Tates Creek Christian Church

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Archive for the tag “Devotions”

Remove the Rock of Pride – Luke 18:9-14

Proverbs 16:18 warns “Pride goes before destruction.”

We see the example of the results of pride when we remember Eve in the garden. Satan came to her in his sneaky, crafty way and tempted her to eat the fruit that God had forbidden saying, “You will not surely die, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” He appealed to Eve’s pride. She fell for the lie.

This opened the door for the troubles that then fell on all of mankind, of whom we are a part.

On the other hand, we see the Godly handling of pride when we read of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-1-11). Satan tried his best to tempt Jesus to get into pride. He suggested Jesus use his power to turn stones into bread after his 40 day fast,(appealing to His power), then he tried to get Jesus to throw himself done off a pinnacle,saying angels would bear him up. Next he tried to appeal to Jesus by telling him he would have all the kingdoms of the world if he would worship him.  Jesus met the test with the word of God. He did not let Satan lure him into pride of who he was and what his power was.

We do not want to be like Eve when faced with pride. Psalm 73:6 says, “Therefore pride is about their neck like a chain.”

When we think of pride like a chain around our neck it helps to resist it, but it can be so tempting to want to set people straight when we are challenged in our opinions or behavior (especially when we know we are right). When these temptations come, let us determine to walk in the example Jesus provided and not fall for the temptation to let pride get a foothold. We don’t have to have that chain around our neck which takes our focus off Jesus and puts it on our grievances, stirs us up, and steals our peace. See pride coming and resist it in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Peggy Park

Committed Workers

As we continue to read and study Nehemiah 10-13, we see just how well the people of Jerusalem served God.  They were committed to rebuilding Jerusalem, so the leaders signed the covenant to obey God’s law.  The people followed their leaders and committed to obeying these laws as well. They were all committed because they fully believed that God was their Lord.

Only two chapters later, in Nehemiah 13, we see the people who were so committed to follow and obey the laws of the covenant slip away from those laws and break the commitment they made.  We must be in constant communication with the Lord to be reminded of His word which keeps us from slipping away from the true will of God.  To know and understand the truth, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us because the world can pull us away from God and it can be easy for us to abandon our first commitment.

It is sometimes hard to find our place in what God has planned for us and we overlook the obvious.  God will lead us to our work, we just need to be committed to follow him and go where he leads us.  It may be that we have a calling to do big things; to travel the world in ministry helping and witnessing to the lost or serving the impoverished.  Sometimes our commitment and strength is supporting those who are committed to doing just that, by staying in prayer for them, showing them guidance, and showing them love.  We see examples of this everyday in our church and community and the commitment to pray for each other is a blessing.

In our family, our daughters are both committed to go where God takes them.  One, to Cambodia to the those who have been abused and sold into slavery.  She has been called to bring awareness about human trafficking, something that is hard to imagine and believe.  Our younger daughter has committed to work with children who are hurting physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally because of their impoverished circumstances.  She is committed to traveling to Ghana this summer to serve the children there.  They both inspire me as I watch them go where God leads.

As with the people of Jerusalem, we must be committed to serve and obey God wherever he calls us.  We are all sent with the Great Commission, to go out and make disciples of all nations, in whatever way God has individually called us. 

Laura Mullins

Quality Workers – Nehemiah 7-9

Have you ever had the responsibility of leading and managing a group of workers or employees? If so, I am sure you have some definite ideas about the kind of people that make the best workers. I imagine your preference is for the person who is teachable. One who will accept the information, make it their own, and hold themselves to that standard or even higher. This person may require some investment upfront, but once established they are strong and consistent because they have expectations of themselves.

This is what we see from the ‘Quality Workers’ Nehemiah describes in chapters seven, eight, and nine.

Reading the beginning of chapter eight, it is striking to me that the people (these workers) asked Ezra to read the Book of the Law of Moses to them. They showed a hunger for the Word of God. They desired to know His expectations so they could apply it to their lives. Look at the picture painted by these excerpts from verses 2 and 3; “Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand … from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.” If you read further you will see that they were standing for this three-hour period while Ezra read the Law to them. Their desire for the Word was stronger than their desire for physical comfort. This shows a great desire to know the standard.

