May 12, 2021: Peter’s Powerful Testimony

Read Acts 2:22-38.

 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (v. 36).

   Peter's testimony led to this comment, just four verses later: "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." This message reverberates throughout twenty-first-century society. The world continues to crucify Jesus, rejecting his lordship, deity, and salvation. But does this mean we should keep silent, for fear of being misunderstood, maligned, or even persecuted? I think not. Look what happened when Peter was faithful to proclaim a warning. Yes, many took his message to heart and turned to the Christ of Calvary.

I am a teacher. Yes, all those aptitude tests diagnose me as "creator/teacher," so I really could not avoid having spent nearly forty-five years in the classroom – from elementary through college. Teachers tend to be persistent, especially when trying to ensure their pupils have learned, not just listened to a lecture, participated in a learning activity, or completed an assignment. We watch for signs that the learning outcomes have been achieved. We even list them with this preface: "By the end of this course, you should be able to…" Can you imagine how Peter must have felt when his faithful teaching/testimony resulted in positive outcomes?

Open your mouth and let God's Spirit speak through you,

Then stand back and rejoice in amazement at what He will do. (R. B. Kuhn)

Proclaim HIS message without hesitation, with confidence…always.

2021-05-10T16:23:10+00:00May 12th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

May 5, 2021: Witnessing Through Trouble

Read Luke 21:10-16.

"For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (v. 15).

     Most of us look at trouble as all bad. We avoid it if possible. Paul was warned not to go to Jerusalem. Agabus prophesied (Acts 21:11) that Paul would be bound and imprisoned when he went to Jerusalem. Paul said he was "ready… to die... for the name of the Lord Jesus." He went, was arrested, witnessed to Jews, Gentiles, high ranking officials, and prison guards. He was ill-treated and later died for his testimony. Eternity will reveal millions perhaps who will be in heaven because of his witness those last days of his life as a prisoner. Paul said he suffered the loss of everything and counted those things but rubbish that he might win Christ.
Savanye found Christ as Savior in one of our churches in Haiti. A bitter enemy put a machete to Savanye's throat, demanded him to renounce the church, the pastor, and the president of Haiti. Savanye boldly refused and remained faithful! God delivered him. He serves cheerfully and faithfully today
Many have been turned to Christ simply because someone "lived it." The statement is made: "I want what that person has!" (Mark J. Surbrook)

Life is a series of attitudes and adjustments.
Adjustments depend on attitudes.
Our attitudes determine our measure of usefulness,
our measure of peace, and the destiny of souls.
                                                                                    — Karl Paulo

2021-05-03T13:55:53+00:00May 5th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

April 28, 2021: Riot and Rebellion Against Truth

Read Acts 19:30-41. 

 "But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians" (v. 34).

    Mob mentality is not a new concept! There are a couple of characteristics of this phenomenon seen both in our text and our society. First, it leaves those in its grasp much less inclined to think logically and independently. Second, it creates the illusion that the smaller group is the enemy. Mob mentality was active in the Ephesus of our text and is often seen in the protests that take place in American cities.

But before we condemn those who give us to such reasonless actions, let's remember that church history is full of examples when people who called themselves the church committed atrocities and justified them either with misused Bible texts or church governing rules. Even in Jesus' day, the Sanhedrin declared, "We have a law, and by our law, he ought to die" (John 19:7).

It is easy when someone upsets the "status quo" for mob mentality to take over, and for the larger group to take actions that are neither necessary nor logical or biblical. The church should stand against sin, but it should also stand against mob mentality!

"Lord, help me not to condemn anyone today simply because my group does!

Help me instead to exercise righteous judgment" (John 7:24). (Gordon L. Snider)

2021-04-26T14:59:58+00:00April 28th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

April 21, 2021: Faithfulness in Teaching the Word

Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.

           “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” (v. 9).

   “You’re an awesome gardener! These are gorgeous!” my friend gushed over the dahlias, roses, and celosia I had brought her. I hesitated to accept the compliment as I felt I honestly didn’t deserve the praise. I’m an amateur at this gardening thing. I experiment each year, and much of my garden’s success is almost accidental. I can only take credit for purchasing, planting, and watering. Sometimes I overwater. Sometimes I forget to water. Sometimes I prune too much. Sometimes the light isn’t right. Sometimes even my best efforts fail to save a plant. All I can do is try. I cannot force a plant to grow. So, when something blooms beautifully, I get quite excited!
   Watching plants grow and flowers bloom is deeply moving. It is a reminder of the principles mentioned in today’s Scripture reading. Ministry is a lot like gardening. When trying to reach others for Christ, there is a little we can do and a lot that is in God’s hands. But if I quit doing my part – if I quit “watering my flowers” – and quit preparing for my Sunday school class, quit interacting with my neighbors, etc., I am guaranteed failure. God asks me to do my part…all I can do. Then, when combined with the “sunshine” of His love, He multiplies my efforts and the results can be truly beautiful! (Shawna J. Wright)

                                        We must work hand-in-hand with God to reach and teach souls.

2021-04-19T14:24:19+00:00April 21st, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

April 14, 2021: Glory of the True God

Read 1 Kings 8:22-30.

"And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart" (v. 23).

The theme is woven throughout Scripture: God is faithful and merciful. After God promised Abraham and Sarah innumerable descendants, Abraham broke faith by having a son through Hagar. Yet, God was faithful to grant him the "child of promise" through Sarah. After God established a covenant with the descendents of Abraham, Israel again and again broke that covenant by worshiping other gods. Yet, God mercifully called them into repentance through the judges and prophets. When God promised a never-ending rule of the family line of David, He kept that promise. Although many in the royal line would break that covenant resulting in the exile of the Israelites, God established an unending kingdom in the person of Jesus, whose earthly mother descended from the line of David. In this act of faithfulness, God has shown mercy not just to the covenant breakers of the past, but also to all humanity, including you and me.

God remains faithful and merciful. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations" (Deuteronomy 7:9). (Lyle A.W)

"God is faithful, ever faithful;

He will surely keep his word;

To the uttermost faithful filling

Ev'ry promise I have heard."

-Eliza Hewitt 

We can trust our covenant-keeping God.

2021-04-12T00:44:12+00:00April 14th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

April 7, 2021: The Word Speaks to Adults

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12. 

 "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God" (v. 9).

   Your pastor will relate to this verse. "Laboring night and day" to declare the Gospel is what pastors do. Pastors are motivated to see that as many as possible hear the Gospel and respond to it. They are motivated to preach the Word because they are called by God to do it. They don't want to be responsible for someone under their influence, not making it to Heaven.

Reading the paragraph that contains this verse (vs. 7-12), one discovers that the apostle was deeply concerned about the spread of the Gospel. He knew that his work and character were important channels to seeing God's work grow.

This leads us to a couple of simple conclusions. First, God's Word often speaks through people whose lives and characters reflect His message. Those who are most effective in speaking the Word have allowed the Word to penetrate and change their lives. Second, the Gospel is about change. It transforms believers so that they "walk worthy of God." It's not that Christians have to repay God for His work in our lives. Instead, He adjusts our lives so that we reflect Him in every aspect of living. (Mark D. Avery)

As the Word speaks into our lives, we grow in grace and Christian maturity.

 

 

2021-04-06T15:02:28+00:00April 7th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

March 31, 2021: The Gospel and the Resurrection

Read Acts 13:26-33.


                                                   "But God raised him from the dead" (v. 30).

   Welcome to Holy Week - the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. The Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of the firstfruits only hinted at God's wonderful plan. Not only will the perfect, sinless sacrifice be made, but God will also raise Him from the dead, and the power of death will be defeated. The whole story of Jesus' life leads right up to the resurrection. God sent His Son into the world through means of the virgin birth. The perfect, sinless Son willingly became the sacrificial Lamb upon whom all the sins of the world were laid, and then God raised that very same Son from the grave, proving the power of sin and death no longer have power over God's creation.
   The Gospel is just an unfinished story if we leave out the resurrection. We can't ignore it because we don't understand it. We don't need to understand it, but we must believe it! We must teach it and preach it, and we must live it out in our daily walk. Yes, the resurrection is that important! It is the cornerstone of the Gospel; without the resurrection, we have no hope. (LeeAnn Davidson)

                                                                           Up from the grave he arose;
                                                                    with a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
                                                                 he arose a victor from the dark domain,
                                                            and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
                                                           He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
                                                                                                                            -- Robert Lowry

                        The story of Jesus' life on earth could not be complete without the resurrection!

