our journey home
 
Our 365 Daily Readings and Devotionals for 2018

September 25

A Crucible of Pain
by Kevin Clark
 
In the death of Stephen, the fledgling movement that is the body of Christ is launched. You may ask does anything good come from pain? As we reflect on many stories in the Biblical account, we see a relationship between difficulty and new growth. As parents, we explain some childhood muscle aches as growing pains. Those who work hard in the gym begin to embrace pain as a necessary evil.
 
In the early church, the action that is meant to snuff out the heritics, in the end, globalized the movement. It is ironic that Saul, who will be renamed Paul after he becomes a follower and one of the greatest advocates of “The Way” is now the catalyst that begins the missionary movement. The church of Jesus Christ was born in the crucible of pain. But later Paul will teach that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” We also learn that “no weapon formed against us can defeat us.” How reassuring it is t0 remember that He who “who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
 
It might be tempting to feel defeated by our circumstance, but I wonder if we could, instead, embrace the pain we may feel today as an opportunity to allow Jesus to continue His work in us.

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September 24

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

by Kevin Clark
 
 
 
The world loves superheroes? Millions are spent to produce movies that we will spend billions to watch. Our hearts long for what we so desperately need. Where have all the heroes gone?
 
 

In today’s reading, we are reminded what it means to be a hero. Stephen was willing to speak the truth in love to his accusers even if it would cost him his life. “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! He was willing to forgive those who stoned him even as his bones were being crushed by the stones, even while his flesh was being torn open. His last words. “He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” Notice who was present, Saul is a witness, even a participant in the death of our hero. The seed of the fallen with be the birth of our next hero. What seed or faith grows in you? Heroes awake! The world needs you!


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September 21

Do what God says!

by Pat Norman

Imagine being with Peter and the other apostles, teaching the “good news” about Jesus, in Solomon’s Colonnade, while healing and casting out demons among those gathered. Then consider how it must have felt to be abruptly seized by the jealous Sadducees and thrown into the public jail to await sentencing.
 
But what happened during the night must have been awesome. An angel of the LORD came to take them out of jail and told them to go back to the temple courts to teach the people about Jesus. In the morning, the chief priests, with the full assembly of Israel, expected to have the apostles brought before them but were told, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” Acts 5:23 Imagine how puzzled they were. How could this happen?
 
When Peter and the apostles were found teaching in the temple courts, they were brought before the high priest (wonder why he did not ask how they escaped) who said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter replied,” We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5: 38-39 The Sanhedrin were furious with everything else Peter said about Jesus and their witness and wanted to kill the apostles, but they were convinced by Gamaliel, a respected Pharisee, and teacher of the law, to trust the apostle’s purpose to either fail—if by human design or prevail—if by God.
 

The apostles left rejoicing that they had been arrested, thrown into jail, freed by an angel, seized again, interrogated, ordered not to teach, flogged and set free again, all for doing what God said to do for the name of Jesus. Imagine that!


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September 20

 Uneven Scale

by Andy Avalos
 
Does God really need our money or our possessions?  No…but God does want our obedience.  There are two things that God hates…lying and robbery.  It’s an “uneven scale”.

Jesus says in Mark 3:29 that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.  And Scripture tells us that the wages of sin are death. In August 2000, we lost our youngest son, Adam, in a car accident.  The day before, we had sent a $500 offering to a pastor in Texas.  The day of the accident, my wife told me to call the pastor and tell him not to cash the check because we were going to need that money.  Just a few minutes later, she said not to call the pastor, because she felt the Lord said that money was not ours any longer.  In the days that followed, God provided for our financial needs.  God gave us great peace in our hearts in those days and poured out His Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira, in their disobedience, sinned against the Holy Spirit, which brought the penalty of death.  Today, when we are disobedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we may not die physically, but we do die spiritually in our relationship with God.

Blessings Pastor Andy


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September 18

“Extraordinary words, ordinary men” Acts 4:1-31 By David Voight   “There is salvation in no one else!  God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 No truer words have ever been spoken.  These words were spoken by simple men of no extraordinary means.  Peter and John spoke these words and many others in this passage today to the amazement of the council who recognized them as just simple ordinary men.  What made them so special?  They were filled with the Holy Spirit and personally spent time with Jesus.  They’re only qualifications were they were willing.  Willing to follow a man they knew to be the Son of God.  Willing to sacrifice everything to speak the truth that was Jesus.  Willing to lay down their lives in order to bring just one more person to Christ.  Have you ever felt you weren’t worthy to be part of God’s plan?  Maybe someone has put you down and made you feel inferior because of a lack of education, ability to speak well or worse.  Remember these men were mere fishermen with no education.  But, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were able to make an impact for eternity.  They were willing to be used by God.  Don’t be afraid to speak out and be used by God today.  Someone’s eternal destination depends on it.


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September 17

Joy is Waiting by Kevin Clark Acts 3:1-11 I had the opportunity this weekend to be in the presence of a man who had recently given his heart to the Lord. He had experienced a level of Christianity, Buddhism and even Islam but this was different. Before, his interaction with spiritual matters was limited to what he was willing to give based on what he desired to receive. The paradigm shift for my new friend came when he gave up. In a fatal moment of despair, in the midst of self-destructive actions, God showed up and miraculously spared his life. At the end of himself, he met Jesus.   In our reading today we meet a man with uncontainable joy. His life moved from despair to hope, from begging to singing. My friend has this same joy. Are you still trying to control your destiny? Are you ready to “let go and let God”? It is up to you. Joy is waiting.


