Daily Devotion

Making Bricks

Genesis 11:1-9
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

While studying for our Kid’s Church lesson for the following Sunday, I stumbled across this verse. I know I have read it many times, but it hit me like a ton of bricks (Get It!).  Come, let’s make bricks, the Holy Spirit and a resource on the internet, noted that the people making the Tower of Babel were making their own bricks.  What a visual that brings to my mind, people covered in mud and clay with straw being thrown into a pit, while constantly stomping up and down in thickening mire.  The more they stamp and churn the more the more difficult the task becomes.

Have you been there, are you there now? That feeling when you get up to go to church or serve in a position, not for the pure joy of serving your Lord, but churning your bricks in the mud pit of obligation with a pinch of pride thrown in. Those pits are hard to get out of once you have tromped yourself a gigantic rut.

There is hope!

In Genesis [20:25], it says ‘If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.

The Lord never asks for altars to be built by human hands. He has done all of the work. All He asks from us is to use His created gifts to present His Message. It is His altar, He provides the sacrifice, (Gen.22:9-12) all we must do is receive.  No work of our own hands, just hearts with a heart for Him. When we are directed in the center of God’s Will, there is a freedom and joy that is totally liberating.  Like a deep breath of complete rest.

Let us place our “All On His Altar” today.

Jackie Gillespie



Simplicity

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish,
but have everlasting life.

Several years ago my husband and I
had the privilege of attending the Billy Graham Crusade when it came to Jacksonville,
Florida. As I sat there, in awe of just even being there, I was anxious to hear
a deep profound message from the great Rev. Graham himself. The evening did not
disappoint. However, I was surprised at how simple the words were. John 3:16. A
verse I’ve known since…forever. (Hey, I’m a preacher’s kid.) His gift of
salvation is FREE. Why do we try to complicate this? Over the years I’ve often
been reminded that what God desires of us is just that: simple.

    -Give thanks.

    -Do not fear.

    -Love one another.


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A Call To The Church

II Chronicles [7:13]-14  If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

What if we had said 6 months ago that something was going to happen that would shake up the whole world.  That would dramatically slow down the rat race.  We would have said that would be impossible.  And yet it has happened.  

And what has been our response as Christians?  As those who are called by the name of Christ?  We are shouting at people in social media, and hoarding supplies.  Perhaps buying guns.  Some of us are defiantly demanding that things go back to normal.  Demanding that we have our rat race back!

We are given this opportunity to humble ourselves, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways.  This scripture does not say “Everyone on earth” should do these things.  It says If MY PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME.  We as a church have access to a power that can make a difference and we are so tied up in the world that we are not seeing it. 

God help us to see our current situation through Your eyes and respond according to Your will!

Harriet Bowman



Faith and Obedience: Day by Day

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James [2:26]

A memory I have of doing baptisms in Northern Nigeria is one of doing some of the secret or hidden baptisms which we had to do from time to time to avoid people being attacked during a baptismal service. We would find a secluded stream and then post lookouts on one or two nearby hilltops who could observe the surrounding area while we conducted the baptism. We would climb down through the grasses and bushes into the stream and find a place deep enough to do the baptism. Then after sharing from scripture and having a prayer, the ones to be baptized would enter the water and wade out to me. We would then allow them to publicly profess their faith and baptize them. Usually the witnesses would be only 10 to 15 in number to avoid drawing too much attention. On one occasion a service similar to this was conducted by some of our Nigerian friends in a nearby state and it somehow was found out about. An attack occurred and one of the newly baptized men was killed there by the river in which he had just been baptized.

Baptism doesn’t save us. Scripture is clear on this. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). However, following Jesus’ example of being baptized is very important. If it wasn’t important, He would not have commanded His disciples to baptize new believers (Matthew[28:19]). So why baptize? Why would these Africans risk death to follow through with baptism? It is a public physical statement of the change which a person has gone through as he has died to his old self and is resurrected as a new person in Christ. An outward example of an inward change, as one old pastor used to say. It is also one of our very first acts of obedience to Christ.

Following Christ is all about faith and obedience. We begin with baptism. Then we grow in our faith and we learn to follow Christ’s teachings in all areas of our lives. If we are living in disobedience, yet we claim to be a follower of Christ, where is the truth in that situation? As James said, faith without works (obedience) is dead (James [2:26]).

