Tates Creek Christian Church

Updates and Insights from Tates Creek Christian Church

Archive for the tag “Devotions”

Focus on Study – Psalm 1

How do you navigate through life?  Where do you go to find guidance through this corrupt world we live in?  Where do you find wisdom and direction?  Where do you go to find peace in the storm?  We all have difficulties and trials we have to face every day.  Each day is filled with decisions, some easy, others more difficult, some are critical.  All can be life changing as they will set a direction for the future.  Where you go for help with those decisions can make all the difference in the world to the outcome of those decisions.  For clear guidance and truth, you must go to the Scriptures.  God has given us His Word as our guide through life and life’s decisions.  It is there we can find His will and His plan for our lives.  It is there that we can distinguish between God’s values and the world’s values.  It is there that we grow and strengthen our faith and relationship with Him.  Failure to read and study His Word and to receive the Spiritual nourishment we need to grow our faith is equal to failing to eat food that provides the physical nourishment our bodies need to live.  It is Spiritual starvation.

The psalmist puts it best, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.”  Psalm 119:98

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Get into His Word, study it’s truths, live a life filled with God’s wisdom and find peace in knowing His will for your life.
~ Danny Branham, Elder

Focus on Serving

John 13:1-20

I remember as a boy of ten that Sunday morning in March 1957, coming forward to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, to be baptized, and to receive the forgiveness of my sins.  I remember the joy I felt coming forward and practically flying down the aisle of the Maxwell Street Christian Church.  My worries were over, no Hell for me, I was saved by Jesus and I was Heaven bound.

Believing that I had it made, that I had done everything I needed to do to be saved and that there was nothing else to do, I did nothing, sorry to say, for too many years.  In those many years, I grew physically but spiritually I was still that ten year old boy; not realizing that when you are saved in Christ Jesus you are saved for a purpose.  That purpose is to serve God and to serve others, both non-Christian and Christian alike.  Jesus sets the example of serving others in John 13:1-20 by washing the feet of the twelve apostles.  Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator, Almighty God, washed the Apostles feet.  He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, the one who was to soon betray Him.  The task of washing people’s feet was usually assigned to a non-Jewish slave as visitors and guests came into a house after walking on dusty roads.

Jesus, after washing the apostles’ feet, said in verses 12-17, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

This teaching of Jesus in John 13, whom does it benefit, the apostles only?  No, not only them, but also all of us who are in Christ Jesus, called by His name.  Our Lord and Savior is calling us to serve Him by serving one another.  To help our neighbors no matter how small or lowly the task might be.

Now, I encourage you, don’t be like me and waste years doing nothing.  Remember, in Christ we are a new creation, saved for a purpose, to serve God and others.  Oh and by the way, if you are like me, the time to focus on serving Him, is NOW!

Heavenly Father, may we serve you with a pure heart and cheerful spirit that you would receive the glory.

~ Larry Critchfield, Elder

Focus on the Lost – Luke 15

Focusing on the lost is our duty as saved believers.    As illustrated in the Parables of Luke 15, Jesus actively seeks out sinners and tax collectors to come to him, to hear him, and to eat with him.  Like a shepherd who finds a lost sheep, an individual who finds lost money, or a parent who‘s lost child finally returns home, we too, should celebrate when a lost sinner repents and comes home to the Lord!     So let’s identify who the lost are in Kentucky.  According to the Pew Research Center:

1.  35 % of adults from age 18-29 are unaffiliated with any religion.

2.  37 % of adults from age 30-49 are unaffiliated with any religion.

3.  19 % of adults from age 50-64 are unaffiliated with any religion.

4.  9 % of adults age 65 or over are unaffiliated with any religion.

As parents, we must seek opportunities to teach our children and their friends just as Moses instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6–7, “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”    As a church member, we must seek opportunities to invite our neighbors and co-workers to attend church with us.  We must reach out to our new church attenders and encourage them.  We must get to know them and let them know we are very glad they are here.  Let’s invite them to attend our Sunday School class because the more involved they become, the more likely they will continue their growth spiritually.   As a church, we must seek opportunities to meet the lost in our community.  We must offer activities, events, and programs that will encourage the lost to enter our church walls.  Knowing they have little faith or understanding about God’s love, we must consider their mindset and what might be appealing to them in hopes we can cultivate their relationship with God.  Our church activities, worship services, worship messages, classes, and activities should all be focused on how to attract, reach, teach, baptize, and retain the lost so they too can grow spiritually.  The question to ask ourselves, are we offering what the lost need?     Thank God, you and I have been saved by His grace and Jesus’ sacrifice.  We must share the great story with those who are unaffiliated with any religion so they too can be saved!

~ Russell Brown, Elder

Focus on Example

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Have you ever thought about what salt and light have in common?  Simply, they both can be change agents when used in a proper manner.      Salt is a substance that changes and enhances the flavor of what it comes in contact with.  Just as light is able to change and brighten whatever it comes in contact with.      Jesus is using these examples to remind us that, as Christians, we have the ability to change the people around us.  We have the responsibility to reach out to those we work with, live near, or just have an opportunity to “touch”.  To be effective we have to be involved with our community and be shining the light of Jesus’ love with others.       Let us not forget that even within our own Church we need to shine our light to encourage and grow others.  No matter the age or spiritual maturity of an individual, there will be events where they need a comforting word, supporting prayer, or just a listening ear.  Christians should always be ready and willing to shine a loving light wherever there is darkness.    Remember salt on a shelf can go bad and become useless, while light under a basket is not benefiting anyone, but just simply wasting “fuel”.     Which change agent do you want to be?  A productive, energized worker that others want to be like or a useless agent that goes bad and wastes energy.

~ Larry Bugg, Elder

 

Focus on the Lost – Luke 15

Focusing on the lost is our duty as saved believers.
As illustrated in the Parables of Luke 15, Jesus actively seeks out sinners and tax collectors to come to him, to hear him, and to eat with him. Like a shepherd who finds a lost sheep, an individual who finds lost money, or a parent who‘s lost child finally returns home, we too should celebrate when a lost sinner repents and comes home to the Lord!
So let’s identify who the lost are in Kentucky. According to the Pew Research Center:
1. 35 % of adults from age 18-29 are unaffiliated with any religion.
2. 37 % of adults from age 30-49 are unaffiliated with any religion.
3. 19 % of adults from age 50-64 are unaffiliated with any religion.
4. 9 % of adults age 65 or over are unaffiliated with any religion.
As parents, we must seek opportunities to teach our children and their friends just as Moses instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6–7, “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
As a church member, we must seek opportunities to invite our neighbors and co-workers to attend church with us. We must reach out to our new church attenders and encourage them. We must get to know them and let them know we are very glad they are here. Let’s invite them to attend our Sunday School class because the more involved they become, the more likely they will continue their growth spiritually.
As a church, we must seek opportunities to meet the lost in our community. We must offer activities, events, and programs that will encourage the lost to enter our church walls. Knowing they have little faith or understanding about God’s love, we must consider their mindset and what might be appealing to them in hopes we can cultivate their relationship with God. Our church activities, worship services, worship messages, classes, and activities should all be focused on how to attract, reach, teach, baptize, and retain the lost so they too can grow spiritually. The question to ask ourselves, are we offering what the lost need?
Thank God, you and I have been saved by His grace and Jesus’ sacrifice. We must share the great story with those who are unaffiliated with any religion so they too can be saved!

~ Russell Brown

God Adds the Persecuted – Matthew 5:10-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:10-12.

This scripture tells us that indeed “God Adds the Persecuted.”  Jesus never left men in any doubt what would happen to them if they chose to follow him.  Today it is difficult for us to realize what the first Christians had to suffer.  I doubt that we give much thought to this–we feel safe in our homes, safe in worship, and safe as we enjoy Sunday dinner and a nap to prepare us for a busy, safe work week.

That is not the case in some of the areas where our TCCC missionaries serve.  Our newest missionary family, Adam and Allison Giles, who currently live in Indianapolis, continue to make preparations for moving to Ethiopia to join the Christian Missionary Fellowship (CMF) Church Planting Team.  They will be joining a ministry initiative in an area called Metu, a predominantly Muslim area about an eight-hour drive to the southwest of Addis Ababa.  The goal is to infuse the Gospel message and plant new churches in villages surrounding Metu.  CMF missionaries taught and trained three nationals and sent them out to start small groups, share their testimonies, teach the Bible, and lead people to Jesus.  The missionaries are responsible for overseeing this ministry, teaching, and helping with all aspects.

