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    Daily Devotion

    Where are last year's Christmas gifts?

    Verse of the Day, November 30, 2021 

    1 Peter 1:24-25 CSB "For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, [25] but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this word is the Gospel that was proclaimed to you."

    We will give and receive gifts this Christmas. Where are last year's presents? 1 Peter 1:24-25 quotes Isaiah 40:8–9. The Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) reminds us that the only Christmas gift that endures year to year is the Gospel. The good news of how Jesus' selfless sacrifice took away our sins and graciously gifted us with new life. Peter says we are born again, not of seed that perishes but by the imperishable Word of God(1:23).

    Our flesh is like grass. The recent cold snap caused pasture to wither and turn brown. People and politicians' opinions and advice will come and go. Our possessions will break, wear out, and become useless as the years pass. Our accomplishments eventually will not matter to the next generation. Yesterday, I noticed the warmer weather has caused the grass to turn green in spots again. Peter says that only the Word of God can cause us to be born again. The Word of God is living and enduring because the God of Life spoke it.

    Peter says this is the word of the good news Jesus preached, the message spoken by the OT prophets, the same Gospel the apostles proclaimed, and the truth we read in the New Testament. The greatest Christmas Gift ever is Jesus Christ—His birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and promised return for all who love and long for Jesus' appearing (1 Peter 1:1–5:14; 2 Timothy 4:8). Believing in the Gospel—asking Jesus to forgive you, give you a new life, and surrender control of your new life to Jesus—is what it means to be born again.

    God equips us with His Word and empowers us with His Spirit when we are born again. Our new life is unstoppable and unbeatable. Peter says this is the greatest gift we ever receive; it will not grow old, fade away with the season, or change with the culture's shifting opinions.

    This year when you open or give a gift, pause and think about the Old Testament prophets and the angels in heaven. Peter says the prophets desperately searched to see the advantage of grace Jesus' birth would bring. The angels in heaven longed to see the new life Jesus would give us (1 Peter 1:10–12). Can you imagine the angels are watching to see how we use the new life Jesus has given us?

    Do not put the gift of your new life on a shelf with last years' presents. Use your life to bring Glory to God and peace on earth. When you open a gift this year, thank the giver and then say, let me tell you about the greatest gift I ever received; it will not fade or pass away but endures forever.

    Let us prepare for Christmas by praying 1 Peter 1:3–5 (NASB95):

    Dear Gracious Heavenly Father, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [us], who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

    Thank You, Jesus, for the living word—this Gospel proclaimed to me so that I could be born again. As the prophets long ago preached this Gospel by the Holy Spirit from heaven, Holy Spirit, help me preach Jesus at every opportunity this Christmas. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Let go and let God is an often misunderstood quote.

    Verse of the Day, November 27, 2021 

    Psalm 46:10 CSB "Stop your fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth."

    As we begin the workweek, we yet know what we will encounter. Natural disasters and political upheaval may challenge our normal situation, security, and stability. We cannot just let go and expect God to do all the work. Psalm 46 reminds us to let go and let God be God.

    Let go of the fear of change and uncertainty. The psalmist calls God's people to remember the past presence of God's help. Even if the political and natural environments change, God is still God, sovereign over all His creation. Let us remember to work through the troubles of the week depending on God's help: "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble" (46:1). When the chaos of our circumstances causes uncertainty, cease striving (be still; stop fighting alone) and consider who God is, how God has helped in past trouble, and ask what God wants you to do. God uses prayer, the Bible, church services, and other Christians, by the power of the Holy Spirit to speak to us and direct us into the future plans He has for us.

    Lord, I do not yet know the changes I will have to navigate this week. I know You are moving Your people toward a new heaven and earth (Psalm 46:4–7; Revelation 21). Thank You for the privilege to work with You, building Your kingdom. I will let go and let you be God. I will also remember no trouble or uncertainty exceeds Your strength and power (David Jeremiah). Lord Jesus, I will not encounter any changes this week that together we cannot handle.

    Lord, Nations may make an uproar, governments may totter, and the earth may change, but My Lord is with me (Psalm 46:6, 2). When uncertainty overwhelms me, I will pause and listen for Your plan for my future. I the midst of My God's plan for me, my work is to trust You to be my stability and strength (46:1). I will learn that You are God and exalt You among the nations and all the earth. In a world that no longer recognizes my God as Creator of heaven and earth, I will depend on the Holy Spirit to help me live Your way, work in Jesus' plans for me, and behold the works of the Lord (46:8).

    Lord, I will not fear though the earth may change and war arises against me. I will behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth and caused wars to cease to the end of the earth (46:8–9). Thank you, Lord, for working on my behalf and allowing me to join in working to bring You glory. I will not let go and expect You to do all the work. However, I will relax and let You be God, and I will follow You wherever you lead and do whatever you say. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Upcoming Events

    Upcoming Events Worship Service - Sunday, November 28th at 10 am -  Special Music – Mark Smith and Donnie Martindale Small-Group Bible Study on “Eschatology: Things to Come” - Wednesday, Dec. 1st at 6:30 pm -  Presented by Rev. James Estes Love Offering to cover the cost of Termite Treatment for the Church.  Please label your love gift "Termite."   Jesus came the first Christmas to restore God’s design of relationship: “They shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Jeremiah 32:28). The people of God will worship and fellowship on December 8, 2021, at 6:30 pm. Pizza, salad, deserts, celebrating the fellowship we share in Christ Jesus our Savior.  Bring your favorite desert; everything else provided.
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    Daily Devotion

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Verse of the Day, November 25, 2021 

    Psalm 100:4-5 CSB "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. [5] For the LORD is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations."

    To enter God's gates and courts with thanksgiving and praise speak of God's people entering the temple with sacrifices of thanksgiving and praising God for who He is and what He has done. God made us; we have not made ourselves (100:3). Everything we have and are is because of God's gift of life to us. Most importantly, God gave His unique Son, Jesus Christ—a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 3:21–26).

    God's love endures forever. God loved us before we were lovable: "We are His people and the sheep of HIs pasture" because "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Psalm 100:3; Romans 5:8). Now that we are God's people, we thank Him by getting to know Him better: "Know that the Lord Himself is God" (Psalm 100:3). The reason for Thanksgiving is simple: God is good. The secret to a happy thanksgiving is easy: learn (know through experience) to enjoy God's goodness, His faithful enduring love, and His dependability and gift this secret to our children (all generations).

    America will celebrate Thanksgiving today. Psalm 100 calls all the earth to "Shout joyfully to the Lord" with thanksgiving (100:1, 4). We will slide our feet under the family table today for thanksgiving dinner. Will we enter Church this Sunday with our family for thanksgiving and praise?

    Today we can give thanks by planning to make Sunday (or the day your Church gathers) more about God than the end of a holiday weekend. If today is the main course, Sunday worship is desert. Today, we worship with our family. Sunday, we worship with God's family. This weekend, more people will set their clock for "Black Friday" shopping than for Church services. If all the earth were thankful, our churches would be standing room only and joyful singing would overflow into the streets.

    Lord, I will shout joyfully. I will invite all the earth to gather to thank you and praise Your name. I will worship You with gladness, not grudgingly trying to work you into my weekly schedule.

    Lord, I am thankful I know You, enjoy Your goodness, live in Your lovingkindness, and depend on You (His faithfulness) no matter what happens today. My desire is for all the earth to see how happy I am to gather with other believers to thank My God and Savior. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Upon whose rule do you base your justice?

    Verse of the Day, November 23, 2021 

    Psalm 82:3 CSB "Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute."

    Psalm 82 reminds us that human leaders are God's representatives on earth (little "g" gods 82:1, 6; John 10:34–35). God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is the only Just Judge. Asaph, the psalmist, envisions God standing in judgment over all the earthly leaders. In verse 3, God commands all lay leaders to execute justice without prejudice.

    As breaking news alerts fill our screens this morning, it is evident that earthly leaders and their policies fail. Social justice, bail reforms, abortion laws, and welfare programs reveal that leaders are unjust judges who do not base their decisions on what God declares excellent and proper. Verse 5 says the foundations of the earth are shaken when earthly leaders and rulers do not reflect the justice God demands. All the crazy, hurt, and injustice we see this morning stems from rejecting God's rule over our lives.

    We cannot deny that we have the privilege of voting to place leaders in charge, whom we think will obey God. However, many leaders do not always walk the their talk once they have power. Verse 5 says all earthly leaders eventually die. God is the only Just Judge that remains forever. God's rule of right and worng never changes and endues forever.

    This morning let us worry about the only earthly leader we can control this week. Let us surrender to Jesus' rule over the life He died and was raised to give us. Let's pray verse 8.

    My Lord and God: "Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations." Jesus taught his disciples to pray this way: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Lord Jesus, I am Your representative on earth. Holy Spirit, help me today to live on earth as if I am already in heaven. I will stand up for the oppressed, help the weak, poor, and fatherless.

    Lord, I will speak the gospel into their spiritual darkness and help provide for their physical needs. So they know you care about them, know where they are, and You know their spiritual and physical needs.

    Lord, I plead for You to rule over my heart and life, help me bring your kingdom rule over my family, friends, co-workers, and those in my circle of influence today. You alone are the only eternal Judge. Other rulers and laws will come and go. Therefore, upon Your justice alone, I will base all decisions for my life and my family. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Is your glass 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

    Verse of the Day, November 19, 2021 

    Psalm 37:16-17 CSB "The little that the righteous person has is better than the abundance of many wicked people. [17] For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD supports the righteous."

    Some days its seems like doing right (what God says) does benefit us. We look around and see people doing what they want without any consequences. King David, empowered with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, tells us that people who obey God should always view their glass as 1/2 full. Believers should avoid 1/2 empty glass mentality because we compare our life with the wicked.

    No matter what the wicked believe, Psalm 37:13 says, "the Lord laughs at him because He sees that his day is coming." 2 Timothy 3:9 states they will not get away with it for long (NLT). Those who disobey God never succeed in the end. If Jesus is not enough, you will never have enough money, possessions, or love enough, eat enough, or be happy. Your glass will always be 1/2 empty. But If God is your delight, your glass is forever 1/2 full (Psalm 37:16, 1:1–3).

    Dear Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for all I have in Christ Jesus. I may not have everything I want today, but I have everything I need to live my life to You in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Thank you for reminding me: "The Lord watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever. They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger" (Psalm 37:18–19).

    Lord Jesus, my steps are established by the Lord, and you take pleasure in every detail of my life. Though I fall, I will not be overwhelmed because the Lord supports me with his hand. I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread. He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing (Psalm 37:23–26).

    Lord Jesus, my glass is always 1/2 full because "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress. The Lord helps and delivers them; he will deliver them from the wicked and will save them because they take refuge in him" (Psalm 37:39–40).

    Lord Jesus, today I will wait for You and keep Your way; I know You will exalt me to inherit the blessing You have prepared for me. I will watch when the wicked are destroyed (37:34). The instruction of the Lord is on my heart, and my steps will not falter. In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daly Devotion

    What is God's will for you today?

    Verse of the Day, November 18, 2021 

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 CSB "For this is God's will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality, [4] that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, [5] not with lustful passions, like the Gentiles, who don't know God."

    For a Christian (i.e., born-again believer in Jesus Christ), the most straightforward question we will answer today is "What does God want me to do today?" Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians they know how to live and please God (4:1–2). While believers live lives that please God, Paul exhorts us to excel more today than yesterday (4:1–8).

    God's will is our sanctification. As a child, money was tight. We would go to Sammy Griffin's Shoe Store for boots. I remember Mr. Sammy saying, get boots a little big, so you grow into them. When we ask Jesus to forgive us and take control of our life, God declares us holy. We receive a new life—the life of Jesus imputed to us. The new life God declares ours is much bigger than we are prepared. God's will for us today is to grow into the life Jesus has already bought us on the cross.

    Every day we grow a little in personal holiness. Paul urges us to increase more today than yesterday.

    We grow into Christ-sized living by abstaining from sexual immorality. TV, Internet, Social Media, magazines, books, etc., slowly saturate our minds with desires. Today's desires become tomorrow's decisions. Tomorrow's decisions determine our destiny. Society does not set the standard for sexual immorality. God's standard for sexual relationships is clearly defined between one man and one woman in the confines of holy matrimony.

    Living together, casual sex, same sex relationships, and a "if it feels good just do it" attitudes have made biblical truth become a list of do's and don't's. God is not restricting us from enjoyment. God protects his children from damaged relationships. Sexual relationships out of God's design hurt us individually, our partners, and other people involved. Today's desires leads to tomorrow's decisions. Tomorrow's decisions can derail the destiny of our relationships. The Apostles Paul and James agree that temptation and physical actions are not the same, but they can become two sides of the same coin.

    Lord Jesus, thank you for a new life (Heart and Mind). Holy Spirit, help me to stop accepting the world's standards of morality. I know that temptation and action are not the same. I also know today's temptations leads to tomorrow's desires and tomorrow's desires can lead to impure actions. Help me close the book, turn the channel, block the post, delete the email that does not help grow me into christlikeness today.

    Father God, thank you for calling me to holiness. Today I will obey Paul's instruction and remember James promise:

    "Blessed is a he who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

    Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

    But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

    Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

    Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

    Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

    In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures" James 1:12–18 (NASB95).

    Lord, help me teach my kids, grandkids, and the next generation that Your will for their lives will always result in the best possible relationship between them and You and them and those they love. In Jesus' name. amen.

  • Daily Devotion

    Seek God's help in all your decisions.

    Verse of the Day, November 17, 2021 

    2 Chronicles 16:9 CSB "For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on."

    King Asa had a great start to his reign over Judah. He consulted God in all significant decisions. As a result, Israel abandoned worldly idols and returned worship to God. God defeated their enemies, and the nation lived in peace.

    A decade of peace caused Asa to be comfortable. He begins to trust in himself instead of God. How often do we forget God may use worldly means to solve our problems, but that does not mean we shouldn't always seek God's guidance in all major decisions.

    When Baasha, king of the northern kingdom, came up against Asa, he formed a treaty with the Arameans to protect him. Without trusting or seeking God, Asa paid Ben-hadad out of the temple treasury. Ben-hadad did turn away Israel's enemy. But Asa abandoning God caused God to leave Asa on his own. Asa never knew peace again. God sent the prophet Hanani to remind Asa of God's past protection and deliverance. Asa imprisoned Hanani instead of repenting.

    Lord, thank you for reminding me this morning "the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him. Oh Lord my God, You may use human means to solve today's problems but help me involve you in my problem-solving decisions.

    Asa began faithful, but success made him faithless and forgetful (Life Application Bible). Holy Spirit, when trouble comes, enable me to remain wholly devoted to the Lord. Help me faithfully remember the God of my past successes is still the God of my present problems. Enable me to pray to the Lord my God: "Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help [me], O Lord [my] God, for [I] trust in You, and in Your name [I will confront today's problems]. O Lord, You are my God; let not man [or thing] prevail against You" (2 Chronicles 14:11, NASB95). Lord, no matter what or who You use to help me, I will seek you first in all my decisions (Matthew 6:33). In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    We reap an excellent night's sleep from the life we sow today.

    Verse of the Day, November 16, 2021 

    Galatians 6:9 CSB "Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up."

    Tonight we lay down to sleep and pray for our soul the Lord to keep. Our own life, actions, and decisions are the only life and behavior we have to account for tonight when we say our prayers (6:3). The life we sow today, God will reward tonight with a clear or a guilty conscience (Galatians 6:4). How will you sleep tonight?

    Paul reminds us, "God will not be mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7–8). Paul says saved people should sow spiritual behavior to reap spirit fruit.

    Paul says we are to bear one another's burdens and restore anyone caught in any trespass in a spirit of gentleness (6:1–2). Paul prescribes the cure for a restless night's sleep: "So then, while we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those in the household of the faith" (6:10). Believers are to have an ultra awareness of how we treat each other. We are not to approve our good behavior by another's behavior.

    If you have something against another church member and you aren't helping them change, recognize each of us has different personalities and forgive them, so you work with them in the work of the gospel, you should not expect a good night's sleep or peace tomorrow. You will always find your conscience in chaos.

    Lord Jesus, help me today bear the burden of those with whom I find difficult to deal or work. I do not know what they are dealing with until I have walked with them in Bible study and prayer. Lord Jesus, thank You for walking in my shoes. You lived with me without making my mistakes. Then, You bore my burdens (died for the guilt of my sins). You forgave me, so I now share in the work of the gospel with You.

    Lord, I pause in prayer. Open the eyes of my heart that I may see those I have not forgiven only because I want to avoid working or dealing with them. Lord, help me to forgive and do good, especially to those in the household of the faith. Thank you, Lord, for the grace of reconciliation. Today, I forgive, so tonight, I will sleep tight and dream about how to minister with my reconciled co-workers.

    Thank You, Jesus, for not allowing pride to keep me from forgiving (6:3–4). I know we all have different strengths and weaknesses, "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (6:14). In Jesus' name, amen.