Monday, September 26, 2016

We Suffer for the Gospel and We are Called to Salvation by God

Photo by National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution
Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:8-9
So don’t be ashamed to give witness about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, his prisoner. Instead, join with me as I suffer for the good news. God’s power will help us do that.  God has saved us. He has chosen us to live a holy life. It wasn’t because of anything we have done. It was because of his own purpose and grace. Through Christ Jesus, God gave us that grace even before time began.

Insights: This week we are going to look at three ways in which we grow through motivation.  Today and tomorrow we are going to look at how we grow through the example of others.  Wednesday we will look at how we grow from the faith we have experienced personally.  Thursday and Friday we will learn about how we grow through the doctrines we have been taught.  Today, specifically, we learn from these two verses that we have fellow believers who have suffered for the gospel.  Paul is presently in prison for sharing the gospel and Paul is telling Timothy to not be ashamed of him for being in prison.  The reason is because his imprisonment is due to his obedience to proclaiming the gospel.  Paul has this kind of confidence because of the salvation with which he was called.  In other words, because his salvation is dependent on Jesus and Jesus only, he is confident in his salvation.  We, as outside observers, can see this life change in others and then we can begin to live our lives in that kind of faith as well.  Beloved, let me encourage you to find individuals with whom you can model your life.  Learn from their faithfulness and then live your life in the same way and become an example for others around you.

Questions:
1. Are you prepared to grow in your faith through suffering?
2. Does the security that your salvation is dependent on the work of Jesus comfort you?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the godly examples You have placed in my life.  May my life grow into such a life that I might be an example for others as well. Amen.


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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Respond Wisely to the Lord

Photo by Chris Jackson
Scripture: Luke 10:36-37
“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Insights: Today we receive our final verses from the Samaritan parable. At the end of the parable Jesus asks the lawyer a question. After the lawyer answers correctly, Jesus tells him to go and do the same. The ending of the story implies a choice. We can either choose wisely by obeying the Father and showing mercy toward people or we can choose foolishly and be self centered in our focus. In many ways this kind of decision faces all people, whether a believer or a nonbeliever. In other words, are we going to treat our neighbors as we would have them to treat us or are we going to use them for our own advantages? It may appear we are getting ahead when we use people for our own advantages, but in the end we will truly learn the futility of such a way of life. Beloved, let me encourage you to choose wisely for the Lord. Treat people with compassion and mercy. Strive to live in unity especially among your brothers and sisters in Jesus. Let your example be a light in this dark world. It is my prayer the lost world will see the distinction in you and wonder why you are showing mercy and compassion. My prayer further is also that they will ask you the question as to why you are different. When that moment comes, I pray you are ready to share the hope of your salvation in Jesus Christ.

Questions:
1. What are some examples of times in which you have chosen to follow the Lord wisely?
2. What are some examples in which you failed to follow the Lord wisely?

Prayer: Father, my life is full of examples of foolish choices.  There are even a few examples of wise choices.  In the end, I have needed You to guide me out of my foolish endeavors, as well as, direct me in my wise opportunities.  Grant me Your peace regarding the decisions in front of me.  Amen.


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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ministry for the Lord is Costly

Photo by Cheryl Colan
Scripture: Luke 10:33-35
“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

Insights: In today’s versus we are introduced to the Samaritan. You need to understand Samaritans were considered to be the worst class citizen possible. The reason was because they were Jews whose ancestral parents had intermarried with the Assyrians. As a result, “good” Jews looked down upon these Samaritans. Yet, in our story, it is the Samaritan who shows compassion. It is not enough, however, only to have compassion. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we are called to go further. This extra work will often times result in a personal cost to us. When I use the word cost, I am not only referencing financial expenses. Sometimes the cost involves relationships or time. The point being, is that true ministry will cost us something. In the case of the Samaritan, it cost him time, resources, and money. Beloved, let me encourage you to count the cost in your service to Jesus. It is also my prayer that after having counted the cost you will have determined what ever the price is, it is worth it.  I would also encourage you to be like this Samaritan in today's story. Go through this world with your eyes open and when you see someone in need of compassion, display it to them. In living life this way you will exemplify the character of Christ and bring Him glory.

