I will follow you

Daily Bible Devotional.

DiscipleshipThe Mt. of Olives Christian Camp, like many Christian youth camps, excels in teaching the gospel to children and adolescents. But caution is needed: sometimes a young person becomes enamored with the atmosphere and wants to be baptized, without considering the cost of following Jesus after going home.

Then an expert in the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Matthew 8:19 NET

It must be deliberate that, both before and after this narrative of the scribe, Matthew registers three examples of Jesus’ cures. It appears that the scribe becomes enamored with Jesus’ power to bring effective change in people’s lives.

Maybe Matthew wants to say that it’s one thing to receive a cure from Christ, but another to give him one’s life.

One might understand the Lord’s answer to the man as a bucket of cold water. He does not receive him with open arms.

Take Peter as an example. It’s wonderful that Jesus comes to live in his house and cures his mother-in-law, but his house becomes surrounded by multitudes seeking healings (verses 14-16).

Being a follower means putting oneself at the Lord’s disposal, being a servant as Christ served. It’s more that clicking “Like.”

Have you considered the cost, now that you want to follow him, after you’ve decided to be baptized?

Personal website is still inoperable, so we’re coming here again today.

#devotionals, #discipleship, #gospel-of-matthew

Understanding what God says: Alan Smith

===== Thursday’s Thought For The Day (June 9, 2011) =====


A Swiss guy, looking for directions, pulls up at a bus stop where two Americans are waiting.

“Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?” he says. The two Americans just stare at him.

“Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?” The two continue to stare.

“Parlare Italiano?” No response.

“Hablan ustedes Espanol?” Still nothing.

The Swiss guy drives off, extremely disgusted.

The first American turns to the second and says, “Y’know, maybe we should learn a foreign language….”

“Why?” says the other, “That fellow knew four languages, and it didn’t do him any good.”

It’s true. Knowing a lot of languages is no guarantee that you can communicate with someone (though it may increase your chances!). Even Jesus, the great communicator, found that there were people who couldn’t understand what he was saying.

“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand….” (Matthew 13:13)

Why? It wasn’t a problem of languages; it was a problem of the heart.

“For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)

Father, there are times when I am so slow to understand what you would have me to say and do. Though you speak clearly to me through your Word, my heart is not always receptive to what you have to say. Please help me to open my eyes and ears, and to get rid of everything that stands in the way of me hearing your voice. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina


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#alan-smith, #devotionals, #languages, #tftd, #understanding, #will-of-god

He who speaks in a tongue

on speaking other languagesThe Missus and I started using an online Flashcard service to memorize our Bible verses for the 100 Days of Scripture. Of course, we’re doing it in Portuguese. You can start your own card set in English, if you like. Nifty service. (OK, so, yes, I forgot and created the name of it in English. One of the hazards of being bilingual.)

• Speaking of bilingual, you’ve probably heard me tell this joke, which I recalled after reading Alan Smith’s devotional yesterday. Goes like this. What do you call a person who speaks several languages? A polyglot. And a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual. And a person who speaks just one language? An American.

• Alan’s devotional, you ask? I’ll see if I still have it and post it. It’s not online that I can find. He does a great job on those. Recommended.

• Going to be a busy weekend. Tomorrow morning, I teach the three-hour advanced study on the Biblical model, part 3. Four friends of The Maiden are coming tomorrow and staying through Sunday, for her birthday. (She asked for a Portuguese/English bilingual Bible for her present.) I’m preaching Sunday at both SJCampos and Taubaté, a rare occurrence these days. Oh, and there’s the church bulletin to do still.

• GBN Program Director Jim Dearman was kind enough to send an article about Barry Gilreath to BNc, “The Dream of God.” Be sure to read it.

• Once upon a time there was a little poetry group called Christian Poets. It didn’t last long. I must have had too many irons in the fire to keep it going. Swapping out some poems with Rick K. recently has made me wish it was still active. It had the niftiest little forum, which I still am partial to.

#bible-memorization, #devotionals, #languages, #tributes, #weekends

‘Whensoever mine shall come’

Winter is setting in, it seems. Although the day invites laziness — cloudy, 57º, with a forecast of rain — much needs to be done today. No meetings scheduled, but plenty of other tasks, writing and such. The Maiden is teaching English at a language school on Saturday mornings from 8-11 a.m., so the mornings are quieter. Not that she’s a noisy person, no.

• The daily devotional is done already. I wish I could keep up the English translation, but that’s down the list of important tasks. Maybe today, who knows? I used to make a bit of a deal about them being translated from the Portuguese, but these days I just stick them on my blog and let it go at that.

• Last night, I talked to my parents for about an hour. I enjoy catching up with them, grateful to have them in my life still. Keeps me up with the old hometown as well. The other day, while in BK, the retired people’s hangout, they ran into an old school friend of mine I’ve not seen since 1975, when I transferred from Lafe school after finishing the 11th grade. Lots of water under the bridge since then.

• Yes, I went to the same school, same building, for 11 years, then transferred my last year to Marmaduke High School, into a class three times larger. I thought it was the end of the world. Things have a way of turning out, though.

• Thanks to Richard M. for the kind review of my book, Choose!. The sequel has gotten gummed up somewhere, but maybe I can brush off that project for another rousing success. After some other items get checked off the list.

• Many people we know have passed on recently, not to mention the many deaths from the tornadoes, floods, and other disasters that have struck towns and cities around the globe. We pray, we send money, some are able to go and give physical help. Our brief mortality rings in our ears constantly, does it not? But the Christian is not disheartened by it. On the contrary, he can say as John Donne, in his Meditation XVI:

God hath kept the power of death in his own hands, lest any man should bribe death. If man knew the gain of death, the ease of death, he would solicit, he would provoke death to assist him by any hand which he might use. But as when men see many of their own professions preferred, it ministers a hope that that may light upon them; so when these hourly bells tell me of so many funerals of men like me, it presents, if not a desire that it may, yet a comfort whensoever mine shall come.

Than with that, what better way to conclude?

#books, #devotionals, #family, #john-donne, #meditations

You Insult Us Also

This may come as a surprise to you, but the Lord’s words were interpreted as an insult. In Luke 11:45 (ESV) the religious leaders took the Lord’s words as an insult when He said that people walk over them as they are unmarked graves. The Lord was not intending an insult as much as he was being very pointed in His remarks. The insult received was the result of the interpreter’s hearing. Take for example the proverb the Lord used when He spoke to the woman desiring Him to heal her child (dogs); she could have taken that as an insult, instead she took that as a lesson to be learned and a teaching to be extended. The Lord was pleased. So, rather than being overly sensitive (thin skinned) let us listen and learn. Moreover, let us also be mindful of the words we speak; our words are to be seasoned with salt, not salty language (Colossians 4:5-6).


#devotional, #devotionals

BibleTalk: What the Lord's Supper Does For Us

Steve Preston’s BibleTalk on the Lord’s Supper. Any thoughts on the supper are good to consider, these especially so.

One avenue of worship to God is what we call the Lord’s Supper. It is a reflection of what our Lord Jesus has done for us. When we partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine, we are partaking of that sacrifice that was made for our sins. It is an act of worship that is as important as anything else that we might do during the assembly. This lesson will focus on two things that the Lord’s Supper does for us.

First, partaking of the Lord’s Supper reminds us of Jesus’ death. 1 Cor. 11:26 says “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” What was so important about the death of Christ that it needed to be remembered “often”? The death of Christ is what gives each of us a chance to make it to heaven. His death was the greatest sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could make atonement for our sins. Christ is the only man that has ever lived on the earth that didn’t deserve to die. In a similar fashion to the passage in I Cor., Luke 22:19-20 tells us that Jesus “took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Jesus was preparing His disciples for what was about to happen. He gave His body for the life of the world. Jesus shed His precious blood for us even while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:6-8; Matthew 26:28).

Secondly, the Lord’s Supper reminds us that we are sinners in need of saving. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). If not for man’s sin, Jesus would have remained in heaven (Psalm 8:4-5). Matthew 20:28 declares “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Sin has “kidnapped” man and the blood of Jesus was the ransom. Jesus was the only one that could have paid the debt. Scripture also tells us that “.almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). There was no other way for our sins to be remitted but by the blood of Christ. Hebrews 9:28 reinforces this idea by saying “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.”

Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a very solemn event. It is a time when we look back to the sacrifice that Jesus made for all people for all time. As we consume the bread and the fruit of the vine, let us meditate on the death of our saviour and pray to the Father thanking Him for giving up His only Son that we might be saved. Hebrews 10:18 tells us there is now no more offering for sin since our Lord offered Himself. The Lord’s Supper helps us to remember the offering that Jesus made.

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#communion, #devotionals, #lords-supper, #lords-table

Glenn Hitchcock: Prayer

Prayer is asking, seeking and knocking at a door for something we do not have, which we desire, and which God has promised us.

Prayer is a direct address to God. “In everything let your request be made known unto God.”

Prayer secures blessings and makes men better because it reaches the ear of God.

Prayer is only for the betterment of men when it has affected God and moved him to do something for men. Prayer affects men by affecting God. Prayer moves men because it moves God to move men.

Faith must have a tongue by which it can speak. Prayer is the tongue of faith. Faith must receive. Prayer is the hand of faith reached out to receive.

Prayer asks. Faith lays its hands on the things asked for. Prayer is not a sweet little privilege. It is a great prerogative, far-reaching in its effect.

Prayer is not a mere episode of the Christian life. Rather the whole life is a preparation for and a result of prayer. In its condition, prayer is the sum of religion. Faith is but a channel of prayer. Faith gives prayer wings and swiftness.

What forces lie in importunate prayer! What mighty results are gained by it in one night’s struggle in praying! God is affected and changed in attitude and men are transformed in character and destiny. Satan dreads nothing but prayer.

"Thoughts For Today to Brighten Your Day" by Glenn Hitchcock

#devotionals, #prayer, #spirituality, #supplication

Find it all on The Christian Hub

For the best articles, posts, and information in the brotherhood, The Christian Hub pulls together sources from all over and brings them to you in one place. You can even make it your home page, just check the explanations on the site if you need them.

A special feature is Ron Thomas’s Pointers, recommendations of articles that he’s read and which the site has linked to.

Many names you’ll recognize, like Neal Pollard and Cindy Colley, plus many of our own: Weylan, Jeff, Mike R., Richard M., Daniel, plus the BNc, Forthright, and TFR sites.

There are also sections on missions, church websites, The Equip Network, Daniel’s Daily Devotional, and Quick Bible Truths.

It’s all there, on a single page. No wonder it’s called the site to find them all! The Christian Hub!

#biblical-studies, #devotionals, #websites

When you should stop praying

Two items here. One, Steve Higginbotham’s excellent devotional today:

MercEmail A Weekly Devotional by Steve Higginbotham
Stop Praying!
October 29, 2010

Stop praying? Now, that’s not what you typically hear, but that’s exactly
what God once told Moses. Not that God was frowning on prayer, but the time
for praying without action had passed. It was time to act. God told Moses
to tell the children of Israel to “move forward!” (Exodus 14:15).

Friends, could it be time for you to stop praying and “move forward?”
Understand this one thing; many of the prayers we have prayed to God have
already been answered. He has said “yes.” Yet, we remain in a quandary,
not because God hasn’t answered, but because we haven’t “moved forward.” My
point is, “Don’t just sit there and continue to simply pray when you can
“move forward” and receive God’s answer to the prayers you’ve been praying.

Copyright C 2010, Steve Higginbotham. Permission is granted to copy these

Two, this is exactly what I’ve said we ought to understand in Ananias’s words to Saul in Damascus, where the preacher found the persecutor praying and fasting:

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16 NET, emphasis mine)

What should Saul get up from doing? From praying and fasting. It was time to stop praying and time to obey the Lord by being baptized to get rid of his sins.

Can you imagine some other moments when it would be appropriate to say, “Stop praying”?


#devotionals, #obedience, #prayer

Off to pick up #1 at the airport, which …

Off to pick up #1 at the airport, which is about an hour from our house, in good traffic. That will take most of the morning, so we’ll let yesterday’s Nudge about the apple cart stay up for today, in hopes that a few more Fellows will chime in.

