Daily Devotion

After Temptation: More Temptation

Luke 4

When Jesus was in the desert he simply had himself to deal with. As we see from the temptation that is outlined in verses 1-13 that was certainly enough. We too can agree that the temptations, as James tells us, begin with the ideas within our own minds.

What happens when those ideas actually take shape? Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will in the desert allowed him to fully engage the next group of people; his hometown acquaintances. We know the phrase he uses in this passage; a prophet is only without honor among his hometown folks, but let’s remind ourselves of the context.

Jesus has just dealt with great temptations to use his desires and demands to construct something ‘good’ but something that was different than what God had planned. He is immediately confronted by friends and family who demand a performance from him. The very reality which he had just denied himself.

Again and again we see the humility of God on display. There is no showing off, no proving, just his care and compassion for others. NT Wright says about this experience – when they tried to toss him off the cliff for saying he was the completion of Isaiah – that his resistance of temptation alone is what enabled him to resist temptation when presented by family and friends.

If Jesus needed time alone to pray and confront the temptations of life – then most certainly I do as well. Otherwise, we’ll spend our lives responding to the requests and demands of people and not reflecting the care and compassion of our Savior.

Try some silence today. Try some alone time. Trust in the Savior. Trust in the Present God.

Daniel Harding



Holes In The Ceiling

Mark 2

My husband and I were discussing a lesson for kid’s church. Mark Chapter 2. The lesson was on the paralytic and his 4 friends. We talked about the friends whose love and faith for their friend made them do a totally desperate act by tearing a roof apart to bring a friend to Jesus. The religious men, whose pride in their religious righteousness missed the miracle, the man on the pallet that was in the middle of the chaos at Jesus’ feet and the Lord’s response to it all.  “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Then we discussed how Jesus spoke to the man and he picked up his mat and walked…walked in front of all the men who would have been satisfied if he had still laid there so their religious pride would be left intact.

(Now please forgive my humanness.) I looked at Mr. Richard (my husband) and said, “You know I thank God and I am in awe of the miracle that you are. I believe, I really do thank God, He could have made you completely and perfectly whole. It seems to me after such an incredible miracle, He would have given you the ability to walk without assistance. I just don’t understand.”

Then quietly, Mr. Richard said, “You know I wonder that too and I struggle with it sometimes, but He is teaching me that it’s not about me. That the evidence of my miracle IS my wheelchair! He raised me from almost death and I have the chair to prove it!” …. My husband and my Lord are both teaching me, that l it’s not having a perfect roof of faith over our heads that is proof of a walk with Christ, but it’s the holes in the ceiling where the good stuff of the Lord comes in! So I thank God for the holes in the ceiling.

Jackie Gillespie



Apathy

I spent the evening rewatching Seven, a thriller where a retiring detective and his upcoming replacement try to catch a killer. It’s a dark movie and I won’t go into details here but there was a conversation in the film that caught my eye. 

     This is the retiring detective talking. 

“Apathy is a solution. I mean it’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it.”

After being on the force and seeing all he has seen he acknowledges that he understands why people are like they are. And for Christians it’s easy to fall into the same boat. 

“I need to do my daily bible study but Netflix just dropped Tiger King season 2. I need to watch it so I can talk with the guys at work tomorrow.”

“I don’t want to go to a later service cause there are too many people there, and who wants to go to an [8:30] service.”

“Sunday fun day! Let’s party y’all!”

Paul warns the Roman believers (and us) about letting sin (missing the mark, not serving as we should) control our lives. He says we must be dead to sins and alive unto God. We must not let the pleasures of this world distract us from the pleasure of serving God. 

“Well that’s just Paul spouting words I can’t understand. It’s way above my head.” 

Well lucky for us Christ makes it pretty plain in Matthew 6.

     “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

For we Christians, Christ has shed His blood for the remission of our sins. Being freed from the bonds of sin we are free to serve God as we should. How do you serve as you should? Love God and your neighbor. If you love God you will not use your body (not just your body, your mind is included in this I believe) to dishonor Him. The same principle applies to loving your neighbor. 

It’s hard. I struggle with this daily. It’s easier to just come home and watch YouTube than to try and write words of encouragement. It’s easier to call a stranger on a video game chat stupid than to call and check on your neighbor and call out to God to heal their sickness or whatever may be afflicting them. 

Well what’s the benefit of serving a righteous God versus serving the lusts of the flesh? 

     “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

     I pray that we all can submit to our Heavenly Father and be about His business. It’s not easy. It’s not the most popular thing to do. But it is what we are called to do. 

Riley Lee



Goliath

“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” I Samuel [17:47]

When I first heard the story of David and Goliath, I was totally enraptured that this young boy had such a fierce trust of God that he would even stand before a warrior such as Goliath. Not with armor, a sword or any other weapon than a slingshot and some stones. Amazing! I always wanted to be a warrior! My friends, sister and I would jump off beds with towels tied around our necks, we were super heroes! We fought villains and the forces of evil with sticks and mud balls, we were fearless.

One my favorite chalk drawings that I draw is called the “Little Warrior”. I drew this when my nephew James, was going through cancer as a child. A small child warrior stands with his sword drawn, armor on, shouting at something the audience doesn’t see, as the presentation progresses, you see what he is facing. Out of the darkness there are wolves, a giant’s arm with a maze and snakes all around him. He carries nothing but a sword and a Cross on his armor. When the black light is on, you can see, what the warrior does not see, the real source of his strength, Jesus with His arms around him protecting him from the evil he is facing.

Somewhere along the path of growing up, as our towel capes turned into work clothes and our weapons turned into tools and typewriters. We dropped our guard and joined the fearful Israelites on the hill observing the shouts and curses of the enormous Goliath. (I Samuel [17:11]) We could never stand up to those who would hinder us from realizing the greatness God had intended us to achieve. We could never go and face a wall like Goliath, because we had nothing to defend ourselves with that would compare to his strength and power.


We all face a Goliath at one time or another. It may seem that when one is defeated there is another to take its place. What are you facing? If you know Jesus as your, Defender and Savior, He’s got a defense that nothing can penetrate, not words, actions, physical assault, nothing. We must rise up with the “sword of the spirit” and say as David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” I Samuel 17: 32.

Jackie Gillespie



Family Devotions

Matthew 6:6   “When you pray…pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”                     

Bedtime prayers were often limited to a little memorized prayer when our oldest son was very young. I remember it taught me to have my personal devotions after he had gone to bed.

We would take turns saying “Now I lay me down to sleep…” right before he hopped into bed. Sometimes I would read a short scripture before the prayer. The idea in my mind was to knit his heart to the heart of God and also to my husband and me.

I remember when our memorized prayers had turned into unrehearsed prayers that opened both of our hearts to God. Our son would thank God for the door knobs. Really, door knobs? Listening to his little prayers helped both of us catch a glimpse of our souls and learn how to relate to God, praise Him, and make our requests known to our loving Father.

Albert Schweitzer once commented on the need for parents to set an example in devotion:

“From the services in which I joined as a child I have taken with me into life a feeling for what is solemn, and a need for quiet self-recollection, without which I cannot realize the meaning of my life. I cannot, therefore, support the opinion of those who would not let children take part in grown-up people’s services till they to some extent understand them. The important thing is not that they shall understand but that they shall feel something of what is serious and solemn. The fact that a child sees his elders full of devotion, and has to feel something of devotion himself, that is what gives the service its meaning for him.”

During the time in which we live today as I reflect on our little prayers many years ago I not only thank God for door knobs but also the locks on the door knobs. And sometimes as I have devotions with our grandchildren today I hear them pour their little souls out to God. They have shared with me that their daddy leads family devotions at home. Wow, it never occurred to me that this could also be a legacy!

End your evenings with family devotions even if you are single or don’t have children. Reflect on the chaos of the day as you spend time with your Heavenly Father. God will help you to put the chaos in perspective and sleep peacefully.

Glenda Bashlor



Jesus’ Faith

Luke 4:1-13, James [2:18]-19

God is present.

God is enough.

For just a few moments let’s consider both of those phrases as we think of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. In Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4, we are told of Jesus going to the wilderness alone following his baptism by John. At the end of this time alone, which is a temptation in and of itself, Jesus encounters Satan; The Accuser, The Tempter, and is directly tempted in three areas as recorded in Matthew and Luke.

Specifically, Luke records that Jesus is tempted with self-gratification, power, and immortality. Now, when we read the story we actually don’t see those words, but they are there in Jesus’ responses. Read those below with the paraphrase that accompanies them as Jesus addressed the reality of what was being offered to him.

Man shall not live by bread alone – I don’t always need what I might think I need.

Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only – There is nothing that I need to do to attain power, for God holds it all.

Do not put the Lord your God to the test – My life is a service to God, He is not to be summoned and commanded.

Having just finished a study on James it is amazing how much James thought the daily lives and presuppositions of these very religious people should be changing and challenged. Those Jews who had followed the Law and were committed to a singular God are now finding that their daily lifestyles and self-focus is being challenged by the reality of Jesus.

How do we challenge that? How do we challenge the in-built desire to satisfy self before others? How do we come to grips with the reality that I prefer self over others? How do we go about changing these behaviors?

Look at James’ reply to how we address these questions:

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

In the desert Jesus acted in faith and he proved this by his actions. His belief was that God was present with Him in the crazy and unrealistic moment in which he was – and that God being present was enough. He would provide.

So too he will provide for you and I. In our interactions with others. In our pursuit of our desires. In our daily disturbances of life when it feels as if surely we would be right to simply take and not have faith.

God is present.

God is enough.

Daniel Harding



The Real Thing

(Exodus 20:3, Luke [14:33])

On a window seal in my man cave (my wife might more accurately describe it as my junk room) sits a red candle in a white bowl which I inherited from some long ago Christmas time. Sitting across the top of that bowl and propped against the window is an old picture, probably older than I am. It is a painting done on a small sheet of metal and framed.

A painting of a big magnificent looking sailing ship with lots of sails. It is at sea sailing in choppy seas. On the two main masts there are at least five large sails. The forward mast over the bow holds two more and the rear mast holds maybe three more. She is a fine looking powerful ship. The metal she is painted on has been rippled so that when you reach out and touch the waves, you actually feel the rippling of the waves and can imagine them slapping against the ship’s hull. The name Frank Clifford is down in the right corner. I can stare at that painting and, little boy like, imagine sailing to Africa and other exciting places on board that ship back in the day. But… even though it looks impressive and has that wavy feel to it, it is still just a painting and not the real thing.

Is that how we are? We may look impressive in our walk with the Lord and if someone reaches out and “touches” our lives by interacting with us, we may, on the surface at least, give a good impression of being the real thing… but, are we? If someone went deep into our lives and character, would they find us to be real and authentically Christ-like?

Jesus taught a lot about being committed wholly to Him. In Luke 14 and again in Luke 16 He addressed this. In fact, you can find this teaching throughout the New Testament, the teaching which says we must have no other gods before Him. And of course, that is one of the original Ten Commandments, isn’t it? Why would it be so often repeated? Maybe it is because we so often mess it up. The ancient Jewish people failed time and time again to stay faithful to God… to be really with Him. Our current Sunday School lessons in the book of Isaiah show us that over and over.

Let’s be careful and take time each day to speak with our God and call on Him to guide us, recommitting ourselves daily to follow Him as best we can. Let’s be the real thing.

Clint Bowman



Sitting On the Porch

Luke 15: 11-32

I was blessed to be raised with my Cajun grandparents in Southwest Louisiana most of my childhood.  What great memories I have of that small home and large yard (my grandparents lived in the city of Lake Charles and had a *truck farm). In those days everything had a purpose, chores had a purpose either farming, maintenance, housekeeping, baking cooking, canning, etc. Everything was such an efficient flow of time and applying it to its best use.  What I really loved best was the part of the day that when the harvest of the ripe fruit or vegetables was done sitting underneath those big oaks and huge pine trees, with wash pans full of figs, corn, peas, etc. and preparing them for canning or baking. My grandparents and I (and whoever came by for a visit) worked as they told stories, laughed, drank coffee and had the best time sitting under those trees sharing the joy of God’s blessings. They talked about everything from family, faith, politics and the general news of the day.

One thing my grandparents never shared was the concerns for those members of the family that had gone astray or they might have had differences about a personal matter.  They quietly kept all these things to themselves but hiding them in their hearts and faithfully praying.

I am sure that my Daddy was one of their concerns. He and my Momma were living a life outside of the church.  My Grandparents never said a discouraging word or expressed an ugly thought about either one to me or anyone else. They were content to give them to the Lord as they “sat on the porch”.

What a picture that is so similar to the one Jesus told in Luke [15:11]-32 about the Prodigal Son. The father sat patiently on the porch waiting to see his son return every day. Jesus doesn’t tell us how long he sat, but we know that as he watched he prayed expectantly to see his son return and eventually God answered that prayer. He didn’t run to find him, take him out of his situation. He patiently waited sitting on the porch.

