May 2020:




Dr. Kevin Calhoun

May 1 | John 20


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Jonathan Norton

May 4-8 | John 21 Matthew 1-4


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Rev. JT Overby

May 11-15 | Matthew 5-9


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Dr. Craig Bowers

May 18-22 | Matthew 10-14


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

May 25-29 | Matthew 15-19



  • May 1, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read John 20

     

    How observant are you? When you look at someone or something, what details do you notice?  When Mary Magdalene told the disciples the tomb was empty, Peter and John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) ran to the tomb to see for themselves.

     

    John arrived first “and stooping and looking in he saw the linen wrappings lying there,” (vs. 5).  John took a casual glance and saw the grave clothes, but he did not notice much else. 

     

    When Peter came into the tomb “he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the facecloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself” (vss. 6-7). Simon Peter took in much more detail than John. He took note of the clothing that remained and where it was placed.

     

    Then we read, “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed,” (vs. 8). At this point John began to have a greater understanding of what had taken place, and he believed the power of God was at work.

     

    I wonder, when we read the Bible, do we merely skim over the text in order to complete our reading? Or do we take time to reflect upon what we are reading? Furthermore, does our reading of Scripture stir us on to a greater degree of faith so that we respond in obedience to God’s Word? It is something for us to think about.

     

    Application:

    How often do you take time to read God’s Word? 
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    How does the Word of God impact the way you live each day? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, may I be found faithful to the truths I glean from reading Your Word!  Amen!



  • May 4, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read John 21

     

    Imagine you are Peter for a moment and then visualize this incredible mental picture:

     

    It is sunrise on the beach of the Sea of Galilee, and you have been fishing all night with the other disciples. You have caught nothing all night and a man yells at you to throw your net out on the right side of the boat (most of us would be thinking who does this guy think he is?). When you do, your net comes up full of fish, so you come to shore. When you arrive on land it is none other than the resurrected Lord Jesus standing there, and He has prepared breakfast for you to eat with Him. Wow! Now, what’s the biggest blessing here, the miraculous catch or spending time with Jesus?

     

    Now, remember back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when an astonished Peter fell at the feet of Jesus after hauling in a similar unbelievable catch of fish in the very same waters we read about today (Luke 5:1-8). Now here we are three years later, and Jesus provides another unbelievable catch. Then the Lord cooks a meal for them over a charcoal fire. The only other time we read in scripture about a charcoal fire is in John 18:17-18. This is where Peter denies Jesus the first of three times, as he warms himself by the fire with the very guards of those who were trying to kill Jesus.

     

    Isn’t it interesting how Jesus “restores” and “reinstates” Peter by using some vivid reminders? The big catch of fish, the charcoal fire, a rooster probably would have been crowing at sunrise in a distance, and Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” (vs. 15-17).  Another interesting fact that was a humbling reminder is that in verse 15 Jesus addressed Peter by his old name “Simon son of John” which means “pebble”. Jesus had changed his name to Peter which means “rock”. Then in verse 17, Jesus commands Peter to “Feed my sheep”. In other words, Jesus was telling Peter to be the rock for the church that I called you to be and tend to the flock. What an amazing story for John to close His gospel with.


  • May 5, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 1

     

    Now we start over in our gospel devotions. As we begin again with Matthew Chapter 1, I think it is important to summarize what we have read the past four months and reintroduce Matthew. The four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John – Are called “Gospels” which means “Good News”. Each gospel tells the good news of Jesus from a unique perspective, emphasizing different aspects of who He is and what He came to accomplish. The first three (Matthew, Mark and Luke) are called the “Synoptic Gospels”. Synoptic means “Viewed Together”, and these three share a similar structure and relate many of the same stories. The Gospel of Matthew is the most topical of the four gospels. He often grouped material by themes rather than chronologically. I want to remind you that Matthew wrote his gospel about 20-30 years after Jesus had gone back to Heaven.   

