Devotional Thoughts

When I go on vacation I like to go see things that are beautiful. Mountains, rivers, creeks, various attractions, monuments, etc.

  • We went to the Ark Encounter this past summer and it was beautiful and educational
  • We are hoping to go to Mount Rushmore one day
  • The Texas Hill Country is amazing, as are the West Texas Mountains

I have never taken a vacation to go to a trash heap!

  • Oooooo, look at what that seagull just pulled out of that pile!
  • Aahhhhhh – The aroma is especially pungent today!
  • Oh Look Dear, I big truck is coming! What will it bring?
    • Yuch

Why then, do we spend so much of our lives focused on the very worse the world has to offer?

  • Why do we slow down and stare at car crashes?
    • Are we hoping to see something gross?
  • Why are we so easily drawn into the arguments and fighting of others?
  • Why do we “LIKE” all these fake profiles with their rhetoric and hate for everyone and everything that is not just like them?
    • Why is this garbage so attractive to us?
    • We are so quick to join in, to jump onto the trash pile as well.

We can find NO PEACE in this junk, only agitation, anger and disappointment.

We can find and experience peace in Jesus Christ

Philippians 4:2-7 “And now I want to plead with those two women, Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.  And I ask you, my true teammate, to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. And they worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  NLT


God made you with His own hands, formed you with His fingers; but when he finished shaping you He was not done, you were not alive yet.

God could have chosen to leave you like al the critters He had already made, but God had a greater love for you.

So God did something for you He did not do with any other thing on the planet…..

He powered you with a little bit of Himself!

He breathed into you and have you life.

God powered you with His Spirit.

You are God made and you are God powered.

You are special


All of us have experienced many setbacks and failures throughout our lives. Sometimes we allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the full Christian life that God has given us to enjoy.

Last year some of you said, “I am going to grow in my relationship with God. I am going to pray more, read my bible more and get more involved in my church. I’m going to spend more quality time with my family.”

The fact is that all of us made some mistakes or we made some bad decision that hindered us from doing those things that we wanted to do.

In John 10:10 Jesus said,    “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  ESV  Then he goes on to tell us that there is an adversary, called the Devil, that seeks to kill and destroy that life. The Devil will remind us of our past in order to keep us from enjoying the life that God gave us to live. The Devil does not want you to have a fresh start in life.

The good news is according to  Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”  ESV

We need to understand that failure does not have to destroy us but it can develop character, it can make us stronger and help us to avoid those mistakes in the future.

Maybe you feel that you have made so many mistakes, you have failed God so many times and you have sinned it all away. Now God doesn’t want anything to do with you. You feel and believe that you have no future with God.

The good news is, God is saying, “It’s not over, I have plans for your life. I am about to do something new for you.”    We need to understand that God is far more interested in our future than He is in our past.

Here is a little acrostic that I found for starting over, that should make it easy for you.   S.T.A.R.T.

S- Stop Making Excuses.   If I want a fresh start in life, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I’ve got to stop blaming other people. I’ve got to stop seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances.  In John 15 and Romans 2 Scripture is very clear – you have NO EXCUSE!

T- Take An Inventory Of My Life  I need to take an inventory of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. I need to take an inventory of my life’s experiences and learn from them.  2 Corinthians 13:5-7 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.”  ESV

A – Act in Faith – If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith. If you want to change your personality, it takes faith. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to have some faith.      Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  ESV

R – Refocus -I need to refocus my thoughts if I want to change my life. If I want to get going again, if I want a fresh start, I need to rethink the way that I think. I need to change my mind about a number of issues.  Proverbs 4:23   “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  ESV (heart = feelings, will and intellect)

T – Trust –Trust God to help us succeed. Depend on Him. We don’t need to depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’ve failed.  Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  ESV

It’s your choice. How can I have a fresh start? I can have a fresh start by: S.T.A.R.T.

First Steps into 2017:

Pray more.

Read the Bible more

Serve more

Give more

Smile more

Play More

Read More

Listen More

Hug More

Be real more

Be available more

Help more

Share the Gospel more

Obey God more

Chose God more

Encourage more

Love more

Make excuses less

Gossip less

Hinder less

Quarrel less

Slander less

Provoke less

Envy less

Be less jealous

Be less conceited

Be more patient

Be more kind

Be more gentle

Exert more self-control

Exert more effort for God

Represent God better

Smile and Help

If you want 2017 to be any different than 2016 then you must actually CHANGE some thing. Doing the same stuff the same way will yield the same results

Pick one of these you can do and do it, then pick another.

Jesus knew the Temple Elite were out to get Him, but he went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew the politicians were out to get Him, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew the military and Temple guards would follow their orders to capture and harm Him with great enthusiasm, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew the same people who were shouting praises to Him on Sunday would be crying out for His Crucifixion in just a few days, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew that even many of the ones who traveled with Him would run away from Him, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew that even some of His closest disciples would abandon Him, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew He would be lied about, tried and convicted in direct contradiction to all the evidence, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew He would be condemned and sent to die even though He was declared innocent; but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Jesus knew He would gasp his last physical breath hanging from a roman cross as His blood flowed onto the ground below, but He went to Jerusalem anyway.

Why would He do such things with full knowledge?


John 3:16 – 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” ESV

Jesus did all of this because He loves you and want the very best for you; now and forever.

Knowing all Jesus knowingly suffered for you, how could we do anything else but love Him back and share His love with others?

Acts 1:8  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Would go to Jerusalem?


Took a little time today to read and ponder the arrest, trials, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Two things really hit me as I read.

