Daily Devotion

Cynicism vs. Wonder

Our students are about to begin a series where we travel through the book of Luke. We hope to learn a few things while we are there; Jesus’ role in fulfilling the promise to be Israel’s Messiah, Jesus’ call to establish his kingdom on earth, Jesus’ promise of what is to come, and finally; Jesus’ conflict with the kingdoms of the world.  Luke allows us so much history in his writing that we are provided with multiple inputs as to how certain events came to pass.

The first reality that I was struck with was the interaction between the angel and Zechariah and the interaction with the angel and Mary and how they contrast with each other. Zechariah is condemned by the angel for his disbelief and while Mary also pronounces astonishment she is not condemned.

There seems to be a distinction in their questions which I want to allow to challenge us today.

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

Luke [1:18]

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke [1:34]

Zechariah expresses disbelief and wants personal assurance. Mary expresses disbelief as to how it might be accomplished. Simply put, Zechariah says, “when I see it, I’ll believe it.” Mary states, “I don’t understand how this can happen.”

Do we see the difference? How does this apply to us? Well, many times our belief that God is at work is based wholly on our personal experience. If it is not working for us, at that moment, we don’t have much faith that it will happen.

Let’s embrace the wonder of what it means to serve the Living God.

Daniel Harding



Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:1-7


 I suppose I’ve read 2 Corinthians quite a bit in my life. And I suppose when rereading it I gloss over things that I deem unimportant. And I suppose others may do the same thing. And I suppose that God is forgiving for us doing so. And I suppose that at times (the time of this writing, you have already supposed) that God gives us enlightenment to glean a little understanding from aforementioned glossed over material.

I propose to get started.

After the introduction Paul immediately gives God some praise. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Now Paul is very familiar with trouble. Back in Acts we see where he was going down the road looking for folks to arrest when Christ pays him a visit and enlightens him that he has some work to do. Jesus sends him on his way. And it’s worth mentioning that after his encounter Paul can’t see anything. 

 So he goes into the town and Ananias meets and tells him what Christ would have him to do. Paul’s sight is restored, he is baptized, and his once enemies feed him and nurse him to health. God’s handiwork is all over that story. Comfort is provided when none is in sight (pun intended). 

Well what about in early history? Where is the comfort there? 

Old Noah knew a little about comfort. He spent a while cooped up with his family on an ark. If I may be so bold I’d say he was probably sick and tired of them before they got off the ark. God sent comfort to him in the shape of an olive leaf in the beak of a bird. The comfort there was that he could finally get away from his family and catch a little break. 

Well, that’s all old junk. It’s 2020. Where’s my comfort?  

There are times when I have felt like Paul after his encounter with Christ. I can’t see what I need to be doing. I try to fix myself and get back on track and I end up further in the ditch. But while I’m struggling with what I should do, God sends an Ananias to help me out. He takes many forms. Sometimes he’s a text in the middle of the day with an encouraging word. Sometimes he’s a devotion/bible reading that I’m doing. Whatever form he takes I get the comfort that I have been desiring and I know that it has come from God himself.

And when I see and recognize what that particular Ananias has done for me, it allows me to follow suit and (hopefully) provide the comfort that has been granted to me. Even if it’s insignificant as an olive leaf. That leaf that we give may (with God’s help) continue to grow and provide comfort for folks we don’t even know.  

For what it’s worth Ananias literally means “whom Jehovah has graciously given.” May God allow us to comfort one another while we live here below. 

Riley Lee



The Task of the Urgent

Genesis 22:1-3 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 ¶ And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

While reading this morning I was reminded of the reality of the important, the necessary, and the urgent. While all of these carry significant weight, the prioritizing of these is not something I am always good at. My life can become mundane, at times confusing, and then at other times conflicting. The reasoning behind most of this is the “now” somehow evades me and I elude it until it becomes urgent! I confess I am sometime a procrastinator around the house, around the church, and at times when it comes to the things God has engaged me in with HIM.

In the passage above God is engaging Abraham and He says, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac”! There is no room for error here, no possibility of misunderstanding, the now reveals the important- the necessary, and also the urgent! Scripture says Abraham obeyed!

My prayer today is, Lord I thank you that the temporal is less urgent and the eternal is far more important than ever before. God grant me the guts and grace to see every opportunity and seize it for your glory.

