Death Cannot Hold You

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From a human perspective, death is the end. There’s nothing more certain, or more permanent. That all changed with Jesus, though. Thanks to Him, death only serves as a process of beginning a new, better life.

1. Read

Acts 2:24 [NASB95] “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”

The Holy Spirit describes the “agony” of death as labor pains – unpleasant, to be sure, but only temporary. Just as death was unable to hold Jesus, it’s unable to hold all who have the Holy Spirit living inside them.

  • Have you ever thought seriously about your own death? How does the idea of your body dying make you feel? What aspects scare you? What aspects excite you?
  • For the Christian, death is only a temporary condition. How does that affect your feelings about loved ones who have died? How does it affect your feelings about dying?
  • How would a lack of that concept change the way you think about life and death?


2. Challenge

Romans 8:11 [NASB95]  “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Jesus didn’t just die and come back to life to give you eternal life, He did it to bring vitality to this life. As we say all the time, He wants you to have life abundantly!

  • What’s an area (or areas) of your life that could use God’s vitality in it?
  • Life on this side of eternity will never be pain-free, but it can definitely be better. 
  • How should Jesus’ sacrifice impact the decayed areas of your life? What part should you play in a return to vitality in those areas?


3. Prayer Focus

When you pray today, thank God that death is no longer the bitter end for you. Tell him about the area(s) in your life that need His life in them, and ask Him to revitalize them as you do your part to give Him full leadership over them.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“In God’s House”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:6 “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

What’s Up: I Will Live In God’s House Forever!”

This is our final week studying Psalm 23, and we learn perhaps one of the most valuable lessons from verse six. God invites us to live with Him forever in Heaven!

2. Read

As Review, Try and have your child recite Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley. I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

3. Discussion

  • Have you enjoyed learning Psalm 23?
  • What has been your favorite verse to learn about? Why?
  • Why do you think it is so important for us to remember to view God as our “shepherd?”
  •  Do you know what verse 6 is trying to teach us?

David, the psalmist who wrote the 23rd Psalm is talking about Heaven. He is reminding us that life on Earth is not all there is for us, but that someday we can go to Heaven and live with God forever!

  • Do you think it makes life and hard times easier if we can remember that some day we get to go to Heaven and live with Jesus? Do you know what you have to do be able to live with God in Heaven someday?

4. Prayer Focus

Take time to talk with your child/children about the concept of salvation and asking Jesus to forgive their sins. If this is something your child has already done, pray with them that they will stay connected to God and live for Him so that they will someday spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Pray for each member of your family.


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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Sharing your faith with friends and family members who don’t know God takes effort – it takes prayer and patience and strategy. Why do we do it, then? We do it because someone’s future and present depend on it.

1. Bible Knowledge

Revelation 20:15 [ESV] “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

If someone stands before God’s judgment throne and their name isn’t recorded in the Book of Life, they’ll be thrown into hell. It’s harsh and scary, but true. The first thing that should motivate us to share faith is the reality that someone’s eternal destination depends on it.

Q. Did you consider the reality of hell when you decided to make Jesus Lord?

Q. When you think about the possibility of a friend or family member ending up there, how does that make you feel? Scared? Angry? Sad? Motivated?

2. Challenge

John 10:10 [ESV]  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

Accepting Jesus as Lord will save someone from hell, but it’s not just about eternity. A relationship with God brings peace, purpose, comfort, direction, and many other wonderful things in this life. When you share your faith with someone, you’re inviting them to experience this mortal life to the fullest – making life better.

Q. What are some of the benefits of a relationship with God that you’ve experienced in this life?

Q. Which of those benefits would you most like your unsaved family and friends to experience?

Q. How can you weave those benefits into your testimony as you share your faith with people?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for saving you from eternal destruction and for benefiting your mortal life in so many ways. Ask the Holy Spirit to motivate you like never before to share the good news of salvation with the people around you who need it.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Stay away from every kind of evil.” 

Watts Up:  “I’ll Do Whatever It Takes To STAY AWAY From Sin!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Ouch!” In this series, we learn about powerful truths Jesus taught when he preached the Sermon on the Mount. In this lesson, we learn about Jesus’ teaching of “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off!” Of course, Jesus didn’t mean this literally, but He was serious about each of us being willing to “cut off” and “cut out” of our lives every attitude, action, and habit that is sinful!

2. Bible Reading

2 Kings 21:1-16 “Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 55 years…3 Manasseh also set up altars to the god named Baal. Manasseh even bowed down to all the stars. And he worshiped them…10 The Lord spoke through his servants the prophets. He said, 11 ‘Manasseh, the king of Judah, has committed terrible sins. I hate them.’ 16 And he [King Manasseh] caused Judah to commit sin. So they also did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

2 Kings 22:1-2, 23:24-25 “Josiah was eight years old when he became king… Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He lived the way King David had lived. He didn’t turn away from it to the right or the left. 24He got rid of the statues of family gods and the statues of other gods. He got rid of everything else the Lord hates that was in Judah and Jerusalem. 25 He obeyed the Lord with all his heart and all his soul.”

3. Discussion

Q. Who became king in the story?

Q. Who did King Josiah think the people should worship?

Q. Have you ever wanted something SO BAD that you were willing to do ANYTHING to get it? 

Q. Have you had the attitude of “whatever it takes” – nothing was going to stop you?

Well, that is exactly the attitude that Jesus says we are supposed to have when it comes to staying away from sin. We are supposed to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep sin out of our lives.

Q. Do you have that kind of attitude about keeping sin out of your life?

Q. Do you have things that you need to “cut out” of your life? 

Q. What are some of those things?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your child about things in their life that they need to “cut off.” Pray for them for forgiveness of sin and God’s help to stay away from sin. Pray that they will not try to see how close they can get to sin, but rather how FAR AWAY they can stay from sin!

No Promise of Tomorrow

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I attended the funeral for a great man of God on Tuesday.  Rev. Mike Massey had been the pastor of Glad Tidings Assembly of God for the past twenty-four years.  He was a superb example of a godly husband, father, grandfather, pastor, and friend.  Mike was extremely attentive to literally every person who crossed his path.  He was famous for stopping to talk to everyone, and knew everyone’s name.  When you talked to Mike you had his full attention and he would put almost anything aside to spend time with a person.  He was in love with his wife Sherry and both of his children Audra and Eric praised him as a father, mentor, and friend.  He was by all accounts a tremendous example of Christ in every area of his life.  Mike had been outside last Friday raking leaves when doctors believe a piece of plaque from his heart came loose and stuck in his heart killing him instantly while he napped.  Mike was 62.

I said all of that, to say this; Mike was only 62.  He didn’t smoke, do drugs, drink, overeat and his life didn’t include any risky behavior.  Reason would indicate that Mike should have lived to be a very old man, and yet he died at 62.  I have all kinds of feelings about that but just one really strong conclusion.  You and I should live every day with eternity in mind.

We simply are not promised tomorrow.  Even the most virtuous among us have no guarantee of tomorrow.

In James 4:13–14 we read…

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

I know that this will in no way be a new or really even that imaginative of a thought but I think it’s good for us to renew this in our minds occasionally. Simply put, the length of our lives is determined by the Lord and not by us.  What does that mean for us today?  It’s a cliché but if you knew that today was your last, what would you do with it?  How would you spend that time?  Perhaps a measure of this thinking should be in our hearts every day.  If our eternity will be spent based upon how we used our days here, how should we spend them?

I have some things that I want to get done before I’m done here.  Since I don’t know how much more time I have, I’m going to get on with them.  How about you?  I know I’m going to heaven, I just don’t know when and there are some things that God has entrusted to me.  Therefore, I’m going to spend today trying to not waste a minute and only doing those things I think have some eternal value.

This way of thinking seems to be making my day much more intentional and I’m finding that I don’t want to waste time on things that don’t matter.  That not only includes things that I do but also things that I think.

I don’t have time for fear or worry.  Every minute I spend with these is a minute lost to God’s work through me.

One of two events is without a doubt on my future calendar, the rapture of the church or my death.  One or the other is coming first.  Either way, I want to use as much time as possible being busy or resting for the Lord.

Time is a non-refundable precious commodity.  Let’s use it well!


Heading to Soloy

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As I write this we are moving from San Felix to Soloy.  Many of you sponsor children at the school that is in Soloy.  For the next three nights the team and I will be staying in the classrooms of the school and working on a few projects to make it easier for the teachers to care for the students of the school.  Our biggest project will be to build a wood-burning cook stove for meal preparation.  You see, for almost all of the 150 students that attend the school the only meal that they will receive will be the one that they get while at school.  For that reason, the teachers not only teach but also fix food for all of the students.

Many of you sponsor children at the school.  Your support supplies the school, pays the teachers, as well as purchases food for the children each day.  I cannot encourage you too strongly to sponsor a child.  On Sunday we will have the great privilege of seeing many of the students that we sponsor.  Even though school is out for their summer break right now, the students and some of their families are coming to spend part of the day with us on Sunday.  This reunion is a highlight of our trip each year.  Once again, if you are not sponsoring a child please consider doing so.  95% of the money that you give goes directly towards the care of the child, (Latin American Child Care deducts 5% for administrative costs) and should you desire, you can come with us next year and actually meet the child whose life you have blessed.  (Click here to learn more.)

The team is doing great with no sickness.  We are tired but our hearts are both full and saddened.  We are saddened because this afternoon we had to leave all of our friends at the conference and come up to the school.  We only see these dear people once a year and it is always very difficult to leave them.  We are already anticipating seeing them again next year.

On a very sad note, a young lady drowned in the river last evening.  While she was not one of those attending our meeting, it is always a shock to hear something like this. She and a group of Seventh Day Adventist were camping just down from us.  Life and death are very different here.  There are no ambulances or EMT’s that come when something like this happens.  There’s no coroner to call.  They simply took the young girl out of the water, wrapped her body in a sheet, and carried her up out of the river valley to an awaiting truck that took her body to her mother and father.  Somehow it seems much more personal here.  While life feels pretty cheap here, it also feels like the people are more in touch with their lives.  Births take place at home as does death.  Funerals are in the yard next to the house and often there is no coffin or preparation.  Just the deceased, a favorite blanket, and family and friends.

Once again, Panama and the Ngobo people keep teaching us.  This place is like a window to your soul.



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I was studying the second chapter of the book of Acts this morning and came across one of my favorite verses.

It’s Acts 2:24

“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep it’s hold on him.”

Wow!  I love the fact that it was impossible!

It almost sounds like death tried and wanted to hold him but it was simply out of the realm of possibilities.  Death was outmatched, overpowered, outwitted, incapable, too weak, too puny, insufficient, unable!

Death had butterfingers!  Death was disqualified, feeble, impotent, inadequate, incompetent, ineffective, ineligible, inept, inexperienced, inexpert, inproficient, insufficient, losing, naive, not equal to, not up to, poor, powerless, unable, uncool, unequipped, unfit, unqualified, unskilled, unskillful, unsuited to keep it’s hold on Jesus!

Death tried but found itself to be amateur, amateurish, awkward, bungling, bush-league, clumsy, disqualified, floundering, helpless, ineffectual, inefficient, ineligible, inexpert, insufficient, maladroit, not cut out for, not equal to, not have it, out to lunch, raw, unadapted, unequipped, unfit, unfitted, unhandy, uninitiated, unproficient, unqualified, unskilled, untrained, and useless!

I could go on but you get the point.

There are things that you and I consider insurmountable but that Jesus doesn’t consider at all!  Our greatest enemies are nothing to him.

Even a thesaurus comes up short when trying to capture God’s abilities!