Devotional for Wednesday December 5th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Celebrating Christmas”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:3-4 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Jesus was familiar with pain and grief.”

 

At Christmastime, as the majority of us are celebrating and enjoying the season, we should remember that for some people Christmas is not a joyful season. Some are alone, and their sense of loneliness is only heightened as they see everyone else enjoying good times with family and friends. Others have recently lost a loved one and this will be the first Christmas without them. Some people carry with them painful memories from childhood experiences surrounding Christmas, memories that continue to haunt them.

 

For many reasons, for some people, Christmas is a season of pain and grief and loneliness. Jesus understands. He can relate.

 

Yesterday we spent some time thinking about the genealogy of Jesus. We considered the seventy-seven generations of his earthly ancestors, going all the way back through Adam to God the Father Himself. In his wonderful little devotional “The Christmas Code”, author O.S. Hawkins reminds us that if you look at the lists of names in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and then take some time to consider who some of those people were, you realize that the ancestors of Jesus were something of a rogue’s gallery of misfits.

 

Abraham twice pretended his wife was his sister and almost allowed other men to have her, all in a vain effort to protect himself. David seduced another man’s wife and then had her husband murdered. Solomon was a playboy who made Hugh Hefner look like an altar boy. Rahab was a prostitute. There was a whole lot of misbehaving among the ancestors of Jesus, and they caused a considerable amount of pain and heartache for themselves and for those around them. That was Jesus’ heritage. That’s His family line. There was a lot of grief and pain and heartache.

 

Then consider what we know of the life and death of Jesus Himself. It was no cakewalk either. Born in poverty; raised in obscurity; opposed by the religious leaders; tortured and executed on a cross. Isaiah described a bit of it in his prophesy about the coming Messiah in Isaiah chapter fifty-three.

 

The point is that Jesus was very familiar with human suffering and grief. It’s one of the reasons He came – to rescue us from all of that.

 

If perhaps you are suffering and grieving this Christmas season instead of rejoicing and celebrating, just know that Jesus understands your grief and pain. He experienced it too.

 

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 December 4th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Celebrating Christmas”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Eliud fathered Eleaszar, Eleazar fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Christ.” Matthew 1:15-16 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Jesus was a real human baby.”

 

As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus it’s important to remember that He was a real human baby. Matthew emphasizes this point by beginning his Gospel with the human genealogy of Jesus. He lists forty generations on Joseph’s side of the family, going all the way back to Abraham. In Luke 3:23-38 Luke gives us a more complete genealogy, listing seventy-seven generations, all the way to Adam, and then back to God Himself. Luke’s list includes the ancestors of Mary (many of whom she had in common with Joseph).

 

The point of both lists is to emphasize the humanity of Christ. Jesus was a real human baby. He was fully God, but He was God in a human body – a real human body. Paul explained in Philippians 2:6-7 that when Jesus left heaven to come to earth He voluntarily emptied Himself of His heavenly glory. He set aside His power and His glory and became on of His own creations.

 

As an infant He was completely helpless. He had to be carried and bathed and fed. His diaper needed to be changed. He burped, He peed, and He cried. He was as much of a helpless infant in the cradle as you were at that age. If his mother had not cared for Him He would have died. The God of creation made Himself totally helpless and He depended on the love and care of those around Him for His very survival.

 

That full humanity of Jesus was evident His entire thirty-three years of life on earth. Although there would be times during His three and one half years of active ministry when the Father would empower Him with supernatural abilities for the purpose of specific acts of ministry, for the rest of His time on earth His experience of life was the same as your and mine. It had to be in order for Him to one day be the perfect sacrifice for your sins and mine.

 

At Christmastime, when we consider the baby in the manger, we need to remember that He was a real baby in every respect. Consider for a moment how much Jesus must love us to have done that for us. Now spend some time thanking Him for doing 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 Monday December 3rd

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Celebrating Christmas”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them.”

1 Timothy 1:15 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Prepare yourself to celebrate Christmas.”

 

In 1 Timothy 1:15 the Apostle Paul calls us to remember a very important truth: Jesus Christ came into the world for the purpose of saving sinners from an eternity in hell. Paul also says that in his opinion he himself was the worst of all sinners and that he needed to be saved from his sins more than anyone else. He was right to feel that way about himself, and it’s also right for you and me to feel the same way about ourselves. Each of us desperately needs the salvation Jesus made possible.

 

Jesus also accomplished some other important things too, such as preaching and teaching profound principles for living the Christian life. He also modeled with His own life how we are supposed to live ours. And, by living a perfect and sinless life for thirty-three years, He lived the sinless life that you and I were not capable of living. Consequently, according to the doctrine of substitution (as taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21), on the cross God treated Jesus as if He had lived your sinful life and mine, so that in eternity God could treat us as if we have lived the perfect life of Jesus. That’s the doctrine of substitution, both sides of it. On the one side Jesus gets your sin-filled life. On the other side you get His perfect life. That’s why He had to live here on earth for thirty-three years, so He could live the life that you and I are not capable of living. Thanks to Christmas, all of that happened.

 

For centuries Christians around the world have celebrated “advent” leading up to Christmas. The word “advent” means “arrival, appearing, coming” and it refers to the first coming of Christ.

 

The “season” of advent consists of the weeks leading up to the anniversary of the birth of the Christ child. It includes devotions and activities designed to help us to truly appreciate the significance of what the birth of Jesus means. Celebrating advent helps us to tone down some of the noise and distractions associated with the secular celebration of Christmas, and to better focus on the true reason for the season.

 

I look forward to observing the advent season with you in the days and weeks to come.

 

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 December 1-2

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Celebrating Christmas”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy.” Psalm 100:1-2 (NLT)

 

Our thought for today: “Christmas is a time for celebrating.”

 

I love the Christmas season for many reasons. First, of course, is because it’s the time of year that we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. There are legitimate historical questions about whether or not Jesus was really born in December, but whatever the actual month of the year was is less important than the fact that He did come into the world as a baby in a manager – and that’s an important reason for us to celebrate.

 

It’s also true that in the Bible Jesus did not command us to observe his birth. He did tell us to remember and observe His death and resurrection (Easter), but He did not give us a similar command regarding His birth. But the lack of a direct specific command doesn’t mean we cannot or should not celebrate His birth. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke make a pretty big deal of the birth of Jesus, and therefore we should too.

 

So the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of the Savior. But that sense of celebration surrounding the birth of the Savior also leads to what I call “the serendipities of Christmas”. A serendipity is a happy or beneficial occurrence or development that wasn’t intended and which wasn’t the primary objective of the activity, but which happened anyway and it is a good thing.

 

There are many serendipities associated with celebrating Christmas. While Christians are experiencing an enhanced sense of joy and celebration because of the birth of Christ, people everywhere, even non-Christians, exhibit more joy, more kindness, more compassion, and a greater degree of generosity than at any other time of the year. I think we can all agree that’s a very good thing. The world is a better place at Christmas, and we could use a little more Christmas spirit throughout the rest of the year.

 

All this month we will explore the true meaning of Christmas, and we will consider many of the serendipities of Christmas as well. Tomorrow we will discuss the concept of “Advent” and how observing a season of Advent can help us as Christians to better prepare for and celebrate Christmas.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

 

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Devotional for Friday November 30th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Just do the right thing and trust God.”

As we conclude our study about “overcoming” I want to end by considering the words of two Old Testament prophets. First is the statement from the prophet Micah from Micah 6:8 above. Micah ministered during the time when the Jews were divided into two nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.

For most of those years Judah experienced great prosperity – but mostly only for the rulers and the business class. The farmers and regular workers lived in poverty and they were exploited by the upper classes. Consequently there was great injustice – socially, economically, and in the legal system. Also, the nation had drifted far from God. So Micah wrote the words of Micah 6:8 to remind the Jews of what it was God required of them – to act justly, to live faithfully, and to honor God with their conduct. He also warned of coming disaster if they did not correct their ways.

Fast-forward about 150 years to the time of the prophet Habakkuk. Judah had not heeded Micah’s words of correction and now they were experiencing the consequences. The nation was in steady economic and military decline; there was also drought and famine. They were in a free-fall to the depths of despair and there was great suffering.

It was in that setting that Habakkuk wrote one of the greatest and most encouraging statements about faith in God and perseverance in hard times. In Habakkuk 3:17-19 we read: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though the flocks disappear from the pen and there are no herds in the stalls, yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! The Lord my Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!”

The lesson is that first and foremost we must honor God and bless others by how we conduct ourselves. To live otherwise is to invite disaster. And then, regardless of any other factor – regardless of circumstances or hardships, we must trust God. As bad as things were, Habakkuk still had great confidence in God, and so should we.

