Devotional for Saturday and Sunday May 11-12

Good Morning Everyone,

 

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

 

Our Bible verse for today: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Don’t apologize for who you are.”

 

I’m currently reading the new biography about Barbara Bush by author Susan Page. The title is “The Matriarch”. I’ve always admired Barbara Bush. She was plain-spoken; she seemed to be comfortable in her own skin; and she did not put on airs. She was who she was and you could take her or leave her, it was fine with her.

 

So I was surprised to learn that for much of her life she struggled with a deep-seated sense of insecurity about her looks. It grew out of her childhood. She had an older sister who was very shapely and pretty, and their mother fawned over her. Barbara by compassion was plain and a little chubby – and her mother told her so. Her mother frequently criticized her for not being more like her sister. That criticism created a sense of insecurity about her looks that she never fully got over.

 

However early in her adult life Barbara decided she was not going to try to be someone or something that she obviously was not. She was not shapely and pretty in the cover-girl way. Instead, she was plain and she had a weight problem. So Barbara decided she was just going to be herself. In good-natured ways she laughed about herself, she joked about her looks and her weight, and she actually learned to use it to her own advantage. She trained herself to be the epitome of a plain and slightly chubby woman who was poised and confident and comfortable in her own skin. And people loved her for it.

 

The Apostle Paul knew something about this. He was not one of the original apostles of Jesus. Worse, he had persecuted the followers of Jesus, even supervising some of their executions. Beyond that he was evidently a wiry, unattractive little man with a squeaky voice and runny eyes. Therefore many people didn’t like or respect him. But Paul refused to make apologies for who or what he was, and he refused to feel sorry for himself. He embraced his identity as being from God and he ran with it.

 

I don’t know many of you who read these daily devotionals and so I don’t know what burdens you carry, what challenges you face, or what limitations you struggle with. But I do know that God loves you exactly the way you are. Beyond that, he can use you for His glory if you will only let him. Don’t indulge in self-pity and don’t allow others to define you by your imperfections or by your limitations. Celebrate who you are. Be comfortable in your own skin. Just be you. And then dance.

 

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 10th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

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

 

Our Bible verse for today: “In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Don’t slit the cocoon”

 

In yesterday’s devotional I told you the story of the little boy who slit the cocoon of a caterpillar which was in the process of becoming a butterfly. The boy thought he was helping. His intent was to make it faster and easier for the butterfly to emerge from the cocoon. But in fact the struggle of emerging from the cocoon was an important part of the transformation process and when the struggle was cut short, the transformation was not completed and the caterpillar never became the thing of beauty God intended for it to be. Instead it was stunted and disfigured. It lived a sad short life and then fell over dead.

 

I received an interesting response to that devotional from a doctor who lives in another town. He said that he can’t count the number of times he has seen parents do that very thing to their children. Rather than letting the child struggle and learn, the over-indulgent parent interferes, believing they are “helping”, when in fact they are short-circuiting the process of growth and transformation that child needs to go through in order to become a fully functioning independent adult.

 

This is how you end up with a thirty-two year old drug-addicted man still living with, and living off of, his mother. He’s not a man he’s a man-child. Likewise, that eight year old pampered princess with the helicopter mommy who is always hovering nearby, ends up becoming a twenty-eight year old pampered princess, a woman-child, who still depends on mommy to do most things for her. They never became fully functioning independent adults because they didn’t have to.

 

In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 the Apostle Paul was teaching a Biblical principle about personal responsibility. In that case he used work and food as his example, but the principle applies to all of life. In this case there were Christians in the city of Thessalonica who were able to work but who chose not to. Instead they relied on the kindness and charity of others. Paul’s point was that the rest of the Christian community was not to enable that irresponsible behavior. Instead they should allow the non-workers to go hungry because if they got hungry enough, they would go get a job so they could earn some money and buy their own food.

 

The theme of “You Gotta Keep Dancing” implies personal responsibility along with maximum effort and perseverance. You don’t learn and grow and become stronger by being pampered. The trials of life are intended by God to make us strong and to help us grow.

 

I encourage you to not look for artificial short-cuts in your own life. Do the hard work to overcome your challenges. And don’t create artificial short-cuts in the lives of others. There’s a fine line between helping and enabling. Don’t slit the cocoon.

 

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 9th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

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

 

Our Bible verse for today: “I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15 (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “God might not protect you “from” the circumstances, but He will protect you “in” the circumstances.”

 

There’s a traumatic metamorphosis that must take place in order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly. After a few weeks of stuffing itself on leaves, the plumb and lazy caterpillar will hang upside down from a tree limb, spin a cocoon around itself, and begin a 14 day process of transformation which ends with it emerging from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. Although what takes place within the cocoon is scientifically fascinating, it’s the emergence from the cocoon that is pertinent to our discussion this morning.

 

The story is told of the little boy who found a caterpillar / butterfly just beginning the process of emerging from the cocoon. The creature was fighting and struggling, and appeared to be stuck. So the boy took the blade of his penknife, carefully but fully slit the cocoon, and helped the new butterfly to emerge. However, rather than being a beautiful butterfly spreading its wings and flying away, the creature was ugly and hobbled. It limped around on the ground for a short time then it fell over and died – having never become the beautiful butterfly it was intended to be.

 

What the boy failed to realize was that the struggle required for the butterfly to emerge from the cocoon was designed by God to force vital fluids throughout all parts of the butterfly’s new body, including its wings. When the struggle was artificially cut short the vital fluids didn’t flow and the body never developed into what it was supposed to be. By short-circuiting the struggle and “helping” the butterfly, the boy actually doomed it to a short and sad life. It never became the thing of beauty God intended for it to be because it never went through the struggle that would have developed it into that thing of beauty.

 

In His great prayer for His people recorded in John chapter 17, Jesus didn’t pray for the Father to take us out of the world or to spare us from trials and struggles. Instead He prayed that God would help us in the middle of those trials and struggles. You see, the struggles are just part of life. The struggles help us to grow and to become strong. God develops us into the beautiful people He intends for us to be by having us fight through the obstacles we face.

 

Whatever struggle or trial you are facing today, it is an opportunity for you to grow and develop and to become stronger. God probably will not slit the cocoon. Instead He will let you go through the fight, but He will make you into a better person as a result of 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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Devotional for Wednesday May 8th

Good Morning Everyone,

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

Our Bible verse for today: “I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Shift your focus.”

Yesterday I told you the story of my old friend Bob, the man who had a terrible accident as a teenager and ended up spending his entire adult life as quadriplegic. Early-on Bob made the decision that instead of focusing on his terrible circumstances and the difficulties of life as a quadriplegic, he was instead going to look for and find the goodness of God in the middle of it all, and he would stay focused on that.

Tim Hansel had a similar experience, as recorded in his book “You Gotta Keep Dancin”. After his accident Tim made an entry in his journal that said sometimes it felt like he was in a walking coma. The pain, the drugs, the awful realization that his life had changed forever, all of it combined to create a fog in his mind that it was difficult to break through. Just as with Bob, Tim discovered that he had to force himself to focus on God instead of on his circumstances. When he did that things began to come into focus for him and like Bob, Tim went on to live a productive and victorious life despite his limitations and challenges.

Job was a man who suffered terribly. For reasons he couldn’t begin to comprehend he lost his children, his wealth, his health, and his influence. In short order he went from being a healthy and wealthy man who was admired and respected by all, to sitting in dust and ashes amidst the rubble of his life. In the middle of it all he famously declared, “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.” Job 19:25-26

Psalm 27 is a great passage of assurance and confidence written by King David. In it he writes about the threat of adversaries and adversities, of evildoers and of enemies. He starts the Psalm in verse one with the rhetorical questions, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – whom should I dread?” Then for eleven verses he writes about a series of potential threats and challenges, finally concluding in verses 13 and 14, “I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

Who or what are you fearing today? I encourage you to shift your focus from your circumstances to your God.

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 7th

Good Morning Everyone,

 

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

 

Our Bible verse for today: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28” (CSB)

 

Our thought for today: “Keep it in perspective”

 

Not all things are good. No, some things are bad, sometimes very bad. So as we read a verse like Romans 8:28 we need to look carefully at what it does say, and also at what it does not say. It does not say that all things are good. It does say that in some manner God works all things out for the ultimate good of those who love him and who are called according to his purpose. That’s different.

 

Earlier in life I had a friend by the name of Bob. He was a talented and promising young athlete who seemed to have a bright future. But then he suffered an injury on the football field which left him as a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. From that point forward Bob would need someone to dress him, prepare his food, empty his human waste bag, and with almost every other basic daily task. It was a devastating and life-changing accident.

 

But Bob was a strong Christian and he knew that God was with him in the middle of those awful circumstances. God did not cause the accident, but He was at work behind the scenes bringing good things out of it. So Bob determined that rather than focusing on how bad things were, he would instead look for evidence of God at work in the middle of those bad circumstances.

