Through the New Testament In One Year Reading Plan

 

 



  


August

2019:


Dr. Craig Bowers

July 30-31

2 Corinthians 2- 2 Corinthians 3

August 1—August 2
2 Corinthians 4—2 Corinthians 5


Dr. Kevin Calhoun

August 5—August 9
2 Corinthians 6—2 Corinthians 10

 

Jonathan Norton

August 12—August 16
2 Corinthians 11—2 Corinthians 13

Galatians 1—Galatians 2

 

Rev. JT Overby

August 19 –August 23

Galatians 3—Galatians 6

Ephesians 1

 

Gary Reynolds

August 26—August 30

Ephesians 2—Ephesians 6

 


  •  

    July 30, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read 2 Corinthians 2


    What is that I smell?” Oh, that’s the aroma of Jesus Christ you smell in the acts of sacrificial love as demonstrated by a Christ follower! YOU are an aroma. Christ followers permeate the environment with the aroma of grace, peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, and self-control.

     

    Christ followers invade the senses of others - believers and those who have yet to bend their knee to King Jesus. The sense of smell often evokes the strongest memories in our minds. The analogy Paul uses is quite appropriate. You probably wouldn’t leave for work or play without applying deodorant. Thank you! But will you be more careful to put on the aroma of Christ when you leave for work or play?

     

    The “scent” of Jesus is full of grace and truth. That aroma reminds other Christ followers of the character of Christ. The same aroma is off-putting to non-believers. When they “smell” grace and truth in a Christ follower, it is interpreted as weakness and narrowness. The truth is a scent of death to those who have yet to trust in Christ.

     

    I have noticed that the scent of a flower is extremely powerful when it is crushed. The scent was there the entire time. The crushing only released the beautiful fragrance. So it is with us. The crushing trials of life often release the beautiful fragrance of God’s grace in us.

     

    Application:
    Today, ask the God of grace to exhibit His grace and love through you! Be the scent of Jesus in the lives of others.

     

    Prayer:
    Lord God, as I am crushed in trials, if the scent released isn’t like Jesus, help me to understand that the trial only exposed what was in me. I pray your love and grace will flow from me - especially when I am crushed.


  • July 31, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read 2 Corinthians 3

     

    The entire chapter is about glory. Life is all about the glory of God. Verse 18 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being trans-formed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

     

    Our minds are no longer veiled. A “works righteousness” religion blinds the mind to the truth of God’s glory - His PERFECTION. It is impossible by the works of the Law to be justified in His presence. Christ followers know this truth and therefore the “veil” has been lifted. The sham has been exposed. No one is good enough to enter heaven. No one is religious enough!

     

    As we look at the character of the Lord God, something in us changes. We are “being transformed.” God is transforming us. We cannot change anything about us. Only God can change our hearts, desires, minds.... This transformation happens as our focus is on HIM. Too often our focus is on OUR shortcomings, OUR hang ups, OUR accomplishments, etc. That does not lead to transformation but a futile cycle of  carnality. A healthy cycle of transformation happens when our focus is on the glory of God.

     

    What exactly is the “glory of God?” It is His character and all that flows from Him. The more I focus on Him, the more He works in me. The Spirit of the Lord works when we honor Jesus. We honor Jesus when He is our all in all. When He is the focus of our thoughts.

     

    Application:
    God transforms those who know and pursue His glory. How can you focus on Him today? 
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    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, you are the One true and living God. When I fail, I am amazed at your kindness of grace and goodness towards me. You are so patient. You are so good. Thank you for loving me.

     


  • August 1, 2019

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read 2 Corinthians 4

     

    “Treasure” is the theme of this chapter. The treasure is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul shares several truths with us about this treasure. First, this treasure is not to be abused. The Gospel may be used for personal gain or perverted, (verse 3). We must protect the integrity of this great treasure. Few treasures compare to the truth of God’s Word. And like all great treasures, mankind wants to twist and abuse it. Paul assured his readers of his faithfulness to the Word. We must guard our hearts against twisting, modernizing, or adulterating the Truth.

