Devotional for Tuesday November 26th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “Trust God to always be with you.”

Loneliness is one of the saddest of all human emotions. To be alone, to feel forsaken and forgotten, creates a sense of despair and depression that often leaves a person without hope. However the Bible makes it clear that we are never really alone. Even if every person in your life has walked away from you, God is still with you.

One of the most frequently repeated promises in the Bible is that God is with you and He will never leave you nor forsake you. In the original Greek, Hebrews 13:5 contains five grammatical negatives which give it a force that is difficult to express in normal English. The Amplified Bible is an English translation of the Bible which uses all the English words and phrases necessary to capture the full meaning of the original Biblical language. That sometimes makes for cumbersome and wordy sentences in English but it does help us to better understand the original intent. In that translation Hebrews 13:5 reads:

“For He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give up or leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake, nor let you down, nor relax my hold on you. Assuredly not!” 

That’s a powerful promise – and a great reassurance. God is with you and He will never leave you. Even if everyone else does, He won’t.

The next time you’re feeling alone and lonely claim the promise of Hebrews 13:5. Think about it, meditate on it, and ask God to give you a great sense of His peace and His presence with you. You can trust Him to always be with you.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Monday November 25th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “Trust in God when you’re afraid.”

It has been rightly said, “Anyone who claims to never be afraid is either lying or stupid.” Fear is a natural human emotion and the fact is that there are lots of things in life that should rightly cause us some fear. People sometimes think that fear equates to cowardice – a lack of courage, but that’s just not true. Courage isn’t a matter of never being afraid, courage simply means that we choose to do the right thing regardless of our fears.

King David was a mighty warrior. By the time he wrote Psalm 56 he was the veteran of many battles, including with the giant Goliath. Over the years David had faced innumerable enemies and repeatedly had had to fight for his life – ultimately killing many men. So at this point in his life he was a seasoned fighter and well able to take care of himself. And yet, he admitted to times of being afraid.

David never claimed to have been free from fears, only that he had learned how to deal with fear – He trusted God. In Psalm 56:3 David didn’t write “If I ever experience fear I will then trust in God.” No. He wrote “When” I am afraid, I will trust in God. He was writing from experience and he had learned that God empowered him to face his fears, stand tall, and to have the courage to push through his fears.

In Psalm 23:4 when David wrote “I will fear no evil,” it is the equivalent to “I will trust in God in the face of evil.” Evil times and evil people will come – to all of us. When they do, like David, we must choose to trust God.

Choosing to trust in God is a matter of both knowledge and experience. It requires the knowledge that God is sovereign, all – knowing, and all-powerful. It also requires the experience of having relied on Him in the past and of having found Him trustworthy and reliable. The more of that experience we have, the more we trust in Him.

Please don’t let anyone tell you that you should be fearless, or that being afraid indicates a lack of faith. It doesn’t. Fear is a natural human emotion. Trusting in the Lord is the spiritual remedy for it.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Saturday and Sunday November 23-24

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “You can trust Jesus to help you bear fruit.”

Jesus wants to produce fruit in and through your life. The fruit He wants to produce is His fruit – good works for the Kingdom of God. John 15:5 essentially teaches that Jesus wants to live His life through you and produce His fruit through your life. When we study the full body of New Testament teaching on the subject we discover that Jesus does this by means of His Holy Spirit living in your heart (John 14:16-17), and producing fruit through you (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we do the things that enable us to abide in and stay close to Jesus (like prayer, Bible study, worship, etc.) then His Spirit reigns in our lives and His fruit is produced. But there’s another part of that passage in John 15 that is often overlooked but which is actually a vital part of the teaching. It’s in verse 2 and it reads “… He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.”

When a branch on a grapevine gets too big it begins to extend too far from the vine. The bigger the branch the further the nourishment of the vine has to travel and the more depleted it gets. Then both the quality and the quantity of fruit diminish. So the gardener will prune the branch – actually cutting some of it away, thereby improving the overall health and fruitfulness of that branch.

Sometimes our lives get like that. Sometimes our lives get so busy and we are involved in so many activities that our fruitfulness diminishes and when that happens, God will often take action to prune some of those things out of our lives. That’s the point Jesus was making in verse two. Sometimes it’s secular activities that are the problem. We’re involved in so many things of the world that we have little time left for serving God and others. At other times we involve ourselves in so many ministry activities that we’re not doing any of them particularly well. In both cases the remedy is pruning.

We can trust Jesus to help us bear the fruit He wants to produce in our lives. Sometimes what is needed is for the person to grow closer to Jesus so some fruit can begin to appear in their life. At other times there will need to be pruning. In either case you can trust God to take the action that is most appropriate for your current situation.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Friday November 22nd

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.” Psalm 94:12 (NLT)

Our thought for today: “Trust the Lord when He disciplines you.”

“Joyful” are those who receive discipline? Seriously? I don’t know about you but I can’t recall a single time I was ever happy about being on the receiving end of discipline. Not as a child as a child and not as an adult; not before I was saved and not since. Never have I been happy about it. And yet, the writer of Psalm 94 says that when we receive discipline at the hand of God we should in fact be joyful. Why?

Both the Hebrew and the Greek languages use the same words to express the ideas of “discipline” and “teaching”. Discipline and teaching are both designed to accomplish the same thing. When we are taught and/or disciplined by God we should grow and end up better than we were.

Now back to the question about being joyful for having been disciplined. If you’re a Christian and your goal really is to mature into more of the likeness of Christ, and if you’ve gotten off track to the point that God intervenes with correction, you should be joyful and thankful because the longer we’re off track the further we will drift from being in the center of God’s will and the worse life will get. The further we are from Him the less He will bless us.

If God disciplines us as a form of correction, and we respond as we should by correcting our behavior and thereby moving back into the center of His will, it is pure gain for us and that is something to be joyful about.

In Philippians 1:6 Paul wrote, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (HCSB) The truth is that God has a picture in His mind of the person He wants to transform you into and He will continue to work in your life as necessary to keep you moving in the right direction towards achieving that goal. So trust the Lord when He disciplines you. There’s a good reason behind it and you will be better for it.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Thursday November 21st

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “Your struggles make you stronger.”

The story has often been told about the boy who was observing a butterfly attempting to emerge from its cocoon. Slowly, over an extended period, the butterfly pushed and fought and struggled to force its way out of the cocoon. Finally the impatient boy, in what he believed to be an act of help and compassion, took a sharp knife and slit the cocoon, thereby sparing the butterfly all the additional time and struggle that it would have taken for it to work its own way out of the cocoon.

As the boy watched the butterfly emerge he expected to see it spread its wings and fly, but that didn’t happen. What should have been a beautiful butterfly instead remained a hunched and shriveled thing that limped around the table for a short time and then fell over and died.

What the boy failed to realize was that the struggle required for the butterfly to fight its way out of the cocoon, was the very activity that would have forced fluid through its veins and would have provided the strength needed for its wings to unfold and for its body to be fully formed. By cutting the struggle short the boy had inadvertently short-circuited the very process that would have resulted in the butterfly being fully formed, strong, and beautiful.

This is the kind of process James was describing in James 1:2-4. God uses our times of struggles to strengthen us. Struggle becomes the process whereby we grow strong. Adversity is the process through which God transforms us into the people He wants us to be. Trials and struggles are never fun, but they are necessary. You can trust God not only to get you through it, but also to use it to make you strong.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Wednesday November 20th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, you offspring of Israel His servant, Jacob’s descendants – His chosen ones.” 1 Chronicles 16:12-13 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “Learn to trust God by remembering what He has done for you in the past.”

One of the best ways for us to learn to trust God for today and for tomorrow is to remember His faithfulness in the past. The ancient Israelites had a cultural tradition of memorizing God’s miraculous interventions on their behalf down through the generations, and then reciting those stories back to each other. They did it in the synagogues as part of their act of worship, also at special times of civic celebrations, and during times of family gatherings as well. Reminding themselves of God’s past faithfulness was a way of strengthening their faith in Him in the present and for the future.

In his Bible study “Experiencing God – Knowing and doing the will of God” Henry Blackaby encourages us to construct what he calls “a spiritual map”. We create a spiritual map by recalling every significant event in our lives and recording them chronologically. The events we would include would be anything that had a big impact on us, either in a positive or negative way, and which contributed to the person we have turned out to be. So on your spiritual map would be things like your salvation experience, mission trips, marriage, births of children, jobs landed and lost, educational experiences, the death of those close to you, etc. You would also include the influence of significant people in your life as well as any other event that helped to make you who you are.

Then Blackaby encourages us to slowly and prayerfully review that map and look for the hand of God not only in the individual events, but also throughout the course of your life. Doing that kind of retrospective review really does help us to see the activity of God in our lives in the past. That then helps to strengthen our faith in Him for the present and in the future.

Some people have the spiritual discipline of keeping a journal. A journal essentially becomes an ongoing spiritual map and ends up serving the same purpose. You can always go back and review it to see how God has worked in your life in the past.

Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past helps to strengthen our faith and trust in Him now.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Tuesday November 19th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands. Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18 (HCSB)
Our thought for today: “Trust God to lead you.”
 
If there’s one truth that comes through in the Bible over and over again it’s that God has a purpose and a plan for us as individuals, and that He wants to be understood by His people so that we can then obey Him. This is true in big ways and in small ways. God has a plan for us and He leads, guides, and directs as necessary to help us achieve His goals for our lives.
Author Jerry Bridges writes of how by education, training, experience, and aptitude he was uniquely qualified to be an administrator. However he was determined that he wanted to be an overseas missionary and so despite the education, experience, and inherent administrative skills that he had, he launched off into an effort to be something he was not – something he was not called to be. Needless to say it was a frustrating and relatively fruitless time for him.
 