Meet Sufian, one of the national evangelists.  Sufian had a challenging and difficult childhood living with his father and his father’s three wives.  He attended a Muslim school and was very strong in his Muslim beliefs.  When his father died, he moved in with his mother and step-brother who had become believers in Christ.  He was angry with them and continually asked them to return to Islam.  He convinced his mother but his brother would not listen and he tricked him into going with him to a local witchdoctor and through duress succeeded in making his brother deny his faith.  Sufian thought he was finally free of this character named Jesus.  But he was wrong.  Soon after
this he became heavily oppressed.  He lost his job at a tea shop and all his ventures to provide for himself were unprofitable.  He could not sleep and became depressed.  One night he had a dream and in his dream he heard a voice that said, “You will say that Jesus is Lord.”  He was very bothered by this as he was very strong in his Muslim faith, but began to think about Jesus all the time.  Finally, he purchased a Bible and read it.  He also found out about a small group that met nearby and visited, and he was led to Christ.  After he became a believer, his family and the community made his life miserable. And so the persecutor became the persecuted.  Because of the persecution from his family and the community, he had to leave Metu.  He travelled to Nekempte by bus with only 10 Birr in his pocket—about 50 cents.  When he got off the bus, he saw a church, and a young adult church service was in progress.  The speaker was talking about the story of Abraham in Genesis 12—how God was calling Abraham to leave his home and his people and go to a new land.  Sufian says “God was speaking directly to me!”

His new life in Nekempte was difficult–no friends, no money, and no family.  He lived on the street.  Eventually, he found a job and a place to live.   All this time, he continued to go to church and learn more about God.  He says that two years ago, he had a vision—God told him he was supposed to become an evangelist and that he should wait for a letter, and he would be told where he was to serve.  This past year, his church received a letter from a CMF missionary that wanted his church to send church planters to Metu.  They knew this was God calling Sufian to serve in his home town—Metu.  Sufian says “to return to his home as an evangelist for the Gospel of Jesus will be very difficult, but God is with me.  My life is in the hands of God.  My job is to go where He sends me.”  Pray for Sufian as he returns to Metu to share the Gospel.

(Adam and Allison Giles and their two young daughters will be living in the TCCC missions house in late November and December prior to moving to Ethiopia.  Get to know them and begin praying now for the time they will spend with the TCCC family.)
~ Adam Giles & Patsy Stice

God Adds the Peacemakers – Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”   In a recent Bible study video of mine, Beth Moore said, “life under the steeple would be easier without all these people”.  Isn’t that the truth? Even in church life, don’t we still get frustrated with each other, get our feelings hurt or get under each other’s skin?  In this fallen world, sometimes peacemaking isn’t our ‘go to’ response.  It’s not always mine.  It’s hard to choose peace in difficult situations.  When I let my worldly attitude lead in conflicts I end up getting defensive, angry, or just shut down.     I think one of the hardest struggles I have when I look at this verse is the concept of peacemaker.  Like many biblical concepts it’s such a big one to tackle.  What does being a peacemaker mean?  And how can you and I accomplish it in our daily life?  As I began to look up definitions and dig into the idea, there were two things that came up over and over again.  Harmony & Reconciliation.  One Christian author says, ”But if we can catch God’s vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker, to bring harmony to a difficult situation, it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict.  We can stand confident as children of God”.   As a Child of God what can I do to bring harmony and reconciliation to my daily life as I strive to become a peacemaker?  I can let go of the things that don’t really matter.  I can be slow to anger.  I can be quick to apologize, first even!  I can bite my tongue and think before I speak.  When I am overwhelmed by a big idea, I can break it down and take small steps towards the blessing of bringing peace in conflict.   Being a peacemaker is challenging and isn’t natural for us.  But take to heart that in each situation every day we have the ability to bring peace, starting in these small ways.  Because of our relationship with Jesus, we can let his peace work through us.  This makes being a peacemaker possible.    What relationships of yours could be blessed by you striving to be a peacemaker daily?

