Joy Forevermore

Make Yourself Ready!

Over the last week we have focused on Philippians, and especially the theme of joy. Joy is a state of happiness and contentment in the midst of any and every circumstance because of our response to the gospel and our connection to God through Christ. When we live like Christ, we experience deep levels of joy. Joy is found also in overcoming those who try to turn us away from the gospel message, and those tendencies within ourselves. Finally, we are reminded, even commanded, to rejoice in the Lord always. Joy is available to us in every situation, not just good ones, but in suffering and pain, because of who we are and whose we are. (We are brothers of Christ, which makes God our Father!) We are able to have joy at all times; what great news!

In the Christian tradition there have been some documents that have really helped Christians explain their faith or aspects of their faith well. The Confessions of St. Augustine, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, The Chronicles of Narnia. Even if we don’t agree with everything in these works, they have made quite an impact on the Christian faith. (Especially the Chronicles of Narnia.) One other document is the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a document used to teach the Christian faith that has been around from the 1640s. The first question it asks and answers is :

What is the chief end of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. 

To explain, this is saying “the greatest goal of every person is to give God glory and praise, and to be in joyous relationship with him forever.” It’s not scripture exactly, but that sounds about right to me. The last state of the believer is joy with God.

In Revelation Chapter 19, there are three times that a great multitude exalts God and praises his name for casting down wickedness in the world. Revelation 19:6-8 say. “6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure…” In this picture of the great multitude, which are those who have been saved by the Messiah, they are saying that what they will do is to exalt and glorify God, but also to REJOICE in him. They are finding joy in God. 

That is the final state of those who have followed Jesus. When we think of the eternal life of the saved, it is not just living for a really long time, it is a fulfilled, joy, content life. It is life to the fullest. Yes, it will last forever but it will not be dull, boring and monochromatic, and it won’t be sorrow, struggle filled, and just like this life. 

We will feast with Jesus at his wedding to his bride, the Church. (Rev. 19:9) We will be exalted to live and reign with Christ, whatever that looks like. (Rev. 20:6) My favorite promise is that we will look into the face of God, and he will wipe away our tears. (Rev. 21:4) That is what it means to enjoy God forever. We will have EVERY REASON to find joy, because “God will dwell with us, and we will be God’s people, and God himself will be with us as our God.” (Rev. 21:3, in the first person) 

My brothers and sisters may Jesus be your savior and lord so you may feast and rejoice at his wedding supper.

May you be raised again so that death will have no power over you. 

May your tears be wiped away, and may you enjoy God forever. 

“Rejoice in the Lord, always” and forevermore!

-Jake Ballard

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Jake Ballard is pastor at Timberland Bible Church. If you’d like to hear more from him, you can find Timberland on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TimberlandBibleChurch/ ) and on Instagram (https://instagram.com/timberlandbiblechurch?igshid=t52xoq9esc7e). The church streams the Worship Gathering every Sunday at 10:30. Besides studying and teaching God’s word, he is raising three beautiful children with the love of his life, plays Dungeons and Dragons and is really excited about going to a Renaissance Fair this Fall. If you’d like to reach out to talk Bible, talk faith, or talk about your favorite D&D monster, look Jacob Ballard up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336 )or email him at jakea.ballard@yahoo.com
God bl
ess you all!

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 17-18 and Colossians 2

Introduction to Joy

Philippians 1

I’m not gonna lie to you : it’s been a bit rough. Since March of 2020 until now, we have seen a pandemic that caused suffering and panic across the globe, racial and political division across the US, an even greater erosion of trust in our institutions of power, particularly of the media, and financial and political instability the world over, as well as claims from some that some or all of these issues don’t even exist! 

We need to know how to respond to these situations. The Bible doesn’t have a “read this passage in case of global pandemic and division” section, but there are multiple places that describe the appropriate attitude to take in the midst of suffering.

In the book of Philippians, we see Paul in the midst of suffering. In 1:12-13, we learn of Paul’s predicament. He is imprisoned, probably in Rome or Ephesus. (You can read more about Paul’s imprisonment for the Gospel in Acts 25-28.) He seems to believe that he may be going to his death, though he would love to both visit the Philippians again, and to go on to Spain. He wants to continue to do God’s will, but he recognizes that death may be a better alternative, as he would finally rest and have peace in Christ. (1:21)

“To die is gain” is a strange statement from the same man who said “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:26) Is death a gain or an enemy? As we said before, Paul is suffering. Being in prison isn’t a cakewalk. But he is not only experiencing suffering for the sake of Christ, but telling the Philippians they will suffer for the sake of Christ as well. (1:29-30) If all this is true, then what should our response be? Gloom? Doom? Wailing and mourning?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! The letter of Philippians is drenched in a word : Joy, or rejoice. This is the theme that pervades the thought of Paul in Philippians, using the word 16 times and talking about joy throughout the letter. He says that he offers his prayers with joy because of the Philippians and what they have done for him (1:4). Paul rejoices over the fact that Christ is preached and that the Philippians will bear Paul up in their prayers. (1:18-19) 

How can Paul have joy in the midst of suffering? What is the joy that Paul talks about? Answering these questions and more like them is the goal of this week. Over the next few days we will be walking with joy. Tomorrow we will see how joy is used in the rest of the New Testament to know what Paul means by joy. Then we will see the joy of being like Christ and the joy of overcoming sin. We will discuss what it means to rejoice always. Finally, we will look to the end of the age and try and rejoice in the joy that we will experience forever. 

Today, my brothers and sisters, may you begin to be excited about the joy that Christ brings. May you taste the joy on this beautiful day, and may it carry you through this week.

-Jake Ballard

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway here – Isaiah 7-8 and Philippians 1

The Early Church : The Message

John 20


I love the book of John, and I am so glad I get to lead us in this week, because John 20 is one of my favorite chapters. 


This week we are discussing the early church. We will be ending John and moving into Acts. While Luke shows us the crucifixion, resurrection, and later the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost as the beginning of the church, John shows us the beginning of the church here in chapter 20. 


In the opening verses, Jesus is RISEN! Jesus, in John, clearly laid down his life of his own accord, and clearly takes it up again. There is no doubt in the mind of Jesus or the author about what he was doing. Jesus was saving humanity! Jesus was giving the final sign that he is the Messiah, and 8th sign, signifying that he is creating something new. The disciples sprint to see the empty tomb but go away. Mary stays. Jesus sends her to let them know that his words were true, he had been raised, just as he said. He sends her out.


This sending of Mary is mirrored in what Jesus does to the apostles is verse 19. They are sitting in fear, but Jesus shows up and gives them his peace. Then in verse 22-23 we get a weird picture. Jesus breathes on his disciples, post-CoViD, masks, and social distancing, we may feel like Jesus was in their personal space. But he says, “Receive the spirit”. The Holy Spirit, the power, presence, and promise of God to those who would believe in the Messiah, is the very breath of Jesus. What John is showing is that this powerful spirit that shows up in Acts and shakes the city and changes the world, is the breath of Christ. He gives his disciples spirit for power, for forgiveness, for judgement. This is John showing us the birth of the church. 


However, the verses I want us to really see are the last three of the chapter. “Doubting” Thomas gets an unfair, if earned, nickname. Yes he doubted. But no one has ever brushed off a crucifixion before. No one gets executed and wakes up a couple days later. Jesus is the exception to the rule. But when Jesus shows up, Thomas believes, declaring “My Lord and My God.” Jesus recognizes the belief of Thomas and says “Because you have seen me, you believe. Blessed are those who did not see, and yet believed.”


My brothers and sisters, that is you. Jesus spoke of how YOU are blessed for having faith without sight. Jesus knows that it is a difficult thing to believe, to be the church. But, like Mary, like Peter, like Thomas, like John, we are called, in faith, to tell others the message of the early church, the message that is still true today. “These things (the book of John) are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) If you believe, have faith without sight, that Jesus is the Christ, as John has been showing, as Peter and Paul declared, as Jesus himself testified to for 40 days on earth, then YOU have life in his name. That is the message of the early church, it is the message of the medieval church, it is the message of the contemporary church, and it will be the message of the church until the end of the age. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and we have life in his name. 


Let us, his breath-filled, Spirit-empowered followers, be his witnesses to the world. 

-Jake Ballard

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here 1 Samuel 9-10 and John 20

Good Gifts

Luke 11 

There is so much we haven’t covered in this past week. Just today both the Queen of Sheba and Beelzebul get mentioned in the span of a few verses.  And we never even touched on Numbers or Deuteronomy. But today I want to touch on two things in chapter 11 that I hope will encourage you through the end of lent up to Resurrection Sunday. 