     

    Secondly, the truth of the treasure is hidden from those who do not believe, verses 3-4. The “god of this world” blinds the minds of the unbelieving. How is that blindness broken? Let me mention a few ways. The light of truth shines when the truth is shared faithfully. Also, when Christ followers demonstrate the mercy and grace of God, the light shines through the veil. And lastly, since this is a spiritual battle with the forces of darkness, prayer is our offensive weapon that pierces through the veil.

     

    Thirdly, the glory of this treasure is seen in the brokenness of our frail flesh. That is a paradox! We are often perplexed, crushed, persecuted, and struck down. But in that very context, the glory of the Gospel shines through our frailty. During the worst seasons of your life, the power and glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shining through as you demonstrate faith, humility, and dependence.

     

    Application:

    God’s treasure has been entrusted to you. His desire is that you share His treasure with others. Share it today.

     

    Prayer:

    My King, you are the great treasure that the human heart longs for. May the riches of your grace and mercy be seen in my life as I demonstrate love toward others in my life.

     


  • August 2, 2019

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read 2 Corinthians 5

     

    Ambition! What drives your ambition? The ambition of all Christ followers is to be “pleasing to Him” (verse 9).  However, that ambition is rooted in an eternal perspective. The world in which we live prioritizes the temporal. If we are not careful, we will fall into the “temporal trap.” That will change our ambition. On a daily basis we must live in light of eternity. The world focuses on the physical. While physical things are good, they must not eclipse the greater value of eternal things.  Your body is temporal and at times, problematic, verses 2-4. While we are instructed in the Scripture to take care of our bodies, one day we will leave our earthly bodies (verse 5).  Christ will give us an immortal body.

     

    It is an eternal perspective that drives us to be courageous in our ambition! Here’s the perspective: While I am in my earth suit, I am physically absent from the presence of Christ. But when I shed this earth suit, I will be in His very presence. So, either way, I can go through life courageous because the end of this life is just the beginning of life!

     

    My ambition is to fearlessly pursue pleasing Him (verse 9). WHY? Because when I stand before His Judgment Seat, I want the Lord of my life to be pleased with my walk of faith. The Bible teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Listen to verses 9-10, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

     

    Application:
    What is your ambition? How do you think you will feel about it 200 years from now? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord God, when I stand before you one day to be judged, may the desire of my heart be to hear you say, “Well done! You have been a faithful steward of the resources I entrusted with you.”


  • August 5, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 2 Corinthians 6

     

    Notice how this chapter begins, “And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain . . .” (Vs. 1).  As recipients of the grace of God, we also have a responsibility to join in ministry with God. We are called to be partners in ministry with Him. To ignore that calling is to receive God’s grace in vain.

     

    This teaching is found repeatedly throughout Scripture.  In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus distinguished between those who multiplied their resources from the one who did nothing when He said:

     

    For to everyone who has more shall be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have , even what he does have shall be taken away.” Jesus also said, “And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more,” (Luke 12:48).  

     

    We are called to serve God by participating in the ministry He has given us.

     

    I don’t know about you, but I long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master,” (Matthew 25:23).  Let us seek to be faithful unto God in word and deed.

     

    Application:

    Do you know what spiritual gift you have received from God?  If so, what is it? 

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    How can you use your gift(s) to serve Jesus today?  

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, open my eyes today to ways I can serve You by serving others. I pray I will be faithful to You in all things!  Amen.

     


  • August 6, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 2 Corinthians 7

     

    I believe one of the most beautiful pictures in Scripture is found in this chapter.  Paul writes,

     

    “For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I  rejoiced even more,” (vss. 5-7).

     

    When Paul was facing difficulties from all directions, he was comforted by the love and concern shown by Titus and others. 

