Bible Study

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


10/01/14 Daily Devotion – A proper sense of reality!


“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” (Luke 15:18–19, NIV84)

When people come to their senses the major change is the gaining of a proper sense of reality. When we come to our senses our view of ourselves, others and the world around us gets corrected. The prodigal son in this verse finally saw the hopelessness of his situation and decided to go home. I heard someone say once that this experience is like being out on the ocean and realizing that somehow you are out of the boat and in the water. This isn’t a time to build another boat (create another false reality) — it’s a time to simply swim back to the original boat (go home).

Here the prodigal son thought about going home and in doing so he faced another reality. He realized that he sinned against his father and God. His immediate reaction was repentance and a sense of unworthiness to return as a son. He correctly humbled himself, hoping his father would at least take him back as a hired hand. So, with a heavy heart, he returned to his father’s home. We need to do the same thing. We need to admit that we have sinned and humbly return to our heavenly Father. It’s not easy. But what is the alternative? When we’ve come to our senses we know that there is no place else to go.

May we, today and always, be quick to come to our senses and turn back to our heavenly Father, no matter what the circumstances.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/30/14 Daily Devotion – Have you come to your senses?


“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’” (Luke 15:17, NIV84)

This verse is a quote from the Prodigal Son. You remember, the one who couldn’t wait for his inheritance. He needed to get out from under his father’s reach. He was certain he knew a better way, and that better way was living on his own, far from his father. For awhile things were good. He had plenty of money and plenty of friends. Life was a party, and he was the life of that party. That was until his money ran out. You see, the life he was living was really a figment of his imagination. He really thought things were going well as his money was running out. He thought his friends were true friends. He thought life was good. But it was all a facade.

Now he had finally come to his senses. Here he sees reality properly. You see, there is a reality. We don’t create it. We either live going with the stream of reality, or going against it. In this verse the prodigal son found himself all alone. The reality he imagined and thought he could live had completely vanished. He was moneyless, friendless, and without his father. He was utterly alone. In the depth of that darkness, a light dawned within him. He realized that his father’s home wasn’t so bad. He realized that even the hired men who worked for his father were provided for better than he was out on his own. He finally figured it out!

What about you and me? Have we hit that point? Is it time to come to our senses? Have we strayed too far from the only reality that matters? We have a heavenly Father who loves us, even though we have strayed from Him. How long will we live in the darkness of our self-made reality? It’s time that we come to our senses and think about returning home.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/29/14 Daily Devotion – Let’s diligently seek and find the lost among us!


“Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  (Luke 15:8-10 NIV84)

This short parable stresses two key points about the life of the Church (the kingdom of God). First, we note the intensity and diligence with which the woman searches for the lost coin. Second, we note the rejoicing and celebrating once it is found. So I wrestle with several questions today. Where are those two key components of the kingdom of God in my life and in my church today? Am I willing to turn my world upside-down in order to find the lost? Am I diligently seeking the lost as they come and go through my life? Is this key component visible in the church I lead? How about you? How about your church? When someone does come to Christ these days, where is the fanfare and the celebration? I don’t often see it on this earth with my earthly eyes. But Jesus tells us that those present in the kingdom of God stop and rejoice when a sinner (who was lost) repents (is found) and is brought back to the kingdom of God. This is important work! This is what we are here for. This is why Jesus left us on the planet.

Jesus wants us to never lose sight of the fact that we were all lost but eventually found because of the diligent search of someone who loved and cared enough for us. We can’t allow the business of life, or even the church, to distract us from our primary task. God causes the lost to ebb and flow through our lives so that we might be used to touch (find) them. We need to have our spiritual eyes open to see the opportunities that the Lord is laying before us. We need to fervently seek and find the lost among us. Once found, we introduce them to Jesus and He does the rest of the work. The Holy Spirit will work through our words and actions to touch, heal, redeem and save. What’s left for us to do? REJOICE! Stop long enough to recognize that in the business of this worldly existence a divine act has occurred. The lost has been found and the dead has been born again. Let’s take time to rejoice and celebrate with the members of the kingdom of God in heaven.

Today, let’s diligently seek and find for the kingdom of God!

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyroote.org


09/27/14 Daily Devotion – Have you maintained your ‘saltiness’?


“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? (Luke 14:34 NIV 84)

Salt has a purpose. Actually, it has several purposes. One in particular is its ability to season foods. Salt has a particular flavoring ability to enhance the taste of most foods. Salt sits in the salt shaker, just being salt, until it’s time for its use. One doesn’t have to worry about salt losing its saltiness. Saltiness is what salt does. It can’t do anything else. But if it were possible for salt to somehow lose its saltiness it would become worthless.

We are God’s children. We are His creation. Our purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do, and honor Him in all that we say. Our life purpose is to mirror the image of our creator. If our lives do not glorify Him. If our words do not honor Him. If our lives do not mirror His image, then we cannot fulfill our purpose. We become useless. This is the state of fallen humanity. We have lost our purpose. Jesus ends this verse with a profound question, “How can it be made salty again?” In the world of salt, the answer is it can’t. In the world of humans, this absolutely can happen. We can regain our intentional purpose through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit and regain our original purpose (saltiness). This redemption and transformation is a reflection of the love of our heavenly Father and His desire to make us right with Him.

Today, if you have lost your saltiness (purpose), do not despair! Jesus can, and will, restore you to your original purpose. Turn to Him and see what He can do.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org