Questions:
1. What price have you had to pay for the cause of Jesus Christ?
2. Upon reflection, would you characterize the cost worth the end goal and why?

Prayer: Father, it is my prayer I may identify myself with Paul and say I have lived my life as a drink offering poured out for You.  May every drop of my life point to Your Son Jesus.  I thank You for Your offering to let me partner with You in Your work.  Amen.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Prioritize Your Life Properly

Photo by Peter Reed
Scripture: Luke 10:30-32
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.  “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Insights: Today’s verses start the parable of the Good Samaritan.  In these first few verses we observe lives and the prioritization these individuals place on people and things.  Notice we have a priestly class which comes out of Aaron’s descendants (also a part of the the tribe of Levi) and a Levitical descendant as well.  The priestly class served as the mediators between God and man.  The Levitical line were the ones responsible for every other aspect of temple worship.  In other words, these individuals sang in the choir.  They were responsible for the fire wood.  They were responsible for the order, cleanliness and maintenance of the temple.  Both of these individuals were to be representative of people in a right relationship with God.  If these individuals truly had prioritized their lives, then they would have stopped and shown mercy to the Samaritan man.  What actually happened was two men too busy to show compassion.  Some believe they were probably on their way to the temple for a worship service, but were running late.  These individuals may have felt to stop would have hindered the worship service.  In fact, the priest would not have been able to serve as an intercessor if he had touched the man because he would have been considered to be unclean.  He would have had to stay out of the worship service for a period of time and he may have rationalized his avoidance of the injured man.  Beloved, the point is that whatever excuse these men made, they were wrong for not having proper priorities.  This Samaritan’s life was worth far more than their excuses.  This day, let us be mindful of God’s activities in this world and let us prioritize our lives in such a way God is brought honor.

Questions:
1. Have you ever prioritized your life by writing down your key areas of focus and emphasis?
2. If you have done this exercise, what did you learn about yourself?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I do not make you the proper priority in my life.  Help me to live life from a Christ-centered perspective and may my right relationship with You impact all of my other relationships.    Amen.


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Monday, September 5, 2016

Recognize God's Work in the World

Photo by Irmeli Aro
Scripture: Luke 10:25-29
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”  And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”  But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Insights: As readers of Thoughts by Scott you know my life has been highly influenced by Henry Blackaby’s material Experiencing God. And this week's first point comes straight from that material.  The point is God is at work in the world and we need to recognize His activity. Let me set the scene before we look at the verses today. At the beginning of this chapter Jesus sends out his seventy followers in order to tell people He is coming. After He and His followers meet back up there's this brief interchange of the followers talking about the authority they have in Jesus name. These followers did their job well and many people came to hear Jesus. One of those men that came was a lawyer and it is my assumption he recognized God's activity in Jesus's life. The opportunity arises for him to ask Jesus how one could have eternal life.  I realize verse twenty-five uses the word “test”, but I do not think this lawyer is antagonistic toward Jesus. Rather, I think he is a genuine seeker based on his answer he gives at this point in the story and the concluding answer he gives after the parable. It is my presupposition this man has heard Jesus’ followers proclaiming the things of Jesus and has seen the miraculous work these followers had done. As a result, when he hears Jesus’ teaching he is even more convinced Jesus has the words of eternal life. In other words, he recognizes God's activity in the world and is now making an adjustment to join his life to God's work. Beloved, we need to do the same.

Questions:
1. When was the last time you recognize God's work in the midst of your life?
2. In that moment, how did you respond to God's activity?

Prayer: Father, thank You for always working in this world. Open my eyes to be able to recognize Your activity and then grant me the courage to join You in Your work.  Amen.