Derwin Griffin



The Real Truth

John [8:32]  ….and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

What is “your” truth?? There is a popular phrase going on TV and in social media which refers to an individual’s own personal truth. “Own your truth” a person might say. The meaning behind this being that if you believe something strongly enough, then it is true for you.

I don’t want to take away someone’s truth this morning, but I do disagree. For example: Our dog, Jack, is a dog. I may call him a cat, feed him cat food, and dress him in cat clothes, but the truth remains that Jack is a dog. In the famous story of Chicken Little, his truth was that the sky was falling down. And he really believed it. To Chicken Little he was not lying when he said to others “The Sky Is Falling Down!!” But the real truth was that an acorn had fallen on Chicken Little’s head.

There have always been people who choose their own version of life and call it true. They actively seek others who will back up their version.  But through all the falsehood, truth remains. There is an actual “Real Truth.” Be very sure that in creating your own truth, you have not begun to just believe a lie and call it true. Knowing the truth and admitting to the real truth brings happiness and joy and stability to life.

In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” Start looking for the real truth today. Be a truth teller. Speak the truth in love. Examine yourself. You are ultimately responsible for what you believe.

Harriet Bowman



Growing Believers

1 Corinthians 3:1-17

As school starts up again I’m reminded of my first day of school. I remember nothing of what I learned but I distinctly remember wearing Barney velcro shoes and eating a Eggo waffle on the small wooden table that my daddy made for my sister and I. I’m sure the technique my kindergarten teacher taught me for holding my crayon helped to prepare my mind to be planted with seeds of learning that would grow into the bushels of knowledge that I have stored away now.

It also reminds me that believers, like new students, once started out with little to no knowledge about God. We start out, as Paul says, being fed with milk. What kind of milk is this? God created you. God created mama and daddy. God created balloons. Milk is the simple and easy to digest morsels that start us out learning about Him.

So know that the basic knowledge of God has been planted in us, what does it need to grow? The correct answer is God but let us look at it in the context of the verses. We shall say for our purposes that your parents (or folk like unto) planted the initial seed. They wanting to see it grow so they continue to water it. They read and talk about the Bible with us. Make us learn verses and songs about God. And hopefully they have help. The church body helps as well, through preaching, bible studies, and even fun things like VBS. But it’s like we said at the start of this paragraph. God gives the increase.

So now in our story, God has given us a firm foundation, and has given us folks (with His help) that help us grow and build our Lincoln log house of Gods knowledge. We now have enough sense (hopefully) to add on to our house. But Paul gives us a list of unusable building materials. Gold, silver, precious stones. These are symbolic of things in the world that don’t add to our knowledge of God. The look good, but when tested against God’s truth they fall apart. So we must carefully choose what we add to our Lincoln log house. God’s truth is the perfect material to add on to our house.

Well now we are old. How does our house look now? Still ain’t finished. Roof needs shingling, one room ain’t got no sheetrock, and we still haven’t picked out the right lights. How can this be? We have worked our whole life building this thing. How can it not be complete?

It’s not complete because we are human. We have human minds. We can not know and understand all of God’s thoughts while here in this world. We will never understand why God does somethings and leaves others undone. We have to learn to be content with what God has given us and appreciate all that he has done for us. When creation has been made new, and we have incorruptible bodies, then (I pray) we’ll understand it all.

Isaac Watts sums it up pretty well.

“There is a house not made with hands eternal and on high. And here my spirit waiting stands, till God shall bid it fly.

Isaac Watts

Riley Lee



The Business

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”   Luke [2:49]

The words above were spoken by a very young Jesus. It is one of the few glimpses we have into the childhood of our Savior. The story is one that can get glossed over at times. There is no miracle being performed and the premise is somewhat relatable to many people today: a child being temporarily lost or left behind. It is a situation full of fear followed by relief. Perhaps if it were a sitcom, some humor would be injected into the situation as well.

As I read through the story, this particular verse caught my attention this time. Especially the last half “Did you not know I must be about My Father’s business?”

Generally, when we think about business, we think about our jobs, big corporations, merchandise, or even just money. The goal of businesses today is to make a profit and keep shareholders/owners happy.

How do they do that? For the most part a business provides a good or service that people want or need. I thought this was an odd term to use in this context. But the more I thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed.

Jesus served those he came into contact with while he was on earth. He also provided the most important good on earth. A bridge to his Father so that we might have a relationship with Him. Something all people must have in order to experience eternal life with the Father. Jesus expected Mary and Joseph to know he was doing God’s business.