     

    Who is Matthew? Well, his name means “Gift of the Lord”. Before following Jesus, Matthew was a corrupt, small time tax collector for Rome. Educated and literate, he was also known by the name Levi. Interesting that nowhere in the four gospels do we find a single recorded word that Matthew spoke. Why is this? Because he did not write to tell us about himself, he only gives us the words and works of Jesus. One writer eloquently describes Matthew this way: He was a Bridge Builder who Introduced a New Book, He was a Biographer who Introduced a New King and He was a Believer who Introduced New People.

     

    In Chapter 1 we read about the genealogy of Jesus (vs. 1-17) and the birth of Jesus (18-24). Both very important parts of history as they reveal Jesus’ identity as Israel’s promised King. As we study the Gospel of Matthew, we will see that he opened his heart to King Jesus to become a new person.  He opened his Home to King Jesus and followed Him, and he opened his hands and worked for King Jesus.



  • May 6, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 2

     

    As we closed Chapter 1 and read in Chapter 2, we read about the undeniable faith and obedience of Joseph. He simply acted on what he heard from the angel in Chapter 1, verse 20, as he remained faithful to Mary and to God. Now here in Chapter 2, we read where the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph two more times in a dream (vs. 13-15 and vs. 19-21). In this dream, the angel commands him to “Get Up”, Go and Wait. I think if most of us were honest, we would admit that it would be hard for us to just wake up from a dream, pack up our family and leave home without knowing when you might come back. Hurry up and wait is an old saying that applies here.

     

    What does Joseph model and teach us here? Joseph teaches us faith, obedience, patience and what it means to be a Godly husband and father. His faith was so strong that he did not ask questions, he simply obeyed the directions from the  angel of the Lord. His obedience was that of total surrender to the Lord’s instructions. He demonstrated prayerful patience by waiting on the Lord and His timing for what was next in his life. And Joseph did all this because it was what was best for his family at the time, not necessarily what was desired.

     

    Why were these actions necessary for Joseph? Because it ultimately led to the  protection and safety of Mary and Jesus, as well as the fulfillment of prophecy. What an example for husbands and fathers to follow! Surrender to the will of the Lord, obey the Lord by following His Word, and protect your family through the power of the Lord. Men, are you this kind of husband and father? Women and children, are you praying for your husband and father, for the Lord to protect and guide him?    



  • May 7, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 3

     

    As we read this chapter, it is helpful to understand that about 30 years has passed between Chapters 2 and 3 of Matthew. During this time, Jesus lived in Nazareth and worked as a carpenter. Now Matthew begins to tell the story of Jesus’ public ministry which would ultimately lead to the cross. Starting in Chapters 3, Matthew introduces the testimonies of multiple witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ, that He is indeed the Son of God.

     

    Let’s focus today on John the Baptist (vs. 1-15). Remember the nation had not heard the voice of a prophet for over 400 years. Now John the Baptist appears and revival breaks out. For any revival to take place it must start with “repentance”, which is what John was preaching. Pastor Craig pointed out in our first Matthew devotion that repentance means to “change one’s mind”. I want to take this a little further. Repentance is a three syllable word, and I believe true repentance actually involves three changes: Changing of one’s Heart, Changing of one’s Mind and the Changing of one’s Direction. When all three changes take place, we sincerely begin living for the Kingdom of Heaven (v. 2).    

     

    Another interesting part of this text is that Jesus Himself was baptized (vs. 13-17). Have you ever asked why was Jesus baptized? It certainly wasn’t because He was a sinner. It was because of four key reasons: 1.) It was the Father’s will (v. 15)  2.) His baptism gave approval to John’s ministry 3.) He served as a model for those He was trying to reach and 4.) His baptism painted a picture of His future on the cross. This story reminds me that sometimes the Lord asks us to do unusual things, to accomplish unusual things, which He knows is best for the Kingdom. Like John, all we need to do is be obedient and we will become a part of God’s righteous work. 



