On Being ‘Religious’

Thursday, 2016-06-30

Scripture

Bible Reference: Acts 17:22–23

Bible Text:  22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

If you walked into a young man’s bedroom, and he had the walls plastered with large posters of young ladies, some dressed and some barely clothed in a swim suit, might you conclude that the young man is a true ladies’ man, or that he is a good, loyal, faithful husband? How about if this was a young man from your Sunday School class, would you be more, or less convinced that he is a religious person? If you met a store clerk who wore a cross on her chain and appeared to have a great attitude, might you conclude that she was a very religious young lady? How about when you walk into a church on the weekend and see hundreds of attendees, surely they are religious, right? Friends, Paul had to address this misconception of being ‘religious’ and how it may trick someone into believing that they are a born-again Christian because they feel like they are ‘religious’. I believe that the Holy Spirit prompted me to remind this audience that there is only one way by which you are saved, and the only way into heaven is when God is convinced that you are saved. The one way that you are saved is by getting before the Lord Jesus Christ, asking for His forgiveness of your sin, and inviting Him to take charge of your life – total surrender on your part. This is totally scriptural and can be supported by scripture, so it is gospel truth. I believe you will conclude none of what I have described to you fits the image that you may have around being ‘religious’. However, one will assure you of your eternal destination with the Master of the Universe, and the other (being religious) will do nothing more than confuse you and your friends about what you truly believe and whether you have given any forethought into your life after the struggles and challenges of this earth. Please don’t get me wrong friends. I am not saved to prove anything to my friends who truly love me, but because I am saved they can tell from the life I live and the hope that is evident in my character, that I have a hope, I have a future, and it is in heaven with my precious Lord and Savior. Would you please put your mind at ease, and the concern of your friends and family, by seeking out Jesus today? Enough with being religious, try to button up this critical decision by surrendering your life to the Master – today!

Prayer

Father God, You are so awesome that You not only created us and gave us a very successful life to enjoy here on earth, but You went a step further by providing the means for us to be assured today about our future with You. Although not automatic, yet You knew that it was not something that we could attain on our own, so You provided Your Son as a living sacrifice for our sin. So that through Him, we might become sons and daughters of the most high! Thank You for loving me with such passion and grace! Thank You for assuring me that it’s OK to share this message with friends who can make the same decision as I did, and they too might be assured of their salvation. Lord, may this be the day of decision for all who reads this devotional. AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

God Uses Lives Totally Committed To Him

Wednesday, 2016-06-29

Scripture

Bible Reference: Acts 16:27-30

Bible Text:  27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

In yesterday’s devotional we looked at the thought ‘Prove It’. It seems like God would have us continue along this theme, and I believe it’s because He wants us to see how impactful it would be when His children consistently follows His will in total obedience. Imagine for a moment the scene at the jail that night where Paul and Silas were. The Word says that they were in chains, yet they were singing – sounds like there was no time for moaning and pleading for self pity, but always time for worship and praise to their Father in heaven! In fact, these warriors were well aware that the same God that gave them power to heal the sick, and work miraculously among the people they ministered to, was right there in that jail cell with them. They knew that God was well aware of the discomfort, cold and dampness of that cell, and I believe that Paul and Silas knew that God had a plan for them, even right there in those extreme circumstances. Friends, consider that versus the attitude that most of us would have assumed. Just imagine how upset we would get that our tireless efforts to help and/or minister, landed us in jail. Furthermore, we are not ‘criminals’ like the rest of the murderers and or thieves in that jail, so why are we in chains and beaten, and not privileged with a proper bed? Now think with me just a little while longer. There was an earthquake during the night, and doors are flying open and chains are popping loose. Will anyone beat us getting out of the first door opened? After all, wouldn’t you assume that this was in response to your diligent prayers! But notice what Paul and Silas did, and how God used them. The very jailer responsible for having them chained and mistreated, came to them and asked to be introduced to the God that they served! Wow! What if someone who has been watching your actions or your walk with the Lord, came up to you today and asked to be introduced to Jesus? Wouldn’t that be awesome? I believe that it will amaze us what God can, and will do with servants that are sincere in their faith and stay true to Him even under circumstances that we don’t understand at the time. Let’s give it a try today friends. It might surprise us what God can do!

Prayer

Lord, please direct our paths today. We want to have the boldness and dedication of Paul and Silas, even under circumstances that would appear challenging at best. Please fill us with Your love and Your assurance to know that You will be with us through every walk of life, especially during those times when we may question, but yet You may have a purpose to reach a lost one for the kingdom. Please help us to remain humble, yet obedient in every way. 

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Prove it!

Tuesday, 2016-06-28

Scripture

Bible Reference: 1 Thessalonians 2:12

Bible Text:   12 you should live in a way that proves you belong to the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Bible Translation: God’s Word Translation (GW)

My Take

There is a six-year old in my life that will often say “prove it” whenever we respond to a question differently than he expects! In this short verse Paul is not only reminding the church at Thessalonica to not forget all that he and his missionary friends taught them, but he encouraged them to live their lives as evidence that they accepted his teachings with confidence, and in full obedience to what the Word of God instructed. This is very applicable to us today friends, for we attend church, perhaps Sunday School and perhaps even a Bible study or two each week. Should there be any possible reason why we would live our lives contrary to all that we are being taught? Furthermore, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are not just doing that in expectation of a free ticket into heaven, but we are essentially committing to a life that will duplicate all that Jesus lived, and all that He taught us through His Word. Think about it: Jesus lived the same way, for He said that He only spoke the words given to Him by His Father and He only did those things instructed by His Father. If we are committed to being Jesus’ followers, shouldn’t we be doing the same thing? The world will look at us for proof that we are who we say we are. Will they be convinced about you today?

Prayer

Dear God, it may seem unwarranted, but it seems like this world needs proof for everything before they are convinced that things are as we say. I believe that it is all the more important that Your children not only speak of You based on stories from the greatest book ever written, but if Christians truly believe in You, then we will live out what we believe in. If Your love is in us, then our lives will exude Your love in every action. If Your words fill our hearts, then our words will be filled with Your grace and Your love. Paul told the church to prove their faith to everyone they came into contact with, by the way they lived, loved and spoke. Lord, may our words and our actions prove to the world today that Jesus rules and reigns in and through us, so that they may have a desire to know You personally. AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Simple Instructions For ‘Right’ Living

Monday, 2016-06-27

Scripture

Bible Reference: Micah 6:8

Bible Text:  8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

In this scripture today, we can see where God is yet again addressing the question of many who are wanting to please God, but yet live like the world. I know, that’s not you, but before your give up on this devotional today, let me encourage you to be patient with me as I draw some parallels. There are three commands given to the Jews, and I believe these are still very applicable to us today:

  1. Do what is right – sounds like a very simple command, but let’s examine where this comes from. In verses 6 and 7 we see where the people were asking what is it that God would like for them to bring, or sacrifice, in order to please Him. Please recognize that they could have sacrificed half of their livestock holdings and still be very ungodly in their attitudes and their actions towards others.  In today’s society, we hear a lot at funerals and at social events about individuals are are great financial providers, or perhaps heads of state. One would walk away thinking that they must be God’s top person on earth as they are ‘good’ in every way – according to the speaker! Additionally, we are continually trying to convince ourselves of how pleasing we must be to God after attending at least one church service this month, or because we gave a satisfactory amount in the offering. In each case, we may have missed the point if we haven’t daily lived doing what is right in God’s sight. Are we truly following His ways and doing what He commands?
  2. Love mercy – In each of the above self-righteous actions, have we truly shown mercy to everyone that God has placed in our presence? Jesus showed mercy to everyone – especially those that society rejected and shoved aside. Do we practice enough mercy, or are we a part of the crowd who will push the poor and unfortunate aside? When last have you been identified as an agent of Jesus – even to the dejected?
  3. Walk humbly with God – I see this as being one who is fully committed and obedient to God. I believe this is the individual who moves from a life of doing our own thing to please self, and moves to an obedient life responding to every command of Jesus. Friends, as we study God’s Word and strive to follow in His footsteps, we will look and sound more like Jesus. We may even be mistaken for Jesus to a world that is in sore need of Him. Walking humbly with God means that you are willing to walk behind Him and let Him guide you and therefore take all the credit for anything you might accomplish. After all, you would be showing the world that everything is given to you by Him and for His glory – only.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, You demonstrated an obedient spirit, filled with mercy, as You walked this earth. You reminded us many times that You only spoke the words that were given to You by Your Father, and that You did only those things that pleased Your Father. As Your children, trying to follow Your will and Your desire for our lives, we realize that we must learn to live just like You. Please touch us today with Your power and Your guidance so that we might desire to walk like You and talk like You, especially before our friends who are looking for Godly examples here on earth. If You are in us, then Your character, Your love and Your example will pour forth from us. So please fill us to overflowing today Lord, so that others may see and believe. May You receive glory from all that is accomplished through Your children today, AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Who is Unworthy of Eternal Life?

