Daily Devotion

Satisfaction

I just finished reading a book entitled; Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen. It’s a challenging book that points to our need for dependence and faith in God above our belief and effort that we can create. Today’s short devotion reminds us a woman who after meeting Jesus fully committed herself to Him.

Her faith came about as she rested in the reality that Jesus knew her – and loved her.

“He told me everything I ever did” John [4:39]

As the Samaritan learned so too we can learn; God knows us fully. He loves us fully. Our faith in this truth will lead us to do as she did – to share with others this great news of Living Water.

Daniel Harding



Old Times and Old Timers

Luke [24:13]-35

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke [24:25]-27

Growing up I rather disliked the phrase, “We are going to your grandparents”.

Grandparents (to a teenager) are dreadfully boring. All my papa wanted to do was talk about cows and go out in the woods and chop up trees with his hacksaw. I made the mistake of going with him one afternoon and the old man nearly worked me to death. And grandma just wanted me to put up curtain rods and stand there and tell me what I’m doing wrong and about memories of her yester years. To me those were dreadfully boring times.

I think that many of us find hearing about old times pointless. That may spill over to reading the old testament. In my younger days reading about plagues, laws, and people with names like Ismerai, Jezliah, and Joab didn’t thrill me much. I didn’t see the point. And there was a couple of fellows walking to Emmaus that might have felt like we did. But they met a traveling companion that changed their minds. 

While He walked with them Jesus started at Moses taught them how He was everywhere in the Old Testament scriptures (which the Jews would have known). It’s easy for us to just quickly breeze over those texts and not look deeper. But here is an example of what we are missing if we just read them without digging deeper. 

In Exodus 26 God is giving instructions on the construction of the tabernacle. I freely admit just reading the description of the coverings, boards, and hardware is boring. Taking time to study the entire process gives us a picture of our church today.  

The outer covering was badger skin. This is what everyone would see from the outside. From my research it would be ugly to look at. Not pretty at all. But underneath that is the covering of rams skin. Dyed red. To us that represents the blood that Christ shed for us. And in the innermost parts you will see the curtains of fine twined linen. Things that are beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. 

And this is (to me) foreshowing how we and the world see the church. From the outside it’s ugly. Nothing to entice you to come in. But once you look deeper and see the whole picture you see how beautiful it is. And the more we look and learn about God the prettier the picture gets. 

It takes time and effort to look deeper into those Old Testament books, but there are countless pictures of Christ and His love for us. 

Riley Lee



Bent Trees

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” NIV Job 14:7

In 2005, we lived in Southwest Louisiana. It was the worst hurricane season on record for our region.  The beginning of September, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Mississippi, Alabama Gulf Coast, it was devastating for that side of our state. On the heels of Katrina two weeks later, a hurricane formed in the Gulf that most forecasters said would not affect our area, but through a small shift to the left it tracked up the Sabine Pass and came hitting land as a Category 5 but quickly downgraded to a Cat 3…not much difference to tell the truth.

My elderly parents along with our nephew, would not evacuate for more than 50 miles away from their home, which was close to the coast.  We really did not think the storm would turn out to be as bad as it was. My husband who was a lineman for an electric cooperative 56 miles from our home along with my parents, we decided to “hunker down” and ride it out.  Now “riding it out” as we say in the swamp means that you cover your windows, stow everything that might be a flying object, cook tons of food, especially gumbo, have kerosene and batteries on hand with a gas or a camp stove of some sort, and fill your bathtubs with water and have plenty of coffee…that’s the drill! We grew up preparing for the storms all of lives. Oh and by the way, our home was two single wide mobile homes connected with a small building in between, that we sophisticatedly called the “Foyer”.  Not smart, not wise, but it was our port in the storm.

During the night. 6 hours, hours previously our power went out.  The winds started howling and grew louder and lightning with thunder bellowing constantly.  As my Momma, my nephew, Josh and I sat in the hallway with blankets over our heads, my Daddy and husband slept in the recliners throughout the night. Each time a gust would come through you could literally see the walls of the trailer breathing like person’s chest. In all of my life, in all of the hurricanes I have lived through and even served in the Civil Air Patrol as Civil Defense, I have never been that scared.

During the night, as my Momma and I were singing “Master of the Wind” Lord gave me peace and I could feel His presence. In my mind’s eye, I could see His Hands holding those trailers together as the dark night and the winds sought to destroy them and us inside.  When the dawn came and we looked outside, it looked like the Lord Himself walked in a circle around our home. Not one window was broken, no water inside the houses, no damage to our home. The pine trees stood tall with limbs ripped off, but the trees with shallow roots, like our sycamore trees were either uprooted or bent over.  One sycamore tree in particular (a very old tree) looked like someone just pushed it over. The roots were exposed, but as we waited for it to die, in the weeks ahead, we started to see new growth.  The branches were growing straight up from the side that was closest to the sun.  It is still there today and you cannot tell it was one tree unless you look closely.