 

Over time he learned how to operate a motorized wheelchair, and he learned how to drive a specially equipped van. He eventually went to college and earned a Masters degree in family counseling, and then he spent the rest of his life counseling families and helping to restore relationships. He also wrote songs, sang in the choir at church, and taught Sunday school. His life ended up being a great inspiration to others who were faced with serious challenges. Through it all Bob gave the glory to God and he just kept going.

 

I don’t know what your big challenge in life is, but I do know that if you are a Christian then God is at work behind the scenes to bring good things out of your bad situation. A big part of my friend Bob’s success, and the victory he had over his circumstances, was his perspective that God was at work in the middle of it all. So Bob looked right past his circumstances and found God at work. You can do that too in the middle of your own difficult situations today.

 

God Bless,

Pastor Jim

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Devotional for Monday May 6th

Good Morning Everyone,

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

Our Bible verse for today: “The warden did not bother with anything under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him, and the Lord made everything that he did successful.” Genesis 39:22-23 (CSB)

Our thought for today: “Don’t give-in to self-pity”

One of my heroes is General Colin Powell. He was a four-star Army General. He rose to the highest ranks of both military and civilian leadership in our nation serving in various capacities in the administrations of four U.S. Presidents, including as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State.

General Powell had an extensive set of principles he developed which guided his own life, and which he looked for in others whom he was considering for various leadership positions. He called them “Powell’s Principles”. He had one regarding self-pity. It reads, “I am capable of self-pity, but not for long.” That principle is an acknowledgement of the truth that self-pity is a natural human emotion and we are all susceptible to it. The question is not whether or not we will sometimes feel sorry for ourselves; the question is how long will we allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity? The person who wallows in self-pity will live a defeated life. The person who shrugs it off and just keeps going will excel regardless of the unfortunate circumstances they are faced with.

That was the case with Joseph in the book of Genesis. Hated by his brothers; sold into slavery in Egypt; falsely accused of sexual assault and thrown into prison for years; Joseph had plenty of reasons to feel sorry for himself. But even though the Bible used fifteen entire chapters to tell Joseph’s story, there isn’t even a hint of self-pity in it. Not once. I believe that was a big part of the success Joseph experienced and why God was able to bless him so much. Joseph refused to give-in to self-pity. That doesn’t mean he never experienced even a twinge of it. It just means he refused to live there. He refused to wallow in it.

I want to share with you a few inspiring statements about resisting self-pity from Tim Hansel’s book “You Gotta Keep Dancin”:

“The choice for all of us is not if we will accept pain, but how.”
“If you can’t change your circumstances, change the way you respond to them.”
“What a test of character adversity is. It can either destroy or build up, depending on our chosen response.”

I encourage you to resist the temptation to wallow in self-pity. Shake it off and deal with your circumstances in a positive way that blesses others and honors God.

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 4-5

Good Morning Everyone,

 

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

 

Our Bible verse for today: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NIV)

 

Our thought for today: “God will enable you to keep dancing.”

 

I’m so grateful to God for all the good examples He has shown me of determined people who refused to give-up. These are people I have actually known, people who had to deal with great adversity but who were determined to live life and to keep dancing. They turned to God, they leaned on Him, they drew their strength and courage and hope from Him, and then they just lived lives to the fullest extent possible under the prevailing circumstances.

 

There’s a man in our church who, thirty years ago had a massive stroke which left him bedridden. He had to be fed and changed and bathed. Although the doctors expected some level of recovery, they told him he would never walk again. But he refused to accept that diagnosis. He called to God for help and then he asked for a walker. He forced himself out of bed and he learned to walk. Then they told him he would never be able to drive a vehicle again. So he got his car keys, got some help, and learned to drive again. Then they told him he would never be able to work again. So he grabbed his walker and his car keys, drove to some businesses, and found himself a job. That was thirty years ago and he is still walking, driving, and working. Oh, and he is in church virtually every time the doors are open. I’m grateful to know the man and to call him my friend.

 

I know another man who has a heart condition that will require open heart surgery. The situation is serious. Is he concerned about it? Sure he is. Is he taking the appropriate doctor-suggested precautions to guard his health until he can get the surgery? Yes. Has he given in to fear, refusing to do anything, and living in a protective bubble until then? No. No he isn’t. He has trusted the situation to the Lord, he is taking reasonable precautions, and he is living his life. He goes to work, he serves in his ministry assignments in church, he leads people on outdoor adventures (kayaking trips and motorcycle rides), and he continues to live his life as best he can under the conditions as they are.

 

I don’t know what your situation is but I do know that if you want to keep dancing the Lord will help you to keep dancing. You don’t have to give-in, give-up, or shut-down. Commit your circumstances and your life to the Lord, resolve to do your best to honor Him in the middle of it all, and then dance.

 

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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