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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

November 23, 2021

Faith, improperly placed, can be hazardous to one's health. Today's message contrasts one reaction to Abner's death with somewhat similar circumstances among first century Christians. Recall that Abner was chief among warriors and statesmen of a divided Israel. He was seemingly the one upon whom hope for peace and unification was pinned. Ishbosheth, son of Saul and leader of the opposition against David, reacted negatively to Abner's death as the first of our focus texts points out.

2 Samuel 4.1 “When Saul’s son heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost heart,…  ( Click for more )

Even if you don't know Abner, you probably know the man who ordered others to mourn for him. Our study today will focus on the man who spoke the words, Mourn for Abner. Our study will involve the relationships that surrounded these men and the events which precipitated the order, Mourn for Abner.

“So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle. Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, 'Tear your clothes, gird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner.' And King David followed the…  ( Click for more )

November 9, 2021

Humility includes knowing one's place. Sometimes our culture laughs at the idea that we even have a place. I agree that a person's place is not determined by one's race, a horrible mistake that has historically been made. However, the mistakes of the past should not cause us to erase legitimate distinctions that time and circumstance demand of us. As believers, we do not always have to demand our rights, nor should we. Today's message deals with the delicate subject of humility and knowing one's place.

Before we introduce and comment on our focus text, we invite your attention…  ( Click for more )

Are you Abraham's seed (one of Abraham's seed)? Before answering the question, just know that the word seed in the Scriptures frequently refers to descendents (much as we would use the word offspring). After reading today's message you may revise you answer to the previous question. You are also likely to have a greater appreciation for just what it means to be Abraham's seed.

God said to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;…  ( Click for more )

“I declare but your actions are enough to try the patience of Job!” Have you ever made this or a similar statement to someone who just got on your last nerve? Well, if you have, you're not alone. Today's message will deal with someone who has more patience than Job and how, at times, He just says, “Enough of that!”

“Then I [Moses] pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying: ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and…  ( Click for more )

“Partiality is not so bad as long as I am on the positive end of it.” All too often this is our sentiment. However, when the shoe’s on the other foot, we have absolutely no respect for partiality. What we are really talking about here is fairness. In today’s focus text, Paul talks about eternal rewards and the fact that they will be administered with no hint of partiality.

“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily,…  ( Click for more )

There is a play on words in the following text; miss it and miss the reasoning of the grand apostle. It is somewhat obscured by the English, but if you look closely, you can spot it (Hint: It involves the word serve or a form of the word). “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians…  ( Click for more )

Countless times I've said it and I've heard it said by others. “Whatever you do, don't open that door.” Maybe it was, “Whatever you do, make sure this control is adjusted properly.” You can fill in the rest of the sentence, but we all know that whatever you do's are important, even essential, actions. Today's message will deal with the only four whatever you do's in the New King James translation of the Bible.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3.23). Many of us have heard this statement paraphrased as…  ( Click for more )

“When the cat's away the _____ _____ ____.” Can you complete the blanks in this common saying? There are other cliches that describe the phenomena that sparked this proverb. We all have seen it and, if we are honest, we have been one of the playful mice at one time or another. Our devotional today will take a look at the underlying issue with “playful mice” and what God has to say about such behavior.

We introduce our study with four verses, all of which will be dealt with during this week. Our focus today, however, will be only on the first of these verses.…  ( Click for more )

September 21, 2021

From worst to first!” ─ I don’t know who the first person was to use this statement nor do I know the activity that was the subject of the statement. I do know that there have been a few sports teams to have claimed this distinction. For instance, the Chicago Cubs finished the 2006 season with 96 losses to their discredit, last in their division. In their first year under Manager Lou Piniella, 2007, they rallied to win Major League Baseball’s Central Division. Regardless of the arena, to go from last to first is quite an accomplishment. I suppose in this case,…  ( Click for more )

September 14, 2021

The Israelites of old used to sing a shortlist of traits that God honors. The song began by asking two questions: “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” (Psalm 15.1). One of the responses from the shortlist went as follows: “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15.4c). In other words, God respects a person who gives his word and refuses to renege even if the fulfilling of it brings him hurt or pain.

God respects this characteristic because it is one of His characteristics. In one of Peter's earliest…  ( Click for more )

September 7, 2021

Testimonials are only as good as the person doing the testifying. I once heard a man offering testimony regarding a siding installation company and I knew the man had a stucco house! I once heard a man offering testimony about a certain insurance company only to notice at the end of the commercial there was a small disclaimer saying he was a paid actor. I once heard sports star touting a high energy drink only to find out that he had been paid for the endorsement. Testimonials are only as good as the person doing the testifying.