The point of this little devotion today is this: Are we walking the walk of faith or are we only talking the talk of faith? Let us always strive daily to be sure we are walking the walk of faith and obedience in all areas of our lives for His glory.

Clint Bowman



The Boat Sanctuary

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalms 3:3

I was studying for a lesson in Mark
4:35-41. You probably recall the story of sleeping Jesus in a boat with His
disciples and a storm came up suddenly and He calmed the storm with His
command.  So while doing some research on
the subject, I ran across an article that talked about cathedral architecture.
Just as I was going to click back because the search engine had pulled up
something I thought was totally unrelated, it caught my attention.  The article said that churches during the
middle ages were constructed with a rectangular sanctuary with a curved ceiling
to remind their worshippers of the fact, that first century Christians in
hiding had their churches under large boats. 
That the curved ceilings with the large columns represented the spars of
the boat, so it was an homage to those who had to resort to worship the Lord in
hiding for fear of persecution. Never saw that before!


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The Promise of Resurrection

John 3:13-25

Normally when I read this story of Jesus clearing the Temple with a whip I focus on Jesus clearing out the Temple. It certainly appeals to my American sense of being right. However, let’s look at the promise that Jesus left his followers to contemplate.
 

The real focus of this story is Jesus’ promise to rebuild
the Temple in 3 days. An impossibility that the Jews realized and were quick to
point out to Jesus. There is no way you can

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Leaning and Learning

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.

The words of Jesus have always had an effect on people. Even the days before what is known of the printing of the Red Letter edition of the Bible (1899), the words of Jesus have been sought out for consideration, comfort, counsel, and even criticism.

In the passage printed, Jesus was speaking to persons from all walks of life who were in need. Yes, we should consider ourselves to be a people who are in dire straits and need. As I reflect, there are periods in our life where our needs are magnified.


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Jesus Wept

“Jesus wept.” John [11:35]


This is commonly referred to as the shortest verse in the bible. For such a small verse, it certainly holds a lot of weight. At this point in the gospel of John, Jesus has just learned of the death of one of His closest friends, Lazarus. Lazurus’ sister Mary and some of the other Jews come out to meet Jesus, weeping. Jesus takes notice of this and “is deeply moved” (John [11:33]). He then asks where Lazarus has been buried and is led to the tomb. Jesus, overcome with grief, weeps over the loss of His friend. 


The beautiful thing about this verse is that it points directly to the humanity of Christ: fully human, fully God. As humans, we have the innate ability to experience a multitude of emotions – love, joy, peace, fear, pain, anger, etc. – and some even simultaneously. I take comfort in knowing that God, through His son Jesus, meets us in our sorrow and pain to offer comfort and healing. As followers of Christ, we can act as an extension of this unconditional love by joining with others in their sorrow (or joy). 



What or Whom Do You See

Text: Luke 10:25-37

What or Whom Do You See

This is one of the best known stories that Jesus told; the
story of the Good Samaritan. It is definitely one of my favorite stories
because it helps us be reminded that Jesus does not see things from the same
viewpoint that you and I do. It also reminds me of Mister Rogers telling of how
his mother would remind him that in difficult times we are to look for those
who are doing good – the Good Samaritans.


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Respect

“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged.” Leviticus 19:32
 
In 1991 my wife, Harriet, and I were appointed to be Southern Baptist missionaries to Nigeria. I was assigned to teach Bible classes at Baptist High School in Jos, a large northern city. I was also assigned to work with the school’s church planting program. In this program, led by the assistant principal Deacon Frama Abraham, the school asked for volunteers from among the student body to help plant and encourage churches in surrounding areas.
 
As a new teacher at Baptist High School, I was impressed with the level of respect the students gave me as a teacher. The students usually didn’t change rooms for classes. The teachers would rotate from class to class. When the students would see me coming across the campus, they would send one or two out to greet me and to take my books from me. They would then carry them into the classroom where they placed them on the lectern. The whole class would stand and say “Good morning, sir.” They would remain standing until I told them to sit down. At the end of class, they would sometimes stand and tell me goodbye as I left if I had not gone overtime and they weren’t rushed to prepare for whatever was next. Coming from about five years of teaching experience in the U.S., this was quite different.

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