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September 15

Gifts that keep on giving!

by Pat Norman
 

After the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus made His presence known to the disciples for forty days teaching them about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised which you have heard me speak about.”1:4 One day after telling them how they will be His witnesses, Jesus is taken up to heaven before their very eyes, and two messengers in white appear at the same time to tell them that Jesus will return in like manner. WOW! How awesome that must have been to behold!   At another time, on the day of Pentecost when the sound and fire suddenly came upon the disciples and believers gathered, they were all baptized as Jesus promised.  They were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” 2:4 Then those hearing asked, “How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” 2:8   It was another “WOW” moment from God for believers. One of the first devotionals I wrote was about the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) and how God confused the language of the people who were doing what they wanted. My ending was “So, the smart folks were changed from speaking one language in one place to being confused and scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. God’s purpose prevailed! I found some understanding of why we are better off without everyone thinking and speaking the same, unless it is based on God’s Word we read in the Bible. What do you think?” Here God’s purpose prevailed again. That day different languages were understood by each as his own to promote unity among the Christians. The timeless truth lesson is the Father promises and delivers; the Holy Spirit will always be with us; Jesus will return as He left. Today I know I can call upon Spirit of the living God to fall afresh on me (and you) anytime.  What a gift!


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September 14

The Promise
by Valery Dierdorf
 
Working with kids that have been in a transitional time of their lives, being removed from their homes, was very challenging, to say the least. Even having the privilege to adopt two great guys had its challenges. During times like these, there are many questions one can have. Spoken or, more often, they are silently thought. Questions like what will happen next? Or, where am I to go? Who will love and take care of me? What will become of me now? Normal questions that happen in times of transition or tragedies.  It’s the ‘Orphan’ syndrome.  
 

I think these had to be the same thoughts the disciples had that night.  Fed, feet washed, Judas left, and Jesus says he is leaving!     They had left everything to follow him and now he’s leaving.   If you have ever lost a child, spouse, friend or those that make you feel secure, you then understand the ‘Orphan’ feelings and fears and questions. It’s fearful because we are not sure we can manage without them, or maybe we are just not good enough.  Truth is God never created us to be self-sufficient. We were never intended to stand alone as individuals. He created us out of love to love and be loved. We are to be in relationships and live, dwell and remain within each other the same as the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father. No more an ‘Orphan.’ That is the promise. I will not leave you alone. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, the Holy Spirit (Comforter), and he will be with you forever and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Because I live, you will live. On that day you will see I am in my Father, you are in me, and I in you. Those who obey my commands are those who love me and will be loved by my Father, and I will also love him and show myself to him. I will not leave you as orphans; peace I give, peace I leave.


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September 13

Pay Day!

by Andy Avalos
 
Having faith is believing in something that we haven’t seen yet.  God tells us that if we don’t have this type of faith, it’s impossible to please Him.
 
At funerals I have attended, John 14:6 is always shared, but who is really believing that Scripture?  In John 14:1-14, Jesus tries explaining to his disciples, but they’re not grasping the meaning of his words.  It’s always a matter of faith; always believing in what we can’t see.  Not trusting in ourselves but trusting in the words of Jesus.
 
Life has taught us, or molded us, to trust in our own abilities.  We trust in what we’re able to see with our eyes.  Or we trust what we can grasp or obtain by the work of our hands. The things that we don’t have at that moment we know we can obtain by working. If we work forty hours a week, we know we’ll receive a certain amount for our labor.  In God’s kingdom, our labor is our faith, and our salary is the glory to come. 
 
Don’t let yourself be troubled.  Jesus said, “believe in God, believe also in me.”  The message of the gospel is simple but it’s complicated by disbelief.  Don’t complicate your faith.  Keep it simple…stay focused on Jesus and on His words.
 
Blessings.
Pastor Andy

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September 11

Use it or lose it!

By David Voight
 
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the phrase, “you snooze, you lose”.  It refers to missing an opportunity for something great to happen.  Who wouldn’t want to go back in time and invest in that little unknown company that was on the verge of bankruptcy if you knew they would become the first trillion dollar company in the US?  That, of course, is Apple.  Some people took the chance and became financially successful because of their ability to see the potential.
 
Jesus speaks to us today in Matthew and compares the Kingdom of Heaven to three men who have the opportunity to “use it or lose it.”  The three men have a chance to use the gifts they were given to grow their master’s investment.  Two men are diligent and invest wisely.  The other buries it in the ground and makes excuses why he didn’t use the gift. Sometimes God gives us a little to see how we are going to handle it.  Are we going to use it to grow the Kingdom or bury it and make excuses for not using it?  Jesus makes it very clear in this passage: “Use it or lose it!” 
 
What gifts (talents) has God entrusted you with to help grow the Kingdom?   God sees your potential and is willing to invest in you.  Don’t waste the chance to live for God and be a part of his plan.

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