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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

December 9, 2017

I asked my friend what was the most radical position, in a religious context, he had ever seen where a matter of judgment was held to the exclusion of doctrine. In other words, what had he witnessed people do that may have been right in itself, but when pressed to extremes, became harmful or even contradictory to other Bible teachings. He began to talk about a couple of things, one of them being the Lord’s Supper and how it was observed; he also mentioned how some had pressed the idea of one [communion] cup to the point of making it a matter of fellowship.

I had a hidden…  ( Click for more )

Jesus was “…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1.4). Paul further wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1.16).

These truths were foundational to the whole of Christianity. Since Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the truth of the gospel could stand the scrutiny that a skeptical world might be expected to offer. Because of the…  ( Click for more )

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1.1). This text has for long ages been called the thesis statement of the book of Romans.

As such, this statement that Paul puts forth in advance of argument is one which captures the essence of his entire book to the believers in Rome. There are no wasted words in it. It is concise and entirely relevant. That being the case, we will stop to examine why Paul and the Holy Spirit thought it necessary…  ( Click for more )

Ready is such a common word! It simply carries the idea of preparedness, maybe even without desire. I may be ready to go to the dentist, but I may not want to go. I may be ready to pay my monthly bills, but that exercise is seldom executed with exuberance. The word Paul used in Romans 1.15 is a word that not only indicates preparedness, it indicates an eagerness to perform the task for which he had declared himself ready. The New American Standard Version translates the verse, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Today’s…  ( Click for more )

A debtor, very simply put, is someone who owes a debt, or is bound by some obligation to another. Paul declared himself to be a debtor when he wrote, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” (Romans 1.14-15). However, the debt was an unusual one in a number of ways. We will consider this unusual debt as Today’s Little Lift.

First, the debt was unusual due to the identity of those whom Paul owed. Specifically, he owed the Greeks and the…  ( Click for more )

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 3.14).

The point of this devotional message is not to look at the things for which Paul prayed on this occasion. Rather, it is to look at the phrase “I bow my knees…” and some of the implications of this phrase. The point of the phrase is not to depict a sanctified position of prayer, but rather to indicate the sanctified attitude of prayer displayed by Paul. This does not deny that Paul literally bowed his knees in prayer, for that seems to be the case…  ( Click for more )

“Trying to make sense out of nonsense can drive you crazy!” Have you ever heard this statement? Well, I can testify to the fact that it is true. I guess you can jump one step ahead of me and say, “Ah, so that's what's wrong with you.” Jesus knew that some actions of men just cannot be explained rationally. That is what today's focus text is all about. Let's learn together from it.

“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will…  ( Click for more )

December 2, 2017

“Its not what you know, its who you know!” Have you ever heard that statement? Usually it is applied to how we as human beings ascend (or descend) on the ladder of success. Let someone get a promotion at work and as likely as not, someone will affirm by this statement that the promotion was unwarranted based on merit, but was prompted by a personal relationship apart from performance. This same not-so-gentle-slam can occur in social settings, politics, legal issues, and almost any venue where advantage can be gained by such shenanigans. Well, as it turns out, this sentiment…  ( Click for more )

December 1, 2017

Political Correctness (PC) is not a new thing, but it appears to me that the blight has grown stronger than I have ever witnessed it. We live in a culture in which virtually every public figure (actors, athletes, politicians, etc., etc.) has to have a “handler” to keep them straight. One wrong word, or for that matter, even one perceived wrong word has been known to abruptly end the rise of a super star. I thank God that Jesus was not beset by this burden; He called it like it was and let the chips fall where they may! Today's focus text deals with an event where a Gentile…  ( Click for more )

What do you think about the priesthood? No, not the one that has been unfavorably cast in news headlines of late; rather, I speak of the one about which the Bible speaks, the one in which God ordained that all believers serve as priests (see 1 Peter 2.5-9). This priestly service is not elective; it is mandated for all who would be Christians. This priesthood is particularly special because as priests we all serve at the pleasure of our High Priest, the Risen Christ. It is this relationship that we will explore briefly in today's message. First, please consider the passage that…  ( Click for more )

November 29, 2017

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 )

November 28, 2017

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 )

November 18, 2017

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 )

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