Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jesus' Resurrection was Proclaimed

Photo by Chris Yarzab
Scripture: Luke 24:8-10
And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.

Insights: These ladies have the absolutely best response to the angels message.  They remembered Jesus’ words and then they went and told the disciples.  This aspect of telling is the singular issue that troubles me with the church found in the United States.  I fear very few of us are actually intentional about sharing our faith with other people.  I fear the vast majority of the church is content to show up once or twice a month to church and get feed a lite meal from the preacher.  Then they return to life as usual in a weakened state from malnutrition and they wonder why God does not work in their lives.  We are commanded to live by faith.  We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that is impossible to please God without faith.  Faith stirs us to action.  Action is the evidence of faith.  Telling other people the Good News is an act of faith and very few are actually sharing.  We justify our lack of words with statements like, “my life is my testimony.”  That statement is just a smoke screen.  There are a lot of good and moral people heading for an eternal existence of damnation and their lives, in most cases, are no more distinguishable than your own.  What does show the distinction of a life of faith IS proclamation.  I am not saying we all have the gift of evangelism.  I, for one, do not have this spiritual gift.  Yet, I felt the Spirit prompt my heart just last week and I shared the gospel with a couple.  If you are “never” hearing the Spirit prompt your heart to share the story of Jesus, then I would tell you there is something wrong with your hearing.  It is His hearts desire for us to share.  You don’t have to question whether it is His will for you to share.  The New Testament is adamant about this singular issue.  We are commanded to go into all the world and share the good news (Matthew 28:18-20).  Do not make excuses for your lack of proclamation.  Rather, repent and ask the Lord for boldness and then start sharing.  May we impact our family, friends and community with the love of Jesus because of our proclamation. 

1. To whom is the Lord prompting you to tell the Good News?
2. How would you describe your preparedness at proclaiming the gospel?

Prayer: Father, open my eyes to see the world as You see it.  Give me the boldness and courage to share Your love with a world desperate for salvation.  Amen.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jesus Fulfilled Scripture

Photo by William Ng
Scripture: Luke 24:4-7
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?  “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

Insights: The implication and foreshadowing of the Old Testament is found all the way back in Genesis when the Lord states, “He (Jesus) will crush you (Satan) on the head, and you (Satan) shall bruise him (Jesus) on the heel (3:15).”  Satan was going to “bruise” Jesus heel at His death on Calvary, but Jesus’ death and resurrection would be the crushing blow to Satan’s head.  The Old Testament is peppered with the story of Easter and when we get to the gospels Jesus tells of His death and resurrection very plainly.  If we had been around during the time of Jesus, we would have been no different from these ladies in today’s verses.  We would have come to the tomb perplexed as well.  Yet, even as the ladies are in the tomb the angels share with them the words of Jesus and they are reminded of His promise.  I think the Lord’s intentional and deliberate foretelling of Jesus is an amazingly comforting reality to our faith.  The Lord does not just act.  He first tells us what He is going to do and then He acts.  The same is true here with His resurrection.  The Lord works this way even now and I think we respond just like these ladies.  We are perplexed and surprised when the Lord works.  Our shock tells us more about our faith than it does in the power of the Lord.  It is my prayer I become less and less shocked by the Lord’s activity in my life and more and more expectant in His work in my life.  I pray my faith increases and I become one who is anticipating the Lord to WOW me with His power and might.  Beloved, I hope you join me in this kind of praying.

1. What is your favorite Scripture that points to Jesus’ death and resurrection?
2. Why is that verse (or are those verses) your favorite?

Prayer: Father, I love the fact You have told us in advance what You were going to do.  Hundreds of years before Jesus, You let us know You would send a promised Savior who would die for our sins, but that You would give Him life again.  Thank You for always pointing us to Your plan of redemption. Amen.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Jesus Rose from the Grave

