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Weekly RAP Read Apply Pray

 

READ THROUGH THE NEW TESTAMENT IN 2017


OCTOBER


22 1 Timothy 2
23 1 Timothy 3
24 1 Timothy 4
25 1 Timothy 5
26 1 Timothy 6
27 2 Timothy 1
28 2 Timothy 2


29 2 Timothy 3
30 2 Timothy 4
31 Titus 1

NOVEMBER

1  Titus 2
2  Titus 3
3  Philemon
4  Hebrews 1


5   Hebrews 2
6   Hebrews 3
7   Hebrews 4
8   Hebrews 5
9   Hebrews 6
10 Hebrews 7
11 Hebrews 8


12 Hebrews 9
13 Hebrews 10:1-23
14 Hebrews 10:24-39
15 Hebrews 11:1-19
16 Hebrews 11:20-40
17 Hebrews 12
18 Hebrews 13


19  James 1
20 James 2
21 James 3
22 James 4
23 James 5
24 1 Peter 1
25 1 Peter 2


26 1 Peter 3
27 1 Peter 4
28 1 Peter 5
29 2 Peter 1
30 2 Peter 2
1   2 Peter 3
2  1 John 1


3   1 John2
4   1 John 3
5   1 John 4
6   1 John 5
7   2 John
8   3 John
9   Jude


10 Revelation 1
11 Revelation 2
12 Revelation 3
13 Revelation 4
14 Revelation 5
15 Revelation 6
16 Revelation 7


17 Revelation 8
18 Revelation 9
19 Revelation 10
20 Revelation 11
21 Revelation 12
22 Revelation 13
23 Revelation 14


24 Revelation 15
25 Revelation 16
26 Revelation 17
27 Revelation 18
28 Revelation 19
29 Revelation 20
30 Revelation 21
31 Revelation 22

What Really Matters

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

I’m writing on the story of the talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30.   I have lived my life, and certainly my ministry years based on the love and fearful reverence for this passage of scripture.  I am looking forward to the day when I stand before Jesus and hear Him say these words to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Let’s celebrate together.”  There is nothing more that matters to me in my life than to hear those words at the end of it all.  I am aware that the choices and decisions I make every day affect that outcome.

It’s clear that Christ speaks in this parable about money, but He is really talking about something far more important.  He is talking about the elements of spiritual character.  Money is only the vehicle He is using to teach a far greater lesson. At the end of the day Christ is more interested in what we do with our spiritual “blessings” than anything else.  God has blessed me with a life to serve Him with.   He has given me the scriptures to know truth, and He has equipped me His power through His Holy Spirit to live out these truths.

I’d like to share part of an article written by Jon Bloom, which so well explains this portion of scripture.  Jon Bloom is a worship Pastor and an author.  I love the way he brings this passage of scripture to light.

“The Importance of What We Make

What we make remains of immense importance because it actually reveals, in some measure, what we are. This is true of God (Romans 1:20) and true of us (Matthew 12:33). What we produce and our motives for producing it reveal what we believe and value.

That’s the message of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30): Faithful investment of what we’re given produces fruitfulness. It’s the message of the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46): What we do evidences what we are. Works evidence faith.

So the question for all of us makers becomes, what should we make of and with our lives? For each of us, the answer is different. But all of us must look to the Great Maker’s life (John 1:3; 14:6) to get our answers. For what he made with his life has great bearing on what we should make with ours. Our ultimate goals should be the same as his.

What did God the Son pour himself into making when he became flesh and dwelt among us? What did Jesus build to last? Only two things: his word (teaching) and his church (transformed, born-again people). That’s all Jesus left in the world when he left the world. He determined no other artifacts were worth preserving.

But these two artifacts have impacted the world more than anything else in history. In fact, these two things are what world history is all about. For two millennia, Jesus’s word has sped (2 Thessalonians 3:1) and his church has spread throughout the world (Matthew 24:14). And when every human civilization and artifact, and the world as we now know it, has finally perished, these two things will remain. Jesus’s word is forever (Matthew 24:35) and his church is forever (Revelation 22:4–5).

What Jesus made is not more important than what he is. What he has made reveals what he is. Which makes what he has made of incalculable importance.

What implication does Jesus’s making have on our making? Essentially it means that we should make Jesus’s priorities our priorities. If Jesus devoted his earthly life to making his word known and his church grow, then the aim of our making should be knowing and spreading his word (Matthew 28:19) and serving the growth and health of his church (Ephesians 4:13).