The first is the hope in the good gifts from our Good Good Father. Jesus teaches that reluctant friends are willing to help to persistent demands. I’m a dad; I understand the power of persistent asking! But if my precious (and slightly precocious) daughter asks me for a unicorn, I’m not going to give her a spider. If she wants a PB&J, I won’t give her rotten ham and toe jam. I know what she wants and I WANT to give her gifts, because it brings her joy. 

God wants to see that joy on your face. He is willing to give you his Spirit. God’s Spirit is a powerful, active, guiding, teaching, comforting, and encouraging reality for the church. Called the comforter, the advocate, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit, though mysterious, is how God wants to interact with and empower you for his ministry and for your living. All you have to do is ask, and God is ready to give you this great gift. 

At the other end of the chapter, after Jesus thoroughly ticks off the scribes and pharisees for a majority of the chapter, we read that the Pharisees “began to get hostile” and were “plotting to catch him” in his words. But I want you to remember 9:52. Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. He is walking there on purpose. While we could try and analyze God’s sovereign control versus human free will in a passage like this, I think there is something more life changing than that. God’s smart enough to work out all things for the good of his people. Jesus knows where his story leads; God is going to use human pride and sin to erase sin and pride. He is going to use the taking of life to bring about eternal life. He is going to transform the pain of this world into joy of the next. Think about that. These leaders think they are taking out a revolutionary “rabbi of the people” who has wounded their egos. Satan is stoking the flames of pride and stubbornness because he wants to take out the Messiah. But God is using all of this in his plan to save humanity. 

Today, when life feels out of control, or overwhelming…

When you are stressed, depressed or obsessed…

When you don’t know where to go, what to do, or how you’ll get through… 

Ask God for the Spirit. To empower you. Embolden you. Comfort you. Teach you. Guide you. Speak through you. 

And he will pour it out. 

Ask God to work all his for your good. Ask your dad to help. Your wise father to work things out in ways you don’t or can’t see. And believe he is already working. Not every pain will end. Sometimes victory is shaped like a cross. But, the end will be a world made better by you, a world blessed by you, and you blessed by the God over all things. Eternal life and eternal peace, in the presence of God, through the death of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit. 

God be with you during these final days of Lent and Easter. 

-Jake Ballard

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Jake Ballard is pastor at Timberland Bible Church. If you’d like to hear more from him, find Timberland on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TimberlandBibleChurch/ ) and on Instagram (https://instagram.com/timberlandbiblechurch?igshid=t52xoq9esc7e). The church streams the Worship Gathering every Sunday at 10:30 and Sunday School at 9:30. Besides studying and teaching God’s word, he is raising three beautiful children with the love of his life, plays board games and roleplaying games with amazing friends weekly and tries and fails to be less nerdy every day. If you’d like to reach out to talk Bible, talk faith, or talk about Star Trek, look Jacob Ballard up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336 )or email him at jakea.ballard@yahoo.com

God bless you all!

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway – Deuteronomy 5-6 and Luke 11

Blessed are…


Luke 6

Recently, both my Sunday School and Wednesday night groups went through the first part of Matthew, chapter 5. This is the beginning of Matthew’s rendition of “The Sermon on the Mount”, and it starts with “the Beatitudes”. It is a list of traits that show who are the blessed ones. When you read the list of the eight “Blessed Attitudes” in Matthew, you could easily see implicit commands. Be more poor in spirit, be more gentle, hunger and thirst for righteousness better. Something like that. 

In the recent years, I read an interesting take on the Beatitudes in Matthew. This author said that the first four are brokenness and oppression that no one chooses, and that God is on the side of those oppressed ones. This would seem clear with “mourn” (Matthew 5:4); but if poor in spirit means “impoverished of God’s goodness” rather than “humble”, we could see that this would be a rather impressive switch. 

The reason I bring up this reading in Matthew is because Luke doesn’t need a ton of interpretive work to see the blessedness of the broken. In your reading you read Luke 6. This is part of the passage we read:

20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 

24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

25 Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

Blessed are the poor. Not the poor in spirit, the humble, the ones who recognize their own spiritual poverty.

Jesus blesses those who don’t have coins to rub together. 

Because God wants to give them a kingdom. 


