Devotionals

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Posted 6/24/15 at 1:13 AM | Ramona Tucker

Impossible Without Faith

“. . . without faith it is impossible to please God . . .”so I just read.

Some would call faith the opposite of the scientific mindset. Best, however, if the scientific method and the way of faith peacefully coexist, even complement each other.

Currently, our culture favors the material, the natural, the satisfaction of physical needs above all else. If it can’t be proven, felt, or eaten, flick it off. Faith, however, is associated with things not seen. With things not scientifically verifiable.

Faith begins with a belief in that which is not verified in the scientific sense.

But don’t all actions, decisions, and beliefs begin with faith? We sit in chairs because we have faith they’ll hold us up. We turn on computers with the faith they’ll help us in our tasks. FULL POST

Posted 6/23/15 at 12:55 AM | Ramona Tucker

Growing a Great Commission Kid

When was the last time you purchased a new appliance or gadget for your home? If you recall, you unfolded multiple pages of directions, each in a different language. You may have even been hard-pressed to locate the sheet in English! America is quickly becoming a global culture, yet we still only comprise 12 percent of the world’s population. Asia tops the population count with a whopping 64 percent or two-thirds of the world’s poorest, unreached people’s groups.

As Christian parents, we have a biblical mandate set forth in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 to teach our children to love and obey the Scriptures, one of the foremost being the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. Teaching our kids to go and make disciples, whether here at home or across the ocean, is our primary privilege and responsibility as Christian moms and dads. Here are some practical ways you can train your child to be a Great Commission kid.

Begin early. As a parent, your greatest mission field is your child. Hopefully, you prayed for that little one even before he was born that he would come to know the Lord Jesus as his Savior. With tender hearts, children are receptive to the gospel. Read Bible stories to him. Play Scripture tapes and story CDs at bedtime. Answer his questions. Model a life of prayer before him, even in the little things, so that he can see that Christianity impacts all areas of your life. Search out quality supplemental instruction through your local church, online sites, and Christian bookstores. FULL POST

Posted 6/16/15 at 1:58 AM | Ramona Tucker

Forty Years Together and Counting

This weekend Jean and I are celebrating forty years of marriage. We exchanged our vows on June 14, 1975. That means that I have spent exactly two-thirds of my life with this wonderful lady. I would gladly spend another two-thirds!

You might remember that the summer blockbuster at the box office in 1975 was none other than Jaws. Jaws was without doubt one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. This was partly because it was a about a creature that could have been real rather than a monster created through science fiction. For forty years that movie has caused people to be afraid to get in the water. I’ve even been afraid in a lake! Guess where we went on our honeymoon. That’s right, Panama City Beach!

Fortunately, the movie was not released until the week after our honeymoon but that didn’t matter much because we had read the book. Now I will grant you that the book did not have that creepy music playing as the monster slipped up on unsuspecting prey but it was still scary. FULL POST

Posted 6/12/15 at 12:37 PM | Larry Dozier

Know How to Appeal to the Conscience?

Learning how to appeal to the conscience of others, especially leaders, is paramount in being salt and light on the earth and being culture-changers! I have read and heard many religious writers and speakers that have appealed to the mind and logic when presenting the Gospel, but few have done what Jesus did - appeal to the conscience. Whether they were trying to persuade someone to quit something or start something new, it's not logic that persuades them. It's their sense of right and wrong - their conscience. Perhaps you've heard, "a sermon from the mind reaches a mind, but a sermon from the heart reaches a heart". I believe that's one big reason why the teachings of the Bible, such as the Beattitudes, exhort followers of Christ to do the opposite of their natural, fleshly inclinations and desires. If someone hits me, I want to hit them back. If someone curses me, my natural desire is to curse them too. But Jesus taught to bless others and to do good to others regardless of how evil they may treat us. In Romans 2:4, Jesus taught that it's the goodness of the Lord that leads to repentance!