     

    As I read these verses, I am reminded of two other pictures in Scripture.  One is the man beside the Pool of Bethsaida who had no one to help him into the water when it was stirred, (John 5). The other is the man who had four friends who would stop at nothing short of digging a hole in a rooftop in order to get their friend to Jesus, (Luke 5, Mark 2). 

     

    This passage of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 7 challenges me in three ways:

     

    1. To be a friend to others.

    2. To cultivate these friendships each day.

    3. To actively seek out those who are alone and hurting.

     

    Will you join me in this challenge?

     

    Application:

    Who do you know that could use a friend today? 

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    List several ways you can show them you care by serving them today. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, help me to seek out someone who is hurting today. Show me how I can be an encouragement to them. I pray I will comfort them as others have comforted me. Amen! 


  • August 7, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 2 Corinthians 8

     

    My parents taught me as a child the importance of Christian stewardship and giving to the church.  They taught my brother and me to begin with a tithe and then to give beyond the tithe.  I must confess, there were many times when I did not want to give. But I am thankful today they instilled in me the principles of faithful stewardship.

     

    In our Scripture reading today, Paul begins the chapter by writing, “we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,” (vs. 1).  He then shares several truths for us about giving unto the Lord.

     

    1. Giving is to be Generous – In verse 2 he writes, “In a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”  Although the Macedonian believers were facing struggles of their own, they gave with joy and generosity.

     

    2. Giving is to be Voluntary – In verses 3-4 Paul continues, “They gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints.”  No one had to beg them to give.  Instead, they begged to take part in the offering.

     

    3. Giving is to be Sacrificial – Here we find the key to the Macedonian’s giving.  “They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God,” (vs. 5).  They understood that a commitment to Christ involved a commitment to give.

     

    Application:

    Describe your attitude toward giving toward ministry and missions. 

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    List ways you can be a faithful steward with your resources. 

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    Prayer:

    Lord, as You have given unto me, create in me a desire to give cheerfully and abundantly.  Amen.


  • August 8, 2019


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read 2 Corinthians 9


    In today’s reading, Paul continues his teaching on giving.  In verse 7 Paul writes, “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Notice the following truths:

     

    1.    Giving is our Christian Responsibility – Paul refers to “each one.”  Though he does not specify a specific amount that is acceptable, Paul states each of us has a personal responsibility to give.

     

    2.     Giving is to be Intentional – Paul tells us to give as we have “purposed” in our heart. Giving is not to be a last minute decision based upon what we may have left over. We are to plan ahead our strategy and practice of giving.

     

    3.     Giving is to be Cheerful – Much has been written about the phrase “God loves a cheerful giver.” The word translated cheerful is the root word from which we get our word for hilarious. The meaning is clear – we give with a joyful attitude.

     

     

    As I stated in yesterday’s devotional, though I did not always have the proper attitude in giving, I am grateful my parents taught me to give at an early age. They also taught me my giving follows the example of our Lord who (as mom and dad taught me) is the “Greatest Giver.”

     

    Paul gives praise for this when he writes, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’ (vs. 15).

     

    Application:

    Describe your personal plan for regular giving. 

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    List ways you can “Grow in the Grace of Giving.” ________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:

    Almighty God, You have given me life, health family, and friends. Most importantly, You have given me salvation through faith in Jesus. I pray I will give unto You and Your church with a grateful heart and attitude.  Amen.


  • August 9, 2019


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read 2 Corinthians 10

     

    In our reading for today we find Paul responding to several charges made by those who were critical of him. 

     

    1. They claimed he was hypocritical because he would write with great boldness in his letters but speak with humility when with them.


    2. They claimed Paul was guilty of basing his conduct on personal

    motives.


    3. They still claimed Paul had no real authority because he was not one of the original disciples/apostles.  Instead, he had been one of the primary persecutors of the believers.


    4. Lastly, it appears they had even begun to taunt Paul because of his personal appearance.

     

    Paul responds to his critics by stating that he would never dream of presuming he was more important than anyone else. Rather, his desire was to see the gospel spread by the Corinthian believers so that he could travel to regions “beyond” them (vs. 16). Therefore, he does not boast in himself, rather his boasting is in the Lord. Furthermore, he does not seek the commendation of others, rather his commendation is from the Lord (vss. 17-18).

     

    As I read this chapter I am challenged in two specific ways.  First, I must be careful not to boast in any achievements I might accomplish.  Rather, my boasting should be in God. Second, I must be careful about judging others and their motives. God know the hearts and minds of all people.  He alone, is judge.

     

    Application:

    How do you respond when others criticize you?  

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    Describe a time when you were unfairly critical of someone.
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    Prayer:

    Pray these words:

    “Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.” Psalm 119:133-134


  • August 12, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 2 Corinthians 11


    2 Corinthians 11:3 is one of the key verses in the entire Bible regarding spiritual warfare. Paul references Genesis 3, when he warns “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (11:3). 

     

    The word “sincere” can also be translated “simple”, which means singleness of devotion. Having a sincere and pure devotion to Jesus is not complex. But Paul is warning us here that we have an enemy that wants to challenge that simplicity and devotion. 

     

    In this text, we are reminded that Satan’s preferred method of attack is something very subtle that draws our attention away from the simplicity of faith in Christ. Our enemy wants to cause our minds to stray from Jesus to the lies of the world. Like Eve in the garden, he first tries to get us to question God (Genesis 3:1). Then he denies God’s Word (Genesis 3:4). Lastly, he will substitute his own lie and twist the truth (Genesis 3:5). He wages war on our mind to get to our heart. This reminds me of a powerful quote from Warren Wiersbe: “A divided heart leads to a defiled life”.

     

    Paul warns again in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul saw these attacks as a serious threat to the church in Corinth, and friends, it is still a very serious threat to us today. We must guard our hearts and minds daily to stay purely devoted to our Lord (Proverbs 4:23).           

     

     

    Application:

    In what ways does Satan attack believers?

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    How can you guard your heart and mind?

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    Prayer:

    Jesus, may we stay devoted to you through prayer and the study of your word. Help us to guard our hearts and minds from the attacks of our enemy.  Amen.

     


  • August 13, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 2 Corinthians 12


    In chapter 12, today we come to really appreciate that our Lord knows how to balance our lives more than we do. We see Paul taste the blessing of God in heaven in the first six verses.  Then in verses 7 – 10, Paul speaks of suffering. Throughout our faith journey, we learn that if we only have blessings, we may become proud, so God permits us to suffer with burdens to keep us humble and to solely rely on Him. I remember a pas-tor once saying ,“When you walk along the shore of the ocean, you notice that the rocks are sharp in the quiet coves, but the polished rocks are in those places where the waves beat against them”. He went on to en-courage us by saying “God uses the waves of life to polish us… IF we let Him”. 

     

    Bible scholars are uncertain if the “thorn” in Paul’s flesh (v. 7) was an actual physical affliction, or a person causing pain in Paul’s life. The point is not “what” or “who” the thorn was; the point is that the flesh is sinful, even for someone like Paul. But God is greater than Satan and the flesh! God does not always give us an explanation, He only gives promises. In verse 9, God promises “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness”.


    Understanding this verse is a key to spiritual maturity, because only when we know we are weak do we find that the way to succeed is through God’s power. Also, God does not give us His grace just so we can endure or remove our suffering. His grace is both sufficient and strong! His grace should transform our lives so we can glorify Him in our responses to both success and suffering.   

     

         

    Application:

    What are some positive and negative responses to suffering? 

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    Prayer:

    Heavenly Father, I pray we may be humble and rely on you for our strength in both the good times and bad. Amen.

     


  • August 14, 2019

     

    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 2 Corinthians 13


    As Paul closes his letter to the Corinthians, his love for the people bring him to make one last appeal. This appeal uses three approaches that apply to us today on how we should motivate ourselves and others toward obedience and submission to our Lord: 1.) He Warns Them (vs. 1-4) 2.) He Challenges Them (vs. 5-10) and 3.) He Encourages Them (vs. 11-14).

     

    First, Paul warns the Corinthians that anyone that is unrepentant will not be spared. We are all under the authority and power of Christ. We must humble ourselves to receive correction so that the Holy Spirit can trans-form us to the image of Jesus. We must repent of any sin in our lives if we desire to grow closer to Him.

     

    Second, Paul challenges them to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in faith” (v. 5). Paul is saying that before we examine others, we must examine ourselves. We must first examine our hearts, and then we should use the Bible to measure everything we say and do.

     

    Lastly, Paul closes his letter with “Rejoice, aim for restoration, comfort one another” (v. 11). Some translations read “Grow in maturity and en-courage each other. Live in harmony and peace”. This harmony and unity Paul is speaking of is like-mindedness, not uniformity in religion. He is asking all of us in the church to have the same focus – Jesus. To grow as a Christian and in ministry, we must warn each other, challenge each other, and encourage each other. We are all members of the same body, and we are called to minister to one another daily, not just on Sundays.   

      

    Application:

    How would you go about examining yourself?

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    What do you pray for your church? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord, I pray that we are ministering to each other as a church body. May we warn one another, encourage one another, and challenge one another to grow in our faith. Amen.


  • August 15, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Galatians 1


    After months on the road from his first missionary journey, Paul received a report that the churches he started in Galatia had started to struggle. A group preaching a false gospel had gained influence in the church, so Paul writes this letter to speak wisdom and clarity into some of the first controversies that challenged the early church. Those challenges were racial division and legalism. In chapter 1 of this epistle, Paul gives his “challenge” to the Galatians and his “credentials”.

     

    Paul clearly has urgent concern over the direction of the church, as evident in the first few verses. The beginning of this epistle does not include Paul’s normal commendation and well wishes like his other letters. He, instead, goes directly into challenging and confronting the Galatians for being deceived with a gospel that was teaching that law and grace go together. However, Paul reminds them that the one and only gospel stands on grace alone.   

     

    Starting in verse 10, Paul begins to give his spiritual credentials, so he could defend his apostleship to the false teachers and make it known he was called by God, not man. Paul offers some personal information, a-long with some personal testimony to prove his message was authentic. I love the last verse of chapter 1, “And they praised God because of me” (v.24).


    Paul is challenging all believers to live a life that will encourage those around us to come to Christ and glorify Him. Does this describe your life?           

       

    Application:

    When sharing with others, do you challenge them with scripture, or give them your credentials (your testimony of what God has done in your life)?

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    Prayer:

    God, I pray that we hold true the doctrine of grace. Thank you for your saving grace Lord! May we be faithful in sharing your message of grace with others. Amen.


  • August 16, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton                                                            


    Read Galatians 2


    This letter to the Galatians is more like an announcement that can be summed up in three simple words: “You Are Free”. Paul’s message is transitioning the early church from the rules of religion to the redemption of a relationship with Christ. In these first two chapters, the word “Gospel” is used 10 times. The word “Justified” is used four times in verses 15-17 of chapter 2 . Paul has a clear gospel message of freedom through grace and justification. 

     

    The word justified is defined as “declared righteous in the sight of God”. This freedom from sin is nothing we do or earn through following a set of laws. Charles Swindoll says, “The most dangerous heresy on earth is the emphasis on what we do for God instead of what God does for us”. Unfortunately, like in some of today’s churches,  we read about some false Christians that had infiltrated the church with false legalistic teaching (v. 4 & 5). Friends, we must be on guard, and diligent in prayer for the church!       

     

    Salvation, by grace alone through grace alone, always brings freedom, is the message here in Galatians.  Paul was so passionate about this message that he even rebukes Peter and Barnabas for their hypocrisy in not living “the truth of the gospel” (vs. 11-14). How bold was that? That, to me, demonstrates just how much did Paul loved the church, that he stood divinely on the truth of the gospel and confronted such prominent men. Would you do the same? Do you love the church that much? 

         

    Application:

    Have you been set free today through God’s grace? 

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    Are you prepared to explain the power justification those who are lost?________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:

    Most Holy God, thank you for your grace. May I tell others about the incredible freedom I have in you. Amen.


  • August 19, 2019


    by JT Overby                                           


    Read Galatians 3


    Why was the law given? It was given because of transgressions to imprison everything under sin (v. 19 & 22). The law was given to reveal God’s character, what pleases Him, what displeases Him, what is right-eous, and what is unrighteous. When the law was given it brought all sin together in one place, imprisoning it so it could be dealt with. The downside to that means that because we are also under sin, we were also imprisoned under the law-- condemned to die (v. 23). There is good news.

     

    The law was gathered up in one place to be dealt with, and we were gathered up with it, but Jesus came under the law, the perfect Israelite who deserved all the covenant blessings for keeping the law, but took upon himself the covenant curses (v. 13) of the law so we could be saved.

     

    How do we enjoy this salvation? Is it by making a law for ourselves-- read our Bibles this much, pray this amount, go to church always, give a cer-tain amount.?  All those are good things. But we seek to obey not to be saved because no one can be justified that way. We obey because Jesus saved us.

     

    Application:
    Are you trying to perfect yourself? How are you doing in submitting yourself to the work of the Spirit to make you look more like Jesus? 

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    Prayer:
    God, give me grace to see the glories of what Jesus did for me through His death and resurrection. Give me grace to look upon Him, submit to the Spirit, and live for His glory.


  • August 20, 2019


    by JT Overby


    Read Galatians 4


    Apart from Jesus Christ, we are slaves to sin and idolaters. We worship gods that are not gods. We make them, fashion them, and set them up to worship. We worship our peace, comfort, happiness, pleasures, relation-ships, money, security, and status. We do all we can to keep or get more of those things. They consume our energy, our idle thoughts, and our emotions. When we lack some of those things we crumble. When we get some of what we worship we feel whole-- for a time. But they are not gods.

    But we have come to know the true God, or rather be known by the true God (v. 9). We have been brought into an intimate union with the true God, the true Lord, the true King over all things. How? This true King came and redeemed us (v. 5), purchased us with His very own life.

    Now we can know Him not just as God, but as Father (v. 6). If we knew the perfect, infinite, and eternal love of God even just a fraction for what it was, we would see that all the other gods that are trying to enslave us, pale in comparison. Are we knowing that love of God? Or are we seeking the fulfillment in the gods we worship in our hearts?

    Application:

    What is keeping you from knowing the love of God more in your life? How does it bring you comfort and peace knowing that even in your struggles to know God, the Spirit is inside of you, leading you and urging you to call out “Father”? 

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    Prayer:

    You alone are God. Forgive me for worshipping the false gods I create and set up. Give me grace to know You more, know Your love more, and know You more as Father.


  • August 21, 2019                                                                                                                          

    by JT Overby


    Read Galatians 5


    Works of the flesh are easy for us. The fruit of the Spirit can be more difficult. Now that we have been set free and are in Christ, we want to do what is good. We want to please the Lord. We want to walk in right-eousness. Yet, we struggle to see the fruit of the Spirit. What do we do?


    First, we need to understand that the fruit of the Spirit is a result of the Spirit’s work-- not ours. We do works of the flesh and they produce the fruit of death. The fruit of the Spirit is likewise a result of the Spirit’s work. As we walk in the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit, we see this work more and more. What is the Spirit’s work?

     

    Let me just share a few of the works of the Spirit.

     

    The Spirit comes into our lives and speaks truth to our hearts and that truth sets us free (John 14:26/16:13-15). He pours the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5). He writes the words of God on our hearts so that we want to do good (Jeremiah 31:33-34). He empowers us to do good (Ezekiel 36:27). He dwells in us richly, causing us to submit to one another, love one another, and praise God together (Ephesians 5:18-21/Colossians 3:16-17).


    How do we better walk in the Spirit? Scripture. Prayer. Fellowshipping with each other. These are graces God has given us to preserve us from walking in the flesh. 

     

    Application:
    What works of the flesh are you seeing in your life right now that you need to repent of? In what ways do you need the Spirit to produce more of His fruit? 

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    Prayer:
    God, thank you for the mysterious and powerful work of the Spirit. I pray for grace to submit more and more to His work, and that He would have His way in producing Christ-likeness in me.


  • August 22, 2019


    by JT Overby                                                                                              


    Read Galatians 6


    Paul’s main concern throughout Galatians has been the purity of the gospel. In chapter 6, he gets to instructions that should be outworkings of the gospel. Because of what Jesus has done for us, what should we do?


    First, we should help bear one another’s burdens. We should seek to help our brothers and sisters struggling in sin. That means we should be seeking to help, but also confessing our struggles so that we can be helped. Both helping and confession work together to fulfill the law of Christ. We must seek to do good and not grow weary of doing good. There will come a day when we will receive our reward, but until that day comes we must love and seek to do good, just as Christ has done for us!

    May we be people who boast in the cross of Christ alone. When we boast in ourselves, in our own strength, or what we have, we become prideful, self-centered people. Those kind of people don’t care about others. They don’t care about loving and serving others. They certainly don’t confess their own struggles. May we be transformed by the love of Jesus, dis-played perfectly on the cross, so that we can love others as we have been loved.

     

    Application:
    Would others describe you as a kind, gentle, loving, and serving person? Would others describe you as someone quick to confess, humble enough to seek help when needed? What are you boasting in? 
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    Prayer:
    God, give us grace and power by your Spirit to kill the pride within us. May we love and care for others as Jesus has loved and cared for us.



  •  

    August 23, 2019


    by JT Overby


    Read Ephesians 1


    How great is the salvation of our God! Blessed be our God is Paul’s main theme of chapter 1. Why so much praising God?


    God the Father has blessed us (we who are in Christ) with every spiritual blessing we need to live a holy and blameless life. He knew before the very foundation of the world what our needs would be, what weaknesses and struggles we would have. In Jesus, He has given us all we need. He has brought us to Himself through Jesus--salvation is only found in Him (v. 3-5).


    Jesus has purchased us with His very blood, He has forgiven us completely of all of our sins, and has lavished His grace upon us. He has united all things in heaven and earth, united all peoples on the earth in Himself. We who are in Jesus are one body, all saved by His gracious sacrifice (v. 6-10).


    Not only that, but God has sent His Spirit to seal us. We are saved by God through Jesus, and sealed by His Spirit. What blessed assurance we have of our salvation! The Spirit communicates to us all the present blessings of being in Jesus and gives us a taste of all the blessings to come (v. 13-14)!


    May He open the eyes of our hearts to see that more (v. 18)!


    Application:

    Do you ever doubt your salvation? Do you ever feel like God is ready to cast you away? How does Ephesians 1:3-14 bring you comfort in those doubts? 

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    Prayer:

    God, all praise and glory belongs to you. How great is your salvation and how great is the assurance to be found in you! Open our eyes to see it more.


  • August 26, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Ephesians 2


    That was a great sermon, but…

     

    That was a really good song, but….

     

    That is a nice outfit, but….

     

    Ever heard a comment like that? Sure you have!

     

    I always want to cringe when the word “but” comes into a sentence, because usually there’s a qualifier behind the word “but”.  That was a good sermon, but it was too long! That was a really good song, but it was way too loud! That’s a nice outfit, but you need to … whatever!! How often is the qualifier a negative instead of a positive in our conversations?

     

    But God…..  Now there is a GREAT qualifier!!!

     

    You were dead, but God…

    You were in sin, but God…

    You walked according to the world, but God…

    You lived in the lusts of our flesh, but God…

    Indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, but God…

    You were by nature children of wrath, but God…

     

    “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ, and raise us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6)

     

    Prayer:

    Father, Thank You for your goodness, Your grace, and Your great love!


  • August 27, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Ephesians 3

     

    Have you ever met someone who lives their life without hope? They feel they will never break this addiction, may never have a good paying job, never get out of this bad relationship… on and on…to the point that everything in life will go against them. What a horrible way to live!

     

    As Christians, we have a greater hope than we could ever think of. That hope is Christ dwelling in us (v. 17). The power of Christ that is working in us is able to do more than we could ever think of when it comes to our circumstances.

     

    Christians are not immune from hopelessness, though. It can manifest itself in sins we are continually struggling with, or the idea that we will never be able to have regular time with Jesus. The good news is that Christ is able to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”. (v. 20).

     

    “Now to Him, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

     

    There is no reason to live without hope in your Christian walk anymore. Christ wants to, and will bring it beyond your wildest expectations!


  • August 28, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Ephesians 4

     

    Tolerance! That’s a word we hear every day! No matter what your political preference, the word is in the news daily. Usually those who speak of tolerance are the ones who are the most intolerant of all. It’s a word that generates anger, hurt, bitterness and….division.

     

    Paul is speaking of tolerance in a different way here in this passage.

     

    So often we forget the remainder of the verse.. “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (v. 2).

     

    We must walk worthy of our calling, to preserve the unity of the spirit. You see, we don’t create unity by doing this or that. In fact, we don’t produce unity in any way. We only participate in and maintain the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit, by being humble, gentle and patient, to understand each other, to forbear one another, to pray for one another, to forgive one another, to be kind, tenderhearted, not holding grudges, not being unforgiving, bitter, resentful, and hateful toward each other.

     

    Prayer:

    Father, may Your Spirit search my heart about my attitude toward others.


  • August 29, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Ephesians 5

     

    Paul begins this chapter with a great declaration… “Be Imitators of God!” (v. 1).

     

    What exactly does it mean to be an imitator? The dictionary shows synonyms of mimic or copycat. So Paul is saying that we should be copy cats of God… Be like God, follow the pattern of God…to put it clearly and easily, we are to be “God-Like”.

     

    Reflect Him in all that we do. Be a godly man. Be a godly woman. In other words, be like God!

     

    What does that look like?

    Be strong, in God’s strength. Be filled with power, not worldly power, but God’s power. To be God-like is to be kind, full of joy, be just, and love like God loves. Jesus told us to imitate God when He said “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36). He went even further when He commanded, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. (Matthew 5:48).

     

    You cannot imitate someone that you do not know. You must spend time with God to know God!

     

    Prayer:

    Father, help me to be an imitator of You! Show me how to be loving, kind, merciful everyday.


  • August 30, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read Ephesians 6

     

    Each morning, I get up and get dressed. Most days I dress according to what I am going to do…working, it is a shirt and tie, exercising, it is shorts and tennis shoes, working in the yard, it is jeans and gloves, etc. But even with that, it is always according to the weather.

     

    In this passage, God tells His people to purposefully dress ourselves based on the spiritual climate. And as you and I well know, we live in a spiritual battlefield!

     

    Suffering, wrongdoing, and evil run rampant! But God (there is that qualifier again) has not left His people unprotected. Not only is the God of Heaven's armies on our side, but we have every bit of spiritual armor offered to us. We truly can stand against every trick, scheme, or de-ception.  We do this by putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel of peace, shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. It’s just a matter of putting it on.

     

    As a church, let us put on the armor of God together.

     

    Prayer:

    Lord, thank you for giving me your armor. Today, I’m putting on every piece. The belt of truth: May I continue to learn your truth. The breast-plate of righteousness: I claim Christ’s righteousness, not my own. Shoes of peace: I’m ready to share your Good News. The shield of faith: I am trusting that God is working for my good and will come through for me. The helmet of salvation: I believe in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Finally, the sword of the Spirit: I will claim Your Word and its promises as my reality and my hope. Through this, I believe I will stand firm against all strategies of the devil.