Chapter nine then tells us how these workers applied what they learned in the Law. They separated themselves from all foreigners, confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God (verses 2,3). When they heard the Law, they evaluated themselves against God’s righteous standard. When they saw where they fell short, they confessed these sins and then they released this sin and guilt to God in worship.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, this pattern of learning, application, evaluation, confession, and worship is still an effective plan for us, as we desire to be ‘Quality Workers’.

David Eversole

Focused Workers – Nehemiah 4-6

In Nehemiah 4-6, Nehemiah is following God’s plan by rebuilding the walls to Jerusalem and facing trials in the process.  There are comparisons that can be made to the opposition that Nehemiah faced and what Christians face today.  During reconstruction, rival nations plotted against Nehemiah’s implementation of God’s plan to rebuild the city walls.  The rival nations made false accusations, spread rumors, and plotted to stop the reconstruction by force.  Though those rebuilding the wall had to guard against attack while working, Nehemiah’s workers remained focused on the mission before them.  If threats and rumors weren’t enough distraction, Nehemiah also contended with turmoil among the Israelites.  It seems the enemy was both outside and within the walls of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah was a servant-leader who humbled himself before the people and refused the perks of his position.  Though the threats were real and the stakes were high, Nehemiah kept the workers focused on the work at hand and the walls were rebuilt.

So, how do the trials facing Nehemiah and the people of Israel compare to the trials we Christians face?  We’re engaged in an important work for our Lord that involves reaching, teaching, saving, and serving.  Unfortunately, over the past few decades, followers of Christ have been increasingly ridiculed for the truth they find in the God’s word and are stifled from expressing their faith in school or the workplace.  That’s the distraction and threat from outside the walls of the Church.  There is certainly a lot of “noise” in media that tries to tell us how truths found in the Bible are wrong, hateful, and non-inclusive, because the truth makes some people confront the brokenness in their life.

Some Christians have acquiesced under the influence of culture (i.e., modernism) or succumbed to false doctrine that teaches what itching ears want to hear.  That’s the threat inside the walls of the Church.  Staying focused on our mission and purpose for Christ means that we must not allow detractors to get in our way or silence the truth.  We must be prepared to suffer ridicule for what we believe.  We must be prepared to state boldly what we believe, without condescension.  We should suffer the ridicule of the world for our Lord and consider it a blessing, not a distraction.

Stan Stack

Unselfish Workers – Nehemiah 3

As Jerusalem was in ruins, Nehemiah had a choice and decided to lead the people to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.  The response was not well received by many at first.  Nehemiah however, acted on God’s promise and set out to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

The high priests began section by section rebuilding the walls and many gates. At the time the high priests were considered the “leaders”.  As with any major job or project that requires many workers, success is possible when workers have strong leaders and work together.  As the Jews began to work alongside one another, what once appeared to be a daunting task was being completed by people working for a common purpose.  Rebuilding and fortifying the city was necessary for their protection, but they also believed that God would be with them.  This chapter illustrates the many people who worked to rebuild the wall and repair the gates.

“Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired.  Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.” Nehemiah 3:8

Workers were organized by their trade to work, each section detailed as to what work was being completed.  However, all of this is being completed in unison, working together as noted each time “next to him” is recorded.  This is repeated throughout Chapter 3, people working together.  A common goal is often a reason for people to work together.  God’s church seems to be in a constant state of rebuilding.  Not only is there physical construction due to repairs or building additions, there is spiritual rebuilding and spiritual growth.  All of this is made easier when there are plenty of workers, working together.

There are many behind the scenes activities that go on every week at our church to prepare for Sunday morning services and Sunday school.  The workers that faithfully serve in these capacities are working to build the Lord’s Kingdom.  God has blessed us all with different talents.  There are many needs at the church where our talents can be used.   We can encourage others to use their talents as well.

