Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
There were times when the speech of Jesus was veiled to one extent or the other. Although people were somewhat ready to accept the moral truths that He taught, there was a greater truth that very, very few were ready to accept. The focus text in today's message sets forth a change in the strategic approach of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Those who were astute listeners could easily and correctly surmise that He was the Christ from His previous messages and actions, but they no longer had to put two and two together to get at this truth; they correctly observed, “He speaks ( Click for more )
I've heard of people who have a real knack for turning a phrase. Well, today's devotional is about turning a phrase in another way. We will begin with a quote from Jesus and the sermon on the mount.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you ( Click for more )
What do you think of yes men? Almost everybody has known one or two, if not personally, certainly in the media. Yes men are an essential for egomaniacs. They are needed to sustain the mistaken concepts that such mental aberrations demand. Yes men are not an invention of the twentieth century; they have been around almost as long as time itself. Today's message will begin with some yes men and then proceed with a quick overview of a few others in the Scriptures. Finally, we will examine the cost of listening to the counsel of yes men.
While Israel was in Egyptian captivity, “...The ( Click for more )
A biblical priest, by definition, is someone who was appointed to serve in the very presence of God. Additionally, the service which the priest rendered had to do with sanctified things and activities. In the Old Testament, the priest was an intermediary, so to speak, between God and man. In the role of a priest, sacrifices and offerings were made in keeping with God's commands, or in response to a worshiper's desire to lift up a thank offering to God. Men could not, with God's blessings, appoint themselves as priests; it was an office to which men were appointed by a spokesperson ( Click for more )
God has promised many things in the Bible. There are books written by uninspired men which capture and catalog these promises. One of these books, Precious Bible Promises, gives a long and quite extensive list of God's promises divided into over 100 categories. Another book of promises is actually a calendar of 365 promises, one for each day of the year. While such efforts are appreciated, a few fundamental facts need to be known about God's promises before embracing them as applicable to all men for all time.
First, God's promises are generally conditional. This is to say that ( Click for more )
When our expectations rest on one and only one person, hope vanishes unless that person delivers. A pinch hitter in the last of the ninth with two out illustrates this principle. If he fails to deliver, then there is no hope; the game is over. However, a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth with no outs is quite another matter. If he fails to deliver, there are two more chances for victory; there is still hope! This was John's question when He saw his own life endangered as well as the perennial issues that followed the One who he came to announce. John had a simple question and ( Click for more )
Question: When is a door not a door? Answer: When it is ajar. Question: When is my doctrine not my doctrine? Answer: When it is of God. Jesus responded to some who questioned the source of His teaching in just this way. He spoke of His doctrine, but He said it was not His doctrine. By paying careful attention to His statements, we can learn the difference between teachings that ought to be followed and teachings that ought to be abandoned.
“Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How does this Man ( Click for more )
See if you can finish this sentence: “Don't bite the hand that ________ ______.” In the English language, this is one of countless picturesque idioms (a phrase whose meaning differs from the literal image that it portrays). Of course most folks will recognize that the two missing words are “feeds you.” The meaning of the phrase is simply this: Do not act in a way that hurts or neutralizes those upon whom you depend. Though the wording of today's focus verse is quite different from the idiom that we cited, the meaning is the same.
Here is the quote: “Though ( Click for more )
By most human standards, seven centuries is a long time. To put this into perspective, the King James Version of the English Bible was first published just over four centuries ago, and seven centuries ago Paris was the world’s largest city with a whopping population of a quarter of a million people! In order for today’s devotional to have its desired impact, the reader needs to have an appreciation for just such a span of time.
Over seven centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, a cornerstone prophecy of the Old Testament was committed to writing. Consider the following: ( Click for more )
Recently I read a news report of a minister who was forbidden from leading a prayer at a governmental lawmakers session because his prayer was going to be ended with the words, “In Jesus name. Amen!” The reason given was that some people there would not be Christians and might be offended by this traditional Christian ending. I think we can take comfort in the fact that this is not the first time someone’s mouth has been stopped because the message might be offensive to another. Today’s message is taken from the Old Testament and it is similar in some ways ( Click for more )
“An epitaph,” according to Wikipedia,” is literally: 'on the gravestone' a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial.” The particular one I remember one specific day was short and simple; it just said, “She lived by the Golden Rule.” I don't think she (whoever she was) wrote this epitaph for herself; rather, it appears that someone who cared for her ascribed ( Click for more )
The following reading is unique in several ways. Take the time to read it slowly.
“Now when He [Jesus] concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s [a centurion is a Roman army officer] servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 'for he loves our nation, and has built ( Click for more )
“And the LORD said to me, 'Amos, what do you see?' And I said, 'A plumb line.' Then the Lord said: 'Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.'” (Amos 7.8).