Jesus was an expert at appealing to the conscience. He frequently modeled it by asking leading questions such as he asked the Samaritan woman at the well, "Woman, where is your husband?". This appealed to her conscience and led her to confess her sin. He did the same during the Apostle Paul's Damascus Road experience. Jesus said, Saul, "Why are you persecuting me?", appealing to his conscience. He could have started a theological debate or called him a murder and screamed "Repent!", but instead, he asked Paul (then Saul) well selected leading questions that appealed to his conscience.

Another excellent example of effectively appealing to the conscience is when the Prophet Nathan confronted the King David. It had been about a year since David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for the death of her husband. David's cover-up appeared to have been successful. He was carrying out the business of his kingdom and enjoying the little child that resulted from his adultery. Nathan the prophet was charged by God with the responsibility of telling King David his fault. Nathan's example provides several important principles that we can follow when confronting an offender. FULL POST

Posted 6/11/15 at 2:29 AM | Ramona Tucker

On Not Fretting Because of Evildoers

Psalm 37 says we are not to fret because of evildoers, but surely we Christians in this age are tempted to do so. What is our response to a world which seems daily more bent on selfish destruction? How do we tolerate the present age?

Recognizing two thousand years of our religion’s history may encourage us. A sense of not belonging because of our Christian worldview is not unusual. Christians have been a remnant, a voice crying in the wilderness, more often than not.

Without worshiping power or assimilating the ways of the world, we can listen to the people around us and engage in dialog. We can listen to what they are saying and attempt to understand their fears in a world that seems to have no meaning for them. We don’t have to shout; neither should we pass by on the other side like two men in the parable of the Good Samaritan, before the compassionate one came along.

After the Jews were taken into exile, some assimilated, but a remnant remained and grew and learned. The exile remade the Jewish nation. They understood that their exile came because they did not follow God’s way as they were called to do. We Christians, too, suffer from self-inflicted wounds. We have followed our pagan neighbors into a consumer world that worships materialism and power. FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 11:09 PM | Greg Gordon

A Blessed Life Of Not Quarrelling About Personal Convictions by Greg Gordon

Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. – Romans 14:22

Throughout the Scriptures we see many “blessed” statements given, here are some of them, Blessed are: One who trusts in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7). The poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me (Matthew 5:11). Is anyone who does not stumble on account of me (Matthew 11:6). Those whose transgressions are forgiven (Romans 4:7). Those who persevere under trial (James 1:12). Those who suffer for what is right (1 Peter 3:14). Insulted because of the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14) Is the one who stays awake spiritual in the end times (Revelation 16:15) Jesus called his disciples blessed because they saw and heard the truths of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:16) Jesus called Simon blessed for being revealed truth by the Heavenly Father (Matthew 16:7). Jesus those who give are blessed (Acts 20:35). If we were to just consider and meditate on all these blessings that we are partakers of by God’s grace it should humble and give us the desire to seek the Lord. The word blessed can be roughly translated happy or better yet greatly content and happy. To be blessed is to have God’s peace and supernatural provision in our spirits and life. To live the blessed life is to live a life that is like Jesus Christ. God looks down with favour and pours out blessings on a life that is blessed. Yet we can easily overlook one of these “blessed” statements in the New Testament where if one does not condemn himself by truths that he holds to as important. We can say it another way, a person is blessed when they do not destroy their own soul and well-being by sinning against other in the body of Christ about something he holds to as a personal conviction. The phrase before sheds light on what the Lord is saying to us: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” When we publicly voice our frustration over believers who follow certain practices that are different then what we feel is right we can cause hurt to others in a sense condemn ourselves. When we sin against God’s body we sin against ourselves also as partakers and part of the body of Christ. Matthew Henry says, “Many wish for peace, and talk loudly for it, who do not follow the things that make for peace. Meekness, humility, self-denial, and love, make for peace. We cannot edify one another, while quarrelling and contending.” FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 11:07 PM | Greg Gordon

Church Hierarchy and Submission To Spiritual Authority by Greg Gordon

Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7

There are believers in our day that teach and believe that any hierarchical authority in the Church is wrong. That to submit to a Christian leader as above one is wrong and to have any leaders who are above other leaders is wrong also. Such thinking lauds the idea of the autonomous local Church, meaning that believers can act independently and freely in a local area without any jurisdiction or control. But as we look at the New Testament as a whole we see the Church was anything but autonomous. The Church was a family, they were co-dependent, they were submissive to Apostles, evangelists, elders and prophets would travel amongst different Churches in cities. Paul the Apostle says to the believers in Thessonlica: “Even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Clearly he was teaching that as an Apostle of Jesus Christ they had authority given to them by God (Matthew 28:18). FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 11:05 PM | Greg Gordon

Being A Spiritual Leader is like Being a Slave by Greg Gordon

And whoever wants to be first must be your slave. – Matthew 20:27

Our Lord shows us in this passage we are looking at that the one’s that desire to be great and feel called of the Lord to be leaders need to seek to be servants. The mother of two of the Disciples comes to our Lord and asks if they could sit in the places of honour in the coming kingdom. Jesus’ response did not nullify her request as he stated that these positions were only to be given by his Father in heaven. Yet he did take the opportunity to teach his followers a lesson of the type of leaders he was looking for in his kingdom. He shared that the world’s rulers and kingdom work in a way of force, and strength. But those in his kingdom are to operate as servants and slaves. Leaders who are performing duties for another in lowliness and serving other people as being owned by God himself. Seeking to be in such a position in God’s kingdom is death, meaning that you must die to yourself and spend your life serving others. Jesus did not in anyway say there were not leaders or that they were not be respected and be over people. What he said is that the heart of leaders that truly represent his kingdom are to be slaves and have servitude as their foundation. If you are a leader of a Church or movement you need to write “slave” on your office door, you are a slave of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1) and you need to do his bidding. When leaders assume positions in the Church who have not died to their carnal nature and are not slaves, they can do great damage to the work of Gods kingdom. An un-crucified leader will be against the purposes of God, just like Judas who in the end crucified our Lord. FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 11:03 PM | Greg Gordon

A Fault Finding Gift In the Body of Christ? by Greg Gordon

These people are grumblers and faultfinders. – Jude 1:16

Some modern believers act as if faultfinding is a virtue. The main objective of any conversation, meeting of believers or hearing a teaching is to try and find what is wrong in it. Instead of seeing the good in others they pick apart everything and always have something negative to say. They look for small problems in others and treat them as if they were big (Matthew 7:3). The faultfinder has a motive to build himself up by tearing others down. Many faultfinders can be filled with envy, discontented at the position and calling of others from God. Most faultfinders are not in any type of fruitful Christian ministry but are spectators always finding what is wrong in what they see. In envy he hurts others but it is himself he hurts the most. Just like the Pharisess they find fault in anything and even the sinless Son of God (Matthew 9:11). Faultfinders have very few friends or those who want to be around them because in the end they pick each one apart. These “mote-hunters” seek to find any small thing wrong with a minister or christian leader to try and disqualify them. They feel exalted in their ability to be able to see faults in others but this is a deception as its a work of the flesh. They will not be able to humble themselves to repent of their own sins because they are too busy looking at the sins of others. There is no spiritual gift of fault-finding, there is no virtue or benefit to it. FULL POST

Posted 6/10/15 at 8:55 PM | Diane Castro

"What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?"

Bill's son Nick (R) and his stepson Mike. Mike is career Navy and Nick has just graduated from Navy boot camp.

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, my brother-in-law Bill slipped into eternity after a valiant battle with leukemia. Five days later, his many friends and family gathered to celebrate his life and to support my little sister Linda, who has been widowed for a second time. Her first husband died of cancer at age 33, just after graduating as a physician’s assistant, leaving her with a two-year-old son, Josh. Now the unimaginable has happened again.

Why did God take a young man, just as he was poised to serve people with his medical training? Why did God leave a little boy fatherless? Why did He leave Linda to raise Josh alone, and then give her another husband, only to take him too? Why did He let Bill go into remission, only to strike him again? Why did the healing that so many prayed for not come? Why did Bill not even live one more day, until his son Nick graduated from Navy boot camp? Why is Linda left alone, now with both boys grown and gone? FULL POST

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