You may have a child, family member, spouse, or situation that God has not miraculously changed for whatever reason. It is discouraging when we think God has forgotten us on the porch. The truth is that the porch is not always God moving in a situation. It is for us and lives to change us before He brings the prodigal home.

So go shell some peas, peel some figs and laugh, sing and praise because you have Jesus’ company on the porch.

Jackie Gillespie

*A Truck Farm is a large city garden where people grew vegetables and sold them at a very low price to neighbors and local grocers.



Free; In A Prison

Acts [16:16]-34

I want us to keep an open mind as we read the verses from Acts. This is a well known story of how Paul and Silas were delivered out of jail. But I want to look at the jailer instead of the two missionaries. And I want us to use a little imagination here.

The scene. A courtroom where the judge is on the bench, our bailiff/jailer is standing to the side ready to escort the prisoners away to their cell, the defendants sitting on their knees in front of everyone, and their accusers standing and accusing them. So the accusers state their charges against them. They are well known businessmen and have a lot of friends in the community. They get riled up and start attacking them. The judges let it happen. 

Meanwhile our jailer thinks something is off. He’s heard these guys talk and pray. He’s heard they’re the servants of God. They good folks. 

The verdict is given quickly. Guilty. The judge calls the jailer over and tells him to lock them up good. Not willing to upset the system he follows his orders. Bottom of the jail. Pitch black. Miserable. 

He goes to start his paperwork. Shortly he hears a sound from the bottom of the jail. Great, he thinks. They are going to be complaining and yelling all night. He goes to tell them to can it but stops before he gets there. They are praying. Asking God to forgive their tormentors. They are singing. He has heard that psalm before.  

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord… serve Him with gladness…the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting.”

He thinks to himself, they serve a wonderful God, for them to be so happy in a place of such hopelessness. He tries to finish his paperwork but the singing is too pretty and he quickly falls asleep. He dreams of a grassy valley, with a quiet stream running through it. 

He is awakened by his chair overturning and throwing him to the ground. He looks around quickly to see all the cell doors open. The cells are empty. Darkness clutches his heart as he walks to the bottom where the chief prisoners were kept. Seeing the empty cell he grabs a sword to end his life before the judges and businessmen do it for him. Before he makes the fatal blow a voice tells him to stop. 

The jailer calls for light and the bulbs twinkle on revealing everything. He sees the men still in the cell! 

He falls at their feet crying. He knows that the jail is well built. Only a miracle would cause all the cells to open. Only the love of a wonderful God would constrain the falsely convicted to remain, saving a jailer from death. 

I’ll not keep you much longer. Here’s the rest of the story. 

“And he brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

We are the missionaries in the story. We are despised by the world. We teach strange beliefs that go against the world. We are in a prison. This world is not our home. We are looking forward to a new world that is in perfect harmony with God. While here we must spread the good news to the jailors of the world. And trust that God will bless His word to find hearts ready to believe and trust in Him. 

Riley Lee



Knowing Jesus

Matthew [7:21]-23  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

I boarded a flight one time from Nigeria to Ivory Coast. My seat was on the first economy row. Soon afterward a richly dressed woman came on who had a seat further back. When she discovered the location of her seat, she began to protest loudly. She wanted to sit on the first row. There was an empty seat there. She insisted that the stewardesses give her that seat.

After a very loud altercation for about 10 minutes, they gave up and let her sit there. (In America, she would have been escorted off the plane. But this was not America)  Across the aisle, there was seated a man wearing traditional Islamic dress.  He was closely observing this ongoing loud drama.   When the plane started to take off, this lady then began to pray loudly In Jesus Name that we would all make it safely. I thought, “Don’t bring Jesus into this!” I was very embarrassed because I felt that she put shame on the name of Jesus and took away any witness to that Islamic man. 

There are many people who know about Jesus. They have information about him, but they do not know him. They do not have God’s Spirit living inside them to guide their lives.

In Matthew [7:21]-23 Jesus talks about those who thought they knew Jesus, but find out on Judgment Day that they were wrong. I can’t judge that lady on the plane. Maybe she was a true Christian, but the fruit of her life was not proving that.  All of us have a bad day once in a while, but if the pattern of our lives is like this then we have to question ourselves.  Each person has to examine their own heart and be sure that they have Jesus in there and not just the knowledge of Jesus.

Harriet Bowman