Whatever your current circumstances are, and whatever the reason for them, I encourage you to resolve to do the right thing – honor God by the way that you live and trust Him for the future.

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 29th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Therefore, since we also have such a large crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Keep your eyes on Jesus and keep going.”

 

For most of my adult life I was a jogger. Back when my knees could still take it, three or four times a week I would jog four miles as part of my regular workout routine. Occasionally I would compete in longer races too. The longest race I ever attempted was a half-marathon (13.1 miles). The race was called “The Hospital Hill Run” because it ended at a hospital that sat on top of a very steep hill. (I think it was some sick humor that caused the race planners to plan a long climb up a steep hill right at the end of a 13 mile run – and it brought you to the front door of a hospital!)

 

However one good thing the planners did is that they arranged for crowds of enthusiastic onlookers to line both sides of the street all the way up the long hill, which ended at the finish line. So as we exhausted runners struggled up this steep incline at the end of this long and difficult race, we could see the finish line at the top of the hill, and the crowds along the street were cheering us on and shouting words of encouragement. That really did help. I didn’t want to give-in to the burning in my legs, or the pounding in my chest, or the mild sense of nausea in my gut, in front of that loud cheering crowd. So I kept my eyes firmly fixed on that finish line, I drank-in the encouragement from the cheering throng, and I just pushed through it until I finished.

 

That’s the picture the writer of the letter to the Hebrews paints for us in Hebrews 12:1-2. He pictures us in a race (a long one). Much of it is hard. If we’re going to run the race well we will have to be resolved to push through the obstacles and just keep going. We will have to suck-it-up and gut-it-out. There’s a crowd of onlookers cheering us on, and Jesus is standing at the finish line waiting for us. (You can’t hear the crowd with your physical ears, and you can’t see Jesus at the finish line with your physical eyes, but if your spiritual antenna is up and your spiritual senses are fine-tuned, you know they’re there and you are encouraged by them.)

 

This is one of the keys to overcoming in life. Instead of focusing on the obstacles you’re facing, focus instead on Jesus who is standing at the finish line and waving you on. Soak-in the spiritual encouragement that’s all around you, and don’t give up.

 

Just fix your eyes on Jesus and keep going.

 

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 28th

Good Morning Everyone,

Our theme for this month: “Overcoming”

Our Bible verse for today: “How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart.” Psalm 119:1-2 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Read your Bible everyday.”

When we think of magic we commonly think of some mysterious force that produces inexplicable results. We don’t really understand how it works but we sure are amazed by it. In one sense the Bible is like that.

The Apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:21 that the men who wrote the words of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Paul says that too in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God.” So, there’s spiritual power in the printed words of the Bible. These are the inspired words of God speaking to your mind and heart. There’s a force in them far beyond the power of the words themselves. This is how God uses the words of the Bible to have such a powerful and transforming impact on us. The words come alive in our mind and heart giving them significance and power far beyond what they would otherwise have.

That’s what the writer of Psalm 119 was referring too all throughout the Psalm. In verse 105 he wrote, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119 is essentially 176 verses proclaiming the wonder and the glory and the power of the Bible.

This is why it’s so important for Christians to read their Bible everyday. Prayer is important but reading the Bible is more important. Henry Blackaby once said, “If I have to choose between praying or reading the Bible I will always choose reading the Bible, because it’s more important for me to hear from God than it is for God to hear from me.” Billy Graham once said, “If I don’t start my day with God, I meet Satan around every corner all day long.

At Oak Hill Baptist Church a group of us are going to read the Bible cover-to-cover in 2019. We are all going to use “The One Year Bible”. It’s the Bible divided into 365 daily readings. Each day’s reading consists of a couple of chapters from the Old Testament, a chapter from the New Testament, a passage from the Psalms and a passage from the Proverbs. At the end of the year you will have read the entire Bible. We will each do our own daily reading and then we will come together as a group on Sunday evenings at 6:00 to discuss what we read the previous week. We will also share insights and answer questions. We would love to have you join us.

There’s an old saying in Christian circles that goes, “A Bible that’s falling apart is usually owned by someone who isn’t.” That’s very true. Regular daily reading of the Word of God goes a long, long way towards keeping us settled and calm, clear-headed and wise, peaceful and joyful.

It’s almost like magic.

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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