Bible Study

09/12/14 Daily Devotion – Not Peace, but Division!


“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51–53, NIV84)

Wait one minute! What did Jesus just say? He didn’t come to bring peace on earth? But what about the angels on Christmas morning (“and on earth, Peace!)? What about Jesus telling us that in Him we have peace. What about Him blessing His disciples after His resurrection by saying, “Peace be unto you”? Doesn’t the Bible call Jesus the Prince of Peace? What is He saying in these verses? Is He contradicting Himself? Not at all. It is very important that we understand what Jesus is saying in these verses.

First, let’s state clearly that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He did come so that we might have peace. He means what He says in the gospel of John when He says: “I have come so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” And there is the key to peace. There can never be peace on this planet because the earth is broken by the corruption of sin. Residents of the earth can have peace, but the source and destination of their peace is the kingdom of heaven. As long as we live in this broken world where Satan and human sinfulness exist, we will see division and conflict. We see it everywhere. The Christian message, although loving and peaceful, receives vicious attacks from this world. This conflict will continue until Jesus comes again and reigns over a new heaven and a new earth.

In the meantime what do we do? We stay the course! We remain loving and peaceful no matter how we are treated. We let the light of Christ’s love shine through us so that the world is forced to see the contrast. We NEVER apply the world’s tactics in our approach. Remember, we are called to love our enemies, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and love and forgive others as Jesus has us.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/11/14 Daily Devotion – Be Ready!


““Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” (Luke 12:35–36, NIV84)

We may not know when Jesus is returning, but we know that He is returning to take us home.  The fact that we don’t know when should not affect our readiness for His return.  Jesus calls us to be dressed and ready for service.  A servant, or a soldier, must always be ready for duty.  One cannot afford to relax, or worse yet, to live like the master is not going to return or that the soldier will never be called into battle.  A servant will be called to serve because he is a servant.  A soldier will be called into service because he is a soldier.  We will be called home to heaven and must live every day like it could be today.

As Christians we must live out our daily lives as though Jesus could return today.  We must work, worship and serve in a spirit of preparedness and readiness.  We must be busy doing kingdom work even while we live and work in this world.  We should constantly be looking up to see if Jesus is returning.   We should anticipate it as a servant would anticipate his master’s return or a soldier his orders to deploy.  What do you anticipate today?  You’ve already thought about work, relationships, children and responsibilities for the day.  But have you thought about what your life should be like in all those areas if Jesus were to return today?

Be ready!  Anticipate His coming!  It could be today!

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/09/14 Daily Devotion – Where is your treasure/heart?


“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34, NIV84)

Jesus has this wonderful way of getting right to the point.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Whatever is most important to us will get our time, attention, devotion and our “heart”.  And whatever gets our heart gets to be our God.  The question that Jesus is asking you and me today is, “Are we committing idolatry with the things of this world because our heart is devoted to them and they have become our treasure?” I personally don’t like being challenged by Jesus’ statement, but it sure makes me think.

Jesus wants us to be singularly devoted to the kingdom of God.  He wants our hearts to treasure His kingdom more than anything.He understands that the majority of our time is spent on pursuits in this world.  Regardless, He will not allow that time to equate with devotion and worship.  We are always to be in this world, but not of it.  Our hearts must continuously treasure the Word of God, the presence of God and the people of God.  We must be wholeheartedly devoted to the kingdom of God.  We must seek it FIRST!  And trust that everything else will fall into place through God’s gracious providence.

What is your heart treasuring today?

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/08/14 Daily Devotion – Kingdom Seekers


“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:29–31, NIV84)

We tend to focus on what our eyes can see as the most important things in life.  We see our jobs, homes, bank accounts, 401K’s, health, families as the most important things, and hence, they are where all our time and effort is spent.  Jesus is telling us that we (like the pagans) spend too much of our time on such things, and it shouldn’t be the case.  The pagans might because they don’t believe in God’s providence for their lives.  But we believe in God’s goodness and grace.  We believe in His divine providence over all things.  So Jesus tells us that we should not worry so much about the things that God has complete control of and is happy to supply us.  Jesus tells us that the “Father knows that we need them.”  We need to completely  trust in His providence and not worry about those earthly provisions.

But Jesus does tell us that we should focus our attention on the kingdom of God.  He tells us to “seek His kingdom” and all the other worries will take care of themselves via God’s gracious providing hand.  How much time are we really spending on seeking God’s kingdom?  Are we spending time and energy to ensure that we are members of God’s eternal kingdom?  Are we in God’s Word daily?  Are we communicating with Him through prayer?  Are we spending time with fellow Christians so that we might be encouraged in our walk?  Are we reaching out to the world around us with the message of the kingdom of God?  We need to honestly evaluate our priorities.  Jesus is telling us that our major focus should be on His kingdom.  We need to trust His Word that while we focus on His kingdom, He will work to meet our earthly needs.