2021-03-29T15:55:31+00:00March 31st, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , |0 Comments

March 3, 2021: God Calls a King

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
“And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him: for this is he’” (v. 12).
  With the spiritual departure and downfall of King Saul, the LORD was sanctioning David to be anointed as the coming king of Israel.  David would be a spiritual example and inspiration for the people; his demonstrations of mercy, love, and obedience to God constituted an about-face from the practices of King Saul.  David’s psalms reveal his inner dependence and longing for God’s guidance and fellowship, as well as the LORD’s intervention in times of conflict.
  Conversion brings such a turning for us as well!  Penitents turn away from the old life where they flagrantly carried out their own will in violation of God’s commandments.  Jesus Christ becomes the King in our life; our allegiance and affection is focused on Him, and we pledge our loyalties to Him.  We have neither the ability nor the power to save ourselves from sin; our only hope is to surrender all governing powers to Jesus Christ as King of kings and convert to His rule in our hearts and lives. (Rodney B. Stearns)
“Proclaim him King, pronounce him blest;
He’s your defense, your joy, your rest:
When terrors rise and nations faint,
God is the strength of every saint.”
— Isaac Watts
Conversion is an about-face,
Preparing our hearts as God’s dwelling place.
2021-03-04T15:25:53+00:00March 3rd, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

February 24, 2021: Punishment for Failure


  • Read Matthew 25:41-46.

    “Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (v. 45).
       It was in the 1800s when Charles Dickens faced a difficult situation. His father had mismanaged the finances of the household and, in accordance with English law, was sitting in a debtor's prison. Charles was only ten years old but had no alternative. He had to go to work to support the family. At this young age, he saw much poverty and injustice. The powerful, famous, and rich exploited the powerless with impunity. From these painful experiences, Dickens found the basis for many of his novels. He spoke to the issues of the day. Living in the British Empire during the industrial revolution, he knew from first-hand experience the ugliness of that age.
       Possibly his story, which has been most read, is "A Christmas Carol." In this account, the infamously stingy Ebenezer Scrooge in his own greedy, selfish, and calloused manner runs roughshod over the lives of others. Scrooge sees no need to feel any moral responsibility for the welfare of his fellowman. Through this account, Scrooge tries to convince his readers that love and benevolence can change lives. The ghost of Jacob Marley conveys the understanding that eternal punishment awaits people like Ebenezer Scrooge.
       Jesus pushed this message to a greater extent. The church has a moral obligation to minister to those in need. By our demonstration of love, compassion, and generous assistance in Jesus' name, we, in some spiritual way, are not only ministering to those in need but also to our Lord. The good works that are an expression of our relationship with Jesus Christ bring glory to God. (L.Gayle Woods)

    The good works of a Christian are to be an expression
    of our relationship with Jesus Christ
    designed to bring glory to God.
2021-02-22T15:07:40+00:00February 24th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

February 17, 2021: Requirements for Entry

Wednesday, February 17

Read Luke 13:23-30.

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (v. 24).

Perhaps the person who asked Jesus, "Are there few that be saved?" had heard Jesus' teaching that the Kingdom of Heaven was found in small things. Maybe he was present when Jesus rebuked the leaders of the synagogue for trying to keep him from healing on the Sabbath. He probably had accepted the idea that the Pharisees, with their outward displays of holiness, were the ones who had the way to Heaven figured out, but Jesus showed this view to be false.

Jesus isn't warning people who were considered to be sinners.  To them, he regularly offered mercy and forgiveness. However, He was talking to the religious leaders of His day when He said that many will not be able to enter through the door and gain salvation.  He is also talking to us, the ones who read and write devotionals. We are standing squarely in the  path of his words.

The question for all of is this: have we begun to become like the Pharisees? Are we looking down on sinners? Are we proud of our own righteousness? The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that God doesn't break a bruised reed. Instead, throughout the Bible, we see that God is against those who are proud.  We should examine our hearts to see if pride has taken root and do whatever it takes to dig it out. (Randy Joe Bland)

 

Has pride taken root in your heart?

2021-02-17T15:55:30+00:00February 17th, 2021|Categories: Opening the Word|0 Comments

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