  1. John 19:14-16 “Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”  They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.”   ESV
    1. I physically shuddered as I read this.
      1. The CHIEF PRIESTS denied Jesus Christ
      2. The Temple Elite were lost in their own world of flesh and religiosity.
        1. In Ezekiel 10 we read of the Glory of God leaving the Temple because of their rebellion, cruelty and disobedient
        2. All traits we are seeing here
        3. Traits we see in our world today
  • A church position does not make anyone a Christian
    1. Like sleeping in a garage will not make you a F-250 or make you a mechanic.
    2. There are “wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” in churches of all denominations across the globe
      1. Twisting the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the desires of the flesh.
      2. Preaching to tickle ears, draw crowds and become powerful
        1. All the while rejecting the very message of the Word of God
      3. There are a HERD of people out there wearing the “label” of Christianity who are no more Christian than a broken superman toy is bulletproof.
        1. They are either fakers or deceived.
      4. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”   ESV
        1. I worry about people who are following the teachings of a man and not the Word of God
          1. How many will stand before Christ and hear “Depart from Me, I don’t know you” because they were tricked by a false teacher who made them feel good.
          2. Will you be one of these many?
        2. I found it particularly disturbing today that people in pulpits are leading people AWAY from Jesus.
      5. The reality that both soldiers and an officer of the High Priest struck Jesus with their hand.
        1. Look at your hand.
          1. Your hand is special and unique.
          2. Your hand was formed by God specifically and individually for you.
        2. They used the very hands God had given them to strike the One who made them
          1. Violent
          2. Disrespectful
        3. I am not sure how to properly explain how repugnant I believe it is to lay our hands on our Savior in such a manner.
      6. Oh how we have failed our Creator and Savior.
        1. We must come to Him with repentant hearts and seek His love and restoration.
        2. We must understand how much we truly need Jesus Christ and receive the Grace of God through Him, and Him alone.
      7. Please take some time this week and read the Gospel accounts of this week, Passion Week, and see just how much Jesus loves YOU and how far He was willing to go for YOUR salvation and eternal life.

Jesus wants a clean church

This morning I was reading a small bit of scripture in Matthew 21:12 – 13 where Jesus went into the Temple just after His “triumphant Entry” into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Two scriptures. 50 – 60 words or so, depending on the Bible translation you are reading.  But some very powerful words and scriptures they are.

We know the story, Jesus goes into the Temple and started overturning tables and running people out of the premises.

This text really spoke to me in two distinct areas.

  1. Jesus went against most of the popular “seeker sensitive” and church growth models we see in today’s world.
    1. Churches with book stores and national brand coffee houses.
    2. Churches more focused on making the “Crowd” comfortable than making a place where the Gospel is welcome
      1. So many times we are willing to compromise or change so we can “capture” a new demographic audience.
    3. Along the way we forget a few things:
      1. People need the Lord; not entertained
      2. We need conviction, to understand our need for God; not confections.
  • The Word of God must be primary
  1. Jesus went through the church and cleaned house
    1. Driving out the greedy money changers
    2. Driving out the cheating dove (sacrifice) sellers
  • Overturning chairs and tables
    1. Not what we today would call an “effective church growth strategy”
    2. Today we would have called the police and had this crazy man hauled away.
      1. Wow, in Texas He might of gotten shot!
    3. The church was not focused on what is PRIMARY
      1. It was focused on greed, pride and flesh
      2. Jesus was on a mission to cleanse the church
    4. Jesus went to great lengths to cleanse His Temple.
      1. Here this in our context today
        1. First: Are His churches (Christian churches) clean and properly focused on God and His Word today?
          1. Even today it is more important for a church to be Biblically focused and doctrinally correct that have a big budget or a massive auditorium.
        2. Second: (and this cannot be emphasized enough in our world today) THE CHURCH IS NOT THE BRICK AND MORTAR EDIFICE PEOPLE GATHER IN! THE PEOPLE ARE THE CHURCH!!!
          1. The church gathers together in a place to worship God
          2. Technically a Christian CANNOT “go to church” because they are one of the many parts of the church
          3. Denominations define and divide us into groups by a worldly standard, but every Christian, regardless of denomination, are part of the Lord’s Church.
          4. How God centered is your church?
            1. Look in the mirror.
            2. Better yet, open the Word of God and see if the reflection you see there is a reflection of self or a reflection of God.
          5. Jesus went in and brought great conviction and cleansing to the temple
            1. Have you allowed Him to do the same for you?
            2. Jesus paid a very high price for the redemption of His Church; for YOUR redemption
            3. Jesus is able to cleanse everything not of God out of His temple; to cleanse you!
              1. New life
              2. New hope
  • New faith
  1. A New you!
  1. To “borrow” a phrase from most parents on a long car trip:
    1. “Don’t make Him come down here”
    2. Choose for yourself TODAY that Jesus is Lord and accept every good thing He has for you.
  2. Jesus cleansed His Temple and gave it a central purpose.
    1. A purpose from which every other plan and purpose of His Church grows out into this world.
    2. A PRIMARY focus that remains unchanged today.
    3. This primary focus gives us direction, wisdom, strength, conviction, correction and a deepening relationship with God.
    4. “My House will be called a house of prayer!” – Jesus
      1. Today, prayer meetings are the least attended meeting of the church
      2. Today, the daily prayer habits of the average Christian is almost zero.
  • Today, prayer has taken a back seat to programs, promotions and platitudes.
    1. You Christian, ARE THE CHURCH! You are God’s House.
      1. Are YOU a house of prayer?

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