Posts

Showing posts from April, 2017

Saturday - "Waiting to Go Home"

Have you ever tried to put yourself in the place of the prodigal son? You leave or stray away from what you know. You quickly realize the world is not your friend and you need your father. Going home is shameful but necessary. When you get home you are well received. Your father is just happy you are home, even though you have let him down badly. He is waiting to welcome you home.

Friday - “Hebrews 7:14 – The Law of Silence”

Is the silence of the Scriptures prohibitive? By that we mean, may one improvise in acts of religious devotion in the absence of a specific “you must not ...”? If the New Testament is silent about a specific matter (e.g., the baptizing of infants, the burning of incense, the use of mechanical instruments in worship), may a person pursue that practice?

Some allege that this is the case. They contend that asking folks to respect the silence of the Scriptures is a human regulation that has no support in the Bible. They are wrong. Hebrew 7:14 contains the very principle that is the focus of this discussion.

In this context, the sacred writer has noted that there has been a change in the priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood of the Old Testament regime has given way to the better priestly system of the New Testament economy. It is then suggested that Christ could not serve as a priest “after the order of Aaron” (cf. 8:4). Why not? Because Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah, and, as t…

Thursday - “What About A Worm In An Apple?”

Have we ever wondered how a worm gets inside an apple? If we think that the worm burrows in the apple from the outside, we’d be wrong. Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from the inside of the apple. But, how in the world did he get there? The answer is simple. Female apple maggot flies finds a sweet smelling apple that is ripening and lands on it. Using a small, sharp, hollow tube on the underside of her body, the fly stabs a small hole in the fruit. Then she releases her eggs, which slide down that hollow tube into the apple. Soon afterward, the eggs hatch inside the heart of the apple into tiny white worms called railroad worms, who eat their way out of the apple.

Similarly, sin, like the worm, begins in the heart of man and works out through an individual’s thoughts, words, and actions (Matthew 12:34-37; Matthew 15:15-20; Mark 7:14-23; James 1:14-15).
For this very reason, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm …

Wednesday - “True And Lasting Satisfaction”

In  1 John 2:12-17, the apostle John warns mature men and young men of three lusts:

The lust of the flesh (Genesis 3:6 - “saw that the tree was good for food“) — the insatiable appetite to indulge in pleasures that inflame the flesh but never satisfy (Numbers 11).The lust of the eyes (Genesis 3:6 -  “it was pleasant to the eyes“) — wandering eyes that continually want more riches and possessions, but always remain covetous (Acts 5:1-10).The pride of life (Genesis 3:6 – “a tree desirable to make one wise“) — the vain mind that thirsts for man’s applause. But the glory evaporates quickly (Acts 12:20-23).
These three lusts are damaging to those who engage in them as well as the victims they leave in their destructive path. Additionally, these lustful desires can never fully satisfy, because they are temporary (Hebrews 11:24-25).

True and lasting satisfaction, is found only when we give our affections to spiritual and eternal things (Colossians 3:1-4), to a right relationship with our heav…

Tuesday - “I Will Never Forget Your Precepts”

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 has been called the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century. The ancient manuscripts hidden in the caves near Qumran are the oldest known copies of key Old Testament books.

As followers of Christ we believe that the Bible is the eternal, unchanging Word of God (1 Peter 1:23; cf. Hebrews 6:13-20). Therefore, we firmly believe the inspired words penned by the Psalmist, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (Psalm 119:89-90, NKJV). Jesus also said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35, NKJV).

The Bible is more than just a historical relic. It is the living, powerful Word of God in which we encounter the inspired teachings of the Lord and discover how to live for Him and honor Him (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:23-32; Philippians 3:7-15). The Psalmist concluded in Psalm 119:93, “I will never forget …

Monday - “It's The Things On The Inside That Matter”

Shopping for a good watermelon is difficult because no matter how good it looks on the outside, it’s hard to tell what it’s really like on the inside. We can tap it, thump it and squeeze it, only to take it home and discover that the inside is not edible.

On one occasion when Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands before eating, the Pharisees became extremely irritated because it violated one of their man-made traditions (Mark 7:1-8). Jesus immediately challenged them by saying, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). He went so far as to call them “hypocrites” (Mark 7:6) and explained that what comes from the inside of an individual is what “defiles” him, not the other way around (Mark 7:14-23).

If we’re not careful, we can become so absorbed with looking good on the outside, that we forget what really counts. In fact, when we get to the place where we think “we’ve arrived,” we may become proud of ourselves and judgmental towa…

Saturday - “Time is of the Essence”

Bible Reading: Matthew 4:21-22

Yesterday we talked about the "H" in Kyle Idleman's book “AHA.”  The H is for honesty and the last A is for "Action."  Many of us identify our problems, we are honest with ourselves about them, but we do nothing about it. We must take action to make a positive change in our life. The longer we put off making that change, the harder it is to change, and the deeper we go into that sin.

We all tend to push the limits. If the speed limit is 65, we feel like that law enforcement will allow us to go 70, so we do. We want to know how close we can get to the cliff before we fall off. We want to know how close to "sin" we can get before we actually commit the sin. This is primarily because our heart is not right. Matt recently made an excellent point in his lesson about our attendance at church on Sunday night. We have all heard people say, "Well we really don't have to go to church on Sunday Evening or Wednesday Bible s…

Friday - “Making Changes”

Bible Reading: Romans 12:2
Malachi 3:6 says, "I the Lord do not change...."  God is the only being that does not need to change something. We never see biblical examples of Jesus teaching, keep doing what you are doing, don't change a thing. Now, the point here is that we all have some changes in our lives. In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, while almost all of them were encouraged in the good things they were doing, they were also told the areas in which they needed to change or they would pay the consequences. So, if we have taken the wrong path, how do we change? Well, Simmons says that we must first face and embrace the truth. Brutal honesty is the first step to making change in our life.  
Kyle Idleman wrote a book titled "AHA."  The title is an acronym for the words "Awakening, Honesty, and Action." The change agent here is Honesty. We must evaluate ourselves and be totally honest with what is hindering us from completely turning our …

Thursday - “Good Intentions”

Bible Reading: 1 John 3:18; James 4:17

Frank Clark once said, "What great accomplishments we would have in the world if everybody had done what they had intended to do." Wow, this one hits me right between the eyes. Margaret Thatcher once said, "NO one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions." John says in 1 John 3:18, "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed or truth."

When we all think about our intentions to do good, how many of us put it on our calendar?  How many of us ask ourselves which path will result in my intended result?  Clayton Christiansen, a Rhodes Scholar who attended Harvard Business School, writes about how he had observed the fates of his Harvard classmates from 1979. He said he had seen more and more of them come to their reunions unhappy, divorced and alienated from their children. He goes on to say that he can guarantee that not one of them had a deliberate strategy of this end result wh…

Wednesday - “Choices”

Bible Reading: Proverbs 4:11; 9:6; 16:25; Psalm 119:104                                            

Perhaps the most important principle when it comes to living and excellent life has to do with the choices we make. Matt has talked a lot about Choices in his sermons lately, and I think for this reason. Simmons says that choices will ultimately determine the outcome of your life. If you will notice in the verses for this lesson, the word "way" is used throughout. This word is derived from the Hebrew word "derek", which means"road”or"pathway."  Proverbs 16:25 perhaps is the most direct when it says there is a path that seems to be right, but ultimately leads to pain, regret, and destruction. Fortunately, there is also a way that will lead us continually on the way to heaven. Perhaps you have made both kinds of choices in your life. While we may suffer consequences in this life for the wrong road chosen, God makes it possible for us to stop, and "r…

Tuesday - “Regret”

Bible Reading:  Philippians 3:13

A wise man once said, "The Lord put eyes in the front of our head so that we can look forward, not behind us.” Now the prospect of regret can encourage us to not put ourselves in a position to experience regret, but it can also impede progress if we focus on our past once we have repented. Once we have asked forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves and move forward. We can no longer control what happened in the past, and dwelling on something that we cannot control drains us of energy which we can use on being productive.

Kevin Elko calls these thoughts "sucker thoughts." They operate much like those sucker branches on fruit trees that do not produce fruit, but utilize the nutrients from the trunk. With these thoughts in mind, we can all decide at this moment that we will work to never experience regret again. Stephen Covey poses this question: "What is the one thing that you know that if you did it superbly well and consistently well…

Monday - “An Excellent Life”

Bible Reading:  Colossians 3:23-24

Four times a year, I meet with a group of colleagues from all over North Alabama where we discuss a variety of issues, regulations, and products which affect our business. I enjoy these meetings because we share ideas and energize each other in a lot of different ways. A couple of years ago, our facilitator shared a book with us called "A Life of Excellence" by Richard E. Simmons, III.  Now please get those disturbing visuals out of your head of the flamboyant, loud fitness guru jumping around in spandex shirts and 1970's basketball shorts while "Sweatin' to the Oldies." This is a different Richard Simmons. To my knowledge, there is no relation or connection in any way. That having been said, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It is a book you can read in an evening or two, unlike the 15 books of which I have read the first 100 pages because my vacations were too short to finish.

In this book, Simmons’ primary…

Saturday - "The Darkest Saturday"

BIBLE READING:  Mark 16:5-7

Tomorrow, when we assemble, part of our worship will be to commemorate the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection (as we do every first day of the week). However, a lot of the world will focus on this day in particular as it coincides with the time many believe that Jesus was resurrected. Before we get there and worship tomorrow, take a moment and think about that weekend when all of this took place. On Friday, Jesus was beaten and mocked and crucified. On Sunday, Jesus was found risen from the grave. Think about that Saturday in between though. How awful of a day that must have been in the history of the earth. In a sense, it is the only day where some form of the presence of God was not in some form interacting with man. God was present up until the time that Jesus arrived on the earth, and when Jesus left, the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon those who followed God. But, that Saturday, when Jesus was not present was a dark, lonely day. That’s exactly the p…

Friday - "No Greater Love"

BIBLE READING:  Luke 23:44-46

Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Take just a moment and reflect on the fact that God’s only Son came to this earth and lived a perfect life and provided the ultimate sacrifice because He loved YOU. That’s right. He loves YOU and wanted so very badly for YOU to live with Him for all eternity. He did that for YOU.

Thursday - "Committing to Memory"

BIBLE READING:   Deuteronomy 11:18-21

Have you done anything this week to commit any part of God’s Word to memory? In this particular passage, the Israelites were instructed to put the words of God in their heart, and bind them as frontlets between their eyes. Frontlets were bands of leather that were placed around the head. Typically, 4 passages were carried in this leather band and it was bound to their foreheads.

Symbolically, what parts of the word of God are we binding to our foreheads. No, don’t walk around with something tied around your forehead, but let’s all spend a little extra time committing a verse to memory this week.

Wednesday - "Are We Forgetting?"

BIBLE READING:  Deuteronomy 4:7-10

Moses realized that it only took one generation for the Israelites to forget God and His precepts. We mustn’t forget that still holds true today. These devotionals are designed to help us pass along the wonders of God’s knowledge throughout our families and instill the love of God in each and every one of us. Have you done something this week to influence and help the generation behind us as we seek after God?

Don’t forget to pray for and encourage our youth who are exercising their many talents and abilities for God at the Lads-to-Leaders convention this weekend.

Tuesday - "Train Up a Child"

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 22:6

Worrying is a part of parenting. Am I teaching my kids the right things? Am I showing them how to behave as an adult?  Am I nurturing them enough or am I hovering too much? We question ourselves and our skills. Nobody prepared us for how much our hearts would ache and stress over these children. Nobody prepared us for how much desire we will have for these children to know the Lord and to walk with Him. Nobody prepared us for the questions we would have about what to do. And yet, we put on a strong front for our kids. We don't want them to know that we wonder if we are doing an okay job at this parenting thing.

In Proverbs 22:6 there a nugget of truth tucked subtly into this great book. As parents, we can take great encouragement from this verse. If we plant the seed, it will come to fruition. The knowledge of God and His Word will always be present in our youth’s mind. I was having a conversation with a grandmother one day, and she mentioned about how…

Monday - "God is Faithful"

BIBLE READING: Genesis 8:22

Each day is special. Each day is a gift from God that brings His longsuffering to mind (2 Peter 3:15). The Lord makes each day, and we should rejoice with each one (Psalm 118:24). Every morning brings the Lord’s mercy and kindnesses (Lamentations 3:22-23). Each week begins with the Lord’s Day, and each of these is so very special. The first day of spring is a special day as well. It brings a sigh of relief to most that another harsh winter has passed. You might be reminded of Song of Solomon 2:11-13, “For, lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in the land: The fig tree puffeth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell.”