If you are over forty, you may realize the significance of the plumb line. The younger generation would recognize more sophisticated tools such as laser levels, theodolites, and the like. However, the principles that make such tools useful, whether ancient like the plumb line or of a more modern genre, are unchanging. In any discipline which demands that ( Click for more )
Why is/was Israel the chosen nation of God? Did His choosing of Israel guarantee a special spiritual relationship, or was the choosing of an entirely different nature? What about today; are the Jews still God's chosen people, or has that relationship been broken off? Today's devotional will consider these questions from a biblical perspective.
Moses said, “For you [the nation of Israel] are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set ( Click for more )
“For indeed, when we [Paul and his fellow-travellers] came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus...” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6).
The condition of Paul and his friends was not an enviable one. They were under extreme hardship both physically and emotionally. The fears were of the worst kind, fear over the spiritual condition of others. Notice that Paul specifically mentioned the fact that they were beset inside ( Click for more )
Gideon is one of the better known heroes of the Old Testament. In fact, an international organization has been distributing Bibles using his name for well over a century. Chances are good that you have seen one of their free Bibles in a motel nightstand. Gideon was an ordinary man of extraordinary faith. It was this measure of faith that led the Hebrews writer to include Gideon’s name in the Hall of Faith listed in Hebrews 11. Today’s title was extracted from the words which God spoke to Gideon as he prepared to fight the Midianites, a perennial enemy of the Israelites ( Click for more )
Some incorrect ideas absolutely will not die. Some of them are based on biblical passages, or at least those who hold them claim that they have such a basis. One idea that will not die is the belief that the bible, and more specifically Jesus, teaches that it is wrong to judge. Of course, the stock passage that is used to justify this idea is, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7.1). My purpose today will be to add Matthew 7.1 to my list of Vindicated Verses.
First, Jesus did not say, “Judge not.” The only way to make Jesus say “Judge ( Click for more )
In 1981, the rock band U2 released an album entitled October. One of the songs on this album, I Threw a Brick through a Window, contains a line which says, “No one is blinder than he who will not see.” This line is a corruption of the words of Jesus in John 9.40-41. In this passage Jesus talked about the blindness of certain Pharisees who had closed their eyes to some very obvious facts. Today’s devotional deals with other people in the ministry of Jesus who were blind of their own choosing, yet who feigned the desire to see.
The crowds had lingered long to ( Click for more )
Common sense is hard to define. However, we can usually spot it when it is present, and/or when it is not present. A quotation from Horace Greeley says, “Nothing is quite as uncommon as common sense.” Regardless of how uncommon it is, or how difficult it is to define, Jesus appealed to common sense on a number of occasions as a means of proving some very important theological points. Several times He reasoned from the lesser to the greater, a type of common sense logic that is readily accepted by most people (at least those with common sense). Today’s devotional ( Click for more )
There is only a slight difference ordinarily between singular and plural words. Yet, there can be a tremendous difference in their respective meanings. Today's focus text and message takes note of the change from the plural to a singular and the implications of that change. Consider the following passage: “Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'” (John 6.27-28).
The question Jesus was asked was a generic question which anticipated ( Click for more )
We resume our discussion of the four conditions that Paul listed in order to enjoy the mental and spiritual protection that God offers. Citing our text, we read, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4.4-7).
Condition 1: "Rejoice in ( Click for more )
The signs come in all sizes and shapes. They are intended to deter would be intruders from entering the property of others to steal or destroy. "Warning! This property protected by (fill in the blank) Security Company." By paying the dues, anyone can procure such protection. What would it be worth to have God's sentinel guarding your most prized possessions? Paul gives four conditions under which He will do this. Read on to find out how to secure His services.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord ( Click for more )
I don’t think I am any more ignorant today than I was fifty years ago, but I surely know about a lot more things that I don’t know! Can you relate to this statement? All I’m saying is the more I learn, the more I find that I don’t know. I recall wondering as a youngster about heaven. We frequently referred to heaven as being up, but up is relative to some fixed location, not an absolute. It occurs to me now that heaven is the absolute and all physical things are relative! Let’s visit a few select Old Testament passages which talk about heaven.
In ( Click for more )
An absolute favorite story I remember hearing as a child was the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. It is hard to say why that particular story appealed to me, but it was likely due to the “larger than life” adventure that was involved. Today’s devotional will deal with that aspect of the story and then make some observations regarding this story and implications it may have in our lives.
We join the story just after the king had been skilfully maneuvered into a position of having to command Daniel to be put in the lion’s den. The Divine record states ( Click for more )
Want some of the world's greatest advice? You can find it here in this column. No, it won't be from the human author; it will be from some of the authors and speakers that I quote. Today's advice cannot be topped by anyone or anything! Here it is; Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6.19-21). ( Click for more )
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