  • May 8, 2020

     

    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read Matthew 4


    Stop and think for a minute that our Lord was tempted as a man, not as the Son of God (vs. 1-11).  Even more amazing is that Jesus did not use His divine powers to overcome Satan’s temptations.  He used the same resources we have today: The Power of the Holy Spirit (v. 1) and The Power of the Word of God (vs. 4, 7 & 10). This should greatly encourage us to know that Jesus was not tempted so the Father could learn more about His Son, He was tempted so that every creature in Heaven, and on earth might know that Jesus Christ is The Conqueror!

     

    Picture This: Just as the first Adam met Satan – the Last Adam met Satan  (1 Corinthians 15:45). Adam met the enemy in a beautiful garden – Jesus met him in the wilderness. Adam had all his needs met – Jesus was hungry from fasting.  Adam lost the battle and placed all humanity into sin – Jesus won the battle and offers salvation to all humanity from their sin. Remember this the next time you are tempted.        

     

    A neat historical fact to take note of in Chapter 4 is Jesus left His hometown of Nazareth and moved His ministry base to Capernaum. Why? This move fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah had predicted in Isaiah 9 (Matthew 4:14-16). Capernaum thrived as a first-century fishing village and served as a stop along the international roadway that ran from Syria (north) to Egypt (south). This road also was main line of communication going all through Israel. Over a period of days, thousands of people would come to see the One they heard about and hoped was the Messiah (vs. 24-25). This one move provided Jesus incredible visibility and gave His ministry a strategic location. I think Jesus must have been the first in real estate to understand location, location, location. Our Lord knew exactly Where to be, When to be there, and Why He was there.          

     


  • May 11, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Matthew 5


    Something new, yet something familiar is happening. Just as God descended on the mountain to give the law to Moses, Jesus, the One who descended from Heaven to Earth, will not ascend the mountain to teach them the ways of the Kingdom of God and correct their wrong

    understandings of God’s Word. Whereas only Moses went up the mountain, we see many come to Jesus. Will we rightly understand the command to be perfect as the Father is perfect (5:48) and pay close attention to the words and commands of Jesus? 


    I read Matthew 5 and I see what Jesus commands in regards to anger, lust, matters of marriage, oaths, turning the other cheek, and loving our enemies and even praying for those who persecute us. I must conclude that this is too great for me. I cannot keep this law. I cannot be perfect as He is perfect. But the command is there all the same, regardless of whether I can keep it. Condemned I stand. 


    While Jesus says He has not come to abolish this law, praise God He has come to fulfill the law. Jesus doesn’t just command what we see in Matthew 5, He also perfectly lives it out. He fulfills the righteous requirements of the law, so that sin will be condemned in me, and I can stand in righteousness before God (Romans 8:1-4).


    The command remains, though. Jesus sends us the Spirit who will write on our hearts and minds the law of God, and enable us to want to do and even do God’s word (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:26-27). I must be perfect. Praise God, I am declared righteous through faith in Jesus, and am made righteous through the working of the Spirit! 


    May we pay close attention to the words of Matthew 5, then.



  • May 12, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 6


    What are you seeking? Are you seeking the attention of others? Do you want your church attendance, tithes given, prayers prayed, and works done to be seen by others? If so, the Bible actually says that you will receive your reward. Others will see you—reward earned. However, if that is where our heart is, it will surely lead to death. We were not made to find life in the loving glance of others.


    There is a better way than that, though. It says that instead of our name being holy and exalted and seen by others, it says, “God, may Your name be holy and exalted and seen by others.” Instead of our status, reputation, and fame growing, it says, “God, may Your Kingdom come and will be done and Your fame spread throughout the world.” Instead of looking for fulfillment and satisfaction in the glance of others, it says, “God, may You fill me Yourself, Your goodness, the true Bread of Heaven, Jesus.”


    The better way is the way where our hearts are set on God alone, and our treasures and delights are found in Him. Are you happy right now? Are you satisfied in life? Are you anxious, worried, or concerned about things outside of your control? How we answer these questions will often reveal where we find our treasures in life.


    May we heed the Words of Jesus and above all seek His Kingdom. God knows our needs and is delighted to provide for us. He gave us Jesus, so how will He not  graciously give us all we need (Romans 8:32)? Only when we treasure Jesus in our hearts will we find life, and life abundant. May God reveal to us the idols of our heart and lead us not into temptation, but in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

     


  • May 13, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 7


    We saw in Matthew 5:48 that we must be perfect as God is perfect. This was not a suggestion, but rather a command. In order to see and be in God’s Kingdom, we must be perfect. In chapter 7 we see that the type of person who can weather any storm in this life is the person who hears the Words of Jesus and does them. How do we approach Scripture? How do we approach the Sermon on the Mount, this passage that is so familiar? Do we let it convict us, let it reveal blemishes in our lives like a mirror to our face (James 1:23)?

     

    We must seek God with all of our being! The promise is given in 7:7-11. The Father delights to give of Himself. We must seek Him in private worship, reading, prayer, and devotion. We must seek Him in the community of the saints. We must seek Him as we live our lives amongst those of faith and those who are lost. He delights to give us of Himself!

     

    How we treat the Word of God and how we seek God will be revealed in the fruit we produce. What kind of fruit adorns the tree that is your life? Is it good? Is it Christ-like? The way to producing Christ-likeness is surely the hard and narrow road, but it is the way to life. Remember, we must be perfect. But again, we are reminded of the glorious gospel truths.

     

    His Words that we are to build our lives on reveal the righteousness of Jesus that He gives to those of faith. His words reveal that He has sent His Spirit to work in us, and specifically produce fruit of the Spirit—Christ-likeness.

     

    Let us read Matthew 5-7 carefully and give ourselves over to hearing His words and doing His words, then we will rightly stand in Him.

     

     


  • May 14, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 8

          

    Remember back to the end of Matthew 7, where we see the people marveling at the authority with which Jesus speaks. What kind of man is this? Well, not only does His teaching carry authority, but if we needed any more evidence to heed the Words of Jesus, we see He even has authority over Creation with His very Word. Who is this man?

     

    While fully human, this Jesus is fully God. Through Jesus, all things were created, so of course He has authority over creation! Are we listening to His Word? He has authority to calm the winds and the waves, but also to heal the sick, and cast out demons. Jesus has come to bring the rule and reign of God’s good Kingdom to this world, and this is what it looks like when that starts to happen.

     

    Notice two more important aspects to chapter 8. First, Jesus comes down the mountain and is immediately confronted by a leper. Lepers were outcasts and  unclean, forced to live away from family and loved ones, and no longer feel the touch of a friend or family member. Yet, in desperation he runs to Jesus and begs to be healed. Jesus could have spoken and healed him, yet He touches him. Second, a Roman centurion comes to Jesus asking that He would heal his servant. The man is feeling so unworthy, asks Jesus not to come, but merely speak His Words of authority and heal the servant. Jesus does so.

     

    Jesus has come to bring His Kingdom and He invites all to come and join—all the outcasts, the poor, the paralyzed, the sick, those who have given themselves over to demonic oppression, and even the leper and Gentile-- the unclean. What grace! Jesus comes to us.

     



  • May 15, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 9

     

    Who is this man who thinks He can forgive sins? We’ve seen that Jesus has authority and power in His Word. In chapter 9 we see the restoration of a man’s life as he is healed from being paralyzed, but even more, forgiven of his sins.

     

    We again see Jesus go to the outcasts. Jews hated tax collectors. They were traders. Yet, Jesus goes to Matthew the tax collector and calls him to be one of His closest followers.


    Jesus comes in contact with the unclean, according to Leviticus someone dead and a woman with a discharge of blood. What does He do? The woman is allowed to touch Jesus and not rebuked for it. Jesus touches the girl and restores her life.


    The blind receive sight at the Words of Jesus, lives are restored, and sinners are called. Who is this man?! We often wonder what it would look like for a holy God to be in the presence of sinful, rebellious, unholy people. We don’t need to wonder. Jesus hates and despises the sin, but that is precisely why He came. He came to take all that makes us unclean, all that makes us unholy, all that separates us from the Father. He takes it upon Himself and nails it to the cross, as He is nailed to the cross, paying the penalty for our sin.


    We don’t deserve this kind of man! Yet, Jesus comes to us. Are we listening to His call? Are we hearing the grace in His declaration of “forgiven”? Are we heeding His words to obey all He says to do and be? Are we trusting in Him to be our Lord and Savior, our Shepherd in every aspect of our lives? Jesus comes to us. What kind of man is this!



  • May 18, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 10

     

    Jesus said “Do not fear” in verses 26, 28, and 31. What causes people the greatest fear? Often our fears are related to what is happening in our culture or lives. Regardless of the nature of your fear(s), ultimately the greatest fear centers on people who can harm us. Jesus’ words in verses 26-31 help relieve our fears - no matter what they are!

     

    First, God will bring about justice! God’s truth will settle every injustice! People fear the injustice of government, religious institutions, people and places of power. God will bring all things to light. Fear should be rooted in the justice of God. Jesus felt the full wrath and justice of the Holy Father on the cross. As a Christ-follower, you do not need to fear His wrath.

     

    Second, God has the ultimate power! There are many things that have the power to kill you. But only God has the power to send anyone to the ultimate death - the second death! Here, both body and soul are lost forever, separated from God without hope. Fear the second death! Christ-followers do not fear the second death because Christ has saved us.

     

    Third, God has determined your value. You are more valuable than a sparrow that God takes care of. You are so valuable to God that He numbers the hairs on your head! That’s placing a high value on you. He loves you with an everlasting, inseparable love. Wow! You don’t need to fear losing His love. You do not need to fear being a worthless person. Your worth is not determined by what people say or think about you. Your value is set by the Creator. How valuable are you? So valuable that Jesus died for you!! Fear neglecting the love and value of God.

     

    Application:

    Which of these three antidotes to fear do I need to focus on right now? ________________________________________________________________


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    How will focusing on that truth help me? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord, thank you for your love, protection, and justice!

     


  • May 19, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 11

     

    What are people looking for? The truth spoken with rock solid conviction! People went into the wilderness to hear a man that was not shaken by the winds of time. Jesus said he was not like the “reed shaken by the wind.” Seekers of truth want to hear from someone who doesn’t constantly embrace the latest and popular position. They stand firm, strong, and compassionate on the unchanging truth.

     

    People are also drawn to those who are not self-consumed. In our narcissistic  society, being self-centered is expected and exalted. “Look at me! I’m great! I’m the best...!” and other egotistical phrases are normal in our culture. John did not dress to bring attention to himself. He did just the opposite. His attire may have turned some people off for being so uncouth! Isn’t that interesting? John was not a “dress for success” kind of guy. He was totally unconcerned about the opinions of self-appointed fashion consultants. His “antics” were not designed to draw attention to himself.

     

    John linked the value of his life to the value of the message he proclaimed. In other words, his “self-esteem” was not bolstered by appearance and acclaim, but by the truth on which he stood and his call to share it. His priority was fulfilling the call of God and that brought fulfillment to his soul.

     

    Jesus said that John was the greatest person ever born (excluding Jesus). His short lived ministry produced a tremendous battle. The powers of darkness who opposed the message of the King responded violently.

     

    So, we must ask ourselves these questions: Am I shaken like a corn stalk when the winds of change, pressure, persecution “blow” against my calling? Do I stand   confident? Is my life centered on drawing attention to me or to Christ? Is fulfillment in life rooted in following the call of Christ or the affirmation of the crowd? Is my life so dedicated to God that I am causing a “spiritual ruckus” in the forces of darkness?

     



  • May 20, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 12

     

    What is the only unforgivable sin? Is there more than one unforgivable sin? How do I know that I haven’t committed the unforgivable sin?

     

    Jesus clarifies in verse 31 that the unforgivable sin is “blasphemy against the Spirit.” How do you blaspheme the Holy Spirit? First of all, the context really answers our question. Blasphemy is defiant irreverence. The Pharisees attributed the power of Christ to the ruler of the demons! So, blasphemy is more than rejecting the power of Christ. Blasphemy is when someone attributes the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of the unholy. It is far worse than the sin of taking God’s name in vain. It is saying that Satan is working, when in reality the Spirit of Christ is working. It is mocking the work of His Spirit.

     

    Are there any other unforgivable sins? No! Jesus makes that clear in verse 31, “any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” Jesus goes on to say that a person can be forgiven of speaking against Christ. However, to speak against the Holy Spirit is not forgivable.

     

    Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit the only unforgivable sin? Because the Spirit of Christ will attest to the truth of God in Christ, and those who defiantly and insolently shake their fist in God’s face will have no further opportunity to repent.

     

    How do I know that I haven’t committed the unforgivable sin? If you are convicted by the Holy Spirit, then He is still at work in your life. That means He has not turned away from you. If you are receptive to His truth, then you have not committed the unpardonable sin because your heart is open. Those who have blasphemed against the Spirit have hardened, calloused hearts. They have put to shame the Lord Jesus. They will never have an opportunity to put Him to open shame again because they will not be given the chance. They will stand condemned and damned before Him one day.

     

    In this sobering passage, our hearts are full of gratitude for His grace! His Spirit continues to reveal to us His truth. Even if at first we rejected Him, He continues to demonstrate His patience and mercy on us. However, those who defiantly and irreverently reject the work of the Holy Spirit have committed the unpardonable sin. God withdraws from them and they will die in their sin.

     

    Prayer:

    I praise the name of the Lord my God for His mercy and grace. May my heart be tender to Your promptings.



  • May 21, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 13

     

    The parable of the wheat and tares teaches us a crucial lesson. The “enemy” sowed tares after the land owner sowed wheat. Obviously, the Lord is the land owner and the wheat is Christ followers. Clearly the enemy is Lucifer. What is the point of this parable and the lesson all believers are to learn? It is found in verses 36-43!

     

    The field is the world! Satan has sown a lot of seed that looks like wheat. In other words, it looks real. It sounds real. It may even taste real. But it isn’t real. Satan is the master deceiver. His goal is to convince people that they are right with God, when in fact they are not right with God. Satan’s deception is to entice people to do good deeds. When people do good deeds, they feel like they are right with God. They may even look like they are right with God. They are kind, thoughtful, and religious. If you compared many of them to the children of the Kingdom, you may not be able to tell the difference.

     

    But there is coming a day of separation. Jesus will send His angels to separate the saved from the lost. This is not going to be based on appearance! Those who are born-again, who trust only in the finished work of Jesus Christ for salvation, will be separated from those who are religious, very good people. However, the fate of those without Christ is not only separation but eternal ruin. They will be “cast into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” verse 42.

     

    The parable is a reminder to all of us to examine our hearts to see if we are born-again. It isn’t about looking the part, it is about being apart!

     

    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I open my heart up to you for examination. Only your Spirit is free from deception. Show me my heart. If my spirit has not been transformed by your Holy Spirit, reveal my true state to me. I am willing to see. I don’t want to look like wheat (a child of God), I want to truly be a child of God. Have I been born again? Have I recognized my sinfulness before you? Have I truly repented and turned to you? Am I a disciple of Jesus? May I have ears to hear and eyes to see what your Spirit says to me.



  • May 22, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 14

     

    Our focus today is verses 13-21. The key thought is the compassion of Christ. In the shadows of His cousin’s death, Jesus withdraws. He longs for time alone with the Father. When He emerges, He encounters a vast crowd of hungry, hurting people. He meets their physical hunger with totally insufficient resources. Too often our focus is on the miracle of feeding over 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. Our incorrect focus results in this: We have sufficient resources but we are ineffective in meeting the needs! What’s wrong?!

