Persecutors of the Church?

SCRIPTURE  FROM:   Acts 9:3-5 (GNT)

TEXT:  As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” he asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said.

OBSERVATION:   I would suggest that you click on the Scripture reference and read the context in which our Scripture comes from today. You will find that the above verses are actually displaying a miracle in the life of Saul, one who was out to murder and/or arrest every Christian and worshiper of Christ. In fact, when God intervened, Saul was on his way to the synagogues at Damascus to disrupt the Christians by arresting them and taking them back to Jerusalem. Although we see God make a total change in the life of Saul, we are also reminded of persecutors of the church – perhaps even today?

APPLICATION:   Did you click on this devotional hoping that I would give you a list of the persecutors of God’s church today? You might be disappointed, because what I believe that God wants to challenge us on today, is to make sure that we have no indicators of being persecutors ourselves. Oh Brother Ed, you have really gone overboard now, for we are workers in the church, so we would never persecute the church. Friends, here are some subtle ways that I believe we persecute the work of Christ today:

  • Supporting the Pastors of your church – these men, and possibly women, battle with the same time constraints that the rest of us do. They receive more criticism in one month than we probably receive in a lifetime. They are often expected to stretch each dollar further than mankind has ever been able to do it. They are on duty 24/7, yet expected to be fresh and at their best every time they stand before us. If you are to be a true supporter of God’s servants – pray for them and their families; support them through constant encouragement; listen close enough to their sermons that you may want to question them on a point raised during their delivery; Lift them up before your friends instead of tearing them down. These things might be more like promoting God’s work, instead of tearing down or persecuting; by finding fault complaining; not attending church; not tithing so that God’s work might go on; etc.
  • Volunteer – if you are supporting the work of Christ, volunteer to help get more done each day in the ministry. Offer to help around the church office or property; offer to call shut-ins or visit the sick or hospitalized. Idle hands will lead to ridicule, or persecution, way quicker than building up a greater desire to promote the ministry of Christ;
  • Be an encourager – Let the pastors and lay leaders know that you are praying for them. This builds up. This gives you something positive to do instead of leaning to ridicule or persecution. Send notes of encouragement. Specifically pray for someone hurting, working for the Lord, or needing encouragement, then tell them that you prayed for them.

Friends, we can either be a worker, supporter or encourager in the world, or we could be a persecutor, ready to tear down everything and anything God puts together for good. Where do you fit?

PRAYER:   Lord, I believe our default character tends to be more of a complainer or discourager. To tear down and destroy. Yet Lord, when we stop and consider that the Son of God came to earth and humbled Himself through death on the cross at Calvary, for the benefit of undeserving sinners such as I am, and you are friend. How can I but love You, my Savior and my Lord? Oh that the love of God may shine through His humble servants this day and every day, so that others may see every indication of Jesus, and never an indication of persecution of His master plan for us while here on this earth. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’.  If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please 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 Nuggets From God’s Word 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 Sebring, 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!

 

Willing To Forgive

Post Date:

Saturday, 2017-08-19
SCRIPTURE

From:

Luke 17:1-4 (CEV)

Text:

 Jesus said to his disciples: There will always be something that causes people to sin. But anyone who causes them to sin is in for trouble. A person who causes even one of my little followers to sin would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neck. So be careful what you do.

Correct any followers of mine who sin, and forgive the ones who say they are sorry. Even if one of them mistreats you seven times in one day and says, “I am sorry,” you should still forgive that person.

