DEVOTIONAL FOR MONDAY SEPTEMBER 23RD
 
Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
 
Our thought for today: “Everyone knows there is more than just this life.”
 
In the introduction to his book “Heaven” author Randy Alcorn observes, “The sense that we will live forever somewhere has shaped every civilization in human history … the unifying testimony of the human heart throughout history is belief in life after death. Anthropological evidence suggests that every culture has a God-given, innate sense of the eternal – that this world is not all there is.”
 
That’s what Solomon was saying in Ecclesiastes 3:11. God created human beings with an innate awareness of eternity and the deep understanding that this life is not all there is. That’s why all cultures throughout history bear evidence of belief in the supernatural and of some kind of spiritual existence for us that continues once this life ends.
 
As Christians we share a common belief in life after death with our fellow humans. The difference is that while so much of the rest of the human race relies on superstitions, folklore, and clearly fraudulent holy books, we have the Bible. The Bible is the divinely revealed eternal truth given to us by the Creator Himself so all people can know the truth about eternity. No piece of literature, no system of beliefs, no folklore or superstition that has ever been embraced and promoted by any culture or society, has the verifiable legitimacy that the Bible has been proven to possess.
 
We can use our shared belief in the afterlife, and the sure promises of the Bible, to help others understand the truth about eternity. People are interested, they are searching and yearning for understanding, it’s an innate part of how they were created. And, what God reveals about eternity in the Bible is pretty compelling stuff. Why, it’s enough to move a person to place their faith in Jesus!
 
To help us better understand the eternal kingdom of God, and what it is that’s waiting for all those who trust in His Son Jesus, I want to spend the next few days exploring what the Bible reveals to us about heaven. You may be surprised.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
DEVOTIONAL FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21-22
 
Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “For the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and we were all made to drink one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
 
Our thought for today: “We’re all needed.”
 
Have you ever seen the first “Star Wars” movie? Do you remember the scene where Hans Solo and Chewbacca are in “the Star Wars bar”? It was an inter-planetary bar where creatures from all over the solar system went to hang out and have a few cold ones. The really interesting thing about the scene was the incredible diversity of beings that were there. They were big and small, green and purple, some had two heads and three arms, and others had one eye and long tails. They came in every imaginable shape, size, and description.
 
Sometimes the church reminds me of that bar. What an odd collection of individuals we are. Tall and short, rich and poor, black and white and brown and yellow, funny and serious, introverts and extroverts, and everyone of us with quirky little personalities that some find amusing and others find irritating. And yet, somehow, it works. Somehow we manage to get along and work together. In fact, it’s the diversity that makes us strong and vital and interesting.
 
Years ago John Ortberg wrote a wonderful little book entitled “Everybody is Normal (Until you get to know them)”. His point was that once you get to really know people you discover that nobody is normal – we’re all a little screwed up. But that’s ok. It’s the screwiness that makes us unique.
 
Isn’t it funny how God can bring together a bunch of people who are so vastly different and yet so closely knit together? That’s what a good church family is like. Part of the adventure of life in the kingdom includes making the journey through this world with a band of brothers and sisters who are like you in some ways, different in others; who are sometimes helpful, and sometimes maybe not so much; who sometimes make you laugh, and at other times make you want to scream; but people who love you, are fun to be with, and who make the journey so much more interesting than if you were making it alone.
 
Yes, sometimes the church gathered together can look a bit like an odd collection of space aliens. (I’m reminded of that every time I look in the mirror and realize I have more hair growing in my nose and ears than I do on my head!) But just think what the journey would be like without the oddballs you call your church family. We would be much poorer in terms of relationships, support, and fun.
 
Will you gather with your church family this weekend? I hope you will. If you don’t, that scene will be missing one of those quirky characters that make it unique and special.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

DEVOTIONAL FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21-22, 2013

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”

Our Bible verse for today: “For the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and we were all made to drink one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Our thought for today:

Have you ever seen the first “Star Wars” movie? Do you remember the scene where Hans Solo and Chewbacca are in “the Star Wars bar”? It was an inter-planetary bar where creatures from all over the solar system went to hang out and have a few cold ones. The really interesting thing about the scene was the incredible diversity of beings that were there. They were big and small, green and purple, some had two heads and three arms, and others had one eye and long tails. They came in every imaginable shape, size, and description.

Sometimes the church reminds me of that bar. What an odd collection of individuals we are. Tall and short, rich and poor, black and white and brown and yellow, funny and serious, introverts and extroverts, and everyone of us with quirky little personalities that some find amusing and others find irritating. And yet, somehow, it works. Somehow we manage to get along and work together. In fact, it’s the diversity that makes us strong and vital and interesting.

Years ago John Ortberg wrote a wonderful little book entitled “Everybody is Normal (Until you get to know them)”. His point was that once you get to really know people you discover that nobody is normal – we’re all a little screwed up. But that’s ok. It’s the screwiness that makes us unique.

Isn’t it funny how God can bring together a bunch of people who are so vastly different and yet so closely knit together? That’s what a good church family is like. Part of the adventure of life in the kingdom includes making the journey through this world with a band of brothers and sisters who are like you in some ways, different in others; who are sometimes helpful, and sometimes maybe not so much; who sometimes make you laugh, and at other times make you want to scream; but people who love you, are fun to be with, and who make the journey so much more interesting than if you were making it alone.

Yes, sometimes the church gathered together can look a bit like an odd collection of space aliens. (I’m reminded of that every time I look in the mirror and realize I have more hair growing in my nose and ears than I do on my head!) But just think what the journey would be like without the oddballs you call your church family. We would be much poorer in terms of relationships, support, and fun.

Will you gather with your church family this weekend? I hope you will. If you don’t, that scene will be missing one of those quirky characters that make it unique and special.

God Bless, Pastor Jim

 

DEVOTIONAL FOR FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
 
Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”
Our Bible verse for today: “Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart.” Psalm 119:2
Our thought for today: “The Word of God is our compass which keeps on the right path and headed in the right direction.”
Psalm 119 reveals the key for living successfully in the kingdom of God. Knowing and obeying the Word of God is the secret.
– “You have commanded that Your precepts be diligently kept.’ (Verse 4)
– “I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. (Verse 11)
– “I rejoice in the way revealed by Your decrees as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways, I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Verses 14-16)
– “I have chosen the way of truth; I have set Your ordinances before me. (Verse 30)
– “I am friend to all who fear You, to those who keep Your precepts.” (Verse 63)
– “Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (Verse 72)
– “Lord, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven.” (Verse 89)
– “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are always with me.” (Verse 98)
– “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (Verse 105)
It’s clear just from these verses that in the Bible, God has given us all the instruction we need to live well and successfully in His kingdom (verse 89). The instructions of the Bible provide us with insight and clarity of thought in a confusing and deceptive world. It is the compass which shows us “true north” and will therefore keep us on the right path and headed in the right direction (verse 105).
Also, and this is vitally important, if we are truly wise we will surround ourselves with others who also value and obey God’s instructions as given to us in the Bible (verse 63). Like your Momma told you, “Choose your friends carefully. “That is true and wise because over time we become like those we associate with. So make it a point to keep company with those who also study and follow the Word of God.
Life in the kingdom may not always be easy but God has told us how to navigate it successfully. We are to know His instructions, treasure His instructions, and obey His instructions.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”
Our Bible verse for today: “He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens – far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:20-22
Our thought for today: “When Jesus is in His rightful place of Lordship over our lives and over our churches, Satan is a defeated foe.”
Jesus rules and reigns over His kingdom, both in the physical and in the spiritual realms. In a previous devotional message I wrote of how Satan works hard to establish his own kingdom which is in competition with and opposed to the kingdom of God. But while that is true, it’s also true that Satan’s kingdom is nothing but a cheap imitation of Jesus’ kingdom and it pales in terms of power and glory.
The truth is that Satan does have some power, but it is nothing compared to Jesus’ power. And the kingdom of Satan does have some allure, but it is a deceptive and secretly poisoned thing that only leads to death and destruction. Additionally, Satan can only employ his power over the lives of individuals, churches, and society, if we allow him to. As Tony Evans explains, “Satan does not have the authority to use his power when people function under the covenantal covering of Jesus Christ.”
That’s why it is so important for us as individuals, as churches, and as groups of churches working together, to be completely submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It’s when we are intentional about discovering His will and remaining in the center of it – individually and collectively – that Satan is rendered powerless and defeated. However it’s when we as individuals and churches act in self-interest and in pursuit of worldly goals that Satan has power to advance his kingdom’s agenda.
Again quoting Tony Evans, “This is why Satan will try so hard and long to lure people and divine institutions out from under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Satan knows that if he can get them out from under Christ’s covering, he has free reign to deceive, trick, and harm them however he chooses.”
As long as we keep Jesus in His rightful place of Lordship over our lives and over our churches, Satan will be a defeated foe.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Devotional for 9/18/13

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life in the kingdom”
Our Bible verse for today: “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:4-5
Our thought for today: “We are all on the same team.”
Romans 12:4-5 is a passage that is commonly used to help us understand that every member of the church is important and we all need each other. That’s certainly true and it’s a good application of the passage. However in a larger context, in terms of the kingdom of God on earth, it’s also true that every church is a part of the Body of Christ on earth and that every church is important and every church is needed.
Far too often Christians segregate and isolate themselves based upon denominational differences. I personally believe that to be sinful and I believe it grieves the heart of God. Anyone who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins is a brother or sister of mine and I can therefore find common ground with them for the sake of the kingdom.
Yes, we may have different beliefs about how often to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or about how to structure a worship service, or about the issue of speaking in tongues, or about a thousand other manmade distinctions and differences. But those are all secondary and therefore less important issues. The reason there are so many different kinds of churches is because there are so many different kinds of people, and there is a church that is right for everyone. But the common bond we all share, and the only thing that really matters, is faith in Jesus Christ. Our shared faith makes us all part of the family of God regardless of how we choose to practice the faith.
Since we are all part of the same family, all making the same journey through this world towards the same heavenly home, and since we all have the same assignment of being about our Father’s business while we’re here, we need to work together and help each other.
One of the reasons the church today doesn’t have more power and influence in the world is because we are so divided by our differences. If we would learn to put all that aside and focus instead on the more important goal of helping to build our Father’s kingdom in this world, we would all be a whole lot more effective. One of the things I love about Oak Hill Baptist is that we have formed so many strategic partnerships with others outside of our own church and outside of our denomination. We come alongside them to work together for the sake of the kingdom regardless of whether or not that activity will result in more people sitting in our own pews.
It would do us all good – it would do the kingdom of God good, if we would remember that as Christians we’re all on the same team, working towards the same goal, and therefore we need to work together.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim