At the Feet of Jesus      John 11:55-12:8                  Pastor John Pennell                                        July 22, 2020
Jn 11:55-57: As the day of Passover drew near, people came from all over to purify themselves that they might worship at the temple in Jerusalem. They also came in anticipation of Jesus. Would He come to the feast or would He remain in seclusion? Only time would tell, but as far as the religious rulers were concerned, Jesus was at the top of their most wanted list. John tells it this way, “And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think — that He will not come to the feast?’ Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him” (55-57).

Jn 12:1-2: With the nearness of His sacrifice, “six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him” (1-2). Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem, was where Jesus lodged before His crucifixion. According to Mark, this anointing took place at the house of Simon the leper - Mk 14:3.

Jn 12:3: Attending the meal at Simon’s house was Jesus and His disciples, Lazarus, and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Once again, Martha is found serving and helping in the kitchen, while Mary is found at the feet of Jesus. “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (3). During the anointing, Mary took what the Bible describes as her glory, her long hair (1 Cor 11:15), and used it to wipe the feet of Jesus. By doing so, she transferred the fragrance that was upon Jesus to her own hair, hands, and body. Moreover, the fragrant oil that filled the house testified of Mary’s great love for Jesus.

2 Cor 2:15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Jn 12:4-6: In contrast to Mary’s beautiful worship, “one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (4-6). According to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Judas' complaint against Mary's beautiful act of worship initially drew agreement from the other disciples. Apparently, they felt that Judas was a wise financier. Why else would they have elected him as their treasurer? Little did they know that this thief would soon become their Master's betrayer.

Jn 12:7-8 In Jesus’ rebuke of Judas, we discover the true significance of His anointing. For Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (7-8).

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus called His anointing “a good work,” which could also mean well, beautiful, or noble. When Mary originally purchased this very costly oil of spikenard, she had no idea of how selflessly she would use her prize possession in service to God. Mary did this as an act of love and devotion to Jesus, while God used her selfless act to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. In other words, Mary's selfless act had a God-ordained-purpose.

I wonder how our acts of devotion are seen from the heavenly perspective. We will never know how God will take our prize possessions and use them for His glory, unless we are willing to lay them at the feet of Jesus, the One who died to save us from our sins.

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is encouraged.


At the Feet of Jesus     John 11:28-37                       Pastor John Pennell                                        July 14, 2020

28-32: After Jesus had told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (25), she confessed, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God” (27). After Martha’s confession, “she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you” (28). Jesus was not just any teacher, but one who had come from God. This is something that Nicodemus confessed to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God” (Jn 3:2).

After Mary heard her sister’s report, “as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, ‘She is going to the tomb to weep there.’ Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (29-32). This is the same thing that Martha had said to Jesus. The sisters’ faith was limited to their logic, but Jesus had something much great in mind.  (See Eph 3:20).

Thankfully, Mary responded to Jesus’ call. Sadly, many who are called never respond to Jesus. As Mary came to where Jesus was, those who mourned with her followed her there. What a beautiful picture of those who respond to Jesus’ call, as they will often bring others into the presence of Jesus. As was her custom, Mary fell down at the feet of Jesus, as seen in Luke 10:39, John 11:32, and 12:3. In the troubles of this life, we find comfort and peace at the feet of Jesus.

Mt 28:9-10/ 9 And as they [the women who went to the tomb] went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”    

33-37: In study the life and nature of Christ, called “Christology” by the theologians, we easily observe the duel natures of Jesus, who, being fully God, was also fully man. There may be no greater example of His humanity than His emotional interaction with Mary. For John writes, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’ And some of them said, ‘Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?’” (33-37).

Why did Jesus groan in the spirit and was troubled, and why did He weep? The author of Hebrews teaches, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Yes, Jesus greatly loved Lazarus, but perhaps He groaned, was troubled, and wept because of the great cost of sin in our lives. Paul wrote of the high cost of the Fall, when pointing to the cost of Adam’s sin, writing, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Moreover, in Isaiah’s great prophecy concerning the coming Messiah, he declared, “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Is 53:3). In Jesus’ interaction with Mary, His great love is seen by His ability to sympathize with our weaknesses.   

What difficulty, trouble, heartache, or sorrow can you lay at the feet of Jesus? One of my favorite passages of Scripture, says, “For ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet 5:5b-7). So, bring your difficulties, your troubles, your heartaches, and sorrows, and cast them at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you.  

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is encouraged.


Though I was Blind, Now I See     John 9:24-34                                                                   July 1, 2020

We learned in yesterday’s devotional that the religious rulers had threatened to banish anyone who professed Jesus as the Christ. With the threat of being banished, we find that the once blind man’s parents valued their social status in the community more than their relationship with God and their son.   

24: With the man’s parents deflecting the Pharisees’ question back to their son, the religious rulers “again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner’” (24). Though the religious rulers sat in the seat of Moses, they did not walk according to the law, as their hearts were far from the truth. Therefore, they responded to the man’s answer that Jesus was “a prophet” by accusing Jesus of being a sinner for breaking their Sabbath day traditions.   

25: Although the man did not have a lot of theology to back up his testimony, what he had, he willingly shared, testifying, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (25). The same is true for us today, though we may not have a lot of training, we each can share what Jesus has done for us. Like, the former slave trader, John Newton, who wrote in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.” What “one thing” do you know concerning the work of Jesus in your life? Share that “one thing” with others.

1 Jn 5:11-12/ 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

26-27: Although the religious rulers had no desire to follow Jesus, the new-found boldness of the former blind man was also clear. Therefore, they pressed him, asking, “‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’” (26-27). Oh, that they would have truly listened to his testimony, that they too may have found hope in Jesus Christ.   

28-29: Unable to refute his testimony, the religious rulers “reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from’” (28-29). To be accused of being a follower of Jesus Christ should be the hope of every believer. Although they claimed to be Moses’ disciples, they were so blind to the truth that they could not recognize that Moses prophesied concerning Jesus.  

Jn 5:46-47/ 47 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

30-34: The once blind man, not understanding why the religious rulers could not recognize this work as coming from God, mockingly said, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (30-33). Understanding the uniqueness of his healing—being the only human since the creation who was born blind, but now could see—the man reasoned that if Jesus were not from God, He could do nothing. This was something that Jesus told to the religious rulers, saying, “the very works that I do — bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (Jn 5:36). Unable to refute the man’s testimony, “they answered and said to him, "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they cast him out” (34).

Unlike his parents, the formerly blind man understood that his relationship with Jesus was more important than his social status. For he knew, that though he was once blind, he could now see!

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is OK.


I AM     John 8:51-59                                         Pastor John Pennell                                        June 25, 2020

52-53: As Jesus contended with the Pharisees, they had accused Him of being a false witness (8:13), being suicidal (8:22), being born of fornication (8:41), being a Samaritan and having a demon (8:48). Even after all these accusations, Jesus extended them an offer of eternal life, saying, “If anyone keeps my word he shall never see death” (8:51). In response “the Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, “If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.” Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?’” (52-53).  

First, as God’s only begotten Son and Israel’s Messiah, Jesus is greater than Abraham and the prophets who came before Him. Second, is Abraham Dead? Jesus asserted in Matthew 22:31-32, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’” 
54-56: Although the unbelieving Jews assumed that God was their father, God brought honor to Jesus, who would soon glorify Him through His work on the cross. Therefore “Jesus answered, ‘If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.  Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, “I do not know Him,” I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad’” (54-56).  

Abraham seeing Jesus’ day can be taken in two ways.  First, through the promised seed, Isaac. God had told Abraham “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen 22:18). Thus, at the birth of his son, Isaac, Abraham rejoiced to see the coming day of the promised Messiah. Second, through Christophanies. A Christophany is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus. According to the Word of God there were at least three of these events. In the account of Abraham and Melchizedek, the king and priest of Salem as found in Genesis 14:18-20, Abraham and the LORD who “appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre” as recorded in Genesis 18, and Abraham and the Angel of the LORD at Mount Moriah as documented in Genesis 22:11 & 15.   
57-59: The Jews responded to Abraham seeing Jesus’ day, saying, “‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most 

assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (57-59). At this time, Jesus was around thirty-three years of age, but according to Micah 5:2, Jesus was much older than thirty-three or fifty, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” “Before Abraham was, ‘I AM,’” or ego emi in the Greek.  This “I AM” statement reminds us of the name that God gave to Moses when he asked God, “And they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Ex 3:14). In this I AM statement, Jesus equated Himself to God, as seen by the Jews’ attempt to stone Him.   

Jn 19:7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God."  

Thankfully, true children of God recognize Jesus as the great I AM! 

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is OK. 


Free Indeed     John 8:31-40                            Pastor John Pennell                                        June 24, 2020

A relativist believes that there is no absolute truth, but merely “the truths that a particular individual or culture happen to believe.”[1] According to the Word of God, no matter the culture to which someone might belong, those who are willing to hear and believe in Jesus discover that He is the truth.

31-32: Even though the religious rulers tried to trap Jesus, many “believed in Him” (30). Thus, “Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (31-32). Christians who abide in Jesus’ word are His disciples. It is as we abide in Jesus, we come to know the truth, and the truth makes us free.   

Rom 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

33-36: As physical descendants of Abraham, the Jews thought that they knew the truth. Thus, “they answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, “You will be made free”?’” (33). Sadly, their knowledge was merely a head-knowledge without any heart-knowledge. Therefore, “Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed’” (34-36).

At this time, Israel’s bondage was two-fold: as a nation, although they retained their Jewish culture, they were in bondage to Rome; as individuals, they were in bondage to sin. As slaves, they did not know the true freedom that comes through Jesus. In a similar way, Americans have freedoms that many in our world do not know. Yet our freedoms have given us a sense of entitlement and caused us to overlook our bondage to sin. Moreover, our nation’s Christian heritage has cause many to believe that they are saved, when they are truly not, because they have never personally cried out to Jesus in life saving faith.

37-38: Jesus acknowledged their heritage, saying, “I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father” (37-38). Sadly, their heritage did not cause them to be true children of Abraham. For the Bible teaches that Abraham had two sons, but only one was free and heir of his father’s house. Jesus and the unbelieving Jews were children of two different fathers—the Father of Jesus is God, while the father of unbelievers, whether Jewish or not, is Satan. 

Rom 9:6b-8/ 6b For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."  8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

39-40: John the Baptist warned the fruitless unbelieving Jews to not claim Abraham as their father. Yet this is exactly what they did, saying, “‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham’” (39). If they were Abraham’s true children, they would bear fruits of repentance. Therefore, Jesus condemned them saying, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this” (40).

Likewise, just because we have been born in or have come to America, it does not make us Christians. True faith only comes to each individual when they confess their sins and believe in Jesus as the Savior and Lord of their life. Those who believe and abide in Jesus, find true freedom, indeed.   

     [1], Relativism, accessed October 25, 2019,

 ©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is OK.


Search and Look     John 7:40-53                        Pastor John Pennell                              June 16, 2020

40-43: Previously, the Pharisees and the chief priests had dispatched soldiers to arrest Jesus. Yet, Jesus continued to teach, even though the people’s opinion of Him varied greatly. As some said, “‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?’ So there was a division among the people because of Him” (40-43).

The title, “the Prophet,” refers to Moses’ prophecy concerning the coming Messiah. For Moses told Israel, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear” (Deut 18:15). Calling Jesus “the Christ” spoke of their Messianic hope concerning the Messiah’s coming. They believed that Jesus had been born in Nazareth. Yet Jesus fulfilled this Messianic prophecy concerning the Christ being of the seed of David, from the town of Bethlehem.

44-46: John continues, “Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!’” (44-46). The officers who had been dispatched to arrest Jesus, had been arrested by the Words of Jesus. 

Mt 7:28-29/ 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

They were astonished at His teaching because Jesus did not teach as the scribes. The scribes quoted other rabbis, saying things like Rabbi Hallel, says, “this” or Rabbi Gamaliel, says, “that.” Yet Jesus did not quote others but taught the people with authority, the very Words of God. 

47-49: Seeing that the soldiers were drawn to Jesus, “the Pharisees answered them, ‘Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed’” (47-49). The religious rulers reprimanded the officers for being deceived, like the common people who had not studied the law of God. In other words, they were saying, “We know better.” Jesus would later say of these same rulers, “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Mt 15:14).

50-53: Thankfully, not all religious rulers were blinded to the truth concerning Jesus. For “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’ They answered and said to him, ‘Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.’ And everyone went to his own house” (50-53).

Nicodemus challenged their assumptions concerning Jesus. More importantly, Nicodemus was challenged to “search and look” whether a prophet had arisen out of Galilee. Actually, according to 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah was from Gath Hepher, a town that was about five miles from Nazareth. So, the answer is “Yes!” What is fascinating about their challenge to “search and look,” is that Nicodemus came searching in John 3, when He came to Jesus by night. Now he is questioning their unfair bias against Jesus. Did Nicodemus take their advice to “search and look?” No doubt he did, for the next time we read about Nicodemus, he is alongside Joseph of Arimathea helping to bury the body of Jesus (Jn 19:38-40). 

Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (Jn 5:39). Have you “searched and looked” into the truth concerning Jesus?  

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is OK.


God So Loved     John 3:16                           Pastor John Pennell                                               May 8, 2020 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   

For God so loved the world: God’s great love for the world was demonstrated by His gift of Jesus. In the New Testament, when the Greek word, phileo, is used, it speaks of brotherly love. Phileo is more of a give-and-take love. When agape is used, it refers to a giving love that never expects anything in return. God displayed His agape toward us by sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins.  
In his epistle, John describes what true agape is all about, writing, “Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 

1 Jn 4:9-10/ 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

The Greek word for propitiation is hilasmos which means covering or appeasement. Like mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, Jesus is our covering of mercy, who stands between us and our holy God. 
He gave His only begotten Son: The gift of salvation has been given through Jesus' coming as a babe in a manger, the little Lamb of God who was born in Bethlehem, who grew to become “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). Yet with every gift there must be a recipient or recipients. Only those who believe in Jesus and His work upon the cross can receive this gift of God’s great love.   

Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  

That whoever believes in Him: As our culture continues to drift further away from the truth of God's Word; as we continue to get bombarded with evolutionary thinking, from grade school to high school, from colleges to universities, and from all the various forms of media today; we find that belief in God is declining at an unprecedented rate among our people.   

Many years ago, I told a friend, "If our reward for following Jesus is limited to our lives upon this earth it will be worth it." While I was trying to convey the blessed life that God had given me, it was an erroneous statement, for the Gospel of Christ not only speaks about God’s great love for us now, but our heavenly, future reward.       

1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.  
Should not perish but have everlasting life: By believing in Jesus, we will not perish in everlasting destruction, “but have everlasting life.” Notice that God's Word did not say, "we will have," but that "we have everlasting life." The work of Jesus Christ upon the cross a finished work.  
Henry Morris: “This verse, of course, is the most magnificent of all gospel verses; many would call it the greatest verse in the Bible. It assures us that, if we simply put our trust in our great Creator who has become man in order to die for our sins, and then to defeat death and become our Savior, our sins will be forgiven, and we shall live forever with Him.”  

When I was in my early twenties, my soul was in a state of restlessness because I was not sure if I was saved. This struggle lasted for almost two years. Then, one Sunday morning, Jesus spoke to my heart, asking, “Have you not done what I’ve asked you to do?” I responded by quoting John 3:16, then said, “I believe!” Afterward, I heard Jesus say, “Ok then.” This may sound simplistic to you, but on that day, I found rest for my soul. Thank you, Jesus!   

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Social Media is OK. 


Nic at Night     John 3:1-8              Pastor John Pennell                                                              May 6, 2020 
Chapter two closed with John twice telling his readers that Jesus knows the heart of man. In chapter three, Jesus reveals His knowledge of a man named Nicodemus—the original Nic @ Night.   

1: Nicodemus was a teacher, a ruler of the Jews, and sat on the Sanhedrin Court (Jn 7:45-52), which consisted of the high priest and 70 men, who felt that they were “the guardians of his holy temple.” By Jesus cleansing the temple, crying, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" (Jn 2:16), He contested their authority. Three years later, this same court would condemn Jesus to be crucified. However, the heart of Nicodemus was soft toward God.    

2: With Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night, it shows that he was not ready to openly follow Jesus.  However, there were some very positive steps in his progression of faith. When he came to Jesus, he acknowledged, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (2). First, he called Jesus, “Rabbi,” meaning, “my master,” used of Jewish teachers and scholars. Second, he called him, “Teacher,” realizing that He had come from God. Finally, he recognized that Jesus’ “signs” or miracles meant that God was with Him.   

Jn 5:36 But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish — the very works that I do — bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.     

3-4: Jesus introduces the necessity of two births, saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (3). Becoming born again was something that Nicodemus could not comprehend, for the Jew’s taught that they entered the kingdom of God by keeping the Mosaic Law. Therefore, Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” (4). Jesus taught that salvation comes through a new birth and not through a merit system based on our heritage or the good works that we might do.   

Jn 1:12-13/ 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood [inheritance], nor of the will of the flesh [personal effort], nor of the will of man [social collaboration], but of God.  

5-6: Jesus responded, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (5-6). Just as our physical birth, being born of water, was not of our own doing; so too, is our spiritual birth, being born of the Spirit, beyond our own doing—it is a gift from God. It is only through faith in Jesus does our spirit find its rightful position, thus bringing our “whole spirit, soul and body” (1 Thess 5:23), in fellowship with the Tri-unity of the Godhead.    

Jn 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. 

7-8: As Jesus continued, saying, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (7). The Greek word translated as “again” means from above, on high, or anew. This new birth comes to us by means of the Spirit of God. For Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (8). Being born again speaks about our resurrection to new life through faith in Jesus Christ! 

Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.     

It has been said, “If you are born once, you will die twice. If you are born twice, you will die once.” 

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Social Media is OK. 


The Lamb of God     John 1:29-34              Pastor John Pennell                                                    April 28, 2020

29: Of the one hundred and two times that “lamb” appears in the singular form in the Bible, seventy are found in the Old Testament. In its first use, it appears twice in connection to Abraham's willingness to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God (Ge 22:7-8). This offering Has great Messianic overtones. In Exodus 12:3-21,“lamb” is found six times and “lambs” once, in connection to Israel’s first Passover observance. The Passover lamb has significant connections to Jesus as the Lamb of God. From Exodus 13:13 to Numbers 28:14, “lamb” is mentioned another forty-six times in connection to the various sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. In 1 Samuel 7:9, Samuel “took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD.” God responded by giving Israel a great victory over their longtime adversaries—the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 17:34-35, David speaks of a lamb twice, when recounting to King Saul his deliverance of a lamb from a Lion’s mouth. In 2 Samuel 12:3-6, Nathan used “lamb” three times when telling of a rich man who refused to take of his own flock to feed a traveler, but instead, took a poor man's single lamb, whom he loved and cherished as a daughter. Nathan’s illustration mirrored David’s many wives and his taking of Uriah’s wife—Bathsheba.

The word “lamb” is found ten more times in the Old Testament. Only three are connected to Christ. Two refer to Jesus' Messianic Kingdom, where in Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Cf. Is 65:25). The third, and perhaps the most famous Messianic prophecy, foretells of Jesus’ sacrifice, declaring, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Is 53:7). Finally, of the thirty-two times that “lamb” appears in the New Testament, thirty refer to Jesus.

Under the Mosaic Law, each time a person, people group, or nation sinned against the LORD—whether intentionally or unintentionally—the worshipper(s) had to bring an appropriate offering to the LORD. Often, this would be a lamb. Today, God offers forgiveness through His only begotten Son, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

30-31: Initially, John the Baptist did not know who the Messiah was. This takes away the possibility that John and Jesus cooked up this whole thing to promote Jesus as the Messiah. As God’s chosen people, it was necessary for the Messiah to be revealed to them first. Therefore, John “came baptizing with water” (31), in order to prepare people’s hearts for the Messiah’s coming.     

32-34: The Apostle John referenced Jesus’ Baptism in verses 32-33. This is where the Holy Spirit revealed to John the Baptist that he could identify the Messiah by “the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him” (32). Upon witnessing this, John declared, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (34).

Being without sin, Jesus did not have to be baptized. Although separate from sinners, Jesus was baptized by a sinner, as if He were a sinner, that He might identify with those for whom He would die.

The four Gospels tell that Jesus was praying to His Father while He was baptized. When He came up out of the water, God the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended and remained upon Jesus. It was at this same time, that God the Father, said, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17).

What a beautiful picture of the tri-unity of the Godhead! As the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are seen together at the baptism of Jesus. In a similar way, our triune God is involved when believers are baptized.

Heb 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission. Sharing on Social Media is OK.


The Word, the Life, and the Light     John 1:1-5              Pastor John Pennell                           April 21, 2020 

In the first eighteen verses of John’s Gospel, we learn that Jesus is the Word and the Light, that life came through Him and “the life was the light of men” (4).   

Polycarp (ca. A.D. 69 - ca. A.D. 155) spoke of his contact with John.  Irenaeus (ca. 130 - ca. 200) … heard Polycarp and testified that “John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, had himself published a Gospel during his residence in Ephesus in Asia.”  Polycrates, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and other later fathers support this tradition. Eusebius was specific that Matthew and John of the apostles wrote the two Gospels which bear their specific names.1  

Tradition teaches that John wrote his Gospel after his exile on Patmos, in the city of Ephesus, between A.D. 85-A.D. 95, where John ministered until his death (ca. A.D. 98).      

John is known as the disciple of love, and for good reason, when compared to the other Gospels: Matthew used the word “love” eleven times, Mark used it five times, Luke, twelve times, and John, twenty-six times.   

1: “In the beginning was the Word.”  The Greek word for “beginning” refers to that by which everything exists.  Moreover, this “Word” that John writes of was in the beginning, “was with God” and “was God,” comes from the Greek word, “logos,” which in the contact of the passage refers to Jesus Christ. “If this verse is correctly understood, it helps clarify the doctrine of the Trinity.  The Word is eternal; the Word is in relationship to God (the Father); and the Word is God.”2  

2-3: “The Word” was not only with God in the beginning (2), but “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (3).  

Col 1:16-17/ 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 

4: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”  The Bible teaches that God breathed into man “the breath of life and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7).   In the beginning, life consisted in a trichotomy of spirit, soul, and body.  Yet, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their trichotomy reversed to body, soul, and spirit.  In God’s great grace and mercy, He killed an animal to make clothing to cover their bodies.  Thus, blood was shed to cover their sin.  Today, God only offers eternal life to those who overcome by coming under the covering of the blood of the Lamb—Jesus Christ.  For He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Rev 13:8).   
5: “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  Just as the sun can hurt our eyes as we come out of a darken room, the Light of Jesus is often repulsed by those who have darken their eyes with the things of this world.   

Just think about it, the Son of God, who participated with His Father in the creation of the heavens and the earth, came as a Man that He might minister among the sons of men, being Himself, the Word, the Life, and the Light of men.  For those who come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are not only covered by His blood, our spirits are made alive that we might worship Jesus through our spirits, souls, and bodies.   

1 Thess 5:23-24/ 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.  

1 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament. Cook Communications Ministries, 1983, 2000. 
 2 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament. 

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Facebook is OK.    


Forsaken     Mark 15:23-47                                                           Pastor John Pennell               April 10, 2020

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" NKJV

On Wednesday, we closed with Jesus being led out to be crucified.  It appeared that Jesus’ severe scourging left Him unable to bear the weight of the cross, yet Jesus had a much greater weight upon Him than a wooden beam; for our Savior bore the sins and iniquities of us all.  Jesus was brought to Golgotha, the place of the skull, which Luke called, “Calvary.”  I believe that this was where God had spared Abraham from offering his only son Isaac, by providing a ram in his place.  On that day, Abraham called God, Jehovah-Jireh— “The-LORD-Will-Provide” (Gen 22:7-8,14).  Golgotha was the place where God “provide[d] for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8); His only begotten Son, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). 

23: The offer of sour wine mingled with myrrh was meant to have been an anesthetic to help numb the excruciating pain of crucifixion.  However, Jesus refused to numb the pain associated with His death because He was willing to drink the cup of God’s indignation and wrath to its last drop for you and me. 

24: It was customary for Roman soldiers to divide the clothing of the condemned.  As they cast lots for Jesus’ clothing, they fulfilled a prophecy written by David about one thousand years earlier— “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Ps 22:18).

25-28: After being stripped, they laid Jesus upon the cross and drove nails through His hands and feet.  The elevating of the cross would have caused Jesus excruciating pain, and He was to suffer and hang there until His life drained from His body.  They placed an accusation above Him which said, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Mark tells us that the two thieves who hung on either side of Jesus was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12 which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”  Jesus, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners” (Heb 7:26), would suffer and die as a criminal, among thieves.

29-32: In mockery, the chief priests admitted, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (31-32).  Jesus could have come off that cross to save Himself that day, but in doing so He would not have been able to save the millions, if not billions, who from that day forward have called upon His name in life-saving faith. 

33: We cannot be sure what caused the darkness to come over the whole land for three hours during Jesus’ crucifixion, but we can be sure who caused it—God.  I wonder if God provided the darkness in fulfillment of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, dying at twilight.  His death would have coincided with the evening offering and the twilight killing of the Passover lambs.  See Exodus 12:6

34-36: When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (34), it was an experience that He had never known before.  If we were forsaken by God, we would know the reason why.  Our “iniquities have separated [us from God, and our] sins have hidden His face from [us] (Is 59:2).  However, Jesus was without sin; yet He was forsaken in order that we might be saved.  Although they misunderstood Jesus’ cry, thinking that He was calling for Elijah, the offer of sour wine fulfilled two prophecies from Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21 concerning Jesus’ death.

37-39: At the same moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple, which divided the holy place from the holy of holies, “was torn in two from top to bottom” (38).  This signified that the old system of repeated sacrifices had come to an end; our sins had been paid “once and for all” by the blood of the Lamb (Heb 9:11-14).  Afterward, the centurion confessed, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (39).  It is a confession that we each must make in order to rightly apply the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to our lives. 

40-47: There were many women who had followed Jesus near the cross when He died.  Some of these women followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and watched them as they prepared His body for burial.  At His birth, Jesus had been wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; at His death, He was wrapped in fine linen and laid in a tomb.  Jesus’ death and burial made Him appear forsaken by His Father, but there was a purpose—to bring us into an everlasting relationship with the Godhead.  

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Facebook is OK.     


What Have You Done with Jesus?     Mark 15:1-22                          Pastor John Pennell           April 8, 2020

Mark 15:12 Pilate answered and said to them again, "What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?" NKJV

1: When morning had come, the chief priests brought the whole counsel of the Jews together.  After they had taken counsel, they voted “to put Jesus to death” (Mt 27:1) and delivered Him to Pilate.  Pilate, the governor of Judah from AD 26 to 36, was in Jerusalem to help keep order during the Passover and to prevent a revolt.  Nevertheless, it was God who had supernaturally arranged all the pieces of the puzzle to come together at this one moment in history, to accomplish His divine purpose for our salvation. 

2-15: The religious rulers had charged Jesus with treason and condemned Him as a rebel who incited the people against Caesar.  Already in trouble with Caesar because of the Jews, Pilate was willing to appease the Jews concerning Jesus.  Pilate asked Jesus, “‘Are You the king of the Jews?’  He answered and said to him, ‘It is as you say’” (2).  Pilate marveled at Him, knowing that “the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because of envy” (10).  Therefore, Pilate attempted to free Jesus through his custom of releasing one prisoner during Passover.  I believe that Pilate placed the most notorious prisoner next to Jesus, an insurrectionist and murderer named Barabbas.  To his surprise, the people cried for Barabbas and when he asked what he should do with Jesus, the King of the Jews, they shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Wanting to appease the people, Pilate knowingly delivered an innocent Man to be scourged and crucified.          

16-20: The scourging was a severe punishment that many times caused the prisoners to faint or die.  It was sometimes used to try to bring confession from the prisoner, but since Jesus had nothing to confess, He remained silent in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7.  Although Jesus’ scourging was horrific and hard to think about, what is even harder for us to comprehend is that it is through His stripes that we are healed.  The stripes, which were supposed to bring reproach, brings healing to those who put their faith in Jesus.

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.

21: As they led Jesus out of the city to be crucified, the soldiers compelled Simon, a Cyrenian, to bear His cross.  Only Mark tells us that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.  Did this family become believers as a result of Simon’s encounter with Jesus?  It appears that Jesus’ severe scourging had left Him unable to bear the weight of the cross but let me suggest to you that Jesus had a much greater weight upon Him than a wooden beam; for our Savior bore the sins and iniquities of us all.  Is 53:6, 11 & 12

22: Golgotha was a place located outside the city of Jerusalem, but close enough to allow the people in the city to look upon and gape at Jesus while he died upon the cross.  Golgotha is a Greek translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic words which mean skull.  Luke called the name of this place by its Greek name, Calvary.  I believe that this was the same place where God had spared Abraham from offering his only son Isaac, by providing a ram in his place.  Abraham called that place, Jehovah-Jireh— “The-LORD-Will-Provide” (Gen 22:7-8,14).  Golgotha was the place where God “provide[d] for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8); His only begotten Son, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). 

Pilate’s question to the multitude is something we must each consider.  What have you done with Jesus who is called the King of the Jews?  We must each personally decide if He is the Savior of the world, as He claimed and as Scripture proclaims.  No one can make this decision for you.

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Facebook is OK.


Teach Us to Pray          Luke 11:1-4                            Pastor John Pennell                        April 1, 2020

We all know that the discipline of prayer is important, but sadly, it is one of the most neglected privileges that we have.  Just think about it, the Creator of the universe and all that is in it, has given us open access to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ!  Prayer is such an important topic in the Bible that it is mentioned 379 times in its various forms, with 159 of those coming from the New Testament.  Prayer was important to the disciples as well, so important, that they asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray.”    

Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” NKJV

It is not that Jesus' disciples did not pray, but they, like many of us, desired to go deeper.  According to John's gospel, at least two of Jesus' disciples followed John the Baptist, but it was obvious that Jesus' prayer life was much different than John's.  When Jesus prayed, it was if He was speaking to His Father, and He was!  If Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate, often prayed to His Father, how much more, should we daily seek our Father's face? 

Jesus laid out a simple, but profound prayer, known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Instead of praying through it quickly, as we are often guilty of doing, let’s take a slower look at this prayer. 

  • Our prayers should begin in worship. 

2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Our prayers are to be directed upward, toward God—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—in reverence towards Him and His kingdom, both in heaven and on the earth. 

  • Our prayers should be daily.  

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.

Just as we need to daily take in food and water to sustain our physical health, we also need to have daily interaction with God to sustain our spiritual health. 

  • Our prayers should seek God’s forgiveness and cause us to forgive others.

4a And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Forgiving others was so important, it is the only part of the prayer that Jesus made commentary about, saying, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). 

  • Our prayers should seek God's protection. 

4b And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

We should daily seek God's protection from all the various temptations in our lives.  This includes the evil one, Satan, as it is his desire to keep us from Jesus, in order that he might rule over and destroy our lives.

  • Our prayers should end in praise. 

Mt 6:13b For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  

Remember, we are to direct our prayers to the One who not only hears our petitions but is able to answer our pleas, our Lord and Savior—Jesus Christ.

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Facebook is OK.


If My People     2 Chronicles 7:14                      Pastor John Pennell                          March 27, 2020 

2 Chronicles 7:14 “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.” NKJV 

The back story to this famous verse came as a result of the temple’s dedication.  In chapter five, "the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud," (5:13) ... "for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God" (5:14).  Then, as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifice; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple" (7:1).  The fire from heaven speaks about God’s acceptance of Solomon’s sacrifice.  Today, God has “made us accepted in the Beloved” –Jesus (Eph 1:6).  

“When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces… and worshipped and praised the LORD, saying, ‘For He is good, for his mercy endures forever’” (7:3). Thankfully, His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50).  

Afterward, Solomon and the children of Israel, offered thousands of sacrifices to God.  The sacrifices were so abundant, the Temple’s courtyard was consecrated to handle all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.  Moreover, the voice of David, though no longer alive, continued to be heard through the ministry of the Levitical musicians and singers, "which King David had made to praise the Lord, saying, 'For His mercy endures forever,' whenever David offered praise by their ministry" (7:6).   

The temple dedication lasted for fifteen days, during which they celebrated the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.  Finally, Solomon sent his people to their homes "joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that the LORD had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel" (7:10).   
That night, the LORD appeared a second time to Solomon and promised to hear, forgive and heal their people and land, if they would humble themselves, pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways.  Also, God’s eyes and ears would be opened and attentive to the prayers made toward the temple, the perpetual abode of His heart.  Finally, He told Solomon to remain faithful.  Sadly, Solomon and his nation did not remain loyal to God and were eventually uprooted from the land and the temple destroyed.   

Since 9/11 I have often heard verse fourteen quoted, but healing has not come for our nation because we have not yet done what God has required.  It is my prayer, at a time when Covid-19 has nearly shut down our nation, and the world, that we would be a generation who would humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face, and continually turn from our wicked ways.  If we would do so, God has promised to hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. 

Lord Jesus, give us hearts of humility, that we might seek Your face and see Your glory.  Also, help us to turn from our sins, that we would find forgiveness and our land would be healed.  Amen.   

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.  Sharing on Facebook is OK. 


My Joy     John 15:11                                     Pastor John Pennell                                 March 25, 2020

Over the last two days, we have been looking at three promises which were based from Jesus using the personal pronoun, “My”, which He used as He made His way from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples.  On Monday, we looked at Jesus’ promise of, “My peace.”  On Tuesday, we studied Jesus’ use of the phrase, “My love.”  Today, we will look at Jesus’ promise, saying, “My joy.” 

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. NKJV

Joy in this life will come and go.  We can be joyful one second and sorrowful the next.  Yet, Jesus promised His followers a joy that is both full and not of this world.      

In the following chapter, Jesus came back to the subject of His joy, saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (Jn 16:20-22).

Jesus gave a practical illustration of weeping and lamenting instantly turning into joy and rejoicing with childbirth.  For the women who have given birth and to all those who have helped, like doctors and nurses, or those who have emotionally helped, like a husband or other family members, there is a BIG difference in the mother, before and after her child is born.  Truly, her sorrow is turned into rejoicing for the joy of holding and nursing her newborn child. 

In less than 24 hours, the disciples would weep and lament over the death of their beloved teacher.  While their hearts were filled with sorrow, the unbelieving world rejoiced, but only for three days.  As Job’s friend, Zophar, reminds us, “the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?” (Job 20:5).  

Finally, Jesus connected full joy to our prayer life, saying, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn 16:23).

What has stood out to me in chapters 14-16, is that Jesus has told us to ask.  This has me pondering, “Am I guilty of not asking enough?”  James reminds us, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Jam 4:2b-3).  Why are we to ask?  That we might know full joy through the work of Jesus in our lives. 

Jn 17:13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

Such joy can only be found by looking past our circumstances and fixing our eyes upon Jesus. 

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.


My Love     John 15:9-10                            Pastor John Pennell                                March 24, 2020

We learned yesterday that after the Last Supper and before Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, He promised His disciples three things.  These three promises are based upon Jesus using the personal pronoun, “My”, declaring, “My peace,” “My love,” and “My joy.”  Today, we are going to look at His second promise of “My love.”  

John 15:9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.  NKJV

As the Father loved Jesus, as displayed by Jesus always keeping His Father’s commandments and always abiding in His Father’s love, Jesus also loves those who keep His commandments and abide in His love. 

1 Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

People often view God’s commandments as restrictive.  Yet, Jesus condensed the commandments into one statement, saying, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12).  Then, He added, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). 

Of the nine times that the word, love, appears in John 15, eight of these are the Greek word, agape.  Agape has been described as a giving love that expects nothing in return.  The ninth is the Greek word, phileo (v. 19), which speaks of a brotherly love.  Christians are to be known by their agape love and phileo love for the Godhead, and others.  Such love enables us to love one another.    

Jn 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

It is through loving one another as God and Jesus loves us, we will discover that our own hearts will be greatly refreshed by the love of Christ.     

Father, help us to abide in the love of Christ that we might love others.  May the agape love and phileo love of Christ invade our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen!

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.


My Peace                                         Pastor John Pennell                                     March 23, 2020

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  NKJV

After Jesus had His “Last Supper” with His disciples, before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, He promised them three things.  Today, I would like us to look at Jesus’ promise of peace.  

It has been said that we cannot know the peace of God apart from the grace of God.  Therefore, we find that the grace of God always precedes peace with God. 

Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is not just about finding peace with God—salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—but letting the peace of Jesus rule our hearts. 

Dr. M.G. Gutzke wrote:

True peace comes from yielding all to the will of God. Let him have his way, let him solve the problem, then the heart can be at peace. This is the peace Jesus had as he faced the agony of Calvary. It is peace grounded in the promise of the “joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). This is the peace offered to us. Christians do not need pleasures, affluence, influence, gratification or desires. Instead, they obtain peace through fellowship with God. Their peace is within, and the world cannot understand it, nor can it take that peace away.1  

Later that evening, Jesus added, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).   Though the followers of Jesus will find tribulation in this world, Jesus came that we might have peace, knowing that He has overcome the world through His work upon the cross. 

Finally, on the day that Jesus resurrected from the grave, after showing Himself to Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, and two on the road to Emmaus, He came to His disciples who were gathered behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.  As Jesus appeared in that room, He said, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:19).  Apparently, the disciples couldn’t immediately comprehend the presence of Jesus among them, “So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you!” (Jn 20:21).  Seeing Jesus die upon the cross caused the disciples to hide in fear.  They were anxious, and for good reason, but hearing Jesus twice say, “Peace to you,” helped to calm their fears.  It also reminded them of the words He spoke before He went to the cross, saying, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27).

May “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).  Amen!

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

(1) M.G. Gutzke, The Bible For You, Inc.


Guarded Hearts and Minds                           Pastor John Pennell                   March 20, 2020

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

As a result of the Coronavirus, we have seen unprecedented decisions that have resulted in drastic ups and downs in the financial market, the clearing of shelves in many of our stores, the suspension of all athletic competitions, the crippling of the travel and the entertainment industries, the closing of schools, colleges, and universities, and the request of our national and local governments to limit gatherings to 10 people or less.  Cities, counties, and states are even beginning to issue “shelter in place” orders.  For the first time in our nation’s history, in obedience to these government restrictions, most churches have closed their doors for worship services.  It seems that our whole nation, the whole world for that matter, is on edge. 

In Philippians 4, Paul teaches that we are to “be anxious for nothing.”  Clearly, Paul did not live in the age of Covid-19.  The Greek word translated as “anxious” means "to be anxious about, to have a distracting care.”1 How can believers, and even non-believers, deal with the current anxiousness of our society?  Paul teaches that “in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  Clearly, Paul understood that when we thankfully bring every prayer and supplication before the Lord, God’s peace will not only invade our lives, but become the guard over our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

Father, through faith in Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, help us to bring every fear and every anxiety before your throne—with thanksgiving.  That through the means of our prayers, the Spirit of Christ will become the guard of our hearts and minds in these distressing times.  Amen! 

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

(1) Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Thomas Nelson Publishers), 1985.


Broken Hearts and Contrite Spirits                          Pastor John Pennell                 March 19, 2020

Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. NKJV

The superscription of Psalm 34 tells that David wrote this psalm during the time that he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away.  David was a fugitive who had attempted to escape death from King Saul by fleeing to their dreaded enemy—the Philistines.  Furthermore, according to 1 Samuel 21, David most likely penned the words of this psalm while hiding in the cave of Adullam.  Truly, David understood what it meant to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.   

With the current disruption of our daily routines and everyone wondering what the outcome of these things will be, it is good to know that the Lord hears those who cry out to Him with broken hearts and contrite spirits.  God hears our cries and delivers us from our troubles, because His Son—Jesus Christ—is near those who have broken hearts and saves those who have contrite spirits.  According to Luke, the Holy Spirit not only anointed Jesus to preach the Gospel, but to heal the brokenhearted and set them free.   

Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." NKJV

May we cry out to Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits knowing that He hears, heals, and saves.  

©2020 John Michael Pennell – No distribution beyond personal use without permission.


No Condemnation                                 Pastor John Pennell                               June 3,2019

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

In Romans eight, Paul describes the Person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who trust in Jesus.  In verses one through twenty-seven, Paul refers to the Holy Spirit twenty times.  As to the characteristics of the Spirit: He is the Spirit of Life (2, 10), the Spirit of God (9, 11, 14), the Spirit of Christ (9), and the Spirit of adoption (15).  As to the ministry of the Spirit, Paul shares about: the Law of the Spirit (2), the things of the Spirit (5), the witness of the Spirit (16), the firstfruits of the Spirit (23), the intercession of the Spirit (26), and the mind of the Spirit (27).  In response to the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, believers are to: walk according to the Spirit (1, 4), live according to the Spirit (5, 13), be spiritually minded (6), and be led by the Spirit (14).  With all His great characteristics and all that He does; as believers, we must take courage in knowing that the Holy Spirit not only indwells us (9, 11), but also empowers us to gain victory over the struggles of our flesh. 

How wonderful to know that in Christ there is no condemnation. 

Jn 8:10-11/ 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more

Just as the One who was/is who was without sin—Jesus—chose to forgive the woman at the well, He now offers this same forgiveness to those who put their trust in Him.


Gabriel’s Testimony to Mary - Luke 1:31-35                         Pastor John Pennell                     Dec. 17, 2018

Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. NKJV

In Luke's gospel, Gabriel reveals to Mary some very unique things concerning Jesus.  In fact, Gabriel is the archangel who is always telling about Jesus.  In the Book of Daniel, he foretells events surrounding the First and Second Comings of Christ.  Moreover, in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, he announces the birth and personhood of Christ.  Additionally, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, found out that Gabriel is someone we should listen to.  For after he questioned whether Gabriel was telling the truth or not, Gabriel rebuked Zacharias, saying, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings" (Lk 1:19).  Then he caused Zacharias to be unable to speak until after his son, the forerunner of Christ, was born. 

31, 34-35: Words like the Incarnation or the Immaculate Conception may come to mind when we think about Jesus' birth.  Incarnation comes from a compound Latin word which means, in-flesh, and refers to the uniqueness of Jesus, who was both fully God and fully man.  Immaculate means to be perfectly clean, spotless or free from moral blemish.  Gabriel teaches us that Jesus was conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, so that He who was formed in Mary's womb was the direct and unique creation of God, One who was born without our inherent sin nature.                     

31b: And Shall call His name JESUS.  In Biblical times it was customary to name a child by something that represented them.  Isaac and Rebecca named their firstborn son, Esau, which means hairy, because of his hairy body and they named his brother Jacob or heal-catcher, because he was holding on to Esau’s heel when they were born.  Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name, Joshua, which means, “Jehovah is Salvation,” which was and is the precise mission of our Savior.  

Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

31-32, 35: Gabriel told Mary that she would bring forth a Son, whom he called the Son of the Highest and the Son of God.  There are some who believe that Jesus was placed in Mary's womb, making her the surrogate mother of Jesus, but I do not agree.  First, a surrogate mother is not usually considered the mother of the child because she allowed her womb to carry a child for another.  Yet the Bible clearly states, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son (Is 7:14).  Mary was more than just a surrogate mother, for God used her egg to make Jesus of the bloodline of the house of David.  For it was through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was born holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens (Heb 7:26).  Making Jesus both the Son of Mary and the Son of the Highest - the Son of God.   

32-33: Gabriel testified that Jesus would be great.  For truly Jesus is great in rank, position and dignity.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Phil 2:9).  Gabriel also teaches us that God will one day give Jesus "the throne of His father David."  Of this kingdom, Jesus said in John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."  Although Jesus is the true heir of the throne of David, He has not yet claimed that throne here on earth. 

How wonderful was the coming of our Savior the first time.  Conceived of a virgin, called the Son of Mary, the Son of the Highest and the Son of God.  How wonderful will be His coming the second time.  For He will receive from God, His Father, "the throne of His father David to reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end!"


Living A Holy Life     Leviticus 19                               Pastor John Pennell                           October 24, 2018

Leviticus 19:2 "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. NKJV

I cannot help to think that if everyone in Israel, our country, and the world would live by this chapter, the world would be a beautiful place.  I realize that we would still have an issue of our inherent sin nature that would need to be dealt with through the blood of Jesus but it’s ok to dream a little.  Isn’t it? 

1-2: God sets the standard by which we should live—holiness.  Why are we to live holy lives?  Because God is holy.  Peter reinforced the importance of living in holiness, writing, “But as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy as I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15-16).  

3-8: Moses rehearsed three of the Ten Commandments, numbers five, four, and two.  He also stressed the importance of the laws of peace offerings.  What made this offering unique was that the worshiper ate a portion of the sacrifice thus enjoying fellowship with God.  However, if a worshipper chose not to obey the laws of the peace offering, it would become an abomination and God would not accept it.     

9-10: These verses give us the standard for gleaning which was one method of caring for the poor.  By not taking a second pass through the fields at harvest time and by leaving the corners untouched, the poor could come after the harvesters to help provide food for their family.  Our country has a welfare system that has left many people dependent on the system, rather than working to help provide for their own families.  I believe that God’s way is better.   

11-18: To put it simply, “no cussing” and “no using God’s name in vain.”  Since there are no cuss words in the Hebrew language, they must borrow their cuss words from other languages.

19-22: From breeding animals, to sowing seed, or to sewing garments, Israelis were not to mix animals, seed, or material that were not of there kind. Neither were their men to have sexual relations with a concubine who belonged to another.  The price of this sin was scourging, and the male offender had to bring a trespass offering to the LORD that the priest might make atonement for him.    

23-25: When planting an orchard, the fruit was considered uncircumcised or uneatable for the first three years.  In the fourth year, the fruit was holy, a praise to the LORD.  Finally, in the fifth year, the owner of the orchard could freely eat and sale the fruit.  Israel’s obedience to the LORD by waiting showed their faith in God who promised to bless their orchards’ fruitfulness.      

26-28: No blood, no divination or soothsaying, no unorthodox beard shaving, no cutting of the flesh, or tattoos.  All these things were associated with the worship of idols in the countries that they were displacing.  The Israelis were to stand in opposition to the worship of the world by staying true to God.    
29-34: These verses list out several one liner’s regarding selling their daughters in prostitution, keeping the Sabbaths and revering the tabernacle, and not regarding mediums or spiritualist.  Moreover, they were to revere the elderly and love the strangers who lived among them. 

35-37:  Finally, their people were to have honest weights and measures.  They were to observe and perform all of God’s statues and judgments, because God is the LORD. 

This reminds us of the standard that all Christians should live by—love God and love others.  Jesus said, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Mt 22:37-40).


Sexual Purity     Leviticus 18:1-30                                 Pastor John Pennell                              October 9, 2018

Leviticus 18:5 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD. NKJV

1-5: As God prepares for the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land, He begins by teaching them His statues, ordinances, and judgments.  The Jews were not to live like the Egyptians from where they came, nor were they to walk in the ways of the Canaanites, where they were going.  They were not to allow the world to have the controlling influence over their lives, but God.  The children of Israel were to walk in, observe, keep, and live by God’s statues, ordinances, and judgements.  In other words, they were to be in the world, but not of the world.    

1 Jn 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

6-18: It is interesting that verse five, a standard for all the various areas of our lives, precedes a section of the Law that deals with sexual purity.  These verses lay out various possible adulteries or incestual relationships that the children of Israel were not to do; relationships that were culturally acceptable in the lands of Egypt and Canaan.  They were not to have sexual relations with their mother, step-mother, sister, granddaughter, half-sister, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, a woman and her daughter and/or granddaughter, and finally, two sisters.  Even though the culture in the United States largely agrees with the prohibitions against these various adulteries or incestual relationships, our culture is quickly slipping away from its Judeo-Christian morals upon which it was founded.          

19-30: God reveals a few more sexual prohibitions to keep Israel from being cast out of the Promised Land, just like the nations who were before them.  God specifically names prohibitions against having sexual relations with a woman during her monthly menstrual cycle, committing adultery with your neighbor’s wife, sacrificing their children to Molech, homosexuality, and bestiality.  They were not to do these things, lest they be “vomited out” of the land like the people before them.  God’s reason that they should keep themselves from committing these acts and defiling themselves, “I am the LORD your God” (30).  Thus, God calls them to keep His statues ordinances, and judgements.

Ps 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

Each prohibition would be ample enough to fuel one of our not-so-wonderful daytime talk T.V. shows.  Sadly, the nation that Israel came out of and the nation that they were going into to possess practiced these things, but what is even sadder is that many in our nation practice these very same things.   

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that sex is wrong, but it does tell us that one’s sexual relations are to be confined to the marriage bed—between one man and one woman.  Only in the confines of marriage can we be assured sexual freedom and purity. 

I have learned that if we go to our culture to learn about sexual issues, we often find that their information is distorted and far from what God intended.  However, if we stick to God’s Word and allow things to happen naturally by taking time to grow together as husband and wife, I have found that God has designed the marriage bed to be a lifetime of joy and fulfillment, while keeping us sexually pure.   

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.


At-One-Ment     Leviticus 16:1-34                                        Pastor John Pennell                 September 25, 2018

Leviticus 16:30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. NKJV

The Day of Atonement was held on the tenth day of the seventh month.  It was the only time of the year that the high priest could enter the Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were.  

1-19: In chapter ten, Nadab and Abihu died after offering profane fire before the LORD.  In chapter sixteen, God detailed the only legal way to enter the Holy of Holies.  The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was the only time of the year when the high priest could enter the Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were.  He could only enter with the blood of the atoning sin offerings; once with the blood of a bull that was offered for the high priest and his sons, and once with the blood of a goat which was offered for the people.  This might be better understood as an annual cleansing of the Tabernacle from all the sin and trespass offerings that had been offered there throughout the year.    
Lev 16:16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

20-34: Besides the rituals surrounding the high priest’s ceremonial washings and the changing of his garments—the linen garments that he wore while in the Holy of Holies and his priestly garments that he wore while ministering before the people—was the ritual of the scapegoat.  By the casting of lots one goat was offered as a sin offering for the people, while the other goat was presented alive before the LORD.  After offering the sins offerings and changing back into his priestly garments, the high priest laid his hand upon the live goat, confessing over it that the live goat might bear the sins of Israel.  Then the goat was set free in the wilderness to represent the sins of Israel being removed from their lands.      

The Day of Atonement was a shadow of the redemptive work of Jesus upon the cross. 

1. The high priest could only enter on the appointed day, in the appointed way, and with the blood of the appointed offerings.  Likewise, Jesus offered Himself once in accordance to His Father’s will.

Heb 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

2. The high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies by laying aside his priestly garments and putting on the common clothes of a priest.  Jesus laid aside His deity and came in the likeness of man.

Phil 2:5b Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

3.  The high priest had to enter the Holy of Holies alone.  Jesus did the work of redemption, alone. 

Jn 16:32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. Cf. Heb 9:6-15

4.  The scape goat bore the sins of the priest and people.  Jesus bore on Himself the sins of the world. 

Is 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

I titled this, “At-One-Ment”, because it is only by the work of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, that our sins are atoned for—through His death, burial, and glorious resurrection—to make us one with Him.   


In All Your Conduct     Leviticus 15:1-33                             Pastor John Pennell           September 18, 2018

Leviticus 15:31'Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. NKJV

1-12: The Mosaic Law taught that a man with a discharge was unclean and anything that he would touch, sit on, lay on, or spit on would also be unclean.  Although the individual who had the discharge remained unclean until healing came, those things or people that he touched were to be washed and would only remain unclean until the evening.  The only exception were earthen vessels which had to be destroyed, because its porous material could cause a transference of the disease to others.  The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed by the 2nd century B.C., used the word, “gonorrhea” at least nine times in this chapter to describe this discharge.  Therefore, it is possible that this law refers to sexually transmitted diseases.  However, any discharge would make an individual ceremonially unclean and unable to worship God at the Tabernacle. 

13-15: Once the individual was healed, he had to go through a ritual cleansing to become ceremonially clean before he was able to worship at the Tabernacle once again.  Once healed, he had to wait for a period of seven days, then on the seventh day, he had to wash under running water.  On the eight day, he presented two turtledoves or two young pigeons at the Tabernacle, where a priest would make atonement for him by offering one bird as a sin offering and the other bird for a burnt offering.  Remember, a burnt offering spoke about total consecration to the LORD.  

16-18: The Mosaic Law also dealt with a man’s emission of semen, however that might happen.  He was to wash and would remain unclean until evening.  If a husband and wife were sexually intimate, they were to wash and were considered unclean until evening.  One thing to note in these verses is that no offerings were required, thus the man and woman were merely ceremonially unclean until evening. 

Heb 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

19-24: The Mosaic Law also dealt with a woman’s menstrual cycle, where a woman is considered ceremonially unclean for 7 days, along with anything she came in contact with.  The only difference, the things or persons that she touched during this time, were only unclean until the evening.  If married, she was not to have sexual intercourse during this time or the couple would both become ceremonially unclean.  Once again, no sacrifices were required as these things were not recognized as sinful.      