Eventually he ended up as an administrator for a USA-based mission agency. At first he did it reluctantly, simply as a concession because he hadn’t gotten what he really wanted. But eventually he came to realize that God had uniquely gifted him to be an administrator and that there were many ways he could use those skills to serve and honor the Lord.
 
That’s true for us too. When making career and ministry decisions it’s important to take the time to consider how God has wired us. What natural abilities do you seem to have? In what areas have you been trained and educated? What types of experiences have you had? God seldom wastes anything. If He has invested time and resources into developing those things in your life then it’s a pretty good bet those are the areas He wants you to be serving Him in.
 
We can trust God to lead us. But we do have to be sure we are paying attention to, and following, God’s leading and not our own desires.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Monday November 18th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 12:6-7 (HCSB)
Our thought for today: “Trust that God has given you the spiritual gifts, the skills and the abilities that He wants you to have.”
 
“Gift envy” is often a problem in the church. That’s especially true when it comes to the higher profile gifts like preaching, teaching, singing, or playing a musical instrument. Often people who don’t have those gifts wish they did and they’re frequently left feeling as if they don’t have as much to contribute to the cause of Christ.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth. Once you’ve read this short devotional message I encourage you to open your Bible to 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and read the whole chapter. There Paul makes it clear that just as the human body needs every part – from fingers to toes and from spleen to kidneys, so too does the Body of Christ need every part. God has endowed each of us with different gifts, skills and abilities, and they are all needed.
 
Those of you who know me know that I can preach and teach a little bit, but I can’t fix anything. If something has more than two moving parts then I’m confused. Auto mechanics is a mystery to me. Leaky faucets are left to drip until I can find someone who knows how to operate a wrench. Electrical problems, stopped up drains, burned out light bulbs – I’m so grateful for those at the church who understand those things and take care of them so I don’t have to! (Ok, I can change a light bulb but you get my point.)
 
God in His wisdom has created us all different and He has given each of us different gifts and abilities that we can then contribute to the overall effort and for the common good. Rather than wishing we had someone else’s gifts or abilities we need to focus on using well the ones we do have. We have to trust that God has given us what He wants us to have and we are to then use it for His glory and for the benefit of others.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Saturday and Sunday November 16 & 17

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb, I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “Trust God for who you are.”

When I was a young boy I secretly wanted to be Timmy the boy on the show “Lassie”. He had a nice home, a great dog, and he was always involved in some perilous adventure that was dangerous, but always ended well. As a teenager I wanted to be Desi Arnez Jr. No, not Lucy’s husband, that was Ricky Ricardo, I’m talking about their son – “Little Ricky” on the show but “Desi Jr.” in real life. I wanted to be him. As a teenager he was rich, good looking, and he had a band with one of the sons of Dean Martin. He was also frequently on the cover of “Teen Beat” magazine. Desi was cool. And I was not.

Since then I’ve only wanted to be 6′ 3″. That’s it. Not anybody else in particular, just tall.

If you’re willing to be transparent and honest about this then I think you’ll admit to having similar thoughts about yourself. Why do we do that? Why can’t we be happy with who God created us to be? The truth is that those people we’re thinking we would like to be like they’re almost certainly wishing they were different too.

The Biblical truth is that God created us to be the person He wants us to be. He determined who our father and mother would be. He knit us together in our mother’s womb. He was the one who decided how tall we would be, the color of our eyes, the natural abilities we would be endowed with, and everything else about us. And since He is sovereign, since He is all-knowing, all-wise, and since He loves us fully and unconditionally, we can relax and just trust Him for who He created us to be.

Of course that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves in areas that need improvement, and it is ok to work to develop skills and talents that we weren’t born with, but we still need to learn to be happy with who we are. The blues singer and actress Ethel Waters put it well when she famously said, “Honey, God don’t create no junk!”

The fact is that I’m never going to get those extra five inches of height and so I need to be happy at 5′ 10″. And for the most part, you are going to continue to be you, just as God created you. How much better would this world be if all of us simply learned to be comfortable in our own skin?

I encourage you to simply trust God for who you are.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Friday November 15

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “You can trust in God’s presence”

As a Pastor I often have the privilege of praying for people in distress. As we sit in my office talking about some bad situation they’re experiencing in their lives, or as I’m visiting with them in the hospital, or the nursing home, or worse, with the family in the funeral home, I will often pray and ask God to give them an increased awareness of His presence in their lives. At such times we need the assurance that God is with us.

The beautiful truth is that He is always with us whether we sense His presence or not. In the Bible He has actually gone to great lengths to convince us of that truth. Someday I want to do a personal Bible study of this. I want to start in chapter one, verse one, of Genesis and slowly scan every verse in the Bible – all the way through to the last verse in Revelation, and count up the number times God has reassured us in writing of His presence with us.

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (HCSB)

I could fill many pages with similar promises from God but the truth is already evident that He is always with us and He wants us to know it. There are a lot of things in this life that you cannot trust in, but one thing you can always be sure of is God’s presence with you. It’s a great and reassuring truth that we can always trust in God’s presence.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim