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    Daily Devotion

    Know when to run and when to fight.

    Verse of the Day, June 27, 2022 

    1 Timothy 6:12 CSB "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

    Some wars are never won. The enemy lives to fight another day. Paul commands Timothy to flee from false teaching (any doctrine contrary to the Bible) and the love of money (greed). Greed will always fight for our loyalty. The wrong principles will constantly battle to change our beliefs. To battle back and forth with these two enemies can cause us to wander from the faith (trust in Christ). Verse twelve commands Timothy to run from them. Why waste time staying to fight an enemy who wakes up every morning to destroy our faith. Instead, fight the fights we can win.

    Fight the good fight of faith. Judge Pressler wrote the book "A Hill on Which to Die." The publisher wanted to shorten the name to "A Hill to die on." Judge Pressler refused, saying, he was taught and would hold tight to the principle that a sentence should never end with a preposition. The judge was writing about the principles of the Christian faith. But his stand-off with the publisher stood out to me. His Christian principles carried over into his everyday life and livelihood. How could Judge Pressler write about holding on to Christian principles if he compromised the rules of grammar that would identify his work? He didn't fuss with the publisher. The title stood, or someone else would publish the book.

    Paul commands us, as people of God, to run from temporal temptations. But fight (run after—pursue with intense effect to attain a specific goal or outcome) to further our faith. Instead of fighting unending battles with false teaching and greed, direct your energy to pursue Christian virtues. Strive toward doing what God requires (righteousness), practice devout beliefs about God (godliness), believe what the Bible says about Jesus, and follow His teaching (faith), appreciate Jesus' love for us by loving Him, bear up under difficult situations by trusting Jesus in prayer and Bible study (perseverance), and refuse to be harsh with others (gentleness; 6:11).

    Paul says the good fight of faith knows when to let go of temporal things and hold on to eternal life by developing infinite skills for living. The excellent confession before many witnesses Paul refers to is probably Timothy's baptism. Remember, we are baptized to express our allegiance to Christ Jesus. The real-life test of our Christian confession is our everyday lives.

    Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of God and You, with the Holy Spirit's help, I pledge to struggle in the skirmishes of daily life and hold tight to the life You died to give me, by intentionally growing my faith daily. Thank you for reminding me that my daily life proclaims my allegiance to You, just as my baptism did (1 Timothy 6:12–13).

    Lord, you testified before Pilate that You were born to testify to the truth, and if I obey the truth, You are indeed my King (1 Timothy 6:13; John 18:37). Lord Jesus, today I pray that many people witness me fighting to live like You, loving others as You love me, devoting my time to the things that please God, standing firm in my beliefs about Who you are and who You saved me to become.

    As Paul says, we are called to embrace eternal virtues. Lord help me, Jesus, say tonight when I lay down to sleep, these verses were actualized for me today: "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf . . . "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" ( 2 Corinthians 5:14–15; Colossians 3:15 NASB95). Lord, If I fight to maintain and grow the major virtues of the faith, I will not have time to get caught up in the minor vices of Satan's temptations (Galatians 5:16–26; 1 Timothy 6:10–16). In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Pray, "O Lord, I can't even walk without you holding my hand." 

    Verse of the Day, June 25, 2022 

    John 15:4 CSB "Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me."

    Jesus uses a familiar ancient near-east farming illustration to demonstrate our need to depend on Jesus as Lord of all. The grapevine is a permanent plant. The branches and their components grow and change in correlation with the vine's character and the vinedresser's plan. The branch's dependence on the vine determines the quality of the grapes. Without the vine, no fruit.

    The "Southern Gospel" song "I can't even walk without Jesus holding my hand" applies to Jesus' teaching of the "vine and branches."

    Jesus commands disciples to "Abide in Me" (remain dependent upon) to produce spiritual fruit. Jesus' other commands in verses 7, 9, 18, & 20 reveal our dependence on His oversight and nourishment determines the type and quality of fruit we are commanded to create.

    "O Lord, Jesus, I can't even walk without you holding my hand." 

    Lord, "down on my knees that's where I learned to stand 

    O Lord, I can't even [PRAY] without you holding my hand" (John 15:7).

    Lord, I can't love others without abiding in your love (John 15:9-14).

    "I thought I could do a lot on my own

    I thought I could make it all day long

    I thought of myself as a mighty big man 

    but Lord, I can't even [LOVE]

    without you holding my hand." 

    O Lord, I can't know the world's hatred of you unless the world knows I am with You (John 15:18).

    I think I'll make Jesus my all and all

    and if I'm in trouble 

    on his name, I'll call, 

    if I didn't trust him 

    I'd be less of a man 

    cause Lord, I can't even [KNOW the world's hate for me because I love you]  

    without you holding my hand."

    O Lord, I can't remember to be humble and persevere for Your name's sake without the help of the Holy Spirit (John 15:20; 26-27).  

    "I thought number one 

    would surely be me

    I thought I could be 

    what I wanted to be 

    I thought I could build

    on life's sinking sand 

    but now I can't even [PERSEVERE and TESTIFY to Your Love, Strength, Grace, and Guidence]. 

    without you holding my hand." 

    Thank You, Jesus, for holding my hand wherever I go and whatever happens. IN Your Powerful Name, I pray, amen.  

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT6h-Cevfbo

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    Daily Devotion

    Contemplate the lengths Jesus traversed to forge a friendship with you.

    Verse of the day 6/18/22

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

    — John 3:16-17

    Martin Luther, the 16th-century reformer, called John 3:16 "The heart of the Bible, the gospel in miniature." Verse 17 explains the hostility of a world that has unbefriended God. Robert Crosby, Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, writes:

    For God: the greatest lover

    so loved: the greatest degree

    the world: the most incredible company

    that He gave: the greatest act

    His only begotten Son: the greatest gift

    that whoever: the greatest invitation

    believes: the greatest simplicity

    in Him: the greatest person

    shall not perish: the greatest promise

    but: the greatest difference

    have: the greatest certainty

    eternal life: the greatest possession

    Let's take time today to consider the greatness of the good news that Jesus gave up everything so we could become friends of God.

    Lord Jesus, thank You for wanting me as a friend. Thank You, God, for reminding me of Your Degree of love and the gift of friendship. Holy Spirit, remind me to read John 3:16-17 out loud three times today. Please give me the boldness to read John 3:16-17 to another person today, on the phone or face-to-face.

    In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Upcoming Events

    Worship Service - Sunday, June 12th at 10 am -  Special Music – Hope Revealed Small-Group Bible Study on “Eschatology: Things to Come” Wednesday, July 6th at 6:30 pm - Presented by Rev. James Estes
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    Daily Devotion

    Are you being hoodwinked?

    Verse of the Day, June 7, 2022 

    Psalm 37:23-24 CSB "A person's steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. [24] Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed because the LORD supports him with his hand."

    Tom Sawyer hoodwinked his friends into believing whitewashing a fence was more enjoyable than anything they had planned for the day. A corrupt culture (any organized system estranged from God’s definition of right and wrong) tries to trick Christians into believing their wicked ways are more prosperous and enjoyable than living by God’s instruction. 

    Tom Sawyer also hoodwinked Huck Finn by continually attempting to convince him that his friendship with Jim wasn’t as important as what culture deemed acceptable. 

    King David says we should not fret (burst into flames; get angry) when the wicked seem never to face the consequences of their actions (Psalm 37:1; 7-8). Cultures can claim their course is right because they get their way and never seem to answer to God. David reminds us life is best when God delights in us doing right rather than when we are tricked into envying the wealth of wrongdoers.

    David says the wicked have hoodwinked themselves: “The wicked plots against the righteous And gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming” (Psalm 37:12-13). The judiciary system may pardon injustices, and the court of public opinion may condone what God calls sin, but God sees the end of the wicked. Don’t be fooled. The evil “will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb”(Psalm 37:2). God may allow sin to run its course. We may think unbelievers go unpunished, but God sees the end from the beginning—He knows the day of their destruction. 

    Anger is the quickest way Satan hoodwinks us. The slanderer says, my way is the more accessible and pays better. You can enjoy today what God has been making you wait to receive. Getting mad at unbelievers for not facing the consequences of wrongdoing causes us to think, “if we can’t beat them, we should join them." 

    Don’t be hoodwinked: "Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who watches over the souls of His godly ones; He saves them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 97:10; Amos 5:15). In the end, sin never wins.

    David says the Lord establishes the steps of a man,

    and God delights when we live His way:

    "When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young, and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread." He is gracious and lends all-day long, And his descendants are a blessing (Psalm 37:23-26). 

    Those who reject God’s path stumble and fall. No one is there to catch them or help them up because they trust only in what they have accomplished and accumulated. But those who walk with God are on solid ground, and when the road gets rough, God holds us by the hand (Psalm 37:35-38). 

    Dear Gracious Heavenly Father, my Lord and God, please help me from being fooled. Lord Jesus, help me heed Your warning and listen to your Word: “Depart from evil and do good so that you will abide forever. 

    The Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, but the wicked descendants will be cut off. 

    The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever.

    The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. 

    The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip. 

    The wicked spy upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. 

    The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. 

    Wait for the Lord and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. 

    But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in times of trouble. 

    The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in Him” (Psalm 37:27-34; 39-40).

    Lord, I believe walking in Your will, and ways leads to prosperous peace and delight in Your salvation (37:3-38). Thank you, Lord, for teaching me the truth. The prosperity of the wicked does not last; therefore, I should not get angry when they appear to go unpunished. Better for God to delight in me doing right than being tricked into envying the wealth of wrongdoers. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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    Pintrest.com: "Carolina hush puppies"

    Daily Devotion

    Indulging in sin is like eating hush puppies.

    Verse of the Day, June 1, 2022 

    Romans 6:12-13 CSB "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. [13] And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness."

    While waiting for your seafood platter, how often have you said, "I shouldn't have eaten all those hush puppies"? The apostle Paul reminds us how easily something as small as a hush puppy can rule over our mortal body. The secret to not filling up on hush puppies and spoiling your meal is to remove them from the table.

    "Therefore," in verse 12 marks the result of everything Paul has said in verses 1–11. Paul says Jesus died to sin's reign over our mortal bodies. Jesus' resurrection made Him alive to God. If we are united with Christ, we can say no to sin's rule over our human bodies and enjoy living God's new way.

    Filling up on hush puppies prevents us from enjoying the actual meal.

    Our relationship and trust in Jesus prevent us from being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice" (Romans 1:29). Consider the sin of gossiping. We don't become a gossip by accident. We first indulge in greed and fill up on envy, deception, and bitterness. We can indulge in sin's lure or say no thank you; I have an order of right living coming.

    Paul uses a military metaphor to compare our body to a weapon. We can reach for the butter and basket of hush puppies, or with the same hand, we can set them on another table. Bad behavior quickly satisfies selfish desires. Living God's way requires we wait for benefits to materialize. We avoid indulging in unjust behavior by intentionally committing to what God says is right. Psalm 34:8 says: "taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Waiting for God to prove His way is best for us increases our faith in His promises. I have learned that my worst day with Jesus has always been better than my best day without Him.

    Lord Jesus, thank you for changing my appetite. I am constantly tempted to indulge in things I know are not pleasing to God (e.g., Romans 1:29–32). Thank you, Lord, for giving me new desires. Help me today to say no to all injustices and feast on the pleasures of right living before God.

    Lord, comparing hush puppies with sin reminds us of the weakest of our flesh.

    We once presented our members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, resulting in further corruption, but now help us offer our members as servants to righteousness, resulting in sanctification (Romans 6:19). I have been freed from sin and enslaved to God. Holy Spirit, I beg, please help me stay committed to living God's way in Christ Jesus, resulting in sanctification and eternal life (Romans 6:17; 22). Sin no longer rules me because I am now feasting in the grace of King Jesus (Romans 6:14). In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    Will we leave our children a nation under God's rule?

    Verse of the Day, May 23, 2022 

    Jeremiah 32:27 CSB "Look, I am the LORD, the God over every creature. Is anything too difficult for me?"

    The idea of "leaving the world better than you found it" can be traced to a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boy Scouts once learned to leave a place visited better than they found it. Sir Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scouts. He charged the Scouts, "Try to leave this world a little better than you found it," in his last address. Sir Robert shared the concept with Juliette Gordon, who founded the Girl Scouts. Accessed May 23, 2022). We are never further than one generation from losing the biblical foundation that built America and guaranteed to leave her a better for our children.

    Jeremiah recognizes that the consequences of the current culture shape the country the next generation receives. Jeremiah prayed: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God" (Jeremiah 32:17–18 NASB95). The Bible establishes GOD'S RULE that the consequences of the father's sin visit the next generation (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; 1 Kings 14:9–10; 16:3). Jeremiah reminds us that God also passes the blessings of our repentance onto our children's generation.

    Jeremiah's nation (Israel) had turned away from obeying God. They were following the ways of the surrounding nations. God said, "It is a free world. If you choose to disobey My Rule (Biblical truth) and follow the laws of other countries, then they will rule over you (Jeremiah 32:1–15, my paraphrase). The Israelites followed false teaching (secular rules; 32:30–33), worshiped idols (material things that the Babylonians promoted 32:29), and sacrificed their children to the god of the "here and now" (32:35). God says If you want to be like them, face the consequences. God promised what or who you worship and obey will conquer and rule over you (Babylon and the Chaldeans will capture Jerusalem; Jeremiah 32:1–6).

    God told Jeremiah to buy land in Jerusalem. Jeremiah was told not to give up on his country but rather to trust in God. Obeying the world's way would get so bad that some of Jeremiah's countrymen would repent and return to God. God said to Jeremiah hold on to My promises and your land because I will repay repentance by blessing the next generation better than Your contemporaries.

    Verse twenty-six is God's answer to Jeremiah's prayer: "Is anything too difficult for Me?" How will we leave America? God can still rescue and make America "One nation under God" for our children. If we teach our children and grandchildren to trust and obey God, is it too hard for God to make them live under His blessings and rule?

    Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by your great wonder-working power! (32:17). I know America no longer has the respect for You as when I was a child. Lord, forgive me for tolerating the false teaching of secularization, the idolatry of materialism, and the immorality of the sexual revolution.

    Today, Lord God, help me remember America when she trusted the God of the Bible to bless obedience. As Jeremiah said about the God Israel, "Nothing is too complicated for You, who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God." Lord, with wonder-working power, You established America (32:17–22).

    My Creator and Redeemer placed me in the greatest nation on earth (Acts 17:24–28). I am free to obey, worship, and proclaim how great my God is. My generation came in and took possession of America, but we did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law; we have done nothing of all that You commanded us to do; therefore, You have caused all this calamity we face today (Jeremiah 32:23).

    Lord, like Jeremiah, I will tell my generation to look at how we have fallen from where we began. We feel only the beginning of Your wrath and anger, failing to obey and honor You. The God who created America will allow us to live with the consequences of our choices until we repent. Lord, help us change our actions and thinking and return to obeying Your Word. Nothing is too complicated or far gone for the Lord to accomplish His Word.

    Lord, nothing is complicated to prevent You from keeping Your promise to the remnant of America who repents and again respects You that: "They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul" (32:38-41). In Jesus' name, amen.

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    Daily Devotion

    God chooses, Jesus rescues, but we must decide where to reside.

    Verse of the Day, May 18, 2022 

    1 Peter 2:9-10 CSB "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

    The Apostle Peter says God builds the church on the foundation of promises found in the Old Testament Temple. God chose one man, Abram (chosen race), to become a nation that trusted and obeyed God (holy nation). People who belong to God believe in and follow His plan (possession). God directs His people into all his benefits (called from darkness into marvelous light). Saved sinners are declared holy and placed into a community (the church).

    The Old Testament priests prepared (cleansing rituals) and entered God's presence (temple). After being in the presence of God and His holiness, the priests exited changed (made holy; royal priesthood). Now reflecting the holiness of God's presence, the priest stood and proclaimed God's gift (guidance into the pleasure of God's blessings) to His people. (Genesis 12:1–3; Exodus 19:6–6; Deut 10:1–11:32; Is 43:20–21; Nu 6:24–26). God chooses individuals for salvation and places us in a community (the church) to proclaim His benefits to the rest of the world.

    Peter reminds us that we were rescued and justified individually by grace through faith (1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:8–10). Grace is receiving an undeserved gift (restored in relationship with God). Mercy is not receiving what we deserve. Instead of alienation, we have been reconciled. We are chosen one person at a time to become God's children. We are being fitted together with all believers into the temple of God (place of God's presence). Jesus is the Cornerstone. We are living stones being added to the magnificent heavenly structure called the church.

    Dear gracious and merciful God, "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 Christ Jesus from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). Thank You, Lord, for choosing me as Your possession (child of God). I am blessed to be a part of the royal priesthood of believers. As an individual priest, keep me close to Your holiness and clean from the world's defilements (secular culture). Thank you for making me a citizen of the kingdom of heaven (living under Jesus' rule over my life).

    Thank You, Jesus, for rescuing me from the darkness of the culture's lure and the seduction of Satan's deception and placing me in the church (royal priesthood of believers) so that we may go in for renewal and come out praising the glory of Your holiness (marvelous light). Today, O Lord, sanctify me, so everyone sees that my Jesus saves me, that I now live in Your kingdom and belong to Jesus forever and ever. I am a child of the living God (possession). I get to serve in God's holy presence, united with Christ, joined with other believers to become everything He saved me to be (holy and set apart for service). In Jesus' name, amen.