Blessed are you who hunger. No hunger for righteousness, thirst for truth, and desire the goodness of God. 

Jesus blesses those whose stomachs are growling. 

Because God wants to give them food for now and eternity.


Blessed are you who weep. Not mourn over the sins of the world and the things that drag us away from God. 

Jesus blesses those who cry because of stress, pain, heartache, and loss. 

Because God will give them laughter. 

Blessed are you when you are hated because of Jesus. 

Jesus blesses those who are only trying to follow in his footsteps in the middle of a world that may hate them. 

Because God has a great reward in heaven, waiting to be given. 


And Jesus follows up with some strong language : woe to the rich, the well-fed, the laughing, and the well-thought-of. Those who have all the blessings this world has to offer don’t share any in the world to come. 

What does this have to do with you?

Jesus clearly doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. He never wants anyone to suffer needlessly.

And part of what we are called to do is to end the needless suffering around us. 


Jesus told his disciples “you will always have the poor with you”, and what that text is really saying is “never stop giving to those who need help.” (Deuteronomy 15:11) 

God is on the side of the poor; He will bless them in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to alleviate their poverty now. 

Jesus told his disciples “you give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13), and the early church made sure that every person was fed and taken care of. (Acts 2:44-46)

God is on the side of the hungry; He will give them food in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to feed them now. 


Jesus always encouraged and comforted his disciples (John 14), and the church lived life together, weeping together so they could rejoice together (Romans 12:15). 

God is on the side of the weeping; He will give them comfort in his kingdom, but he is using YOU to comfort them now. 


Jesus said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and that “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)

God is on the side of those hated for his son; He will bless them beyond all measure in his kingdom. 


Your call is to be a great blessing to all those whom God desires to bless. May you bring blessing wherever you go; you are blessed to be a blessing

-Jake Ballard

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading at BibleGateway – Numbers 31-32 and Luke 6

Jesus is Looking for You

Luke 5

In this time of year, the wider church celebrates Lent. In this period leading up to Easter, we take time to examine ourselves, our sins, our motives, our hearts and souls, and recognize that it was for our sins that Christ died, not only to free us but to change us. While the reading in Numbers is very important, and I am glad you are reading the Old Testament, I want us to focus on Christ this week and his life as portrayed by Luke. 

There are two stories in Luke 5 to which I want you to pay particular attention. Let’s look first at Luke 5:1-11. Jesus is already an established teacher, a rabbi, and has a ministry going. He is probably on the lookout for disciples. Disciples were usually chosen from a core group of aspiring, promising young men. They would have excelled at learning the language, would be able to read the Torah, memorize the Torah, study and debate the Torah. In the learning institutions, those who were not promising, or who had to work with their parents to feed the family, were sent home to learn the family trade. So Jesus meets up with a guy named Simon. We might recognize him more from his nickname, Peter. Simon is a fisherman, who has his lot in life, knows what his station is. He KNOWS he’s not meant to be a rabbi’s disciple. He KNOWS he wasn’t smart enough or rich enough to make the cut. But Jesus isn’t looking for the richest or the smartest. Jesus says “cast out your net” and Simon says “because you say so.” They’d been fishing all night. They ain’t got nuthin’, as we say in the South. (SC represent) These good ol’ country boys know what they are doing, but Simon likes Jesus, trusts him, and does what he says. 

And that is what Jesus is looking for. 

And there is a miracle.

So many fish the nets tore, and the ships sank, and it took two crews. 

That’s a lotta fish. 


Simon, James, and John were all amazed and astonished, and Jesus said “You will now fish for people.”

And they pulled up their boats. 

Left everything. 

And followed him. 


Later on in the chapter, we read about Levi the tax collector. We may know him better by the name Matthew, who we think is the same guy. Now tax collectors were hated. Jews despised by their brothers and sisters because they were thought of as traitors. They were Jews, collecting money from other Jews for Rome, the occupying military force. To get rich, they would overcharge the Jews and keep the rest, which was legal, but tantamount to stealing. And this traitorous thief is sitting in his tax booth. Jesus sees this guy and says two words to him : “Follow me”


Levi followed him. 

Left everything. 

Right there in the booth. 

Levi is amazed and astonished that a holy rabbi would look for him, would choose him to follow, would send him out to work. 


