Righteous Through Christ

Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (v. 30).

Combining paint with small hands can be disastrous, but it was Father’s Day. We had an interesting craft we were going to make for all the fathers, so here we sat around a table wearing great big paint shirts to protect fancy church clothes and dripping bright paint into little glass jars. As small hands wiped at excess paint and spilled colors onto the table, the teacher doubted her wisdom. This project was a mess! Another version of these verses says, “God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life — what is considered to be nothing — to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing.” Parents can look at a smudged, mixed-up gift and see only the small hands responsible for it. They ignore the odd color choices and understand the learning process. Fathers know how silly that picture holder might look on the desk at work, yet still display it happily because of the one whose effort created it. Aren’t you glad our Heavenly Father views our lives the same way? He sees and blesses us not based on our own works but on the righteousness Jesus gives us. He will not reward us with heavenly homes because of what we earn but because of what Jesus offers us. (Michelle D. Avery)

Lord, thank you for your wonderful gifts!

2019-01-16T10:00:33+00:00January 16th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

A Woman Forgiven

Read Luke 7:36-50

“And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven” (v. 48).

The happenings in this account seem to be suspect from the very beginning. A Pharisee invites Jesus to eat in his house, a woman known by reputation to be a sinner enters in and is allowed to make a scene. The purpose of Simon the Pharisee now becomes evident. He wanted to see if Jesus could indeed see the heart of humanity. In his arrogance, he didn’t believe that any man who was holy and knew of sin would allow himself to be touched by it. Sin, however, could not take away the holiness of the Son of God. Women were often seen as being of very little importance in the society of that day. Jesus time after time in His ministry went out of His way to lift them up. The woman in this story is a prime example. Her sorrow over sin and faith in Christ for forgiveness was considered equal to that of any man. Jesus saw the heart condition, not the physical appearance nor community reputation. This heart condition is what He honored then and still honors today. Jesus was known as the friend of sinners. Do we dare to have that reputation also? (Tim J. Brubeck)

Ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah, what a Savior! — Philip P. Bliss

Lord, help me to see the soul and not the sin.

2019-01-09T10:00:05+00:00January 9th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

A Lost Son Restored

Read Luke 15:11-24

“But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet” (v. 22).

In the final drama in this chapter of “lost things,” Jesus introduces a new element into the narrative. This element is the active role of the runaway boy and the matter of intentionality. Obviously, the sheep was just a stupid animal that wandered off and became lost. There are people, likewise, who wander away and become lost. The coin was an inanimate object that, perhaps, experienced a sudden fall from a pocket into an unseen corner. Unfortunately, there are people who become lost through a sudden moral fall. The son, however, had consciously and deliberately rebelled against the “established order” of the home and marched off to “do his own thing” which was both wasteful and, if the elder brother’s accusation be true, wanton as well. When the money ran out, so did his “friends” and he experienced ruin and, doubtless, ridicule. After his epiphany in the pig pen, he had to move intentionally to change his circumstances. The result was a reunion with the father, a reunion in which there was no rebuke or recrimination, only great rejoicing. What a glimpse into the infinite love of our Father! It all began with the resolution, “I will arise and go to my father!” (Michael R. Williams)

Are you praying for a lost child? God can awaken the lost — even in a pigpen.

2019-01-02T10:00:16+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

God’s Command to Repent

Read Acts 17:29-31

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (v. 30).

Waxing eloquent, Paul stands to speak on Mars Hill to the worshipers of the “unknown god.” Definitely a God-moment, he senses the yearning from the religious leaders’ hearts. Given the opportunity of a lifetime to describe WHO the unknown god truly is, the message he delivers is completely relevant today. We must all repent! Notice that wink is in the past tense. This is the day of salvation; God is not only a merciful Father, but will soon be the Judge of all the earth. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our souls through a torturous death at Calvary. Not sparing the life of His only Son, God will not continue to “wink” or overlook sin. We must repent! Think of the benefits we receive when we are truly repentant before God. Peace for today and everlasting life just ahead! Sharing the good news of salvation through holy living is a command for every believer. God wants a loving relationship with us and reveals His abundance through extended mercy, delivery from seemingly impossible troubles, and peace derived from total forgiveness. He is not a mysterious being locked away in the clouds, but an understanding and compassionate Father. He buries our sins in the sea of His forgetfulness. As we prepare for a new year, ask God for forgiveness and cleansing. Share your Savior with the world in which you live. Let Him be your guide as He leads you to new opportunities. Grasp His hand and NEVER let go! (Beverly K. Tatum)

With Him, my soul’s eternal Guide, What can I wish or want beside?
In life or death, my song shall be, My loving Savior leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me, Let this my theme of rapture be!
He leadeth me; He leadeth me, My Savior’s guiding hand I see. — Fanny Crosby

“I know not the way God leads me, but well do I know my Guide” (Martin Luther).

2018-12-26T10:00:12+00:00December 26th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

The Sending of the Son

Read Galatians 4:1-7

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (v. 6).

My three sons can’t help it. I can’t help it. My dad couldn’t help it. The Woods all look alike. (Don’t tell them I said so, but even the lady Woods look like the men Woods!) We all have the same high forehead, the same long, narrow English nose. If you have seen one you have seen all. I am never surprised when a person sees one of my sons and says, “He must be your son. He looks just like you.” My father’s image is stamped on me, and my image is stamped on my three sons. I see it in my grandson as well. In a sense, it is a genetic affirmation. “This is my son.” There is no denying that they are my sons. They have my likeness. In like manner, God has given His affirmation to each of us who know the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ. We are not mere objects of a creative God; we are His sons through birth and possession. We bear His likeness. His Spirit invades our being. We have become as Martin Luther stated, “Little Christs.” “Like Father, like son.” (L. Gayle Woods)

God has given His affirmation to each of us who know the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ. We bear His likeness.

2018-12-19T10:00:48+00:00December 19th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

A Vision of Pentecost

Read Joel 2:21-32

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (v. 32).

We are introduced to God in the very first verse of the Bible. And then when man comes into the picture, we suddenly see the “Lord God.” He who inhabits eternity is right down here on earth to be near and dear to man; to meet every need and bless man in every way, and fellowship with him. Man has failed God many times, but God has been faithful. He created man with a conscience; then He made a covenant with Noah promising His goodness; afterward He gave the law; next, He gave His Son to take our punishment, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to speak to every man. Thank God, there is a bright side of history repeating itself. There have always been those who have responded favorably to God. God has never overlooked them. He has a “name,” and whoever calls on “the name of the Lord” shall be delivered. This “name is an appellation; it identifies Him.” It is a memorial, a reputation that describes His individuality. Whenever we call, He delivers. We don’t even have to bring a lamb; He provided Himself! He is as near and dear as He was to Adam, and He is more precious than you can explain. This is His identity — no one else is like Him! (L. Wayne Covert)

“What music is to the ear, what beauty is to the eye, what fragrance is to the nasal organs, what air is to the lungs, what water is to the fish — these and more also is divine love to the life of man” (Anonymous).

2018-12-12T10:00:12+00:00December 12th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The Coming Messiah

Read Malachi 3:1-4

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (v. 1).

This prophecy was given about four centuries before its fulfillment. It is very obvious that John, the Baptist, was the fulfillment of this prophecy. He was promised to a childless couple who had long past given up on any hope of having children. The incredulous Zacharias was struck dumb because of his unbelief. His son John became a very important part of laying a foundation for the future ministry of Christ. Indeed, John baptized Jesus in Jordan and introduced Jesus as the one who would take away the sin of the world. Jesus came as the fulfillment of this prophecy. He came to satisfy the need for a perfect sacrifice. His initial entry into this world was not recognized by many of His own people, but His soon-to-be second coming will be seen by all and recognized by all when He comes on a white horse with tens of thousands of His saints. (Lonnie R. Witt)

The infant Christ came to redeem us from sin. He’s coming quite soon His reign to begin. — Lonnie R. Witt

Keep looking above; the King is coming.

2018-12-05T10:00:26+00:00December 5th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

God’s Word Is Effective

Read Psalm 19:1-14

“Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (v. 11).

Descriptive nicknames and titles have frequently been used about the Bible, God’s Word. It has been referred to as “The Good Book.” It has been called “The Road Map to Heaven” or “The Christian’s Guide to Holy Living.” In each case God’s Word is seen to be filled with purpose and intention, inspiring those reading it to be better people. The evident fact is that God’s Word is effective, meaning it produces “a decided, decisive, or desired effect” through its admonitions and examples. In yesteryears, Bible reading and scripture memorization were common practice. It was believed that exposure to God’s Word would have a positive effect. It provided a warning, instruction, and encouragement that inclined people to step back, weigh their choices and regulate their behaviors. Parents started each day sharing verses from God’s Word with their children; school days were begun with teachers reading a passage from God’s Word with their students. Respect for God’s Word was instilled by giving it a place of priority; in turn, it effectively impacted many lives. It offers the same possibilities for those who will use it today! (Rodney B. Stearns)

Sweet are the promises; kind is the Word,
Dearer far than any message man ever heard.
Pure was the mind of Christ — sinless I see.
He the great example is, and pattern for me.
— W. A. Ogden

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11).

2018-11-28T11:10:15+00:00November 28th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Strength for the Spirit

Read Philemon 1:17-25

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen” (v. 25).
As a child, I was in awe at wax museums.
There, standing or sitting in lifelike poses and settings were real-looking replicas of famous people! They were perfectly fashioned according to their historical dimensions. Their glassy eyes gleamed and their coiffed hair was meticulously styled. Some of them even “talked” when you pushed a button.
I have to say; I still enjoy museums. And wax creations still intrigue me. It takes a lot of skill to create those plastic people. But there is one thing missing from these forms. They have no spirit. They are not living.
It is said that a servant named Onesimus penned the epistle of Philemon for Paul while he sat in prison. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the apostle ends his letter with a prayer for the grace of God to be with “your spirit.” Commentator Matthew Poole says this is the same thing as saying be “with you.” As living souls, humans are not like wax figures, but rather imbued with life because we have a God-given spirit.
Today, may the strength that comes from the grace of our Lord empower you to glorify Him in all you do and say. That was the prayer of Paul for Philemon and us! (Valorie A. Quesenberry)
You are alive in Him from the inside out!
2018-11-21T09:00:51+00:00November 21st, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The Quality of Hope

Read Romans 15:1-4
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (v. 4).
Visiting a children’s program in Indonesia, Wess Stafford was asked to say a few words. Wanting to communicate their value to God, he told the children they were special. He then picked up a little girl on the front row named Jessica. Using her as an example, he spoke tenderly of her uniqueness and that Christ loved her. Noticing tears around the room, he found out that, weeks earlier, she had been brutally raped. If anyone needed to hear that message, it was Jessica. Her healing began that day.
Some aren’t as receptive, however. Danny Velazquez was one. To many, he seemed to be on top of the world. He went about his work day wearing cashmere and sipping martinis. Living in a loft apartment, he was highly regarded by his clients. One was a Christian who frequently told him, “The day you call on the name of the Lord, He will set you free.” He politely ignored her advice. But Danny’s relationship with alcohol and drugs spiraled out of control eventually leaving him homeless.
One day, hallucinating and hearing voices, he remembered those hope-filled words. At that moment Danny cried out to God. When he later awoke in a hospital, he was a changed man. God had set him free. (Cyretha C. Horton)
You too can find new life through the hope found in God and His Word. 
2018-11-14T09:00:46+00:00November 14th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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