Photo by David Amsler
Scripture: Luke 24:1-3
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Insights: It is impossible to separate the events of Easter from one another.  In other words, if we have good Friday and the death of Jesus without the resurrection, then we still do not have victory.  It takes both of these events to make Easter, EASTER!  The death covers the payment for sin, but the resurrection gives us victory over sin and death.  I have shared this thought before, but it is worth repeating.  Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead.  His return to life is not where the power truly lies.  Elijah raised the widow’s son back to life.  Jesus Himself brought people back from the dead.  Every one of these individuals, however, died a second time.  Jesus is the first born of the resurrection.  In other words, He did not die a second time.  He was made new.  He was given a body that would not perish or suffer or experience disease.  He would never die again.  Jesus is offering us the same kind of body.  If we receive Him as Lord and Savior, He promises to enter into our lives and at our death (or His second coming) we will be transformed into a resurrected body which is also known as a glorified body.  This new body will be just like Jesus’.  It will know nothing of sin.  It will know nothing of death and sickness.  It will not experience the toil found in work, but pure joy and satisfaction.  The resurrection is where the POWER is found and it is also where we put our hope as followers of the Christ.  Easter, therefore, is the culmination of the good news.  Sins are paid for on Friday and victory of life is given on Sunday.  Beloved, let us not contain this information to ourselves alone.  Let us be bold in telling others about this good news as well.  Let us shout it from the mountain tops and let’s bring praises to Him for His wonderful work.  To God be the glory for this eternal change in the condition of humanity.  He is the only one worth this praise.

1. What is your position regarding the resurrection of Jesus?
2. How do you express your gratitude for His resurrection from the dead?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son.  Thank You for His death as payment for my sins.  May I grow in grace and serve You for all You have done for me. Amen.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Jesus Died

Photo by abcdz2000
Scripture: Luke 23:55-56
Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.  Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.  And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Insights: Yesterday was Easter.  I hope you intentionally went to a worship service with the desire of seeking the Lord God.  I pray you encountered Him yesterday and did not just endure to appease family sentiment.  The first point I made in my sermon yesterday was the fact Jesus actually died.  In other words, He did not swoon on the cross.  He did not fake His death by fainting.  He actually died.  Another theory which was taught by the Jewish people was Jesus’ disciples stole His body.  All of Jesus’ disciple died a martyrs death accept for John and he was condemned to the Island of Patmos to live out the last of his days.  I mention the disciple’s martyrdom because in most of the cases these disciples were also touched and asked to renounce their faith.  If they had actually stolen and hidden the body, it would be highly probable that one of them would have confessed to the theft.  Yet, not a single disciple at the point of torture and death recanted their belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The point I am making is Jesus DIED, period.  He bore the wrath of God for our sins.  He who knew no sin became sin for our sake that we might become children of God.  Beloved, I believe we ought to live life with this kind or rectitude and resolve for our devotion with the King.  He paid it all that we might have life.  We ought to live with the appropriate gratitude for His goodness and grace.  I pray throughout this day that you are mindful of Jesus’ death and the price He paid for your reconciliation to the Triune God.  I would also challenge you to share this truth with those who have not encountered Jesus yet.  Tell them of His amazing love and grace.  Let them know what He did for them on the cross of Calvary for their sins.  May Jesus be brought glory because of Your faithfulness. 

1. What is your take on the death of Jesus?
2. How do you express your gratitude for His work on the cross for the payment of your sins?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son.  Thank You for His death as payment for my sins.  May I grow in grace and serve You for all You have done for me. Amen.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Journeys have Beginnings and Endings

Photo by Elyce Feliz
Scripture: Acts 14:6-7
they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel.

Insights: Our final thought this week deals with beginnings and endings.  Notice in today’s verses that Paul and Barnabas began new ministries in Lycania, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region.  Also notice they ended their ministry in Iconium.  This pattern of starting new things and ending old things is a constant method found in the Scriptures.  I will tell you I personally struggle with the ending of ministries and work.  One of the lessons instilled in me from my parents is you don’t quit something you begin.  I think this life lesson is fantastic and many people do not have enough fortitude to see something to the end.  At the same time, this biblical pattern of the Lord starting and ending things is also a paramount truth.  The Lord is all about new things.  Look at Revelation 21:5, “‘And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’”  God is and has been in the process of starting things with the determined purpose to make all things new after He redeems His bride.  We are called to join Him in this journey and that means somethings we do will be start ups and other things we do is end ministries or works that are no longer affective.  Walking this truth out is hard to do because of all the different nuances of growth.  In other words, there are times you need to just press on a little longer and then amazing breakthroughs begin to happen.  Other times you need to count the cost and let something just die because it is just not producing fruit.  But how do you know when to persevere and when to end something?  The answer is, listen to the Holy Spirit.  He is the only One who can truly guide you, but again, this ability to hear is not always easy.  Let me challenge you to spend time regularly with the Lord and learn to hear His voice very clearly.  The closer you get to Him, the easier it will be to distinguish His voice from all the other voices fighting for you attention.  You will be blessed if you follow hard after Him.

1. What ministry or work is God calling you to end presently?
2. What ministry or work is God calling you to begin presently?

Prayer: Father, help me to be sensitive to You and Your ways.  Give me the courage to stop and to start the ministries and works to which You have called me. Amen.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Journeys have Unexpected Moments

Photo by Dan Cederholm
Scripture: Acts 14:5
And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them,

Insights: I was hiking my way up to Rocky Top and I was coming around a fairly tight switch back. I startled something and it created such a sound I about had a heart attack.  From my vantage point I could not see what was on the other side of this switch back, but all of this noise was coming my way and rapidly.  I thought a bear was about to maul me.  What it turned out to be as it flew just past me was a wild turkey and at that point in my life I was unaware of the noise they could make.  For that matter I did not know they could even fly.  I was completely surprised by the event and I really thought my heart was going to jump right out of my chest.  Let me turn to our verse for the day.  Yesterday we learned Paul and Barnabas had been in this town for some time.  I think they thought they had finally found a town in which they were not going to be persecuted and then we come to today’s verse.  The rulers began to make a plot in which they were going to stone Paul and Barnabas and I have a sense they were surprised by this sudden change in temperament in this town.  In our journey of faith there are going to be surprises.  We are going to be going on our merry way with the Lord and all of a sudden Satan is going to throw a wrench into our work and mess it all up.  Often times when he does this dastardly work we are not prepared or ready for it and we are caught off guard—we are surprised.  Beloved, I think part of the reason the Lord allows these moments to occur is to create a dependence in our lives on Him.  He does not want us to be self-sufficient and these surprising moments have a way of turning us toward the Lord.  I am not certain we will ever get used to the surprises, but we can grow to the point we understand they are going to come in our lives.  We can also get to the point when they do come that we quickly turn it over to the Lord.

1. What are some things that have surprised you in your faith journey?
2. Have you come to a place in your walk with the Lord were you are more tolerant of the unexpected?

Prayer: Father, I like things to be ordered and ordered to the way I like them.  You, however, are the One truly in charge and You orchestrate events to make me more dependent on You.  Help me to learn this lesson. Amen.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Journeys have Endurance Moments

Photo by J C Merriman
Scripture: Acts 14:3-4
Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.  But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.

Insights: There is a third lesson I learned on my hiking journeys through the Smokey Mountains.  We would often times hike ten to fourteen miles a day in order to get to our next scheduled camp spot.  Some days I would feel stronger than other days.  Though this passage does not point to what I am about to mention, I do recall that on the days I was not strong someone else in our group would be and they would encourage me.  As a result, I would make it to the end.  On the days I was strong I would encourage the one who was week and because we did this, we always made it to our destinations.  The point I was truly focusing on, however, is that ten to fourteen mile days calls for endurance.  When we do something for a very long time, we need to endure.  Paul and Barnabas had been in most locations a week or two, maybe three at the most.  Here, however, the verse tells us they were there a long time speaking boldly and with reliance on the Lord.  They may have felt as if they had arrived.  There are a plethora of other emotions and thoughts they may have had.  What I desire to point out is it takes endurance to do ministry in one location for any length of time.  The average pastor stays at the local church just over three years.  There are a lot of reasons for this fact, but what we know is if a pastor will endure to year five, things begin to change.  They are then able to have some amazing fruit filled days.  There are some amazing statistical information about the long tenured pastor.  Beloved, even though I was referencing pastors in the preceding verses, the fact of endurance applies to you as well.  We are all on this journey with the Lord.  Many people fall down and never get back up.  The cares of this world stop them from pressing on and experiencing more of Christ Jesus.  To the one, however, who does press on and endure through the hard times of life or the dry times of life great joy is experience.  Let me encourage you to press on and endure.

1. In what ways are you enduring with your faith?
2. Have you fallen down and not gotten back up?

Prayer: Father, Satan tries to trick us often and tell us it is not worth the endurance and fight.  Strengthen my faith Lord and help me to walk valiantly with You through all the years. Amen.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Journeys have Low Moments

Photo by Jim Surkamp
Scripture: Acts 14:2
But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.

Insights: There have been times in my life in which people have been embittered against me.  These moments were never fun and I can say I truly did not relish those moments like I do the high moments.  We are using this week the analogy of a journey.  One of the things that was always a truth in my backpacking trips during college was when we reached the top, we would start going back down into a valley.  At the top there was sunshine and cool breezes.  In the valley there were dark shadows and the air did not move as freely.  From the top you could see for miles, but from the valley your vision was limited to your path and a few yards of foliage.  This thought is true in our spiritual life as well.  We will walk these times in the valley.  We will be attacked by those who do not see the big picture which we saw on the mountain top.  In the valley it is much more difficult to hear the voice of our Father, but His path is right there before us and He calls us to walk on it.  I have encouraged you to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress before and I encourage you again.  This weeks Thoughts by Scott mirror that amazing allegory very well.  The difference is Bunyan has an amazing talent of painting a life picture through his character Christian that I do not possess.  Beloved, when you are in the low moments on your journey with Jesus, I would encourage you to find the life lessons He wants you to learn.  The Father is not caprice in His nature and does not take us through low moments for some twisted pleasure.  He does allow, and sometimes even guides us through, these low moments so we can learn something new about Him.  Sometimes the new thing is not actually new, but a deeper, more richer understanding of who He is.  When you are in these low moments ask Him what He wants you to know and then fix your heart on these lessons until you reach the high moment again.  Let me tell you another truth I learned on these backpacking trips.  When you did reach the lowest point, the trail took us back up to the next high point.  Your spiritual journey does the same thing.  Enjoy Him in the journey.

1. What are some of the low moments in your journey with Jesus?
2. What life lessons do these low moments teach you about the Lord?

Prayer: Father, it is not an easy thing for me to thank You for the low moments, but You have told us to give You thanks in everything.  May You use these low moments of my life and teach me more about You and Your great love for me. Amen.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Journeys have High Moments

Photo by Paojus Alquiza
Scripture: Acts 14:1
In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.

Insights: I believe it is a pretty fair assessment of this passage to say it is a high moment to see a large number of people coming to know the Lord Jesus as Savior.  This week we conclude our current sermon series on Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey.  Now there are more verses to their journey, but this is where we are going to depart from them.  Throughout this week we are going to use this imagery of journey.  When I was in college, three of my spring breaks were spent backpacking through the Smokey Mountains.  One of the things I learned about these journeys is that there are some amazing high moments on every trip I took.  This same truth is found in our spiritual journeys with the Lord.  There are times we experience amazing high moments.  Think about Peter, James and John on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus.  Think about Elijah on mount Carmel.  Think about Moses at the parting of the Red Sea.  I think it is not a far stretch to say these individuals had high moment encounters with God.  We also have high moments in our journey as well.  At FBC Bowling Green we have had many high moments.  In recent days I have written about some of our Carrying Christ to Our Community (C3) events.  We have had three families come visit our church as a direct result of our last community event in which we picked up trash throughout the city.  I think part of the reason the Lord gives us these high moments is to strengthen our faith.  We see God do these amazing things and we know if He is faithful to work once, He is faithful to work again.  These high moments stretch our faith and help us to believe in greater possibilities.  Enjoy the day and experience a high moment in Jesus today.  On a side note, FBC Bowling Green is sending a team on a mission trip to Ecuador.  Please pray for the team leaving and pray the Lord gives them some high moments.

1. What are some of the high moments in your journey with Jesus?
2. Do you relish the joy of experiencing these high moments?

Prayer: Father, Your strength and power is what makes these high moments possible.  Thank You for Your amazing grace You give to Your children. Amen.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Easter is Just Around the Corner

Photo by Jack Wolf
On Monday I mentioned I was going to write about Easter every now and then in my blog posts.  Today, I am going to center all of my thoughts on Easter.  There are several things statistics tell us (I gleaned these truths from multiple podcasts from Rainer on Leadership) about Easter.  Let me give you two statistics which are similar regarding Christmas-Eve services and Easter services.  Christmas-Eve services are the highest attended services of people who have had no previous church affiliation.  In other words, the Christmas-Eve service is the service more lost people who have no church background are willing to attend than any other service throughout the year.  Easter is the second highest attended service, but those who typically come to it are those who did have a church background, but have left the church.

In either one of these situations, however, we are inviting people who more than likely do not have a relationship with the Lord.  In either one of these days we are more receptive to have someone respond with receptivity than on any other day throughout the year.  Let us not miss the opportunity this year.  Let us be intentional right now to begin inviting people to church.  You can always invite them this Sunday, but you can also begin prepping them for Easter.  Start the conversations now to get them thinking about it.  Invite them to lunch.  Offer to pick them up.  Do whatever you can to remove their excuses and to be receptive to your invitation.

I want you to keep this thought in mind as well as we approach Easter.  You have the message of eternal life.  Every person who dies without a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus is going to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.  If we examine the truth of this future reality, then we would not honestly want the most vile of person to go there.  We would rather have them enter into a relationship with Jesus and be transformed into a new creation.  Jesus is capable of performing this miraculous work.  The problem, and it is not really a problem, is Jesus uses us as His mouthpiece.  We are His ambassadors of reconciliation with a lost world.  We are the ones commissioned to go and to tell.  We have the most important message in all the world and Easter is the easiest time to share this message.

So, I only have one question?  Who will you invite to Easter service this year?

On another note, please don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend.  It is time to spring them forward and lose that one hour of sleep.  Make plans to be at church on time.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Progress is Dependent on the Holy Spirit

Photo by Manfred Majer
Scripture: Acts 13:52
And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Insights: This blog is the final Thoughts by Scott this week regarding my sermon Sunday.  The final thought is this: progress is dependent on the Holy Spirit.  Notice in today’s verse the recent converts, now called disciples, were continually filled with the Holy Spirit.  Paul and Barnabas were no longer present and could not make certain they were going to grow in their faith, but they left them a better Teacher than themselves, the Holy Spirit.  Beloved, it is absolutely vital for us to understand our dependence on the Holy Spirit.  We, as human beings, are highly resourceful creatures.  Our own productivity can, if we are not careful, lead us to believe we really are the power behind progress.  I want to remind you, however, of Jesus words.  He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).”  In another location we are taught “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”  Power is not from us.  The lure and enticement of Satan is to make us think we are self-resilient, but we are not.  We are creations of the Lord God and He designed us to be dependent on Him.  Whenever we forget this truth we find ourselves walking down a path that leads to destruction.  Let me encourage you to draw near to God and let His Spirit which resides in you to be your strength.  Trust Him for the progress of your life and don’t attempt to manipulate the situations to your advantage.  The bi-product of such a life is also found in today’s verse.  We will live a life filled with joy.  Far too many people live life without this vital attribute, but Jesus promises to give us His joy in John 15:11 and in John 16:22 He tells us no one can take our joy from us.  The problem is we can give it away and when we are living life in our own strength we will quickly find ourselves giving up the joy Christ Jesus promised us.  Let me encourage you to be fully and completely dependent on the Holy Spirit for your power.  You will be very grateful you did.

1. Are you dependent on the Holy Spirit?
2. Are you trying to muscle through it and make it work?

Prayer: Father, teach me quickly the frailty of my own strength.  Help me to grow in my relationship with You and to understand Your omnipotent power.  Let me live a life out of Your strength and not my own. Amen.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Progress Must be Evaluated

Photo by World Bank Photo Collection
Scripture: Acts 13:51
But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.

Insights: The first two blogs this week have dealt with progress and regress.  Today, we are dealing with the same subject matter, but from a different vantage point.  Today we are discussing the need to evaluate our work.  In other words, we need to determine if our work is progressive or regressive in nature.  You are probably looking at today’s verse and going, I don’t see it and in a technical sense you would be correct.  Yet from a slightly different shade today’s verse is exactly what Paul and Barnabas were doing.  They were shaking the dust off of their feet in protest to those who were persecuting them.  Their protest was a way of saying the work we are doing  in this town is good, it is progressive.  At the same time it is their evaluation of those who are in opposition and they are saying, you are regressive and you are not in the right.  Beloved, we all need to, from time to time, stop what we are doing and evaluate the work.  We need to determine from an objective perspective whether what we are doing is moving us in the right direction or if it is moving us in the wrong direction.  At that point, we must react to the information.  We need to look at the dust on our feet and either wipe it off or keep walking.  This evaluation process can be painful if we learn we are not progressing, but are actually regressive in nature.  This evaluation process can be very joyous if we find we are progressing because we are on the right course.  Beloved, I would challenge you to take some personal time and evaluate your life.  Look at all aspects of your life.  Is your relationship with the Lord growing?  Is your relationship with your family on a progressive track?  Is your work situation one that is in line with your core values?  Are you getting enough personal time for recreation and fun?  Is your health in the place you think it ought to be?  These are just a few questions you need to ask of yourself on a regular basis.  Be mindful of the answers you give to yourself and then make adjustments if they are required.  Above all, don’t make excuses for areas of your life in which you determine to be in a regressive pattern.  Make necessary changes and move forward.

1. Do you regularly evaluate your life and ministry?
2. What are some things you have discovered from these evaluations?

Prayer: Father, when I enter into times of evaluation, please grant me Your incite to know how to properly interpret life events.  Let me learn from them and become a better servant of You.  Amen.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Progress Brings Squabbles, Ridicule and Persecution

Photo by Stan Lupo
Scripture: Acts 13:50
But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Insights: Yesterday we observed the positive side of progress.  The problem, however, is not everyone desires progress.  Some, in fact, go out of their way to hinder progress and to keep things as the status quo.  They are unwilling to grow and adapt themselves, and therefore, do not wish for anyone to grow and adapt.  Just like with the three examples of progress, I think there are three examples in today’s verse which show us the pattern of regression.  The first example is that of squabbles.  Notice in today’s verse these regressive people incited people of prominence and power to engage in conversation.  In other words, these Jews went around and were squabbling about what was happening in their little town..  In a modern day context they were picking up their cell phones and calling others and complaining about the situations at the church they don’t like, squabbling.  The second example is that of ridicule.  The conversations turned from what they did not like to that of personal attack.  Notice the verse states they instigated the next set of events.  In other words, they turned their squabbling about what they did not like to a personal attack against Paul and Barnabas.  It started of in a verbalized fashion, but once something has moved to this level, what we see happening is that situation escalates and moves into our third example of regression today.  The third example is that of persecution.  Notice the verse states they persecuted Paul and Barnabas.  The persecution was so intense it literally drove them out of that district in which they were ministering.  I would like you to evaluate your personal activity level.  I would like you to determine if you have been drug into this regressive mentality which leads to status quo or even negative growth.  If you have found yourself caught up in this cycle, let me challenge you to make a conscious effort to stop.  Stop walking down this path of resistance and embrace what the Lord is doing and walk in the progressive path of growth.  Let God be brought glory as you stop quenching His Spirit and start obeying His Spirit.  You will be amazed at the difference in your life.

1. Is your life regressively focused and negatively impacting the kingdom of God?
2. What are some things you can specifically do to change this course direction?

Prayer: Father, often times I harbor bitterness and hostility toward those who fall into the pattern described today.  Please work on my heart and help me to love such people and to specifically pray for them and their hearts to change.  Amen.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Progress Brings Salvation, Rejoicing and Proclamation

Photo by Anonymous Account
Scripture: Acts 13:48-49
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.  And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.

Insights: I have titled this Thoughts by Scott around the idea of progress.  It is my faith presupposition there out to be progress and growth in our individual lives as well as in our corporate lives.  Also, because of my relationship with Jesus, I believe the most profound kind of progress is spiritual in nature.  Paul and Barnabas have been on their first missionary journey and they are now experiencing some progress in their proclamation of the gospel.  In today’s verses I think we observe three types of progress.  The first area of progress is that of salvation.  In other words, the verses tell us that many had been appointed eternal life because of their belief.  Salvation was brought to many.  The second area of progress is that of rejoicing.  The verses tell us the Gentiles who had heard the gospel was for them also began to rejoice and glorify the word of the Lord.  Worship was expressed by those who had received eternal life.  The third area of progress is that of proclamation.  The verses tell us the word of the Lord spread through the whole region.  Many others who were not present when Paul and Barnabas’ original delivery of the gospel heard the good news from those who had been converted by this message.  When we see more salvations occurring, when we see more people rejoicing, and when we see more people proclaiming, then I feel pretty comfortable saying we are observing progress and growth occurring around us.  Beloved, it is my hope you are one who is intently striving to grow in your personal life.  It is my desire for you to experience the joy of sharing the gospel with someone and them receiving the gift of eternal life.  Over the next several weeks I will make reminders about the upcoming Easter celebration at FBC Bowling Green.  If you are looking for a church home and you live any where within a thirty mile radius of Bowling Green, Florida, then I invite you to attend our Easter services.  If you are an attender of FBCBG, then I encourage you to be one who invites others to our Easter services.  Let us double our attendance and have the largest attendance we have had in the past three years.  Let us do great things for the Lord.

1. Is your life progressing forward and impacting the kingdom of God?
2. What are some things you can specifically point to in order to demonstrate this progress?

Prayer: Father, You are always progressing forward to your eternal plan and objective.  Help me to have the courage and passion to join You and walk forward for Your glory.  Amen.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

The Wounded Person

Last week Ann asked me to write on the fifth type of person.  To give you context, a few weeks back I wrote about the four types of people that Jeff Kisiah preached about at our church on Valentines day.  As a brief recap the four types were those who are on the fringe and do not have a relationship with the Lord.  The second type of person is one who has “received” Jesus as Lord and Savior, but Jesus is on the back burner of this persons life.  The third type of person has grown in their relationship with Jesus and He is on the front burner of this persons life, but the individual is still on the back burner themselves.  The fourth type of person is one who is truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and they are are not even on the burner at all.

The fifth type of person can be found in any one of the preceding types.  The fifth type of person is a wounded person.  In other words, this individual has gone through a major event in which their heart was damaged to such an extent that they are creating defensive strategies to prevent such pain.  There are two observations I wish to make about this last sentence.  Firstly, the event was major.  In this life we all will face times of difficulty.  A wounded person, however, has been traumatically impacted by someone, something or they may even attach the blame on the Lord.  This moment often times leads to years and years of defensive techniques being created by this person of pain.  Secondly, these defensive strategies or techniques are often times created at the subconscious level and the person building these defenses do not recognize the fact they are actually creating more pain in their lives.

No matter where the person is in the four types of person profile, it is our job to try and bring them to Jesus.  Jesus is the only One who can heal this person’s wounded heart.  He tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  Jesus also tells us to take up His yoke because His burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30).  Jesus is not just about the saving of our soul.  He is about the complete and total healing of our lives.  He desires for us to be the person He created us to be.  This kind of life can only be accomplished through Him.

When we are wounded, however, we resist such healing because of those defensive strategies we have built up around us.  I will also tell you, when Jesus starts to work on these areas of pain, one does experience more pain.  In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Eustace, who had been turned into a dragon, is being healed by Aslan (the Jesus character of the C.S. Lewis story).  Eustace tried to heal himself to no avail three times, but then Aslan starts to work on him.  Read Lewis’ words because they express this healing process well.  Let us lead people to the Lord and let Him heal them.

“‘Then the lion said—but I don’t think if it spoke—You will have to let me undress you.  I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now.  So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

‘The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurst like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.’

‘I know exactly what you mean,’ said Edmund.

‘Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobby looking than the others had been.  And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment.  After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why.  I’d turned into a boy again.  You’d think me simply phone if I told you how I felt about my own arms.  I know they’ve no muscle and are pretty moldy compared with Caspian’s, but I was so glad to see them.

‘After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me—.’”

How has Jesus healed you?  We would love to read your story.  You can write in the comment section and we would be honored to learn from you.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

God Continues to Move Forward

Photo by Rennett Stowe
Scripture: Acts 13:47
“For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ ”

Insights: Today’s verse gives me a great deal of comfort.  As we learned Monday, it is God’s desire for everyone to enter into a relationship with Him.  At the same time, however, we learned yesterday that He gives us all a choice to accept or reject Him.  Now that we have this foundation, let me explain why this verse is a comfort for me.  God had chosen the people of Israel to be His very own special people group.  He had commissioned them to share His love with a world.  The problem was the children of Israel never truly grasped what the Lord had wanted form them.  As a result, they became inwardly focused regarding their position and relationship with the Lord.  They thought God was for them only and they were unwilling to let others into their circle.  The sad part is in this particular passage that same sentiment is still being expressed.  What’s even sadder is that mentality is still present to this very day even though their Messiah has extended grace to everyone who will receive Him.  This last part of the preceding sentence is the point I am trying to express.  Even though the children of Israel were charged with proclamation and they did not accept that charge, God’s plan was not stopped.  He still sent His Son, Jesus.  He still drew on the Israelite nation, but He also used converted followers of Jesus to spread the message of grace to the Gentile world.  His plan had always been for the redemption of the world and no matter how many people try to stop this plan, it is going to happen in His timing and in His way.  This reality gives my heart a great deal of comfort and joy.  God is going to bring His plan to pass and nothing can stop it, praise the Lord!

1. What is the next assignment God is commissioning you to join Him?
2. What are some ways in which you have observed God moving forward in spite of resistance?

Prayer: Father, it gives me great comfort to know You are going to accomplish Your plan in Your way and in Your time.  Help me to grow in this grace and trust You more for the completion of Your plan.  Amen.

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