A whole lotta tax collectors and sinners heard this good news that God’s kingdom was open to them. Jesus said that he came to call the sick, and heal them.  He healed the sick there that night, and it was miraculous. 

Jesus is looking for you. 

He is seeking those who will listen, whether it is to let down a net or to let down your guard. The call will always be “Follow me.” If you listen, he will accept you.  We know we aren’t rich enough. He KNOWS we are. (Colossians 1:27) We know we aren’t smart enough. He KNOWS we are. (1 Corinthians 1:25) We know we aren’t good enough. He KNOWS we are. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He says to you today: “Follow me.” Pull up the boat, get out of the booth. Leave EVERYTHING behind. And follow him. 

-Jake Ballard

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at BibleGateway.com – Numbers 29-30 and Luke 5

2 Chapters; 2 Books

2nd & 3rd John


Today, you are racing through two books at a blazing speed. Some of the shortest books in the Bible by word count, verse count, chapter count. However, a sad reality happens with Biblical books. The smaller they are, the less they are read. Out of the top 10 least read books on BibleGateway, you have read three this week. Jude is number 8 on the list of least read books. Though Obadiah takes home the #1 spot, 2 John and 3 John take spots 3 and 4, respectively. It’s sad, because what we get in 2 John and 3 John is the same God-inspired message, just in much smaller, some would say, bite-sized portions. 


Let’s talk about the letter’s collectively. Both are written to smaller groups than 1 John. 1 John was to a general audience; 3 John is to one man, and 2 John is to one woman, or one church. Either way, 2 John’s statements make sense. John says that he is joyous that some “children” are walking in truth. In 3 John 4, we see that this is his greatest joy. Walking in truth means believing in Jesus and following his way of living. Those young people he loves, who he has “raised in the faith”, his “children”, he loves to know they have remained faithful to Jesus.


We have already talked about this remaining faithful. You must follow the commands of Jesus. It is not a new commandment but an old way. LOVE our brothers and sisters, one another in the body! If you don’t understand loving a brother and sister, you don’t understand the gospel. John is clear. This is THE commandment of Jesus. 3 John gives us an example of this. John is commending Gaius for supporting the work of brothers and sisters who were passing through preaching the gospel. He welcomed them in, allowed them to teach, gave them money and sent them on their way. This was the right thing to do. And a man named Diotrephes DIDN’T do the right thing, but in jealousy and out of a lack of love, did not support them and kicked out those who helped them. 


But Diotrephes isn’t alone in harming the message of Jesus. Diotrephes wanted to be the top dog, and his ego was hurt that respected teachers were coming into town. He wanted to be the greatest in the eyes of the church. His arrogance earned him disapproval from John. Moreover, John’s CONDEMNATION is poured out onto those who are deceivers, false teachers. People come along who are denying that Jesus came in the flesh, that he was born in the Little Town of Bethlehem on a Silent, Holy Night. John roundly condemns this attitude, this belief. 


We don’t have people claiming that to us, but we can learn from this. John encourages “the woman” to compare the claims of these “teachers” with the claims of the apostles. If they didn’t match up, follow the trusted source. For you, test the claims that you hear about God, Jesus, the world, the afterlife, against the claims of those who have known and followed God, in scripture and the church. Trust those who have known and experienced God over those who want to be “first among everyone”. Don’t let false teachers and “Big-Headed-Egoists” harm THE faith or harm YOUR faith. 


My brothers and sisters, I am glad to have been reading along with you this week, this week when we remember the birth of Christ. Whether we celebrate together or separately, we are bound together in love, affirming together the truths of Jesus and his message of eternal life. 


May you love your brothers and sisters in faith. 

May the church you call home be a beacon of love in a hurting world. 

May you never be divided by the arrogant or the false teachers, but if they try, may you stay true to the faith of scripture. 

My brothers and sisters, may you forever live in the words of 3 John 2 – Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.


May you prosper in all respects. 

-Jake Ballard
————————————————————————————————(Jake Ballard is Pastor at Timberland Bible Church in South Bend, IN. He lives in the Michiana Area with his wife and three kids. If you’d like to say hi you can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336  You can also hear more teachings on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/TimberlandBibleChurch or at YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs_awyI1LyPZ4QEZVN7HqKQ/videos. Finally, Baby Yoda/Grogu is the best Star Wars Character hands down; change my mind. I look forward to hearing from you!  God bless!)

Today’s Bible passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2nd John & 3rd John.

Tomorrow we begin the final book and read Revelation 1-3.

Jesus is Greater : Angels, Moses, Priesthood

Hebrews 1-6

If you are anything like me, you like to have all the answers. When we read a book like Hebrews, one of the difficult realities is that it doesn’t offer a lot of answers on first glance. We don’t quickly see the author, and even upon careful inspection the answer isn’t apparent. We don’t know to whom it was written or when it was written (an author would make these questions a lot easier to answer). It brings up a few stories and images that are strange; not the first stories we are drawn to in the Old Testament. Without this book, the story of Melchizedek, King-Priest of Salem, would be a strange incident in the story of Abraham. It still IS a strange story, but it would be one we wouldn’t look at as much. Hebrews frustrates me because it makes me ask more and more questions without giving me all the answers.

But, there are very few books that have a stronger theme than Hebrews. The theme of Hebrews is simply this : Jesus is GREATER than ANYTHING ELSE in ALL CREATION!  Read Hebrews 1:1-4.  What does this tell us about Jesus?  Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 

Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. 

Jesus Christ is the one through whom the universe is made. (Made with Jesus in mind and for him.)

Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory. 

Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God’s character. 

Jesus Christ purifies the world and then sits down at God’s right hand. 


I reiterate those words and want you to pay attention to them because JESUS IS GREATER. 

Hebrews 1-2 is all about how Jesus is greater than the angels. While we understand this intuitively, in the time of Jesus, angels were the ones through whom God gave the Law. This meant that they were not only the beings who continually stand in the presence of God, but who are essential for the salvation of God’s people. Then, we are shown how Christ is greater than Moses, the Law-giver and prime prophet, in Hebrews 3-4. Moses is not a small figure. He is the central human figure of the Exodus story, which is the central narrative of the Jewish people. In Hebrews 5-6 we get the beginning of truth that Christ brings about a New and Greater Priesthood, based off his own sacrifice. The priesthood interceded to God on behalf of his people, offering sacrifices to show their love and devotion to God. Jesus is greater than any who gave the Law, because the new Law he gives, he also fulfills. Jesus is greater because he is worthy of more honor because he obeyed God in everything as a Son should. JESUS IS GREATER!


If we want to focus on one last set of passages, look to Hebrews 4:15-16. This book is difficult to work through. It will take work for you to read over the next few days. But you do not have a high priest who doesn’t understand hard work. This year has been extremely difficult. But you don’t have an advocate who doesn’t understand your sufferings. Christ knows EVERYTHING you went through. He knows the temptations, the failures, the pains, the struggles of human frailty. And yet he was able to overcome. In our weakness, Christ can make us stronger. We can see God’s throne as a throne of grace rather than judgment. We receive mercy from God who sits on the throne, and we receive grace from Christ at his right hand. That is the beauty of the truth that because Jesus has been raised, JESUS IS GREATER!

-Jake Ballard

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Hebrews 1-6

Tomorrow we continue with chapters 7-10.

