Devotional for Tuesday July 17th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

Our Bible verse for today: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:28 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “Pray more, speak less.”

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” That clever line is usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, or Samuel Johnson. But whoever spoke it, it was obviously inspired by Proverbs 17:28. A wise person thinks before they speak, while a fool just blurts out whatever pops into his or her head. However, even the fool stands a chance of being thought wise if he would just be quiet. Sadly, fools are seldom quiet.

I used to be related to a man who fits that description. He is loud and obnoxious by nature. Worse, he has an opinion about everything, and it’s inconceivable to him that other people might not be interested in hearing his opinions. So he shares them often, and loudly, and usually with multiple exclamation points. Most of what he says is silly nonsense, and all he succeeds in accomplishing by making those statements is to convince everyone that he really is silly and nonsensical. But on and on he goes, spitting and sputtering and spouting off.

Most of us would benefit from speaking less and listening more. And when it is time to speak, most of us would benefit from praying more about it before we speak. Ask God to give you the words He wants you to speak. Invite the Holy Spirit to influence your speech so that it honors God and blesses others.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a student of history and that I read many biographies. One of the men I have great respect for from American history is George Washington. He was a dignified and quiet man who had the habit of listening more than he spoke. Most of the time Washington would simply sit and listen as everyone else spoke. He himself would say little. Instead he would carefully consider what everyone else had to say; he would give lots of thought to what he himself wanted to say; and then when he finally did speak, his words had substance and were profound. Everyone knew that when Washington finally decided to speak, it would be with words that were worth listening to.

Most of us speak too much and listen too little. And we also speak too quickly without praying about it first. Our words should honor God and bless others. So pray first and speak second.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Monday July 16th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Your words should make things better not worse.”

 

Ephesians 4:29 is just one of the places in Scripture where the people of God are instructed to not use profane, foul, corrupting, or course language. The issue must be important to God since He teaches it so many times in so many different places in the Bible. Instead of bad language the people of God are to choose their words carefully, ensuring their speech honors God and blesses others. By the end of this month we will have referred to at least twenty-six of those verses and passages.

 

However, despite the clear teaching of Scripture, I know Christians who routinely pepper their speech with “salty” language. It’s not too often that I hear Christians using explicitly profane language, (after all, I’m a pastor, who talks that way in front of their pastor?) But I do hear them use what the Bible calls “course” language, which we would probably consider to be questionable but not necessarily profane speech. The teaching of the Bible is that we shouldn’t talk like that. Our words are to be gracious and helpful, building people up instead of tearing them down, making situations better instead of worse.

 

I also know Christians who routinely use unnecessarily strong, provoking, and angry words, especially on social media such as Facebook. Although such talk could not be classified as profane or foul, it certainly is not helpful and it does not build others up. It also does not further the cause of Christ. Nobody is going to be won to faith in Christ, or be persuaded to abandon unbiblical positions, as a result of mean-spirited statements and angry, provoking words. Statements like that just stir things up and make the situation worse.

 

The teaching of the Bible is clear – we are to bless people with our words, building them up instead of tearing them down, and promoting the cause of Christ with love and grace.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Saturday and Sunday July 14-15

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

Our Bible verse for today: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” Acts 5:29 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “Be bold but gracious.”

In Acts 5:29. Peter and the other apostles had been experiencing great persecution simply because they were Christians. Finally they were arrested and brought before the authorities in a religious court. Previously the apostles had been commanded that they were no longer to speak the name of Jesus in public or to teach His gospel, but they had done it anyway. So now they were under arrest and facing punishment.

After being accused by the High Priest and other authorities of having broken the law and therefore deserving punishment, Peter responded with the words recorded in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” Jesus had instructed them to share the Good News and so they were doing it – and they fully intended to continue doing so.

Peter spoke those words boldly but graciously. There’s no indication that he was angry, mean, or threatening in any way. He was evidently respectful of the High Priest’s position and he spoke to him in a measured tone, simply advising him that “we will obey God’s rules rather than yours.” This is consistent with what we see from many other Biblical examples including Moses before Pharaoh, Jeremiah before Zedekiah, Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus before Pilate, and Paul before Agrippa – they were bold but gracious and they simply stated that despite the challenges involved, they would obey God rather than follow the unbiblical rules of men.

I was told the other day that a new law was recently passed in the state of California making it illegal to distribute literature that encourages or enables what they term “discriminatory ideas”. Evidently that includes literature that conflicts with the Gay and Lesbian agenda. If true, that then makes my new book, “Getting Along without Going Along: Biblical sexual ethics in an age of controversy and conflict”, illegal in California. That’s unfortunate because I have many friends and relatives in California who will want to purchase a copy, and I fully intend to sell them one.

Legislation like that has been proposed in California numerous times in years past, but I didn’t know it had actually made it into law (it was probably only a matter of time anyway). I’ll have to see it for myself to be sure. If it has passed, then I’m sure there will be a legal challenge to it. Regardless, I intend to sell and distribute my book in California anyway. I won’t be needlessly confrontational about it; I’ll simply and quietly provide copies to those who want one. But the book teaches Biblical truth about the issue of sexual ethics and I do intend to distribute it.

When we’re faced with challenging situations that require us to take a stand for a Biblical principles or religious rights we have to do so boldly, but also graciously. That’s our Biblical example.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Friday July 13th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Colossians 4:6 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “The tone of your speech reveals the level of your confidence.”

 

Yoda is one of my heroes. That wise little gnome from the Star Wars movies was always so calm and so sure of himself! He was thoughtful and wise and in control of his emotions. Profound wisdom seemed to radiate from him in waves as he gently guided young Luke to deeper insights and greater understanding.

 

No matter the situation Yoda never got ruffled or agitated because Yoda was confident. He knew what he believed and why he believed it, and he had the patience to help others see the wisdom of his words. He didn’t feel as if he needed to force his perspective on others, he simply stated his case, kindly and gently attempted to persuade them, and then gave them time and room to learn for themselves.

 

Mr. Miyagi, the kind and gentle teacher from the movie “The Karate Kid” was the same way. I have great respect and admiration for people who are confident enough to be calm and kind no matter the situation. They are that way because they are confident in what they know and in their abilities.

 

Generally the less sure a person is of their position the more likely they are to get agitated when others disagree with them. When someone has a weak position and they know it that often makes them unsure of themselves. As they try harder and harder to make their case, their words will get stronger, their voice will get louder, and they will often resort to silly clichés or disparaging remarks. Someone who is sure of him or herself doesn’t need to do that.

 

I recently saw a report on the television news of a confrontation between two high government officials. One of them was harsh and aggressive in his speech and demeanor. The other was calm and reasoned. As the exchange went back and forth it quickly became clear that the calm one was confident and the angry one was not. The calm one appeared sure of himself and he was in control. The other one seemed agitated and he was struggling.

 

In Colossians 4:6 Paul writes that as Christians we should be gracious with our words. He also says that our words should be “seasoned with salt”. That means that they should be Biblically wise. We should speak words of wisdom, and we should do so graciously.

 

The tone of your speech often reveals the level of your confidence. If you are sure of yourself you will be in control of your emotions and that will enable you to be rational, reasonable, and calm as you make your case.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Thursday July 12th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God … For it (government) is God’s servant for good.” Romans 13:1; 3b (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Be part of the solution.”

 

This morning I want to continue our discussion from yesterday regarding the part each of us should play in helping to improve the tone of the national conversation. As was noted yesterday, as Christians we should be the adults in the room. We should be the ones helping to cool things down rather than fanning the flames of dissension. We should be involved in the national dialogue, and we should be actively engaging with our elected officials, but our involvement should be a help not a hindrance.

 

Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-3 that government is good. Human government was instituted by God in the early chapters of Genesis. It was designed to bring order and stability to human affairs after the introduction of sin into the world. Sin is a destabilizing factor in human affairs. Good government is intended by God to act as a restraining element against the worst aspects of human nature. And, as we have seen throughout the course of human history, when government is effective there is peace and stability and order, but when government is ineffective, a society in chaos always results.

 

When elected officials are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, when they cause instability and chaos rather than peace and good order, and when they are shouting at and attacking each other rather than cooperating for the common good, then those elected officials are the problem rather than the solution.

 

We, the followers of Jesus, have to be careful we too don’t get carried away in the angry rhetoric and mean-spirited shouting matches. As has been noted in previous devotional messages in this series, we should be the adults in the room, the peacemakers. We should act as the thermostats who adjust the temperature and cool things down.

 

Anger, incivility, and disorder are all a result of the sin that infects the human condition. Good government is intended by God to counteract those sinful tendencies not add to them. Since in this respect our government is doing such a poor job at the moment, as Christians we must be God’s agents in the middle of the angry mob, helping to calm things down rather than stirring them up. I encourage you to be part of the solution today.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Wednesday July 11th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another; just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “You go first.”

 

It’s not my intention to get political this morning. I also don’t intend to take sides in any political skirmish. But when it comes to “changing the tone of the conversation” in our society, the place that needs it the most is Washington, D.C. The tone in Washington sets the tone for the rest of the nation. And that’s the problem. A political commentator recently said, “I don’t believe there has been this much anger and division in our nation since just prior to the Civil War”. I think he might be right.

 

There’s a raging argument about who’s to blame. Many people say it is President Trump’s fault. One person said, “It’s like having Bart Simpson in the White House!” Those people claim that Donald Trump is obnoxious, egotistical, and mean-spirited. They claim that he shows no restraint, no grace, and no ability to forgive. Supporters of the President claim that he simply will not be a verbal punching bag for anyone, and when he is attacked he punches back twice as hard. The opponents of the President say he starts it. His supporters say he is just defending himself. And on and on it goes.

 

Personally I don’t care who started it, it just needs to stop. And somebody needs to go first. Somebody needs to decide, “I will be the gracious one. I will be dignified and show restraint. I will take the steps necessary to change the tone and to cool things down.”

 

What’s true in Washington D.C. is also true in our own lives. As the followers of Jesus we should be the adults in the room. We should be the ones who have the dignity, the grace, and the restraint needed to stay calm and not get angry. We should be the ones who take the steps necessary to cool things down rather than being the ones who further inflame the situation.

 

In Ephesians 4:31-32 the Apostle Paul reminds us that bitterness, anger, wrath, shouting, slander, and malice should not be evident among us. That’s true whether we’re interacting with other Christians or with the world in general.

 

Ideally we would like to see a good example being set for us by our leaders so that the change can begin at the top and work its way down into the rest of society. Unfortunately, I suspect it will probably have to be the other way around. It will have to be a grassroots effort that begins with you and me and works its way up to them. If we don’t behave badly, and if we insist that they don’t either, then maybe we can get this under control.

 

Maybe we’re the ones who need to go first.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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Devotional for Tuesday July 10th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the converstation”

 

Our Bible verse for today: ““For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age.” Titus 2:11-12

 

Our thought for today: “Just be the church”

 

This morning, as we continue considering our theme of changing the tone of the conversation in our society, I want to share with you one final excerpt from my new book “Getting Along without Going Along: Biblical sexual ethics in an age of controversy and conflict”.

 

In his book “Love into the Light” author and Pastor Peter Hubbard draws on the lessons of Paul’s letter to Titus. Hubbard uses this example to provide Christians in our day a roadmap for dealing with the cultural shift in sexual ethics which is occurring in our society, but to do so in a way that is respectful and therefore effective.

 

Hubbard explains that Titus was appointed by Paul to be the pastor of the fledging new church on the island of Crete. It was a difficult task because the culture there was extremely immoral and the people were not receptive to Biblical standards of conduct. So Paul gave Titus a simple three-step process to follow:

 

1. Appoint elders in every town. “This is the reason I left you in Crete … to appoint elders in every town.” (1:5-16)

2. Apply sound doctrine to every situation. “But you must say things that are consistent with sound teaching.” (2:2-15)

3. Be courteous in every situation. “… be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.” (3:1-11)

 

Paul’s instruction to Titus helps us to understand how we are to conduct ourselves in our culture. First, as the Church, we must be a strong and confident presence in our community. Second, we are to stand firm on the clear teaching of Scripture, refusing to give-in to pressure or to compromise sound doctrine. And third, our manner is to be kind, respectful, and gentle. Ours is to be a winsome witness that draws people in rather than pushing them away.

 

In short, we are to simply be the church. Evangelism, along with a compelling demeanor, is the answer. The battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. We are to simply persevere and be faithful – He will take care of the outcome. Also, history is on our side. Cultural shifts have come and cultural shifts have gone but through it all the kingdom of God has endured and continued to grow. The same will be true in our day. We just need to be faithful, bold, courageous, and kind. Just be the church.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2018 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Oak Hill Baptist Church

3036 Genesis Road

Crossville, Tn 38571

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