NOVEMBER 2019:

Rev. JT Overby

November 1

James 2

 

Gary Reynolds

November 4—November 8

James 3—James 5

1 Peter 1—1 Peter 2

 

Dr. Craig Bowers

November 11—November 15

1 Peter 3—1 Peter 5

2 Peter 1—2 Peter 2

 

Dr. Kevin Calhoun

November 18—November 22

2 Peter 3

1 John 1—1 John 4

 

Jonathan Norton

November 25—November 29

1 John 5

2 John

3 John

Jude

Revelation 1



  • November 1, 2019

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read James 2

     

    We do not earn our salvation through works. Salvation is the gift of God, based on the grace of God towards sinners— like you and me! Yet works, or Christ-likeness in us, reveals that we have been saved, that our hearts have been changed and made new. As Pastor Timothy Keller (and many others) says, “We obey not to be loved, but we obey because we
    have been loved.” 


    How do we obey? As we look to Jesus and are transformed by the Spirit within us, we see more clearly His love for us. He shows no partiality. We were all dead in our sins and trespasses, and He loved us and died for us. Likewise, to fulfill the royal law and walk in obedience, we must love one another.
     

    God calls us to show no partiality. We must love the rich, the poor, the content, and the needy.  We must love all as Christ has loved us. To love as Christ loves shows a heart that has been made new, a heart that once was stone, but now is alive towards God. May we love like He loves us!

     

    Application:
    How you can fulfill the royal law today in your life? Look for ways you can love the people around you today and throughout your life.  
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    Prayer:
    God give me grace to love like You love, not to earn Your love, but        because of the grace You’ve already shown me.



  • November 4, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read James 3

     

    How many times during each day, are we faced with the choice to speak words of life or death, encouragement or discouragement, truth or lie?  A carefully chosen word can change a person’s future, save a friendship, or prevent a family fight. A harmful word can ruin a reputation, destroy a relationship, or demolish a career.

     

    In today’s world, it’s not just what you speak either; it’s what you text, email, or post online.

     

    No matter who we are, we all struggle with this battle—because James made it clear that no one can tame the tongue. Not one single person. This is because our words reveal what’s going on inside of us.  Here on earth, we will always struggle with sin, waging a war inside our hearts.

     

    But here’s our hope: Through Christ, we have victory. He nailed the punishment of our loose tongue to the cross long ago, and by His forgiveness and the working of the Holy Spirit, we are renewed day by day. When we lean on His strength and call upon His wisdom, we truly are being conformed to the image of Jesus—and only out of His help do we see it’s possible to get better with our words. 

     

    Today, whenever we’re tempted to lie, gossip, complain, criticize, brag, demean, or spout off something hurtful, let’s call upon the heavenly wisdom of God and invite His power to tame our words and soften our hearts. When we do, we can be sure purity, peace, gentleness, and mercy will follow.

     

    Application:

    What evil of the tongue do you notice the most in your speech—lying, gossiping, complaining, criticizing, bragging, demeaning, or saying hurtful words? 
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    When you recognize it for the sin that it is, you can then pray specifically and find the victory to overcome it: “Father, I notice that my tongue runs wild, particularly when I _____________. Please forgive me, and by your Spirit, may I nail that sin to the cross and leave it behind. Breathe your wisdom into my conversations and speech, and may the words I say honor you.” 



  • November 5, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read James 4

     

    Wouldn’t life be grand if we all lived in perfect peace and harmony?  James sure felt that way. Here he stood, a pastor to the founding church in Jerusalem, watching believers and friends pick fights, criticize each other, covet the lives and possessions of one another, and kill to get what they wanted. Their motives were all wrong, and all of it was founded in pride.

     

    It would be one thing if they saw their sin as sin and asked the Lord for help and forgiveness. There would be grace overflowing, and they would receive nothing but tender mercy.

     

    But this was not the case. These men and women were smirking, defending their cause, and sinking deeper and deeper into their immorality. They didn’t want to turn away from their schemes, and in turn, they were making themselves enemies of God.

     

    Strong language, right? But Scripture has always been clear: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. This was James' plea to his friends and neighbors—please, humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, come close to God, and wash your hands of your sin. Only then will your hearts will be purified, and there will be restoration with God Himself.

     

    May we hear these words as if we were part of the crowd James was speaking to, and listen to his plea. Whatever sense of pride is growing in our hearts, whatever fights we’re picking, and whatever possessions we’re coveting, may we see our sin as sin and ask the Lord for help and forgiveness. Because then, always, we will experience His unending grace and kindhearted mercy.

     

    Application:

    Where in your life may you be fueling pride?  
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    Prayer:

    Lord, I want to live my life in a way that always honors and pleases You. This motivation is pure, so any sense of pride or indignation that’s growing in my spirit, I pray that you would point it out to me and purify my heart. Thank you, Lord, for being so gentle and patient with Your people!



  • November 6, 2019                                                                                                    

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read James 5

     

    What do you do when you are faced with hardship? Text your spouse, complain to your friend, or call your mom?

     

    When you’re happy, what do you do? Treat yourself to a new outfit, go out with your family for a celebratory dinner, or call your mom?

     

    And when you’re sick, what do you do? Go to the doctor, microwave a bowl of chicken noodle soup, or call your mom?

     

    Whether we’re hurting or celebrating, there’s plenty of outlets in this world, and if we’re being real, calling our mom is like a lifeline for all things.

     

    But James directs God’s people to go to Him first. Truth be told, He alone is greater and stronger, but we sometimes think we are—so we try to fix the problem ourselves, make plans for a better outcome, and research advice from experts who must know how to turn things around.

     

    But whether we are suffering, joyful, or sick, God is the only true Source of comfort and help. He wants to come to our aid when we face hardship, He wants to sing along with us when we are happy, and He wants to heal the iniquities of our soul. However, the only way to experience this power is by praying and making it your first priority.

     

     

    Application:

    What is your most natural outlet—the person or place you turn to when you’re   struggling,  happy, or sick? 
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    Reflect on James 5:16 today: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great  power and produces wonderful results.”

     



  • November 7, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read 1 Peter 1


    Pause for a moment in your ever busy lives, your ever busy minds, and think about just how much of your life you operate out of hope, or the lack of it. Human beings are hopers. We are created and designed to hope. Ask yourself these questions and just think about it…

    • Did you wake up this morning hoping?
    • Did you wake up hoping for that time of coffee with Jesus, and His Word?
    • Did you wake up hoping that the Atlanta Falcons will actually win?
    • Did you wake up hoping your kids were not sick and you could make it to church?


    What about every other day of the week? Maybe you wake up hoping you do amazing at work, and your hard work will pay off. Maybe you wake up hoping that today you will live more for Jesus than yesterday. Maybe you wake up hoping that marriage gets better. Maybe you woke up hoping that your past mistakes will not haunt you today.

     

    Where are you placing your hope?

     

    You see, the question is not whether or not we hope, but what we hope in. Where, then is your hope being placed, in what and in whom?

     

    With Peter’s encouragement to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our horizontal hopes, at best, merely provide a fleeting pleasure, and at worst lead to addiction and destruction. We must search alone for our hope vertically, in the person and work of Jesus Christ,  in His promises, His truths, His provisions, and all of that is found in the Word of God.

     

    The key to our hope being rightly focused on Christ is faith and obedience toward our Lord Jesus.

     

    “The golden rule for spiritual understanding is not intellect, but obedience.”

     

    APPLICATION:

    Look at your life today and examine where you are placing your hope!

     

    PRAYER:

    God, grant me your grace and strength to obey Your Word and to place my hope in Christ Alone



  • November 8, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read 1 Peter 2

     

    If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all want to grow. We want to be better spouses, better parents, better friends, better employees, musicians, coaches, writers, home-renovators, and ultimately, better Christians.

     

    So what stops us? We want to be better parents, but then we blow up at our kids over smashed play dough on the carpet. We want to be better spouses, but we criticize and say hurtful things. We want to be better Christians, but we go days without praying or reading the Bible.

     

    There’s always going to be a laundry list of reasons why—we’re too busy and our schedule is already full of sports, kids, and work; we’re too tired and we barely have enough energy to survive each day; it’s someone else’s fault; or we’re just not wired that way.

     

    But who decided these things? We did. God has called us to grow in all areas of life and faith, even when it’s not easy. He knows the truth—that when we let excuses win, it will always lead to regret. God wants more for us and has more for us.

     

    Yes, God is working in us, but He expects us to do our part, too. If we devote ourselves to growth and throw aside excuses, we will experience what Peter wrote about, and grow up in our salvation and walk in a manner worthy of the calling we’ve received.

     

    APPLICATION:

    If you had to choose only one area in your life right now, where might you need to grow? What might it look like for you to become a better version of who God created you to be? 
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    Prayer:

    Thank you, Lord, for always moving and working in our lives. You want us to grow, to become healthier, and to become whole. May I throw aside complacency in my life, and focus my efforts on becoming a better version of who You created me to be.



  • November 11, 2019

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read 1 Peter 3

     

    Witnessing can be a great challenge! Especially to a family member. Even more difficult is a mate!

     

    I believe the principle in verses 1-6 is this: The most effective witnessing tool in the world is a godly life. Who knows you better than your mate? Who watches your responses to difficult situations closer than you mate? Who sees you during the most difficult days of life? Your mate! When you are a godly person all the time, your mate will see the hand of God on your life and will be “won over without a word.” Verse 1. When we put a higher priority on the care of our soul than our bodies, the beauty of our behavior will win others over. While Peter addresses women who are married to unsaved husbands, I believe this powerful principle can be applied to all saved people who want to win family members to Christ.

     

    Notice he talks about a “gentle and quiet spirit” which is “precious in the sight of God.” verse 4. What does “gentle” mean? The word is used 4 times in the New Testament. Jesus referred to Himself as being “gentle” in spirit, Matthew 11:29. He pronounced a blessing on all who are “gentle” in the beatitudes, Matthew 5:5. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, he is described by Isaiah (62:11) as “gentle”.

     

    So, how many Christ followers would describe Jesus as weak? Or a “walk-over”? Hopefully none! A gentle spirit describes someone who demonstrates the power of God by being under the rule of God. Specifically, the characteristic is “precious” in the sight of God! Why? Because it best describes His Son!!

     

    A gentle spirit is the opposite of a harsh and hardened spirit. A gentle spirit is tender to Christ and the touch of the Holy Spirit. A gentle spirit is tremendous power under the control of God!! Why? Because that person has nothing to prove! Gentleness flows from the heart of God in one who is under the authority of God.

     

    Application:

    Is the power of your personality under the rule of God? 
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    Prayer:

    My King, as the One who sits over all authority and over my heart, may my life demonstrate the control you have over my spirit.

     



  • November 12, 2019

     

    By Craig Bowers

     

    Read 1 Peter 4

     

    “Please pray for me... I am suffering tremendously...” What do you want me to pray? “Pray that God will deliver me from this suffering!” Could it be that it is God’s will that you suffer? “What did I do that was so bad, that God is making me suffer like this?” Why do you suppose that suffering is a penalty for some sin? Could it be that it is God’s will that you suffer? “NO WAY! God would not want me to suffer!” Really! Have you read 1 Peter 4?

     

    We need to develop a biblical perspective about suffering. Does God want you to suffer? That is the wrong question because it focuses on the fleeting moment of the present. The Bible does not pretend that suffering is fun or enjoyable. But, the Bible teaches that suffering is necessary. Peter states in chapter 3, verse 17, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” Then again in this chapter he writes, “rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ... if anyone suffers as a Christian... so then let those who suffer         according to God’s will...” In the next chapter he will point out “that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

     

    Several things are clear about sufferings in this context. The “fiery ordeal” is rooted in the fact that we behave morally, godly, and righteously. The subject is not the consequences to poor choices that involve suffering. The fact that we live in a fallen world and join all humanity in suffering is not the subject either. The suffering here is a direct result of being like Jesus! When you refuse to join others in “unrestrained behavior...” you can expect to be slandered. When you live like Jesus, you can expect a backlash. Why do you complain about it? Don’t you know that the “Spirit of glory and of God rests on you”? The degree of your suffering will be the degree of your rejoicing when His glory is revealed!

     

    Application:

    Am I willing to be different from others and face their ridicule and wrath? 
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    Prayer:

    Lord, you experienced incredible suffering at the hand of sinful man, and you fulfilled the will of God. May I have a willing heart to join in your suffering as I follow you!



  • November 13, 2019

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read 1 Peter 5

     

    The key subject in this chapter is humility. It is the key characteristic of the  elders in the church. He concludes the first section by saying, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Verse 7. The word “resists” actually means that God gets in the face of the proud. That’s a rather stark picture. Grace flows to the humble. What is grace? God giving us what we don’t deserve. God lavishes grace on those who know they do not deserve it and do not expect it!

     

    When you humble yourself, God will exalt you. If you seek to exalt yourself, God will get in your face and humble you! In the context of humility, it may seem odd that Peter brings up casting our “cares on Him, because he cares about you.” Actually, it takes a lot of humility to cast your cares on the Lord! You see, it is our pride that makes us think that we are to carry our cares because we can manage them, we can handle them, we can control them! NO. A thousand times no! We carry our cares because we are arrogant. Then we arrogantly boast in the heavy load of our cares!

     

    We are only able to cast our cares on Him when we have a humble heart! A humble heart knows that HE loves us and He will do what is best for us! But a prideful heart takes them up! Amazingly, Peter then points out how the devil is seeking to devour us. What is Satan’s greatest tool in destroying us? Our own pride!

     

    Application:

    Look at how many “cares” burden you down. That is a litmus test of your humility, or lack thereof. The lower the load, the higher the humility.  ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Thank you God, that your grace is lavished on me when I am humble. May I humble myself before you and walk in your grace.

     

     


  • November 14, 2019

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read 2 Peter 1

     

    I thought we would need to rent a U-Haul truck, we packed so much for a family vacation. We caravanned to our destination! Our Suburban was totally full. Before leaving the house, we triple checked to ensure we didn’t leave anything. But, it was important that we take everything because we were going to celebrate Christmas with our family at the beach. And yes, we remembered to take everything we needed!!

     

    While a family trip to the beach is important, it pales in comparison to our journey with Christ through life. Do we have everything we need? Who is responsible to triple check? Verse 3 says, “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Notice, Jesus has given us EVERYTHING required for a life of godliness. The challenge is not in the provisions of God, but in the perspective of the believer.

     

    Peter went on to remind us of things we already know! He even says that those who forget the truths of God’s provisions are ‘blind and shortsighted” and have forgotten God’s grace. It is easy to forget that everything we need for a life of godliness has been provided. Why? Because it seems like we lack the things that we need. Our perspective becomes our reality and our reality is based on being “blind and         shortsighted.” We cannot see what we need to see, so we do not live the way we are called to live.

     

    Peter reminds us of the qualities that we are to possess. It is these qualities that make us useful in the Kingdom work. Peter may have remembered that he himself had   forgotten the prophecy of Christ Jesus during the Last Supper. When he looked in the eyes of Jesus after denying Him three times, he “remembered” the Lord’s prophecy. We are to hold onto the truth of God’s Word. We are to remember His truth that His grace is sufficient, He has overcome the evil one, and greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

     

    Application:

    Think about what you may have forgotten about God’s provision that allows us to live a life of godliness. What do you need to remember? ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, You have provided everything I need to live a life of godliness. May my life reflect a growing awareness of Your sufficiency.

     


  • November 15, 2019

     

    By Craig Bowers

     

    Read 2 Peter 2

     

    Sobering. That’s the only word that describes this chapter. Maybe “frightening”! The point of the chapter is that God knows how to rescue the godly and to “keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.” While many today want to discount the judgment of God in the Old Testament, Peter reminds us of three times God acted in judgment.

     

    First, verse 4, God did not spare the rebellious angels but “cast them into hell.” Second, verse 5, God did not “spare the ancient world” but brought a world wide “flood on the ungodly.” Third, verse 6, God reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes because of their “lawless deeds.” The judgment of God is not to be taken lightly. At the same time, Peter reminds us that God protects the righteous. He delivered Noah and Lot.

     

    May the Lord help us to realize that if it were not for His grace in our lives, we too would be destined for damnation. Our commission is to share the truth of the Gospel with others. While our hearts are “tormented by the lawless deeds” we see around us, may we be highly motivated to share the love of Jesus so that they may also be spared the eternal judgment of God.

     

    Application:

    Will the certainty of God’s judgment on the unrighteous, as well as the love of God in me for them, drive me to share the Gospel with urgency? 
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    Prayer:

    Dear Father, thank you for your mercy and grace. I was once lost and condemned. I was outside the family of God. But your rich love and grace touched my heart through the faithful witness of one of your children. May I be faithful to share with others who need to be rescued as I was!

     



  • November 18, 2019

     

    By Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 2 Peter 3

     

    In chapters 2 and 3 of this epistle Peter warned of false prophets, and he told us not to be surprised when others mock us for our faith. He also told us to be ready for the coming day of the Lord.  Peter then brings his second letter to a close with the exhortation and benediction, “. . . grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (vs. 18). 

     

    Growth in our faith should be a matter of importance for all of us.  Throughout Scripture we are taught to be rooted and grounded in our faith. Jude exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith,” (Jude 3).  He does not refer to “a faith” or “many faiths.” Rather he speaks of “the faith.” There is a certain basis of belief that never changes. As Christians, we are to continually proclaim “Jesus is Lord.” 

     

    We are also taught that our faith is to be a living, growing, and developing faith.  We should never stop learning the truth of God’s Word.  In terms of Christian discipleship and growth, we should never cease to learn more. I am grateful for the many different people who have instructed me in the Christian life. I also pray I will be a witness for Christ to those I meet each day.

     

    Application:

    Make a list of people who have taught you about the wonder of God’s grace.

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    Make a list of people you can teach about God’s grace each day. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I give thanks today for the salvation I have through faith in You.  I pray I will grow in that faith each day.  Amen!

     



  • November 19, 2019

     

    By Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 1 John 1

     

    It is interesting to me that John does not begin his letter like other New Testament writers. There is no greeting, no salutation, no identification of the writer, and no identification of the recipients.  John gets right to the point.  John begins, “What was from the beginning . . .”

     

    We have all had many beginnings. At some point we began to walk, we began school, we began to drive, we began our first job, and we began our family. Beginnings are a part of life. But John is referring to a time when there was no other beginning. This was the point when all other beginnings began. 

     

    John wants us to know when time “began,” God was already there.  Before the  beginning of the world, God existed.  God is the Eternal One.  Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created.” John 1:1 states “In the beginning was the Word.” Now John speaks of that “which was from the beginning.” This is the message of Scripture – God is real and God is eternal.

     

    But John does not stop there. Continue reading with me.  “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled . . .” (vs. 1).  John is referring to Jesus, God in flesh. They saw Jesus. They experienced His life.  Now they are proclaiming the reality of Jesus. John wants us to know we can know Jesus too.

     

    Application:

    Have you turned to God by faith in Jesus?  Describe when and where. 
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    How has Jesus become more real to you each day?  
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    Prayer:

    Jesus, I turn to You today as my Lord.  I give You praise for all You have done for me. Amen.



  • November 20, 2019

     

    By Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 1 John 2

     

    Many people today say they believe in God yet their life shows little evidence. There appears to be a discrepancy between their words and their deeds. John wants us to understand that faith in Jesus makes a difference in how we live. In this chapter, John outlines three ways we demonstrate evidence of faith in God.

     

    1.  Obedience – John repeatedly speaks of “keeping His commandments” and “keeping His Word.”  In James 1:22 we are instructed to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”  No message is complete until it leads to obedience.

     

    2.  Abiding in Christ – We are to abide in Christ as Christ abides in us.  Abiding in Him means walking with Him daily – learning from Him and listening to His teaching. We are to continually grow in our understanding of Jesus.

     

    3.  Loving Others – A third test of our fellowship with Christ is our love for those around us.  John tells us the person of hatred lives in darkness, but the one who “loves his brother abides in the light,” (vs. 10).

    As I look at these three tests for fellowship with Christ, I am challenged to examine my walk with Christ each day.  I must continually turn to Christ, trusting in His grace each day. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and live each day by walking in faith through Jesus.

     

    Application:

    Make a list of ways you are living your faith each day. 
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    Make a list of ways you can grow in your faith each day. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I want to walk with You each day.  I cannot do this in my own strength. I turn to You by faith to lead me in paths of righteousness today. Amen!



  • November 21, 2019

     

    By Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 1 John 3

     

    I have experienced many wonderful blessings in my life. I was born into a Christian family and nurtured by godly parents. I married a beautiful young lady, and God blessed us with two remarkable children. We now have a faithful son-in-law who loves our daughter, and they have given us our first grandchild who is a bundle of joy!!!

     

    The most wonderful blessing I have received, however, is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. John begins chapter 3 of this letter with these words, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”  I can think of no greater joy than to be called a child of God.

     

    Consider with me some of the joys of our salvation.

     

    1.  We have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross.

    2.  We have victory of sin and Satan because of the resurrection.

    3.  We have received a family of faith in a wonderful church.

    4.  We look forward with hope to the return of Christ for His bride, the Church.

     

    Now we have the privilege of sharing this joy and blessing with people we meet each day. We can share Jesus with others, and we can minister to those who are hurting and need to know His love. Every day we live provides us an opportunity to be a witness to our faith in word and deed. 

     

    Application:

    Make a list of blessings God has bestowed upon you. 
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    Who can you share the love of God with today? ________________________________________________________________

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    Prayer:

    Almighty God, thank You for calling me Your child.  I pray my life will be a  demonstration of my joy to others today. Amen!

     


  • November 22, 2019

     

    By Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 1 John 4

     

    I recently read about a man who took his car in for some minor repairs.  While sitting in the waiting area, he recognized a lady from his church.    The man asked her how she could smile so brightly.  The lady replied by telling him how grateful she was for God’s love in her life.  As the man began thinking about his bitter divorce from his wife and his estrangement from his only daughter, he looked to the lady and said, “It would have to be a big, big love for me.”

     

    After a few moments of silence, the lady moved a little closer to the man and quietly put her arm around his shoulders.  She sat there quietly for what seemed to him to be an eternity.  When the mechanic came and said her car was ready, she looked him in his eyes and said, “It is a big love.  God’s love is really big.” Then with a smile, she  retrieved her car and left. 

     

    In 1 John 4:7-21, John tells us we are to demonstrate the love of God by loving others.  I believe the lady in the story I shared revealed the love of God by her presence with the hurting man.  I also believe God calls us to love others in this same way. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God,” (vs. 7).

     

    Application:

    List some people who have loved you in a time of need. 
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    List someone you can share God’s love with today. 
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I praise You today for Your gracious love and amazing grace.  I pray I will extend Your love to others as You have loved me! Amen!

     



  • November 25, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 1 John 5

     

    John’s letter is written to believers, so that we will live out our faith and have  confidence in knowing God always provides for us (vs. 13-14). Now, go back and read verses 1-5 again. Isn’t it encouraging that these five verses tell us that through Jesus we are “Overcomers” in this fallen world. The word “Overcomer” in Greek means “To Conquer” or “To Have Victory”. This passage in 1 John 5 gives us three characteristics of an “Overcomer”, and presents the idea that we, as believers, have continual  victory over the world.

     

    The first characteristic of an overcomer is “Belief in Jesus” (v.1). We must have a  continuing belief in Jesus Christ throughout our life. Our faith in Him is where it all starts. What we believe determines how we live and who we live for.

     

    The second characteristic is “Love” (vs. 1-3). As believers, we are called to love God and love others. This is also one of our Core Values as a church family at Wynnbrook. Paul tells us simply in 1 Corinthians 16:14 to do everything in love.    

     

    The third characteristic of an overcomer is “Obedience” (vs. 2-3). If we want victory in our lives we must obey God’s word. We are told to keep His commandments twice in two verses. Notice it doesn’t say to follow His suggestions. His words are  commandments for believers to follow so we can overcome whatever the enemy throws at us. Also, notice that in verse 3, John says His commandments are not burdensome. Charles Stanley writes: “Only when we try to obey God through our own power does His commandments feel burdensome. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us to do what we can’t, then we find joy in obedience”.

     

    Application:

    Believe, Love and Obey – three simple but powerful words that allow us to live as Overcomers. Which of these three are the most challenging for you? 

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    Prayer:

    Heavenly Father, thank you for providing us the power to overcome challenges in this world. May we consistently live out our belief in You through loving others and  obeying Your word. Amen.   

     



  • November 26, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 2 John


    Some Bible scholars believe this brief letter was more like a personal note written to a godly mother and her children.  Some believe that the “elect lady” (v.1) represents the local church, and that “her children” are the believers within the church family. Either way, as believers today, we can apply John’s teachings to both our individual lives and our church family. The overall theme of 2 John is getting back to “The Basics of     Christianity”: Truth (v.4), Love (v.5) and Obedience (v.6). Let’s focus on the word “Truth” today.

     

    John uses the word truth five times in the first four verses. Truth is a foundational  fundamental of the faith. As believers, we must cling to that Jesus Christ is “the truth” (John 14:6), and that God’s Word “is truth” (John 17:17). Now, what we do with these truths determines how closely we walk with God and how effective we are for His Kingdom.

     

    In verse 1 John commands us to “Know the Truth” and to “Love the Truth”. How well do you know God and His Word? Do you love God and love His Word? Knowing the truth is much more than just living according to sound doctrine and theology. Although that is important, having love for the truth, and living a life that radiates truth for His glory should be our goal.

     

    Verse 2 says the “Truth Abides in us” and verse 4 says we should be “Walking in Truth”. If we know the truth and love the truth, it is natural for the truth to abide in us and guide us in our daily walk. If we are walking in truth daily, we will be prepared to “watch ourselves” (v.8) and be alert to the many deceivers that John warns about in verses 7-11.                  

     

    Application:

    How can we come to love the truth? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord, we pray that your truth abides in us and that we grow in our love for your truth each day. Amen.   



  • November 27, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 3 John

     

    In this final letter from John, we read about three different men who were leaders in the church. 

     

    First, we read about Gaius in verses 1-8. Every church needs men like Gaius. He was spiritually healthy, lived a tremendous testimony, and walked in the truth. Gaius was known for hospitality, generosity and integrity. What a godly example for us to look up to.

     

    Second, we have Diotrephes the dictator (vs. 9-10). Diotrephes had taken control of one of the churches and used his power to ban certain traveling missionaries. The scripture tells us he put himself first and refused to acknowledge authority (v. 9). He was unwelcoming, and            discouraged those who were welcoming (v. 10). Diotrephes was the polar opposite of what Jesus promised would bring health to His church (Matthew 9:35).

     

    Lastly, John mentions Demetrius (vs. 11-12). Demetrius is exactly the kind of person you want in church leadership. He was a man who had a strong testimony in the church, in the community, and his life was rooted in the scriptures. Demetrius is a man who imitated the goodness of the Lord (v. 11).

     

    Which one of these three men are you most like? After all, we become what we focus on and who we imitate. If we focus on negative things, we will become a pessimist. If we focus on sinful things, we will become like the enemy. BUT if we focus on Jesus and imitate Him, we will become more like Him. He will transform our character so that we point others to Him through how we live our life. 

     

    Application:

    When an issue surfaces in the church, are you a part of the problem or part of the answer?

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    How can the church guard against people like Diotrephes? 

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    Prayer:

    God, thank you for leaders like Gaius and Demetrius in today’s church. I pray we stay grounded in your word and focused on imitating you so we too can have a strong testimony for your church.  Amen .  



  • November 28, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Jude

     

    This Epistle of Jude is divided into five parts: Greeting (vs. 1-2), Urging for Believers to Contend for the Faith (vs. 3-4), Warning of False Teachers (vs. 5-19), Encouragement to Live for God  (vs. 20-23), and a Beautiful Prayer (vs. 24-25). Jude is the only New Testament book that is exclusively devoted to confronting “apostasy”. This letter from Jude is more like an urgent email today, written in all caps, warning believers to stay alert, stay strong in the Lord, and protect the faith. Chuck Swindoll says: “We must be ready to fight for our beliefs with the spiritual weapons of knowledge, wisdom, faith, hope and love”.

     

    An apostate is a person who willfully defects from the faith. They once appeared to agree with the church on the doctrines of Christianity, but with defiance in their hearts, they reject the authority of Christ while planting seeds of doubt, division and dissension among believers. In verses 4-19 Jude provides 18 traits of an apostate. See if you can identify them all.  Unfortunately, the church today has the same challenges with these false teachers who have “crept” (ESV) or “wormed” (NLT) their way into the church (v.4). They come cleverly disguised, twisting the truth to deceive an  unprepared Christian.

     

    Jude concludes with a Call to Persevere (vs. 20-23) and a Prayer of Praise (vs. 24-25). These verses are encouraging, as they summarize how we should respond when we face apostasy in the church. We are called to build each other up (v. 20), pray in the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 20), look for Christ’s return (v.21), and show mercy for those deceived (vs. 22-23). Jude reminds us that none of us can resist false teaching on our own. The only way to stand firm is through the power and authority of Jesus.               

     

    Application:

    What are you doing as a church member to guard against apostasy?________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:

    Jesus, our prayer is that we stay alert and guard Your church from false teaching by studying Your word, praying and relying on Your Holy Spirit for wisdom and  discernment.  Amen.



  • November 29, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Revelation 1

     

    If we know that Genesis is the book of beginnings, we should also understand that Revelation is the book of completion. “Revelation” comes from the Greek word in which we get the English word “apocalypse”. It means “to uncover” or “reveal”. The author, John, uses symbols and images to form an incredible word picture to describe who Jesus is and what He will do in the future. Most people think of Revelation only as a book of judgement. Yes, judgement certainly occurs in the book, but Revelation does not end with judgement.  The Bible begins in paradise and ends in paradise. More than judgement for evildoers, Revelation is a book of hope for those who are faithful to Jesus Christ.

     

    Some people avoid studying Revelation because they think it is too hard to understand. But verse 3 of Chapter 1 encourages us that there is a blessing for those who read these words and obey them. No other book reveals and exalts the Lord such as Revelation. When we read this book, we see that God wins and Satan is  defeated. When we obey our Lord, we too triumph over evil. How awesome is that to know the end of the story?

     

    I love the incredible imagery of John describing his vision of Christ in verses 9-20. This glorious appearance of Christ caused John to fall at His feet (v.17). Take a minute to think about how you will respond when you come to face to face with your creator for the first time. Like the song says, “I can only imagine” what it will be like in the presence of my Savior, the Alpha and Omega (v. 8), the Almighty (v. 8) and my Lord.     

             

    Application:

    “Behold He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him” (v.7). What must you do to be prepared and to prepare others for that day? ____ _________________________________ __________________________


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    Prayer:

    Father God, we praise You for allowing us to know how it all ends! Thank you Jesus for providing us this beautiful vision of Your triumphant victory. Amen