The Queen of Sheba and Jesus

1 Kings 10-11 & 2 Chronicles 9

2 Chronicles 9 23 NIV

Who is the wisest person to ever live?
Let me tell you why you’re wrong. (Just kidding!)
Most of us answer Solomon, right? We are told that many times in Sunday School, and our teachers weren’t wrong. He was wise… to a point. We look at what he did at the beginning of his life and we see a man who was so dedicated to God that he asked for wisdom instead of riches, power, wealth or fame. For that, God gave him all wisdom and all the other things as well. Solomon was “wise enough to know that we are not wise enough on our own.” But, is Solomon the wisest person to ever live?
I believe our reading today disabuses of that notion quickly. Solomon starts off great, but in the end, his rule falls apart. His wisdom allowed his fame to increase. But as his fame increased, his wealth increased; as his wealth increased, his political connections, in the form of marriages, increased; as his number of marriages increased, the amount of gods he worshipped increased. And there’s our problem, but it doesn’t start there. Solomon, for all his wisdom, lost sight of the end goal. Wisdom is not meant for wealth. Wisdom is not meant for fame.
Wisdom is meant for godliness.
If we want to find the wisest person to ever live, we should look to the man who knew and had insight into the hearts of men and women, the one who even knew “all things.” Jesus, of course, is the wisest man to ever live. He unpacks the wisdom of God found in the Torah Law and applies it in a way that changes more than just behavior, but changes the heart. Jesus knew how to perfectly interpret scripture in wisdom. Most importantly, Jesus lived a life of wisdom by being Godly, doing what God wanted, all day, every day.
When we read about the Queen of Sheba and the wisdom of Solomon in 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9, we need to remember that her praise was not only directed at Solomon. 1 Kings 10:9 reads “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” The Queen of Sheba was wowed at the power of YHWH to give wisdom to people. The wisdom that Solomon imparted was that God was the giver of wisdom and that God was the blesser of his people; this, sadly, was a lesson Solomon forgot. It should be no surprise that Jesus said “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:42, Luke 11:31) Jesus knew that if the Queen of the South, the Queen of Sheba, were alive in his day, she would travel from the ends of the earth to hear the message of wisdom that he preached, because his teaching, his power, his wisdom far exceeds all that Solomon had.
May we my brothers and sisters, stand on the day of judgement found in the wisdom of Jesus, the wisdom that leads to godliness. May we recognize the wisdom of Christ over the wisdom of this world, and choose Christ every time. May you be blessed because you choose to trust and to live your days in the saving grace of the wisest person who ever lived.
Jacob (Jake) Ballard
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Jake Ballard is Pastor at Timberland Bible Church. You can hear more of his thoughts and worship along with the TBC Family on Facebook, live streaming every Sunday at 10am. Reach out to Jake on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Tomorrow’s reading will be the end of the Proverbs (30-31) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Your Life is Not Meaningless

But it is Fleeting – so Live Wisely!

Ecclesiastes 12 13 NIV sgl

Ecclesiastes 7-12

In Ecclesiastes 7-12 the author, the Teacher, continues to discuss things that are “havel”, vain, futile, fleeting and temporary. (If you haven’t yet, go ahead and read yesterday’s devotion on Ecclesiastes 1-6 for a deeper understanding of “havel”.)
The author accepts that death is the end of every person and it is important to accept that fate and live with one’s face toward death. Much of the last half of this book is the reality righteous and wise people suffer the same fate as those who are wicked and foolish. However, we must not let this reality change how we read the entire book of Ecclesiastes. The author writes in 8:12-13 “Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.” While it is TRUE that the wicked and the righteous both end their lives in death, the author holds that there is good for a righteous person. Still, seek righteousness and wisdom because even a little foolishness can ruin one’s life. (10:1)
For you younger readers, the author commends that you seek out wisdom and that you remember God today! At this point in your life (12:1) There will be days of difficulty as life goes on, but in our days of joy, remember God. God is the one who gives comfort, joy, happiness, and strength on the days when the world is dark, the clouds are gray, and the pains of life are crowding in. Because the childhood and the prime of life are fleeting, temporary and transitory, enjoy them now. (11:10)
We are nearing the end of the book. We have been asking the question : “what lasts? What do people REALLY gain for all they do?” The last two verses of the book tell us what lasts : How we have lived, whether we kept the commands of God and feared him. All this in our life will be judged. Of course, this has been hinted before; now it is explicitly and clearly stated. If we believe, as some have, that the Teacher is a cynical, morose, or even godless man, then the last two verses are a radical departure. However, if this is a man who loves God and understands the futility, vanity, temporariness, FLEETING nature of life, then the final verses in Ecclesiastes are an understandable conclusion.
This of course effects how we read many passages. The author says “eat, drink, enjoy your labor, be merry!” (5:18, 8:15, 9:7) These passage show us that our labor, what we do, are not meaningless, but they are precious because of their very fleeting nature. The teacher says in 9:9, “Enjoy life with the woman you love all the days of your fleeting life…” You know you are precious to God. Your life is not meaningless, but it is havel, transitory, temporary. What we have in this life is not meaningless drudgery of existence, but the temporary good things are to be enjoyed, and to seek the eternal good things, doing the will of God and fearing him.
In the short time of our discussion we missed many interesting passages, some that are difficult (about death and sorrow) and some that are encouraging (about enjoying pleasure on the earth). But, my friends, remember : The entire duty for all people is to do the commands of God. We know that since Christ has come into the world “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) As you continue to believe in the name of Jesus, may you love one another as you seek how to live wisely today!
Jake Ballard
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+7-12&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 10-11 and 2 Chronicles 9 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan