October Newsletter: Written by Louis Liss

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A “Normal” Day At The Center
     This is the view from the roof of our ministry center. Many of you been wanting to know about what an average day looks like for me as we do ministry here in Lebanon. Three days a weeks we spend in formal language training, Sunday is church, and every other day is a new and unpredictable experience. I have had trouble answering this question until now because of the extreme variation from one day to the next, but over the course of enough time certain patterns have begun to emerge.
     1st Public Transportation: I leave home and walk to the main street to wait from 10 seconds to 30 minutes for either a bus, mini-bus (van), taxi, or serviice (cheap taxi) to come by and take me to our refugee center for between $1 and $6.66 depending on 10 different variables and situations. I get dropped off on the side of the 5 lane highway and must run across to get into our slum called Nabaa. 2nd Discovering the Plan: When I walk through the gates of our Hope of the Nations Center I discover either 50 things I expected happening simultaneously or 1,000 things I didn’t expect. I had a meeting scheduled last week with someone living in the center and walked in to discover that the shared men’s bedroom had been turned into an OBGYN (Embarrassingly I only discovered this after opening the door) 3rd Riding the Wave of Chaos: After finding out what the day will hold. I get the amazing opportunity to share the gospel with refugees in my limited Arabic, Disciple the men living at the center and the high school boys who spend all day there, and meet with our interns about all the new challenges they are facing. 4th Evening Worship: We have a dozen different meetings during the week, but four days a week we have worship services for Kurds, Armenians, and two big combined services where 200 people and 100 kids come to worship at the same time as the evening call to prayer is pumped through the speakers of the local Mosque. Out of respect we crank our speakers even louder and flood the neighborhood with worship music. Finally, I take public transportation back to our apartment for a late dinner and to begin day 2: e-mails.

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High School Ministry
It turns out I like high schoolers after all. After spending my seminary internship as a youth director and running two-dozen retreats for high school students, I was confident that it was just a stepping stone to a bigger role in ministry. So I moved my entire family across the world only to discover that youth weren’t a stepping stone they were the destination. The adult men are amazing, but the ones who truly have a fiery passion for spending time in the word and a desire to be discipled are the young men. I want to share with you about my friend Rizan. He and his family are Kurdish Syrians who have been living in Lebanon for two years. He has lost so much time in school because of the war that he is three years behind in school, so he decided to instead spend all day every day at the Center. He has been reading through the Bible in a year and I asked him to bring me any question he has. So every time I see him we get to stumble through broken Arabic and broken English to answer his deep theological concerns. The church he attends is now sponsoring him to attend the local seminary since he is too ashamed to go to school. Please be praying for Rizan as he embarks on this exciting new part of his life and I continue discipling him through this process.

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New Job
As some of you know we became the Coordinators for Foreign Teams and Visitors in Lebanon. The plan for foreigners visiting Lebanon to do ministry at our center before we came has been: When they arrive at 1:00 AM from the airport we drop them off in our lovely slum named Nabaa where no one speaks English and let them fend for themselves until they need a ride back to the airport. For some reason people have not enjoyed this experience so far. With interns already coming before we arrived, we felt a clear call from God to care for and disciple these short term staff. So far we have had a young man named Andres from Mexico who came for a month and we still have a young woman here named Annie who will be with us until December.

We quickly threw together curriculum for Pre-Arrival, Orientation, and Continued Teaching. It has been an immediate success and has solved a dozen issues with our foreigners, their ministry, and harmony with national staff. It has been a tremendous blessing to us as well. We thrive and grow by being able to disciple men and women to share the gospel. It has been a very slow process for us to grow as quickly as we would like for ourselves at the center, because of the huge language barrier. This has been an amazing experience to make disciples who can affect change in peoples’ lives at the center in a short term context.

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Davey’s Arabic
     There is a standard 6 month breakthrough that missionaries experience where they start moving from surviving to thriving. The feeling of drowning begins to turn into a felling swimming as we persevere through cultural and language barriers. Davey struggled a lot initially not just because of sickness. When we left America he had an extremely high English comprehension and then being immersed in Arabic caused him extreme frustration because he couldn’t understand anyone.
     We have been working diligently to teach him Arabic greetings and phrases. This not only has brought him a lot of joy but is an amazing testimony to every Arab that we see who understand how committed we are to sharing about Jesus that we would teach our child their language. Because many Lebanese speak conversational English, it is common for English speaking missionaries to not learn Arabic. Davey is an amazing avenue for us to share that just as Jesus came and learned our language we have come to immerse ourselves in their culture in order to share the salvation of Jesus in Lebanon.
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Psalm 27

Overview

    David does not have less enemies than last time we checked in with him, he still has problems. And so do we. To be honest I have procrastinated all day this devotional time because I am nervous about our trip to Cyprus, and wanted to accomplish things on the To Do list. But to read this Psalm reminds me, too, that I am thankful for God’s providence, His love, His protection, His grace. And I am convicted remembering He is the one I should seek, it is His face that lights my life. God provides the life that I need, the strength, to continue.