Saturday, 2016-06-26

Scripture

Bible Reference: Acts 13:46

Bible Text: Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles.

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

I’Ve been in situations before where a parent or another adult may have said “well you don’t deserve that anyway”! Perhaps out of anger that I failed an exam, or didn’t listen to a lecture as closely as they thought I should have. But the words chosen by Paul and Barnabas were especially interesting in this particular verse. Paul and his partner had been preaching their hearts out to the Jews gathered, and while some may have listened, it was obvious that most were satisfied with the same message they had been taught all along, and had no interest in hearing about this new ‘miracle worker’ (Jesus) who had just entered their scene of life. Paul and Barnabas therefore told the Jews that unfortunately they had just considered themselves unworthy of this prize (the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world), and they would therefore go on to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, who were thought unworthy by the Jews for anything worthwhile. I wonder how many of our friends have entered our church doors, listened to the message of the cross and left thinking that they are so unworthy of this awesome gift of love that God sent to earth for us? I wonder how many reading this devotional sometime feel like the message of the cross is for those who are good; those from good families; those who have attended church all their lives; but unbelievable that it would also cover the sins of such a worm as I. Friends, let me be quick to remind you that God has no favorites, other than the children that He created – and that includes us all. He died so that everyone (whosoever will) may ask for forgiveness of sin and accept the prize available to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘All’ means that no one is excluded! ‘All’ means even you and I, friend!

Prayer

Father, thank You for not only creating my friends and I in Your image, but for also sending Your Son so that we might have the means of enterring Your kingdom to personally be with You throughout eternity. Please touch the hearts of Your people today with the assurance that You made this sacrifice so that we all may know, believe, and be assured of our eternal salvation. This, being the weekend, many may hear the gospel message again. May this loving message resonate throughout all of our churches so that Your people may hear and know that they are loved and accepted by their Creator, and therefore surrender their lives to His precious Son, Jesus. We love You Lord! AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

God’s Purpose Fulfilled at Our Amazement

Friday, 2016-06-24

Scripture

Bible Reference: Jonah 1:14–16

Bible Text:  14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” 15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

In much of what we hear about the story of Jonah, I believe that the part that really stands out revolves around how God got Jonah’s attention when he tried to run away from Him. However, let me share with you a little ‘nugget’ that I found in our referenced scripture this morning. I found where God was able to use this distraction to also speak to the hearts of a few sailors who may have otherwise continued in their blindness towards the living God. I’ve been on a ship before when it hit very rough waters, and I could see the panic in the eyes of the sailors when they realize that their ability to turn the situation around is virtually impossible, and way beyond their capability at that time. Therefore, I could only imagine how the sailors from the boat on which Jonah was riding, must have been in a very similar challenge – they must have panicked at the extreme waves and bad weather they were forced to deal with, while also being concerned about the safety of their passengers and themselves. I was impressed how the sailors tried everything possible before finally deciding to throw Jonah overboard. They asked the passengers, and Jonah, to pray to their gods for wisdom and safety. Then after hearing about Jonah’s God, the sailors chose to speak directly with God about the situation including, asking for their forgiveness should they have to pitch Jonah overboard. I found it interesting that they were fine with dealing with many gods in looking for a resolution, yet they settled for speaking directly to the God of Jonah. However, the most important find in this is in verse 16. The sailors were so amazed by the power of God Almighty, that they vowed to serve Him! Friends, I believe that this rough bunch of guys surrendered their lives to the awesome God that Jonah knew and worshiped! May I also remind you that this is the same God that I share with you every day through these devotionals? My prayer is that each of you will recognize God through these devotionals and, like the sailors, commit yourselves to my Savior and seek to serve Him the rest of your days. I implore you to consider this proposition friend. I stand as living proof that Jesus loves even me, and He especially loves you and wants your heart –  fully surrendered  to Him.

Prayer

Father, You are awesome in every way! Stubborn though we are, yet You have ways of getting our attention so that we might recognize Your greatness, and our need for a Savior. Father, thank You for using even us to reach the lost so that You may draw them to Yourself. Thank You for the story of Jonah and for opening our eyes to the similarities of how we also run from Your assignments and therefore miss opportunities to reach the world for You. Lord, may this be a day that we can be used as mere instruments in Your powerful hand to reach those that need visible evidence of Your grace and mercy. Merciful Savior, may You be lifted up in all things that we partake in today, is my humble plea and request. AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Correlating Prayer with Answers

Thursday, 2016-06-23

Scripture

Bible Reference: Acts 12:5; 14-15

Bible Text:   5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him

14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

In verse 5 of this chapter of Acts we are told that the believers were diligent in prayer for their Brother (Peter), who was in prison. Now, after hearing about the death of James, one can only imagine how urgent, deep, and sincere this time of prayer must have been by these fellow believers. We’ve been there and done that, right? There have been very serious times of prayer for very urgent matters that we may have been willing to set aside meal times, or other obligations, so that we could get together in deep, sincere prayer. Most of us may never have prayed for the safety and/or life protection for a friend because of other friends being murdered for the sake of the gospel, but no doubt we have had urgency of prayer because of circumstances that we knew were way beyond our control. So now let’s move beyond some supernatural events that took place inside of the prison where Paul was incarcerated, and look at an interruption that came to the group praying. There was an annoying knock on the door. Can you imagine that someone would have the audacity to actually go and knock on the door of a group praying? Can you imagine the aggravation of the group praying, when the servant girl returned to tell them that Peter (the one they were praying for) was at the door? If she was losing her mind, why would she lose it with this bunch of ‘serious’ prayer warriors?!! So I wonder what this group was really hoping for from God? That He would feel sorry for them in their anguish? That He would comfort them by saying that He would look into their request? I wonder what’s on our mind when we pray? Is it just words that might help our hearts feel better that we have asked, and we could rest knowing that our obligation is over? Do we ever pray with one eye opened so that we could watch for the answer to our prayer request? It really could be that fast, right? Might I dare remind you that if we ask the God of creation, the God of this universe, the Healer of all things, for anything that matches His perfect will, then we must be prepared for instant answers – if He so chooses? Can we learn to pray with that sort of urgency and expectancy?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, You taught us to pray. You gave us an avenue where we can share our concerns with You and place our petitions before You. Thank You for reminding us through Your Word that we are not just leaving a note at the foot of the cross, but actually having an open dialogue with the Creator – the Master and Lord of this universe, and that You are not like us, where You need time to think about it, or check with Your mentors, but that You may very easily begin the process before the words ever even leave our lips. Please help us to be a people of faith – true faith, where we are always thankful, but never surprised with Your response to our prayers. Lord, we stand amazed in Your presence because of who You are, not because of what You have done, or might do for us. Thank You for hearing our prayers – our concerns and our desires. May we always be prepared to praise You as we see Your hand at work in marvelous and wonderful ways. AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!