Does this mean that all of us should be employed full-time by a Christian ministry? By no means! Rather, it means that all of us should see all of life as a form of full-time Christian ministry, no matter what our profession is. For the Christian, there is no abiding sacred-secular distinction. All things are God’s (Romans 11:36), and we do all things for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God does set a few aside to devote themselves to the ministry of the word, the care of the church, and the equipping of the saints (Acts 6:4; 1 Peter 5:1–3; Ephesians 4:12). But the vast majority of us are sent by God into all spheres of life to spread his word and gather and serve his church. He gives us many different talents to invest; he gives us varied gifts to use (1 Peter 4:10). And they all are made holy by the word and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4–5).

But nothing that we make on earth is sure to last, except for its effect on advancing Jesus’s word and his church. In this sense, it’s true that “only what’s done for Christ will last.”

So what are you pouring your life into making? When it’s over, what will you leave behind that will really last? When you report to your master how you invested the talents he gave you, what will you show as a return?

What you are is of eternal importance. And what you make reveals what you are. So make the priorities of all that you make to serve the priorities of your Maker. Make your making eternally durable (1 Corinthians 3:12–13) by making it serve the advancement of the word and the church.”

This is certainly my prayer, and I pray that it is your prayer as well.  Wherever God has you serving Him, and whatever God has you doing, I pray you do it all for the glory of God.  Resolve today to use your life as God intended.  May we choose to focus on the spiritual qualities of a life that can be successful in both this life and for all of eternity!

Waiting For God’s Help

– By Pastor Ruth Denboer

In Pastor Vern’s last blog he wrote about how we spend our time. Sometimes we waste our time however, it may even be time well wasted if we plan right. This week much of the reading was in Isaiah, which is not an easy book to read without context. I really just want to focus on a few of the verses that I read from Isaiah 30.
First, verse 15 ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”’
Sometimes we not only waste our time on things that don’t matter, but sometimes we spend a lot of time trying so hard in our own way to fix things, or sort things out, or simply work so hard at being good enough. It can be exhausting! The beauty of this verse is how it simplifies life by reminding us to rest in the confident hope of a God who loves us dearly. He wants us to know that He can handle life for us. This is the God who has already done everything necessary to save us. We will never be good enough … or smart enough to get it all right. Only when we stop our personal struggles, return to Him, and rest in Him, will we truly know peace. As we take the time in a quiet place to remind ourselves of His greatness and His faithfulness, we are able to let things go into His care and trust Him. In THIS place we can know a deeper confidence than we have the ability to even understand. This becomes our strength through any and every situation. This verse is talking about the simple but very powerful every day miracle of walking in relationship with God. When Jesus died for our sins, all of our struggling to be good enough was complete. When Jesus sent His Spirit to live within us, all of our struggling to be enough was complete. We have everything we need in Him.
I’ll close with verse 18 ‘So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

 

Time Well Wasted

By Pastor Vern Kratz

The other day I spent almost 2 hours on the treadmill. The read out said I had travelled 13 miles, but I had never left the room. At first glance it seems like a complete waste of time. I didn’t get anywhere. I was in the exact same spot as when I started.

A week ago I went out and mowed my lawn. I looked out my window today and realized that I will have to mow it again tomorrow. Some would maybe say that my work a week ago was a waste of time, because now I have to do it all over again.

Starting in the fall of 2010 I began following a certain NHL team. And that particular year my team lost a majority of their games. An average game would be anywhere from 2 and half to 3 hours. Some would say, “What a waste of time. Every other day spending all that time watching a team lose.”

The other night I drove from store to store. I didn’t really need anything. I just went from store to store. Some would say, “What a waste of an evening. Stay home, do something else more enjoyable.”

The other day I read a book. Now most would say reading is good for you. Reading surely isn’t a waste of time. But I’ve read this story a few times, in fact, parts of the book I’ve read many times. Most people only read a book once. If it is really good they may pick it up again in a few years and read it again. But to read it more than that would seem like a waste of time when there are so many other good books to read.

The slogan for the Comedy Network used to be “Time well wasted.” For a moment you don’t know if you should feel guilty or not for watching. Maybe you should change to the Discovery Channel or the History Channel – that would be less of a waste of time.

The truth is I really don’t waste a lot of time.

Running on the treadmill for 13 miles may not get me anywhere, but it is a great work out and keeps me heathier at 47 than I was when I was 30. And being fit has benefits that effect almost every facet of daily life. If it is a waste of time then it is time well wasted.

