The Great Guide

Read John 16:7-15

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (v. 13).

We were traveling off the beaten path. The trip that could easily have been done in one day had been divided into two days, simply for our enjoyment. We knew that our general direction was west, and rather than follow the main routes, we chose some highways that were just little lines on the map. Driving through some very sparsely inhabited country, our GPS somehow lost contact with the satellite. Thankfully, our compass still worked, and we found our way through. This road of life goes through some challenging terrain, too. It is easy to get off course and lose our way. Except that the Holy Spirit has come and He guides us through the maze we call life. Our Sunday school teacher recently referred to the Holy Spirit as God’s Positioning System. He has the ability to lead us through the challenges of life. When we listen to the instructions given in the Bible and maintain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, He guides us in, through, or around the pitfalls of life. (Mark D. Avery)

Holy Ghost, with light divine, Shine upon this heart of mine;
Chase the shade of night away, Turn my darkness into day. — Andrew Reed

The Holy Spirit living in us helps us stay on course.

2019-02-20T10:00:49+00:00February 20th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Yielding Good Fruit

Read Luke 6:39-45

“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (v. 43).

I once heard a story about a man who was attempting to launch a homemade rocket into the sky. In his hurry to get away after lighting the fuse, he bumped the rocket, causing it to launch sideways into the church he attended, which subsequently burned to the ground. His wife, surveying the carnage, shook her head and said, “Oh, this is the worst thing you’ve ever done.” The husband replied, “Honey, you say those words to me so often that they no longer have any meaning.” In our reading today Jesus reminds us that we are to be far more critical of ourselves than we are of others. In fact, Jesus reminds us that if we are overly critical of others, we are a corrupt tree bringing forth corrupt fruit. He says that when we do this, we have a beam in our eye. Basically, we are spiritually blind and have no business trying to fix someone else’s faults. Yet, there are times when people need to be corrected. I’ve discovered that when I really want to tell someone what they are doing wrong, then I’ve almost certainly got a beam in my own eye. However, if I don’t want to correct the other person, then the Holy Spirit is probably leading me to do so. This is my own standard though, so it may not work for you. (Randy J. Bland)

Are you overly critical of those around you?

2019-02-13T10:00:07+00:00February 13th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Support for the Meek

Read Psalm 37:8-13

“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (v. 11).

Sometimes as we look around and see what is going on in the world, we are tempted to be discouraged, and overcome with hopelessness. It seems like evil prospers. The powerful get more powerful even though they arrogantly reject God. At times we wonder — why doesn’t God do something about it? Psalm 37 is the answer to that type of thinking. David tells us that God has a plan that is bigger and longer than our ability to grasp sometimes. Though in our minds the wicked seem to never go away, from God’s perspective they are like grass on a hot summer day. As you read through the psalm, you can see how David gives us the solution for dealing with discouraging problems around us. We are to “commit our ways to God.” He tells us to trust in God; He knows what is best. David tells us to delight ourselves in God. In other words, God is in control; we aren’t. And then in verse 11, he gives us a promise, it will be those who are meek that will inherit the earth. God isn’t caught off guard by the evil. He is aware, and He is keeping track of the righteous! (Robert W. Booth)

God has a solution for all our problems!

2019-02-06T10:00:21+00:00February 6th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Christ’s Victory

Read Luke 4:1-13

“And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season” (v. 13).

We have all been in situations where it seemed like the best thing that could happen is for someone — the troublemaker — to leave. Jesus was there! Of course, Jesus could simply have commanded Satan to leave, but that was not the plan. Instead, the plan was for Jesus to withstand everything Satan could throw at Him until, in the end, Satan left by his own choice. Perhaps to the human side in Jesus, it seemed that Satan would never leave. And it often seems that way to us as well. But Jesus just kept parrying Satan’s thrusts until Satan decided it was no use to try anymore. There is an old adage that “he who turns and runs away, lives to fight another day.” And it is true; some things are just not worth fighting for. But when we are up against Satan, as Jesus was, the best strategy is to keep using the Word of God until Satan realizes that continued fighting is useless. Jesus must have felt relieved when Satan turned and walked away. But He must have also felt grateful that He had learned to trust in His Father’s Word. (Gordon L. Snider)

If we are in Christ, we are always victorious.

2019-01-30T10:00:42+00:00January 30th, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Understanding God’s Word

Read Nehemiah 8:5-12

“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (v. 8).

I love to read the Jesus Storybook Bible to my grandchildren. From the first Genesis story, it points to Jesus. The story of redemption is woven throughout the entire Bible. As they say in an advertisement for a popular cell phone plan, “It’s not complicated!” However, we sometimes get bogged down in some of the harder-to-understand details. As Ezra read the Word of the Lord to the people in our passage, several appointed men explained it and helped the people understand what was being read. If you struggle to understand the Bible, don’t allow the enemy to convince you to use that as an excuse to neglect daily time in the Word! If you truly desire to understand it, there are steps you can take to do so. First, ask. Ask the Holy Spirit to break up any stony ground, to illuminate your mind, and to reveal His Word to you. Next, find some good study helps. A commentary will explain the content, context, historical background, and language used in the text. Websites (such as thebibleproject.com) and rich Bible studies are also available to help you. Don’t be haphazard, grabbing a Biblical “snack” here and there; be purposeful and organized when feeding on the Word. Finally, engage your mind. Remove distractions and get serious about studying! It will require effort; it may even require sacrifice. But the rewards are well worth it! (Faith M. Trussell)

“Help me to understand the meaning of your commandments” (Ps. 119:27).

2019-01-23T10:00:25+00:00January 23rd, 2019|Categories: Opening the Word, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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
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