Church Devotionals

19 Jun

Happy Father’s Day to the Bridge Builders of the World!

Fathers are to be celebrated every day. Their responsibilities never end; neither can they be numbered. Every father has the opportunity to be a bridge builder. Bridges are structures built to provide a passage over an obstacle.

There are two kinds of bridges. Physical bridges built of cement and other materials are used for traveling. The second type of bridge is that of character building serving as a guide to help map out a journey of life. For example, the father who builds a bridge of love shields a child from the obstacle of hate and all of its vices. A bridge of faith will overcome fear and doubt. The obstacle of pride is avoided by the bridge of humility.

Materials for bridge building include time investment, following God’s biblical blueprint, love that binds, determination as strong as steel, and time consistency. God honors faithful bridge building. He has promised: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

The Bridge Builder
By Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

Today we honor those fathers whose bridges remain as monuments in our hearts. To those who are faithful to bridge building, we say build on, for the world needs bridges, strong, beautiful bridges.

28 May

Blessed are Beatitudes

Beatitudes are short forms of writing that present character traits of the Christian. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ used beatitudes to teach. There are other examples used throughout the scriptures. David chose to use a number of beatitudes in the Psalms. Enjoy these eleven examples which are reminders of how rich and profitable is the Word of God.
Each beatitude is a sermon through its message.

Some of David’s beatitudes:
Blessed is he that fears the Lord. (Psalm 112:1)
Blessed is he that considers the poor. (Psalm 41:1)
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 33:12)
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. (Psalm 32:1)
Blessed are they that dwell in the Lord’s House. (Psalm 84:4)
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O Lord. (Psalm 94:12)
Blessed are they that put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:12)
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the Lord. (Psalm 34:8)
Blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord. (Psalm 84:5)
Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, that seek Him with the whole heart. (Psalm 119:2)
Blessed is the man…whose delight is in the law of the Lord. (Psalm 1:1,2)

07 May

And God Created Mothers

Anna Reeves Jarvis was responsible for the first large-scale celebration of Mother’s Day in 1908, in Grafton, West Virginia, in honor of her mother, who had spent many years of her life working in public service. In 1912, Mother’s Day became an official holiday. Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

It has been said “that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” William Ross Wallace, 1865.

A godly mother is a blessing from head to toe:

  • Her mind is centered on the well-being of her family.
  • Her eyes are always open to the needs of others.
  • Her nose leads her in solving problems.
  • Her mouth speaks words of wisdom.
  • Her ears listen to the smallest need.
  • Her hands bring beauty as they serve.
  • Her feet walk in the path of duty and righteousness.

God bless “the hand that rocks the cradle.”

“Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Happy Mother’s Day!

05 May

The Greatness of God in Creation

Spring is the perfect time to see God’s beauty in abundance, which manifests His greatness. 

I saw God today
As the sun rose over the hill
And spread a curtain of gold
At the bidding of His will.

I saw God today
In a drop of crystal rain;
I heard Him in the song of birds
As I walked down a country lane.

I saw God today
In the sky so blue above;
I heard God in the voice of the gentle wind
Which whispered of His love.

I saw God today
In the innocent face of a child;
I heard God in the babbling creek
Which flowed in a rhythm mild.

I heard God speak today
In the wisdom of His Word
Of God’s creation plan
And how it all occurred.

I saw God today
In so many different ways,
And it caused my mind to ponder,
And it filled my heart with praise.

–Lola Harmon

“Lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number:  He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might; for that He is strong in power, not one faileth” (Isaiah 40:26).

30 Apr

A Second Chance

The story of John Mark, known as Mark, is a refreshing reminder that God gives second chances to those who repent and stay in the battle.

Mark was the son of Mary, the sister of Barnabas.  Her house was the place where Peter came after his release from prison.  Mark was likely among those praying for Peter’s release.

Mark was given the opportunity to accompany Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey from the Church at Antioch.  However, in the middle of the journey, Mark returned home.  This resulted in Paul’s refusal to take Mark on the second missionary journey, but Barnabas decided to take Mark with him to Cyprus, and Paul went with Silas to Asia Minor.

This second chance proved to be just what Mark needed because Mark later appears in Rome as Paul’s fellow worker.  Later in Timothy Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him “for he is useful to me for ministry” (II Timothy 4:11).  Also, Mark is the author of the book of Mark, the second of the gospel books.

Two lessons are to be learned from the story of Mark.  First, mistakes can be teaching tools. Mark was eager to go on the second missionary journey.  Secondly, encouragement from others serves to give motivation to continue on, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13).

Thank God for second chances!

02 Apr

The Mind of the Cross

The mind of Christ as He faced the cross was that of complete compliance to the Father’s will.  Seven cries from the cross reveal the mind of Christ as He endured the suffering of having been scourged: that is being beaten with a leather strap embedded with metal or bone and the pain from the slightest movement of the body nailed to the cross.

The first cry from the cross is a prayer of forgiveness: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What mercy is this!

In the second cry, Christ honors the faith of the thief on the cross as He promises him: “Verily I say unto thee today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

How tender is the third cry as Christ shows His love for His earthly mother, committing her to the care of the beloved disciple, John, as He says: “Woman behold thy son” and to John: “Behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27).

The fourth cry comes after three hours of total darkness.  As Christ suffers alone bearing the sins of the world, He cries: “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34). “My God” suggests the yielding to God’s authority.  Only Christ could satisfy the sin debt of humanity. The cry reveals the depth of loneliness Christ felt as He suffered alone.

The fifth cry is a cry of physical agony as Christ cries: “I thirst” (John 19:28). The request was answered with a sponge full of vinegar pushed into His mouth.

The sixth cry: “It is finished” (John 19:30) is a cry of victory that resounded throughout the universe. The plan of redemption that was set in place before the foundation of the world was finished. The long reign of human sin and death was broken. Christ’s task on earth was finished.

What a glorious cry is the seventh cry as Christ calls out: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46).  Christ uses the word Father, which suggests the security of the Father’s love. No one took Christ’s life; He willingly gave it into the Father’s hands.

The mind of Christ on the cross was centered totally on obeying the Father’s will. This should be an encouragement to obey Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  May we rejoice that we serve a risen Savior. This is the hope of glory.

30 Mar

The Salt of the Earth: What a Calling

     “Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost His savor, wherewith shall it (the earth) be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and be trodden under the foot of men.” (Matt 5:13)

     If the Christian fails to answer this calling, how will the world be salted:  that is spiritually influenced?  Salt is a seasoning which enhances flavor. The Christian may “season” by example and influence.  Salt also purifies.  In ancient times, salt was used in medicine.  In the Old Testament, salt was required in every sacrifice. Also, a covenant of salt signified an everlasting covenant.

     Salt symbolizes purity, perfection, wisdom, fidelity, and durability.  Most importantly, salt works as a preserver. Imagine that the Christian influences were removed from the world.  Who would preserve morality?  Who would contend for peace and truth?  It is the Christian influence that has preserved principles of godly living and the necessity of law and order.  The Christian influence is a vital part of society.

     The last part of Matt 5:13 presents the challenge for the Christian to be salt that retains the savor (likeness ) of Christ. The taste of godliness refreshes the soul in a land of sin where many need to: “Taste and see that the Lord is good:  blessed is the man that trusts in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)

09 Mar

Gentle, Faithful Joseph

There is much to be learned from Joseph who is a testimony of a true servant of God. Many godly traits are evident throughout his life, but above all of these, his faithfulness and gentleness distinguish him as one of the most Christ-like characters in the Bible.

Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and first-born son of Rachel. He was known for his coat of many colors, a gift from his father. Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph created ill will between Joseph and his elder brothers.

Joseph’s faithfulness is evident in his early years when his father asks him to got to Shechem to check on his brothers’ well-being. When he does not find them there, he follows them on to Dothan, where he is told they went. However, this good intent costs Joseph many years of separation from his home. When his brothers see him, they plot to kill him, but instead they sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. Once in Egypt, Joseph is sold as a slave to Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh. Through God’s help, Joseph again shows his faithfulness and is soon entrusted with all of the affairs of Potiphar’s household.

However, Joseph encounters an obstacle. Because of his moral faithfulness, he refuses the advances of Potiphar’s wife. Unfortunately, because Joseph leaves his coat when fleeing from her, she uses this as evidence when she tells Potiphar that Joseph has made advances toward her. As a result, Joseph is put in prison, but God is with him. Soon, because of Joseph’s faithfulness, the keeper of the prison makes him overseer of all the prisoners. Among the prisoners are two of Pharaoh’s officers: the baker and the butler for whom Joseph interprets their dreams. When the butler leaves the prison, he promises Joseph that he will make mention of Joseph to Pharaoh. Two years pass as Joseph remains in prison.

Finally, after Pharaoh has two dreams which no one can interpret, the butler remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh of his ability to interpret dreams. Joseph is brought before Pharaoh to interpret his two dreams. Joseph gives God the glory when he says: “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Gen. 41:16) Joseph informs Pharaoh that there is to be seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine in the land. Joseph advises that during the seven years of plenty, surplus produce be stored up for the years of famine. Joseph is now 30 years old. Pharaoh promotes him and says: “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?” (Gen. 41:39) Joseph is given rule over Pharaoh’s house and is made second in command to rule the land.

Hearing that there is corn in Egypt, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. When Joseph sees them, he recognizes them. Here we see the gentleness of Joseph as he is overcome with such joy that he flees from their presence and weeps but does not make himself known. Eventually, when the brothers have to return for more grain, Joseph makes himself known to his brothers and says: “So now it was not you that sent me hither but God.” (Gen 45:9)

Joseph persuades his brothers to return to Canaan and bring Jacob and all their possessions to Egypt to live. Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt with Joseph and was privileged to see his two grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, grow up. Joseph lived to be 110 years old. Believing that God would bring his people out of Egypt to the land which He had promised Abraham, Joseph asks that his bones be carried with them to be buried.

God shows His faithfulness to Joseph in the last chapter of Joshua. After being in Egypt for 430 years and then after all the years it took to possess the land God had promised, finally Joseph’s bones are buried in Shechem, where he was sent centuries ago to check on his brothers before being taken to Egypt.  Today, Joseph’s gentleness and faithfulness remain a message of encouragement to us. How amazing are the works of our God!

14 Feb

The Greatest of These

Have you ever tried to define love? The song writer describes it: “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.” (Frederick Lehman) As inexhaustible as the subject of love is, in I John 4:8, John defines love in three words. “He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is Love.” Love finds expression in our service to God and others. “My little children, let us not love in word neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18)

The book of Ruth is a story of love in action. Love manifests itself in dedication as we find Naomi planning to return to Bethlehem after being in Moab for many years. Her husband and two sons have died in Moab. Both of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws commit to going back to Bethlehem with her. However, only Ruth proves her love for Naomi by her dedication as she promises: “Whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

After arriving in Bethlehem, faithful Ruth goes to glean corn for food. Little does she know that she is gleaning in the field of Boaz who is Naomi’s brother-in-law. This was no doubt God’s leading. Noticing a new reaper gleaning, Boaz inquires who she is. Finding that she is Naomi’s daughter-in-law, he immediately has concern for her safety and invites her to glean only in his field with the other maidens. He also asks the men to leave handfuls of corn for her to gather. This is love manifesting itself in kindness. Here also is a reminder of God’s love for His children as He leaves these handfuls of blessings for us today.

Since Boaz is the nearest kinsman to Naomi, his love manifests itself in obedience. Boaz accepts his responsibility as kinsman of his dead brother’s inheritance. He asks Ruth to be his wife, and he assumes the responsibility of Naomi.

At the end of the book of Ruth, there is a short genealogy which reveals that Salmon of the tribe of Judah is the father of Boaz. Salmon is married to Rahab the harlot, who is the mother of Boaz. This is the Rahab who hid the spies that came to spy out the land of Joshua. There is indeed a love story here of God’s love for the sinner. Although we don’t know the story of Rahab’s conversion, she does express to the spies that she knows that God has given the land to Joshua and refers to the story of God’s parting of the Red Sea when His people left Egypt. She also says: “The Lord your God is in heaven above and in the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11) What a marvelous example of God’s love. He redeems a harlot who becomes David’s great grandmother and has her name listed in the genealogy of Christ. What love is this!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul reveals the characteristics of love and declares that in considering faith, hope, and love, that “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) God is the essence of love. Let us declare our love to our God in word and deed. Does God not rejoice to hear us say: “My Lord I love you who loves mankind with an everlasting love?”

For a reading assignment on love, read I Corinthians chapter 13 and the book of Ruth. Your heart will be blessed.

04 Jan

God’s Promises for the New Year

As we ponder what the new year may hold, the believer in Christ can find peace in knowing that help comes from the Lord who gives promises of hope, guidance, and strength. Take joy in these promises.

There is HOPE for the journey.

“The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that HOPE in His mercy.” Psalm 33:18

“This I recall to my mind; therefore, have I HOPE. It is of the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

“Blessed is the man whose HOPE is in the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

Also, our Lord promises to be the GUIDE for the journey.

“For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our GUIDE even unto death.” Psalm 48:14

“Thy God shall GUIDE thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought and made fat thy bones, and thou shall be a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isaiah 58:11

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will GUIDE thee with Mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Indeed, our Lord will give STRENGTH as we travel.

“Trust in the Lord forever for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting STRENGTH.” Isaiah 26:4

“It is God that girdeth me with STRENGTH, and maketh my way perfect.” Psalm 18:30

“Fear not for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God I will STRENGTHEN thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

The Lord knows the way through 2021, and He will be our HOPE which gives encouragement, our GUIDE which gives peace, and our STRENGTH which gives endurance.

Travel on; our Lord knows the way!

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