A promise was made in Genesis 8:22. God promised the seasonal changes, and He is faithful. I have been blessed by the seasonal changes each of my years on this earth. Spring is ea…

Saturday - "Be Confident in God"

BIBLE READING:  Proverbs 3:26

Jesus knew where He came from, He knew what He was sent to do, and He knew where He was going. When you get that confidence of knowing God and His purpose for your life, you will not be affected by the judgments or criticisms of other people.

You know you belong to God. You know His hand is on you. You know His anointing is on you. You know what you are called to do. You know that with every breath you take, you are trying to follow Him, and you know where you are going when you are all finished. Say, “Nothing that happens today can separate me from God’s love and His purpose for my life.”

Friday - "Don’t Lose Focus"

BIBLE READING:  2 Corinthians 10:4

Sometimes we lose our focus. We can be walking in love all day, going along fine, until someone comes along and offends us. As soon as we forget our focus of love, we stop making progress and come to a standstill - aggravated, upset, and offended.

Understand that the mind is a battlefield. If you don’t stop Satan when he gets into your thoughts, you are not going to stop him from getting into your life. Stay focused. Ask God to help you remain full of love, no matter what comes your way.

Thursday - "Temptation Isn’t Sin"

BIBLE READING:  Psalm 138:3

Temptation to do wrong can make you feel horrible. You may think, I shouldn’t be going through this; I shouldn’t be having a problem with this. But God taught me that temptation isn’t sin; we sin when we give in to temptation.

The Bible says temptation will come. It doesn’t say, “Woe unto him to whom it comes,” it says, “Woe unto him by whose hand it comes” (see Matthew 17:7). Jesus told us to pray that we would not give in to the temptation when we are tempted (see Luke 22:40).

Psalm 105:4 is a great way to start your day right. It says, “Seek, inquire of and for the Lord, and crave Him and His strength (His might and inflexibility to temptation); seek and require His face and His Presence [continually] evermore.”

Wednesday - "Don’t Waste Time"

BIBLE READING:  Ephesians 5:15-16

We need to be so self-controlled that we don’t waste time. That doesn’t mean that we can never do anything fun. It doesn’t mean we can’t do things that we enjoy.

We don’t need to be rigid, stiff, or boring. But we do need to use our time wisely, choosing to give the best part of our day to spend time with God.

The Word encourages us to be prepared, saying, “Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come” (Proverbs 19:20). Starting your day with God’s instruction will keep you walking in wisdom, making the most of your time.

Tuesday - "Be Fully Satisfied"

BIBLE READING:  Psalm 92:13-14
Many people pursue possessions and awards to satisfy their inner need for contentment. But we can be fully satisfied in lean times and in times of abundance, whether we abase or abound (see Philippians 4:12), when we learn to enjoy fellowship with the Lord as soon as we wake up.
Before you are fully awake, you can start talking to God. Just thank Him for seeing you through yesterday, and for being with you today. Praise Him for providing for you, and for working out all the situations in your life for your good.

Ask Him to make you aware of His presence all day long. Peace fills your heart when your mind is on the Lord. Nothing is more satisfying than walking with God.

Monday - "Seek God Early"

BIBLE READING:  Mark 1:35

When Jesus told us to abide in Him and in His Word, He used the Greek word meno, which is translated in Strong’s concordance as “continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” We are to spend time with God - continually. When we do, we get in the flow of His plan for our day.

We are not told just to wish for everything to work together; we are told to seek God for a fresh word each day. If we seek Him early in the day, we will have “a word in due season” to share with others (see Proverbs 15:23). We can succeed at what God calls us to do, if we listen for His instructions. He has said, “If you seek Me early and diligently, you will find me” (see Proverbs 8:17).

Saturday - "April Fools!"

BIBLE READING: Matthew 5:21-26

So many days of the year I feel like I make a fool of myself. We like to look at April 1st as April Fool’s Day. We use that day for jokes and pranks, but have you thought about what the Bible says about the word “fool”? Proverbs 18:2 reads, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:6 continues, “A fools lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” As we read these verses, we realize that we are likely to do foolish things. When others begin to do such things, if we use that to our advantage and push them away with our words, then we put ourselves in a bad place spiritually. We must control our tongue even when we feel angry or disappointed in someone.