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Showing posts from March, 2017

Friday - “Filling Our Basket with Power”

BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 1:7

Ephesians 3:20 – God can do far more than we ask or think!

If you feel powerless, where are you trying to get your power from? God can solve problems, heal sickness, raise self-esteem, and give peace and Love. This is the kind of power that can help our lives. Let go and let God is a common saying for a reason – it is true. You get out what you put in! What kind of Power are you filling your basket with?

APPLICATION:  Discuss places that worldly people look for power and discuss why it does not last. Compare and Contrast that power to the power that God gives.

Thursday - “Filling Our Baskets with True Worship”

BIBLE READING:  John 4:24

“May my steps be worship, may my thoughts be praise, may my words bring honor to Your name.”

These are words we sing often, but are they words we live by. Worship can be corporate as we gather and praise God together using the five acts of worship. Worship should also be as we lift up God in our daily walks. Romans 8 teaches us that God’s Spirit must be in line with our spirit. Very similar to how workers on a project need to be on the same page, our direction needs to line up with HIS directions.

APPLICATION:  Discuss ways that worship can be part of our daily lives.

Wednesday - “You Get Out What You Put In - Friendships”

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 17:17

Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:33 that bad company corrupts good morals. This is a lesson that everyone can preach – but not everyone can put it into practice. We have to remember that we get out what we put into our friendships. Think about if you are helping others, or bringing others down. Are you being the bad company or surrounding yourself with it at times.  Remember, you get out what you put in!

APPLICATION:  Discuss with you family good people that you spend time with, or could spend more time with, that can strengthen your relationship with God.

Tuesday - "Filling Your Basket With Faith"

BIBLE READING:  Matthew 26:36

The Hebrew writer tells us that it is impossible to please God without having faith. This faith must also be put into action (James 2:17). Everyday we choose whether or not to believe in things. We might choose to believe that we can make a difference in someone’s life or believe that it will rain; so we take action based on that belief.

APPLICATION: What are your actions showing? If your actions are not representing your faith, maybe you need to work on filling your basket with a stronger faith in the Father.

Monday - "Everyday is a Picnic"

BIBLE READING:  Galatians 6:6-7

Picnics are a family favorite for everyone. Kids love playing, adults love time together with friends and the food is always great. Whether it is PB&J or BBQ, eating outside can be a fun way to enjoy a meal. Planning ahead and packing wisely can be a key part of a picnic. If you pack PB&J’s then when you reach in the picnic basket you wouldn’t expect to pull out Roast Beef. What’s the lesson here? You get out what you put in!

APPLICATION:  Discuss how you can fill you spiritual basket this week with good positive thoughts and actions. Don’t go into each day thinking it will be bad – your thinking just might make it that way.

Saturday - "Jesus Knows Best"

I recently read this illustration:

One divinity school hosted an annual picnic, to which they invited one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center. One year, the guest lecturer was a professor who spoke for two and one-half hours "proving" that the resurrection of Jesus was false. The professor quoted scholar after scholar, and book after book. He concluded that, since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection, the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

After about 30 seconds, an old preacher with a head of woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium.

"Docta Professer, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it. CRUNCH, MUNCH. "…

Friday - "Be Strong"

BIBLE READING:  Jeremiah 6:16
Most everybody in this area knows the name T.B. Larimore. He and his wife, Esther Gresham, settled in the Mars Hill community in 1870. T.B. Larimore would found the Mars Hill Academy in 1871, which would later become Mars Hill Bible School, where many of our students attend today. Larimore is most well known for his preaching and work during the restoration movement. We are very blessed to be benefactors of this movement by just living in the Florence area. 

I am in love with the “old days” and love to read and study about the history or this area. I try myself to be as old school as possible. I’m afraid that in religious circles, old school isn’t very popular. Old hymns aren’t favorites, old fashioned preaching isn’t popular, and attending church services isn’t emphasized like it used to be. T. B. Larimore, like many who have come before us, could be described as old school. He believed in hard work. He believed in studying the scriptures. He believed in “…

Thursday - "Be Weird"

BIBLE READING:  1 Peter 2:9-10

Nobody wakes up in the morning and says "I really want to be weird today." Certainly, nobody wants to be considered at school or work as the weird one. Did you know the Bible tells us that we should, in fact, strive to be weird. The passage for today says just that. Most translations people read that we should be "special" or "chosen," but the King James Version reads that we should be "peculiar." 

The first definition in the dictionary for "peculiar" is "strange or odd, unusual." Most of us would never want to be considered those things. Those are the ones at school people laugh at, talk about, or stay away from. The second definition listed says, "belonging exclusively to."  We are to belong exclusively to God. We are to have no other gods before us. This can be tough living in the world today. 

The truth is, the same could be said for the world Peter was writing about. Could you imagin…

Wednesday - "Be 'For Real For Real'"

BIBLE READING:  1 Peter 1:6-9; James 1:27

The Woodlawn youth group motto for this past year has been “For Real For Real.” It is a challenge to be above average in all that we do in obedience and service to God. The first time I heard the statement “For Real For Real,” Stanley Johnson, from the Moulton Church of Christ was teaching at a youth series. That was one of the trademark statements, and it really impressed me. It implied that he was serious  about that specific thing he was saying at the time. As Christians, there’s nothing more important than living our daily lives to honor the death and sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Living the Christian life is a daily commitment and should be for life. We can look in God’s word and see throughout those who truly lived “For Real For Real.” Young Daniel purposing in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat. Later on in life, Daniel would not be denied in praying to God, regardless of the decree set forth. Daniel was “For Rea…

Tuesday - "Be an Encourager"

BIBLE READING:  Acts 4:32-37; Acts 11:22-25; Hebrews 10:24-25

Barnabas was known as the “Son of Encouragement” in the early church. That’s a pretty awesome title to have!! What could he possibly have done on a daily basis to earn that title? I’m sure the benevolence shown in Acts 4 wasn’t the only action that earned him that title. As a matter of fact, the phrase "daily basis" probably had a lot to do with it. 

Do you know someone who is encouraging? What characteristics and actions do they show that make you think that? Is it a consistent, daily behavior or just randomly on certain days? No doubt, whoever this person is, you probably leave the conversation or encounter feeling a little better about yourself than before. As family members, the ability to encourage is that much more important. Why? Because we see each other on a much more regular basis. Examine yourself for a moment. Am I encouraging? Can my spouse, children, and other family members count on me to boost them u…

Monday - "Be a Champion"

BIBLE READING:  1 Peter 1:3-9; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

One definition for the word "champion" is "a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition." I think a more basic definition might be “winner.” If you are a champion, then that would imply you won. This word is most associated with sports and athletes. I won’t even begin to illustrate this point with a specific team or individual, because we all think of different examples when we think of champions. However, it’s definitely something to ponder for a moment. Who do you think of? What made them champions?

Being a champion in athletics, or some other area on this earth, is obviously an awesome thing, but what is an absolute truth about these championships? They’re temporary. Sure, people may remember championships from a hundred years ago, but one thing is for certain, they won’t be here forever. Going back to our definition from the opening, is there a victory/championship that will last forever? …

Saturday - March 18, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study SATURDAY
BIBLE READING:  Hebrews 13:8-9

Waterfalls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls,
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used too

The lyrics to this song made the girl group TLC a household name in the 90’s. Their message of not following after the latest and greatest fad (waterfall), but sticking with what is proven rings true in today’s evangelical climate.

Today, it is tempting to follow after worship styles that make us “feel” good. But, we have to remember that faith is more than a feeling. Sticking with God’s word and not adjusting it to our lives today is something we have to discipline ourselves to do. Jesus Christ and God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Application:  Make it a point to not see what “YOU” can get out of worship, but more of what you can “GIVE” to God in worship. 

Friday - March 17, 2017

BIBLE READING:  2 Corinthians 3:11-12

Greatest Love of All

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow
If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe.

Back in the 80’s, Whitney Houston and these lyrics ruled the Top 10. While Whitney was probably singing more about self-empowerment, there is an important spiritual point to make with these words in 2017. Every day we see Christians in America labeled as intolerant when we stand up for our beliefs as political correctness attempts to silence us. Our charge is to be bold and live our lives as we BELIEVE without any apologies! 

Application:  Study and be prepared to give biblical reasons for your beliefs.

Thursday - March 16, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study THURSDAY
BIBLE READING:  Matthew 28:16-20

I’ll Be There

You and I must make a pact, 
We must bring salvation back.
Where there is love, I’ll be there.

The Jackson Five sang their way into many people’s hearts with those words. But think of this as a letter from God almighty, and the message is tremendous and true. We (God and us) made a pact when we became baptized believers. God told us to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. Our goal is to bring salvation to a lost world. Whatever we do out of love for our fellow man, God will be there!

Application:  Invite someone to an upcoming service

Wednesday - March 15, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study WEDNESDAY
BIBLE READING:  John 15:13

I Will Always Love You

But I’ll go, and I’ll say
I’ll think of you every step of the way.
And I will always love you!

Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston both sang those words with incredible passion. Recently, I heard that song and thought how the meaning changes when you think of Jesus’ death on the cross. The words make a powerful impression when you put them in that context. John 15:13 says that there is no greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus laid down His life for us demonstrating He has and will always love us.  

Application:  Do something unexpected for a close friend today to demonstrate your love for them.

Tuesday - March 14, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study TUESDAY
BIBLE READING:  James 4:14

We’re Livin’ On a Prayer

Oh, we’re halfway there
Oh, we’re livin’ on a prayer

The 80’s rock band Bon Jovi made a fortune off those lyrics, and these words could be the motto for all of our lives. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow or another minute. The book of James says our lives are but a vapor. Each day we are faced with many opportunities and many decisions to make. Each decision in each opportunity can change the course of our life or someone else’s life. By praying for wisdom and guidance each day, we can be certain we will make the absolute best decision. In essence, we can live each day on a prayer!

Application:  Before your feet hit the floor this week, ask God to give you wisdom to face the day ahead. At the end of the week, reflect on the peace you experienced. Prayer makes a difference. 

Monday - March 13, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study MONDAY
BIBLE READING:  Ephesians 4:22-24

The Man in the Mirror

I’m talkin’ to the man in the mirror, I’m asking if he’ll change his ways.
No message could have been any clearer,
If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change.

Michael Jackson made these lyrics famous, but they can also have a spiritual aspect for us today.  Is the man or woman in your mirror the spiritual person you want to be? Is he or she an authentic follower of Christ?  Do you need to make a change today to make the world a better place?  

Take a LOOK at yourself today and make the change if you are not.

Application:  Spend 5 minutes looking at yourself in the mirror.  Are you the same person at school, work, and church or are you a different person in each of these places?

Saturday - March 11, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study SATURDAY
BIBLE READING:  Ephesians 6:18 

F.O.C.U.S.

Spend time in prayer:
As we conclude this week’s devotional study, it seems fitting to end on prayer. James 5:16 says, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."  The King James Version says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Prayer may be the most underestimated and underappreciated aspect of our spiritual lives. So often we carry those heavy burdens and face those mounting challenges head-on, yet never ask for God’s help. Why? Possibly, it is from a lack of focus. Or worse, maybe it is from a lack of faith. Spending time in prayer enables us to maintain proper focus.

Free your mind, open your heart, calm your soul, unite with the Word, and spend time in prayer, today and every day. In conclusion, as we read in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

I pray you benef…

Friday - March 10, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study FRIDAY
BIBLE READING:  John 8:31-38

F.O.C.U.S.

Unite with the Word:
At this point, all is well, right?  Not necessarily. Thus far, the previous devotionals have been written from the perspective of one that has obeyed the gospel, a brother or sister in Christ. But then I realized that this may not be the reality for each person reading this devotional. Now, while that fact certainly does not change the need for freeing your mind of worldly concerns and opening your heart to God, the calmness or peace within that we discussed yesterday is only attainable while in Christ. Again, this is not to contradict anything previously stated, but rather to stress the importance of uniting with the Word so that you may know the truth, and be set free by that truth. If you have questions about this truth, we can, and would, love to help.

For those in Christ, this point still carries great significance as uniting with the Word means that we are uniting with God the Father, God t…

Thursday - March 9, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study THURSDAY
BIBLE READING:  Philippians 4:6-7

F.O.C.U.S.

Calm Your Soul:
As you’re probably figuring out by now, a common theme behind this series on FOCUS is taking time to allow yourself to focus, which, ironically, is also a purpose behind the home devos. By taking time to free your mind from worldly concerns and open your heart to God, calmness or peace in your soul will be the result.  Ironically, however, Philippians 4:6-7 says the opposite, that the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds. This thought is not one of contradiction, but rather confirmation. Taking time to focus on God allows time for God to focus and work on you. So, you see, these three thoughts are interwoven, inseparable. One simply does not exist without the other. If Calmness or peace within is your pursuit, take time to free your mind and open your heart. By doing so, the peace of God will in turn help guard your hearts and minds.

Wednesday - March 8, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study WEDNESDAY
BIBLE READING:  Mathew 6:21

F.O.C.U.S.

Open your Heart:
In the opening section of this weekly devotional we talked about the various challenges that each of us face. Then yesterday we discussed how we often respond to those challenges. Today, let’s talk about the why behind the challenges we face and our typical response. Why do we allow these daily challenges to overcome us? Why do we often respond to some challenges in a way that only worsens the situation? Why do we allow Satan to further separate us from God by allowing him to cause us to lose our focus?

Each of us face challenges with our time. We go to school, we work, we have families, we play sports, we participate in church-related activities, we participate in community building, and we help in caring for those in need. In each of these things, we give it our all, trying to be the best we can be, and helping those around us be the best they can be. We do these things for a good cause, but some…

Tuesday - March 7, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study TUESDAY
BIBLE READING:  Romans 8:1-11             

F.O.C.U.S

Free Your Mind:  Study after study shows the benefits of meditation. Websters dictionary defines meditation as “the engaging in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” So many times, when we encounter challenges, it is so easy to become overwhelmed and to feel inadequate or inept to deal with them. It’s easy to panic and overreact, which tends to further complicate the original challenge. Oftentimes, however, that’s exactly what we do.

For example, how many times have you been offended by someone, whether by the tone of their voice, the words spoken, or a look given? I imagine most of us can recall a relatively recent event. How did you respond? Did you respond immediately in a way that you later regretted, or did you count to 10? The idea of counting to 10 before responding simply allows time to focus, to free your mind of the original thoughts you had…

Monday - March 6, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study MONDAY
BIBLE READING:  John 16:33

Day in and day out we find ourselves facing challenges. These challenges come in many forms and impact various aspects of our lives, such as family, school, work, and spiritual. Whether young or old, male or female, country folk or city folk, we each face daily challenges. Some of the challenges we face are the same, and some are not, but they are   challenges to each of us nonetheless. Oftentimes, these challenges result in us becoming distracted from our primary cares and priorities, causing us to look for the “squirrels” (for those fans of the Disney movie Up, you should understand the reference).  

Many times in our lives it is as though Satan yells "SQUIRREL!" and, just as Doug the Dog, we  easily become distracted, looking for the squirrel.  People, businesses, schools, community organizations, and even churches suffer every day because of a lack of focus. They take their eyes off the ball. They lose sight of th…

Saturday - March 4, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study SATURDAY
BIBLE READING:  John 1:18

In God's wisdom, He decided to remain invisible to mankind. This presented problems throughout His dealings with man. Even though God cannot be seen, He has always been vocal through His servants. As the Jews came out of Egyptian bondage, God spoke through Moses. Moses and others heard His voice, and saw the cloud and the fire, which were symbols of His presence; but such a manifestation of God has now taken place, in the person of Jesus Christ, had never before been exhibited to the world.

Man can enjoy true knowledge of God only through the revelation of the one who, as both God and man, is in a position truly to reveal Him. This verse declares that Christ has indeed provided for man such a faithful revelation of the Father. The Bible is God's revelation to us today. The Bible is both human and divine as Christ was. If we want to truly "see" God, we can read the pages of the Bible which reveal Him to us tod…

Friday - March 3, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study FRIDAY
BIBLE READING:  Luke 4:18-19

In today's scripture, Jesus is reading to a group of astonished Jews from Isaiah 61:1-3. Isaiah had foretold the coming of the Messiah's kingdom in the appealing metaphor of these words read by Jesus. This prophecy is typically misunderstood by those who view Christianity as being merely a revolutionary movement, intent on emptying jails and raising economic standards, and by those who fail to accept the Christian fundamentals of aiding the poor and relieving the afflicted. Nevertheless, the great stress of the kingdom of Christ is spiritual. The "poor" include even the rich who know not the Lord. The "captives" are primarily those who are taken captive by the devil to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). The "blind" is referring to such people as the secular and materialistic Pharisees, of whom Jesus said, "I came into this world, that they that see not may see" (John 9:39).

The "…

Thursday - March 2, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study THURSDAY
BIBLE READING:  2 Peter 3:18

Grace grows and increases! The scripture above commands and encourages us to grow in grace, meaning it is possible for you to increase the grace that is upon your life. But what does growing in grace mean?

It does not mean increasing God’s love or favor upon your life. You cannot get any more love or favor than that which God already gave you when you obeyed the gospel. Neither can you get an updated version of the salvation package. Everything that grace paid for has been handed to us by faith in Christ, and there is nothing better, no upgrades left.

Albert Barnes says, "Religion in general is often represented as 'grace,' since every part of the result of grace, or of unmerited favor; and to 'grow in grace' is to increase in that which constitutes true religion. Religion is susceptible of cultivation and of growth as any other virtue of the soul."  

As we grow in grace and knowledge we grow in the …

Wednesday - March 1, 2017

Woodlawn Family Bible Study WEDNESDAY
BIBLE READING:  John 1:18

We all realize that God is invisible. That is, we can't see Him with our human eyes. This doesn’t mean that we can't see what God does. Some people live by the old adage, "Seeing is believing."  However, people believe many things they cannot see. For example, do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States? You have not seen him nor have you seen the part of history in which he lived. Then why do we believe George Washington ever exited?

Our belief is based on the evidence we have seen and heard. We have seen portraits of the president. We have writings that he did while alive. The list could go on and on.

Why not "see" God in the same way. We have the history of God's workings in the Bible. Even though we don't have any portraits or pictures of God, we do have the image of God drawn for us in the words of Scripture. We also have Jesus who came to show us …