     

    We must learn the discipline that Jesus practiced: time alone with the Father. Jesus withdrew to be alone with the Father in the presence of incredible needs. His desire was not to be alone with the Father so that He would then be able to meet the needs of the crowd. NO! He wanted to be alone with the Father because He loved the Father. He loved to be loved by the Father.

     

    We are so frantic in making plans and addressing the incredible needs around us that we overlook the greatest need of all - our utter dependence on the provision of the Father. We must “go aside” or get alone and be with our Father. He will heal our hurts. He will renew our strength! Why do we “burn out”? Why do we have an abundance of resources and yet send people away hungry and hurting? Because we have not turned aside to experience a deeper relationship with the Father. We have not spent time alone with the Father who strengthens the inner man.

     

    Time after time through the years I have gotten caught up in the “whirlwind.” Heightened expectations, tremendous needs, hurting hearts all “demand” our attention. However, the greatest need all of us have is to turn aside from the parched world and turn to the River of Life. Only then will the life-giving water of His Spirit flow through us into the lives of others.

     

    Prayer:

    My Lord, thank You for longing to be alone with me. Grow my hunger and thirst for You. May I long for You with abandon. May I simply be still and enjoy Your presence. May I experience Your compassion.  I confess that if I don’t, I will do Your work without your compassion. Deliver me from trying to use You to accomplish what I want to do in Your name!! Help me to long for an intimate relationship of love with You.

     



  • May 25, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 15

     

    As our text for today begins, we find Jesus confronted once again by a group of Pharisees and scribes.  On this occasion they are asking Jesus why His disciples do not follow the tradition of washing their hands before eating.  The underlying  accusation is that because the disciples, and Jesus by association with them, do not follow the traditions established by the elders of their faith; they are guilty of disobeying the law of God. Jesus responds by telling them their hypocrisy invalidates the very Word of God they are seeking to proclaim. Then Jesus quotes the prophet, Isaiah.

     

    “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men,” (Matthew 15:8-9; Isaiah 29:13).

     

    The older I get, the more I realize how set I am in my ways.  I grew up learning to do things and my habits have become very deep rooted.  As a result, I sometimes find myself a little uncomfortable or disoriented when people do things differently than I would do them.

     

    The key for us is to remember our “traditions” do not outweigh the Word of God. We need to be careful about allowing “legalism” to creep into our lives. A transformation of our heart is much more important than following a set of traditions. This understanding will, in turn, keep us from judging those who do things differently from us.

     

    Application:

    Make a list of some “traditions” you have that might interfere with your worship.
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    Write a prayer seeking God’s grace in properly recognizing, confessing, and dealing with your “legalism.” 
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    Prayer:

    “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).



  • May 26, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 16


    In our reading for today we find Peter’s confession of Christ at Caesarea Philippi, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (vs. 16).  What a wonderful expression of faith in Jesus! What confuses many people is Jesus’ response to Simon Peter and the disciples, “Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ,” (vs. 20).  This warning is repeated in parallel passages in Mark 8:30 and Luke 9:21. It is also found in Matthew 8:4 after Jesus heals a leper. Why would Jesus warn them not to tell others He is the Christ when we are also told to take the message of the Gospel to the whole world, (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:20; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8)?

     

    I believe it is a matter of understanding. The disciples and many others during this time still believed the Messiah would be a military Savior who would bring freedom to His people through a military show of strength.  It was not until after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that they began to understand the truth of the Gospel message. If they began to tell others about Jesus prior to His death, they easily could have conveyed the wrong message.

     

                       We need to consider two questions today:

     

    1.  Who do we say Jesus is?

     

    2.  Are we being faithful in sharing our faith with others?


    Application:

    Write a brief testimony of your understanding of Jesus. ________________________________________________________________

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    List a few people with whom you can share your faith. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Dear Lord, I confess my sin to You this day, and acknowledge my faith in You as my only means of salvation. Give me courage to be a faithful witness to You each day. Amen!

     


  • May 27, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 17


    Our reading for today contains Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration (vss.1-13). Notice with me Peter’s response to the event and the instructions given to Peter, James and John. As Moses and Elijah are transfigured with Jesus on the mountain, Peter expresses an immediate desire to build three altars for worship. A voice from Heaven came at that moment and said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him,” (vs. 5). As so often happened in Peter’s life, his impetuousness caused him to speak/act too quickly. But God told Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus.

     

    This is very good advice for all of us. In the world in which we live today it is easy to be overwhelmed with information overload. Television, radio, media, social media, emails, phone calls, texts, and regular conversations fill us with a multitude of different messages each day. In this one verse of Scripture we are instructed to listen to Jesus. He is the One who can fill us with the message of truth and hope.

     

    As we listen to Jesus, we will discover many different words of instruction. His teachings throughout the Gospels help us understand how we can have and maintain a proper relationship with God in our daily lives. His words of comfort and consolation speak to us in times of difficulty and discouragement. His words of warning correct and convict us when we turn away from His teachings. 

     

     

    Application:

    As you read God’s Word today, list several truths God is speaking to you.  ________________________________________________________________

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    List any changes this might bring to your life today. 
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    Prayer:

    Dear Lord, help me to hear and heed Your voice today.  Please block out the noise of the world surrounding me!  Amen.

     


  • May 28, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 18

     

    Our reading for today opens with a question from the disciples: “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” (vs. 1).  Jesus calls a child to Him and says,

     

    “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles   himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me,” (vss. 3-5).

     

    Consider with me today three ways children differ from adults.

     

    1.  Children have a different set of values than adults. Adults tend to work hard in order to pay bills, provide food and shelter for their families, and prepare for the future. Children find value in other things: toys, candy, fun activities, and play.

     

    2.  Children do not wear masks. Yes, they pretend a lot and use their        imaginations, but children are not artificial. On the other hand, adults often hide their feelings and put on a show for others.

     

    3.  Children usually have a single-minded approach to life. Children can be so involved in an activity that they are completely unaware of what is taking place around them. Adults, however, frequently bounce from one activity to another all day long.

     

    Jesus wants us to have a child-like faith. Notice I said child-like,not childish. We are to have a faith that is genuine, focused, and based upon proper values. We find such faith only as we turn to Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

     

    Application:


    List areas in your life where you may have the wrong focus. ________________________________________________________________

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    Write a simple prayer trusting God to change your heart and motives. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Pray the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 today.

     


  • May 29, 2020


    by Kevin Calhoun


    Read Matthew 19


    The story of the “Rich, Young Ruler” (Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 18:18-25) has always been an interesting narrative to me.  A young man came to Jesus asking about salvation, but when he heard Jesus’ response he went away sad.  Here we have a picture of someone who was so close, yet so far away.

     

    I believe the man came with the right motive. As a ruler (Luke 18:18) he was a very prominent man who was respected and influential. But he had no real peace or joy in his life.

     

    He also appeared to have the right attitude. Mark 10:17 tells us he ran to Jesus (a sense of urgency) and knelt before Him. Furthermore, unlike Nicodemus who came cautiously and at night, this man came in broad daylight in front of other people. 

     

    He also came to the right source by coming to Jesus.  He had tried the law and he had tried ritual, but neither gave him a sense of peace.  Now he has come to Jesus, but something went wrong and he went away sad.

     

    When Jesus told the man to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor, Jesus was not saying salvation comes through charity. Contrast this attitude with Zacchaeus who acknowledged his sin and returned more money to people than he had taken. Jesus was calling the young man, and He calls us today, to turn from our sin and to Him for salvation.  Faith in Christ always brings a change in our lives.

     

    Application:


    List any areas in your life that may have a greater priority for you than your walk with Christ. ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    For your prayer today, read and pray the lyrics of the hymn, “I Surrender All.”