Bible Study

10/24/14 Daily Devotion – Let’s stop to thank the Lord!


One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15 NIV84)

This verse comes from Luke’s account of when Jesus healed ten people who had leprosy. As you know, leprosy was a very contageous deadly disease. People who contracted leprosy were called the “walking dead”. They were required to live outside the city until they died. Jesus meets ten lepers outside the city. They cry out to Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus tells them to go into the city and show themselves to the priest. The priests had the responsibility of confirming all healings of leprosy. As the ten lepers went into the city, they were healed. Note their faith is in Jesus’ word. He did not touch them or pray over them. He simply commanded them to go, and they did. May we have a similar faith. May Jesus’ words be enough.

But only one of the lepers who realized that he was healed by Jesus stops what he is doing to praise God. Instead of continuing on to the priest’s inspection, he returns to Jesus to praise and thank Him for His healing. Today, this has me thinking whether I am acknowledging the awesome things God does in my life with proper praise. And what about you? Do we stop what we are doing to give God praise when it is proper to do so? Do we go back to make sure He knows that we are thankful for what He has done for us?

I pray that today, and always, we find it necessary to stop and praise the Lord for the awesome things He does in our lives.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/23/14 Daily Devotion – “…not even if someone rises from the dead.”


“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:29-31 NIV84)

Jesus ends His parable of the rich man and Lazarus with a startling statement about how important the Word of God is to one’s salvation. The rich man, who is in torment in hell, is asking Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them of the outcome for those who die without a right relationship with God. The rich man’s point is that if Lazarus would come back from the dead and go warn his brothers of their impending doom, they would be shocked into believing and would listen to Lazarus. Abraham tells the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” You see, we do not get shocked into believing! We get born again through the power of the Word of God. If we reject God’s Word, then no miracle, no matter how spectacular, is going to convince us to believe. It’s the Word of God that matters most! Want more proof?

Jesus died and rose again nearly 2,000 years ago. Yes, He rose from the dead! He came back to life. He spent weeks and weeks with His disciples after His resurrection. He is the only teacher, philosopher, prophet, religious leader to ever come back from the dead. And then, as today, there are those who remain unconvinced. They are unconvinced because they reject the very Word of God, which has the power to create faith. They reject the Word of God that clearly predicted that Jesus would rise from the dead. Miracles, no matter how spectacular, only affirm the Word of God.

We must clearly be beacons of light to this dark world. We must share the Word of God with those whom God has placed in our lives. God’s Word is the most powerful entity in the universe. His Word created all that is, and it sustains creation to this day. Our focus must be on the transforming power of the Word of God and not miracles and wonders.

Today, may our internal faith and our external witness be firmly rooted in the Word of God.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/22/14 Daily Devotion – Servanthood!


“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” (Luke 17:10, NIV84)

Understanding one’s role in life is very important. Confusion about this might cause conflict and pain as one searches for self-worth and meaning. Jesus says a servant knows s/he is a servant. Knowing their title helps them understand their purpose. Their purpose is to serve their master. They are paid to be at their master’s bidding. The servant finds worth and meaning in working for the master to the best of his/her ability.

In our verse for today, Jesus says that it is also important for us to understand our role as His servants. Did you hear that? We are servants! No matter who we are in this life we are never more than a servant in the kingdom of God. As servant, we are called to do the bidding of our Lord and Master. Our self-worth and meaning are derived from properly understanding our role as God’s servant. Jesus never asked His disciples to lead. No, He asked them to “follow Me!” Our job is to spend the rest of our lives following Jesus so that we might serve Him in His kingdom.

Let’s be servants today!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/21/14 Daily Devotion – Reality Check!!!!


““The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.” (Luke 16:22, NIV84)

This verse comes from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  This parable forces us into a reality check because it challenges our perspective.  It is easy to picture the event of this parable as Jesus tells it.  There is a rich man who lives in a big house.  He has many friends and is not in want for anything.  At the same time there is a poor beggar who lives at the front gate of the rich man’s house.  He is always in want with  little to no friends.  The contrast of their two lives is stark.  It almost makes us uncomfortable.  Jesus tells us in the parable that both men die on the same day.  Can you picture it?  A servant or someone finds the rich man dead in his bed and the wailing begins.  First it is the household, but soon the whole town is reacting to the death of one of its important and powerful members.  The funeral of the rich man would have been crowded with people paying their last respects.  On the other hand, the poor beggar Lazarus, who was found dead at the gate of the rich man’s house, would have been scooped up by someone responsible for cleaning the streets and  then buried.  That’s it!  Done!  That’s how it would look from our perspective.

But God’s perspective is very different.  Solomon says in the book of Proverbs, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Prov. 14:12)  God sees things differently than we do.  Do you find it interesting that Jesus names the poor beggar (Lazarus), while the rich man is the one who is nameless?  I find it not only interesting, but hugely profound.  It is clear that we do not always see things as they are.  From Jesus’ perspective (the only reality that matters), it is the nameless rich man who simply dies and is buried.  But for Lazarus, an angel from heaven comes down to greet him upon his death and take him to heaven.  What a beautiful picture!  What an amazing contrast of realities!  It is so important that we seek the wisdom and discernment of God so that we can see things as we ought.  We need to see things through His eyes.

Stop for a minute and evaluate what currently matters most to you.  Are you certain that it is what matters most to God?  It may be time for a reality check.  We need to make sure that we see our lives and the world around us through the eyes of Christ.  He alone has a perfect perspective of reality.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/16/14 Daily Devotion – How certain can we be about the Word of God?


“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” (Luke 16:17, NIV84)

There seems to be a lot of debate in Christian circles today about what the Word of God is. I mean, how much of the Bible is God’s Word, and how much of it is man’s additions? I have to tell you up front that I have a strong bias on this topic. My commitment to arguing that the entire Bible is the Word of God ties to verses like this one.  Jesus Himself says that it would be “easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” We face warnings in the book of Revelation about adding to and subtracting from the Bible. I would just as soon let the entire Bible be the Word of God and not enter eternity telling God I thought I know better than He did.

Given that strong bias, I believe that there is a wonderful blessing that comes with it. I can be certain about what God tells me in the Bible because I hold it as His Word. I can be certain about the truths and the promises that are contained in it. If I had to figure out what was and what wasn’t God’s word, how could I ever be certain about anything? And ultimately, upon whom would my certainty lie? It would have to lie on me or some scholar who is telling me what parts I could be certain of. I am not sure I want my certainty of the Bible to rest on me (or any other person). I am not something to be certain about. But if God is the Author of this amazing book, and not even the stroke of a pen can be removed from it, then I can be certain in God rather than in me (man).

Today, let’s be as certain about God’s Word as we are about God. Oh yeah, it’s in the Bible that we learn be certain about Him.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/14/14 Daily Devotion – Jesus treats sin seriously!


“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”  (Luke 17:1&2 NIV 84)

We live in a sinful world, and in a sinful world sin is “bound to come”.  Although not acceptable to a holy God, Jesus accepts the fact that it is man’s current condition.  Jesus understands our condition and the effects that the broken world around us have on our daily lives.  We misinterpret situations; we make bad decisions; we speak and act in ways that we shouldn’t.  Jesus knows that these things are bound to happen.  There is a little comfort in knowing that Jesus understands our condition/dilemma.  He came into this world, not only so that He could relate to our temptations and trials, but that He might be victorious over them.  Jesus is our sinless substitute.  God placed all that is broken about us and our world on Jesus as He suffered and died on the cross.  Jesus was not a victim, but a victor, as He hung on that cross as the Savior of the world.

But let’s not miss Jesus’ “woe”.  Jesus sternly warns that the individual who feeds off of man’s brokenness and leads him deeper into sin has much to worry about.  Jesus states that these individuals will face certain judgment, not from the hands of men, but from God.  Jesus says that it would be better if that person were thrown into the depths of the sea with a millstone tied around his feet.  It would be better that he face some type of earthly judgment that would cause him to die before leading one of God’s children into temptation.  God is serious about sin!  The devil and our sinful nature are not to be played with.  They are to be continually put to death so that we are not led astray or do not cause anyone else to be led astray.

Today, let’s take seriously Jesus’ words of warning.  Let’s live lives free from Jesus’ woes.  Let’s lead people toward Jesus, rather than away from him.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


10/06/14 Daily Devotion – Whom do you serve?


“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13, NIV84)

In every aspect of our lives this is a true and profound statement by Jesus. This is true whether we are trying to live with one foot in this world and the other in the kingdom of God or we are living a lie in a relationship or in business. It just will not work! God has created us to serve just one master. He will not share that place with anyone else. The question in life is, will our master be the Lord?

Some serve their families, some their jobs, others their hobbies, and others try to throw God in the mix. The problem is that you can only have one master. As you look at the laundry list of potential masters to be served I want you to notice one important thing. The Lord (our true Master) is the Creator of all the other potentials. He has blessed us with our families, jobs, income, relationships, hobbies, etc. We need to be servants of the One True Master who is Master over all things. God refuses to share the honor and glory that He alone deserves.

Let’s not be confused by our physical senses. Let’s step back and realize that we can have only one Lord of our lives and let’s make it Jesus!

Peace!

Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


10/04/14 Daily Devotion – Even non-prodigals have faulty perpsectives!