David Straub

Willing Workers – Nehemiah 2

In 587 BC, the last homeland of the Hebrew people, the kingdom of Judah, was obliterated by the armies of Babylon.  Over 80% of its cities and villages were razed and the population of Jerusalem decreased from 40,000 to 1,500 according to some estimates.  The Babylonians gathered up all of the Jews who had useful skills and carried them off to Babylon leaving behind those with the least ability to care for the land.  Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel were among those who were forced to serve Babylonian masters.  Babylon attempted to transform the Hebrews into Babylonians.  The one Hebrew God was to be replaced by many Babylonian gods.  Hebrew culture was to become Babylonian culture.  Even the Hebrew language was to be exchanged for Babylonian Aramaic.  This was partially successful.  There the Hebrew people remained for a generation and it must have seemed as if this was the final destiny for a Jewish people who had survived Egypt, Assyria, and their own instability, but God sent them an unlikely rescuer.  In 539 BC, King Cyrus of Persia soundly defeated the Babylonians and inherited the Jewish people.  The Persians had a different approach to rule in that they respected other religions and allowed the people under their control to worship as they pleased with relatively few restrictions, but would they allow the Jews to return to their homeland and perhaps even rebuild it?  Nehemiah, a cupbearer to the king of Persia, was bold enough to ask and he was given permission.  The task was daunting.  He could not have known what the city would be like after so many years of abandonment.  Decades before, the Babylonians had utterly destroyed Jerusalem and time would not have improved its situation.  Think of the choice which Nehemiah and his companions had to make: stay in a land where you are slaves but comfortable or go to the home of your ancestors—one which you have never personally known—and build it anew.  Nehemiah and a few followers chose the difficult path and traveled to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding.  Imagine the despair felt by Nehemiah’s company as they neared the city.  Roads had become rough, barely recognizable trails.  The once-mighty walls were shattered.  The gates were burned and useless.  The glorious temple that Solomon had built was now a pile of broken stones.  All was ruined.  The natural response would be to return to the safety of a benevolent but pagan Persia, but in the coming weeks you will see how Nehemiah actually responded.  What would you do in his place?

Kevin Kennedy

Praying Workers – Nehemiah 1

“As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

God gave Nehemiah a tremendous burden for his people.  How does this fervent desire to minister and help others, come into one’s heart?  Here we see Nehemiah, living very comfortably in the King’s Palace and serving royalty.  One might say he “had it made”.  King Artaxerxes cared so much about him that he was concerned when he looked burdened and enquired about him.  He blessed his mission to re-build the wall, and sent Nehemiah with a letter of authority to build the wall.  Nehemiah was open and honest with the King and there was tremendous trust between them.  Nehemiah never lost focus on his calling.

So, let’s look at how this comes to be.  First, there is prayer and fasting before the God of heaven.  There must be an active prayer life to be passionate about God and his plans for your life.  We get to see a little of his prayer.  He is humble and repentant of what God’s people have done, he also knows God’s word and humbly, but confidently reminds God of His promises that if His people return to Him, He will bless them.  And he asked God to give him favor with the king and success with what He has called him to do.

When we come to God, allow Him to call on us with a burden to serve and help, pray and fast for clarity.  Notice he prayed to the God of Heaven, not too openly, but privately to God.  Be familiar with God’s promises and pray them and claim them.  God loves to hear us speak His word and remember Him in all of our ways.  Ask for favor and success in the mission He has given you.  Gather resources and people to help you.  Just because you are to lead, does not mean you do it alone.  In fact, seldom are people called to work alone.  God does not measure the size of the task, all things are small for a mighty God to accomplish, but He measures by the heart and how willing we are to be used as a vessel for His work.  What an exciting life to know you have been working for the King every day you live.  Jesus taught us to say “not my will but Your will be done”.  No matter what life brings your way, God is right there with you, planning, crying, rejoicing right along with you, saying well done my good and faithful servant.  Life passes quickly, and death awaits us all.  At 84, my dad used to say, “Life has sure flown by.”  Let’s make everyday count so magnificently, whether it’s just being kind with a smile or changing the course of your life, as long as God is in charge, it is good.

Nadine Lear

Exalt Christ in the Battle – Ephesians 6:11-24

Ephesians 6:10-21 is a familiar passage where Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God.  The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the gospel of truth, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

Armored head to toe, ready for battle.  But against who?  Most think we are armored to take our stand against the daily temptations of the Devil.  But did you see verse 13 or did you read right past it.  Contemplate that verse for a while.  According to verse 13 our battle is not simply against Satan.  Notice there is a list of foes we are fighting.  Each entity on the list is plural, and worse yet, all are promised!  Paul tells us that our struggle is against: rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.  This is not a series of different names of Satan. It is a list of foes in addition to Satan that are aligned against you and me.  Out for our very souls.