I’ve heard the term “God’s business” in reference to pastors and church staff, but just like a business has many people with many different jobs, God’s business is the same. Am I doing God’s business? When people see me, do they know what business I work for? Sometimes I don’t like my answer to those questions, but it’s a good reminder of who I should be working for every single day.

Walt Howard



The Night

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Luke 2:8-9

You have probably heard the story in Luke 2 hundreds of times. Shepherds, a dark and cold night, and suddenly – an angel. This past week while preparing for a new series with students I was struck by how this story was always part of a much bigger story.

Jesus’ birth had been prophesied since the Garden of Eden and the Jews had been looking for a Messiah for centuries. These shepherds had a moment in God’s grand story. They didn’t miss it.

John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, almost missed his when met by an angel. He questioned the angel with doubt and ultimately couldn’t speak until John was born.

How often does our response look like Zechariah and not like the shepherds. Look at the wonder around us! Look at the lives that are being changed and shaped daily. Let’s rejoice in the part that we have in this great story that is far above anything you and I could ever imagine.

Daniel Harding



His Guiding Hand

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

As believers, we can have the confidence and assurance that there is the Master with the all seeing eye and ever present hand to go with us along each step of our journey.  This has not always been a reality to me. As I was a boy growing up in the small town of Patterson GA (700 residents at that time), I was aware that there was always someone watching me, but I thought it was the neighbors (Mama’s nosey informants), or one of my siblings!

It seemed to me that you could go nowhere or do anything that someone would not know and it would sometimes beat you back home. I happened to be talking to one of my cousins this week from out of town who, without knowledge of me writing this devotion, told me of a similar incident in her life where someone called her dad when she violated a rule and he met her at the door when she arrived home.

Remember, God is not always a hand to chastise and correct us when He sees we have done wrong, He is desirous to be a hand that guides us that we will enjoy the abundant life He has designed for us!

Psalm 139:7-10 ¶ Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Derwin Griffin



The Man Believed

John [4:46]-54

As a child I was enthralled with the original Star Wars trilogy. I had them in a boxed VHS special edition set. I wore them tapes out. I loved how Luke and Yoda could move things around and were just masters of the force. Being young (and stupid I suppose looking back) I thought there was a chance I might be a Jedi and that I could use the force.

One evening while watching my dad saw boards in the shop, I found an acorn and sat down on a milk crate and held it in my hand. I closed my eyes and focused hard on the acorn, trying to make it fly. I knew from Obi Wan I had to feel the force flowing through me. After no success I asked daddy if he thought I could do it. He came and stood by me said to try it again. I closed my eyes and thought hard and…. I felt the acorn rise from my hand! I opened my eyes and it was gone. Astonished I looked at my daddy to see him beaming. He said try to make it come back. I closed my eyes and concentrated and I felt it come back to my hand.

A few years passed and I grew to understand the force wasn’t real. It was a fictional power. I had believed I could do it from watching a work of fiction. Instead of putting my belief into something man made, I should have put my belief into something real, like the official in John [4:46].

The official (he was of Capernaum) found Christ in Cana. When he found Him he asked Him to go and heal his son in Capernaum. Christ gives him an unusual answer. “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

I must admit. I’m in that same boat sometimes. I need to have proof of something before I will admit to its authenticity. My dad has to have surgery on his ankle soon, and if you came up to me and said his ankle was healed without surgery I might not believe you. But the official approached him again, begging Him to come help his child. Christ gives him a little clearer answer this time, “Go on home, your son is ok.”

What did the man do? He believed. He believed the words that Jesus told him. After he believed he went on his way (there’s a lot there that can be covered another day). He got halfway home and he met his servants who told him the good news, your son is alive and well. We must do the like official from Capernaum. We must believe in what Jesus has told and taught us in His Word. We can’t put our faith in the force (Star Wars) or the things of this world. We must believe and trust in the sure foundation that is Christ.

Riley Lee



Like a Mirror

Matthew [5:16]  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

I’ve seen quite a few things written in these days about being the church. How the church is not the building. How the church continues even though we can’t go to the building right now in the way that we did in the past.  All true.

But think about this…. We Christians are blessed and saved and want to bless others, but we are still fallible. We make mistakes and say the wrong things. It is Jesus that people need at this time.

What we say and do needs to be like a mirror so that we reflect Jesus. When someone looks at what we do, they should not see us, they should see Jesus. Because He is our only Hope in this world.  Oh if people could just see Jesus!!