25-27: If a woman had an abnormal bleeding, she would be considered unclean until the bleeding stopped, and the sacrifices were made as described in verses 28-30.  The woman who had the bleeding for twelve years and was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, would have been considered unclean for those twelve years.  What a great day it was when Jesus healed her and made her clean!      

31-33: The children of Israel were to separate themselves and were not come to the Tabernacle or Temple while in an unclean state, whether their uncleanness was caused by sin or not.  God was to be honored and they were to conduct themselves as His children in every area of their lives.  We too, as believers in Jesus Christ, would do well to conduct ourselves as the children of God.  

1 Peter 1:15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."   NKJV


Healing the Unhealable     Leviticus 14:1-57                            Pastor John Pennell         September 11, 2018

Leviticus 14:3 And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper.  NKJV

Although leprosy was incurable at that time, God left Himself room to work by healing the unhealable.  The ritual surrounding the cleansing of a leper was quite involved and took eight days. 

1-7: If person was healed of leprosy they had to be pronounced clean before they could return to community life.  This pronouncement began by a priest going out of the camp, to where the leper was.  If the leprosy was truly healed, the priest took two living and clean birds and killed one in an earthen vessel over running water.  He then took cedar wood, scarlet, hyssop, and the living bird and dipped them in the blood and water that came from the sacrificed bird.  The priest sprinkled the once leprous person seven times.  Finally, the priest would pronounce the leper clean and release the living bird.

Although this ritual sounds odd, it does have similarities found in the work of Christ.  Like the priest who met the leper outside the camp, Jesus left heaven and came to us in an earthen vessel of His body—being fully human, fully God.  The blood and running water relates to the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side (Jn 19:34-35).  The cedar wood speaks to us of the cross and may be a hint as to what type of wood was used.  The scarlet reminds us of the precious blood of Jesus (Ps. 22:6).  The hyssop represents faith (Ex 12:22), which is symbolic of our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus.  The number seven is the number of completion in the Bible and it is used 54 times in the Book of Revelation alone. 

Jn 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. 

8-20: Although pronounced clean, the healed leper had to wash, shave all his hair, and wash his clothes before returning to the camp.  Then, after remaining outside his tent/home for seven days, he washed and shaved again.  On the eighth day—eight is the number of new beginnings—an offering was required to restore him with God and his community—two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb of the first year, three-tenth of fine flour, and one log of oil.  A trespass offering was offered with a male lamb and some of its blood, along with some oil, was placed upon the person’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and his right big toe.  This same ritual was used for the priests (Lev 8:23).  The remaining oil was poured over the person’s head, which is reminiscent of the Holy Spirit upon a believer’s life (Jn 14:26).  Afterward, a sin offering of an ewe lamb was offered to make atonement for the cleansed person.  Then the other lamb was offered as a burnt offering before the LORD along with a grain offering.     

It is through faith in Jesus and the work that He did upon the cross, where His blood and water poured forth, that we are pronounced clean and have a new beginning filled with God’s Spirit. 

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

21-32: The offerings required on the eighth day for the poor, though less costly, were one male lamb for the trespass offering, two turtledoves or young pigeons for the sin and burnt offerings, and one-tenth of fine flour along with a log of oil.   

33-47: The laws of a leprous house (mold & mildew) involved a seven-day quarantine, attempted restoration (demolition & repair), but if the mold & mildew came back, the entire home was destroyed.

48-53: The ritual surrounding the proclaiming of a cleaned house was the same as found in verses 1-7.

54-57: A brief recap of the laws of leprosy is given “to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean” (57).        


“Unclean! Unclean!”     Leviticus 13:1-59                                       Pastor John Pennell          August 29, 2018

Leviticus 13:45 "Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. NKJV

William Thompson, a missionary in the late 1800’s, described his reaction when he first encountered the disease of leprosy: “As I was approaching Jerusalem, I was startled by the sudden apparition of a crowd of beggars, sans eyes, sans nose, sans hair, sans everything… They held up their handless arms, unearthly sounds gurgled through their throats without palates; in a word, I was horrified.” 

Today, leprosy is better known as Hansen ’s disease and it still proves to be a major threat, especially to people in third world countries.  Although a cure was developed in 1981, many of these countries still choose to use leper colonies to control the spread of this disease among their people.

1-46: There is a clear pattern that is repeated seven times in the identification of leprosy and isolation of those who are diagnosed with leprosy.  The priests were responsible for making the decision about whether a person was leprous.  The priests were not functioning as a doctor, but identifying and isolating a potential diseased person to keep the disease from spreading throughout the community.  In each case, a suspicious spot was examined by a priest, then the individual was placed in isolation for a period of seven days before being reexamined.  At this point, having reexamined the suspicious area, the priest may require an additional seven-day period of isolation or proclaim the person as clean or unclean.  Those who were pronounced clean could return to their homes after washing their clothes, but those who were pronounced unclean had to remain outside the community in permanent isolation or until the leprosy was healed.  Once pronounced unclean the person had to tear his clothes, leave his head bare, cover his beard and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” 

47-59: Similar rules applied to garments that had greenish or reddish areas appear on them, whether made of wool, linen, leather, or whatever the material.  Once again, the priest was called upon to examine, isolate for seven days, reexamine, and if isolated for another seven days the garment was washed.  After reexamination, if pronounced clean, the garment was washed a second time and returned to its owner.  If pronounced unclean, the garment was destroyed by fire.     

In Leviticus 13, we have the first mention of leprosy in the Bible and it has become a picture of sin because our sin makes us unclean and separates us from God. 

  • Leprosy brought separation, as does our sin.

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

  • Leprosy brings you to the point of having no feeling, as does our sin.

1 Tim 4:2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

  • Leprosy is a living death, as are we without Jesus. 

Eph 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2a in which you once walked according to the course of this world.

Thankfully, we have a cure and His name is Jesus!  Without Him we would have to cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” when we stand before the Lord.  We will look at this again in the next chapter.    


Holy to The LORD      Leviticus 11:1-47                                          Pastor John Pennell         August 21, 2018

Leviticus 11:45 For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. NKJV

Chapter eleven gives some of the dietary laws—things that Israel could and could not eat—which God placed upon Abraham’s descendants to separate them from the other nations of the world.  God desired Israel to be holy in order that they might reflect His holiness before all the nations of the earth.

1-8: The animals that Israelis can eat are listed in verses 1-3; the ones that they are not allowed to eat are listed in verses 4-8.  “The word ‘kosher’ is Hebrew for ‘fit’ or ‘appropriate’ and describes the food that is suitable for a Jew to eat… only certain kinds of animals are considered inherently kosher. For land animals, any creature that both chews its cud and has split hooves is kosher.”[1]

9-12: The fish and creatures of the seas and rivers that Israelis can eat are in verse 9, “For sea creatures, any fish that has both fins and scales is acceptable.”[2]  Those that they are not allowed to eat are listed in verses 1-12, basically those that do not have fins and scales.     

13-19: Instead of listing the birds that Abraham’s descendants could eat, Moses lists those that were deemed an abomination.  “For birds, only those birds approved by the Torah (or others that later authorities have judged to be like them, a list that excludes scavengers and birds of prey).”[3]

20-23: You will notice that the animals, whether land animals, birds or fish that were mostly carnivorous are deemed unclean.  Since touching the dead would make a Jew ceremonially unclean, it stands to reason that eating an animal that mainly exists upon these carcasses would also make them unclean.  On the other hand, you might be pleased to know that it is ok to eat locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets.

24-47: The remainder of the chapter gives greater detail concerning the laws surrounding unclean animals.  On the other hand, the Church is not under these dietary restrictions.  Jesus taught that it was not what we eat that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our hearts (Mk 7:1-23).  Peter was told to “rise, kill and eat” in the vision of the great sheet that was filled with both clean and unclean animals, understanding that God “shows no partiality” between the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 10).  The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, which dealt with the Gentiles coming to faith, states that none of these dietary restrictions were placed upon the believing Gentiles.  Paul dealt with the issue of eating clean or unclean animals in Romans 14 saying, “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (14). 

It is not about the foods that we eat or do not eat, but that God desires us to be holy, because He is holy.  As believers, we must separate ourselves from things that would defile us and destroy our witness.  This is why Lily and I have limited the types of T.V. shows and movies that we watch.  We are also careful about the language we use, the books that we read, and the places we go.  There are many other things that we stay away from because we always try to view things through the lens of Scripture.  This is called having a Biblical World View.  We do this because we have been redeemed back to the Father by the precious blood of His Son, Jesus, and because He has called us to holiness.    

1 Peter 1:14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."  

[1] MJL Staff, Kosher Food: What Makes Food Kosher or Not, accessed February 24, 2018,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.


Consecrated to Serve     Leviticus 8:1-36                                     Pastoer John Pennell         August 7, 2018

Leviticus 8:22 And he brought the second ram, the ram of consecration. Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, 23 and Moses killed it. Also he took some of its blood and put it on the tip of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. NKJV

Here we have the recording of Aaron and his sons being consecrated to serve the LORD as priests and high priest.  The Hebrew word translated as consecration literally means a setting of a stone and it is applied here to refer to their being ordained into the priesthood—which was for life. 

1-4: The LORD commanded Moses to take Aaron and his four sons, along with their priestly garments, the anointing oil, a bull, two rams, and unleavened bread, and to gather all the congregation of Israel at the door of the Tabernacle for the consecrating of Aaron and his sons as priest.   

5-13: After Aaron and his sons were washed, Moses clothed Aaron in his high priestly garments.  Then Moses anointed the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and utensils, before anointing Aaron as the high priest.  Afterward, he clothed Aaron’s sons in their priestly garments that they might serve alongside their dad.

14-30: Moses next offered the three animals as offerings to the LORD.  The bull was for a sin offering for Aaron and his sons – 14-17.  One ram was offered as a burnt offering – 18-21, while the other ram was offered as an offering of consecration – 22-29.  During the last offering, Moses took some of its blood and placed it on Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.  Afterward, Moses did the same to Aaron’s sons.  Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and mixed it with some of the blood that was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron and his sons, to “consecrate Aaron, his garments, his sons, and the garments of his sons with him” (30). 

30-36: Moses commanded Aaron and his sons to remain at the door of the Tabernacle for seven days, where they ate from the remaining portion of the offering of consecration, along with the grain offering, where they had communion with the LORD.               

Let’s look at some of the steps that lead to Aaron and his sons’ consecration. 

Their washing symbolizes being washed from sin and ceremonially cleansed for service to the LORD. 

1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Their clothing identified them with the office of the priesthood.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on (in the sense of sinking into a garment, clothe with a garment) Christ.

3.Aaron was anointed to set him apart from his sons as the anointed high priest of God. 

Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

4.Finally, three sacrifices were offered.  The first became a covering for their sin.  The second declared their total dedication to God.  The third consecrated them to the service of the LORD.      

Heb 9:26b He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

As believers, we have also been consecrated; washed from our sins by the blood of the Lamb, clothed with Christ and anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, to serve the Lord all the days of our lives.  


Affordable For All     Leviticus 5:1-19                                                 Pastor John Pennell         August 1, 2018

Leviticus 5:7 If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering.  NKJV

This is the last of the five main sacrifices, which are found in the first seven chapters of Leviticus.  The five sacrifices are: the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering, the Peace Offering, the Sin Offering, and the Trespass Offering.  Only the Sin and Trespass Offerings dealt with both national and individual sin.  The Sin Offering speaks of our inherited sin nature; it dealt with a worshipper’s spot that we have each inherited from Adam, any unintentional sin against any of the commandments of God.  The Trespass Offering dealt with a worshipper’s blemish or personal sin.  These are sins that we commit that scar us and leave blemishes, sometimes for life.

1-5: Our text refers to both intentional and unintentional sins.  These are “heat of the moment” sins that we can get involved with, like overhearing someone say something that you know is wrong and the sin comes if you choose to keep the information by not telling the proper person.  Also, one could unintentionally come in contact with unclean things which made them ceremonially unclean according to Jewish law—whether insects, animals, or human.  The final example is when a person “swears or speaks thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good” (4).  We have all been in situations where we have spoken things in the heat of the moment that we wish we could have taken back, but once out, it cannot be taken back.  Once the sin was realized, the Jewish worshipper was to confess his sin, and then seek forgiveness and restoration by offering a Trespass Offering.

6-13: There were specified offerings that the worshipper could bring before the LORD at the tabernacle of meeting, where “the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin” (6).  What is interesting is that God made a way for all believers to have their sins atoned for.  If they could not afford to bring a female “lamb or a kid of a goat as a sin offering” (6), then they could bring two turtledoves or young pigeons, “one for a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering” (7).  If they could not afford to bring the birds, then they could bring “one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering” (11).  Each offering was given to the ministering priest, who offered it in accordance to the Word of God, the worshipper’s “sin that he has committed in any of these matters [verses 1-4]; and it shall be forgiven him” (13). 

14-19: The last trespass sins mentioned concern the holy things of the LORD, things that had been dedicated to God.  Whether associated with the tabernacle proper or things that had been dedicated or were supposed to be dedicated to God, once the worshipper’s sin was realized, he had to offer a ram without blemish as a trespass offering.  The ram had to equal the value of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, worth at least two shekels.  In addition, one-fifth was to be added as a gift to the LORD.  These were to be given to the ministering priest, who offered the ram as a trespass offering before the LORD in order that the worshipper could be forgiven of his trespass against the LORD.     

We have all committed both intentional and unintentional sins.  Under the Old Testament system of laws, each time this happened, the worshipper had to bring an appropriate offering to the LORD.  Today, God has made forgiveness affordable for all by offering His only begotten Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  All we have to do is look to the Lamb’s sacrifice by confessing our sins, to find forgiveness and restoration from God.     

Jn 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”     


A Costly and Messy Sacrifice     Leviticus 1:1-17                                    Pastor John Pennell        July 23, 2018

Leviticus 1:4 Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. NKJV

A sacrifice to the LORD was to cost the worshipper.  Also, the person offering the sacrifice got messy. 

1-3: A burnt offering was to come from the worshipper’s livestock—“of the herd or of the flock” (2).  Many worshippers would have raised their sacrificial animals, although others would have purchased theirs.  Either way, their offering came at a cost.  If of the herd, the worshipper was to offer a male, without blemish, and of his own free will.  In other words, the worshipper offered the best that he had.

4-9: I used to think that the worshipper would simply bring the sacrifice to the priest who did everything necessary to offer the sacrifice, but as we learn from the text, the worshipper got his hands messy.  He first had to offer the offering at the door of the tabernacle before the LORD.  Then he had to put his hand upon the head of the animal.  This signified the transfer of one life standing in the place of another; a transfer of the worshipper’s sins to the animal “to make atonement for him” (4).  Here is where it got messy—it was the worshipper who killed the offering “before the LORD” (5) while the priest caught the blood of the slain animal to offer it upon the Bronze Altar.  Afterward, the worshipper was to “skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces” (6), while the priest arranged the wood upon the altar.  “Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar” (8), while the worshipper was to “wash its entrails and its legs with water.  And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD” (9).  Although the priest fulfilled vital duties during the ceremony, a burnt offering not only cost the worshipper, but was very messy. 

10-13: The same rituals were followed when an offering came from the worshipper’s flock, whether he offered a sheep or a goat “as a burnt sacrifice, he shall bring a male without blemish” (10).  We do learn one additional piece of information, that the sacrifice was killed “on the north side of the altar before the LORD” (11), which meant that the sacrifice was killed between the Bronze Altar and the Tabernacle.  Once again, the offering came at a cost to the worshipper.  Moreover, the worshipper and the priests both had their duties to perform while the burnt offering was made and both got messy. 

14-17: God even made provision for the poorest in Israel to be able to offer a burnt offering to Him.  Those who were without livestock were able to offer two turtle doves or pigeons as burnt offerings before the LORD.  Considering the smallness of this offering, much of the duties were completed by the priest who wrung off the bird’s head, which was burned upon the altar along with the main body of the bird.  He then drained its blood at the side of the altar, while its crop (which refers to the bird’s digestive system) and feathers were disposed of on the ash head on the east side of the altar.         

Whether a worshipper offered a burnt offering from his herd or flock, his offering came at a cost.  Even if an offering was the simplest of the allowable offerings—two turtle doves or pigeons—whether he caught or purchased them, the offering still came at a cost.  Furthermore, these offerings were messy for both the worshipper and the priest who helped perform the rituals connected to the burnt offering.  

When considering these burnt offerings, which symbolized a worshipper’s total consecration or dedication to the LORD, I am reminded of the costly and messy sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.  Jesus, in total obedience to God our Father, did for us what we could not do for ourselves, in order that we as worshippers could have our sins atoned and become one with Him.  Jesus paid the price that we could not afford, that we might have true fellowship with the Tri-Unity of the Godhead.


The King of the Jews     Matthew 27:26-66                                        Pastor John Pennell         July 17, 2018

Matthew 27:37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. NKJV

26-29: After Jesus was condemned, “the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him” (27). They stripped HimimHHIM, put a scarlet robe upon Him and a crown of thorns upon His head, and in mockery they bowed before Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (29), while spitting upon Him and beating Him with the reed that they had placed in His right hand.

Isa 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

31-32: Afterward, they put His own clothes upon Him “and led Him away to be crucified” (31). A man named Simon was compelled by the soldiers to bear Jesus’ cross for Him. In this we see the fatigue of Jesus’ human body, as He weakened from the beatings that He had received. We must also remember that Jesus had been awake for more than twenty-four hours at this point. I also believe that Jesus bore a far greater weight than a wooden cross, in that He bore upon Himself the sins of the world. 

1 Pet 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.

33-34: At Golgotha, Jesus was offered gall to drink, which was meant to be an anesthetic but He refused to drink it. Instead Jesus drank of the cup which His Father had given Him to drink (Jn 18:11), thus bearing the full weight and pain of our sins through His sufferings upon the cross.

Ps 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

35-37: After the soldiers had hung Jesus on the cross, they divided His clothes and cast lots for His tunic in fulfillment of Scripture (Jn 19:23; Ps 22:18). Then they placed Jesus’ accusation over His head which detailed the charge that resulted in His crucifixion: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (37). 

