

Lo and behold, Jeremiah says the same solution:  Right after he says you probably can’t effectively examine yourself, he says “O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing” (verse 24).

Yes, Jeremiah concurs, ask God for His merciful correction.  The Master Timer never demands more of us than we are able (1 Cor. 10:13).

We see a  relevant parallel in Deut. 7:22 where God sent hornets to drive out the nations standing in Israel’s way, but He did it little by little lest they be overrun with wild animals.  God doesn’t want to sting us into being overwhelmed and despairing.  He wants us to humbly submit to a loving Father’s correction—not run away from home!  We are family!  With the eternal Kingdom fast approaching!

Your special effort to examine yourself will work even more powerfully if you do this while fasting.  God will see you are really serious about it because going without food and water will make you  more serious about it.  You will see your utter dependence on God’s mercy!

Daniel set himself to seek God with prayer and fasting and he humbled himself (Dan. 9:3).  From the time he started, God sent Gabriel with the answer, and God will answer us with the same dispatch!

The Bible says some things come out only by fasting, and maybe a beam qualifies!

How your answer might come:

Bible cloudyBible Study … prayer … sermons … fellowshiping with iron sharpening iron.  We must be on spiritual alert for God’s answer!

But from my experience the most likely way is if you have a wonderful godly mate, like I do, she might be the one God uses to show you the way.  Why your mate? Because they are with you the most. They see you at your unpretentious worst. While striving to be heirs together of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7), they see you with your hair down.

Humbly accept & act

humilityHopefully, when God’s correction comes to our attention, we will humbly accept it, thank God for it, and seek His help to overcome it. The minister said the one thing God showed him was that he needed to be more humble. I think that could always be the one we all need.   And thankfulness.

We should be grateful that the Master Potter wants to shape us into a worthy vessel.  That the Master Blacksmith wants to forge us into pure steel with impurities gone so that He can see His own image in us. And that the Master Pruner knows just where and how much to lop and snip so we can really bear fruit for Him and His people.

Is this a fearful exercise?   If we have a loving relationship with our Father and Brother, it’s an exciting one!   God  is working with us!  He’s preparing us for His Kingdom!

So in the next three weeks, I urge you to join me in fasting for God’s favor in examining ourselves.

A parent loves to see a responsive child.  If we yield to God in removing the beam in our eye, surely our Father will have a gleam in His!

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