Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Give Them a Sweet Treat this Halloween!

Share the sweetest treat ever! 
A SWEET TREAT is the name of our newest Pocket Testament Gospel of John, and it’s ideal for all your seasonal giving situations.
Here’s how:
  • Attach a piece of candy to the cover for the little trick-or-treaters who show up at your front door on Halloween.
  • Share the Gospels at family get-togethers, fall bazaars and harvest festivals you attend.
Order A SWEET TREAT now so you’ll be ready to share the sweetest story ever told—the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. 
A Sweet Treat! - Click to Look Inside
Order A SWEET TREAT today! ►

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Acknowledging God's Ordained Authority

Acts 23:4
Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?" Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'"

Thoughts for Today:

Apparently Paul didn't know that Ananias was the high priest.

Why didn't he know? Perhaps Ananias had become the high priest while Paul was on his missionary journey and word had not reached him. Maybe Ananias was out of Paul's line of sight and he didn't recognize his voice. Some Biblical scholars believe Paul's eyesight had deteriorated to the point that he could not see well enough to identify him visually. Whichever the case, and regardless of Paul's eyesight, the high priest's behavior was in such opposition to the Law, that Paul didn't recognize him.

This brings up an interesting predicament: Does the "office" deserve respect, or the "person"? Why should we respect governments or other rulers when they violate the very rules or laws they are entrusted to uphold? I think Paul answers this question when he quotes, "For it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'" He further clarifies this in Romans 13:1-2, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

Questions to Ponder:

Paul practiced what he preached. Paul recognized that God had established Ananias in the position of high priest and therefore deserved his respect even if his actions did not warrant it. Paul understood God was in control and lived accordingly.

Have you rebelled against authority in your life whether the IRS, a boss, a traffic law, or a parent? Have you acknowledged God has ordained all laws and authorities and therefore He has a greater purpose than the rightness or wrongness of your current situation? In light of this, how does your thinking need to change?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Holy Spirit or Human Spirit?

Pocket Devotions

Day 349:

Acts 21:4b
Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

Thoughts for Today:

Can the Holy Spirit of God ever be wrong? The answer of course is no, because God by His very nature (and by definition) is infallible. Why then would there seem to be a contradiction between the Spirit's call for Paul to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22), versus the disciples at Tyre's urging not to go (today's passage)? From my perspective, I think the Spirit revealed to both Paul and the disciples what pain and suffering awaited him in Jerusalem -- the difference is the way their human spirit interpreted how he should respond.

* Paul's human spirit was fully aligned with the Holy Spirit's will. He was committed to go -- at rest and with complete trust in God's ultimate provision.

* The same Holy Spirit of God revealed to the disciples of Tyre what was in store for Paul as well; however their human spirit interpreted these future events into fear for his safety and welfare.

This is a subtle yet supremely important distinction and lesson for us all to apply in our own lives. To go or not to go -- that is always the question. Fortunately the answer is very simple yet can be extremely difficult to do: If God calls us to go -- we go, no matter what the consequence. Many times we can interpret the foreknowledge of difficulty inspired by the Holy Spirit incorrectly as a warning not to do something, when indeed it is just the opposite. Most often Christian service will involve some level of personal sacrifice (time, effort, money, etc.), which also might entail placing ourselves in positions that are not completely "safe." However, advance knowledge should not deter us from "going," rather we should take captive our fear and will -- thereby subjugating both to God's. This is what James meant when he said in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Questions to Ponder:

Are you allowing your human spirit to overly influence your decisions? Have you misinterpreted the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God? Do you have the desire to become more involved in some aspect of Christian service but have been warned off by some element of fearfulness? Will you allow your faith to be tested and strengthened through perseverance as James instructs? What action do you need to complete?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Not Wasting a Minute

Pocket Devotions


Acts 20:11-12

Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.
The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

Thoughts for Today:

Paul had a very busy day, after preaching until midnight a young man had fallen asleep and tumbled out of a third story window to his death. However, Paul saved the day when he rushed down and threw himself upon the young man -- who miraculously regained life. So what did Paul do following this rather extraordinary event (remember he had been preaching all day and into the night)? Did he go to bed to catch up on some much needed rest? No, instead Paul "broke bread and ate", before he resumed "talking until daylight'. The Bible doesn't tell us why Paul thought this would be his last opportunity to speak in person to the believers of Troas -- just that it was -- and he did not want to waste a single minute.

Questions to Ponder:

Paul was motivated to speak all night because he sensed his time with the believers in Troas was short and he would not return to see them again.
If you knew this evening, when you waved to your neighbor it was the last time you would ever see him, would you have invested more time than just wave?
Sometimes we take far too much of a long view in our relationships -- without consideration to how quickly life can pass. Children grow up, parents age, neighbors move, and opportunities to share our faith pass us by. We shouldn't wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.
Who do you need to see differently?
Have you been putting off spending time with someone in your life, thinking you have lots of time?
Is there someone in your life who needs to hear the gospel, and you are probably the only person in their life who knows Jesus?
Perhaps the right time is right now, before it is too late.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called

Ephesians 4:1-7 (KJV)

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Great Disturbance in Finances

Pocket Devotions

Day 309:

Acts 19:23-27
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, w! ill be robbed of her divine majesty."

Thoughts for Today:

In Greek mythology Artemis (also known as Diana), was the goddess of hunting, wilderness and wild animals. She was also a goddess of childbirth, and the protectress of young girls up to the age of marriage. Conversely, she was also thought to be the bringer of sudden death and disease in women and girls. It is therefore no surprise that merchants would do a thriving business in the sale of statues and other trinkets in Ephesus which was the reputed birthplace of Artemis and also held her temple (the seventh wonder of the world).

I find it interesting that the first objection raised against Paul's teaching wasn't for any reason other than sales were down -- and lower sales meant less money for the merchants. It wasn't because they believed Artemis had divine power and would bring forth any serious consequence, it was only because if the trend continued (Paul's ministry) it was going to cost them a lot of money. The merchants were less concerned with the truth of Paul's message, and more concerned with their own pocketbooks and bank accounts. Let this be a lesson to all of us.

Questions to Ponder:

Money has a way of plugging our ears so we don't hear truth. Take a long hard look at your own finances -- employment, investments, tithing, hobbies, and expenses -- the source of your income and what you spend it on. If Jesus audited your books right now would He be pleased or disappointed? Are your finances harmoniously lined up with your faith, or have you allowed monetary goals and other desires to influence your decisions? What do you need to change?

Friday, February 8, 2013

How the Word of the Lord Spreads and Grows in Power

Pocket Devotions

Day 307:

Acts 19:20
In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Thoughts for Today:

How did the word of the Lord spread and grow in power? When two things happened previously:

* Verse 18, "Those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds;"

* Verse 19, "A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly."

Have you ever noticed how that works in your own life? Recently I went through a period of spiritual "dryness," a time when I just didn't feel the power and richness of the Lord residing within me. Unfortunately, I had dried out over a two month period of time so it wasn't quite clear to me how or why it happened. One thing I have found in life is it is a lot less important to understand why something happened than it is to do something about it. So I did something -- I got down on my knees and openly confessed my sins and asked the Lord to forgive me.

As I read today's passage, I realized that sin and unrepentance is what stops the Lord's word from growing within us and thereby manifesting itself as joy in our lives. When sin isn't addressed it chokes off the Lord's nourishment, and without nourishment we eventually find ourselves becoming more dry, brittle and lifeless. The Bible tells us repeatedly to repent and turn from our sin -- Acts 3:10, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Previously in verse 18, we learned that confession is a really important component of repentance; and in verse 19, we saw the example of how the destruction of what was once used to sin is a big part of turning from that sin (sometimes it's as simple as turning off a thought or an activity). So what's the ultimate benefit? The time of refreshing -- and that's just what I needed. What about you? Are you thirsty, do you need a drink from the fountain of life?

Questions to Ponder:

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
The key is "he who comes to me."
How thirsty are you?
Will you openly confess, repent and turn from your sin?
Sometimes it can seem so hard, but it's really not -- in fact, do it with me right now -- get on your knees and ask for the Lord's redeeming grace. We often make things far too complex