Daily Devotion

Karma

II Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

KARMA. What does that mean? You hear it spoken of more frequently these days on TV. Without going deep into Hinduism or Buddhism, the meaning is that how you act today will eventually come around to pay you back in like manner. Basically, you get what you deserve.

But if you look at the world, it doesn’t seem like that’s really happening. You see some wicked politician or some evil dictator and you may wish he would get what he deserves. You may think, “If I were God, I would zap that person. Just instant obliteration!”

Why is it that God doesn’t do that? Why does a child molester have multiple victims? If God were doing His job, it seems like there would be some people that would just be gone.

The answer to this dilemma is found in the book of II Peter particularly in chapter 3. Verse 9 says this: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” If you go read the whole chapter you’ll see that it is talking about the end of time. God wants everyone to be saved from the judgment that is coming. He does not want anyone to make the wrong choice. He is patient with us. Really none of us get what we deserve. Thank God we don’t!

Instead we get what we don’t deserve which is the chance to turn away from our sin and follow Jesus. We get the chance to be saved and we do not deserve it. Don’t depend on karma to save you. Your good deeds will not save you. Make the choice to follow Jesus today while you have the chance.

Harriet Bowman



The Lights

Philippians 2:1-18

    When I was baptized in the pure clear water of the Satilla after I joined the church there was a song that I wanted sung at the close of the service. The title of the song was “Let The Lower Lights Be Burning”. 

     “Brightly beams our Father’s mercy

From His lighthouse evermore,

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the lights along the shore.

     Dark the night of sin has settled,

Loud the angry billows roar;

Eager eyes are watching, longing,

For the lights along the shore. 

     Trim your feeble lamp, my brother!

Some poor sailor tempest tossed,

Trying now to make the harbor,

In the darkness may be lost.

     Let the lower lights be burning!

Send a gleam across the wave!

Some poor fainting, struggling seaman

You may rescue, you may save.”

     As I read the text from Philippians my mind was drawn back to why I chose that song to be sung and I’d like to talk about that a few minutes if y’all will let me. 

     Towards the end of our selected verses Paul is encouraging the believers at Philippi (and us) to be lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Well that’s a pretty tall order Paul. You better give me some fuel for my light. 

     He tells them how Christ left his exalted place by God to come to earth to be a servant to us. How did he serve while He was here? He was obedient to God. He taught His followers to love God and love your neighbor. He got down on His knees and washed the disciples’ feet. He fed them with fish and bread. He died on the cross for our sins. And when He did this, He wasn’t looking to promote Himself. He was doing it to bring honor and praise to God. He wanted “Thy will be done”. In relating the text from Philippians to the hymn I mentioned earlier, Christ light is going out like a lighthouse. A light that is seen from anywhere. 

     Well I’m just a man/woman/child. I can’t burn as bright as Christ. Let’s look at the song text to help close us out. 

     Imagine a sailor is sailing the sea. And the sea is perpetually dark. The only light that is seen is a great distance away. So the sailor in his ship sails towards the light. It’s all it can see. As the ship gets closer to the shore he starts to see smaller lights. These smaller lights show a rocky coast. So the sailor adjusts his course and lands safely on a sandy patch of beach. He gets out and starts walking toward the great light he sees. As he walks he sees other lights that illuminate his path and keeps him from getting into trouble. He keeps following those smaller lights until he reaches that biggest light. He couldn’t have gotten there without those smaller lights. 

      I’ve said a lot just to get to this point and I apologize for the wordiness.

     When we are going about God’s business while here on earth we are holding forth a small light that may help a lost sailor get to safety. So we must keep our lanterns trimmed and ready to shine at all times. How do we do this? We must have the mind of Christ; we must strive to obey God through everything that we do and love others more than we love ourselves. 

     It’s my prayer that we can be a light to someone to help them along. 

Riley Lee



Religious Humility

How to stay humble in spite of our religious heritage and practices.

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. Luke 3:8

Some of you are like myself; you grew up attending church before you could tell your left from your right. Maybe you memorized a lot of Scripture or can sing your way through half of the hymn book with your eyes closed (of course, you would skip verse 3 if you grew up in a typical Southern Baptist church).

Like the folks that John was addressing here, it is easy to become complacent with what we know and the heritage that we have been given. They pointed to their family history as a response to John’s admonition that they should change their personal behavior.

John’s response was short and brief; the way you treat those you interact with is what reveals your true heritage. This is difficult for us to swallow today and it was no easier to swallow 2000 years ago. Let’s break this down for us in today’s terms.

  • In an election year, it’s not who we vote for, but the way we share and discuss those things with our neighbors.
  • In a theological debate, it’s not the correctness of our doctrine, but the way we value those with home we disagree.

So, let’s look at Johns remedy for our willingness to promote our religious heritage as proof of our ‘connection’ to God. Luke 3:9-14

It is our daily, moment-by-moment, submission to God’s presence in our lives that will allow us to truly seek God. If God is present, then I can give away my material possessions which I value greatly. If God is present, then I can choose to pass up opportunities for self-promotion to trust in God’s provision and not my abilities. If God is present, then I don’t need to use coercion to achieve the results that I desire.

This is a challenging reality and it speaks to our need for daily immersion in God’s Word, and consistently seeking the Spirit’s leading in our decisions. Our daily willingness to value self over others is more of a revelation of our seeking after God than any other measurement which we might choose.

Daniel Harding



Oh, How I Love Jesus

Ephesians 1:1-6

I have spent most of the day reading and pondering these verses trying to decide in which direction this would go. I find that getting the ideas from my head to paper is quite a task. For when I think I’ve found the perfect mix of witty and worshipfullness I hit a roadblock. But after kissing my wife goodnight and praying about the day and upcoming days, I think God gave me a little help. With a kiss He reminded me that things don’t have to be witty and well written. In case you’ve missed it I’m referring to the acrostic keep it simple stooge (the stooge here being me). 

God chose me before the world began. He chose me to be adapted into his family. He chose me, a creature whose natural nature is to sin, to be called a child of God. Because of my sin He sent Jesus to shed His blood for me that I might be able to one day live forever with Them in a perfect place.  

 Why did He choose me? There are many thoughts but my thoughts tonight mirror the text; “according to the good pleasure of his will.” He chose me because He loved me. He loved me since before time was created. He loves me now in the present day. He will keep on loving me until He gives me a new body that will allow me to enter into His presence where one day I can say to His face, I Love You. 

Take me out of the previous paragraphs and put your name. I can’t say it any simpler. God loves His children. 

“There is a Name I love to hear,

I love to sing its worth;

It sounds like music in my ear,

The sweetest Name on earth.

This Name shall shed its fragrance still

Along this thorny road,

Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill

That leads me up to God.

And there with all the blood-bought throng,

From sin and sorrow free,

I’ll sing the new eternal song

Of Jesus’ love for me.

Oh, how I love Jesus,

Oh, how I love Jesus,

Oh, how I love Jesus,

Because He first loved me!”

     Riley Lee



Retracing Steps

So I did a thing the other day. I lost my wedding band. Yes, one of those things.

The frustrating reality was that although I knew where I had lost my wedding band I was unable to find it, no matter how hard I searched. Let me walk you through how things happened – yes, I was in the room when it happened.

I normally don’t pick Lilah up from school on Tuesdays but I did this past Tuesday due to her Nana being out of town. After I picked her up we ran by her Papa and Nana’s to feed and water her and Papa’s chickens. By the time we got home it was close to 3 and I was starving. I had worked through lunch because Lilah had to be at dance at 4 and there were some things I wanted to get done before heading out of town the next day myself.

After eating quickly, I decided to take a 15-minute nap. The 11-month old is teething again and in general he just has an aversion to my sleeping through the night. The night before had been a humdinger and included walks around the living room and swinging on the tree swing in the front yard at 3:30am. By the way, if you see me on the tree swing between the hours of midnight and 5am; it’s not me with insomnia.

Due to my tiredness I hit the snooze on my 15-minute nap and ended up having to rush out of the house to get her to dance on time. It is at this point that my ring was lost although I did not realize this until several hours later. You see, I had a blister on my ring finger that had been aggravating me and I had taken off my ring to aggravate the blister back while I napped.

When I realized later that evening that I did not have my ring on I immediately began the process of retracing my steps. I knew I was on the couch, but the ring was nowhere to be found. I turned that end of the couch upside down and still no ring. Then I looked in the kitchen, and then where my keys had been placed, and ultimately in my vehicle. Still no ring.

This was frustrating. Not only was I missing my ring, but I knew exactly where I had left it and yet it still wasn’t found. I went to bed with this on my mind and thankfully the 11-month old limited his interruption to one bottle-filled moment at about [2:30].

When my feet hit the floor in the morning I knew immediately where my ring was. I walked into the living room, picked up the blanket that was on the opposite end of the couch, and shook it out – the ring tumbled to the floor. In all of my work in retracing my steps I had failed to allow for the fact that the ring had fallen into the blanket, which in my hurry to leave, I had tossed to the opposite end of the couch.

Have you ever done something similar? Have you ever spent time retracing your steps and trying to figure out where you misplaced something only to find yourself missing out on a simple step? That simple step, once noticed, made all the difference in the world in rectifying the problem.

In Psalm 16:2 David says,

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”


Maybe you’re a little like I find myself sometimes; frustrated, irritable, discouraged, cynical, and overall just missing an ingredient of care and compassion when it comes to your interactions and moments with others. You may have even retraced your steps multiple times to find where you’ve dropped this care for others. Let’s begin with our relationship with God.

Talk to him. Tell him your realities. Tell him your confessions. Tell him your discouragements. Oftentimes I find that my treatment of others goes awry when I fail to connect with my Heavenly Father.



Taught and Guarded

Galatians [3:19]-29

Since school has recently started it seems appropriate to look at a text that mentions it. So the law was our schoolmaster that brings us to Christ, so that we are justified by faith. Easy enough to explain. The law shows us that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. The law points and leads us to said Savior and his perfect sacrifice that allows us to be drawn to Him and one day live with Him in His perfect world. 

If only that was all that was placed on my mind. I would be finished, but as I was reading I noticed a small 1, indicating there is an “equivalent, alternate, or literal translation, language note, or explanatory note” (taken from How To Use This Reference Bible) beside schoolmaster. The footnote informed me that the schoolmaster is a tutor, the guardian responsible for care and discipline. 

Well what in the world is the law guarding us from? How does the law care and discipline us? For clarification we will look to Brother Webster as to what a law is: a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority. For us, Gods spoken and written commandments are our law. The community here is the church of Christ. For the controlling authority see Genesis 1:1. 

 If we look in Genesis we see the first law given to Adam.

He didn’t give Adam tablets of stone though mister! He just told him not to eat the fruit of that tree. 

Well my friends, if God Himself said it it’s more solid than any form of writing. He also told the penalty for breaking the law. We know the story…Eve eats the fruit, Adam eats the fruit, blame is passed around, and they are found guilty of breaking the law and are sentenced. DEATH!

Only death didn’t come as they thought. They didn’t die an immediate physical death. The death they got was separation from God. They were sent out of the garden to live a troubled life in a thorny world. But God didn’t send them out helpless. He made them some clothes out of animal skin to help guard them from the rough world they were going into. And to make those clothes God had to kill an animal to get its skin. In essence, blood was shed so that Adam and Eve would have safety going forward. 

As we move to the law in Moses’ time we see a similar pattern. If God’s law is broken there has to be a sacrifice made. And if you look at these sacrifices they had to be perfect; without any natural defects. We also see that if you sinned again that you would have to make another sacrifice. Blood was continually being shed to cover you for your offences against God. 

You’ve used a lot of ink. Get to your point. 

Because of the law we see where we sin and fail God. We see that God through the law makes provisions for us how we may “correct” our position with Him (until we fail again). Most importantly it alludes to the future perfect sacrifice of Christ that will forever do away with the old sacrificial law. 

When Christ died and the veil of the temple was torn, it showed that we no longer needed the law priest to guard us from the wrath of God by making sacrifices for us. It showed that the blood of Christ now guards us and puts us in a right standing with God. 

May we never take for granted the death of Christ. His death provided us protection and restores us to have fellowship with God. 

Riley Lee



Our Place in Time

The Timing of God

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes [7:10]

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Gabriel

Maybe I’m a little crazy but I have always wondered what it would be like to live in a different time period. Often I had even thought that it would be more enjoyable or beneficial to live during whatever period of my choosing. Maybe you have felt the same way.

Reading through the first chapters of Luke it is striking how Jesus came at the exact time period in history that fulfilled prophecy and moved us into the reality of the Kingdom of God. He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and the shattering of the kingdoms of earth as Daniel had promised.

And there was Zechariah standing in the Temple looking at an angel and questioning whether or not the angel was speaking the truth. You see, I envision Zechariah a little bit like us. Probably a little upset about his current circumstances, probably a lot frustrated with his fellow Israelites for either not being zealous enough about his interests or too zealous about their own interests.

Possibly, even as he is fulfilling his Temple responsibilities, which are a once in a lifetime opportunity for his family, he is dreaming of what it would have been like to fulfill these responsibilities during the times of David or Solomon. Maybe not. Maybe he is fully involved in what he is doing, but the doubt that creeps into his voice – and angers Gabriel – leads us to believe otherwise.

There is no better time for us to be alive than right now. As children of God, we live in the presence of the One who commands the Heavenly Messengers. And as Solomon warned, pining for the ‘good ole days’ is misdirected energy because they were never what we thought they were in the first place.

Daniel Harding



On the Subject of Dust

Job [34:14]-15  “If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”

You may remember that in early July we were encountering a massive Saharan dust storm titled, Godzilla. This devotion was originally written during this time period.

It’s not the Corona virus we should fear. Or the Republicans or Democrats. Or China or Russia. Or global warming.  Or murder hornets.  

We should live our lives in respectful fear of God who could cause all mankind to be extinguished in a single instant should He choose to do so.  We are not afraid of God, but we stand in awe of what He holds back from doing.  We should remind ourselves that every moment of every day and every breath are a result of His good favor toward us.

If everyone did that, it would cause all these other issues to get straightened out as well.

Harriet Bowman



The King Has Come

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke [1:46]-55

In our reading of the 4 Gospels, especially the synoptic Gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it can be easy to miss some of the things that are happening in what seems the everyday occurrences in Jesus’ life.

Jesus came to fulfill the promise that God had made to the Israelite nation; before it was a nation, and it was just Jacob and a lot of selfish and conniving sons. Before it was Jacob it was a promise to Isaac and Rebekah and twins that were to be born. Before Isaac and Rebecca it was Abram and Sarai growing old and waiting on a child to be born. On and on we could go and would end up in the Garden with Adam, Eve, and a fleeing serpent.

Mary knew God’s promise and the change it would bring. Beth Moore says it well:

Mary was aware that God had promised her nation a special renown as a servant-ruler to the world. In verses 54 and 55, Mary is obviously aware of the covenant being fulfilled before her eyes. I’m not sure we can comprehend the mind-set of the ancient Hebrews. Their belief system was not just a religion to them-it was life. God was as much a part of their politics as their religious practices.

Jesus is King. The Pharisees found this out at the empty tomb and you and I are challenged daily to accept this reality and allow His Kingdom to come on earth (in our lives and influence) as it is in Heaven (the presence of God).

Daniel Harding



A Family Tree

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

I saw an advertisement for a family tree chart and it made me start thinking… what would it look like if I were able to draw my Spiritual family tree. Who shared the Gospel with me? Who shared with them before that? What would it look like if we were able to trace back to the beginnings of our faith.

It would be so great to know the story of each of those people.  Where they lived and went to church.  How the Gospel was given to them in a way that they could understand and believe. 

And then I began to consider what my tree would look like going forward. Who have I shared the Gospel with? Have those people shared it with another? I’m afraid my branches going forward are woefully short of what I would like for them to be.

What about your tree? Has the Gospel stopped with you or will your branch continue?  God help us all to share with others so that the family tree of Christians will be full!

Harriet Bowman