38-44: While Jesus hung upon the cross between two thieves, the crowd, the chief priests, the scribes and elders, along with the two thieves, mocked Jesus, saying, “Save Yourself, He saved others; Himself He cannot save” (40). What if Jesus had come down off the cross and saved Himself that day? Then no acceptable sacrifice would have been offered and we would still be in our sins.

1 Cor 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

45-49: Darkness covered the land for three hours and just before noon, with the sins of the world upon Him and His Father’s eyes diverted from Him, Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” (46). This was an experience that Jesus had never known before and it is something that we could never cry. If we were forsaken by God, we would know the reason why, it would be because our sins have separated us from God but Jesus was without sin (Is 59:2; Heb 4:15).

50-66: Jesus “cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His Spirit” (50). He had told His disciples, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father" (Jn 10:17-18).  

Jesus laid down His life, but He also took it up again to offer life to all who believe in Him. Glorious!


Inside-Out     Matthew 23:1-39                                                                  Pastor John Pennell         July 9, 2018

Matthew 23:26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. NKJV

1-3: In chapter twenty-three we find Jesus exposing the unrighteous deeds of the scribes and Pharisees, who were looked up to by the common people of Israel. They considered them as being the blessed of God because they sat in the seat of Moses and taught the Word of God. We know that they taught the truth of God’s Word because Jesus said to the people to “observe and do” (3) whatever the scribes and the Pharisees told them to observe, but sadly, they did not live the truth that they taught.

4-24: Jesus next declares eight woes against the scribes and the Pharisees. A woe speaks of a condemnation, which includes grief, pain or displeasure. In Jesus’ condemnation against them, He called them “hypocrites” seven times. The Greek word for hypocrite means to act under an assumed name. Their positions had become costumes through which they deceived the people, but not Jesus. Jesus accused them of shutting up heaven against men and not being willing to enter in themselves. They also devoured widows’ houses and in pretense made long prayers while in public view. They sought long and hard for converts and once they found one, they would “make him twice the son of hell” (15) as themselves. (Jesus’ words, not mine.) Jesus called them “blind guides” (16) and He accused them of neglecting the “weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (23). May we not be guilty of neglecting “justice and mercy and faith.” When we walk in “justice,” it speaks about the practice of doing what is right; in our human relationships with each other and in our heavenly relationship with God. See Ps 82:3. To walk in “mercy” reminds us of the mercy that we have received from God, by not exacting the punishments that were due us. Since God has been merciful to us, He expects us to show mercy to others. See Matt 5:7. Our “faith” speaks about our belief in God and it is through faith in Jesus that we are saved and walk in fellowship with God. See Gen 15:6 and Eph 2:8-9.    

25-28: Jesus continues by dealing with the scribes and Pharisees’ inward hypocrisy verses their outward appearance. Their religious activities were all outward without any inward change in their hearts. Washing the inside of the cup refers to the inward washing that Jesus can do for each of us. This inward washing begins with faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but it does not end there. There is also the needful daily washing of God through the study of His Word. 

29-39: The majority of the scribes and the Pharisees did not truly know the God they preached. Their forefathers murdered the true prophets of God and they would be involved in killing the Son of God. Yet with all of these things against them, Jesus still extended His love towards them, but most were not willing to receive it. Therefore, Jesus lamented over them, crying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (37).

It is my hope that we have not only received the love of Christ but that we would continually allow God to wash us with the water of His Word, so that our inside will be as clean as our outward appearance.    

Eph 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.

Ps 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.              

1 Jn 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  


Resolving Conflict     Matthew 18:1-35                                                    Pastor John Pennell     June 26, 2018

Matt 18:15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” 

This is a wonderful chapter that deals with relationships. Jesus begins by teaching us about greatness in the kingdom of heaven and then He warns us against the danger of causing a little child to sin. He then tells us about His mission of coming to save that which is lost, which He illustrates by depicting a shepherd leaving the ninety-nine just to seek out the one little lamb who had strayed. He next gives us three keys to resolve conflict and closes out teaching us about the ultimate consequence: unforgiveness.       

Every relationship will have disagreements, which left unresolved can leave you with a wounded or severed relationship. Here in this chapter, Jesus gives us a three step process for resolving conflict.  

Step One: Go To Him Alone. The first step in resolving conflict between a brother or sister, is to go and deal with the issue just between the two of you. It could be that the individual does not realize that he has offended or hurt you. It is sad when a misunderstanding leads to a severed or broken relationship, especially when the misunderstanding could have easily been resolved by going to that person and working it out. We are each responsible to work out our conflicts between one another, but so often we  would rather skip step one and go right to steps two or three by getting other people involved, by doing so we end up ganging up on our brother instead of gaining a brother. 

Step Two: Take One or Two More With You. The idea is to gain a brother or sister not gang up on a brother or sister. This means that those that you involve in your conflict need to be unbiased. It is important that you lay out the facts before impartial judges because as they look at the situation from the outside, they may be able to bring new light which can lead to reconciliation. They may also tell you that you’re at fault and it is you who needs to seek forgiveness. Jesus uses an Old Testament law (Deut 19:15) to emphasize the importance of having impartial judges. If both parties are willing to heed the decision of the two or three witnesses, then you will be able to reconcile and gain your brother or sister.

Step Three: Bring It To The Church. Although you may be able to apply these techniques of conflict resolution in all your relationships, this third step can only be taken with those who are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. The church has no authority over non-believers nor would a non-believer receive judgment from the church. If you bring your conflict before the church, make sure that you have done steps one and two first. 

Restoration should be our chief goal! If we truly want to resolve conflict with a brother or a sister, then we must be willing to put aside our pride and seek forgiveness. Sometimes forgiving those who have wronged us is all we can do. We each can choose to forgive even if our forgiveness is not received but by not forgiving others, we cause a root of bitterness to come in and destroy (Heb 12:14-15). Remember as we forgive those who have hurt us, our forgiveness can lead to their repentance, which can lead to a restored relationship where we gain back our brother or sister in the Lord. 

Finally, I find it interesting that here in this chapter Jesus says, “For where two or more are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (20). This tells us that Jesus will be working with us, helping us to gain our brother or sister when trying to resolve a conflict. Thank you Jesus!


The Unpardonable Sin     Matthew 12:1-50                                           Pastor John Pennell        June 18, 2018

Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” NKJV

Jesus’ teaching about the unpardonable sin has caused much anguish for many believers throughout the ages. This is why it is so important for us to look at the context of a passage to better understand what Jesus was referring to when He taught about a sin that could never be forgiven.

1-8: Matthew begins with the Pharisees confronting Jesus about His Sabbath day activities. They first questioned Him about His disciples satisfying their hunger on the Sabbath by plucking the heads of grain and eating them while they walked through the grainfields. To us, it may seem like they were having a snack, but to the Pharisees, they saw their actions as harvesting on the Sabbath. Jesus counters their accusation with three examples from Scripture. First, Jesus reminded them of what David and his men did by eating the showbread on the Sabbath day when they were hungry (1 Sam 21:1-6). Second, He reminded them of how the priest profaned the Sabbath by working on every Sabbath (Num 28: 9-10). Finally, He taught them how God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hos 6:6). Jesus proclaims Himself as the “Lord of the Sabbath” (8) and teaches us that human need supersedes the finer points of the law.

9-14: As Jesus went into their synagogue, the Pharisees saw a man there who had a withered hand, so they questioned Jesus as to whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus because they had learned that He loved to touch those who had the greatest need. Jesus showed them their hypocrisy by recalling how they were willing to break the Sabbath to rescue a lamb and taught them that this man’s life was of higher value. Jesus concluded that it was right to do good on the Sabbath and He healed the man’s hand. This event marked a division between Jesus and the religious rulers and from this point forward they “took counsel against Jesus, how they might destroy Him” (14).

15-16: Jesus knew that they were plotting His destruction, so He withdrew from them because His “hour had not yet come” (Jn 2:4, 7:30, 12:23). Even so, great multitudes continued to follow Jesus and He healed them all. Why did people travel so far to follow Jesus? Some hoped to see great things be done by Him. Others hoped that He would do great things for them. Why do you follow Jesus?

17-30: Matthew next quotes Isaiah to teach us about the nature of Jesus. He is God’s Chosen Servant, His Beloved in whom His soul is well pleased. God’s Spirit is upon Jesus and He declares justice to the Gentiles. Jesus did not quarrel or cry out nor was His voice heard in the streets. He did not break a bruised reed nor quench a smoking flax. This was why Jesus withdrew Himself, but one day He would send forth His justice through the victory of the cross. Do you have victory in Jesus?

31-50: As we come to the teaching of the unpardonable sin, we see that Jesus had been rejected by the religious rulers. They had accused Him of doing miracles through the power of Satan instead of through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Therefore, we may conclude that the unpardonable sin is the total rejection of the witness of God’s Holy Spirit concerning Jesus. By rejecting Jesus you also reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit of which there is no forgiveness to be found, in this age or in the age to come. Have you believed the witness of the Holy Spirit concerning Jesus as the Savior of the world?


Pray the Lord of the Harvest     Matthew 9:1-38                              Pastor John Pennell         June 13, 2018

Matthew 9:38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." NKJV

1-8: As Jesus came to Capernaum, some men brought their paralyzed friend to Him and “seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (2). It appears that Jesus worked in this man’s life because of the faith of his friends. This is why it is important for us to bring our friends to Jesus, hoping that they also might be touched by Him. Bible commentators generally agreed that this man’s paralytic condition was caused by his past sins and by Jesus forgiving his sins, He first went to the root of the problem. The scribes saw Jesus as a blasphemer, but He went on to prove His ability to forgive sins by healing the paralytic, thus proving that the Son of Man is also the Son of God.

9-13: We next learn about Matthew’s call as one of Jesus’ disciples. Matthew had a big dinner party on the night that Jesus had called him and since he had been a tax collector, the house was filled with “tax collectors and sinners” (11). This time the Pharisees complained about the company that Jesus kept and hearing them He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (12). Jesus ministered where the needs were the greatest. The Pharisees also needed Jesus, but they were righteous in their own eyes, so Jesus challenged them with Hosea 6:6, saying, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (13). They were living a life of piety and sacrifice, but had no mercy for those in need.

14-17: The Pharisees were not the only ones to question Jesus, as the disciples of John sought to know why Jesus’ disciples never fasted. Jesus explained that while He was with them there was no need to fast, but the time was coming when He would be taken—then they would fast. Jesus also taught about a new work which He likened to a new patch or new wine, neither would fit into the old system least they be ruined. The new wine that Jesus referred to is the church, which could not fit into the old system of Judaism because Jesus fulfilled this system that He might begin a fresh work of His Spirit.  

18-34: Matthew continues by telling four beautiful stories of healing. He begins with a father whose daughter had just died. This father was a ruler of Capernaum who came and worshiped Jesus believing that He could bring his daughter back to life. While they journeyed to his home, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, reached out to Jesus in faith saying, “If I only may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (21). When this happened Jesus turned and said to her, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well” (22). Once at the ruler’s house, Jesus said, “‘Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him” (24), therefore, He sent them out. Afterwards, Jesus took the girl by her hand, she arose, and the report of this filled the land. Just think, the mourners could have witnessed this marvelous miracle if they had only believed. Furthermore, as Jesus left Capernaum, two blind men cried out, “Son of David (a Messianic title), have mercy on us!” (27). Jesus questioned them if they truly believed He could make them see and they responded that they did. Apparently they did, because Jesus healed them that day! Afterwards, He healed a demon possessed man, which caused the multitudes to marvel, but the Pharisees hardheartedly accredited His abilities to Satan. 

35-38: The chapter closes with Jesus teaching, preaching, and healing among the multitudes. Jesus was “moved with compassion” because He saw the multitudes as sheep, “weary and scattered, having no shepherd” (36). Therefore, Jesus said to His disciples and us, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (37-38). When you pray this prayer, you may discover that Jesus is sending you!


Ask, Seek and Knock     Matthew 7:1-29                                              Pastor John Pennell     June 7, 2018

Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” NKJV

1-6: As Jesus closes out His Sermon on the Mount, we are given a series of rich teachings on how to practically live out our faith. He begins by reminding us of our sinfulness in relationship to how we judge others. When judging others we need to remember that we also have problems which need correction. Jesus uses an obvious exaggeration to illustrate this point by referring to our problems as a plank in our eye as compared to the speck in our brother’s or sister’s eye. The solution: “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye” (5).

1 Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

7-12: Jesus next gives us three words to stress the importance of persistence in prayer: ask, seek and knock. To illustrate God’s willingness to answer our prayers, Jesus compares our righteous heavenly Father to evil earthly fathers. If we being evil (in comparison to our righteous heavenly Father) know how to give good gifts to our children, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (11). Through our prayers, we discover that sometimes we will ask and our heavenly Father will quickly give us our request. Sometimes we will need to seek while Jesus helps us find the answer and at other times we will have to knock for a while before He opens a door for us. The key is to be in persistent communication with our heavenly Father and trust that He will do what’s best for us in His good timing. Jesus closes this section with another reminder of the importance of our relationship with others in connection with our worship of God, called, “The Golden Rule.” Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matt 7:12).

13-14: Notice with the narrow gate and the wide gate that we all begin on the broad way. The broad way is an easy road that most people continue on throughout their lives, which leads to a wide gate that leads to destruction. But along the wide and easy path there is also a narrow and difficult path which leads to life. Also notice that Jesus did not say that there were many paths that lead to life, a philosophy which man teaches, but only one way which leads to life and that way is through Jesus. (see John 14:6)

15-23: Jesus also teaches us about wolves who are dressed in sheep’s clothing. Their desire is to bring harm to the sheep but outwardly they look the same as all the other sheep. So how can we discern between a wolf and a sheep? By inspecting their fruit, because every good tree or sheep will bear good fruit, and every bad tree or wolf will bear bad fruit which will ultimately lead to their judgment by God. Jesus teaches us that fruit inspection is more than just listening to how someone talks because there are a lot of people who can talk a good talk, saying things like, “Lord, Lord, have we not this” or “have we not that,” but it is not just the outward actions that reveals the inward motive of a heart. There are some people that sound and do everything correct on the outside, but inwardly they are not doing the will of God nor do they have a relationship with God. 

24-29: So what must we do? We must make sure that we are building our lives upon the Rock. We do this by hearing and doing all that Jesus teaches us through His Word. In doing so we will discover that the storms of this life may beat upon us, but they will never be able to overcome us because we have built our lives upon the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.      


You Shall Call His Name Jesus     Matthew 1:1-25                                 Pastor John Pennell     May 29, 2018

Matthew 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” NKJV

There are two genealogies of Jesus in Scripture. One is found here in the first chapter of Matthew and the other is found in the third chapter of Luke. Since Luke deals more with Mary’s side of the story of Jesus’ birth, he gives us the genealogy of Jesus that traces through Mary and because Matthew deals with Joseph’s side, he gives us the genealogy of Jesus that traces through Joseph. 

1: The chapter begins by telling us that Jesus is both the son of David and the son of Abraham. By telling us that Jesus was the son of Abraham, Matthew is proving that as the Messiah, Jesus came from the right nation. By telling us that Jesus was the son of David, he is proving that as the Messiah, Jesus is the legal heir to the throne of Israel. 

2-17: There are some interesting things about Jesus’ genealogy. First, the genealogy is written in three sets of fourteen generations. The first set of fourteen names takes us from Abraham to David – 2-6. The second set takes us from David to Babylon – 6-12, and the final set takes us from Babylon to Jesus – 12-16. Second, we find that there are four women mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Each of these women had questionable backgrounds, nevertheless each woman made it into the lineage of Christ. Third, we find that Jeconiah is mention, who was the king when the nation of Judah was carried away into the Babylonian captivity. He so displeased the LORD that Jeremiah prophesied concerning him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days, for none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah’” (Jer 22:30). This tells us that although Jesus may have had the legal right to the throne through Joseph, God had rejected Jeconiah’s line. Finally, we see that Joseph is called the husband of Mary and not the father of Jesus. For Jesus was not actually of the bloodline of Joseph which traced back through Jeconiah, to King David and to Abraham, but this is where Mary’s genealogy comes into play.

18: Although Jesus was not of the bloodline of Joseph, we find that God chose a godly man to help raise His Son. From both Matthew's and Luke’s account we learn that Joseph and Mary were betrothed to one another, which meant that they were legally married except Joseph had not yet taken Mary into his home nor had sexual relations with her. While Mary was away visiting her cousin Elizabeth and attending to her needs during the birth of her son, John, Joseph would have been building their home which was the customary thing for the betrothed husband to do during this time. No doubt he was building with enthusiasm and excitement as he awaited Mary’s return, but when she return, he discovered that she was with child. How heartbreaking this must have been for Joseph. I am sure that Mary tried to tell Joseph that the child was from God, through the power and overshadowing of the Holy Spirit upon her life, but would you believe such a story if it was being told to you? 

19-25: In Matthew’s account we get a glimpse of the character of Joseph and discover that he was a just, compassionate, obedient and honorable man. He was just because he wanted to do the right thing, but the law said that Mary and the one who got her pregnant should be stoned to death (Deut 22:23-24). He was compassionate because he did not want to make Mary a public example, but decided to secretly divorce her. He was obedient because he believed the testimony of the angel who came to him in a dream. The angel’s words, combined with the Word of God, caused Joseph to take Mary to be his wife. Finally, he was honorable because he did not have sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus was born. To this just, compassionate, obedient and honorable man, God gave to him the privilege of naming His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means, Yahweh is Salvation! Is Yahweh your salvation?