Mowing the lawn is something we have to do several times in a season. There are many tasks that we have to do over and over again from yard work, to house chores, to paying bills, to filling vehicles. They aren’t a waste of time. It’s called being responsible. If it is a waste of time then it is time well wasted.

My intrigue with hockey during the 2010-2011 season was only part of the story. The team I was following was my teenage son’s favorite team. And every 2 and half hours that we spent watching our team lose was 2 and half hours we spent together. If watching a losing team with my son is a waste of time then it was time well wasted.

I do hate shopping. But the other night I was with my wife going from store to store and I knew that she enjoyed it. It was time out of the house after she had had a long day. If it was a waste of time then it was time well wasted.

As I open God’s word I find the book of Ecclesiastes difficult to understand. But that is where our reading guide has us these days. Words like meaningless, futility, and oppression are used over and over. In fact in some places it even seems like God is wasting His time – He just keeps doing things over and over and over again. But we know that God doesn’t waste time, does He? I am glad that God does things over and over again. I’m glad that He corrects and encourages me over and over again. I’m glad He chooses to love us over and over again. I’m glad He is willing to change and transform our lives over and over again. He desires to spend time with us over and over again – even when we ignore Him or do things to hurt Him. If all that is a waste of time – then it is time well wasted.

So how are you going to waste your time today? Will you spend time some time with your family, your spouse? Will you spend some time on routines and disciplines and responsibilities? Will you do things that will have a positive effect on your friends and those you will interact with today?  Will you do things with integrity over and over again?  If that is how you will choose to waste your time today then it will be time well wasted.

By the way, the Book that I was reading the other day, I just read from it again, and I’ll read it again tomorrow.

“…meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it…” Joshua 1:8

Citizens of Heaven

By: Pastor Heidi Kratz

Philippians 3: 19 & 20

“Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven.”

The summer months are a time where we can relax, travel, and enjoy the warmer weather.  Every year our family tries to plan a trip together in July or August.  If you know anything about our family vacations you know that they are days packed full of activity.  We usually need a holiday when we get back from our holiday.  We try to see as much as we can in the days that we are away.  We have traveled through most of Canada, many parts of the United States and once Vern and I traveled to Europe.  We love the road trips seeing museums, different shops, theme parks and water parks.

Even though we love to travel there is a great feeling when the customs officer hands you your passport and you have been cleared to return into Canada.  We are Canadian citizens and this is our earthly home.  We live in a land of freedom.  Freedom to work, go to school and to worship on Sundays.  We love our earthly home, but our focus should be on our heavenly home.  We should “eagerly await” for that final destination.  We are citizens of heaven.

How do we become a citizen or receive a passport to heaven?  When you need to renew your passport, it is a long and careful process.  No mistakes can be made.  Your picture needs to be exactly right and every part of the application filled out properly.  Our passport to heaven is a free gift to us.  Jesus accepts us as we are (with all our mistakes).  All we have to do is believe that Jesus died to save us from our sins and we simply just need to ask him to be our Savior.  Jesus gave his life so that we could become citizens of heaven.

I look forward to my vacation this summer, but I also look forward to coming home.

Lettuce

By Gary Jennings (Lead Pastor)                                                               

RAP – It’s simple to do. Read a passage; Apply the passage, and Pray the passage. Everyone can rap.

Our reading guide on July 12 took us to Hebrews 10:19-39. This passage is so packed and full that it really is difficult for me to limit my thoughts to one area of its great truth. But here goes…

It’s July and that means its garden season. There are two words in our passage that always seem to take me to garden thinking when I read them. It may seem strange and unusual to some, but they are the words let us. In my NIV Bible, they can be found in Hebrews 10: 22, 23, and 24 of our passage. Lettuce is now beginning to mature in many gardens, and lettuce grows out of the soil. The soil could be seen as our hearts and everyday lives. The question is this; is there let us growing and maturing out of our soil?

Let us number 1 – Hebrews 10:22 – “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…” I have the awesome privilege to come in close to God, but I have the challenge of having full assurance that faith brings. There are so many things that threaten to stunt this needed growth in my life. I must at times decide to have faith and not go by how I am feeling at the time, or even observing.

Let us number 2 – Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess…” I profess Biblical spiritual hope from my pulpit setting on a regular basis. I speak it and I declare it, but it’s far more important that I live it. Words are words, until they are backed by action. When it comes to spiritual matters and reading in the Bible all that God has promised His saints, I will always need to grow my hope. As I grow, I learn to hold fast, drive straight and am not swerving all over the road.

Let us number 3 – Hebrews 10:24 – “And Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Help me understand this. Is this saying that I should set time aside on a regular basis to think about others and how I can stimulate and encourage them to love and good deeds? I do think this is what it means. I am to be a cheerleader and a great supporter of others. I need to enrich and add something of value into their lives. I need to make others feel great about themselves and their abilities, gifts and talents. I need to tell others what they can do instead of what they cannot do. If I do this, they will explode and bloom. They will go on to do great things for God in this world where much more love and good deeds are needed. I need to grow in this area, because I am sure I can do much better at this.

Well, those are my thoughts that come out of our RAP reading passage from Hebrews 10:19-39. Don’t forget to check and see how your lettuce (let us) is growing this summer.

 

My Hope

By Pastor Nikki Ragush

This past week we were able to have our annual celebration for those graduating from high school this year. It is a great tradition that has been continued for years now; it is followed by the attendance of each of their high school graduations, which allows me to reflect on my interactions with each of these youth. Each year we chose a theme verse and this year it was Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Which is very fitting that it is part of the reading for this week. When I reflect during these high school graduations it becomes a time that I also reflect on my life and analyze where I have grown since I graduated.

I am in an interesting stage in my life; I have friends who have graduated several years ago and are on their career track, I have friends who have recently graduated and have no idea where to go, I have friends who look at their future and just see more school, and then I have friends that simply “go with the flow”. Something that stuck out to me this year during grad speeches was the uncertainty that many of these youth face, and the fact that this uncertainty doesn’t have a simple cure.

Throughout our lives it is inevitable that we will continue to struggle with feelings of uncertainty, this may not feel very reassuring however it is reality. I make sure to never tell youth that being a Christian makes life easy, painless, or even always happy. However, there is something that our faith gives us that I believe is impossible to find somewhere else, Hope. It’s such a simple small word, but Hope changes lives. Hope is, believing that there is something greater in the world; people may have hope in a variety of things but hope in Christ transforms lives.

When we have someone close to us become ill, or we lose someone, or we lose our jobs, or something in life happens and we have no clue how to fix it; there is no real solution other than hope. It is not an idea far from us that we can’t grasp onto, hope in Christ is something tangible and near to our hearts when we grow in relationship with Him. For many of my friends and the students I work with I have no idea where there lives with take them, and I can’t give them the information for what step to take next. However, what I can encourage is that no matter the storms that blow in their lives, that they will not be overcome if they throw down the anchor and allow Christ to be the foundation.

Storms are inevitable, trouble in our lives will happen, but the way that we go through those times is our decision; we can chose to try and face the storm and allow it to blow us all around or we can plant our anchor of Christ in the ground and be firmly planted. We will still get knocked around and we may feel discouraged after the trial, however Christ gives us something and someone to always trust.

Hope is one of the greatest things that Christ gives us, because when we have hope we aren’t afraid of the unknown… and most of life is unknown. I’ve had times in where life where things haven’t worked out as I planned however in each decision I had the choice whether to go on my own, or to thrown my anchor down with God. I have made both of those decisions and I know in the future I will run into many more, and I can tell you that the storms are never easy but once they passed (which was not always quick) and I was rooted in Christ I knew I could keep going.

We all have our own battles that we are currently working through, and for some reading this life may feel hopeless. But, there is no physical thing that will fill how you feel there is no switch the just makes a person feel better… people have been searching for the the special answer for all of humanity (money, fame, relationships, success, etc.) Jesus gives the hope that even in the storms, you will not be alone, and He will plant you firmly and securely.

 

Joy and Peace is For the Taking

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

Isaiah 55:8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

I have thought of this verse so many times in my life.  Times when I certainly didn’t understand what was going on in my life or in the lives of those around me.  Times when I thought life didn’t seem “fair” or “just”, or simply went a completely different direction than I had thought it would.  I find this verse, and the whole of chapter 55 in Isaiah, to be very encouraging when going through something particularly challenging.  As I read this chapter I again realize that God’s thoughts are nothing like mine.  When I don’t understand … HE DOES!

This chapter seems to be telling me to just simply trust in Him.  It tells me in verse 11 “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

This verse calms my heart when I feel anxious and confused.  This verse tells me that nothing is above God.  When He speaks there will be action!  This verse also challenges me to know what the Word of the Lord says, so that I can speak it.  God is faithful and His Word is forever settled.  The key is for me to take a step back from the situation and remember who God is, humble my heart and accept the fact that He is God and I am not.  I have been given the wonderful opportunity of trusting in the character of God and the Word of God.