In verse 13, Paul tells us why we put on the full armor of God “so when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  Paul promises days of evil and describes the battle.  First, we ready ourselves and stand braced against the onslaught of evil.  Then, we engage the enemy by doing everything as Paul describes.  After we engage the enemy (do everything) we should still be standing if we are prepared for the onslaught.  But what exactly is Paul referring to when he says “everything”?  Verse 18 tells us one effective battle tactic is prayer.  What other tactics fall under Paul’s “everything”?  It is important for us to identify those tactics so were are standing after the onslaught.  Paul exhorts us to be active combatants not passive.

Verse 13 tells us, sometimes our goal in this world is just to be able to stand after the battle.  If we only focus on the pieces of armor in this passage, we miss the power of the passage.  To not know what we are up against causes us to underestimate our enemies.  Failing to acknowledge and prepare for the foes will leave us unprepared to withstand the intensity of the battle.  What do you need to do today to make yourself ready for the onslaught?  How many pieces of armor are you wearing today?

Craig Lee

Exalt Christ in the Workplace – Ephesians 6:1-10

Is your job “sacred” or is it “secular”?   Some Christians divide their lives into two separate compartments.  There is a sacred compartment and in that compartment we worship, we fellowship with other Christians, we serve God in Christian ministry, and we give our offerings.  Then there is a secular part of our life in the workplace.  These two compartments often do not meet.  There is a wide canyon between them.  But Paul tells us to act differently in the workplace:

Ephesians 6: 7-8 (NIV)

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

And Jesus tells us not to hide our lamp:

Matthew 5: 14-16 (NIV)

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Detaching our religious life from our secular life destroys our faith’s purpose, for the purpose of a living faith is to give meaning to all of life and to connect wholly and completely to God.  Is your job sacred or is it secular?  If you are born again, your job is always sacred.

Do your job with all your heart.  Deliver quality results even if your boss or co-workers do not.  Be active and industrious when others are lazy.  Your exemplary job performance is a witness to others.  Christians should be the best workers in every organization.

Always have a Bible on your desk.  Many nonbelievers think Christians are hypocrites.  Show them that your faith is genuine and that you live with assurance Christ forgave your sins.  You know with certainty where you will be in the afterlife.   Your coworkers will want to be there too when they watch you!

Greg Kasten

Exalt Christ in the Home – Ephesians 5:22-33

MARVELING THE MESSIAH  

Did you know there are just two places in the Bible where Jesus was “marveled”?  Mark 6:1-6 states that Jesus “marveled” at the unbelief of His own hometown friends and family! It was so bad that He did not do a mighty work there!  He left!

In contrast, the other place Jesus marveled is found in Luke 7:1-10.  Jesus “marveled” at the great faith of the centurion.  This non-Jewish soldier understood and believed that Jesus did not need to see his sick servant to heal him!

Why is it, that at times those of us who should know and believe in Jesus are the last to demonstrate our faith in Him?  I want to marvel the Messiah the way the centurion did!  I pray that if Jesus walked into my home at this very moment, He would see that He is first!

My family and I do some of the things most Christian families do; we attend church, pray together and tithe but I know there is much more we can do.   I realized quickly that I am very lacking in this area!  I decided to ask a few of my family and friends what they did to exalt Jesus in their homes.  To my surprise and honestly, to my relief, I found that we all felt inadequate in exalting Jesus.  My eighty-one year old mother, whom I compare to the Proverbs 31 woman, admitted that she should have done more to put Christ first in her home.  We all agree that it is our heart’s desire to exalt Jesus every day!  Here are a few things that we strive to do:

  1. Pray together as a family, even in public. Your goal is to make prayer a priority, thanking God for all things.
  2. Have a family prayer request list, acknowledging when prayers are answered.
  3. Wives and husbands should be emotionally and physically faithful to each other in all ways. Remember, our children are watching our example.
  4. Wives and husbands should show each other in the BEST light, not highlighting faults and failures, especially in front of others.
  5. Families should demonstrate forgiveness and mercy to each other when feelings have been hurt. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
  6. Families should give each other the gift of unconditional love. We may not always approve of their choices but we still love them.
  7. Strive to make your home a safe haven for your family. Putting Jesus first will eventually lead to a place of peace where all will know they are welcomed and loved.

I am certain our Lord would not want us to feel defeated and inadequate but rather motivated in finding meaningful and creative ways to demonstrate our faith in Him.

A good friend of mine left me with this thought,  “If you or I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”

If Jesus entered our homes today, I pray that He find an abundance of mounting evidence of our love for Him.  I pray that He would be greatly pleased and possibly, quite possibly be marveled at our witness.

Mary Mirre

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