Christ, Our Center     Exodus 40:1-38                                                Pastor John Pennell           05/22/2018

Exodus 40:36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. NKJV

1-16: As we come to the final chapter of the Book of Exodus, God instructs Moses to erect the Tabernacle. Nearly one year had passed since God had freed the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. They would celebrate the New Year by erecting the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the second year. The LORD lays out detailed instructions concerning the Tabernacle and all its furnishings: the Ark of the Testimony, the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Bronze Laver, and its surrounding court. Moses was to anoint each of these items, along with their accompanying utensils, with the Holy Anointing Oil. Moreover, he was to bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting, wash them, clothe them in their priestly garments, and anoint them with the Holy Anointing Oil that they might serve before the LORD as Israel’s priests; “for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. Thus Moses did; according to all the LORD had commanded him, so he did” (15-16).      

17-33: Thus Moses was obedient to the LORD’s command and positioned the tabernacle in the center of camp. Once the tent was erected and its coverings were in place, Moses worked his way from the innermost interior, beginning in the Holy of Holies, positioning the Ark of the Testimony and hanging the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. Then he arranged the three pieces of furnishings in the Holy Place.  Moses began with the Table of Showbread, which he placed on the north and set the Bread of Presence in order upon the table. He next place the Menorah on the south wall and lit its seven lamps. Then Moses placed the Altar of Incense in front of the veil that separated the two rooms of the tabernacle and burned the sweet incense as the LORD commanded. After Moses hung the veil or door of the Tabernacle, he set up the Bronze Altar “and offered upon it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (29). He also set up the Bronze Laver and put water in it. This is where Moses, Aaron, and his sons would wash their hands and feet whenever they served before the LORD at the Tabernacle. Finally, Moses raised up the court around the Tabernacle and hung its screen or gate on the east side—“so Moses finished the work” (33).      

34-38: Once the work was complete, God’s Shekinah Glory “covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (34)! The Tabernacle with God’s Shekinah Glory Cloud was in the center of their camp, with all of the tent doors facing it. This meant that every time they walked out of their tents, they would see the Cloud and know that God was with them. Moreover, the Cloud became Fire by night (38). Now I don’t know how well their tents could block out light, but I would imagine that even as they lay in their tents, the Glory of the LORD was shining through. So whether by day or by night there was a constant reminder that God was at the center of their lives. Moreover, Israel was led by the Cloud. If the Cloud remained, Israel remained, but if the Cloud lifted up from the Tabernacle, “the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys” (37). In much the same way, we are to be led by Jesus each and every day; whether by day or by night, Christ is to be the center of our lives. 

Eph 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height —  19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


Staying Near     Exodus 33:1-23                                                         Pastor John Pennell           05/14/2018

Exodus 33:11 So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. NKJV

1-6: Following Israel’s rebellion against the LORD, God commanded Moses, along with Israel, to depart to the land of promise—“a land flowing with milk and honey” (3). Yet because of their rebellion, God would no longer go with them, but instead promised, “I will send My Angel before you” (2). Hearing that God would not be in their midst, and His calling them “a stiff-necked people” (3), caused Israel to mourn, stripping themselves of their ornaments as they awaited God’s judgment by Mount Horeb.

7-11: While the tabernacle was being made, Moses pitched his tent far from the camp of Israel and called it the tabernacle of meeting where the people came out to seek after God. Furthermore, when Moses went out to the tent, the people arose and each man stood by his tent door until Moses entered the tent. Once inside, “the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses” (9). When this happened the people arose and worshipped, “each man in his tent door” (10), while “the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (11). How glorious!  

12-16: In their friend to friend conversation, Moses sought to know who the LORD would send with them since He pledged that He would no longer be in their midst. It is interesting that Moses knew that he had found grace from the LORD, but desired to know God more, to know His way and to find His grace. Thus the LORD promised to send his presence with them and to give them rest. Moses understood that it was the presence of the LORD that separated himself and Israel from all the other people upon the earth.     

17-23: As wonderful as it was for Moses to hear that he had found grace from the LORD, Moses sought a deeper understanding of God when he asked, "Please, show me Your glory" (18). Thus God promised to let his glory pass before Moses, which we learn about in chapter thirty-four. 

In chapter thirty-three, we not only learn about Moses and his desire to deepen his relationship with God, we see another side of the character of Joshua; a man who loved to stay near to God. The interesting thing about Joshua’s abiding at the tabernacle is that he couldn’t enter in. Only Moses, Aaron, and his sons could do that; but for Joshua it was sufficient to stay near the tabernacle—near to God. No wonder God would one day use this man to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land.    

May I encourage you to make a commitment to be more like Joshua, by committing to stay near to Jesus. We do this by being in His Word and in prayer each day, and by being in our churches when the doors are opened. If you do this, you too will be seen as a faithful servant and perhaps you will even become a great warrior of faith. I saw this in my parents and I want to be this for my generation, that I too may be able to lead a group of people into our Promised Land, which is faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Will you join me?

One last thing, unlike Joshua we don’t have to hang around outside the tent of meeting, but we can now come boldly to the throne of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  


Washing Daily     Exodus 30:1-38                                                       Pastor John Pennell           05/08/2018

Exodus 30:19 for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. 20 When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. NKJV

1-10: Like the other Tabernacle furnishings, except for the Menorah which was made of pure gold, the Altar of Incense was made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. It measured 18” by 18”, and was 36” tall, based from a cubit equaling 18”. It had molding around the top, horns on each corner, two golden rings on each side, and accompanying golden poles that it might be moved without the priests or Levites touching it. This altar was not for sacrifice, but for burning sweet incense that was fired with coals from the Bronze Altar. Aaron and his sons were to burn incense upon it every morning and evening. Moreover, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would “make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement… It is most holy to the LORD" (10).

11-16: God stipulated an annual offering of a half-shekel from every male twenty years old and above. Rich or poor, every man was to pay the same amount. The ransom offering, which provided for the operation and upkeep of the Tabernacle, was received to make atonement for Israel and to assure that no plague came upon them for numbering the people, which was one of David’s sins—2 Samuel 24.

17-21: God gives Moses one last piece of temple furnishing—the Bronze Laver. Made from solid bronze, the laver was placed between the Bronze Altar and the Tabernacle and was used for the ceremonial washing of the priests’ hands and feet as they served before the LORD. To serve the LORD with unwashed hands and feet could bring judgment and death from the LORD.

22-33: The holy anointing oil was made by perfumers from specific measurements of liquid myrrh, sweet-smelling cinnamon, sweet-smelling cane, cassia, and olive oil. God explains to Moses, “You shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests” (26-30). No one else could be anointed with the holy oil. To copy it meant certain death.  

34-38: Finally, we are given the mixture for the incense that the priest would burn on the Altar of Incense, which was made from “stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy” (34-35). As with the holy anointing oil, the holy incense could not be copied for personal use, those who dared to do so would be put to death.                    

Chapter thirty teaches us that the priests had to first wash their hands and feet in the Bronze Laver every time they came to minister before God. If they were already consecrated for the office of the priesthood, why did they need to wash? Because their work and walk in this world caused their hands and feet to get dirty. 

The same is true for each of us today. This is why Jesus said to Peter, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you" (Jn 13:10).

Have you come to the laver of Jesus Christ and washed today?    


The Pattern of the Heavenly     Exodus 25:1-40                                 Pastor John Pennell           05/01/2018

Exodus 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it. NKJV

1-9: As the LORD prepares Moses to make a sanctuary that He might dwell among His people, God gave Moses specific materials that he was to collect from the children of Israel, precious metals of gold, silver, and bronze; threads of blue, purple, and scarlet; fine linens, goats hair, ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones that were to be set in the ephod and the breastplate of the high priest’s attire. These offerings were to be given of their own freewill, “from everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering” (2). Moreover, the LORD’s sanctuary or tabernacle, along with all its furnishings, were to be made according to the pattern that God had shown to Moses.    

10-22: The first piece of furnishing was actually two separate pieces—the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Both pieces were to be made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. The purpose of the Ark was to hold the Testimony, the two stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments. The purpose of the Mercy Seat was to cover the Ark with God’s mercy, lest He break out against the children of Israel for their violations of God’s law. It was also the place where God promised to meet with Israel in the Holy of Holies, “from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony” (22).     

23-29: The second piece of furnishing was the Table of Showbread, more properly, the table on which the Showbread was displayed. Like the Ark and the Mercy Seat, the Table was constructed of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold. As the ministering priest entered into the Holy place, the Table sat to the north or on the right. Showbread was also called "The Bread of the Presence," because the twelve loaves, which made from the finest of flour and represented the twelve tribes of Israel, were always to be in the presence of the LORD. Each Sabbath the new loaves were placed before the Lord and only the priests were allowed to consume the discarded bread cf. Lev 24:9. 

Ex 25:30 And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.

31-40: The final furnishing that is mentioned in this chapter is the Golden Lampstand or Menorah, which was positioned to the left or on the south side of the Holy Place. Unlike the abovementioned furnishings, which were made of acacia wood and covered with pure gold, the Menorah was a seven-armed oil lamp hammered out of pure gold. The Menorah was tended by the ministering priests, who trimmed its wicks and resupplied its oil, in order that its light would never go out. 

Ex 27:20 "And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.   

The pattern Moses was given was of heavenly things.   

Heb 8:5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."

Jesus is the fulfillment of all these things. 

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tent or tabernacle) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


Draw Near     Exodus 20                                                                         Pastor John Pennell           04/24/2018

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. NKJV

1-17: The Law of God, best known as the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, were originally given to the children of Israel.  The simplified list, which is found in verses 3-17, goes something like this: do not worship any other gods, do not make any idols, do not misuse the name of God, keep the Sabbath day holy, honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie and finally, do not covet.

If we were able to keep them completely, then theoretically, we could stay in complete fellowship with God.  How would you say that you have done in keeping God’s Commandments?  Have you kept most of them or have you broken them all?  Either way, James tells, “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (Jas 2:10).  Our guilt separates us from God and condemns us to eternal punishment in the fires of hell.

Thankfully, this is where Jesus comes in.  Jesus came to this earth in sinless perfection.  Meaning that before He walked upon this earth and the entire time that He lived upon the earth, He never once broke one of His Father’s commandments.  As a result, Jesus became the perfect acceptable sacrifice who can once and for all cleanse us from our sins and bring us into a relationship with the Godhead.  Once cleansed, our eternal destination changes from an eternity of judgment and hell, to an eternity of unconditional love and heaven! 

Rom 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

While the Law was being given, the children of Israel witnessed the thunderings and the trumpet, they saw the lightning and smoke, and they trembled in the fear of God.  The LORD wanted them to remember His great power that He displayed at the mountain while His Law was given, because the fear of God was to keep them from sin.  Yet the Bible tells us that “the people stood afar off” (18).  Standing afar off is a common problem and is the reason why many people fall away from the LORD. 

19-25: Being unwilling to draw near to God themselves, the children of Israel wanted Moses to intercede for them before God, but by doing so, they distanced themselves even further from the LORD.  Thus they lost the fear of God that could keep them from sin.

The children of Israel were not to mingle other gods or other forms of worship with the worship of God.  The altar of God was to be made of the earth, made of unhewn stones, and not to be elevated with steps.  If obedient to God’s commandments, God promise to come to them and to bless them.   

It is interesting to consider that out of that whole group of people, of those who were twenty years old and above, only two entered into the Promised Land—Joshua and Caleb.  Even Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land because of one misstep that he committed while serving the LORD before the people.  The fear of God was to keep them from sin, but as they distanced themselves from the LORD, they fell into even greater sin, which kept them from knowing the full promises of God.

Thankfully, through faith in Jesus, we can draw near to God in assurance that we have been forgiven!

Heb 10:21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 


What is It?     Exodus 16:1-36                                                                 Pastor John Pennell           04/17/2018

Exodus 16:31 And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. NKJV

1-3: About a month and a half after departing from Egypt, the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin.  An interesting name, considering that Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, stating that they would have rather died by the hand of the LORD in Egypt, where they ate meat and bread to the full, than to be killed by hunger in the wilderness.

4-12: Upon hearing their complaints, God informed Moses that He was going to rain bread from heaven.  Israel was to daily gather this bread, but on the sixth day they were to gather twice as much, as the seventh would be a day of rest.  Moreover, that night, God was going to satisfy Israel’s lust for meat and in the morning would begin their daily provision of bread.  God told Moses that He would use this bread to “test them, whether they will walk in my law our not” (4).

13-31: That evening quail covered the camp, and in the morning, as the dew burned off the desert floor, small mysterious wafers covered the ground.  God tested Israel by their willingness to gather their daily provision in the quantity that He required and to not let any of it to remain until the morning.  Yet some of the people were not obedient to the LORD’s command and the next morning the bread “bred worms and stank” (20).  Moreover, all the preparations for their Sabbath rest meals were to be made from the provision of bread on the sixth day.  Nevertheless, some of the people attempted to gather the bread, called Manna, on the seventh day in disobedience to the LORD’s command.     

32-36: In spite of their disobedience, God graciously allowed each family to keep a jar of Manna.  He also commanded Moses and Aaron to keep a jar before the Testimony as a memorial to future generations of God’s forty-year provision of this heavenly bread until Israel came into the Promised Land.               

The Hebrew word Manna means, “what is it” or according to the Strong’s Concordance, “whatness.”  We find a similarity in Jesus as “the Bread of Life.”

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 

Manna first came to Israel while they were dwelling in the Wilderness of Sin.  Jesus came and dwelt among us in our wilderness of sin and gave His life as a ransom for our sin. 
The Israelites were to gather the Manna early before the sun grew hot.  It is good to begin each day in prayer and devotion to God.  God’s Word teaches us about Jesus and how we should live for Him.    
Each one had to gather the Manna according to their need.  We are each responsible to seek the Lord for our salvation. 
When measured out according to God’s standard, they each had enough to satisfy them.  Jesus always satisfies those who put their trust in Him. 
On the seventh day they were to rest from gathering the Manna, to spend the day with family, and to do good and worship God.  We should also spend our Sabbaths, our Sundays, in a similar way. 
Eating Manna kept Israel alive for forty years.  Partaking of Jesus keeps us alive forever!

John 6:48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the Manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  


That Our Children May Know     Exodus 10:1-29                               Pastor John Pennell           04/09/2018

Ex 10:2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD. NKJV

1: Like Pharaoh, the hearts of his servants were also hardened against Israel. The plagues of Egypt were to be a witness to the world of God's great and mighty power. Forty years later, we find that the world heard God’s witness when the people of Jericho responded to Israel’s presence by their hearts melting in fear as they understood that the LORD is "God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Josh 2:11). 

2: God also wanted Israel to know that He is the LORD, that they would tell their children and grandchildren of the "mighty things" and of the "signs" which He had done among them.

Deut 6:6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

3-7: Before God sent the eighth plague of locusts, He gave Pharaoh warning, as He had done in the previous plagues. When Moses and Aaron spoke before Pharaoh, they spoke the words of God, in the first person, saying, "Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory'" (3-4). Moses and Aaron went on to explain the severity of the plague of locusts upon their nation. After Moses and Aaron left, Pharaoh's own servants, who were no doubt leaders in Egypt, said to him, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?" (7). Even before the locusts came, the Egyptians recognized that their land had already been devastated.  
8-11: Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, but instead of letting the children of Israel go with no strings attached, he offered them a compromise by allowing only the men to go. Pharaoh realized that the men would return for their families, thus he was willing to offer them this token, but when Moses and Aaron refused, Pharaoh drove them out of his presence. 

12-20: The plague of locusts was as devastating as God had foretold and for a second time Pharaoh confessed his sin against the LORD God of Israel, and also against His spokesmen—Moses and Aaron. As a result, Moses went out from Pharaoh, prayed for God to take away the plague of locusts, and with a reversal of the wind that had brought the locusts upon Egypt, every locust was blown into the Red Sea. "There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go" (19-20).  

21-29: Without warning came the ninth plague—a three-day plague of darkness. A darkness that was so thick that the Bible tells us it could be felt. Once again Pharaoh offered Israel a compromise by allowing all their people to go and worship the LORD, but said that Israel would keep their flocks and herds in Egypt. Yet when Moses refused, Pharaoh banished him from his presence, declaring, "Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!" So Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will never see your face again" (28-29).

It is still God's desire for us to teach our children and grandchildren of the mighty things that He has done in our lives and of the signs He has given us that our children may grow to know and love Jesus.  


Forsaken     Mark 15:23-47                                                                    Pastor John Pennell           04/02/2018

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" NKJV

23: The sour wine mingled with myrrh was meant to have been an anesthetic to help numb the excruciating pain of crucifixion.  However, Jesus refused to numb the pain associated with His death because He was willing to drink the cup of God’s indignation and wrath to its last drop for you and me. 

24: It was customary for Roman soldiers to divide the clothing of the condemned.  As the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing, they were fulfilling a prophecy that David had written about one thousand years earlier.  Ps 22:18 They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.

25-28: After being stripped, they laid Jesus upon the cross and drove nails through His hands and feet.  The elevating of the cross would have caused Jesus excruciating pain, and He was to suffer and hang there until His life drained from His body.  They placed an accusation above Him which said, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Mark tells us that the two thieves who hung on either side of Jesus was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12 which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”  Jesus, who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26), would suffer and die as a criminal, among thieves.

29-32: The chief priests admitted that Jesus had the power to save others; this shows us the hardness of their hearts because they did not believe the very miracles that they had seen and heard.  Jesus could have come off that cross to save Himself that day, but in doing so He wouldn’t have been able to save the millions, if not billions, who from that day forward have called upon His name in life-saving faith. 

33: We can’t be sure what caused the darkness to come over the whole land for three hours during Jesus’ crucifixion, but we can be sure who caused it—God.  I wonder if God provided the darkness in fulfillment of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, dying at twilight.  His death would have coincided with the evening offering and the twilight killing of the Passover lambs.  See Exodus 12:6

34-36: When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (34), it was an experience that He had never felt before.  If we were forsaken by God, we would know the reason why.  Our “iniquities have separated [us from God, and our] sins have hidden His face from [us] (Is 59:2).  However, Jesus was without sin; yet He was forsaken in order that we might be saved. Although they misunderstood Jesus’ cry, thinking that He was calling for Elijah, the offer of sour wine fulfilled two prophecies from Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21 concerning Jesus’ death.

37-39: At the same moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple, which divided the holy place from the holy of holies, “was torn in two from top to bottom” (38).  This signified that the old system of repeated sacrifices had come to an end; our sins had been paid “once and for all” by the blood of the Lamb (Heb 9:11-14).  Afterward, the centurion confessed, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (39).  It is a confession that we each must make in order to rightly apply the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to our lives. 

40-47: There were many women who had followed Jesus near the cross when He died.  Some of these women followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and watched them as they prepared His body for burial.  At His birth, Jesus had been wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; at His death, He was wrapped in fine linen and laid in a tomb.  Jesus’ death and burial made Him appear forsaken by His Father, but there was a purpose—to bring us into an everlasting relationship with the Godhead.  Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" NKJV

23: The sour wine mingled with myrrh was meant to have been an anesthetic to help numb the excruciating pain of crucifixion.  However, Jesus refused to numb the pain associated with His death because He was willing to drink the cup of God’s indignation and wrath to its last drop for you and me. 

24: It was customary for Roman soldiers to divide the clothing of the condemned.  As the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothing, they were fulfilling a prophecy that David had written about one thousand years earlier.  Ps 22:18 They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.

25-28: After being stripped, they laid Jesus upon the cross and drove nails through His hands and feet.  The elevating of the cross would have caused Jesus excruciating pain, and He was to suffer and hang there until His life drained from His body.  They placed an accusation above Him which said, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Mark tells us that the two thieves who hung on either side of Jesus was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12 which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”  Jesus, who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26), would suffer and die as a criminal, among thieves.

29-32: The chief priests admitted that Jesus had the power to save others; this shows us the hardness of their hearts because they did not believe the very miracles that they had seen and heard.  Jesus could have come off that cross to save Himself that day, but in doing so He wouldn’t have been able to save the millions, if not billions, who from that day forward have called upon His name in life-saving faith. 

33: We can’t be sure what caused the darkness to come over the whole land for three hours during Jesus’ crucifixion, but we can be sure who caused it—God.  I wonder if God provided the darkness in fulfillment of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, dying at twilight.  His death would have coincided with the evening offering and the twilight killing of the Passover lambs.  See Exodus 12:6

34-36: When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (34), it was an experience that He had never felt before.  If we were forsaken by God, we would know the reason why.  Our “iniquities have separated [us from God, and our] sins have hidden His face from [us] (Is 59:2).  However, Jesus was without sin; yet He was forsaken in order that we might be saved. Although they misunderstood Jesus’ cry, thinking that He was calling for Elijah, the offer of sour wine fulfilled two prophecies from Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21 concerning Jesus’ death.

37-39: At the same moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple, which divided the holy place from the holy of holies, “was torn in two from top to bottom” (38).  This signified that the old system of repeated sacrifices had come to an end; our sins had been paid “once and for all” by the blood of the Lamb (Heb 9:11-14).  Afterward, the centurion confessed, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (39).  It is a confession that we each must make in order to rightly apply the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to our lives. 

40-47: There were many women who had followed Jesus near the cross when He died.  Some of these women followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and watched them as they prepared His body for burial.  At His birth, Jesus had been wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; at His death, He was wrapped in fine linen and laid in a tomb.  Jesus’ death and burial made Him appear forsaken by His Father, but there was a purpose—to bring us into an everlasting relationship with the Godhead.  


Our Surety     Genesis 43:1-34                                                               Pastor John Pennell           03/06/2018

Genesis 43:9 I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. NKJV

1-7: Israel had delayed sending his sons back to Egypt because Joseph had told his brothers, who did not know that he was their brother, the next time that they appeared before him, they had to bring Benjamin to verify that they were not spies.  However, nearly two years earlier, Israel had said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave" (Gen 42:38).  Israel's delay not only prevented Benjamin from going down to Egypt, but also prevented his family from obtaining needed food supplies, and allowed Simeon to remain in prison.   

8-10: Nearly twenty-two years earlier Judah had saved Joseph from death by suggesting to sell him to the Ishmaelites.  This was not a noble proposition but was made to prevent them from being guilty of bloodshed and to profit from Joseph's demise.  Although they had not killed Joseph, they carried the guilt of their actions, crying, "We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us" (Gen 42:21).  Perhaps this is why Judah was willing to offer himself as surety for Benjamin.  As surety, Judah exchanged his life for Benjamin’s and was willing to “bear the blame forever” (9) if he did not bring him back.  This time Judah's proposal was noble and caused him to become a type of savior, considering that Jesus, the offspring of Judah, exchanged His life by bearing our sins upon the cross.

1 Pet 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.

11-14: No longer willing to risk losing his family to the famine, Israel sent his sons to Egypt with the best gifts that their land had to offer.  They also took double the money, since their previous payments had been mysteriously returned to them.  Most importantly, Israel allowed Benjamin to go with his brothers, praying that God's mercy would allow both Simeon and Benjamin to be returned to him.    

15-25: They arrived in Egypt with gifts from their homeland, double the funds for their grain, and most importantly—Benjamin.  When Joseph saw them, he ordered for them to be brought to his house for lunch.  This strange treat caused the brothers to fear greatly, therefore, they willingly confessed to Joseph's steward of the mysterious return of their money and their bringing with them double the funds to ensure their innocence.  The steward's reply, "Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks, I had your money" (23), should have brought them comfort, but they were overwhelmed by fear, even after Simeon was safely returned to them.     

26-34: When Joseph arrived, they gave him their gifts and after inquiring about their father, being overwhelmed by seeing Benjamin, he had to leave to regain his composure.  After he returned, Joseph commanded that bread should be served.  The Bible tells us that "the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians (32).  It is not surprising that the Egyptians that were present would not eat with the eleven, because they were strangers to them, but their savior, Joseph, also sat alone.  Then Joseph had his brothers seated in order from oldest to youngest.  Although Benjamin may have easily been recognized as the youngest, the remaining brothers had all been born within a six-year period, no wonder "the men looked in astonishment" (33).  Finally, as the brothers were served their meal, to their wonderment, Benjamin received five times more than the rest.

Heb 7:22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.     


Jacob’s Ladder     Genesis 28:1-22                                                         Pastor John Pennell           02/13/2018

Genesis 28:15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."  NKJV

1-5: Jacob begins his twenty-year-plus journey where he will experience both hardships and blessings, but most importantly, it is during this time that he makes the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, his God.  It was through deceit that he would begin his journey.  A deceit that all centered on the stealing of his brother’s blessing, but Rebekah came to Isaac with a legitimate concern that Jacob would not take a wife from the daughters of the land like his brother Esau had done.  As a result Isaac sent Jacob to Uncle Laban’s house to take for himself a wife from his own people. 

Before Isaac sent Jacob away, he blessed him for a second time, calling for God Almighty to bless him in two ways.  First, that God would make him fruitful and multiply him into a great assembly of people.  Second, that God would give Jacob the blessing of Abraham, which had already passed to Isaac; now he prays that it would pass to Jacob and his descendants with him, that he might inherit the Promised Land.

We see the great faith of Isaac, considering that he was sending his son away from the Promised Land, he had faith in God Almighty that He would bring Jacob back that to the land of his inheritance.

6-9: Upon hearing of this arrangement, Esau, knowing that his two wives whom he had taken from the daughters of the land were displeasing to his parents, takes a third wife, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael.  By doing so Esau continues to present himself as a man of the flesh, not concerning himself with spiritual things.  He had first sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew and he now married a daughter who came from Abraham’s own work of the flesh when he tried to help out God and fathered Ishmael through Sarah’s maid, Hagar. 

10-15: At this point in Jacob’s life, I do not believe that he was too spiritually minded himself, but something happens at the beginning of his journey that sparked the flame of his spirit towards God.  It was at night while he was sleeping that the Lord came to him in a dream which has been called, “Jacob’s Ladder.”  As he dreamed he saw the angels of God ascending and descending upon the earth and above the ladder stood the LORD, who spoke to him, promising to be with him and to keep him wherever he went and to also bring him back to the land of his inheritance. 

16-17: Jacob realized that God had done a very special thing for him, thinking that he had accidently slept in the house of God.  For he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”  Actually, the LORD is in every place, but what happened to Jacob was his first realization of a personal God.

18-22: In the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had used as his pillow, set it up as a pillar, anointed it with oil and gave it the name of Bethel—House of God.  He vowed that if God would keep him during his journey, provided for him and bring him back to his father's house in peace, he would pledge that Bethel would be God's house and that he would give a tenth of all that he is blessed with to the LORD.      

What is “Jacob’s Ladder?”  To discover this answer we have to go to the New Testament, to the Gospel of John and there we discover that this bridge to heaven is not a ladder, but the Man, Jesus Christ. 

John 1:51 And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."  

It is my hope that you have also come into the realization of our personal God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  


Jehovah-Jireh     Genesis 22:1-24                                                        Pastor John Pennell           02/02/2018

Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together. NKJV

Genesis 22 is one of the great chapters in the Bible.  Not only does it tell of Abraham’s great faith, love and obedience to the LORD, but it also becomes a living example of God’s great love for us. 

1-3: The chapter begins with God calling Abraham to take his “only son Isaac” (2), whom he loved and to offer him as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah.  In obedience to God's command, early the next morning, Abraham saddled his donkey, took two young servants, his son and the wood for his offering and went to Moriah.  Although Abraham had another son, God only recognized Isaac because Ishmael was a work of his flesh and God never recognizes the works of our flesh.

Gal 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

4-5: After three days they arrived at Mount Moriah (Hebrew = "ordained/considered by God") and Abraham had his servants remain at the foot of the mount while he and his son went up to worship.  Abraham’s faith is revealed when he told his servants, “We will come back to you” (5), because only Abraham knew that God had asked him to offer his only son as a sacrifice.  Abraham also knew that God had a problem because He had promised him descendants through Isaac which had not happened yet. 

Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called,"   19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

6-19: As they went up the mountain to worship, Isaac asked his father, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (7).  Abraham gave Isaac this famous and prophetic response: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (8).  What faith it took for Abraham to offer up Isaac, but thankfully, God did not require Isaac's blood, but gave them a substitute.  Thus, God reiterated the covenant that He had made with Abraham many years earlier, saying, “In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (18).

20-24: The chapter closes by recording the genealogy of Abraham’s brother, Nahor.  Of his twelve sons, Bethuel’s daughter, Rebekah, becomes the wife of Isaac.  Their story begins in chapters twenty-four.      

Abraham's statement in verse eight concerning God's provision of the lamb was prophetic because their story, in so many ways, mirrors the redemptive plan of God through His only begotten Son.   

Both Abraham and God had only begotten sons whom they loved.  Both offered their sons as a burnt offering (total consecration).  Both received their sons back from the dead; Abraham figuratively and God actually.  Both called brides for their sons: Isaac’s bride was Rebekah and Jesus’ bride is the Church.

Both Isaac and Jesus were obedient to their father’s will.  Both carried the wood for the offering; Isaac’s for the fire, Jesus’ was the cross.  Both were offered as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah.  Both rose again on the third day; Isaac figuratively and Jesus actually.  Both received and loved their brides.  

God did provide the Lamb as a substitute, His only begotten Son and through Jesus all the nations of the earth have been blessed.  Thank You Jehovah-Jireh (v14 The-LORD-Will-Provide) for loving us so much that You provided Jesus, Your only begotten Son as a sacrifice for our sins.      


Finding Jesus In Genesis     Genesis 14:1-24                                      Pastor John Pennell           01/23/2018

Genesis 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. NKJV

1-12: Lot had chosen "all the plain of the Jordan valley because it was like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt" (13:10).  Once in the Jordan valley, he pitched his tent even as far as Sodom (13:12).  It appears that Lot began by camping outside of the city of Sodom, but here, in chapter 14, we learn that he is captured because he was dwelling in Sodom.  Lot had chosen all the plain of the Jordan valley based from the lust of his eyes, now his continued progression away from the LORD cost him dearly.

Ps 69:22 Let their table become a snare before them, and their well-being a trap.

The table was set, and the trap came as a result of nine kings who were warring against one another. Thirteen year earlier, four of these kings—Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations—had formed an alliance with Chedorlaomar as their head.  Thus, they conquered the nations of five kings: Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).  The Bible tells us that, "Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled" (4).

Although Lot saw Sodom as a beautiful land, the Bible reveals that it was exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.  Clearly Sodom was in the midst of great physical and spiritual warfare.

13-16: In chapter 13 we learned that "Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold" (13:2).  Now we get an idea of Abram's wealth, for after he heard of Lot's capture, he went out after Lot with "three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house" (14).  The LORD was gracious to Abram, as he and his small army routed the enemy and "brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people" (16).      

17-24: In verse 18 we meet Melchizedek.  Many believe that he was Jesus in what is called a Christophany, a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus Christ.  Melchizedek's name only appears a few times in Scripture.  Here we learn that he was the "king of Salem" (18) which means "king of peace."  He is also called "the priest of God Most High" and as the priest he offered Abram "bread and wine" (18).  We might say that Melchizedek and Abram had communion together.  Jesus also carries the titles of King and Priest and it is through communion that we remember His death until He comes.  We next find that this king/priest of God blesses Abram by letting him know that it was God Who delivered him from the hand of his enemy.  Finally, we see that Abram gave Melchizedek "a tithe of all" (20) as a token of worship and devotion to the God Most High who had delivered him.

Speaking of the coming Messiah, the Psalmist David wrote, “The LORD has sworn and will not relent, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Ps 110:4).  The writer of Hebrews also wrote of Melchizedek in Hebrews 5:6-10, 6:20, and 7:1-22.    

Heb 7:15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."

Have you allowed Jesus to become both the King of peace and Priest of your life?


God’s Rainbow    Genesis 9:1-29                                                            Pastor John Pennell           01/15/2018

Genesis 9:13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. NKJV

1-7: In verses 1-7, we have a parentheses of sorts concerning mankind's new life in the post-flood world.  As God twice blesses Noah and his sons, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (1 & 7).  Yet unlike Adam's pre-flood blessing, they were no longer commanded to subdue and have dominion over all living things (Gen 1:28).  God put fear in the animals toward mankind and made them food for us, “even as the green herbs” (3).  Some believe this teaches that humans were vegetarians before the flood. cf. Gen 1:29-30. 

Although God gave us permission to eat meat, He set apart the blood of all living creatures, saying, "You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning" (4-5).  Since life is precious in God's sight, it should be held sacred by all His creation.  Remember, God strove with mankind for an additional 120 years before the flood, even though "the wickedness of man was great... and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen 6: 5).  We should likewise strive to uphold the sanctity of all life.  Therefore, God gave us the right of self-government by giving us the right of capital punishment for those who shed the innocent blood of others.

8-17: Notice that God said to Noah, "And as for you" (7), concerning their fruitfulness upon the earth, and said, "As for Me" (9), concerning His covenant that He would "never again cut off all flesh by the water of the flood" (11).  In other words, God told Noah, "You do your part and I'll do Mine."  The covenant of the rainbow was to Noah, his descendants, and every living creature that came out of the ark.  How wonderful it is to know that God held true to His word, as He always does, because there has never again been a worldwide flood.  God called the sign of this covenant, “My rainbow” (13) and when He sees His rainbow, He said that He would “remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (16).  When you look up and see a rainbow, God is looking down upon this earth and remembering His covenant with us.  What a beautiful picture this is and one day, as believers, we will see another rainbow which is only found around the throne of God!

Rev 4:3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

18-19: During the pre-flood or antediluvian period, all mankind had come from Adam and Eve, but in the post-flood or postdiluvian world, the world would be repopulated from Noah's three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.  Diluvian means, produced by a flood. We are also told that Ham was the father of Canaan.     

20-27: Noah was not a perfect man, as seen in the incident that developed from his occupation as a farmer.  For after he had planted a vineyard, he produced some wine, got drunk, and to his shame became uncovered in his tent.  Ham was the first to discover his father's drunken condition, but instead of covering his father's nakedness, he went out and told his brothers.  However, Shem and Japheth compassionately covered their father by walking backwards into the tent because they did not want to look upon his nakedness.  When Noah awoke and learned what Ham had done, he cursed Ham, saying, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren" (25).  Then he went on to bless Shem and Japheth, saying, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant" (26-27).

28 -29: Noah lived 350 years after the flood, thus living to a ripe old age of 950, the Bible's third longest living man. After the flood, man's length of days continually diminished until Moses testified, "The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Ps 90:10).


Walking with God     Genesis 5:1-32                                                         Pastor John Pennell   01/09/2018

Genesis 5:22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. NKJV

In chapter five of the book of Genesis we have the genealogy of Adam through the lineage of his son, Seth.  Seth’s lineage became known as the godly line because our Savior, Jesus, came through this line.

1-2: We begin with a recap of the creation of mankind.  When God created Adam “He made him in the likeness of God” (1).  Just as God is a Tri-Unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Adam was a lesser tri-unity of spirit, soul and body.  God also made them male and female, blessed them and called them mankind. 

3-32:  As with most genealogies we are given a basic account of Adam and his descendants.  Of the ten ancestral heads on this family tree, each name is grouped by three verses except for three exceptions. 

1.  Adam was 130 years old when his son, Seth, was born.  Afterward, he lived another 800 years having sons and daughters and then died at the ripe old age of 930. 

2.  Seth fathered his son, Enosh, when he was 105 years old.  Then he lived for another 807 years having sons and daughter and died a bit younger than his dad at the age of 912. 

3.  Enosh was only 90 years old when he begot a son whom he named Cainan.  Then for the next 815 years he had sons and daughters and died when he was 905. 