I have always loved that picture of the bent tree. It reminds me of us as the storms of life come crashing through.  Sometimes what we think is going to be an insignificant little thunderstorm turns out to be a spiritual hurricane.  God doesn’t take the storm away but in bending us in the storm. He can use us to sprout out even more shoots, and give us opportunities to glorify Him.  So no matter what storm your facing today, just remember that there is always “hope for the tree”!

Jackie Gillespie



A God We Accept

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:1-2

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? John [3:10]-12

Nicodemus wanted the Messiah to come. Nicodemus wanted to see God at work. Nicodemus thought that the interpretation of this was dependent upon this ‘God’ doing and responding as Nicodemus wanted and predicted.

Jesus did not do this. He did not ask for approval from the Pharisees. He did not restrict himself to the behaviors and audiences that they were comfortable with, and he certainly did not follow their ritualistic washing and clothing traditions.

Nicodemus wanted Jesus to be God – and he wanted Jesus to look, act, and talk like him. In other words, he wanted a God he could accept; not a God he could follow. When Jesus ate with unclean people Nicodemus would have been bothered, and when Jesus said we were to forgive our enemies Nicodemus would have been incensed; who forgives the Romans; those murderers, or even the Sadducee’s who celebrated their bond with the Romans.

God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use Him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who is sincerely wanting to co-operate with His own purposes.

J B Phillips Your God is Too Small

Daniel Harding



Rest For Your Souls

Matthew [11:28]-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Experiences continue to teach me the complexity of life that comes with each new day. Complexity I want to define is to the difficulty and complication which clouds and confuses the mind and heart to the faith walk. I confess to my lack of understanding when I was younger! I had the misconception that life became simpler as we grew older and wiser. Experience and ministry is teaching me that I was extremely deceived as to the process we endure rather than always enjoy.

Some phrases I have been introduced to over the years have been:

I never knew we would come to this place in our life,

It’s not right that Mothers and Fathers have to bury their children,

I know something is going on but what can I do about it!

Yes, these are questions and statements people like you and I have to deal with in our journey—but we never think we will think that way. It reminds me of the story in Matthew 9 when Jesus was confronted with the family with a desperate child. The Father  knew Jesus could meet them and their need, however what he needed immediately was a fresh touch.

In all of my experiences I need to remember to call on Jesus to help my unbelief!

Mark [9:24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Derwin Griffin



James’ Challenge

1My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.   James 1:19-20

James has always been one of my
favorite books of the bible. Each verse seems to contain some type of practical
advice for living a life more representative of Christ. Maybe it’s just because
I’m a man and I need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. Although
it is one of my favorites, it’s one of the most challenging as well.

Looking at these verses, James gives some very straightforward advice. It can be broken down into three suggestions:

  1. Be quick to listen.
  2. Be slow to speak.
  3. Be slow to become angry.

 

So simple yet so difficult to master. It seems like we are
taught from a young age that we should strive to be the first to give an answer
in school or the first to give an opinion on something (and you have to have a
strong opinion on everything. But that’s a lesson for another day). In a world
dominated by social media, we crave the instant gratification of one of our
posts getting a lot of likes, shares, and comments from those that agree with
us. None of these are bad things, but James might have recommended a different
approach.


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Decreasing

John the Baptist is one of the pivotal characters of Scripture. Think of some of the things that we know about his life.

His birth was abnormal by any stretch of the imagination:

His father received a visit from an angel while serving in the sanctuary of the Temple for what was probably his only visit inside the sanctuary of the Temple.

                                Dad had some problems with this visit and couldn’t speak until John was born.

Prior to John’s birth, while she probably in her 6th month of pregnancy, his mother visited her cousin; Mary, Jesus’ mother.

                                John, as a baby in the womb, reacted to this visit!

When John was born Zechariah wrote out John’s name for a group of ladies who had come to visit. Only then was he able to speak.

                                It’s a little odd that possibly he had never told anyone this name before – for 9 months!

John began a ministry in his adult years that attracted a large following – even Jesus came to visit. He had such influence that the king and his family payed attention to what he had to say. These are things that most of us dream to have – and yet this was John’s view of his life.

They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John [3:26]-30

As I read this I wonder what influence, desires, and focus that I’m not willing to surrender to God. Friends, family, and followers, can seem like good things, but they can definitely keep us from fully serving as God presents opportunities.



