Devotional for Wednesday November 21st

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Pace yourself”

Years ago there was a popular country and western song by the group “Alabama”. The title was “I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why”. One of the verses went like this:

“I’m in a hurry to get things done; oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why.”

I’m preaching to the choir here. I know this describes many of you, but it describes me too. Sometimes I’m a slave to my “to-do” list. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. I mean sure, I get things checked off of my list, but how much do I miss in the process? How many encounters with God? How many special moments with other people? How much of real life – quality life, was missed because I was so busy getting things done? Jesus was never in a hurry. I challenge you to find one time in the gospels where Jesus was rushing around. Never. Didn’t happen. He was busy, yes, but calm and in control.

One of my contemporary heroes of the faith is the late Dallas Willard. He was a professor of philosophy at USC but more importantly, he was a Christian author who wrote many profound and deeply insightful books. It was said of Dallas, “There was an unhurried air about him, leisurely even. The kind of relaxed leisureliness that flows from a person who knows what he’s about, who knows where he’s going and what he’s doing. No need to hurry if you’re confident in who you are.”

In his book “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” Mark Buchanan writes about the importance of keeping things in perspective and learning to live in the moment. “Only those who number their days aright gain wise hearts. Only they become God’s sages: those calm, unhurried people who live in each moment fully, savoring simple things, celebrating small epiphanies, unafraid of life’s inevitable surprises and reverses, adaptive to change and yet not chasing after it.” We need to slow down enough to fully appreciate the people and things before us now, in this moment.

To be an overcomer in life you have to pace yourself, otherwise you won’t last. You will be a light that shined brightly, but only briefly, before you burned out. I encourage you (and me) to pace yourself.

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 November 20th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “Overcomers understand the value of rest.”

So far this month in our discussion about “overcoming”, I’ve written primarily about doing stuff. We’ve considered numerous inspiring examples of people who have persevered through tough times and who simply refused to give-up or quit. Yesterday I wrote about the importance of hard work and how it is that Christians should be the best, most hardworking, and most dependable employees in the workplace.

So obviously being an overcomer has a lot to do with your determination to work hard, stick with it, lean into problems, and just push through your challenges. But being an overcomer also requires you to know when to stop and rest for a while.

Recently a friend of mine recommended I read a book that she had just finished reading. It is, “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” by Mark Buchanan. Mark’s premise in the book is first of all that Sabbath is a day that we set aside for worship and rest. It’s a time when we stop all the tasks and toil that consumes the rest of life, and we focus on resting and renewing. Mark explains that you cannot and will not be your best if you don’t allow for sufficient time to rest, renew, and restore.

That’s true, but Mark also teaches that Sabbath-keeping is more than just a day, it’s an attitude. Sabbath practices need to be incorporated into all of life, not just in a single 24 hour period each week. “Setting apart an entire day, one out of seven, for feasting and resting and worship and play is a gift and not a burden, and neglecting the gift too long will make your soul, like soil never left fallow, hard and dry and spent … But when I say Sabbath, I also mean an attitude. It is a perspective, an orientation. I mean a Sabbath heart, not just a Sabbath day. A Sabbath heart is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval. It is attentive to the presence of God and others even in the welter of much coming and going, rising and falling.”

Like many of us who write inspirational and instructional literature to help others live the Christian life well, Mark is better at writing about it than he is at living it. He admits in the introduction that he wrote the book first of all for himself because he is by nature a driven overcomer who works too much and doesn’t rest enough. This is also why my friend recommended the book for me. (It turns out I already had it on my bookshelf because I read it back in 2006. But since she knows me well, and she felt moved to recommend it to me now in 2018, apparently I needed to re-read it.)

Being an overcomer means working hard, sticking with it, and not giving up. But it also means that you know how to take proper care of yourself so you don’t burn out. We will talk more about this tomorrow.

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 November 19th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands – establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:17 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Work is good and it is a gift from God.”

In his wonderful little book, “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” author Mark Buchanan discusses the value of work. It might seem strange that in a book about Sabbath (resting) Mark writes extensively and persuasively about work. He does, and for a good reason. You can’t really appreciate the value and beauty of a good rest if you haven’t first worked hard. We’ll consider the relationship between overcoming and resting tomorrow but for today, let’s think about work.

Working hard and doing a good job so you can pay your own way in life is God’s idea. He wants us to provide for ourselves and to make a meaningful contribution to the overall good of society. God Himself is a hard worker (Creator, Sustainer), and right at the beginning of human history he established the importance of work by assigning Adam to care for the Garden of Eden.

In the Bible work is portrayed as a good and honorable thing that God’s people are to engage in and do well. Working hard and well is a subject King Solomon addresses multiple times in the Proverbs. The Apostle Paul wrote that we are to live simple lives working with our hands and, if a capable person who can work chooses not to, that person should be allowed to go hungry (the point being that when they get hungry enough they’ll go get a job so they can earn some money and provide for themselves).

Any honest labor done well is a thing of dignity deserving of honor and respect. In his chapter on work, Buchanan quotes the great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther: “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

Overcomers aren’t lazy and they don’t expect something for nothing. Instead they thank God for the gift of work, and then they do the very best job they can. Christians should always be the best workers a company or organization has. In Colossians 3:23 Paul instructs us, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.”

I encourage you today to thank God for your job, and then do it very, very well.

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 November 17-18

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of Good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God – my God – will be with you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NKJV)

Our thought for today: “Your strength comes from the Lord.”

Repeatedly in the Bible believers are directed to look to the Lord for their strength and power. When Joshua was being assigned the near-impossible task of following in the footsteps of Moses and leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land God said to him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

King David said almost the identical words to his son Solomon when Solomon was being commissioned to take David’s place as the king of Israel (see 1 Chronicles 28:20 above).

When Paul was trying to encourage his young protégé Timothy as he struggled to provide pastoral leadership to the difficult church in the city of Ephesus he wrote, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:1

Psalm 121:1-2 reminds us, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Over and over again the Bible provides vivid pictures of people who felt inadequate and weak coming to the Lord for help, strength, assurance, and hope.

Receiving the strength from God that we need in order to keep going, so we can overcome our challenges, often comes to us in prayer and Bible study. But another key conduit God uses to channel His words of encouragement and inspiration to us is through other Christians. As we learned in yesterday’s devotional, we learn from and are inspired by the examples and words of others. The place that happens most often is in church.

I encourage you to gather with your church family this Sunday. If you are not already an active member of a good church family then I encourage you to begin looking for one. Pray about it and ask God to direct you to the right church. If you’re in Cumberland County, Tennessee then I invite you to visit us at Oak Hill Baptist Church. Sunday school is at 9:00, the worship service begins at 10:00, and the evening service is at 6:00. I hope to see you there.

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 November 16th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

 

Our thought for today: “Overcomers encourage one another”

 

Throughout my adult life I’ve had the good fortune to spend lots of time with people who were overcomers, people who refused to let problems or obstacles stop them. During my military career, when I was the Chief Engineer on the USS Fort McHenry, I had a Chief Petty Officer Engineman who worked for me by the name of Ben Gibbs. He was my go-to guy. When something in the engineering plant was broken and nobody else could figure it out, I would call Chief Gibbs. He would go down there to the engine room, study the problem, and in short order he would have us fixed and back in operation. Ben knew that every problem can be dealt with in some manner, and so he just kept at it until he fixed it.

 

I have a missionary friend by the name of Bud Lenz. He has been a missionary in Peru for over twenty years. Bud has an amazing ability to face difficult situations, figure out what needs to be done, and then just lean into it, push through it, and resolve it. Whether we’re talking about dealing with corrupt government officials, learning how to be a midwife so he could assist his wife in the birth of their nine children, overhauling an engine, clearing 110 acres in the Amazon Jungle and building an entire ranch site from the ground up, or consoling a distraught orphaned child, Bud has learned to face his problems, figure them out, deal with them, and move on.

 

I know a woman who has had recurring bouts of cancer, each one worse than the previous one. In each case she has dealt with her illness in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact, and unemotional way. She listened to the doctors, decided on the best treatment plan, did her part to remain as healthy as she could, and then she lived her life to the fullest extent possible under the circumstances as they were. She did not allow herself to sink into self-pity and denial; she refused to use her illnesses as an excuse; and she just dealt with it.

 

This morning I could write many pages of examples of people like, all of whom have modeled overcoming for me. Their examples have encouraged me to strive to be an overcomer too.

 

In Hebrews 10:24 the writer tells us that encouraging one another in that manner is an important part of Christian fellowship. First of all, we should model tenacity, perseverance, and overcoming for each other. Second, we should be the cheerleaders and encouragers for those who are in the process of overcoming something.

 

Whatever it is you are dealing with in your life right now, with God and with Christian friends you can face it and you can deal with it.

 

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 November 15th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Overcomers don’t quit.”

In the film “Captain Philips” actor Tom Hanks portrayed real-life captain Richard Phillips, the American captain of the ship Maersk Alabama. It was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked by pirates in over 200 years. Captain Phillips was taken hostage by the hijackers – he offered himself up in order to save his crew.

Throughout the ordeal Captain Philips conducted himself with outstanding bravery and he never lost hope. Finally he was rescued by a team of Navy Seals who overpowered and killed the hijackers. When asked how he survived and repeatedly outwitted his captors Captain Philips replied, “You can always do something. Keep moving forward. Keep trying stuff. Nothing is over until you choose to give-up.” That right there is the key to the overcomer’s success: “Keep moving forward. Keep trying stuff. Nothing is over until you choose to give-up.”

In his book “Overcomer” David Jeremiah tells a similar story of Olympic speed skater Denny Morrison. Morrison competed at a world-class level, winning multiple Olympic medals from 2006 through 2014. He also had his sights set on competing in the 2018 Games in South Korea too, but in 2015 he was in a terrible motorcycle accident and barely survived. He had multiple serious injuries, including one that left him with a titanium rod in his leg.

Despite his injuries Morrison was still determined to compete in the 2018 Olympics, so he set about the near-impossible task of not just rehabilitation, but of recapturing his Olympic-level athletic ability. However the next year, in the middle of his rehab and training, he had a stroke that left him with significant weakness on the left side of his body. Undeterred, as quickly as possible he launched back into his training. Long story short, Morrison did compete in the 2018 Olympics. He didn’t win a medal but he did earn the admiration and respect of all his fellow athletes. His grit and determination were remarkable. Here’s what he had to say about that:

When things stand in the way between you and what you want to achieve, it’s that grit factor that gets you where you want to go. Goals don’t come easy for anyone, no matter the line of work. But I think if you make a gritty attempt and push forward, you’ll surprise yourself and everyone else with how far you can go.”

This is what the Apostle Paul was teaching us in Galatians 6:9 and it’s the lesson for us here today: Don’t quit. Keep trying. Nothing is over until you choose to give-up.

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 November 14th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Overcomers stand their ground.”

In his book “Overcomer”, Dr. David Jeremiah observes, “What a difference it would make if we faced our challenges like David did. If we said, “Lord, for Your honor and glory, I’m going to do the right thing. I’m going to honor You and face my battles in the power of Your name.”

Yes, what a difference it would make if Christians had the courage and conviction to stand their ground and do the right thing. This is important because more and more today professing Christians do not have the courage and conviction to do that. Far too many Christians are compromising Biblical principles in the face of cultural pressures, because it is always easier to go along so we can get along than it is to stand firm in the face of criticism and pressure. But overcomers don’t do that. Overcomers have the courage to stand for what they know to be right even if it isn’t easy to do so.

This is what Paul was teaching his young protégé Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2-3. We are called to speak words of Biblical truth to an increasingly ungodly culture. We must be ready to do so in season and out of season (in other words, whether it’s going to be easy or hard). We are to do so with patience and courage, for the time is here when people don’t want to hear the truth. Instead they seek out teachers, preachers, philosophers, and cultural talking-heads who will tell them the things they want to hear.

Overcomers have courage and conviction. Overcomers take the time to prepare themselves to speak to the issues of the day and then, they take their stand for the truth – boldly, confidently, and without apology. We speak the truth kindly and in love, but we speak the truth.

My latest book, “Getting Along Without Going Along: Biblical Sexual Ethics in an Age of Controversy and Conflict” was written to help Christians to be prepared to speak to the sexual issues of our day and to do so from a Biblical perspective. If you don’t have a copy you can get one at www.JimMersereauBooks.com.

Overcomers stand their ground. Be prepared; be confident; stand your ground.

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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