~ Amy Lawson

God Adds the Pure – Matthew 5:8

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Immediately, when I read this piece of Scripture I thought about small children.  They are often very pure of heart seeing no boundaries that divide them, and many times offering friendship and love without reward.  Think of a time when you have seen a child do this.  When they ask someone, “will you be my friend?” or give a hug without any reason at all.  When we become older, the lines that divide us are often talked about, or socially understood without saying a word.    It is much easier to do or say nothing to those who are hurting around us because it makes us feel uncomfortable.  But our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to something higher.  He commands that our hearts be pure! 1 Peter 1:22 states, “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”  What does this look like?  Jesus has provided a wonderful example for us in John chapter four. He speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well.  This was out of the ordinary for a couple of reasons.  She was a Samaritan, and often times, Jews and Samaritans did not leisurely pass the time of day together.  Also, she was a woman, and men did not frequently address women in public.  Jesus spoke to her and spoke truth about “living water” into her life.  He was not hateful or calling her names because of her sin, but he did address her sin and provided her with a life-changing gospel that could change her eternity.     Do we love purely?  Do we speak honestly and lovingly to others or do we look at others with judgmental, snide comments racing in the back of our minds?  I pray this week we all challenge ourselves to love purely.   Prayer this week: Clean my heart God, of all the things that make me see others as lesser than myself.  I pray to serve and love others in a way that shows the Light to the world.  Help me to love with a pure heart.

~ Jennifer Davis

God Adds the Merciful ~ Matthew 5:7

One might say that Jesus was teaching the mathematical “order of operation”, multiplication precedes addition.

Jesus established an “order of operation” in doing His Father’s will. The Ministry of mercy and grace started with the Call to the disciples. The disciples would learn to teach and preach the good news of God’s mercy and grace unto salvation.

Matthew 5:7 (ESV)   “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Mercy is a concept integral to an understanding of God’s dealings with humankind. In our English translations of the Bible, it comes to expression in phrases such as “to be merciful,” “to have mercy on” or “to show mercy toward.” (biblestudytools.com)

In the greatest sense, Jesus was the full expression of the mercy of God.  Jesus was teaching, those who are merciful will receive the divine mercy of God.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Happy (Blessed) are those who receive the Gift of Mercy. Jesus stresses His demands for righteousness, a righteousness of heart that the law cannot provide.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and your neighbor as yourself. To express compassion in meeting the needs of others, exemplifies the Love of Christ. To show mercy is more than feeling sorrow or having pity for someone, it is an expression of Love in action. Like the Father, Jesus was moved well beyond feeling compassion on the suffering. He meet the need of those He encountered. One will discover the practical beauty of the Beatitudes or “blessed sayings” when his or her heart leads them to practicing them in their daily life.

The Sermon on the Mount contains the very heart of Jesus’ teachings, thus many have viewed them as the Ten Commandments of the New Testament.

Jesus is teaching that if we live as servants with humble and right hearts, we will be richly blessed here on earth, as well as in heaven.  Let the Joy of your salvation be seen, so others may ask why you are happy (blessed).

~ Charles Slone

God Adds the Humble – Matthew 5:5-6

When I think of being meek, it is being humble in the Spirit.  Some may feel broken and don’t know where to begin or go to find the solution.  I have found that God is the answer and our solution.  God tells us in Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Yes, we are meek but we can also be mighty in the Spirit and our Lord.

It also says in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  We all should hunger and thirst for the Word of God and want to help others to do the same, so we can multiply in the Lord and be in heaven together.

This brings to mind a young broken woman that I know.  She grew up in a home being abused and mistreated.  She lived with her step-father, mother, and siblings.  She had no solution or way out of the abuse of her mother.  The only person she could count on was her grandmother who lived far away and was only able to visit a few times each year.  Her grandmother did sense she was not happy and was often very sad.  Her grandmother began to talk with her and taught her how to pray.  As this woman grew older, she began to realize how prayer made a difference in her life.  She knew she was broken inside and needed something or someone more in her life.  Even though she could not see God, she knew He was there with her.  She began to have peace and comfort and acceptance of things she could not change.  She knew one day God would bring her out of the bondage in which she currently lived.

That day did come. God gave her an opportunity to leave that home and begin a new life in another town.  God eventually gave her a Christian home, husband, children, and church home.  He also gave her the most wonderful gift of her life, a relationship with Him.  He gave her boldness that she never had and enough love to serve and help others.

I encourage all to serve and reach out to those who don’t know the Lord.  Just pass it on and help others to become additions to the Kingdom of God.

~ Garnett Langley

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