““The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”” (Luke 15:28–32, NIV84)

Today our attention turns to the other son.  This son has stayed with his father his whole life.  He did not run away from his father like the younger son did.  He has faithfully remained home.  But today, he is angry.  He is angry that his father has so easily welcomed his straying brother home. He is treating his younger brother as though he had never left.  Actually, his brother is being treated better than he has been treated, and he is the son who stayed home.  From the older son’s perspective, the party is for the wrong son.  So, he stays outside as a sign of protest.

Once again, we are forced to give our attention to the father.  He takes the initiative to reach out to his older son by leaving the party and finding his angry son.  There is reason to pause at this moment and praise God that He is always willing to take the initiative to reach out to us, even when we are being stubborn and disobedient.  Just as the younger son had the wrong perspective and needed to come to his senses, the older son is guilty of the same sin.  It is true that he is not guilty of squandering his father’s wealth; and he didn’t run away from home, but he is guilty of living in his father’s home and not realizing the depth of blessings that were there for him.

What about you and me?  At the end of the day we find that we end up being like one of the sons.  Some of us believe(d) that the grass is greener away from God and wander only to squander the blessing of God.  Some of us believe(d) that we are safe and secure at home but fail to see the richness that is ours as we remain in God’s kingdom.  The error of the first son is easy to point out because of his wandering and squandering.   But the error of the second son is more subtle.  Because he (we) remained home, outward appearances don’t help us.  In order to detect this error we need to get to the heart of the individual.  Are we staying home in the security of our Father’s home but not living like we belong to His kingdom?  Are we missing the rich blessings He has for us who live in His kingdom?  The father tells the older son, “…You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”  If we are not celebrating in our Father’s kingdom it is because we have the wrong perspective of our situation.

Finally, the father invites his older son back into the party with the most important statement, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again…”  Regardless of which son our life most closely relates to, there is reason to celebrate.  We are back into the kingdom of our heavenly Father, and that is reason enough to celebrate.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


10/03/14 Daily Devotion – Are we trustworthy stewards?


““Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10–12, NIV84)

So much of what we deal with in this world is stuff. We worry about not having enough stuff or the right stuff. We save and conserve our stuff as to protect it for the future. We covet the stuff that someone else has wishing that it were ours. How many moments in our lives could be characterized with the thought, “If I only had…”? If we are not careful, we could get sucked into the world’s lie that ultimately it is all about stuff. The stuff in our lives can become so distracting that we miss the most important thing. The Giver of the stuff. So, let’s focus on some truths that I hope will lead us to some proper perspectives about stuff.

First, everybody has stuff. There is obviously a difference in the amount of stuff we have, but God has given us all blessings that are uniquely ours. We have gifts, talents, physical blessings. Secondly, we learn that these things have been entrusted to us. God expects us to use them wisely. He expects us to use them knowing that He has entrusted them to us for a purpose. Thirdly, Jesus is looking for “trustworthiness”. He is looking for us to understand fully our role as stewards of His blessings. Jesus tells us that, “those who can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much.” God gives richly to those who understand how to use His riches.

Our focus need not be on all the stuff we have or don’t have! Today, let our focus be on the One who entrusts His blessings into our care. May we focus on His grace and the awesome responsibility to use His blessings in a trustworthy manner.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


10/02/14 Daily Devotion – It’s Great to be Home!


“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20–24, NIV84)

In the last couple devotions we have focused on a wayward son who thought he knew better. He thought he had it all figured out. He just needed to get away from his father’s household and he would be free to execute his plan. So he got his inheritance from his family and got out of town. And for awhile life was good. But then he ran out of his father’s provisions. He lost his friends and the life that he thought was so wonderful. He ended up cleaning up after pigs to earn an income. He finally came to his senses and decided to go back home. Knowing that he had sinned against God and his father, he hoped his father would take him back as a servant. Even a servant’s pay was better than what he had. So he went back home.

Today, we focus on the waiting father, the father who every day prayed for his son and hoped for the day he would come to his senses and return home. Repeatedly throughout the day he must have thought of his son and looked off in the distance to see if he might be coming. Day after day this father did the same hoping, waiting and watching, but nothing. That is, until today. Today he looked out and saw his son in the distance. He saw so many hopes and prayers being answered in one moment. He ran out to his son. As his son was speaking about sin and unworthiness, the father focused on the son who had returned home. He hugged him. He kissed him. He put a robe around him and a ring on his finger. It did not occur to this father to relegate his returning son to servanthood. He called for a celebration because his son who was gone (dead) was now home (alive).

If you have any doubts today about how much God loves you, please read these verses and this devotion one more time. God has longed for the day when you and I would return home. He doesn’t want to listen to messages of unworthiness. Our value to Him is so great that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for our redemption. We need to celebrate with God and all the angels every time a prodigal comes home. It’s great to be home, isn’t it?

Peace!

Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org