Did I post yesterday to mention the devotional thought “Follow Me”? The Word Cue offers a bit more on signficant terms in the biblical text.

If you’ve not subscribed already, be sure to sign up to the email subscription, at top right, just above the search feature. You’ll get a teaser by email with each post made on TFR.

A parting thought as I head out the door, to begin the day, from 1 Chr. 16:27: “Majestic splendor emanates from him, he is the source of strength and joy” (NET).

#devotionals, #various

Judging others, Matthew 7

Speaking of devotionals. Usually, I translate my “God with Us” devotional from Portuguese to English, since in the former is where we maintain the actual website and email list, so that on the occasion when I turn it into the mother tongue, I just put it on my personal site.

Today, however, I wrote it out first in English. Don’t ask me why. Maybe because I wrote about devotionals today on TFR. Or I’m still recovering from our trip to the US. Or perhaps it’s because I was using mainly English study resources. No matter.

I’ve revamped the format of the devotional, including a prayer, a word cue (vocabulary), and an Action Question. Several good links, too. You may be interested in hopping over to read “Stop Criticizing Others.”


Devotional guides I’ve used

Over the years, I’ve used a number of devotional guides. For two or three years, though perhaps not consecutively, back around the late 80s, early 90s, I read through Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest. For several years we subscribed to, and I wrote for, 21st Century Christian’s Power for Today. I bought some other devotional books, but they didn’t sustain me, couldn’t keep my interest.

I see a difference in devotional guides and articles that have a devotional slant to them. The latter are legion on the Internet, but the former still aren’t widespread. The guides usually have, at the very least, besides being marked by dates, set Bible readings or verses and often a prayer. Some are quite elaborate, adding a main thought, quotes, or other items to add value and interest.

This year, I’m not following any guide, just doing my own personal Bible reading and prayer, but lately I’ve been peeking in on this Daily Devotional. Time will tell if it has any denominational slants or hobbies that will turn me off, or if it has enough depth of thought to sustain interest.

Update: I forgot to mention our own Don Ruhl’s Email Devotionals, sent out twice daily, which would, for me, qualify as a devotional guide, including suggested Bible readings, and using them as the basis for his thoughts. Don doesn’t miss a lick, and has provided me with plenty of food for thought.

#devotional-books, #devotional-guides, #devotionals, #quiet-times

Daily Nudge: devotional guides — and news

Do you use or have you used a devotional guide in your personal time or quiet time, as it used to be called? A post that quoted from one daily devotional book a couple days back reminds me to ask this one. Lots of them out there. Our brethren, for example, publish Power for Today, which I contribute to for a period of years.

Now, I’m not talking about biblical articles as such, but a real devotional guide. Some do devotional articles, but somehow I see a difference.

My news: Friend Mike Benson is in Tanzania teaching at the Andrew Connally school on Revelation, I believe. I’ve watched his Facebook status posts. And I posted an item yesterday about the launch of ETSPM’s “The Journal.”

What news do you have this fine Tuesday?

As always, we’re happy to hear from our readers on the Nudge.

#devotional-guides, #devotionals, #nudge, #tanzania

When I Consider the Stars

There will be plenty of objects lighting up the sky over the weekend, most of them accompanied by a loud explosion. Like a lot of other people, I love shooting off fireworks.

But the objects we briefly shoot into the air fade away quickly and simply can’t compare with what God has placed in the sky. (Read more at The Proclaimer)

#devotionals, #holidays, #psalms

One mother’s solution to private prayer

As I finished my post on this subject, I remembered something I’d read about John Wesley’s mother. I found this, supposedly, from Dick Eastman’s book, but I had to clean up the text. It gets the idea out there, however.

“Susannah Wesley, the mother of nineteen children, including John and Charles, had no specific place for prayer. So at the chosen time for her spiritual exercise she would take her apron and pull it over her face. Her children were instructed never to disturb Mother when she was praying in her apron.” (The Hour that Changes the World, page 21)

#devotionals, #prayer