OBSERVATION:
Jesus knew that there were believers who looked down on others, and even in the case of other new believers they would do things to temp them, rather than offer a hand up, or an encouraging word to help them overcome. Additionally, Jesus knew that there were some who struggled with forgiveness, especially when being asked for forgiveness more than once. I bet if you hadn’t read the Scripture reference you may have thought that this was a sermon addressed to Christians today! Let’s look into the application.
APPLICATION:
I believe that as each of us read scriptures such as this one today, we quickly reflect on that relative that struggles with similar issues to those addressed by Jesus, or perhaps a neighbor or a friend. I’m sure there are folk who told us, or told the church, that they had given their hearts to the Lord, and we walked away thinking “right, I’ll have to see it to believe it”. Jesus wanted to make sure that He expects us to help lift that young Christian up, encourage them, love on them so that they may be assured of the fellowship of the saints – brothers and sisters of the same Father. Knowing that Jesus has perfect insight into a person’s heart, and that He died on the cross so that ALL might come to Him for salvation, He doesn’t expect us to understand or even analyze how Jesus could possibly accept this person or that person. For His ways are not our ways. We tend to look at how a change of heart might affect that person’s relationship with us, but Jesus looks at that person just as He looked at us when we came to Him for salvation. We all came to the cross in just the same condition – sinners. Jesus saved us and redeemed us of our sin, so that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. Who are we to look down our noses and think otherwise? Jesus gave a pretty serious warning for those who try to cause a young Christian to stumble – the consequence would be as serious as death, for He said that it would be just as if you were thrown overboard with a heavy rock around your neck. Jesus went on to warn us of another sin that could be very serious for us. I’ve heard fellow believers say that a Christian Brother or Sister hurt them and later sought forgiveness. They forgave them once, but they will never trust them again or get close to that person again. I believe verse 4 is telling us that it’s not our job to bring judgment on another believer. If they ask forgiveness, it is our Christian obligation to forgive them. In fact, if they don’t ask forgiveness, it is our Christian responsibility to approach them as a friend, a helper, a prayer warrior, a brother or sister, who will work with them and pray with them to overcome the thing that we see going on in their life. I’m afraid that we could teach this lesson at least once a day to ourselves and others who would acknowledge similar challenges in their lives. What about you friend? Will you be able to stand in front of our Father shoulder to shoulder with that brother or sister that you felt on earth was not the perfect Christian and handle the rebuke from the Father? I would much prefer hearing God say, ‘well done good and faithful servant, for you did what I commanded’.
PRAYER:
Lord I humbly approach Your throne today, knowing that these very things taught in the Scriptures seem impossible to us, because our culture has led us in to a very selfish and judgmental lifestyle. Lord, we need more of You in more of us, so that our families, our churches, our towns, states and country will live more aligned with Your teachings and commands. My readers and I acknowledge that You are the only way, and in believing that we have an obligation to live according to Your commands. Lord, this is contrary to the ways of this world in which we live, so this becomes very challenging. Please work with us and guide us to all truth and give us wisdom and strength to be obedient to You in every way. All glory to You oh King eternal. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE:
There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’.  If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please 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 Nuggets From God’s Word 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!

Careful of ‘Burn-Out’

Post Date:

Friday, 2017-03-17
SCRIPTURE

From:

Exodus 18:17-18 (NIV)

Text:

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.
OBSERVATION:
Moses had fallen into the trap of assuming that only he could hear and solve the disagreements among the people. Praise God,someone loved him enough to challenge him about being the judge and savior for all these people,and offered a solution to him to avoid ‘burn-out’. This is a lesson we all can learn from!
APPLICATION:
Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, saw something coming to Moses, and he gave him good advice that would do many leaders today a world of good! Jethro saw that Moses would soon ‘burn-out’ if he continued at the rate he was going. Many leaders fall into the trap that Moses found himself in, for they are very guilty of acting like unless they do the job themselves, it won’t get done properly. Many would just as soon do the job themselves instead of dealing with the sting of rejection, or subordinates that become agitated because they feel taken advantage of, when asked to do additional work. Friends, I would never indicate that I am perfect, but I see this way too often. It is probably one of the hardest lessons for a manager/leader to learn and practice, for way too often we feel like we may not have a job tomorrow if a subordinate is capable of doing our job. I had a manager who told me at least annually that my job is not considered fully achieved, unless I have someone fully trained to do it in my absence. Friends, this happens way too often in God’s work around the church also, where our pastors; teachers;maintenance teams,deacons and elders become over burdened with responsibilities because of the above reasons. Unfortunately, while this goes on and these leaders bury themselves in pressure and endless hours, others sit around finding fault, or feeling incomplete because they are not asked to learn additional responsibilities or help in some way. Friends, may I suggest that we are doing God and our fellow men and women a disservice when we don’t give them an opportunity to help alongside of us? If we burn ourselves out before we ask someone to come alongside of us and train to help us out, I honestly believe that God will hold us accountable for our selfishness. Let me encourage you to seek the seek the face of Jesus and ask Him to open your eyes for opportunities to mentor someone else to eventually assume your responsibilities in all phases of your work life. Remember, your job is considered incomplete, unless you have someone trained to assume your responsibilities when you are unavailable to do so! Seek God’s face for the one that He has in mind to train under you and help you out.
PRAYER:
Lord Jesus, thank You for trusting me enough to allow me to serve in Your vineyard here on planet earth. Who am I that the King of Glory should live and die for? Who am I that this same King would choose to adopt me into Your kingdom and allow me to serve your people while remaining here on earth? I’m just a sinner, saved by your wonderful and marvelous grace! Because You have trusted me to serve, may I be very open to allowing others to serve as You direct, and may I not be judgmental of their relationship with You. For all those who will read this devotional, may God be gracious to you, and may He use you fully to reach the lost and disciple them until Jesus returns to take us, and them, up to glory to be one with the Father. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE:
There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’.  If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please 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 Nuggets From God’s Word 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!

