Devotional for Monday May 20th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Bite the bullet and live to be 100!”

 

Many of you are probably familiar with the old story once told by G.W. Target about the two terminally ill men who shared a hospital room. One man was in a bed next to the window. Day after day he gazed out the window and related to the other man what he was seeing. He told about the park that was right across the street with green trees, beautiful flowers, ducks in a pond, families walking, children playing, and a fine view of the city skyline in the distance. Day after day the man by the window told interesting and funny stories about the things he was seeing in the park across the street.

 

Over time the man in the other bed became jealous and wished that he was in the bed by the window so he could see these things for himself. Finally late one night the man by the window had a coughing spell and was choking. The man in the other bed, by now with a bitter spirit, just laid there and listened. He never called for a nurse. Soon the man by the window stopped choking, and he stopped breathing. He was dead. The next day the man by the wall asked to be moved to the bed by the window. Once he was there and settled, he propped himself up to get a look out the window and when he did, he saw nothing but the blank wall of the building next to them. There was no park. The other man had looked at the bleak scene of a blank wall and chose to make something good out of it.

 

As you look out the window of your life do you see a blank wall or a beautiful park? Do you wallow in despondency and self-pity because of your circumstances, or do you make life come alive around you?

 

In his book “You Gotta Keep Dancin” Tim Hansel tells of the time when he was in his doctor’s office and he received his final diagnosis for life. The doctor said they had reached the point where all the tests had been run, all the surgeries had been performed, all the procedures had been tried, and Tim was as well as he was ever going to be. The doctor told Tim there was nothing more they could do for him. Tim protested and said, “But doctor! I’m still in pain everyday! What am I supposed to do now?” The doctor was quiet for a moment and then he said, “Well Tim, I suggest you just bite the bullet and live to be 100!

 

Your joy in life has more to do with your attitude than with your circumstances. There is nothing you are facing that you and Jesus can’t handle together – and handle well. Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 are as true for you as they were for him, and for Tim Hansel, and for the man in the hospital bed by the window – you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

 

I know your situation might be hard. I encourage you to pray about it, do everything you can to fix it, then just bite the bullet and live to be 100!

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

 

Copyright © 2019 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 May 18-19

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

 

Our thought for today: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Get your fix”

 

According to “The Dictionary of Idioms” the slang term “to get your fix” means to obtain an adequate amount of something you desperately need or something you are addicted to or compulsive about. In the most pejorative use of the term we sometimes hear of drug addicts seeking their next fix of whatever it is they’re addicted to. Late at night I usually find myself needing a fix of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

 

The term is also used in positive ways though. Not long ago one of our church members arrived for Sunday school. I greeted her and asked how she was doing. She rolled her eyes and said “Pastor, it has been such a hard week. I really need my fix.” Confused, I asked her what she meant by “her fix”. She said, “I need my fix of the love of Jesus. I need to be loved-on by my church family!”

 

That gal was exactly right. She knew exactly what she needed and she knew exactly where to get it. If you’re a member of a good church family then you know what she was talking about. Experiencing an overwhelming expression of the love of Jesus is like refreshing spring water on a hot dry day. It is like soothing ointment on an itchy rash. It’s like a good shoulder massage for your aching muscles.

 

The people of God are the hands and feet of Jesus and so the experience of the love of Jesus comes from being around joy-filled, joy-full Christians who love each other and who are eager to show it. This is one of the reasons God wants every Christian to be part of a good church family and to then be faithful in your attendance to the gatherings of your church. Not only do you need to be there for yourself, but you need to be there for others. They will be a conduit for the love of Jesus to flow to you, and you will be a conduit for the love of Jesus to flow to them.

 

Life can be hard. We all have stuff we’re dealing with, stuff that can be oppressive and which can weigh us down. Church is the cool breeze in your week; it’s the spiritual shoulder massage you’ve been longing for. Being in church is a time of renewal and refreshing, it empowers you to keep dancing as you deal with the challenges in your life.

 

Paul’s words of blessing to his readers in Romans 15:13 is also my prayer for you. Come to church tomorrow and get your fix of love, joy, hope, and peace.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 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 May 17th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

Our Bible verse for today: “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Choose Joy”

There’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on circumstances but joy is an attitude. Way too many people look to circumstances as a source of joy, and they put off joy until their circumstances improve. But circumstances are fickle; they shift and often are determined by outside influences that you cannot control. So if circumstances are your source of joy, then your source of joy is largely beyond your control. No, circumstances can produce happiness but not true joy. True joy comes from the Lord. It is a gift from Him.

In Galatians 5:22-23 the Apostle Paul listed for us something he called “The Fruit of the Spirit”. These are character traits of Jesus that become increasingly evident in our own lives as we grow in spiritual maturity. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Please note that the joy of Jesus is the second fruit of the Spirit. It is yours as a gift and you experience it in increasing measure as you grow in your relationship with Him. This is real joy. This is deep joy. This is joy that doesn’t depend on outward circumstances which work into your heart. Instead real joy comes from deep within your heart, wells up, overflows out, and impacts your circumstances rather than the other way around.

The joy of the Lord is a joy that transcends circumstances and it comes only from Jesus. This is what enables us to face trials and struggles with tranquility and confidence. It’s what helps us to remain unruffled and even upbeat. This is not a denial or evasion of circumstances that are real, it’s simply a refusal to be defined by or controlled by the circumstances.

But this is intentional. It requires us to turn to Jesus. And the more difficult the circumstances are, the more fully we need to be embracing Jesus. This is the “choice” part of choosing joy. This is the attitude of joy. “I surrender to Jesus rather than to the pain.”

In his book “You Gotta Keep Dancin”, Tim Hansel said that as he fought through his own pain, and as he observed and learned from others who were also dealing with great difficulties, he realized this: “… some people spend their entire lives practicing being unhappy, diligently pursuing joylessness. They get more mileage from having people feel sorry for them than from choosing to live out their lives in the context of joy.”

Don’t be that person. Don’t let your circumstances determine your attitude. I encourage you to choose joy by embracing Jesus.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 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 May 16th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

Our Bible verse for today: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

Our thought for today: “God is with you even in the deepest darkest valley”

Have you ever walked through “the valley of the shadow of death”? Some of you have literally been there. There are those reading this right now who have been in actual combat situations with bullets flying, bombs exploding, and people dying. There is also at least one former police officer who was shot at but survived.

Some of you have survived an illness that could have ended in your death. It was touch-and-go for a while and they weren’t sure if you would live or die. You were in the valley of the shadow of death.

For others of us there were times when it only felt like that. Our lives weren’t really in jeopardy but the struggle we were in was a deep dark valley and it seemed endless. In his book, “You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times”, Pastor Max Lucado tells of the time he was in the grocery store and he ran into a middle-aged woman who was a member of his church, but who had not been in church in a while. Max asked her if she was okay. She hesitated a moment and then she began to tremble. She told him that her husband of twenty years had left her and the three kids for another woman. Their lives were now a train wreck and she didn’t know what they were going to do. Max prayed with her and then he said “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”

That’s good advice and it’s true for you too. It’s also what David was teaching in Psalm 23:4. In the middle of the deepest and darkest valley in life, even if it is the literal valley of the shadow of death, God is with you, He is caring for you, He is protecting you, and He is helping you. Just be sure you are walking through the valley with Him. Don’t go off on your own. We need God all the time, but especially in those times when the valley is deep and dark and dangerous.

I don’t know how the situation turned out for the lady Max encountered in the grocery store. I also don’t know how your situation will turn out. But I do know God. And I know that He loves you and He cares for you. And I know that He will be there for you every step of the way.  He will protect you (His rod) and He will guide you through it (His staff). I hope that truth gives you great comfort.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 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 May 15th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

Our Bible verse for today: “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master.” Genesis 39:2

Our thought for today: “You can survive and you can thrive.”

I haven’t counted them but I’m sure I probably have about fifty Christian books in my personal library that pertain to getting through the storms of life. That may actually be a low estimate. The fact is that storms are so common in life that getting through them is a favorite theme for Christian authors and for Christian readers.

As I consider just the fifty or so that I have on my shelves, I’m amazed at how many of those books use the Biblical example of Joseph as their model for how to survive and even thrive as you deal with hard times. Joseph was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery in Egypt, falsely accused of a sex crime, thrown into prison for years, and then spent decades separated from his family. But in the middle of it all Joseph stayed faithful to God. He strived to be the best man he could be regardless of the difficulties he had to deal with, and he truly did thrive in the midst of adversity.

We can too. The same God who was with Joseph then is with you now and He will help you to not only survive, but also to thrive as you deal with whatever your current challenges are.

Some years ago, when I was in a bit of a valley in my life, my wife Linda gave me a pocket copy of Max Lucado’s great little book “You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times”. It’s about how to survive and thrive in difficult times and sure enough, the book revolves around lessons we learn from Joseph. Looking at Joseph’s story, and knowing how God would use those difficult times in his life, Max wrote:

“We see a perfect mess; God sees a perfect chance to train, test, and teach the future prime minister. We see a prison; God sees a kiln. We see famine; God sees the relocation of his chosen lineage. We see Satan’s tricks and ploys. God sees Satan tripped and foiled.”

I want to repeat the statement I made a few moments ago: The same God who was with Joseph then is with you now. And He will help you to not only survive, but also to thrive as you deal with whatever your current challenges are.

I know it might not seem that way right now. It might seem as if the depression will never lift, or the sickness will never get better, or you will never find a job. And in truth, it may take a while. But God is with you. Trust Him. Be faithful. Strive to do your best in the middle of difficult circumstances, and in His way and in His time God will deliver you.

Yes you can survive, but you can also thrive.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 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 May 14th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Take refuge in Him.”

 

One of the first new friends Linda and I had when we became Christians was an elderly woman by the name of Phyllis Forte. She was the first one to greet us the day we visited Hilltop Baptist Church and you would have thought we were her long-lost grandchildren. She smiled, gave us big hugs, told us how glad she was that we were there, and when the service was over, she insisted we had to come back. We did, and every time we walked in Phyllis made the same big deal about it.

 

Fast-forward about three years. We are still at Hilltop Baptist Church and I am beginning my career in pastoral ministry – serving now as the part-time minister of education and beginning to do some preaching. I have also started in seminary. Phyllis is now a shut-in. Her diabetes has progressed and she has had toes amputated, then a foot, then a leg, and so on. Now she can’t get out of the house, so I go to see her. Sometimes we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, just me and her at her kitchen table.

 

Phyllis is close to dying but aside from that, nothing has changed. She is still the happy, joyful, and outgoing person she always was. She still smiles and hugs, she still makes me feel like I’m her favorite grandson, and she still loves to talk about Jesus.

 

When a Christian has learned to lean on the Lord and to draw their daily strength and joy from Him, there’s something about them that seems to come from a different dimension. There’s a focus on things unseen, a reliance on a power that is other-worldly, and there is a deep well of joy that can only come from the Lord – all of this regardless of the circumstances in their life.

 

Psalm 46:1 assures us that God will be our source of refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. My friend Phyllis was so physically incapacitated that she couldn’t even stand up, but that didn’t stop her from dancing. Sometimes she waltzed (she was very graceful in her manner); sometimes she jitterbugged (she could be kind of sassy with just the right amount of attitude); and often she did the Cha-Cha (she could be funny and irreverent).

 

Phyllis trusted in the Lord. She drew her strength and peace and comfort from Him and she refused to give-in to despair. Despite her physical limitations and her many challenges Phyllis never stopped dancing, and I hope you won’t either.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

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Devotional for Monday May 13th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “You Gotta Keep Dancing”

Our Bible verse for today: “You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.” Psalm 139:5-6 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “The presence of God will comfort you.”

As a Christian the worst thing you can do when you’re struggling with life-issues is to pull away from God. As a pastor I see this far too often. It usually happens when something occurs in life that you didn’t expect and which is causing you pain or difficulties. Perhaps you lost your job, or maybe there’s a serious illness in your family, or maybe the person you love breaks off the relationship and you are devastated.

It’s at times like that when you need a close relationship with God more than ever. You need more prayer not less, more Bible reading not less, more time with other Christians not less. But sometimes it’s precisely at those times that a person stops praying, stops reading his or her Bible, and stops attending church. Perhaps they’re mad at God for their circumstances, but rarely does God cause those situations. Mostly it’s just life happening. Normally God doesn’t intervene to prevent situations from happening, but He will help us get through it – if we stay close to Him. The presence of God is the most comforting thing we can experience during those times, and He will always be there.

Let’s read more from Psalm 139. Verses 7-10 tell us: “Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me.”

If God seems far away it’s not because He moved, it’s because you did. God is always right there with you. There’s never a time when He is not there. But there are times when you aren’t aware of His presence because in your mind and heart you have pulled away from Him. His presence is not the problem, the condition of your heart is.

When we’re hurting and scared and confused it’s normal to wonder if God is even aware of what you’re going through, or if He cares. Well, He is there, He is aware, and He does care. The thing for you to do right now is to pull closer to Him, not further away – more prayer, more time reading your Bible, more Christian music, more time with Christian friends, and more time in church.

The presence of God will comfort you. Come close to Him and enjoy it.

God Bless,
Pastor Jim

Copyright © 2019 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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