If you have found this blog to be helpful, please forward it in Facebook or retweet it in Twitter.  I would also appreciate if you would tell your friends to read this blog.  As always, if you have a comment you would like to make regarding this Thoughts by Scott, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.  Thank you.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Responder Remembrance 5K Run/Walk

Today is September 1!!!  In less than two weeks we will be hosting our First Responder Remembrance 5K run/walk.  The reason for the run/walk is to remember and to honor our first responders. Fifteen years ago on September 11 the United States experienced a terror attack in multiple locations in our country. Many first responders gave their lives that day in order to save others.  Fifteen years later these brave men and women are still risking their lives every day. As a result, First Baptist Church of Bowling Green is hosting this 5K run/walk in remembrance of our first responders. All the proceeds from this event we'll be going to the four first responder organizations of Hardy County. Those organizations are the Bowling Green Police Department, the Wauchula Police Department, the Hardee County Sheriff’s Department, and the Hardee County Fire and Rescue Department.

I would like to take a moment to challenge you to participate in this event. There are a couple of ways in which you can become involved. Firstly, you could actually sign up to be a runner or a walker in the event. Secondly, you could actually be a sponsor of the event. Even though at this point we cannot put your logo on any of our material, we would still like you to give financial support to our first responders of Hardee county.  There’s literally no amount that is too small. Every bit of the profits will go to these four organizations as a way of acknowledging their work and the sacrifices they make for our community.

Personally I think it is absolutely vital we share with our law enforcement and fire personnel that we appreciate them and respect the work they do. Would you please rally around this event and show your support for these organizations. If you'd like more information, please feel free to call the church office at 863-375-2253. We thank you in advance for your participation in this worthwhile community event. One less thing I wish to ask of you and that is to go and share this event to as many people as possible from now until the race.

For more information regarding this race please visit our Facebook page at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/698398003633292/


If you have found this blog to be helpful, please forward it in Facebook or retweet it in Twitter.  I would also appreciate if you would tell your friends to read this blog.  As always, if you have a comment you would like to make regarding this Thoughts by Scott, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

God Works from His Time Table not from Ours

Photo by Sheep"R"Us
Scripture: Luke 10:23-24
Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.

Insights: Today’s final sermon thought this week evolves around these verses. The subject for this thought deals with timing. God works within His own timetable and is not concerned with our personal desires. The reason for this attitude from the Father is because He has eternity in mind, but we, being finite creations, are incapable of seeing the big picture. It is for this reason we see in today's verses that prophets and kings of old longed to hear and see the things that Jesus is followers. The problem was the fullness of time had not come to pass during those prophets and kings time period. The Lord God knew exactly when the Son of man needed to enter into human history, and as a result, only gave glimpses to the promised Savior to those prophets and kings. Beloved, we are just like these prophets and kings of old. We desire things to happen when we want them to happen. Unfortunately, when things do not go as we desire them, we sometimes throw a pity party. We must learn to be content in the timing of the Lord. We must walk with Him and not in front of Him or behind Him. We also need to express to Him our gratitude for His perfect timing. We do not always understand Him, but we need to trust Him. So let me encourage you, to begin looking at your life through this kind of lens. Be mindful of the Lords activity and enjoy Him in His work. It may not be when you wanted it to happen but it is in a perfect time. If we can live life from this perspective it will give us a great deal of peace knowing that the timing of events is not dependent on us. It is my prayer this truth will give you a great deal of comfort in the days in front of you.

Questions:
1. Have you ever gotten yourself in front of God's timetable?
2. In what ways have you expressed your gratitude for God's perfect timing?

Prayer: Father, thank You for always being on time. You're timing is not always mine, but it is always right. Teach me and grow me to trust Your perfect timing in every aspect of my life.  Amen.


If you have found this blog to be helpful, please forward it in Facebook or retweet it in Twitter.  I would also appreciate if you would tell your friends to read this blog.  As always, if you have a comment you would like to make regarding this Thoughts by Scott, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.  Thank you.