So to sum it all up I need to put my thoughts and opinions aside … verse 6 says to “seek the Lord” … “to call upon Him”.  I then need to trust in a God who is much wiser than I, and if I am willing to do this … verse 12 gives us the result of that decision … “You will live in joy and peace.”

 

Saying Grace

By Pastor Vern Kratz

I remember when I was still in school, coming home for lunch and finding my sandwich waiting for me on the table. And sometimes in my adolescent haste I would begin eating without waiting for anyone else to join me or without even acknowledging their presence. My mother would always bring me back in line and remind me about my manners. Then she or someone at the table would ask the question, “Did you say grace?”

I’d have to answer, “No.” Then we would all pause, bow our heads, and someone would say, or even recite, a one-line prayer thanking God for the food and asking His blessing on it.

I always found the tradition of “saying grace” before a meal somewhat intriguing. I remember as a child thinking, “What if I don’t like the food? What if there isn’t enough food? What if I get an upset stomach from the food? Maybe we should wait and see, eat first, and then if all is well, say grace and thank God for the food.”

Obviously it doesn’t work that way in most traditions. In fact, in many settings, it is seen as improper or impolite to even take one bite before you thank the Lord for His provision.

“Saying grace” refers to the practice of thanking God for the food before a meal. It is also called “saying the blessing.” Such prayers follow the examples of Jesus and the apostle Paul, both of whom “said grace” before meals.

Matthew records two instances of Jesus feeding thousands of people with only a small amount of food (Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-38). In both these accounts, before Jesus “broke the bread” (or started the meal), He gave thanks to God for it (14:19).

The passage I was reading today was actually a story from the book of Acts.  Let me encourage you to take the time to read Acts 27. It’s a very exciting story. Paul has been taken prisoner and is on a ship being transported to the place he will stand trial when suddenly a huge storm comes up. The storm lasts for days and all the while the sailors are frantically fighting the storm, literally fighting for their lives. After the storm had been raging for several days and the men had not even stopped to eat Paul was visited by an angel and told that they would be alright.

Paul shared this report with the men on the ship and encouraged them to eat something to keep up their strength. Then I got quite a picture in my mind when I read verse 35: “After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.”

The wind is howling, the rain is stinging and making them uncomfortable and miserable, the waves are tossing them about; and this isn’t a ride that goes on for a couple of minutes,  but rather for days and days. But at Paul’s urging, they stop to eat, and I can imagine them in their haste and impatience agreeing to take a brief break from fighting the storm and then begin grabbing and gulping down the food. But then they look over and see Paul in the middle of the raging storm bowing his head, and pausing to thank God for the food. It’s almost comical.

Our days are filled all types of situations, sometimes good, sometimes stormy, but in every situation we need to stop and eat at some point. Since we owe everything we have to God’s grace, the “free and unmerited favor of God,” it is appropriate to thank Him always (Ephesians 5:20). Meals provide a good time to pause and do just that. So let me encourage you, no matter how busy you are, or in whatever is going on in your life, “Don’t forget to say grace.”

 

Sing Praises!

By: Pastor Heidi Kratz

Psalm 46:6

“Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.”

As I was reading this Psalm I was struck by how many times the word “sing” is used in verse 6.  The Psalmist does not use the word once or twice, but it is used four times in this verse!  The word sing is also used again in verse 7.

The word “Psalm” means hymn or song.  There are 150 Psalms that are found in this book of the bible.  You can have psalms of praise, psalms of thanksgiving, and psalms of desperate cries for God to help his people, just  to name a few.  Psalm 46 is a song of praise to God.

There are some days we don’t really feel like singing at all.  When there is hurt, sickness or pain in your life the last thing you want to do is sing.  I would rather complain or feel sorry for myself about everything that is going wrong. This verse tells us to “Sing praises to God.”   It does not say to sing if you are an accomplished musician.  It does not say to sing if you have had a good day and everything is going your way in your life.  The scripture just simply says “sing praises.”

Psalm 46:6 is also not specific as to where you are to “sing praises.”  We do not have to be sitting in church service at 9:30 or 11:15 on a Sunday morning to “sing praises.”  We can sing praises anytime and anywhere.  We can be in our car, taking the dog for a walk, running errands around town. “Sing praises.”

Why do we need to “sing praises?”  The Psalms goes on to say that God is the King of all the earth.  God reigns over the nations.  We need to praise God for who he is and what he has done for us whatever our current life situation might be.

“Sing praises!”