Today, let’s be seekers of the kingdom of God!

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/05/14 Daily Devotion – Are you stressed? Do you worry? STOP!


“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25–26, NIV84)

This verse cracks me up and convicts me every time I read it. Jesus is talking about stress and worry. Who of us isn’t dealing with stress and worry on a daily basis? There is life, relationships, children, work, etc., etc., etc. to be thinking about. Worrying about! And stressing over! We sleep less, work more, and medicate ourselves to relieve the pressure we live under. Stress-related illnesses are in the top 5% of issues dealt with by our medical community today. To all of these daily stress-related issues Jesus asks one simple question, “Why do you worry?”

Jesus, are you kidding? Didn’t you just hear me list off all the things I have going on in my life. That is why I worry! To that Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very simple thing, why do you worry about the rest?” You see, to God, adding an hour to someone’s life is a “very little thing”. He does that kind of stuff all the time. I think stress and worry are the consequence of taken upon ourselves the things of God. There are things that only He knows about and knows what He wants to do about them. When we start poking our nose into His domain, we will find ourselves filled with stress and worry because we don’t know. We need to trust in the one who always sees the bigger picture and knows what He is going to do about it. We need to give back to God the things that we are trying to control that are not our responsibility. He alone has the divine power to meet the challenges of this life. He controls time and eternity. He touches and he heals. He loves and redeems. He controls the entire universe, and loves us enough to call us by name and answer our prayers.

Today, let’s STOP worrying! Let’s STOP stressing. Let’s “cast all our anxiety upon Him because He cares for us.” (1Pet. 5:7)

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/04/14 Daily Devotion – Don’t be afraid to share your faith!


““When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”” (Luke 12:11–12, NIV84)

I have been preaching and teaching for 30 years. I am living proof that this verse is true. Even after all these years I get nervous, sweaty and cold hands before I speak. I am NOT a natural speaker. My high school speech teacher told me not to go into public speaking, and she wasn’t wrong. When I was in high school, I would get blotchy and stutter through all my speeches. But not today! What has made the difference? The Holy Spirit! I can tell you with 100% confidence that the Spirit of God provides me the motivation, the passion, and even the words to speak.

I tell you all that in order to address the most common concern about defending the faith. People are afraid they will not know what to say, or that they will say the wrong thing. Listen to me clearly when I say to you that the only wrong thing to do is to not say anything. If you say nothing, then you don’t even give the Holy Spirit the chance to work through you. It is OK if you don’t have answers to every question. Most people don’t expect you will. They find it refreshing for a Christian to honestly say, “I am not sure about that. I will have to look into that.” I still say that 30 years into this gig. We need to rely on the Spirit of God that gives divine power to the printed pages of the Bible, to give power and direction to the words that will come out of our mouths when we seek to defend our faith. We need to remember that we are never alone. God is always with us. We need to trust Him. I never have grown tired of experiencing how the Spirit works through me to touch others. It has actually done much to strengthen my faith. Imagine how much of the Spirit’s work I would have missed if I looked with the eyes of sight and never opened my mouth to teach.

Do NOT be afraid to share your faith! The moment you begin, the Spirit of God will be there to govern and guide your thoughts and your words.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/03/14 Daily Devotion – Are you fearing the right thing?


““I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4–5, NIV84)

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us repeatedly that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  But modern day Christianity has a problem with fearing God.  We want to think of God as loving and compassionate (which He is), but that seems to go against the thought of  a God of judgment that should be feared.  We do not like the thought of God’s justice, anger, and fury.  But the Psalmist says, “Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury according to the fear that is due You.  Teach us to number our days so that we might present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:11&12)  Although it is all over the Bible, most of us do not properly face this issue.  Right into the midst of this philosophical/theological conflict Jesus speaks so clearly it is uncomfortable.  He says, “…do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear:  Fear Him, who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”

Jesus says that there might be forces in this world that can go so far as to take your life, but ultimately you and I are accountable to God.  We (all humanity) need to understand that our perception of God doesn’t change who He is.  It just makes us either right or wrong.  To be wrong about God’s words and actions is reason enough to fear God.  To be wrong about what happens when we die means that we are not prepared to meet Him in judgment on our/the last day.  It is vitally important that we properly fear God.  Only then can wisdom begin.

I believe there are two types of fear.  The first is stated above.  We are creatures of an Almighty Creator.  He has every right to expect purity of life and worship from us and to judge us if we are anything less.  He has a right to hold us accountable to His Word and to any promises we have made to Him.  He demands perfection and judges anything less.  The second type of fear is one of holy reverence–that we shudder and are silenced in God’s presence.  That like the great men and women of faith, we find ourselves in awe of who God is and what He has done on our behalf.  Almighty God has seen fit to place our sins of disobedience upon Jesus so that He might declare us as righteous in His sight.  A God who is this great deserves every aspect of fear that we can conjure up in our souls.  In the “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, C.S. Lewis has a line where one of the kids asks the other (about Aslan – God), “Is He safe?” and the other answered, “No, but He is good!”  God isn’t safe!  He doesn’t fit into our defined categories.  He is always more than we can imagine or think.  His ways are not ours.  His thought are not ours.  He is not predictable or manipulated.  But He is most assuredly GOOD!  He loves us and has redeemed us.

May we, today and every day, have a proper fear of God.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


09/02/14 Daily Devotion – Warning! Do not distort the word of God!


“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52, NIV84)

“Woe to you…” Words of warning that would cause any one of us to pause for a moment to assess the source and the context. A parent might warn a child about potential punishment for poor choices that might be made. A friend might warn another friend about the pitfalls he sees his friend falling into. A boss might warn an employee about poor performance and potential termination if the poor performance continues. But, the source of warning in our verse for today is Jesus, and the context is the knowledge of salvation. Woe! God Himself is warning the Pharisees, Scribes, and teachers of the law that they have so distorted the truth that they have disqualified themselves and anyone who might listen to them. Not a warning any of us would want to hear.

So, what were their issues and what can we learn from them so we do not put ourselves in a position to face a similar warning. In each case, they put their interpretation of God’s Word in priority to its intended meaning. The Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the law were famous for adding and adding and adding to God’s Word. They had over 600 commandments when God began with 10, and most knew that they could all be boiled down to two (love God and your fellow man). In adding all these laws to God’s Word they robbed God’s Word of its authority and power. They saw themselves as master’s of the Word of God instead of being mastered by by the Word of God.

Even today we need to be cautious and heed Jesus’ warning to not distort His Word. We need to let God’s Word be God’s Word. We need to surrender our minds, hearts and faiths to its Lordship. Let’s make sure that we remain overwhelmed by God and His Word and not our own brilliance and knowledge. We bring nothing to the table but a broken life that needs the touch of the Great Physician of body and soul.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


08/29/14 Daily Devotion – Live in the light of Christ!


“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” (Luke 11:34–36, NIV84)

Some great theologians and philosophers have made a distinction between seeing “with” and “through” our eyes.  What they mean is that if we see “with” our eyes, then our eyes are no different from a pane of glass. Everything on the other side of the glass comes directly to our mind, heart and soul; but if we see “through” our eyes then there is an implied filter that interprets what’s on the other side. If we see through our eyes, we are forced to be discerning. We understand that our eyes are simply conduits of images and information. Our eyes need to filter everything they see with the truths of God’s Word. We naturally protect our mind, heart and soul when we choose to see through our eyes.

Jesus tells us that our eyes are the lamp of our body. If our eyes are bad (seeing with our eyes) then our bodies will be filled with darkness. Our hearts and souls will be flooded with images and information that only produce confusion and pain. But if our eyes are good (seeing through our eyes) then our hearts, minds and souls will be protected from the flood of damaging images and information. God’s Word will filter out the bad and the ugly and our bodies will be filled with light.

May the Light of Christ shine upon us and through us. May we daily choose to see the world around us “through” the truths of God’s Word.

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org


08/27/14 Daily Devotion – “Hide it under a bushel…No!”


““No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 11:33, NIV84)

Could Jesus have said anything more obvious? No one lights a lamp and then “puts it in a place where it will be hidden.” Of course not! That would be ridiculous! It would make no sense! If someone lights a lamp, he puts it on a stand so that its light might be seen. So what is Jesus driving at? Sadly, He is telling us that, way too often, we do the most ridiculous thing that makes no sense. We take the light of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit has placed in our hearts and we hide it. Why do we do that? Why would we hide light from shining?

I can only think of three possible reasons. One, we are ashamed of the light and would rather live in darkness. We don’t want others to know that we live in the light of Jesus because we may experience persecution and ridicule. The danger here is that the light not only fails to reach out to others, but it also no longer can meet our needs because we have hidden it. Two, we just don’t understand why it is light that Jesus has placed in our hearts. We need to understand that God intentionally put light in our lives for our benefit and the good of others. Three, we don’t understand how threatened our enemy (Satan) would be if we were to live in the light of Jesus.

The light of the Holy Spirit provides us wisdom and discernment as we live out our daily lives in a dark and sinful world. Only Satan would not want us to live in that light. The Spirit’s light also shines through us so that those living in darkness can be drawn to the light of Christ. Again, only Satan would want our light to never reach out to enlighten another. It’s time to stand up to Satan! It’s time for obedience to God’s Word. It’s time to let our light shine!

Peace!

Pastor Tom

www.firmlyrooted.org