October 22

This last week we saw snow for the first time this fall.  And almost every time it snows (at least when it first starts to snow), I am reminded about the purity that God can bring to a dirty life.  No matter how much we try to scrub the dirt and filth away from our lives, we are still dirty in God’s eyes.  It is only when we wash with the blood of Jesus will our lives ever become clean and pure again.  James Nicholson was correct when he penned these words:
Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul. Break down every idol, cast out every foe — Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, look down from Your throne in the skies and help me to make a complete sacrifice. I give up myself and whatever I know — Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat; I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet. by faith, for my cleansing I see Your blood flow — Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, before You I patiently wait; Come now and within me a new heart create. to those who have sought You, You never said, “No” — Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than now– Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

October 15

  God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ who came to show us who God is.   We have been given the Holy Spirit to continue to be enlightened through God’s word to our hearts and live.  We as Christians have been given us His light.  And because of this we are to show others the light inside of us.  Many people who live and work around us are in darkness.  They may not have been raised to read the Bible or learn about Jesus.  Many people do not know a God who wants to have a personal relationship with them.  It is up to us to tell them this.  We are to be God’s light to shine into their darkness.  We are to bring hope and life to a world without light.  Without us doing our part, this world will continue to be dark and blinded to the reality they there is a God who loves them and deeply wants to have a relationship with.  Go and be that light!

October 8

  As I mentioned in my sermon, I love this Hat of God as King.  Because many times in my life, my world (and the world around me) seems out of control.  So I am glad and take comfort in the fact that God is still on His throne.  The world was not just made and then left on its own.  God still reigns.  He has the power and the authority to control not just on a big scale (stars and planets and the rest of the universe) but he is also in control of what happens in our daily, personal lives.  His authority and power comes right down to the individual level.  And He coordinates things in ways that I still find amazing.  One example of this is how He brought about this series of sermons.  I planned several months ago what I am preaching on now.  Through prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit, I decided that I would preach this series on the Hats of God.  Since then I have begun attending Bible Study and Fellowship group (BSF).  The last several weeks have lined up almost identical to what I have been preaching.  And today, during my devotions just before typing this devotion, I came across this quote from Charle Swindoll, “He is the sovereign God of the univers and He’s never once lost control.  He strengthens and He secures His people.  Those who know their God operate in such a context of confidence, they can face whatever . . . and ‘disply strength and take action'”  God’s sovereignty gives me the confidence that no matter what the world throws at me, I will be able to handle it because God power in and through me.

October 1

      I am getting to the devotions a bit later in the week than I normally do.  I try to get the sermon of the week and this devotion posted to the website on the following Monday.  I got the sermon uploaded this week on Monday, but then my time after that was filled with other things that I felt were more pressing.  But looking back at what I filled my time with these last couple of days, I see that they were not as important as I treated them and I could have put them off another week.  My priorities were not where they should be.  I am sure I am not alone in setting my priorities incorrectly at times.  On occasion, I will put of harder things until later in order to do easier things now.  And it is typical that the easy things are usually the kind of things that do not need my attention right away.
     And as I thought about these struggles I have sometimes in prioritizing my time, I thought about how I struggle in prioritizing spiritual things.  I find myself putting off things God wants in my life for things I want to do or I find easier to focus on.  I also thought how quickly we can accomplish things we find enjoyable instead of focusing what would be more beneficial.  Are there some beneficial things God wants you to focus on this week that you have been putting off?  Listen and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and take a new look at how your priorities line up with His.

September 24

This week we had 13 men from Teen Challenge come and share with us through music and testimony.  And there were several thoughts I got from them that I want us to ponder some more on in this next week.  One young man said, “Don’t bite at the bait of pleasure, until you know there’s no hook beneath it.”  Many times the pleasure that the world provides have hidden hooks.  But the pleasure we find in God is hookless.  He also said, “Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of no where, but sometimes in the middle of no where you find yourself.”   Often times we can only find God when we are at our lowest.  But God can take us at our lowest and raise us up to live with him in the highest.  “A Pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity but a Optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.”  I hope these words will resonate with you this week.

September 17

  I have been thinking about Groveland Missionary Church and it’s faithful service to the Lord for the last 122 years.  Much has happened and much has changed in those years.  But one thing that has not changed is that God is Faithful and He has been so good to this church down through the years.  He has been with this congregation through the ups and downs, during the good times and the struggles.  Many people have come in and out of these doors.  Many souls have been forever changed.  Many seeds have been sown and many harvests have come and gone.  But I see great things ahead for this church.  The Law of the Harvest states that you reap what you have sown, that you reap only after you have sown, and that you reap more than you have sown.  I see a great harvest just ahead for Groveland Missionary Church.  But the harvest needs workers to bring in the harvest.  It would be wonderful if the harvest could reap itself, but that is not the case.  As one book says, “The Cross must be raised in the marketplace as well as on the steeples of the churches. We cannot hope to get our entire communities into our churches to hear evangelistic sermons (as valid and proven as this method of evangelism is). But we can hope to get our churches (born again believers; devoted disciples) out into every area of our communities.  Answering the Call to Evangelism: Spreading the Good News to Everyone (p. 32).  And as this book later explains, “These principles of evangelism worked for Jesus (John 4:39–42)! They will work for you too. But like all rules for success, they will not work unless you do. If you will cultivate the ground and plant the seed, you can expect to reap the resulting harvest for Christ. Evangelism is not optional. We are commanded to serve the Lord by reconciling sinful man with a holy and loving God. What are we doing about it?” (p. 39).

September 10

In preparing the message for Sunday, I came across two great sermons by Charles Spurgeon, “The Sinner’s Friend” and “The Very Friend You Need” and I used several long quote that were packed with goodness.  And since they were so long and so loaded with great material, I thought that I would use this space to share them with you again.  I think it will take you the rest of the week to digest these mouthfuls.
“His whole soul was filled with love to men while they were yet sinners and enemies to himself. It was this that made him quit his Father’s court, and all the royalties of heaven, to come and be born in a stable, and laid in a manger, and to labour in a carpenter’s shop, and to become the poorest of the poor, and the most despised and rejected of men. All this was because he loved men, not only as men, but as guilty men.”
Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). “The Very Friend You Need.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 42, p. 460). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
“You do not find him standing at a distance, issuing his mandates and his orders to sinners to make themselves better, but you find him coming among them like a good workman who stands over his work; he takes his place where the sin and the iniquity are, and he personally comes to deal with it. He does not write out a prescription and send by another hand his medicines with which to heal the sickness of sin, but he comes right into the lazar-house, touches the wounded, looks at the sick; and there is healing in the touch; there is life in the look. The great Physician took upon himself our sicknesses and bare our infirmities, and so proved himself to be really the sinner’s friend.”
Spurgeon, C. H. (1864). The Sinner’s Friend. In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 10, p. 110). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
“The Lord Jesus Christ was not “a friend of publicans and sinners” in the sense of being in the least like them. Our proverb says, “A man is known by the company he keeps,” but you could not have known the Lord Jesus Christ by the company he kept. It would be strictly true to say of him that he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” that even when he was present with them, and received them, and ate with them, yet still there was a grave distinction between him and them, so that you could never consider him to be of the same class with them. No, brethren, his bitterest enemies could not truly lay any sin to his charge; they had to hire false witnesses to make up an accusation against him, and when they had made it up, there was really nothing in it. The quick-eyed prince of this world, Satan himself, could find nothing sinful in him, and the princes of this world, whose eyes, through their malice, had become like the eyes of lynxes, yet could not discover anything for which they could blame him. He was not like them, he was not like any sinner, he was not like the drunkard, he was not like the adulterer, he was not like the thief, nor was he in the least like the hypocritical Pharisee, who, with all his attempts to appear righteous, was not really like the Saviour. So, Christ was not “a friend of publicans and sinners” in the sense of being like them.”
Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). “The Very Friend You Need.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 42, p. 458). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
And here is another one that I did not have time to add into my message:
“Our Saviour proved his love to men in his very coming to this earth, as I have already said; but when he was here, he went about doing good. He never was invited to do good to any, and refused, however lowly—and, let me add, however polluted they might be; they were always welcome to his benediction. He went about preaching the gospel which could elevate those who were fallen, and comfort those who were despairing. And at the last he proved his love in the highest conceivable manner. If a good shepherd laid down his life for his sheep, and in doing so was proved to be good, did not Jesus do so? Let me quote those blessed words of the apostle Peter,—there is more music in them than in all Homer’s poetry,—“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” That we might live, he died. That we might be cleansed from our iniquities, the Lord hath laid them all on him. O sinners, Christ is indeed your friend, since, by his death, he has already done for you all that almighty love could suggest, and omnipotent love could carry out. Yea, and rising from the grave, and mounting to his throne, he made intercession for the transgressors, and he continues still to prove his love to sinners by daily pleading for them. The prayer he commenced on earth has never closed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Oh, yes, he is intensely, deeply affectionate within himself, but he is abundantly and practically the friend of sinners by what he does for them! How I wish that some of you would prove this by going to him, that he might exercise upon you all the matchless skill of his inimitable grace!
Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). “The Very Friend You Need.” In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 42, pp. 460–461). London: Passmore & Alabaster.

September 4

Sunday we saw Jesus as a party animal.  And I showed a slide that included all the parties Jesus attended, spoke on, or mentioned in the gospel.  And the 20 different parties could not fit on one slide and were in small print on the two slides, so I thought about reproducing that list of parties here so you can check it out for yourselves.  I tried not to count the same party mentioned in multiple gospels more than once, so I cross referenced the parties from all the gospels. They are listed in gospel order since it is often difficult to do chronological among the gospels.
With Magi: Matt 2:11-12 With Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners: Matt 9:10; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:29-31 With 5000: Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15 With 4000: Matt 15:29-39; Mark 8:1-13 Triumphal entry: Matt 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44 Parable of Party: Matt 22:1-14 Parable of 10 virgins: Matt 25:1-13 With Simon the Leper: Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:1-9; Luke 7:36-50 Last Supper: Matt 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-38; John 13-17 With Shepherds: Luke 2:16-20
With Mary and Martha: Luke 10:38 With “Prominent Pharisee”: Luke 14:1-14 Parable of Feast: Luke 14:15-24 Parable of Lost: Luke 15 (actually 3 different stories/parables) With Zacchaeus: Luke 19:1-9 In Emmaus: Luke 24:30 After the resurrection: Luke 24:36-49 At Wedding: John 2:1-11 With Lazarus and family: John 12:1-11 After resurrection on beach: John 21:1-14
I defined “party” as an intentional group of people gathered for the expressed purpose fellowship, eating, and/or celebrating.  So I included both birth stories (wise men and shepherds) as well as the feeding of the 5000 and 4000.  I also added the triumphal entry (celebration) and the disciples on the road to Emmaus (eating).  I did not include the Jewish feasts mentioned in John’s gospel because even though Jesus came to Jerusalem for the feasts, it did not specify that Jesus participated in any of them.  It should also be noted that 13 of the 20 parties listed are in Luke’s gospel and that is even when I group the 3 parables of the Lost things in Luke 15 are grouped together as one. (And 8 of those 13 are only found in Luke).  I think Luke must have been a party animal too. :>)

August 27

This week I started a new series on Jesus as our example.  And I am looking at who Jesus was on the inside, what made him tick.  Because many of us know the stories of Jesus’ miracles and his teaching but not on who Jesus was on the inside.  And this week, I taught about Jesus as an Unbridled Lover.  Again, please disconnect the cultural perception of using this term Lover with sexual overtones.  Instead I used lover in the purest sense as a lover of people.  And as mentioned this love is unbridled — uncontrollable, unconstrained, unrestrained, uncurbed, unstoppable, runaway kind of love.  And that love brought him in contact with many “disreputables”- people who were ostracized and shunned by his culture.  He regularly showed his love to tax collectors, fishermen, women, Samaritans, foreigners, widows, and even children — all of whom were not welcomed by the religious elites.  And I could not help but think about people in our day and culture who are not usually welcomed by the religious elites (i.e. self-righteous churches) — people like minorities, foreigners (immigrates), LGBTQ, and others on the fringe.  It is as if we are afraid associating with others in the world will taint us or ruin our reputations.  But Jesus was not concerned about what people said about him, He just loved.  And we are called to do the same.  If you listened to the sermon, I issued some homework for our members: to think of one way we can reach out to the people in this area and report it back to me.  I hope that Groveland Missionary Church will take up the example set by our Lover Jesus and touch some of the people in our area that others might deem untouchable.

August 20

We we have reached the end of our series focusing on the Lord’s Prayer.  I trust it has been insightful to see how we should pray and pray effectively.  And I hope I cleared up some of the mystery of how and why are prayers go unanswered.  As a final devotion on this topic, I will again refer back to a wonderful book that has supplemented many of my sermons. While I came up with the general idea myself about unanswered prayer and preached a message 15+ years ago on the subject, John MacArthur added much to this broad subject.  In his book, Alone with God, he adds a list of sorts on what we can learn from the Lord’s prayer.
“An unknown author summarizes well the impact of this pattern for prayer:
I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment.
I cannot say “Father” if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child.
I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say “hallowed be Thy name” if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day.
I cannot say “Thy will be done” if I am disobedient to His Word.
I cannot say “on earth as it is in heaven” if I will not serve Him here and now.
I cannot say “give us … our daily bread” if I am dishonest or an “under-the-counter” shopper.
I cannot say “forgive us our debts” if I harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say “lead us not into temptation” if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say “deliver us from evil” if I do not put on the whole armor of God.
I cannot say “Thine is the kingdom” if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him “the power” if I fear what men may do.
I cannot ascribe to Him “the glory” if I am seeking honor only for myself.
I cannot say “forever” if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.”
MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). Alone with God (pp. 116–117). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
I should note, MacArthur’s book deals with much more than just the Lord’s prayer.  However, it is the center piece of the book.  It should be read in its entirety if you want to learn more about prayer.  So as I close this devotional and this series, I will once again end with a wonderful quote.
“As you commit to following this pattern for all your prayers, your entire Christian walk will be revolutionized, not just your prayer life. No longer will you lack for something to say in prayer. Being alone with God will never be the same”