Matthew 3:17 “And suddenly a voice came from…  ( Click for more )

August 31, 2021

Two 3:16's, two different books by the same author, and one common theme - this is today's devotional.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Some have rightfully called our first 3:16, the Golden Text of the Bible. It is golden because, among other reasons it contains the heart of God revealed in His love for us. A brief commentary that is not original with me says that John 3.16 speaks to the greatest being – God; It expresses the greatest love –…  ( Click for more )

August 24, 2021

Some of this week's devotionals will have a twist. Today's will be the first to highlight two passages corresponding to the month:day date format.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Many will recognize this passage as giving the first prophetic glimpse of Jesus Christ, the “Seed of woman.” This passage “sets the tone” for the rest of the Bible. It presupposes the need for salvation which is to be made abundantly clear by…  ( Click for more )

Do you live a godly life? Do you desire to live a godly life? There is a subtle but meaningful difference in these two questions. Today's message will look at the phrase Live Godly and examine how it fits into our focus verse as well as how it fits into our lives.

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12).

To Live Godly is a high ambition. Would you be so bold as to make such a claim for yourself? Well, how about claiming that you desire to live godly? There is a huge difference in the two claims, but…  ( Click for more )

Yes, I know that the book is left off the title’s usual book, chapter, and verse reference. I would like to see if you might can recall what biblical character might have asked such a question? If you don’t know, don’t feel bad about it; neither will I keep you in suspense for long. But, I do want you to know that this was a legitimate question asked by someone who is quite a famous character. He was in terrific physical and emotional anguish at the time as might be obvious from the question he asked. We will consider this famous man and his question, the question…  ( Click for more )

Puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Some tease the eye and others tease the brain. Some tease the eye AND the brain. Some puzzles are especially intriguing because they challenge more than one of our sensory capabilities. Today’s message is about a puzzle that God designed, a puzzle that impacts and challenges every sensory capacity of man plus his brain and his heart. Paul spoke of this puzzle [mystery] and noted how it revealed the manifold wisdom of God.

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among…  ( Click for more )

To say that John the baptizer was different might be a contender for the greatest understatement of all time. Today’s message will explore some of the things that distinguished John from other biblical messengers. In addition, we will suggest some practical reasons for these differences as well as make an application to today’s believer.

Though perhaps least important, the first point of distinction was in his method. He did not go to the people, but expected the people to come to him. His austere lifestyle was interpreted by some as being what we might call anti-social.…  ( Click for more )

Robbery is a severe charge. In our legal system, there are two basic types of robbery, armed and unarmed. In either case, it involves the taking of something from another by force or the threat of force. In the Law of Moses, it was simply, “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20.15). There, it simply meant taking something that belongs to another, whether force was involved or not. The last book of the Old Testament speaks to the commission of this crime and the reaction of one of its victims. Consider this case.

The book of Malachi is different in that it is structured…  ( Click for more )

Form is not substance. A shadow is form but it is not substance. A photograph is form but it is not the substance. A digital image is form (virtual reality), but it is NOT reality. Paul’s warning to Timothy (quoted below) was, in part, a warning about those who display a “form of godliness” but who deny the power that is inherent in real godliness. Our study today will look at the issue of form and substance as it relates to some very practical aspects of the Christian faith.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be…  ( Click for more )

I remember the day when I learned what contradict means. I did not learn the definition in a dictionary; rather, I learned it in life’s university when I was a young boy. I don’t remember the specific statement of my father that I openly contradicted, but I do remember his reaction! I recall his unambiguous direction that I was not to contradict him. I think he had every right to say what he did and that I needed to learn the principle of respect for one’s elders more than I needed anything else at that moment.

How do you like for someone to contradict you? What…  ( Click for more )

Hope speaks of the future. Hope speaks optimistically. Hope is always positive. “Hope that is seen is not hope.” (Romans 8.24b). Hope is not passive. Hope is founded on or in something other than oneself.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone…  ( Click for more )

I really couldn't figure out why anyone would want to know the value of X. That was my real complaint when my mother insisted that I take algebra. I'm glad she didn't give in simply because there were things I didn't (and couldn't) understand at the time. I have since come to understand why knowing the value of X can be so important. There are many things like this in life. There are times when we simply have to trust others who are older and wiser to advise us to do what is best. I know that no generation likes to hear this, but it has been true in every generation from the beginning…  ( Click for more )

I remember a little about Qualitative Chemistry and also about Quantitative Chemistry. The first seeks to determine what elements/compounds are present and the second seeks to determine in what amounts they are present. John made a rhetorical statement, which we will consider in today's devotional, dealing with Qualitative Love. His comment was not about how much love was present ; it was about what type of love was present .

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did…  ( Click for more )

“And it had been revealed to him [Simeon] by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (Luke 2.26).

Simeon was overjoyed to see the Lord's Christ. He had waited perhaps all his life to witness the events that unfolded in the temple when Jesus was brought there at the tender age of 40 days. Other than the fact that the Holy Spirit guided him, we do not know how Simeon was able to know that this particular child was the Lord's Christ. I would suppose that He looked like every other 40 day old baby being brought to the temple…  ( Click for more )

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