Characters

David—the Psalmist, the Lord, evildoers, my adversaries and foes, an army, my heart, my enemies, my father, my mother, false witnesses, the living

Key Verse

Verse 10, 13 “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in… I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!”

Cross References

Isaiah 49:15-16 “”Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

Isaiah 63:16 “For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.”

Isaiah 40:11 “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

Exodus 33:19 “And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

Psalm 52:5-8 “But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.”

Psalm 116:9 “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

Psalm 142:4-5 “For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from teas, my feet from stumbling. I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Job 28:12-13, 23-28 “”But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living…”God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it and searched it out. And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'””

Conclusion

    This Psalm sounds very positive, which is why I picked both verses 10—where we see that David is abandoned, lost, forsaken, and 13—where David is not feeling like he is in the land of the living, but believes God will make it possible. I also feel a little lost in taking my baby who got so sick last time we traveled on a plane again. I feel a little bit like I have no land as we will soon be traveling back to the States to fundraise more, and it will be a time of living homeless again as we are making our home here in Lebanon and will have to leave it behind.

While I think David’s positive attitude is hard for me to rustle up myself. These things are truths I believe and claim. God does not forsake or forget us. God has a plan, and He is looking out for us. Wisdom and godliness come from seeking Him out, seeking out Life that comes through Him, and remembering that Jesus’ hands are eternally marked because of my sin. My worry only adds to that sin.

God, please forgive me for my procrastination, my anxiety over this trip, and my desire to be in control. You are in control, and You are my refuge and strength. Thank You for redeeming me.

Jesus in the Psalm

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

“To be in the friendly presence of God is a privilege afforded only to the holy (Ps. 27:4-9)…waiting on the realization of God’s presence is always the formula for courage in Scripture (e.g., Josh. 1:5-9). God’s people waited until his presence became flesh in Jesus Christ. No one could find fault in Christ’s perfection (Matt. 26:59). So, joined to him, believers now serve through their words and work as holy priests before the presence of God (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 10:19-25).”*

Joshua 1:5-9 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

How’s that for emphasis? I was feeling pretty guilty up there before I prayed that prayer. Guilty that I was failing God, but He has been with me all day, and typing up this Bible study is not the extent of my relationship with God. We have, as a family, all been talking to God throughout the day. This verse would have been more fuel for Satan’s fire of guilt, but now I believe it is encouragement to me. I still feel that paradox pull between being excited for beach/IKEA/Lazarus’ tomb/family adventure time and plane/traveling/new country/nerves. But I know that God is with me.

Matthew 26:59 “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,”

Just like David, false witnesses were needed to rise against him because no one had a case against him.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Hebrews 10:19-25 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Tomorrow: Psalm 28

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

To receive this Bible Study in your email CLICK HERE

To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Psalm 26

Overview

David is asking the Lord to vindicate him because of his integrity, and he recounts the ways in which he does right before God. He praises the house of God, the place His glory dwells, and asks God to redeem him and be gracious to him so that he can righteously bless the Lord.

Characters

David—the Psalmist, the Lord, men of falsehood, hypocrites, evildoers, the wicked, God’s glory, sinners, bloodthirsty men, the great assembly

Key Verse

Verses 6-7 “I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving loud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”

Cross References

Psalm 73:13-18 “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”

Exodus 30:17-21 “The Lord said to Moses, “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.””

Deuteronomy 21:6 “And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. Accept atonement, O Lord, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’ So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.”

Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”

Conclusion

    There is so much to dig into in these cross references. In our Psalm, David is washing his hands to approach the altar of God to praise him. This is much how we are often taught pray, we ask for forgiveness, or thank God for his forgiveness and praise Him.

In Psalm 73, the Psalmist, Asaph, is expressing his struggle with seeing people around him getting away with sin. He begins to feel that his ceremonial washing, and his innocence are worthless, and that he is being punished for being good. Sometimes we feel this same way. Then, as he goes to God, God gives him sight to see that in reality the evil are on slippery ground. Their houses are built on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). They are walking the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hers these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mind and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:13-14 “”Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The Exodus text is describing this washing, which is a symbol of the need to recognize we are sinners every time we come to God. We are not clean, and we must have God to clean us. Now that God lives inside us, we should recognize this all the time and come to God as often as possible, to obtain a right heart, to be cleaned, to see God’s work around us, and to find life.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Washing our hands and seeking God’s redeeming love are throughout Scripture, and yet, merely washing our hands with water does not clear us of our guilt. As the Deuteronomy text shares, blood must be spilt as well. We are washed in the blood of Jesus, and so we are redeemed entirely. This also reminds me of Pilate washing his hands and saying Jesus’ blood is not on his hands. However, Pilate’s wife’s dream is clearly God speaking to him about his role in this (Matthew 27:19). We cannot merely wash our hands and be done with something, we must turn to God with repentance, not pride as Pilate does. Pilate seems to believe that the ceremony is what cleans the conscience, but it is the repentance that comes with it (Matthew 27:24-26).

Matthew 27:19, 24-26 “Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”… So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”

Jesus in the Psalm

    Continuing our big Christianese words is “Vindication”. My commentary describes this saying, “David pleads to be vindicated or distinguished from “hypocrites” and “evildoers” (Ps. 26:1, 4-5). Far from boasting, David’s pronouncements are implicit prayers for help in his pursuit of holiness.”*

“David knows he needs redemption and grace (v. 11b). Because of this grace, whatever happens, David stands on level ground (v. 12). The ultimate way in which God secured this redemption and grace was in the sending of his own Son, to whom God was not gracious, so that grace could be extended to sinners such as David—and us.”*

Tomorrow: Psalm 27

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

To receive this Bible Study in your email CLICK HERE

To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Psalm 22

Overview

    A Psalm that as Christians we should recognize so much of in the crucifixion of Jesus. Beginning with Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (verse 1a and Matthew 27:46), to the mockery of those around the cross described in verses 6-8, to the pierced hands and feet and dividing of his clothes in 16-18 (Matthew 27:35), and through it all a praise to the Lord!

In reading this Psalm I want to say, “At least I know the end.” I want to avoid the pain and suffering, but as I shared with you about my experience with Davy, that is a way we insulate our feelings, protect ourselves, bandage ourselves. We must grieve the cross anew each time we sin, each time we read of it, hear of it. Jesus suffered, and died, for you. Linger on these words, read this Psalm over again and again and again if you need. The pain, sorrow, and disgrace that He took on for us. This is what we deserved. And it isn’t to scare us straight that we should focus on it, but to remember what He has done for us, to never think we are without sin or blame apart from Him.

Characters

God, David—the Psalmist / Jesus on the Cross, Israel (the spiritual branch which praises God), our fathers (those who have the faith in God before us, not merely those who are in the genealogy of Judah), mankind, the people, his mother, bulls of Bashan, dogs / a company of evildoers, the lion, wild oxen, my brothers, you who fear the Lord, offspring of Jacob, offspring of Israel, the afflicted, those who seek him, all the ends of the earth, all the families of the nations, all the prosperous of the earth, the one who could not keep himself alive, and a people yet unborn.

Key Verse

Verse 27 “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.”

Verse 31 “they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”

Probably not the crux of the Psalm, since all the ones I mentioned before are indeed more about the remembering mentioned here. But these are the application, go and remember and proclaim his righteousness to all who are yet unborn. That is how we heard about his death was the memory and proclamation of others in our lives.

Cross References

Psalm 2:7-8 “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

Psalm 67:7 “God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!”

Psalm 96:7 “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!”

Psalm 86:9 “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”

Isaiah 60:1-6 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.”

This is also a prophecy of Jesus, so I have emphasized certain phrases to draw you back to the story of Jesus within this prophecy.

Psalm 78:5-8 “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Psalm 102:18-20 “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die,”

Conclusion

    When I was reading the Bible through for the first time I was shocked at how quickly God was forgotten. People who had believed in God were still alive when God was forgotten many times. It is not okay to have that happen, and we must remember what Jesus did for us, and we must tell everyone about it.

Jesus in the Psalm

    I already shared about the prophetic aspects in this Psalm that point toward Jesus, so let me share some verses with you from the New Testament, since all of the cross references in my Bible were from the Psalms. Take time to linger on these passages.

Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

1 Timothy 3:16 “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”

Revelation 7:9-10, 13-17 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”…Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Mark 13:24-27 “”But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

This Mark passage again reminds me of the Isaiah passage above with darkness covering the earth, and all being drawn to Jesus’ light.

Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—as it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Crist Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

CHALLENGE: A new challenge. If you have struggled with this in the past try out this new method. I found a website for memorizing Scripture that has been very helpful. CLICK HERE to try memverse. I hope to post more about memorizing Scripture later, but for now, if this is something on your heart, here is a good way to start. You can use this website as a way to memorize some of the verses we have read in this Bible Study that you want to remember.

Tomorrow: Psalm 23

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

To receive this Bible Study in your email CLICK HERE

To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Psalm 8

Overview

    A psalm of praise, Psalm 8 is honoring the majesty of God apparent in all the earth. Here is the true use of “out of the mouth of babes”. This psalm is also sharing of the uniqueness of humanity, that we are made higher up within the hierarchy than evolution would place us. We are just under the heavenly beings, but above all the other works of God’s hands.

Characters

Our Lord, all the earth, the heavens, babies and infants, God’s foes, the enemy and the avenger, David the Psalmist, man and the son of man, the heavenly beings.

Key Verse

Verse 4-5 “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Cross References

Hebrews 2:6-9 “It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

Psalm 144:3 “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?”

Job 7:17-18 “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment?”

Job 25:6 “how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!”

Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.”

Psalm 80:17 “But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!”

Psalm 65:9 “You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.”

Genesis 21:1 “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised.”

Genesis 50:24 “And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Psalm 21:5 “His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.”

Conclusion

    It is important what we do with Scripture. To know that God has placed us almost equal to the angels, and somewhere else it says we will be over them in heaven, can go to our heads and we can build the Tower of Babel. Or we can realize with awe what God has done for us, that we fell so far and hard as to make it impossible for us to pick up the pieces and restore our lives to deserve eternal life in peace with God. Yet, God picked us up, put us back together, and accepts us back into his home with a party. This should humble us and draw us closer to him that he shows such redeeming love.

Louis and I saw the new Noah movie. It did a very good job of showing the sin of man, and that that sin resides in all mankind. It had stunning and horrifying sequences of the death that occurred all around that ark as the rain fell and everyone died. And it shows a Noah that realizes everyone deserves to die. I am sure that not all Christians who see it find it to be a movie worth watching, but to me it was a movie that proved my earlier point. The writer and director of this movie did not have the relationship with God that could move beyond the question, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” and so the movie ends in a quandary, and not in Scriptures truth of the story and what actually happened. Perhaps we think, as many in Scripture say, it would have been better if I was never born. But God put you here, created you, and made so many things in this world just for you, out of love. We live in false humility if realizing our own depravity does not send us running into the arms of Christ.

We are not merely extras in the movie of life for important people, but are the main star of the movie that God is making about and for us. He is an extravagant lover, pursuing us with zeal.

Jesus in the Psalm

    This Psalm follows the Cosmic Drama from creation to the fall to redemption to perfect completion.

Romans 1:18-20 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

The Hebrews passage above in the cross references clearly connects this Psalm directly to Jesus. “The One through whom the world was created (John 1:3; Heb. 1:2) came to restore the image marred at the fall (Col. 1:15). He empowers even the weakest to participate in his redemptive plan (1 Cor. 1:26-31). Verses 1 and 9 of Psalm 8 serve not only as bookends for the psalm; they also anticipate the end of all things, when Christ’s enemies will be made a footstool for his feet, and his name will be majestic through all the earth (Eph. 1:22).”*

John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Hebrews 1:2 “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

Colossians 1:15-20 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether or earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””

Ephesians 1:22 “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,”

I just pray that as you read these passages of Scripture linking to the New Testament that your heart is as lifted as mine. I just want to keep reading and sharing with you because I am bursting with the good news that this all entails. God’s blessings on all of you. I pray that you are growing in Your Lord daily, and that your hunger for Scripture becomes famishing.

Tomorrow: Romans 2

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Christianese -Written by Louis Liss

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I adore intellectualism. I lavish wading in the waters of hyper-cognitive conversations and am filled with a bolt of adrenaline at the opportunity to debate any given topic that pops up in daily dialogue. So when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Great Commission for me in high school as being imperative for my life, I felt uniquely equipped to stand in the middle of the courtyard and watch as my words brought down tongues of fire onto the campus. You can imagine how stunned I was when my incredible oratory and prowess in verbal sparring bore no fruit and sowed a lot of dissension towards not only myself but God in general. For some bizarre reason my puffed up pride did not convey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beyond my arrogance, the greatest barrier to Jesus was the language I was using, which to me was clear and deeply significant. To my post-modern classmates the words, “Justification by grace through faith,” not only had no meaningful impact, but had no meaning at all. Though I had a comprehensive command of the theological principles of the road to salvation this did not impress my classmates enough to give their lives over to Jesus nor did they appreciate being dragged brain first across the threshold of salvation. So I stumbled through constant clumsy evangelism into college. It was there at our InterVarsity campus ministry that we played a game where we had to make a list of words that meant nothing or something completely different to our non-Christian neighbors. We made a long list of words including, for example, atonement, sanctification, and blood. Then we were asked to flip over the page and answer the following question without using any of those aforementioned words: What is the significance of the cross in your life? Jesus’ death on the cross was and is the most important manifestation of Christ in my life and so I feverishly began to write with growing fervor. I soon found that I was doing far more erasing than I was writing. I realized that I had become fully dependent on explaining my deep and passionate love for Jesus in a way that only I and those select few fluent in Christianese could understand. I then received a far deeper revelation from the Holy Spirit. I had been clinging to these insider terms during evangelism because I had placed my identity in my intelligence and not in Christ. I thought that it was more important that people were impressed by my knowledge of God than by God, and to bring the illumination to its completion the Holy Spirit finally told me that my amazing oration had drawn many people to myself but very few were then drawn to Him. So I began to take a John 15 set of shears to my language. I started to systematically reevaluate all of my beliefs about God and if it included any of the post-modern taboo words that I had listed then I moved it from the evangelism part of my brain to the discipleship section. I began to realize how deeply difficult this truly was. I found my post-modern friends were in no way interested with whether or not Jesus was true in what He said, but they were intently fascinated by whether or not these truths worked practically in my life. With my high church armor stripped I found myself exposed. These words had protected me from having to engage about my own struggles and failures. I now stood bare before the world with nothing but Jesus and my personal stories of his daily actions in my life. I sat one day in my hockey locker room surrounded by several guys I have known for well over 15 years. They would frequently recount the debaucherous exploits of our youth. After several months of stories a newer player who knew that I had been present for all of the depicted events asked me how it was possible that I could be a character in these stories from the past and now be a pastor and missionary who continued to consort with my former teammates. The characters in these tales were comprised of heroin addicts, a multiple rehab attender, a drug dealer whose family had to flee the state because of death threats, a prisoner for illegal pornography, adulterers, drunkards, three lifetime ban holders, and a rap sheet full of assaults to round out the tales that come to mind. Even as I began to speak I looked at my teammates through a haze of pot smoke. “How did you end up like you did after spending your life with these guys?” he asked. “I was lost, running in darkness and filling my life with anything that could make me not think about the pit I was in. I tried to pull myself out so many times and never could shake the darkness. Then I was invited to come to a youth retreat where Jesus met me and broke in with such amazing light that all of the darkness in me fled and all the venom in me was drained out. I was a new person with Jesus in my heart, and as for these guys. There’s no place that Jesus would rather hang out than in a hockey locker room. We all need that light in our lives.” The locker room that usually sounded like, well, a locker room was silent. One of my old friends leaned over and said, “Thanks Lou we need someone like you in around us.” Everyone agreed and as we were going out to play the game the new guy approached me and asked if we could talk more at the bar after the game. Of course I agreed and we had weeks of amazing conversations about Jesus and His light. While I am amongst someone who hasn’t yet taken that unfathomable leap into the arms of Jesus I now confess to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. It has transformed my life, my ministry, and truly proven to me that God was right when He spoke about all we need in Revelation 12:11, “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and Ahmeen

For Other References To Christianese Click Here

Psalm 5 (Includes Next Week’s Reading Plan)

Reading Plan for June 30—July 5

June 30        Psalm 6

July 1        Psalm 7

July 2        Psalm 8

July 3        Romans 2

July 4        Psalm 9

July 5        Psalm 10

Overview

Yesterday the Psalm was an evening psalm, and today seem to be in the morning. Once again he is asking for God to defend him and be his shield among evil men who speak worthless and damaging things. The Psalm talks about God’s power to handle all those against him. In His love we can seek refuge in Him. A few of the motifs from our previous readings again are seen here: shield, blessed, a God who hears his people and fills them with joy.

Characters

The Psalmist, Lord, boastful, evildoers, those who speak lies, the bloodthirsty and deceitful man, my enemies, all who take refuge in God, those who love His name, the righteous.

Key Verse

Verse 7 “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”

Verse 8 “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.”

These two verses both share the importance of God’s role in our righteousness. We are not righteous without God, and we cannot enter His Presence without His forgiveness.

Cross References

Psalm 132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

1 Kings 8:29,30 “that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” P.S. this verse is in the midst of pretty powerful verses. I recommend you read the whole section.

Psalm 11:4 “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

Psalm 79:1 “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 25:4, 5 “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Ezra 8:21 “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”

Conclusion

    God is not contained by a building any longer, and if you read the section in 1 Kings you also read about God never truly being contained in the temple. The fascinating observation I had was in verse 4 when he is saying no evil can dwell with God, yet in God’s love he lets the psalmist into His temple. Once again we must rely fully on God’s righteousness. God is the righteousness that we need. God is the only one who can protect us because all there is to fear is His judgment. Man can do nothing to us, and if we are not with God it is still He who we should fear. I am so glad I used both verses as key verses today, because the Ezra verse is really beautiful. As my family is on this journey, we have found it so obvious that we are only here by God’s provision and sustenance, and we must remain humble before him as we continue, seeking His guidance with Davy and all our resources.

Jesus in the Psalm

    David relied on God for his righteousness, as we also must do to receive God’s favor. Jesus is our shield. His death and resurrection gives all of us the opportunity to come near to God with joy, confidence, and assurance of His protection. Romans 8:33-34 says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Once again this is just a sampling of a great section in Scripture. Soon we will get to this chapter in Romans, but go read ahead now and let this section bathe your own heart in confidence.

Today’s Application: Read the surrounding sections of the cross references today and any day to find God’s truth, and Jesus’ presence throughout Scripture and for you.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Romans 1

Welcome to the first chapter of Romans. If you have been reading along with us the Psalms, you already know how to fill out your own notebooking page for our chapter study. All you need is to put the headings into your notebook, and then follow them. Read through the chapter 3 times before you write down any answers.

Let me give you some of the basic introductory information in my Bible, and if there is anything that you find interesting in your Bible’s Introduction to Romans, please leave a note in the comments section.*

Written by Paul to the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. This is the first epistle you would come to reading straight through the New Testament. It contains many teachings that were foundational to the church that rises in the previous book of Acts. “[Romans] played a direct role in the conversions of many such as Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley. John Calvin wrote that Romans is the doorway to the treasure of all Scripture.”* Louis says that reading chapter 1 in college is what sent him into missions.

Romans’ main message is the gospel, and this book “is certainly Paul’s most extended and concentrated presentation of God’s saving work in Christ.”*

The nouns Paul used most often in Romans provides its own sort of summary of the book.

1. God is used 153 times. He is the subject of this epistle.

2. Law is used 74 times. “Cultures may be diverse, but Scripture views humans of all cultures as having one thing profoundly in common: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). We have all broken God’s “holy and righteous and good” commandment (7:12). Yet Romans trumpets that in sending “his own Son”, God fulfilled what the law demanded but we humans could not furnish (8:3-4). Believers are liberated “in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (8:2).”*

3. Christ is used 65 times, Lord is used 43 times, and Jesus is used 36 times. From the first verse, Paul labels himself a slave or servant of Christ. We, the readers, are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

While this book does contain “weighty words piling up into lofty teachings. It is also about ethics—how to live. No chapter is without gospel-informed implications for daily living”.*

Overview:

Paul is writing to the church in Rome about his constant prayers for them who live in Rome among unrighteousness. He expresses that there is no excuse: that God has made himself known and still they refuse to acknowledge him. He talks about the sins of dishonorable passions, leaving natural relations behind for unnatural, and that condoning such sins is also wrong.

Characters:

Paul, Christ Jesus, God, prophets, David, Spirit, “those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints”, Gentiles, Greeks, barbarians, wise, foolish, Jews, righteous, those God has given up to their own passions and depraved minds who did not acknowledge God.

Key Verse:

Verse 20 “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Cross References:

Psalm 19:1-6 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”

Jeremiah 5:21, 22 “”Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not. Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.”

Conclusion:

There is no excuse for God to not be acknowledged among men. He doesn’t need our help, and it furthers our stance to not be ashamed of the gospel. We need to preach to help those who are perishing, and we have nothing to be ashamed of because God loves us and we are his saints.

This chapter tells us that there are things revealed about God that no one has an excuse to not know. We know that God exists and that He is Creator. This is called General Revelation in theological terms.

Jesus in Romans:

    “The gospel gains urgency in the light of God’s verdict on humanity.”* In Bible Study with Louis on this chapter we looked at verses 18-32 and the downward spiral that is talked about. The beginning of that spiral is people who know God, but do not acknowledge him or give him his due thanks. If someone told you that they hadn’t thanked God enough that day, you most likely would not be too concerned, but as you travel the verses in this spiral into darkness, you would become concerned. But the root seems to be denying God’s nature that was so obviously revealed in the previous verses.

    Perhaps you read this list of sins and detach, even though you read it through 3 times you might not feel that any of it is for you. There are two parts to apply to ourselves. First, as sinners. Yesterday we talked about our need for salvation from all sorts of bondage in our lives. This section is pretty much a pile of chains that bind humanity. Looking at that massive list (Paul likes lists and run on sentences) makes me feel like I have no sin compared to all that sin. However, it is not that you must accomplish every sin to be damned. All sin, any sin, one sin is enough to separate us from God. Let’s see if we take them out one by one if any strike you. Using the standard that Christ sets forth, can you say you do none of these? We all have sinned. Pray through each of these and ask God to reveal any unrepentant sins in your own life and heart.

  1. Did not honor him as God
  2. Did not give thanks to God
  3. Their foolish hearts were darkened
  4. Claimed to be wise
  5. Exchanged the glory of immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things
  6. Given up to the lusts of their hearts
  7. Given up to impurity
  8. Given up to the dishonoringof their bodies among themselves
  9. Exchanged the truth about God for a lie
  10. Worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator
  11. Given up to dishonorable passions
  12. Exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature
  13. Consumed with passion for one another
  14. Did not see fit to acknowledge God
  15. Given up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done
  16. Filled with all manner of
    1. Unrighteousness
    2. Evil
    3. Covetousness
    4. Malice
  17. Full of
    1. Envy
    2. Murder
    3. Strife
    4. Deceit
    5. Maliciousness
  18. They are
    1. Gossips
    2. Slanderers
    3. Haters of God
    4. Insolent
    5. Haughty
    6. Boastful
    7. Inventors of evil
    8. Disobedient to parents
    9. Foolish
    10. Faithless
    11. Heartless
    12. Ruthless
  19. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The second application is as one who sees others sinning in these ways. Romans talks about our responsibility as followers of Jesus throughout its chapters. The last verse in this chapter brings up yet another way that we are called to be responsible to each other. If we give approval to those who practice these debased and immoral acts, that is a sin. We do not want others to die, and we know that “those who practice such things deserve to die” (verse 32b). If my friend is struggling with any unrighteousness, I want to encourage her back to God, and his redeeming presence. I want her to be blessed, as we have been reading about in Psalms.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases of the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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To see the other posts in this study CLICK HERE

Tomorrow: Psalm 4

Quiet Time

What I have heard from people over and over is how hard it is to find time to do Bible Study, Quiet Time, Devotionals, and/or prayer time. Well, I know how that feels. What God has been teaching me over the past few months is to seek His approval in all things. So, as I write about my commitments, know that we are all in a different season of our lives. At one point in my life (college) I was part of a prayer walk group that met 3 times a week from 8pm to midnight. That was an amazing time of maturing in prayer, building fellowship with that group, and was only for a year of my life (in school years). At another point in my life I took the 40 days of Lent to commit to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening for time with God. This was possible because Davy was napping a lot, and nursing, so I would read the Bible while nursing. That was an amazing time of giving everything to God, and each of these seasons has helped me learn about myself and God.

Let me tell you about the season I am in currently. Some of you are reading this to figure out how I will be doing this whole Blog Bible Study thing, and some because you are a part of our prayer team for Lebanon. Either way, I hope this will encourage you and help you connect with me better.

This past week I have recommitted to having quiet time every morning before Davy wakes up. Since making that commitment, I have had no nightmares (for those of you who know me, this is a big deal.) Lebanon functions on a slightly later timeframe than my life back in Arizona, USA. Our wake up time each day is 9:00 AM, so when I made this commitment, it meant that I moved by wakeup time back to 8:00 AM. Then I felt convicted because I want to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up as part of my Potatoes not Prozac plan, so I moved my wake up time to 7:30 so I could eat and still have an hour or so with God all before Davy wakes up. As you can see, for many people this is a doable time, and for others even 7:30 is later than they start their day.

The way I typically do my morning quiet time:

  1. Pray.
    1. Talk to God, thanking him for the day
    2. I write down my high, low, and a God moment for the day before
    3. I write down at least 5 things I am thankful for today and I add to the day before as well
    4. I go through the thoughts buzzing around in my head. I write them down and give them to God.
      1. One note here. I am typing instead of using a journal right now because I didn’t bring any journals so that I could bring all of Davy’s books. When I was writing up my To Do and other buzzing thoughts in my paper journal I found myself not truly giving them to God because I carried that journal with me, and it stopped being a prayer and became another To Do list to carry around. On the computer I file the Morning Prayer separately than my thanks and highs and lows so that it is given to God. Those prayers I go through every now and then to see how God answered them, but not really to burden myself more.
    5. I find that writing out what I plan to do that day or things I am disappointed aren’t happening, helps me process and also give them to God knowing He will plan my day far better than I could.
  2. Open up my Study document. Once again, I just haven’t found a journal for study use yet, but I have documents for each chapter of Romans and Psalms prepared in advance. All you need to make your own notebook page or word document are these headings:
    1. Scripture:
    2. Date:
    3. Overview
    4. Main Characters
    5. Key Verse
    6. Cross References
    7. Conclusion
  3. Read the chapter 3 times.
    1. Yes, read it three times through completely.
    2. My favorite part is seeing verses that I have heard so many times and being able to put them in context of the chapter. Reading the chapter three times helps with this process because the first time through those verses stand out completely. By the third time through I am able to read them easily within the chapter and see how they connect to the chapter and book.
  4. Begin filling out the sheet with an overview of the chapter after you’ve read it 3 times.
  5. List the main characters.
    1. I list ever character which will let me search by words like blind man, unrighteous, etc. later.
  6. Choose one key verse.
    1. This is not a verse that is the most popular. As I said about reading through the text 3 times, verses that have been used over and over around us are not necessarily the verses that capture the chapter best.

One note I want to add is that with the Psalms I will be posting I will be sharing about how Jesus is shown in them also. It has been on my heart for a long time to share with others how Jesus really is in the entire Bible. I even bought a Bible that has commentary specific to that purpose. In my reading Psalms this past week in my ESV Gospel Transformation Bible I was encouraged and inspired by the introduction which shared about reading the Psalms with the words of Jesus in mind. Luke 24:44 says, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” There you have it, in Jesus’ own words the Psalms are about Him! So, I will include a section: “The Gospel in the Psalms” for each day of Psalms Study.

January Prayer Letter: Updates Galore! Baby Pictures, Middle East Update, and Funding Updates.

Funding Update

Monthly Pledges: $140
Total In Account: $1032
(These amounts place us at almost 3% of our goal) 

We need about $5000 per month in order to do all the discipleship, Bible studies, evangelism and other activities we are hoping to do. This will allow us to be full-time in ministry without having to find a job in Lebanon. Unlike our trips to Michigan in the past where we had a set amount needed by a certain date, we are in need of a salary based on our supporters.

Click Here To Donate To Louis & Annie Liss

If you have been with us from the beginning you may notice that we are struggling to bring our funding numbers up. You are our prayer support and our family, so we need to be transparently honest with you. Fundraising has been very difficult for us. We have repeatedly said that we are beginning, but were truly more invested in preparing for the baby. Now that David is here we have begun meeting with people and looking toward going to Lebanon. Please lift us up in prayer. We need your support now more than ever.

Christmas Baby

An Open Door

In an honest effort to help America grasp Christian persecution in the world, a terminology was developed describing countries as either “Open Countries” or “Closed Countries.” The former describes areas where the gospel can be openly proclaimed in public and the latter are those in which it cannot. Noam Chomsky posed this question: “Do our thoughts create our language or does our language create our thoughts?” As a linguist Chomsky was noticing that our words and rhetoric dramatically affect the lens through which we view the world. The problem with these terms is when we hear closed country it is subconsciously drawing our minds toward the belief that this location is without access. Yet God says in Revelation 3:8, “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Though missionaries may be hindered physically, legislatively, or financially from preaching the Gospel amongst a certain people, God beckons us, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr 7:14). The prayers of the people have been penetrating the hearts of the lost for millenia and it persists today. 30% of Christians with a Muslim background profess to being visited by Jesus in a dream or vision. We are so thankful that in Lebanon we are able to stand in the streets and openly preach the gospel, but we are aware this could change any time. The prayers of the saints are rising up to God and He is responding to these humble cries of intersession. Remember, if God opens a door to a nation, to a people group, or to a person’s heart no one can close is, and the door to the hearts of Muslims around the world is swinging wide. Please persist in your prayers.

Happy New Year!

David Ezekiel Liss

Baby David is almost two months old now and is smiling all the time. He also can roll over half way, which is exciting and nerve-wracking. He is an amazing baby and we are thrilled to have him. We are reading to him a chapter of the Bible each night, and are now into Exodus. Every week he has gotten to hear his daddy preach since he was born, which is an amazing blessing.

Still, the most often asked question is if we are still planning on going to Lebanon with this little guy. People who have held him and seen him fall desperately in love with him and, understandably, become protective. You have heard us say that God sent his only son into the mission field as a baby. You have read Louis’ Middle East updates, which are full of hope for these people. But then you flip on the news and see the wars literally surrounding our little country. As the mom I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned for my baby; however, I am not concerned to take him to Lebanon.

I was asked while 8 1/2 months pregnant what was the most important thing I wanted my baby to learn. My answer. “I want him to love Jesus.” Upon further questioning about schooling and other mental and academic goals I had for him, my answer remained the same. Jesus is what is most important to us, and we need our son to know that first. No matter where we are, that is our focus. We don’t want to protect him from God’s calling, and that is what is truly scary. We know he can change the world, and as much as people are concerned for us and our future we know that God will call him even further than we take him. Your fears are noted by us and by God. We are following God’s calling, and as we are raising money we are fully aware of the fragility of our plans. That is why we repeat to ourselves and to you, our supporters, God has a plan. When you are concerned for us, just pray that God makes his plans clear step by step and that we may remain in His will at all times.