Devotional for Thursday November 14

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “We can trust in God’s love”

Sometimes when life is hard, especially during times of tragedy or great suffering, we can be tempted to doubt God’s love for us. Oh, we probably wouldn’t voice those doubts, or even admit them to ourselves, but down deep they’re there. In the back of our mind and deep in the heart we find ourselves wondering that if God really does love us completely and unconditionally, then why would He allow this thing into our lives. “It hurts so much and is creating such problems that surely if God loved me as much as He professes to, and since He could do something about this if He wanted to, does He really love me?”

I wish there was a quick and easy answer to that issue but there isn’t. God does love us, and He is all-powerful, and so yes He could prevent or correct whatever the issue is – and you would think He would want to, and yet He often doesn’t. But that doesn’t diminish His love for us. At such times we must appeal to the truth of Scripture:

“Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts the Lord.” Psalm 32:10 (ESV)

“The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.” Isaiah 54:10 (ESV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son …” John 3:16 (NIV)

“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

“God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Regardless of what you’re going through in life at the moment, God’s love for you has not changed. His love for you is perfect, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting. You can trust in God’s love.

God Bless, Pastor Jim

Devotional for Wednesday November 13th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven in higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “We can trust God because He has infinite wisdom.”

Here’s a truth that I have always found very comforting: “God is smarter than I am.” Yup, it’s true. God is smarter than me and therefore His wisdom far exceeds my own; His perspective matters more than mine does; and I can trust Him a lot more than I can trust myself.

Since it is true that God is smarter than me (He’s smarter than you too by the way), and since His ways are better than my ways, then it makes sense for me (and for you) to seek His ways instead of my own. The reasons for that are pretty obvious. For example, there are some real knuckleheads in this world who sometimes make me pretty mad. If I simply ignore them then I’ll probably end up living happily ever after anyway. But if I give into my impulse and actually do go ahead and strangle them (thereby breaking the sixth commandment), I’ll end up going to prison. So there you have it, God’s way is better than my way.

Likewise, sometimes the lazy side of me gains the upper hand and I start thinking about how nice it would be to not have to work. But then I’m reminded of what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that if a man doesn’t work he has no right to eat. That in turn causes me to think about how much I love my chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and I’m reminded that said ice cream is not free, and off I go to work. Once again God is proved right.

The point in all this? God is smarter than we are. He knows what is best for us in every situation. We can trust Him because He has infinite wisdom and therefore His ways are always best.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Tuesday November 12th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “God protects us.”
 
As you’re reading this I’m preparing to get on an airplane to fly from Knoxville, TN to Atlanta, GA. Then I’ll take another to fly from Atlanta to Lima, Peru. Then a third will take me from Lima to Cusco. While in the city of Cusco I’ll be riding in taxis driven by Kamikaze drivers in a city with crazy traffic schemes and governed by traffic laws that nobody obeys anyway. After a few days I’ll take another plane down into the Amazon basin where I will get in a 50 foot canoe for two days of travel on the river up into the rainforest. There will be alligators, piranhas, snakes, and malaria bearing mosquitoes. After a few days of that we’ll reverse the process and head home.
 
Of course I’ll take appropriate precautions and use common sense. If the pilot arrives for the flight and is noticeably drunk I won’t get on the plane unless they replace the pilot. I’ll try to select taxi drivers who don’t appear to have a death wish either for themselves or for me. And I will take my malaria pills.
 
But am I really putting my trust in sober pilots, save drivers, and little white pills? I’m foolish if I am. There are too many variables in play there. No, my trust is in the Lord who is sovereign over airline pilots, taxi drivers, and mosquitoes – and over every other event in my life as well. My God is the One who knew me before I was formed in the womb; He is the One who numbered all my days before a single one began; and He is the All-knowing, Always-present, and All-powerful God of the universe. While it is up to me to use common sense and to take appropriate precautions, ultimately He is the One in control of it all.
 
That’s true in your life too. The next two weeks in your life may look a little different then what I’m looking forward to, but yours will also be filled with risks and dangers – some of them seen and known to you, but many of them not. Who or what are you putting your trust in? I encourage you do you part – be smart and be safe – but then turn it over to the only One who is really in control anyway.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Monday November 11th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Trust in the Lord and do what is good.” Psalm 37:3 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Trust the Lord, but do your part too.”
 
One lesson the Bible makes very clear is that God works in and through His people. It’s very much a partnership. It started in the Garden of Eden when God gave Adam the responsibility to care for the Garden. It’s not clear from Scripture what exactly Adam’s stewardship of the Garden involved, but it is clear that God tasked him with some amount of responsibility for caring for his environment.
 
Since God is Omnipotent it was certainly within His power to take care of the Garden Himself – He really didn’t need Adam’s involvement, and yet God clearly wanted Adam’s participation. In some way it would be good for Adam to have that responsibility. The same is true for us. God does bless us, and God does provide for us, but those blessings and provisions almost always come as a result of our active participation with God. Like Adam, we too have responsibilities assigned to us by God and we must be faithful to them.
 
The Bible never allows the people of God to use our utter dependence on God as an excuse for being lazy. God makes His feelings about that pretty clear. “The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing.” Proverbs 20:4 (HCSB) “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (HCSB)
 
It’s true that every good thing, every blessing, comes to us from the hand of God. It’s also true that we can trust God to care for us and to provide for us, but we do have a responsibility to be involved in providing for ourselves as well. We can trust the Lord, but we must do our part too.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Saturday and Sunday November 9-10

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Trust God to help you persevere”
 
Author Jerry Bridges writes, “Perseverance is the quality of character that enables one to pursue a goal in spite of obstacles and difficulties. It’s one thing to simply bear up under adversity. This in itself is commendable. But the Christian life is meant to be active, not passive. We’re called to diligently pursue God’s will. He calls us to do more than simply bear the load of adversity; He calls us to persevere (to press forward) in the face of it.”
 
God wants us to live well in spite of obstacles and difficulties. He wants us to “run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:1). This is a theme many of the New Testament writers addressed including Paul (Romans 5:3) and James (James 1:3). In Paul’s case he portrays endurance and perseverance as part of a growing process that makes us stronger and more mature. Similar to an exercise program that progressively results in bigger and stronger muscles, perseverance makes us stronger in character, it gives us confidence to face future difficulties, and it makes us more spiritually mature.
 
The Christian life has often been compared to a marathon race. That’s a good metaphor in that it expresses the long-term nature of the effort and the endurance required to complete it. But as Jerry Bridges observed, “The Christian life could be better described as an obstacle course of marathon length.”
 
Imagine a marathon twenty-six miles long but instead of a long flat course it includes walls to climb, streams to forge, hedges to jump over, and mean dogs chasing after you (demons). That description probably better captures the essence of the Christian life. This stuff isn’t for sissies.
 
However we’re not necessarily talking about strong physical bodies and physical fitness here. This is spiritual. It’s about strong faith and spiritual maturity and while it may be found in a physically fit twenty-five year old athlete, we’ll more likely see it in a seventy-five year old grandmother who has lived a long life of faithfulness filled with good spiritual disciplines. Sandwiched between his calls for perseverance and endurance in Hebrews 10:36 and 12:1, the writer included an entire chapter on faith, Hebrews 11. It’s strong faith that enables and empowers perseverance and endurance.
 
Perseverance and endurance are essential elements of the Christian life lived well. Through faith and obedience you can trust God to help you achieve it.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Friday November 8th

Good morning everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “You can trust God to guide you.”

Christians who love the Lord will genuinely want to know His will and then be obedient to it. However in my years as a pastor I’ve discovered over and over again that well-intentioned Christians often allow themselves to get tied up in knots with worry about whether or not they understand the Lord’s will in any given situation. That then causes them to fret and worry and to hesitate to take any action at all.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a verse that has helped me personally and it’s one of those Bible promises I frequently point others to. Let’s take a closer look at it. First, Solomon urges the reader to trust the Lord with all your heart. He’s talking about having a heart that is fully and truly surrendered to the Lord. This is a person who genuinely desires to understand and obey God.

He then urges us to not rely on our own understanding of the situation. Our own perspective is often skewed by personal biases, emotions, our own desires, and just plain wrong thinking. Instead we are to think about Him in all our ways. In other words our question needs to be, “What does God have to say about this?” And the way we discover what God has to say about it is through the Bible. We seek His will and His way in His Word. We should also rely on the counsel of a trusted Christian friend or two, and perhaps our Pastor as well.

Then we can trust Him to guide us on the right paths. My friend, God does have a purpose and a plan for you, and He does want to be understood by you. If your heart is right and you are making a sincere effort to understand Him and obey Him, then you can trust that He will not allow you to go astray. You can trust God to guide you.

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Devotional for Thursday November 7th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “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)
 
Our thought for today: “You can trust God for your future”
 
In a previous devotional this month I have written about God’s Sovereignty – the fact that God is in absolute and total control over everything and that He functions as He pleases. If that’s all we knew about God, that He is All-Powerful and does whatever He wants, it could potentially terrify us. After all, an all-powerful being with less than noble intentions could be a really bad thing.
 
However God is not only Sovereign but He is also good and just, He is perfect in love and infinite in mercy. God always exercises His power for His own glory and for the good of His people. That’s what He was saying in Jeremiah 29:11.
 
This is an important understanding and God wants us to grasp it, so He repeats it over and over again all throughout the Bible. In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us about the wonderful inheritance God has willed for us. In Romans 8:28 we are assured that even in the worst of situations God is at work in the middle of them bringing some good thing out of it for us. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are actually the workmanship of the Father’s hand created to do good works for Jesus. In Psalm 138:8 King David writes of his confident assurance that God will act as necessary to fulfill the good plan He has for us. In Joshua 1:9 He specifically commands us to not be afraid because He is with us, and He will continue to be with us, and therefore we can be confident about the future.
 
Here’s the truth to hold onto today: “You can trust God for your future.”
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for Wednesday November 6th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 (HCSB)

Our thought for today: “God is sovereign over it all and you can trust Him.”

When we say that God is “sovereign” over all things we mean that He is in absolute and total control over everything. He is aware, in advance, of everything that happens and He has power over it all. There is no event that is too big for Him to control, and there is no issue too little to escape His attention. Also, He directs it all according to His perfect will.

Sometimes God exercises His will directly by intervening in situations and bringing them to His desired end. This is His “direct will”. At other times He simply allows things to occur as a result of the exercise of individual free will, or because of the natural progression of things that happen in a broken and sin-filled world. In those cases God hasn’t intervened directly but has simply chosen to allow things to occur. This is known as his “permissive will”. In other words for His own purposes and in His divine wisdom He “permitted” it to happen. But still, He knew about it and it was within His control the entire time.

What does all this have to do with you and me and our trust in God? Jesus answered that for us in Matthew 10:29-31 and again in Matthew 6:25-33. God is aware of everything about you and about your life, including those two sparrows you can hear chirping in the tree outside your window and the number of hairs on your head. Jesus says that if God cares for the sparrows then He will surely care for you too because as much as He does love those sparrows, He loves you even more.

Life is often confusing and painful. Many times things are happening to us that we don’t understand and we find ourselves fretting and anxious about an uncertain future. At such times we can draw a great sense of reassurance from the truth the God who loves us is also sovereign over the circumstances of our lives. Although we don’t understand, He does. And although much of what’s happening to us is beyond our control, it’s not beyond His.

Because God is sovereign and because He loves us completely and unconditionally, we can trust Him.

God Bless, Pastor Jim

 

Devotional for Tuesday November 5th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”

Our Bible verse for today: “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Our thought for today: “Trust God to hold it all together”

Do you ever feel as if your life is coming apart at the seams? Yeah, me too. Some days it just seems as if everything that can go wrong does go wrong and if one more thing goes wrong, my whole life is going to unravel and somebody is going to have to raise bail money for me. Well fortunately, Jesus is in control even when it seems that I am out of control.

In Colossians 1:15-20 Paul takes us into some pretty deep theological waters. In that passage he gives us a peak behind the veil that separates the physical and spiritual realms and he tells us some things about Jesus that are truly mind boggling. First we learn that the Jesus we see on the pages of the Gospels is an image of the invisible God who we cannot see (vs 15). Then we are told that everything that exists was actually created by Jesus (vs 16); He existed before anything was created (vs 17); the entire fullness of God dwells within Jesus (vs 19); and that through Him all things can be reconciled to God (vs 20).

But look at verse 17 again, “and by Him all things hold together.” Not only did Jesus create it all, but He holds it all together too.

How does that apply to our chaotic lives and to our theme of trusting God? Just that if Jesus is able to hold the stars and the planets in their places; and if He is able to hold together all the atoms and all particles in all the substances that make up this world; and if He holds together the very heavens themselves; surely He can hold together the pieces and parts of my life and of yours too.

The things that seem so vexing and confounding to me are small potatoes to Him. In fact while I’m flailing around frantically trying to hold it all together, Jesus already has it under control for me (if He didn’t it would have all flown apart long ago). All of life is lived under His sovereign control. As Paul explained in the book of Acts, “For in Him we live and move and exist …” Acts 17:28 (HCSB)

Jesus governs and sustains all creation, including our lives. He holds it all together, He guides and directs, and He brings all things to their appointed end. Therefore we can put our trust in Him.

 God Bless,

Pastor Jim

 

Devotional for Monday November 4th

Good Morning Everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Trusting God”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring.” Proverbs 27:1 (HCSB)
 
Our thought for today: “We have to trust God for all our days.”
 
It has been rightly said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. You can bet the government will find a way to get their share of your paycheck, and you can also be sure that one day your life will end in death. And, the truth is that none of us knows when our time will come. God is the One who has numbered our days. He is the One who knows the day, the hour, the minute our lives will end. As Solomon said, we simply don’t know what a day will bring. And so, we have to trust God.
 
Probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever received with regard to keeping our lives in proper perspective went something like this, “Plan as if you will live another eighty years, but live as if today will be your last day.” That’s actually pretty wise advice. We need to plan and prepare as if God intends to leave us on this earth for a long time to come. By doing that we will on the one hand, be prepared to make good use of all the resources, skills, talents, and time He has entrusted us with and to take advantage of our opportunities. But on the other hand, we also live each day with a sense of urgency that leads us to live each moment to the fullest.
 
When we approach life in that way we’re prepared for whatever it is the Lord has determined for us. If He is granting me yet another day of life, I prepared for it yesterday and I’m ready to make the best use of it today. If today is to be the last day of my life, I will live it to the fullest and squeeze from it every bit of joy and happiness I can get before it’s over. Then, trust God. For He alone knows what the day will bring.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim