Staff Devotions

 

Pastor’s Desk December 10th

Scripture Passage:  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”  Genesis 11:4
 
Dear Friends,
 
     I have been having trouble with my cell phone.  It has been dropping calls and then will not let me call the person back.  At other times it will not let me receive or make calls.  It is very frustrating.  I am a person who says he would not even have a cell phone if it was not for the church, but complains when it does not work.  I made a trip to my local service carrier, but got no satisfaction or lasting solution to my problem.  It worked for a day and then started the same old thing all over again.  So I called the 800 number I found on the internet for my service carrier.  My technician was an African American with a heavy dialect and lingo.  He was very hard for me to understand but was nothing but patient and helpful.  I told him I was technically challenged and really did not know what I was doing.  He laughed and then led me step by slow step through the process where he could work with my phone where he was.  Once he gained access, it took only a matter of minutes and my problem was solved.  (At least for now.)  I asked him what I should do if it happened again, and he laughed and said, “Get a new phone.”  I had such a good experience with him I actually answered the survey concerning his performance.  It was a “thumbs up,” evaluation.  He could not help it that he was African American, and I could not help it that I was an East Tennessee Hillbilly.  Once we got past the language barrier, we did just fine.  The amazing part was that he fixed my phone from over five-hundred miles away. 

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Pastor’s Desk December 3rd

Scripture Passage:  “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.”  I Timothy 6:12
 
  Dear Friends,
 
     This morning finds me weary.  Weary because I have a cold.  Weary because I have had two tough funerals.  Weary because I have been dealing with hurting, needy people.  Weary from the strain of having a sick child.  Weary from being physically tired and exhausted.  People often ask me why I do not just take a day off and rest. The church allows me time off for vacation and would never question my taking a sick day to recuperate.  The problem lies with me, not the church.  I have two settings on my daily speedometer, able to go and not able to go.  There was a time it also had a fast and slow setting, but lately the “able to go setting” just contains the bulldog gear.  For those of you who do not understand this terminology, the old farm trucks had a very slow gear in them called the “bulldog gear” or “granny gear.”  It allowed the truck to move at a slow pace without being easily bogged down.  We would put up hay on one of these trucks without even having a driver in it.  Occasionally, someone would reach in and turn the steering wheel to keep it going straight.  At the end of the day you would not have accomplished your task as quickly as you would have liked, but you would have still achieved a lot.  I believe this is similar to what Paul was talking about when he told young Timothy to fight the good fight of faith.  Most spiritual battles are not fought and won quickly but slowly across a sustained period of time.  The victory is won by those who persevere. 

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Pastor’s Desk November 26th

Scripture Passage:  “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”   Psalms 55:17
 
Dear Friends,
 
     One of my favorite stories about prayer is the one where a little boy was being taken out for misbehavior in church.  As his parent was carrying him out the little boy exclaimed with a sense of urgency, “Pray, people, pray.”  Often the sincerity of our prayers is directly proportioned to the urgency of our need.  When things are going well we pray with a heart of thanksgiving.  As time elapses we become complacent and forget how much we need God.  As our need for God becomes more evident and our circumstances outweigh our ability, we break and willingly humble ourselves before God.  Our model prayers of formation become fervent prayers of desperation and we cry out to God as a child would cry out to their father for help.  This is the type of effective prayer James talks about in James 5:16.  As our time of revival meetings conclude it is my heartfelt desire that prayer has become a focal point and emphasis to the character of our church.  Not only does it need to be prevalent in the life of the church, it needs to be the priority of our individual lives.  If the only time we pray is at church, we miss the opportunity for intimate fellowship with the Lord in our homes.  If we only pray at home, we miss the opportunity for the koinonia fellowship between God, ourselves, and our church family.  Simply put, prayer is talking to God as one would talk to a friend. 

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Pastor’s Desk November 19th

Scripture Passage:  “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head,  that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”   Psalms 133:1-3

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Pastor’s Desk November 12th

Scripture Passage:  “And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.”  II Kings 19:14
 
Dear Friends,
 
     Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”  This past week was one of those weeks.  I found myself totally inadequate and unable to handle the situation I found myself in.  The unexpected death of a 15 year old young man in our church left everyone asking why? And there was no answer.  I looked for and prayed about what words to say to the family, but there were none.  I found myself trying to work but totally consumed in my thoughts about the family and the fact I had been asked to do his funeral service.  If I could not find the words to say to his family in private, what would I say to everyone in a public service?  I did not want to say anything that would add to the family’s grief, but there is no way to conduct a funeral service without talking about death.  I always say my job is to honor God and honor the person we are remembering.  I want to comfort the family yet challenge those present to consider their mortality.  My heart was completely crushed, my emotions in shambles, and my mind completely unable to focus on the task at hand.  As the service time drew near, I found myself totally at God’s mercy and unprepared to preach.  As I prayed, I begged God to help me and give me the words to say.  I kept saying over and over, “Lord, I can’t do this without you.  You have to help me.” “The family is depending upon me and the crowd is curious as to what I am going to say.”  “There will be some that will agree with my theology and others that will question it.”  “I must be true to Scripture but at the same time be honest with the family and comfort them in the hope we have in Christ Jesus.”   This was a deadline I had to meet whether I was ready or not.  Hezekiah came to mind. I found comfort and help in the way he approached a very difficult situation and the method he used to handle it.  Unless you have experienced being “at wits end” you will not understand fully this devotional.  If you have, it will cause you to remember the faithfulness of God and how he delivered you against all odd.  If you are there now, this is for you. 

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Pastor’s Desk October 29th

Scripture Passage:  “Good understanding gives favor: but the way of transgressors is hard.”   Proverbs 13:15
 
Dear Friends,
 
     If the way of a transgressor is hard, then why do wonderful, godly people suffer?  Why do some saints of God seem to suffer more than the wicked?  Is suffering directly related to personal transgressions or man’s inherited fallen state?  If God is good, why does He not just let wicked people get cancer and good people live healthy, prosperous lives as a testimony and reward for living right?  Is there a tangible benefit to living a Christian life in a secular materialistic world?  Finally, is there any earthly reason for going to church so much if church people still get sick and have financial difficulties?  They seem to have as many problems as those living carnal, worldly lifestyles.  This list of questions is not exhaustive, they are just the ones I am dealing with today.  (literally) 

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Pastor’s Desk October 22nd

Scripture Passage:  “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,  that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”  I Samuel 18: 1-4

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Pastor’s Desk October 15th

Scripture Passage: “These six things does the Lord hate: yes, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.”  Proverbs 6: 16-19
 
Dear Friends,
 
     Number four is a heart that devises wicked imaginations.  In the innocence of childhood our imaginations are filled with kindness and wonderment.  We often devise plans for good things that ultimately help others.  Through the process of aging and dealing with the consequences of sin by us, or against us, we begin to devise plans to hurt others or get even.  Most times these imaginations benefit us in some way and have the sinister effect of evil against others.  This is an evil use of our God given gift of imagination.  Jesus described wicked imaginations perfectly in Mark 7: 20-23.  “That which comes out of the man,  that defiles the man.  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these things come from within, and defile the man.”

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Pastor’s Desk October 8th

Scripture Passage: “These six things does the Lord hate: yes, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.”  Proverbs 6: 16-19
 
Dear Friends,
 
God hates all sin, but there are some that are especially hateful to him because they demonstrate our treatment of each other.  In the seven sins listed I find it interesting that they all deal with the last six commandments.  Coming in at number one is the sin of pride.  Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Every sin known to man traces back in some way to our pride.  We are even told it was because of Satan’s pride and desire to be like God that he was evicted from Heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-14)  When we overvalue ourselves and undervalue those around us it reveals the condition of our heart. To esteem ourselves and hold others in contempt goes against all Christ teaching on servant-leadership.  Pride is closely related to arrogance and is fleshed out in the way we treat others.

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Pastor’s Desk September 24th

Scripture Passage:  “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  Luke 12:15      “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Colossians 3:2
 
Dear Friends, Much is said in our culture about a person’s value or worth.  Most of the time that value is measured in some way based upon money and possessions.  The more money they have access to, the more valuable they are to family, community, and even church.  Their success in life is evaluated according to the things they possess.  A person driving a Lexus is considered more successful than a person driving a Focus.  A person living in a three story house is seen as a person of means, while a person living in a double-wide is viewed as a person just getting by. The more stuff in the garage and adult toys in the yard are visible evidence of a person who is “going and blowing.”  The truth is most of the time these are signs of a person deeply in debt.  Loss of job, income, or health expose and reveal a person’s true worth compared to the things they possess.  To a materialistic person, once their stuff is gone, so is their value or worth.  To a person whose life is built on the “Rock,” it simply reinforces where their priorities lie.

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