Standing Firm

Matthew [16:13]-18

While flying on a plane to PA, I did what any good young man would do and downloaded some sermons to listen to. As the stewardess came over the intercom to say we could use our electronic devices, Pastor Adrian Rogers was already well into his sermon from Matthew 16. 

About halfway through the message Brother Adrian read verse 18 and I can still hear him saying it to this day. In a powerful booming voice.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

This idea of a sure foundation was not a new idea to the disciples. During the closing remarks of His sermon on the mount he taught them about the wise man that built his house on a rock, and how nothing that the world threw at it could cause it to fall. Then He told about the foolish man that built his home on sand, and you could sneeze on it and blow it over. It must have come as a shock to them, because the bible says they were astonished at what He said.

How often in our lives today are we astonished when things that we know (or think we know) fail. At my office I had a coworker that I knew I could depend on to help me with anything. I talked with him quite a bit and thought we were really close friends. One Friday he asked for a meeting with the boss and handed in his resignation and left without saying goodbye or any explanation. That shook me. How could a friend of over 10 years just walk away and not say a word? 

Things of this world are forever shift. Nothing is certain. But the words of an old hymn speak of certainties that we have as Christians. 

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word

What more can He say than to you He hath said

To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled. 

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose

I will not, I will not desert to its foes

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

God who has called us to be His people will always be here for us. When things of this world seem uncertain, we can look to God’s word (the Bible and hymns) and find certainty and a rock that will not be shaken by the world. In them we can draw comfort from the one that was there at the beginning, and will be with us to the end. 

Riley Lee



Understanding our Gift

The following devotion was originally written in 2015 by JD Bowen. Our church has been greatly blessed by his faithfulness over the years. His is an enduring legacy and the short devotional below is a symbol of how he has ministered to so many.

As a Christian have you ever asked yourself; “What is my gift?”

Perhaps the works of others has made you feel inferior or lacking in capability. Let’s stop and think about this. First, consider what instructions are given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us a clue in His sermon on the mount. This is what we know as the Golden Rule.

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew [7:12]

This speaks loudly about our relationship with our fellow man. Think about it – we are to reach out to others with a helping hand rather than wait for them to reach out to us. He is saying take the initiative wherever there is a need including within the church and in the world. Consider this is in Luke [10:29]-37

Jesus defines who our neighbor is by telling the story of a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. As he lay helpless on the roadside, two religious men, a priest and a Levite, who failed to minister to him, but along came a despised Samartian who ministered to him. Jesus asked “who then is the neighbor?” The answer, of course, is the Samaritan who ministered.

Jesus tells another story that reveals more clearly the spiritual side of ministering through good works. In Matthew [25:31]-46, Jesus describes the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. The criterion for judgment was their ministry to Him. Those who were on the right had ministered to Him were congratulated and rewarded. Their reward was the kingdom prepared for them. Their response was total surprise. They asked, when did we see you hungry and gave you food, was thirsty and gave you drink. “When did we do all this to you?”

His answer was equally shocking. He said, “I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” What a wonderful surprise. However, let us not think that Jesus is saying that works saves us. We do good works because we are saved. Paul reminded us that we do good works because we are saved. His word to the Ephesian church in his letter is very clear about this.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

As born-again children of God, let us have the attitude Isaiah had after hearing the Lord say, “whom shall we send, and who will go for us?” Then Isaiah said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Are you ministering as you should? There is much work to do through your church and the world about you. What are you waiting for?



Close to Home

Have you ever had one of those weird coincidences that just makes you wonder? Today’s devotion is a result of just such an occurrence – which I just had.

I have been reading the Gospel of John for a few months as part of my personal Bible study. With this on my mind I wrote a devotion that you will have an opportunity to read in a few days. The focus is on John the Baptist and his surrender to serving God.

Knowing that we needed a devotion for today I stopped some of the work that I was doing and grabbed one of my daily devotion books and turned to today’s date. The devotion you will read below is dated for the day in which I am writing; August 6, and I read this following the devotion which I wrote and will be published on August 11.

John the Baptist knew who he was and what he was called to be. “I am not the Mesisah; I am sent before him. It is the groom who has the bride. The groom’s best man waits there listening for him, and is overjoyed to hear his voice. That is my joy, and it is complete. He must increase, while I must decrease.

Who am I? What are my reasons for wanting to go on living? What are my goals, dreams, desires, aspiration? What is stirring, moving, surfacing in my soul? In a broad stroke of the brush, I would say, paraphrasing Thoreau, that as the hour of my particular sunset approaches, I would be appalled to discover that I had died without having lived.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians [1:21]

The above devotion was taken from Reflections for Ragamuffins, by Brennan Manning. If you would like to join a 10 day reading plan for these devotions please visit https://my.bible.com/reading-plans/1015-ragamuffin-reflections-from-brennan-mannin