4.  At the young age of 70, Cainan had a son whom he named Mahalalel.  For the next 840 years Cainan and his wife gave Mahalalel many brothers and sisters until Cainan's death at the age of 910. 

5.  Mahalalel fathered his first-born son, Jared, at the young age of 65.  As his forefathers before him, Mahalalel had sons and daughters for the next 830 years and died after living 895 years. 

6.  Jared was 162 when Enoch was born.  Perhaps Jared waited until he was financially sound before starting a family?  He spent the next 800 years having sons and daughter before dying at the age of 962. 

7.  Four verses are used to describe Enoch's life.  Enoch was 65 years old when he begot Methuselah.  It is interesting that it says, “after he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God” (22).  Did Enoch’s faith deepen after the birth of his son?  This would not surprise me because having children can often cause a parent's faith to deepen.  One more noteworthy thing, the Bible doesn't say that he died, but that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (24) at the age of 365.  Interesting!   

8. Methuselah had his son, Lamech, at the age of 182 and continued to have sons and daughters until his death at 969.  Earth's longest living man, not according to Guinness, but according to God.   

9.  Lamech also gets four verses that describe his life.  At the age of 182, Lamech had a son whom he named Noah, which means rest.  Noah was a comfort to Lamech and his wife, seeing that the fall of mankind had caused God to curse the ground for man's sake, causing them to work and toil for their daily bread.  For the next 595 years Lamech had sons and daughters, dying at the beautiful age of 777. 

10. Finally, by the time Noah was 500 years old, he had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.  The remainder of their story is found over the next four chapters.    

I was blessed that having children impacted my mom in a similar way to that of Enoch.  So much so, that it might be said that after she begot Donna, Helen and Janis, Doris walked with God.  Mom’s faith in Jesus had a domino effect upon many other lives, with my Dad, my sisters, myself, my wife, my children, many nieces, nephews, cousins and many others coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

Let me encourage you today, to be a person who walks with God.  You may have children, or you may not, but your walk with God can impact so many people around you and their faith in Jesus Christ.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? 


Three Trees     Genesis 2:1-25                                                                      Pastor John Pennell     01/04/2018

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. NKJV

1-3: Day Seven - Rest.  On the seventh day God rested from His work of creation, a day that God blessed and set apart because He had “rested from all His work which He had created and made” (3).  The Sabbath will not be mentioned again until the days of Israel's forty years of wilderness wanderings, where God provided manna for their nourishment.  Israel was instructed to gather the manna for six days, but on the seventh day, they were to take a Sabbath's rest. Cf. Ex 16:13-36.   

4-7: Beginning in verse four Moses takes a step back to give us some more details about God's creation.  We first learn that God did not originally use rain to water the earth, but “a mist that went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground” (6).  This has caused many to believe that the earth's climate was more like a greenhouse with a wonderful tropical climate.  It is interesting that evidence of tropical vegetation has been found around the entire globe, including in the North and South Poles.     

8-14: God had placed Adam in the garden in a state of innocence, where He had planted every tree that was “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (9).  There was also a river that flowed through the garden to help water it.  As the river left Eden it divided into four rivers: Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and the Euphrates.  Although the Tigris and the Euphrates are familiar to us, we must remember that Moses was describing the world before it was destroyed by the flood, which is called the antediluvian period.    

15-25: Adam was intelligent; he was able to “tend and keep” (15) the garden and to give names to all the animals.  It was through the process of naming the animals that God revealed to Adam that he was in need of a helpmate.  Thus, God caused a deep sleep to come upon him and took a portion of Adam's side, from which He created woman.  When Adam saw Eve, he called her woman because she had been taken from his side.  Then Moses gives us this commentary, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (24).  Adam and Eve were both naked and unashamed.          

One final thought.  Of the many trees that God placed in the Garden of Eden, only two are mentioned by name: “the tree of life… and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (9).  With the tree of life there was no specific command given, but with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil came this instruction from God, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:16b-17).

The world was perfect for Adam and Eve, but their relationship with God was untested.  Therefore, God placed a tree in the midst of the Garden that He commanded them not to eat of, but sadly they failed this one test.  As a result, sin and death entered our world, which we will learn about in chapter three.

Unlike Adam, Jesus came to the earth to do the will of His Father.  He came not in innocence, but with the full knowledge of the work that God had set before Him.  When put to the test upon another tree (the cross), Jesus was victorious over sin, and as a result, He is able to offer life to all who believe in Him. 

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 


The Wise Still Seek Him     Matthew 2                                                         Pastor John Pennell     12/26/2017

Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." NKJV

In chapter two, Matthew tells us of five prophesies that were fulfilled surrounding the first few years of Jesus' life. We begin by learning about the wise men who came seeking Jesus because they had seen His star in the East. Seeing His star fulfilled the first prophecy which came from a pagan prophet named Balaam. Balaam had been hired to curse Israel as they journeyed to the Promised Land, but every time he opened his mouth a blessing came forth. On one of those occasions he said, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall rise out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel"(Num 24:17).

The second prophecy was revealed when King Herod (an Edomite who ruled over Israel under Rome) heard that wise men were seeking He who has been born King of the Jews. Herod gathered the chief priests and scribes to inquire where the Messiah would be born and they said, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel'" (Mic 5:2).

Herod secretly called the wise men to ask them to go search for the child and then bring word back to him so that he might come and worship Him also. As they departed they saw the star and they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy because the star went before them to guide them to Jesus. There are a couple of things that are worth noting. First, the star had to be the supernatural work of God because it guided them right to the house where Jesus was at. Secondly, Jesus is no longer called a babe, but a young Child and the wise men didn't go to a manger, but to a house. When we combine this information with the mass execution of all the male children who were two years and under who were in Bethlehem, we discover that Jesus must have been between one or two years old when these events took place.

When the wise men came to the house they fell down and worshiped Him and presented Jesus with treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It has been said that the gold was given because Jesus was born a King, the frankincense because of the beautiful fragrance of His life and the myrrh because He was born to die for the sins of the world. Afterward, God warned the wise men in a dream and they went to their homes without telling Herod about Jesus. Then an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream, warning him of Herod's intentions and sent them to Egypt. This is where the third prophecy comes into play, which was spoken by the prophet Hosea, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son" (Hos 11:1)

I have mentioned the slaughter by King Herod of the male babies, but this too was a fulfillment of the prophet Jeremiah saying, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more" (Jer 31:15).

The fifth prophecy comes when Joseph is directed in a dream by God to return to Israel after King Herod's death. It seems that Joseph was heading back to Bethlehem at first, however the angel warned him again (Joseph was always directed by an angel in his dreams) and he settled with his family in Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

We have been given five prophetic proofs that Jesus is the Messiah but according to the theologians there were three hundred and thirty prophecies that were fulfilled at His first coming. With all these prophetic proofs, are you wise enough to seek He who has been born King of the Jews and has died to set you free?


Praise the LORD!     Psalm 117:1-2                                                               Pastor John Pennell     09/27/2017

As we come to Psalm 117, we come to a few interesting facts about the Bible.  First, this is the shortest chapter in the Bible consisting of only two verses.  It is also the Bible's five hundred and ninety-fifth chapter.  Seeing that there are one thousand one hundred and eighty-nine chapters in the Bible, this makes Psalm 117 the center chapter of the Bible. 

1 Oh, praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!  Laud Him, all you peoples.

Psalm 117 is another call to praise in the Hallel Psalms.  This time it is a call for the Gentile nations to praise and laud the LORD.  To praise, or halal in the Hebrew, means to be sincerely and deeply thankful. To laud, or shabach in the Hebrew, means to address with a loud voice.  Shabach is often used in the Bible when praising God for His mighty acts and deeds; something which we should do often and will do once we are in heaven, as we join in with the heaven worship as described by John in Revelation 7:9-10.  "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD

The psalmist next gives us two reasons for our praise, because God’s merciful kindness is great toward us and because the truth of the LORD endures forever. 

First, we discover that the psalmist is not just concerned with God’s touch in his own life, but calls the world to praise and laud the LORD because of God’s work in all our lives. 

Merciful kindness – the Hebrew word checed (kheh`-sed) is used two hundred forty times in the Old Testament.  It is sometimes translated as loving-kindness; steadfast love; grace; mercy; faithfulness; goodness; devotion and of course merciful kindness.

Vines: In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: "strength," "steadfastness," and "love." Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. "Love" by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet "strength" or "steadfastness" suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Second, the truth of the LORD endures forever.  In John 18:37 Pilate asked Jesus, "Are You a king then?" To which Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."  Pilate responded to Jesus' testimony by asking, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38).  Sadly, after he asked this question, he turned and walked away from Him who is truth. 

A day earlier, Jesus had spoken to His disciples in John 14:6, saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."  The truth of the LORD endures forever, because Jesus Christ our Savior lives forever.

To know the truth, is to know Jesus and to experience God's great merciful kindness, which is worthy of all our praise!  


The Sign of Jesus’ Coming    Matthew 24:1-36                                            Pastor John Pennell      09/11/2017

Matthew 24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"NKJV

Daniel 12:4 tells us that at “the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." It is said that eighty percent of the world's total knowledge has come forth in the last decade. Political unrest continues throughout the world and we are living with the realization that a repeat of 9/11 or worse seems certain. As I think about these things, I am reminded of the realities of our times, a time which Jesus described to his disciples when they were wondering about Israel’s future.

1-2: On this particular day, Jesus and His disciples were coming from the temple grounds and going to the Mount of Olives. The disciples appeared to be bragging to Jesus about the temple, when He revealed to them that all of the temple’s beauty would one day be destroyed. Not one of the stones would be left standing upon another.

3-51: Later on that evening, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him these questions. "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (3). Jesus’ response was two-fold. Some of His response dealt with Israel’s near future. Other parts of His response deal with current and still future events.

Israel's near future came when Titus and the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A. D. 70. After the taking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, Titus ordered the entire city to be smashed to the ground. Only three towers were allowed to remain standing and only a portion of the temple’s western wall was left to show what strong defenses had yielded to the Roman forces. Not one stone of Herod’s great temple was left standing upon another, just as Jesus said. 

As for the other two questions; “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (3). Some see these as only one question regarding the return of Jesus at the end of this present age. From the time of the temple’s destruction, there have been “many false christs and false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes” (5-7), but Jesus said that these were only “the beginning of sorrows” (8), a statement which is no longer true. I believe that we are at the end of these sorrows since we have seen a greater increase of these things over the last one hundred years or more. 

There has also been an increase in martyrdom once again throughout the world. Even believers in the United State have not escaped this horrific act. We have seen many false prophets arise, lawlessness abound and the love of many growing cold, but on the other hand, the truth of the gospel is continually being proclaimed throughout the world. 

It’s hard to know exactly when Jesus will return. For Jesus declared, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (36). Since we cannot know the time of His coming, we are then called to watch and be ready as faithful and wise servants. 

Are you personally ready for Christ’s return? The first step begins with a relationship with Him. If you have never asked Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior or if you realize that you need to rededicate your life to Him, I challenge you to be a faithful and wise servant and do so today!


A Crisis Within     Matthew 16:18                                                                 Pastor John Pennell      08/31/2017

While I was at lunch with one of the pastors from our area earlier this year, he shared a few ministry statistics that were disturbing to me. One of the things that he mentioned concerned the number of pastors leaving the ministry each day, which was so unbelievable that I had to do some research after I returned to my office. Thankfully, the numbers were not as dire as my friend had reported. Nevertheless, the number of pastors who left the ministry in 2016 is quite alarming. The following are a few statistics from Pastoral Care, Inc. concerning this crisis within the church.

•50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.

•1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.

•Moral values of a Christian are no different than… non-Christians.

•The average American will tell 23 lies a day.

•The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey… just above “car salesman”.

•4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.

•Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.

•Over 1,300 pastors were terminated… each month, many without cause.

•Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.

•Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis”. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.[1]

When only 50 % of pastors make it past the fifth year of ministry, and of all those who begin in ministry, when only 10 % make it to retirement, then the church has a crisis within. When the average American tells 23 lies a day and non-believers cannot tell the difference between their lifestyle and that of a Christian’s, then the church has a crisis within. When there are on average 3,000 less churches per year, then the church has a crisis within. When over 1,700 pastors a month leave the ministry and another 1,300 pastors are fired each month, then the church has a crisis within. It is not surprising that there is an “empty pulpit crisis” happening in many denominations and that there are over 3,500 people a day leaving the church, which is all because the church has a crisis within.        

As bad as these statistics are, Jesus has declared, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). However, it does not mean that we should not be concerned. In fact, we should be very concerned. Not in regards to Jesus’ ability to maintain His church, but in our inability to walk in such a way that brings glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The 1st century church began with just a few people, yet they were able to turn their world upside-down for Jesus. Paul mentioned that over 500 brethren at one time had seen Jesus’ resurrected body before He ascended into Heaven (1 Cor 15:6). Moreover, Luke tells us that there were about 120 faithful believers who gathered in Jerusalem after Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:15). Yet in one day, on the Day of Pentecost, their numbers grew to more than 3,000 (Acts 2:41). Over the next several years, the church continued to grow until they “filled Jerusalem” with the teachings of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:28). As the church grew, they reached the Samaritans (Acts 8:25), and finally, the Gentiles with the Gospel (Acts 10:45). From there the Gospel continued to spread and to touch the lives of millions, and it continues to do so to this day—all because Jesus promised, “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”  

Before His ascension, Jesus had told His faithful few, “But you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now… But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:5 & 8). Although the church met and worshipped together in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, no effectual work took place until the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the lives of the believers. Therefore, the empowering of the Holy Spirit is needed in order to eradicate this crisis within the church. Oh how we need a Spirit-filled wind of revival to blow upon the Lord’s church today.

May these words of the old hymn by B. B. McKinney echo in our hearts today, “Lord, send a revival, Lord, send a revival, Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”

[1]Statistics in the Ministry, Pastoral Care Inc, 2017, accessed February 02,2017,http://www. 


He Cares For Us - 1 Peter 5:7                                                                 Pastor John Pennell     August 10, 2017

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. NKJV

My first recollection of 1 Peter 5:7 is from when I was in my mid-twenties, while praying with someone at the close of a revival meeting at my dad’s church.  Although I attempted to encourage this person to give all her concerns and anxieties to Jesus, I felt inadequate to rightly relay the message.  After the evangelist came to us, he gave her one verse of Scripture that seemed to encompass all that I was trying to say, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for You.”  From that night forward, I have clung to 1 Peter 5:7 as one of my life verses.  I even encompassed it into my autograph when I played bass guitar with the band Contender. 

As the years passed, I realized that 1 Peter 5:7 was not a standalone sentence, but is preceded by, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet 5:6).  Thus, the humbling of ourselves and the casting of our cares upon Jesus are clearly connected.  In fact, humility is one of the great keys in this passage which teaches us to, “be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet 5:5b).

The Greek word that is translated as clothed refers to “the white scarf or apron of slaves, which was fastened to the girdle of the vest, and distinguished slaves from freemen.”[1]  Thus, Peter teaches that we are to gird ourselves “with humility as [our] servile garb... by putting on humility showing [our] subjection one to another.”[2]  Just as there are specialized clothing for certain jobs and most sports, Christians are to take special care to clothe themselves with humility.  In other words, to be clothed in Christ, who is our supreme example of humility.  

Rom 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Sadly, many within the Lord’s Church willingly cast all their cares upon Jesus without first clothing themselves with humility, even though Peter instructs us, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5).  Therefore, humility is one of the avenues to God’s gracious care.

Isa 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

May we continually cast all our cares upon Jesus, knowing that He cares for us.  However, in the process of our casting, we must not neglect to clothe ourselves in humility, understanding that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Pet 5:5b).

[1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.

[2] Ibid.


Always Be Ready – 1 Peter 3:15                                                                  Pastor John Pennell     July 20, 2017

An afterglow is described as the light or radiance that briefly remains in the sky after the sun has set.  In church life, it can refer to lingering in the presence of the Lord after a worship service.  Although the above definitions are correct in their respective settings, there is a third definition that sometimes happens to pastors after teaching God’s Word.  As far as the teaching is concerned, the message has been presented, and on Monday, pastors will often begin focusing on the next task at hand.  For many pastors, that means preparing to teach their next message.  However, sometimes the truths discovered from a previous study continues to linger and a pastor will find himself in a sort of afterglow, desiring to do a little more exploration and meditation before moving on.  This is where I find myself this week.

Key Verse: 1 Pet 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. NKJV     

Sanctify – “hagiazo” – to make holy, purify or consecrate.  Vine’s describes this as “the acknowledgement of the Lordship of Jesus Christ”[1] by making Him holy, set apart within our hearts, which causes us to live for others rather than self.  I believe that for any outward work to be true it must begin within our hearts.  It is when God’s truths work their way from the inside out and cause us to conduct ourselves differently than the rest of the world, that others will notice and some may even ask, “Why?”  When they ask, we must “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us].”  

For others to ask about the hope that is within us, we must live in hope, which “is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).  Sadly, many within the church live without this hope, therefore, they give no reason for anyone to ask them the reason for the hope that is within them.  Then, if by some chance someone does ask, many are not “ready to give a defense,” because they haven’t taken the time to think through their testimony.  “Be ready” – “hetoimos” – to be prepared or a state of readiness.  Therefore, it is good to write out your testimony, something that I challenged some of our youth to do by asking them to work out their own “3 Minute Testimony” by answering these three questions: How did you know that you needed Jesus?  How / when did you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  How do others know that you believe in Jesus?  It is always good to use a Bible verse in each point if you are able.

Finally, when we do get the opportunity to give “a reason for the hope that is in” us, we are to do so with “meekness and fear.”  Yes, we should pray for boldness of faith, but may we never mistake boldness for arrogance.  I know believers who complain about their being treated as evildoers, after having been discourteous to those that they were trying witness to.  Sadly, they neglected Peter’s commission to present the “reason for the hope that is in” them with “meekness and fear.” 

May we always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks the reason for our hope.

[1] Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.