How to Guard Against Temptation

Thursday, 2016-09-08

Scripture

Bible Reference: Mark 14:38

Bible Text: 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

I was touched by the fact that Jesus was going through so much emotionally in the Garden of Gethsemane, yet He didn’t get upset with his disciples over not caring about Him. Instead, Jesus gave them advice that they could use long after He had left them. He probably was also ministering to Peter for being such a ‘motor-mouth’, when he told Jesus that he would stick with Him through ‘thick and thin’, so Jesus had to remind him here that his spirit might be willing, but his body is weak. So what is the application in this verse for us today? I believe there are several things:

  1. Unless we ‘watch‘, for the advisory (Satan) – being on guard for the things that are opposing God and His perfect design, then Satan will pounce on us through various temptations, causing us to sin against God;
  2. Unless we ‘pray‘ to the Master and depend on His strength, His wisdom and His power, then we will quickly fall into the trap of Peter, where our spirit might be willing and wanting to obey God, but the weakness of our flesh will push us towards the things of this world and its master – Satan;
  3. No matter how willing our spirit and personal desire might be, we are weak without the awesome power of the Holy Spirit that God has empowered us with. We must therefore learn to call on God and depend on Him for ALL things – even those things that we feel very capable of handling ourselves, to avoid failure and being ‘sucked in’ by the advisory. Remember, we can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST, who strengthens us! He’s our Rock, our Redeemer and our soon coming King!

Have you surrendered your life to Him friend? Will He recognize your voice when you call on Him as being one of His? It you have doubt, may I encourage you to read my ‘Footnote’ and follow my suggestions, so that you may KNOW – without a doubt, whose you are?

Prayer

Lord Jesus I thank You for Your awesome love and for caring for us, even when we should be thinking about others. You know what we need, and just as You expressed to Peter and his teammates in the garden, I believe You are still very interested in seeing Your children live according to Your will and way, because of being totally surrendered to You. In and of our own strength, we can do nothing towards being holy or totally dedicated to our calling of being ‘little Christs’ – Christians. We need You to help us live noble Christian lives in this world of hate, strife and sin. Not only will we be able to do all thing through Christ who strengthens us, but Lord I believe You will be at liberty to do all things through us – those who have totally surrendered to You and very open to allowing You to work through us. May You accomplish great things today Heavenly Father, and may we be found acceptable in Your sight, so that You may work through us, if need be. In total humility and surrender to You, I am asking these things dear Jesus, 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!

Whom Then Shall I Fear?

May I encourage you to get your spiritual ‘Nuggets’ to start your day off right? Pretty amazing that our awesome God would consider feeding even us with His Word! May I encourage you to read the whole devotional, and look for a blessing, friend!………

Today’s Bible Reference: Acts 7:54–56
Today’s Bible Text: 54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
The Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take Away: God’s Word is holy, so it will highlight sin, and it will make sin very obvious. Some preachers will speak in parables to you, where they will use the Word of God but speak in current day, and or very gentle terms to say the same thing that God declares. However, there are some preachers who will simple tell it like it is and let ‘the chips fall where they may’. There are some who witness in this manner also, for some will live their Christian life with hopes that others will see and believe, while others will boldly be in your face with the truth of the gospel and wondering why aren’t you getting the point. I admire Stephen for his boldness, but more than that, I want to draw your attention to the fact that regardless of any fear he may have felt, when he looked towards heaven and fixed his eyes on the Father and the Son – his eternal destination, there was absolute peace, and absolutely no more fear. In fact, he just blurted out what he saw, and that was truly adding ‘fuel to the fire’ in what the Jewish leaders were already feeling towards him. Friends, let’s stop and think for a moment. If we only find freedom to speak when we’re in the safe company of other believers, how shall we impact the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ? If we stumble, mumble and fall when faced with the opposition, will we ever convince them that we truly have access to the power of the God of this universe? If God is with us inside the four walls of our churches, shouldn’t we have every confidence to believe that He is with us when facing the enemy (Satan)? If there is any doubt, I would dare say that we are overcome with fear that he that is in the world is greater than He that overcame death and the grave so that we may have hope and assurance of salvation. Where do you stand friend? Who are you fearing, or who stops you from sharing the saving grace of Jesus with those that you come into contact with? Are you prepared to share, even if it may lead you to death (stoning and ridicule like Stephen encountered)? If God is for us, whom then shall we fear?

Prayer: Dear God, we believe in You, please help us in our unbelief and lack of confidence that You are who You truly claim to be. May we be filled with the same boldness that Your servant Stephen was filled with, so that others will see and believe. May our lives be so filled, and so opened to expressing Your love for us, that the walls of unbelief and doubt that Satan erects before this world, will be torn down. May blinded eyes be opened so that the world might catch a glimpse of the salvation that comes from You alone. I ask these things in the name of Jesus, the Christ – my Savior, 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!

2016

Living ‘Garbage Free’ Lives

The Holy Bible (Contemporary English Version – Philippians 3:8-10): Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life.

Thoughts: Some of us are living ‘on top of the world’ – having the time of our lives with great jobs, awesome friends, lots of ‘things’ for entertainment and/or enjoyment. However, there are some who are struggling to make it each day because of just the opposite. At the foot of the cross, both types of individuals come with the same problem if they have yet to accept Jesus as Lord, for they come to the cross laden in sin. Believe it or not, Paul (aka Saul) was the chiefest of sinners in his day, yet God uses him to show us through this scripture that just as Paul surrendered, or gave up everything to follow Him, so will we have to give up the sin in our lives. Often this involves the things that have always led us to sin, or distracted us from knowing God. This challenged me, and I am sharing this with you so that you may be challenged, to think about this also. What is there in our lives that hinders our relationship with God? Is it time to throw out the ‘garbage’ so that our minds and our lives might be freed of the pull of sin? This could be hindering your acceptance of the Lord, or if we know Him already, this could be distracting and/or hindering our intimacy with Him. For a moment, I want you to commit with me, as Paul did in verse 10. Now this means that starting from your current place in life, your goal is to reach the finish line in life at a point where you will stand before God without any fear of rejection or penalty from Him. Those distractions that you will face from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ are the sins that we have to watch out for, and avoid, each day. Will you join me in going before Jesus each and every day to ask for His strength, His guidance and His power to overcome the ‘garbage’ that will try to trip us up each day? For we want to see Jesus! We want to know Him and the awesome power that raised Him to life! Let us therefore run this race of life with God at the center of all we do. Let us lean on His awesome power to help us stay ‘garbage free’ and strive to serve Him faithfully each and every day!

Prayer: Lord You have allowed us to stay on this earth so that we might represent You to others who need Jesus. You know all about the ‘garbage’ that we have allowed to enter our lives that really stinks and repels the sinner from wanting to know You. We are ashamed that we have been so weak and ineffective. I was convinced in Your Word today that others, in the heart of a ‘garbage’ pile, really don’t want more ‘garbage’, for they are looking for a way out, a cleansing, a new and better life. Lord Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life for those looking for a new life. Thank You for opening my eyes to this truth over 30 years ago. Please help me to keep my eyes and my life fixed on You and determined to avoid the ‘garbage’ that will easily and quickly pollute my life. Please touch the lives of my readers with a renewed desire to know You and to live for You in a closer and more dedicated way. May Christians today truly represent the God of their Christianity and fight off the distractions of the ‘garbage’ that will try to trip them up and distract their walk with You. Please touch the hearts of those that do not know You with a softened heart and a strong determination to dump the ‘garbage’ in their lives and refill it with Your holiness, love and compassion. I ask all this in faith, believing in the Son of God, for it is only He that can help us be all that He desires of us. 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 so that we can pray with you and give you help and or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Any words underlined above will 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 blogger.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely 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, Sebring, FL! 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!