Deovtional for Thursday February 13th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Patience”

Our Bible verse for today: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” Acts 2:42 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “Discipleship takes time and patience.”

Acts chapter two describes a time in the early church in Jerusalem. It was shortly after the day of Pentecost and there was excitement, enthusiasm, and great commitment in the church. The believers spent a lot of time together eating, worshiping, praying together, caring for one another, engaging in acts of ministry, and growing in their relationship with the Lord. Their passion for Christ and for spiritual growth was such that they were willing, even eager, to devote time to those things. As a result, there was great spiritual growth – and great spiritual power – in that church.

True discipleship takes time. There’s no way around it. If we want to grow spiritually then we have to invest the time and do the things whereby the Holy Spirit of God can bring about that spiritual growth in us. Doing that is called “Discipleship”. It’s a process that involves the practice of the basic spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. It is intentional, focused, consistent, and is continued over a prolonged period of time.

The editors of “The Mission of God Study Bible” offer this insight regarding Christian discipleship:

“A fully developed disciple of Christ will have engaged in a process that may be better understood as a progressive manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, empowering a person to reflect the character of Christ.”

Also, “The goal of all believers should be to connect to God and to each other, personally grow through an intentional spiritual process, serve, commit to sharing their faith, and exalt God through daily devotions and worship.”

What was described there is good discipleship. It empowers the individual believer, but also, as we read in Acts chapter two, when an entire group is committed in that manner and truly engaged in spiritual growth, the impact is profound and unmistakable.

Good discipleship takes time and patience, but it results in spiritual growth and is therefore well worth the investment.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Wednesday February 12th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Patience can lead us to great things.”
 
Patience can lead us to the accomplishment of great things. John Eldredge tells the story of John Krakauer and his team who successfully climbed Mount Everest. Reaching the top of the world’s highest peak is a feat that not only demands incredible passion, determination, and focus, but it also requires tremendous patience. Such a thing is not accomplished quickly.
 
Marriage is another example. How does a marriage of five months turn into a marriage of fifty years? Patience. Perseverance. A refusal to give up when times get tough. Making it through the tough times in a marriage can sometimes seem like climbing Mount Everest.
 
Paul’s point in Galatians 6:9 can of course have many applications in life. First and foremost, Paul was encouraging believers to be faithful in their service to Christ and to each other. In the normal ebb and flow of church life, and in the process of helping our brothers and sisters carry their burdens, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed and we can get discouraged. Paul’s advice is, “Don’t give up.” Just keep doing what you know to be right and good and in due season there will be great fruit from your efforts.
 
But isn’t that equally true of mountain climbing, and marriage, and just about any other pursuit in life that is worth accomplishing? Have patience and persevere; keep at it and don’t give up. In due season, according to God’s timing and in His way, you will reap the fruits of your efforts.
 
Patience, combined with persistence, can lead us to great things.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Tuesday February 11th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too.” Genesis 29:28 (NLT)
 
Our thought for today: “Have patience for the things that matter.”
 
How Jacob must have loved Rachel. If you’re familiar with this story from Genesis chapter 29, then you know that Jacob was infatuated with the young girl Rachel and wanted to marry her. In that culture it was the father who chose a husband for the daughter, and the prospective husband was expected to pay a bride price. In Jacob’s case, he agreed to work for Laban for seven years in exchange for receiving Rachel as his wife. But Laban tricked Jacob by actually giving him the older daughter Leah as his wife instead. But then, after Jacob complained about the trickery, Laban offered to give Jacob Rachel as well in exchange for seven more years of labor. Jacob eagerly agreed and in the end earned Rachel as his wife too.
 
By our current cultural standards this story is disturbing on many levels. There are issues of polygamy; there is deceit; there is the issue of poor Leah being treated as damaged and unwanted goods. But putting aside the distasteful and dysfunctional elements of the story, what stands out is Jacob’s love for Rachel and his willingness to patiently work fourteen long years in order to win her hand in marriage.
 
Jacob’s patient endurance over a sustained period of time in order to achieve a desired goal is instructive for us. Achieving anything worthwhile usually takes time. We have to work at it and we have to be willing to stick with it. Earning a college degree, achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, building a strong and resilient marriage, all of those things take time, commitment, and perseverance. That’s also true of most other things that really matter.
 
What long-term objectives are you currently pursuing? Hopefully you’re not giving fourteen years of hard labor in pursuit of the perfect spouse, but whatever your goals are, you’ll have to stick with it if you want to eventually have success. Achieving anything worthwhile usually takes time, persistence, and a great deal of patience. I encourage you to just stick with it.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Monday February 10th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.’ Throughout all this, Job did not sin or blame God for anything.” Job 1:21-22 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “You can patiently endure.”
 
“He has the patience of Job.” We’ve all heard that compliment paid to individuals who displayed admirable patience in difficult situations. But what was it about Job’s patience that was so commendable? If you’ve read the story then you know that Job displayed incredible patience in dealing with his insensitive and sometimes mean-spirited friends. They supposedly came to comfort him during a time of great loss and suffering, but they ended up lecturing him in a judgmental and often unkind way. Had it been me I would probably have choked them, but Job displayed extraordinary restraint.
 
More important though, was Job’s patience with God. Job suffered an incredible series of cascading tragedies which included the deaths of all his children, the loss of his entire fortune, and a painful medical condition that must have been hideous in appearance and excruciating to endure.
 
But through it all Job remained faithful to God. In the verses above, we find him at the very beginning of all his troubles and obviously his faith was strong and his attitude was good. As the months (and perhaps years) unfolded, we read of him occasionally wavering a little but still, pretty strong in his faith, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25 (NIV)
 
Then in the end, after Job had withstood this prolonged time of testing and had remained faithful, the Lord blessed him even more abundantly then He had before, “So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.” Job 42:12 (HCSB)
It’s unlikely that any of us will be called upon to endure as much prolonged and simultaneous suffering as Job did. The sheer scope of what he went through is difficult to imagine. But we will all have our own times of trials and sufferings and like Job we will have a choice of how we will respond to it. As hard and as painful as things were for Job, he patiently endured it and he trusted in the Lord. He didn’t like it, and he certainly did not understand it, but he did trust that the Lord was wise and good, and the He was in control.
 
The same is true for you and me. We may not understand our current circumstances, and we might not like them, but we can have faith the God is good, and He is wise, and He is in control. Knowing that to be true of Him helps us to patiently endure.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Saturday and Sunday February 8-9

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
 
Our thought for today: “Be patient as God fulfills the desires of your heart.”
 
Psalm 37:4 is one of those Bible verses that make preachers and Bible teachers uncomfortable. Some are tempted to claim that it doesn’t really mean what it appears to say, and so they tap dance their way through some silly explanation that sounds better to their ultra-conservative fundamentalist ears. Desire is evil, right?
 
No, wrong. “Misplaced” desire can lead us into evil, but desire itself is not inherently bad. In fact, God created us with desires. As Saint Augustine famously explained, God created us with an empty place in our hearts that can only be filled by His Holy Spirit. That then creates a desire in the heart of every human being for spiritual fulfillment.
 
Many desires are good. Another example: God has created each of us as unique individuals who are specifically gifted by Him for certain tasks and activities. Therefore you may have within you a great desire to express yourself musically, or through art, or in writing. Likewise, you may have an analytical mind that finds pleasure in mathematics or science and therefore your desire, and your sense of fulfillment, is found in those things. That’s how God created you and therefore those desires are good.
 
Unfortunately many people – under the mistaken assumption that desire is bad – restrain, hinder, or even snuff out the pursuit of their desires. In his book “Journey of Desire” John Eldredge wrote:
 
“We abandon the most important journey of our lives when we abandon desire. We leave our hearts by the side of the road and head off in the direction of fitting in, getting by, being productive, what have you. Whatever we might gain – money, position, the approval of others, or just absence of the discontent itself – it’s not worth it. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:26”
 
While we do have to act responsibly in that we have to have jobs, and support our families, and pay our bills, etc, that doesn’t mean we can’t also pursue our music, or our writing, or whatever else it is that really floats our boat and fills our heart. Those things are from God and God wants to help us fulfill those desires. But we have to be patient and we have to give Him the chance. Far too often we surrender our desires in favor of practicality and we never get back to the business of pursuing that which is most important to us. 
 
If you have a God-given desire in your heart, something that is deeply a part of you and which you long to fulfill, I encourage you to not get impatient and give up on it. Yes, you have a job so you can earn a living; and by all means take care of your family and live up to your responsibilities; but don’t surrender your desires either.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
 

Devotional for Friday February 7th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
 
Our thought for today: “Life isn’t perfect, but the peace of God is.”
 
Please note that in Isaiah 26:3 God does not promise to make life perfect, only that He will create a sense of perfect peace for the one who trusts in Him and who keeps his thoughts fixed on Him. This is an important distinction because life is not perfect and it never will be. We live in a broken and bleeding world filled with sin and disease, broken relationships and lost jobs. There is anger and anguish, trouble and tears, sorrow and suffering.
 
Unfortunately all too often we expect all our problems to get fixed. We expect the sickness to be healed, the kids to be better behaved, the excess pounds to melt away, and that strange noise the car is making to just stop all by itself because we don’t have the money right now for an expensive repair.
 
But life isn’t like that. Many times the problems don’t get fixed and instead, we have to learn to live with them. Just look in the Bible. Which Bible character lived a perfect and carefree life? None of them. Loved ones got sick, suffered, and died. Families fought. Enemies attacked. Fortunes were lost. Crops failed. And people suffered.
 
The Good News of the Gospel doesn’t eliminate the problems of life, but it does empower us to live at peace within the midst of those problems. That’s what Isaiah was teaching in the verse above. The message of the Gospel is most powerful, and most powerfully experienced, in the middle of the brokenness of life.
 
Have patience with the issues of life. The things you are dealing with are no different from the things that everyone else is dealing with. It’s just life. Some of it is going to get better in time. But some of it probably won’t and you’ll just have to learn to live with it. The good news is that if you keep your eyes on Jesus, if you look to Him as your source of peace and strength, you can find peace that surpasses all understanding.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Thursday February 6th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Wait patiently for what God has in store for you.”
 
Here are a few Bible promises I would like to ask you to think about this morning:
 
“For I know the plans I have for you” – this is the Lord’s declaration – “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB)
 
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (HCSB)
 
“If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him? Matthew 7:11 (NLT)
 
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
 
God loves you and He has a glorious plan for you. It’s true, He does. He has a great plan for your life and for your eternity. It’s a plan that will unfold progressively, over time, as you allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in your life. The longer you live and walk through life with God, the more of His good blessings you experience, and the more eagerly you wait for that which is yet to come.
 
However, as Paul explained in Romans 8:25, we have to be patient. This takes time. In fact, it takes a lifetime. God’s blessings – the physical and the spiritual blessings, will come but they will come in His time. As so, we must be patient.
 
Whatever it is that you are currently working your way through in your life right now, please don’t forget that God has a plan. He will meet all your needs, He loves giving good things to His faithful children, and you really can’t imagine the wonderful things He has planned for you. Just give it time.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Wednesday February 5th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “We must patiently wait on the Lord’s timing.”
 
There seems to be two equal and opposite mistakes people make when it comes to waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing. Some people procrastinate to the point of inertia. They are so unsure of themselves, and they are so afraid of getting out of step with God, that their fear and uncertainty immobilize them and as a result they end up doing nothing. They endlessly wait for a burning bush experience, or for God’s handwritten instructions in twenty foot letters emblazoned across the sky. And in the meantime they do nothing. These folks are patient to a fault. In fact they use the illusion of patience – the premise of waiting on God, as an excuse for their inaction.
 
On the other end of the spectrum are those who are so eager to do something that they get way ahead of God. These people have no patience. They can’t sit still long enough for God to speak to them. “Wait” is a four letter word to them. And so while the people in the other group are out of step with God because they won’t do anything, these people are out of step with God because of their lack of patience and the fact that they are running so far ahead of Him. They may be doing the right thing, but they’re doing it at the wrong time.
 
As Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is an occasion, a right time, for everything. That “right” time is “God’s” time. The key to our success as faithful and obedient followers of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be so in-tune with the leading and guiding of His Holy Spirit, that we are walking and working according God’s plan, in God’s way, and in His timing. This takes discernment and spiritual maturity. It is something we learn how to do over time as we submit ourselves daily to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
 
One of the most important benefits we gain from good habits of practicing the spiritual disciplines is that we learn how to be patient and to wait on the Lord when that is appropriate, but also how to boldly go forward with Him when the timing is right. There is an occasion for everything, and the Lord’s timing is always perfect.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Deovtional for Tuesday February 4th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
 
Our thought for today: “God is the answer.”
 
Probably the time we need patience the most is when the storms of life are raging all around us and we’re worried and anxious about the future. At such times it’s hard to be patient. We want answers, we want resolution, we want the assurance that everything is going to be alright and we want that assurance now.
 
During times like that Psalm 46 is a great place to go. Picture a violent storm raging on a high and rocky seacoast. The sky is dark, the wind is strong, there is lighting and thunder and driving rain (The storms of life often feel this way). But there’s the child of God, in a cleft in the rocks, a small cave actually; warm and dry, safe from the storm, a small fire is burning. God is like that. He is our safe haven in the storms of life, and it is with Him that we will discover the patience we need to settle in and wait until the storm passes.
 
“God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil … Nations, rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” 46:1-3; 6-7 (HCSB)
 
When you need patience to simply hunker down and weather the storms of life, you can find it in God. He will be your refuge and your strength; He will provide that safe haven, the shelter in the storm. He will shield and protect you.
 
“Be still and know that I am God.”
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
 

Devotional for Monday February 3rd

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Patience”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “… they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “The Christian life is a journey.”
 
Hebrews chapter 11 is known of the Bible’s “Hall of Faith”. All throughout the chapter the writer lists and lauds some of the greatest Biblical examples of faith – faith that was lived out over time, and usually with great trials and tribulations. In verse 13 he noted that many of the greatest inductees into the Biblical Hall of Faith had died without ever experiencing success by worldly standards, or even getting relief from their difficult trials.
 
But then, at the end of verse 13, almost as an after thought, the writer shares with us the secret to the great faith and perseverance exhibited by these greatest of saints – they recognized that this world was not their home. As children of God they were simply on a journey through this world toward their real home in heaven and as difficult as the journey might be at the moment, once they finally made it home it would be glorious. No more pain and suffering, no more trials and tribulations, no more tears. Their homecoming would be magnificent and their eternity beautiful beyond imagination.
 
But for the time being they needed to be faithful , strong, and courageous as they continued on their journey. It would take time, it would require perseverance, and they would have to be patient. The Apostle Peter also reminds us that this world is not our home in his letter (1 Peter 1:1). Paul too, tells us to remember that we are really citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Jesus assured us that while we were down here traveling through this world and making our way home, He would be at home getting things ready for us (John 14:1-4). But we have to be patient.
 
In yesterday’s devotional message we learned that patience is a fruit which comes from the Holy Spirit and which He will develop and cultivate in our lives over time. So, it is a gift which we receive from Him. But having patience in any given moment, and bringing it to bear when it’s most needed, also depends heavily on us having the proper perspective. We need to view this life as a journey. We need to remember that it all plays out over time. And we need to resolve to patiently and faithfully just walk through it with the Lord.
 
One of my favorite Biblical phrases is “And it came to pass …” Yes. Over time everything comes to pass. The Christian life is a journey. Be patient with it.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim