Daily devotionals


june 16, 2021

june 15, 2021

The Perfect Prayer Partner

[Jesus] is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Few sounds are as beautiful as hearing someone who loves you praying for you. When you hear a friend pray for you with compassion and God-given insight, it’s a little like heaven touching earth.

How good it is to know that because of God’s kindness to us our prayers can also touch heaven. Sometimes when we pray we may struggle with words and feelings of inadequacy, but Jesus taught His followers that we “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). God’s Word shows us that one of the reasons we can do this is that Jesus Himself “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34).

We never pray alone, because Jesus is praying for us. He hears us as we pray, and speaks to the Father on our behalf. We don’t have to worry about the eloquence of our words, because no one understands us like Jesus. He helps us in every way, presenting our needs before God. He also knows when the answers we ask for would not be good for us, handling every request or concern with perfect wisdom and love.

Jesus is the perfect prayer partner—the friend who intercedes for us with immeasurable kindness. His prayers for us are beautiful beyond words, and should encourage us to always pray with thankfulness.

From: https://odb.org/US/2017/10/02/the-perfect-prayer-partner

june 14, 2021

Out of the Darkness

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  Deuteronomy 10:21-22
 
I hope you’ll join me this Sunday, June 20, as I start a new sermon series called “Out of the Darkness: A Journey Through the Book of Exodus.” I also hope you’ll bring your dad or come Sunday and honor the dads and grandads in your life. This series seems to fit our present day. For the past 15 months we’ve been inside and isolated and insulated more from each other than any time I can remember. But God always calls us out of the darkness and into the light. This is the story of Exodus.
 
The passage in Deuteronomy 10 recounts one of the awful plagues the Egyptians endured because of the hardness of Pharaoh's heart. But God led His people out of that darkness into the light of the promised land.
 
From darkness to light, this is the story that we all share as the people of God. He draws us out to draw us in. From the birth of Israel to the church today, God delivers and dwells with His people. This story began several thousand years ago, and it began with a promise from God to Abraham that He would make his offspring more numerous than the stars in the sky--a great nation that would one day dwell in the Promised Land.
 
More than 400 years passed and Abraham's descendants had not seen this promise fulfilled. Instead, the Israelites lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. Fearing the Hebrews would grow into a mighty nation and overtake them, the pharaoh of Egypt forced them to work as slaves. But Israel continued to grow.
 
Throughout the book of Exodus, we see how God is at work to bring freedom and liberation to His people. Thank God today for the light of Jesus and the victory we have in Him over darkness and sin and death.
 
See You Sunday,
Pastor Jim

june 11, 2021

The Good News Of Jesus!


Luke 19:1-4


The Bible tells us that Zacchaeus was a chief of the publicans in Jericho, which made him an immensely rich and powerful man, but also immensely despicable and despised. (v. 2) Zacchaeus was concerned and seriously intrigued with the identity of Jesus. The Scripture not only says that he was trying to see who Jesus was, but that he had a great impediment: he was small in stature. It is estimated that, considering the biotype of the ancient Jews, Zacchaeus did not reach 5' in height to consider him small. (v. 3)


But with the creativity, agility, and sagacity of a child, calculating the route, Zacchaeus took a certain advantage in the distance and climbed a sycamore tree to relieve his curiosity and see Jesus. Opting to climb a tree must have been the best fit for Zacchaeus because of Jericho's architecture, which did not allow for going up to a rooftop. (v. 4).


When the Lord arrived at the sycamore, he saw Zacchaeus and discerned his sincere motivation. In the midst of the joyous celebration of the people Jesus announced something that impacted the chief publican so much that he was impressed and felt totally honored. Let us look deeper and understand what is it that Jesus says to this little guy from Jericho that shocks him.


When Jesus arrived at that place, looking up, he saw him and said to him: Zacchaeus, hurry up, come down, because today I must stay in your house.  Luke 19:5


First: Jesus identifies Zacchaeus: “… looking up, he saw him…” If Zacchaeus was curious to know who Jesus was, the Lord was much more interested in not only meeting Zacchaeus, but in redeeming his lost life, since He knew perfectly well who Zacchaeus was. We can see that he was:

a) A principal or chief of the publicans in one of the most important cities in the region, Jericho  

b) An immensely rich and powerful man

c) An immensely despicable and despised man


And to tell the truth Jesus knew Zacchaeus "before he was in his mother's womb." It is not the human being that seeks God, but rather God who seeks the human being. It is God who goes out of His way to call the attention of each and every one to touch us with His grace.


Second: Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name. It is possible that someone in the crowd previously knew him as such, although it is more likely, from what follows in the story, that the Lord made use of His divine character to reveal His identity. In this way Jesus identified Himself as the sent Servant of God. People believed that only an envoy from God could do that.


Third: Breaking all cultural patterns of the time, Jesus invites himself to the house of that great man. That was amazing, because no matter how high a person's social rank, they never invited themselves over to someone's house. And even less so did they invite themselves to eat at their table.

 

It is characteristic of Luke to highlight the imminent nature of the encounter with Jesus and the time of God: 

Today (v. 5) Scripture says: “Now [TODAY] is the time of God’s favor; now [TODAY] is the day of salvation…


Roy Soto

june 10, 2021

june 9, 2021

Yes to VBS!

Did you have the opportunity to attend Vacation Bible School as a kid? Have you been able to serve in VBS as an adult? What are some of your fondest memories of kids, workers, etc? For example, what adult leader had a great impact upon you during VBS? How many of you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior during VBS?  

Vacation Bible School is a gospel-full week not only for the kids but for all those who serve in some way during the week. This year we have a great group of leaders both adults and students. Together they are having an incredible impact upon each child. 

In Pastor Jim’s sermon on Sunday, “The Gospel According to Zacchaeus,” one of the key points was “Jesus calls you by name.” At VBS every child is not a “Hey You” but is known by name and we know every child is precious in the sight of the Lord.

No matter our age or our circumstances we are never a “Hey You!” with Jesus. He knows us by name. He knows our every heart beat. He knows our every thought, word, and deed because He loves us!

This week we are memorizing John 15:12 which says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Today and everyday enjoy His Love for you as you share His love with others. 

Yes to VBS!
Ron

june 8, 2021

I Can Have Confidence Because I Belong

“One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong . . .”  Can you finish the rest of this song because it’s written on your heart? Do these lyrics haunt you like they do me? As an adult, I can honestly look back and pick out specific ways that Sesame Street legitimately changed my life. (It’s how I learned to tie my shoes, for crying out loud.) But truth be told, I have always had a problem with this particular song. 

Perhaps it’s because it contradicted something my grandfather used to always tell me. “If you act like you’re supposed to be somewhere, then you are,” he would say. He was chock full of nuggets of wisdom like this. 

Or maybe it’s because I have had various times in my life when I actually felt like I didn’t belong. So those lyrics seemed to cut a little too deep for the lighthearted nature of a learning song. A fish out of water, I would call myself. And there have been plenty of other moments sprinkled throughout my childhood and adult life when I truly believed I was the blue balloon in a huge cluster of red ones. It’s the worst feeling. Perhaps you can relate. 

But really, I think the reason that song strikes my soul is because when I made the decision as a child to surrender my life to Jesus, I immediately became a part of something big. Something important. I believe the disciples felt that too. And I am certain that the same Jesus who carefully chose those floundering fishermen—encouraging them to trade fear for fellowship—also chose me. When you say, “Yes” to His invitation, you belong. Forever. Period. 

I can always have confidence in that because I am loved and I am called according to His purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). And so are you. And so are the children who are attending VBS this week. My goodness, they are all searching for somewhere to belong. And even the kids who are lucky enough, like I was, to have wise grandparents or other grown-ups who speak truth into their lives are still fighting the odds of what the enemy is telling them. 

We all have a unique opportunity in these days ahead. Your words and actions could be what communicates to a child that they are loved and seen by God. And that could be all they need to provide them with confidence that lasts a lifetime.  

In Him, 
Katie

june 7, 2021

The Gospel According to You
 
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:8-10
 
Long before there was Ebenezer Scrooge, there was Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus might have been a wee little man, but he was rich and powerful. His job as a chief tax collector required that he be corrupt and feared which meant he was most certainly the most hated man in Jericho. 
 
Now here’s what happens. Zacchaeus is guilty. And Jesus calls him by name, offers His friendship and forgives him. Those who are present grumble, “That’s not fair.” The truth is this: Jesus not only forgives people, He changes them. Religious people don’t get that. “How could he just forgive them?” Well, He’s also going to change him.
 
In verse 8, Zach has a new name for Jesus - LORD. He’s placed his faith in Jesus because as a Roman official there was only one Lord he could acknowledge--Caesar. But now Jesus is Lord. Now he serves Jesus.  
 
Christianity is not “do whatever you want, God will forgive you. Keep doing whatever you want, and God will keep forgiving you.” Christianity is you do what you want, you meet Jesus, you realize it’s sinful and wicked, you realize that He, in fact, is Lord. You don’t want to continue sinning because something happens deep in you—you change. When you are born again you become a new person - the old is going away and the new is coming. You have a new power in the Holy Spirit, a new Lord, a new nature, a new family. And you want to become like Jesus.  
 
We don’t change so Jesus will love us and forgive us. We change because He already has done both. So Zach repents. He turns from his sin and turns toward Jesus. He turns away from money and power and turns toward his new friend Jesus. Repentance is an about-face. It’s a change of heart, mind, and direction.
 
The evidence of this is his restitution. He’s not been generous--he’s failed to help others. Now he gives half of all he owns away. He’s stolen from his people. He’s cheated his family and friends. But now he’s going to pay back four times what he stole. This is what the Gospel does. This is the Gospel According to Zacchaeus.
 
If you are in Christ you have a story of how your life is changing because of Jesus. Tell the story--share the joy. Share the Gospel according to you.
 
See You Sunday,
Pastor Jim

june 4, 2021

What Makes a Person a Hero?

“Then Jesus, calling them, said, you know that the rulers of the nation’s rule over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 But it will not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you will be your servant; 28 as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:25-28.
 
At the time of the discovery of America the Spanish kings signed agreements with those who wanted to set out to conquer the new lands. These agreements, called capitulations, established rights and obligations for both the kings and the conquerors. The one who received the capitulation had the right to conquer, populate, and govern the new lands.
 
In the case of Christopher Columbus, he received the title of Major Admiral, Viceroy of all the islands he discovered. He served as judge in the cases of merchandise trafficking. He received a tenth of all the gold, silver, and precious stones that he discovered, earned, or that passed through his administration. In return, the king exercised control of all the lands, received the percentage of wealth that was obtained, and appointed the rest of the officials.
 
Another clause established was that non-Christians (Jews), those punished by the Inquisition, blacks, and gypsies could not integrate the “hosts” that traveled to the new world.
 
The capitulations eventually became so strict that they even affected the attitude that should be adopted towards the indigenous people who did not submit, both to the power of the king and to the authority of the Pope. They could be declared rebels for not obeying. So, the king could take their wives, children, and property, disposing of them. It would all be considered the fault of the indigenous people themselves because of their disobedience.
 
In general, capitulations were born out of the spirit of enrichment through conquests. At that time, Francisco Pizarro said, “There lies Peru with its riches; here, Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian.”
 
Now we wonder fifteen hundred years before, what capitulation did Jesus Christ, the King of kings, sign with the apostles He sent to “conquer” the whole world? What percentage of gold, silver, precious stones, or what titles or positions did He offer them? Did He promise them a privileged place in the exercise of political power, to His right or to His left?
 
To tell the truth brothers, the inhabitants of our planet live with such expectations. We expect to be rewarded for every action we take, or for every service we provide. But our King Jesus Christ warns us that those who live striving for greatness and achievement do not show anything other than a mean and advantageous spirit. Those who capitulate with Him must try to be the most efficient and humble servants, renouncing materialism and the greatness that this world could offer.
 
Do you want to be a hero or heroine? Follow in the footsteps of your Lord and Savior by making a difference and impacting lives without expecting anything in return.
 
Blessings!
Roy Soto

june 3, 2021

“Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”   ‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m always encouraged by believers that have dedicated their entire lives to Christ, those that even with their last breath praise Him and have zero regrets about it because of their hope and confidence in Christ. 

Personally, it was the faith of my parents that motivated me to seek out a personal relationship with Christ. It wasn’t until I was nineteen I realized how big their faith in Christ was. Every time they didn’t give me or let me do what I wanted I thought they were being unloving, unfair, or old school and I made sure to let them know, yet they always stood firm in their decisions. Decisions that protected me in so many different ways and were seeds being planted in me. 

My parents, like so many others, speak truth in love because they once heard and trusted the good news we all desperately need. Don’t be afraid to live out Gods truth and trust Him today!

Blessings, 
Elizabeth Jolley

june 2, 2021

Who Are Your Heroes?

I love the phrase “Relationships are Transformational!” That is a true statement because all you have to do is begin thinking through your life of those who have had an impact/influence upon your life. Then think of those you have impacted and influenced. Just start listing the family members, friends, teachers, coaches, pastors, Sunday School teachers who have touched your life. Those are truly the Everyday Heroes.

I had a track coach, Chuck Nyberg, pull me aside and ask me why wasn’t I going out for track. I did and ran Varsity Track all four years of high school. I had a seminary professor who mentored me and provided me opportunities to teach his classes at times. I had grandparents who lived out their love for their Lord and lived out their love for their families. And I could tell you more.

Do you get the idea? The everyday heroes who build transformational relationships investing in us are abundant. We must do the same for generation upon generation. Be thankful for those who offered you their time and life experience to help you. Then be prayerful about those that God is leading you to invest in their lives. 

One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4  

Ron

june 1, 2021

I Can Have Confidence Because I Am Known

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  John 10:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

As we prepare for VBS next week please join me in praying for all the leaders and kids who will be in attendance as we learn about having CONFIDENCE in God! 

I’ll never forget my first day of eighth grade. My family had just relocated to a small town, and I didn’t know a soul at my brand-new school. It seemed to be a place where everyone knew everyone, and I felt as though I stuck out like a sore thumb. Eighth grade is a particularly unfortunate time of a teenager’s life to stick out. 

And lunch time on the very first day at a brand-new school is a particularly worrisome event. Ever been there? Lunch time is all about finding your people, right? It’s about connecting with the folks who know you, and feeling confident that you belong there. And it’s a complete source of anxiety when you’re the new kid. 

On that first morning of eighth grade, it was all I could think about with each passing class. I kept trying to scope out the promising groups of kids who might welcome me in. I attempted to make eye contact, communicating a silent—but not desperate—plea to invite me. Still no prospects. I tried to keep my cool, but inside, I was a wreck. 

Until the bell rang at the end of Social Studies. Suddenly, a group of girls appeared with the kind invite I had been hoping for. “Hey! Your name is Ashley, right? You wanna come sit with us?” There it was. I breathed an enormous sigh of relief. 

What I came to discover later on was that my Social Studies teacher immediately caught sight of a new face as the herd of kids filed into his classroom. And without me saying a thing, he saw me and he understood. So, behind the scenes, he orchestrated the details in order to provide me with the assurance of finding friends to sit with at lunch that day. He knew how vital it was that I felt known.

I believe this is the way the Lord works too. He knit each of us together Himself, after all. So He created us with a longing to feel known. But He doesn’t simply leave us out here all alone. He never stops working in the most mysterious and miraculous of ways. And He tenderly provides us with His own assurance through His Word: “I know my sheep” (John 10:14, NIrV). 

Today, I urge you to trust that you are known. Perhaps it doesn’t feel that way at work as you hope for the promotion. Or at home as you change diapers and trip over toys strewn about the house. Maybe you’ve been the new kid recently too, and the lunch time story is all too real. God sees you. And you are known by Him. 

Allow this truth to be your fuel next week in praying kids understand that they are known too. God has purposely placed each child and leader at VBS  to convey His love to others. Maybe He wants to use you the way He used that Social Studies teacher for me years ago. 

may 28, 2021


Let Us Fully Trust in God!
 
5 Put all your trust in the LORD with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in everything you plan to do, and He will show you what action to take. Proverbs 3: 5–6.
 
This portion of Scripture is one of the jewels of Proverbs. It touches on some elements of human pride that are sometimes ignored (even within Christianity). Sin is not only what one does, but what one is. That is our proud and arrogant character.
 
Everything we are told here in verse 5 represents the positive command to place our total trust and faith in God our Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart ...” At the same time, it underscores the negative mandate that calls us to pay close attention and care in regards to human wisdom and understanding. “And do not rely on your own prudence…”
 
As servants of Christ we must be very careful when basing our decisions on personal, emotional criteria because it can lead us to such a point that we will ignore seeking divine advice. We instead exhibit insane pride, which will lead us to stagnate in the future.
 
The word “to lean” comes from the word sha'an, which means “to support oneself through.” The Word commands us not to stand solely on one’s own advice, cunning, or wisdom. Throughout the entire book of Proverbs, the importance of seeking the advice of others, especially divine advice, is recognized. Human reason should not be overestimated since it is also influenced by sin and the need to renew and imitate Christ in our way of thinking.
 
Man is classified by science as homo sapiens (sapiens: rational wisdom). But sin must be added as an influence that penetrates even the most abstruse of human beings. In this way, there are people with great wisdom who use their minds to build a better world, and there are other people who use their wise minds to take advantage and cause harm. Thus, we can conclude that human wisdom has its limitations.
 
My beloved brothers in Christ, my prayer is that God, through His Holy Spirit, will give us discernment so that we might understand that we should not trust even a bit in ourselves. Let us instead seek His wisdom and understanding in the things that He has planned for each one of us, according to His holy will and divine plan.
 
Roy Soto

may 27, 2021


See the Future
 
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20
 
People are nervous about the future these days—especially with the global economy teetering this way and that. They are not confident that the job market will improve, or that inflation can be reined in, or that greedy power brokers can ever be held in check.
 
But Christians are promised a future that depends on something far better than economics or politics. The Lord over the universe, Jesus Christ, promises that He is always with us!
 
As the disciples were getting their last glimpses of Jesus, they were not sure what life would be like after He left them. Matthew tells us that “some doubted” even when they saw Him face to face.
 
Jesus put their doubts about Him and the future to rest by assuring His followers that through faith in Him, their future would be secure. He said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” In other words, their worries and concerns would not necessarily go away, but His followers needed to base their trust in the promises of the Savior alone.
 
As for us today, this means… Go and make friends for Jesus, because our life belongs to Him. Witness and celebrate as new believers move from darkness to light. Teach future disciples of Jesus to work for the future as the Lord goes with us.
 
Prayer: Lord, help me not to worry about circumstances I cannot control. May I trust my future to you alone as the firm foundation of my life. Amen.

From: https://todaydevotional.com/devotions/see-the-future-2012-07-26

may 26, 2021

Do What You Can!

Mark 13:8a says, “She has done what she could…”
 
“In God’s Hands…our time, talent and treasures become a redemptive eternal legacy that impacts generation upon generation. “
 
Last Friday, I had a dear, dear friend have a massive heart attack that caused extensive damage to other organs in his body. Less than 48 hours later my friend passed from this temporary life into the presence of Jesus and was welcomed home to heaven. For the past few days I have played over and over in my mind the many years of experiences we shared as we served on the same church staff. Pat Harrell was from Louisiana and he was never in a hurry. His education was in petroleum engineering where he spent time not only in refineries and corporate offices but also on off-shore rigs. During those years, God began calling Pat into fulltime ministry. At this point we would say “and the rest is history.” But I would say the rest is Pat’s lasting legacy of serving God and serving one another. He was wisely gifted with discernment, insight, and compassion. He diligently built strong, meaningful life-long friendships. He had a great sense of humor and he truly loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
 
In Mark 13, the woman who pours the very expensive oil on Christ’s head was focused on her Lord and was not focused upon her limitations. So it is with us. We know our limitations, our short-comings, our warts and all but if we will “place our hands, our heart, our life in the nail-scared hands” we don’t have to worry about “our” legacy because we yield ourselves to our heavenly Father who is writing our legacy according to His Ways.
 
My friend, Pat, has done what he could but God continues his story.
 
Take care of “now” and let God take care of your tomorrows…your legacy to generations upon generations.
 
Ron

may 25, 2021

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’”  Revelation 1:17-18
 
In the book of Revelation, God gives us hope as we face all our fears. He gives us a glimpse into Heaven and the present reality of Christ's reign and His future triumph. Turning our eyes upon our victorious Jesus gives us hope in the face of all of life's circumstances.
 
A few things to remember...Jesus is the first and the last, He died and rose again, and He has the "keys to Death and Hades." Christ's victory isn't just a future triumph to look forward to; it's a present reality. He has conquered death and given you new life! He will make all things new.
 
In Him,
Katie

may 24, 2021

Recalling God’s Faithfulness
 
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”  Deuteronomy 7:9
 
One of the best ways to reset your future is to remember the past. I know that sounds strange, but we can all have reasons to do this. Whether we’re young or old, feeling blessed or in distress, God has been faithful to us in the ways too vast to comprehend. But we have to try.
 
Scripture says He knew us before we were born and has protected and provided for us abundantly--in seen and unseen ways--from that moment forward. If we could know and write down everything He has done for us it would fill a book thousands of pages long. Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us that He keeps His promises to us by being faithful to those before us and to those who will be here long after we’re gone. We’ve had believers in years past lift us up in prayer, not even knowing our names. When we share the life-changing love of Christ today we can be sure God will weave it into His plan to bless future generations.
 
So often we’re forgetful like the children of Israel in the Old Testament. God was always saving them from giants, invading armies, famines, and disease. Many times God delivered them through miracles--the Red Sea parted and manna came from the heavens. But here’s what happened--their current crisis caused them to forget God’s past faithfulness. Remembering God’s past goodness is a first step in His next round of blessing.   
 
God has kept His promises to us in so many ways and He never gives up! He has pulled us out of the fire. He sent Jesus to give us new life and a forever home. He is working even the bad stuff in your life for your good and the good of future generations. So gather your strength today to face your future by looking back and thanking God for His mighty, gracious, and often unseen hand.

- Pastor Jim

may 21, 2021

Freedom from the Tyranny of Material Things

19 Do not lay-up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 but make yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves neither break through nor steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21
 
Every person, especially a servant of Jesus Christ, has to decide what the supreme value of his life is. In a materialistic world, constantly bombarding us with its prosperity propaganda, one can easily fall into the trap of accumulating treasure on earth if one does not clearly state that the number one priority is the Heavenly Father and His Kingdom.
 
In Mathew 6, Jesus illustrates how the priority of the kingdom operates in relation to economic treasures and material needs that sustain us while we are on this planet called Earth. The guiding principle in the life of a servant of Jesus Christ is to give priority to the kingdom of the Lord (v. 24). The theme here is "freedom from the tyranny of material things," but one must clarify why one is free.
 
"Freedom from the tyranny of material things" is the negative side of the theme "the priority of the kingdom." Jesus warns that one must be very careful not to fall into the clutches of the tyranny of material things and He gives three reasons why it is foolish:

(1) Treasures on earth are liable to be lost (nothing in this creation is forever).
(2) Treasures on earth compromise our loyalty and fidelity (your heart is divided).
(3) Treasures on earth produce anxiety (despair, stress, and family conflicts).

Someone once said, “Money is a very good servant, but it is a lousy Lord.” The first will do you a very good service, but the second will enslave you and use you until it destroys you.
 
My prayer is that God, in the power of His Holy Spirit, will give us discernment and wisdom to be careful and not fall into the clutches of the tyranny of material things.
 
Trust Him and He will provide for you!
Roy  Soto

may 20, 2021

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches if His glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19

Last night we asked our students to live knowing God cares for their needs and I want to challenge us to do the same today.

I think it is safe to say we have all made excuses at some point to do or not do something that leads to making a bad decision. We have felt as though God has forgotten about our needs and decided to take matters into our own hands.

The truth is that He might not meet our needs the way we want Him to, but He will always meet them unlike anyone and everything else. In Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus was being tempted in the desert by the enemy with bread, He was hungry but His hunger wasn’t the need that needed to be met. He was there to spend time with God and knew God’s truth enough to know better than to give into the tempter.

If you feel forgotten today, believe and trust God has not forgotten you. Believe and trust He knows your needs and cares about them deeply. Take some time today to surrender the excuses and to walk in obedience.  

Trust His truth,
Elizabeth Jolley

may 19, 2021

Eternal Treasures

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:20-21  

So what should we be storing up? I think we “store up” God’s Word because Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” Everyday we need to be actively engaged in God’s Word because His Word is eternal--a treasure.

We need to “store up” relationships. The treasure of family, fellow believers, and the opportunity to reach people for Christ is a demonstration of God’s grace. We must understand that relationships are transformational. Relationships are an eternal treasure.

And the most important treasure is the spiritual condition of your heart. Your physical heart may be very healthy but what about your spiritual heart? Have you accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Are you active in the church and not just going to church? Are you constantly giving God thanks for His mercy and lovingkindness? Daily, do you “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength,” as written in Deuteronomy 6:5?

Let’s be very honest. None of us are one hundred percent there yet but every day we can lean into the loving arms of our good, good Father.

Today “store up” eternal treasures.

Ron

may 18, 2021

Giving to the God Who Has Everything
 
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”  Matthew 25:44-45
 
We’ve heard or asked it again and again: “What do you give the person who has everything?” The very need to frame this question should alert us that something is wrong in our society. Psalm 50 teaches us how to give to the God who does indeed have everything. As Christians, we have much to learn from God’s judgment in Psalm 50:7–16 against the “religious” community. The Lord does not rebuke these people for failing to meet his minimal requirements for sacrifices and offerings (see v. 8). Instead, God reproaches them for blatant sin and ingratitude (see vv. 17–20).
 
So, how do we give to the God who has everything? By giving to those who have nothing (see Mt 25:44–45) and by praising him for his blessings to us (see 2Co 8:9).
 
Devotional writer Selwyn Hughes makes an important point about the sacrifice of generosity prompted by gratitude:
 
If in reality we don’t own our possessions, then the obvious thing is to acknowledge this in a prayer to God. Have the sense to say to God, “I am not the owner, I am the ower.” A businessman said, “I’ve prospered in my business; now my task is to know how much I can keep for my own use.” That’s the right order. How much can I keep for myself? For everything I needlessly spend on myself is taken from some other person’s need.
 
Management guru Ken Blanchard and CEO S. Truett Cathy contrast the ideas of success and significance:
 
The successful person has learned how to make money, but the significant person has learned how to give it away—how to be generous, to share the blessings of money with those who are in need or those who help meet a variety of social and humanitarian needs.
 
The successful person has achieved great things—sadly sometimes at the expense of others. He or she is proud of what has already been accomplished. The significant person understands that the greatest thing anyone can accomplish is to serve others and to help them achieve their goals.
 
Finally, successful people have attained a measure of status. Others look up to them and maybe even see them as role models. We often discover later that those who have become our role models let us down … In direct contrast, the significant person is one who values relationships. They become trusted friends and invaluable mentors, and they invest their time in others rather than in striving to build status.
 
Prayer: God, I do not own anything. It is all yours. Show me how much I should keep for myself and what I should give back to you.

from: https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/stewardship-bible/2022/05/07