In The Lord

1.  Blessings We Have In The Lord

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"  I Peter 3:15

I don't hesitate to say that there is only one way to heaven, and the God I serve and worship is the only true God.  I am confident in this because when I asked Jesus to forgive me and save me I placed all my trust in the Lord.  In putting my faith in the Lord, I received the greatest peace in the Lord that filled my soul and gave me joy in the Lord.  The Holy Spirit came to dwell in my heart and through Him I find comfort and strength in the Lord.  And as the days grow darker with sin and despair I can depend on Jesus because my hope is in the Lord.  Let's look at some of the blessings we have in the Lord.


2.  Called In The Lord

We begin our new series "In The Lord" with being called in the Lord.  In Acts 10:34 Peter said that "...Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:"  God calls the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the weak and the strong.  Paul explained to the church at Corinth that God calls the servants and the masters, the bond and the free.  "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant."  (I Corinthians 7:22)  Paul also assures us in his letter to the church at Rome that we are "called according to his purpose" and with this call comes great promises.

"28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"  (Romans 8:28-32)

Is the Lord calling you?  Is He knocking at your heart's door?  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3:20)  Please answer His call today.  Then you can receive all His wonderful blessings and promises in the Lord.  "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."  (Jeremiah 33:3)


3.  Chosen In The Lord

Like most little boys, it didn't take long for our firstborn to want a puppy.  My uncle had a litter of puppies so we took Matt over to his house and let him take his pick.  All the little puppies were jumping up and down and yapping their little mouths in their way of saying "Pick me.  Pick me."  All except for one.  He hid away under something and seemed so scared and helpless.   Matt asked to see the little runt and Uncle Ronnie pulled the shy little puppy out.  Matt decided that was the one he wanted.  I later asked Matt why he chose that one and he told me, "He needed me."  When I think about being "Chosen In The Lord", I see that Jesus chose us, not because He needed us, but because we need Him.  Jesus knew that there was no other way for us to go to the Father. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)   He also chose us for a purpose.  He told the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." (John 15:16)  He chose us to bear fruit.  The Lord has also chosen us to praise and glorify God. 

"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."  (Ephesians 1:3-6) 

As Paul sends his greetings to the church at Rome he said, "Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine."  (Romans 16:13)  He recognized this man as being "chosen in the Lord."  We don't know what great things he may have done for the Lord.  We don't know anything about his life.  But we know that he was "chosen in the Lord."  When I leave this world I don't think many will notice that I am gone.  I don't have great riches or a famous legacy to leave behind.  But, I pray that my children and grandchildren, and those who knew me, can know by my fruit that I was "chosen in the Lord."  Chosen because I needed Christ as my Savior.  Chosen to bear fruit.  And chosen to glorify and praise my heavenly Father.


4.  Believe In The Lord

In the Old Testament Abram was called out of the land of Ur.  "Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:"  (Genesis 12:1)  The next verses tell us that Abram was chosen.  "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."  (Genesis 12:2-3)  After being called in the Lord and chosen in the Lord, the next step is to believe in the Lord.  "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."  (Genesis 15:6)  We can also turn to the New Testament and see that salvation comes to those who believe in the Lord.

"25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
26  And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
27  And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
29  Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
33  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
34  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."  (Acts 16:25-34)

We can also believe in the Lord for all the promises found in His Word.  But, sometimes our faith is weak.  In those trying times we can pray like this father prayed for his son.

"17  And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
18  And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
19  He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
20  And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
21  And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22  And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."  (Mark 9:17-24)


5.  Faith In The Lord

After Jesus calmed the storm He asked the disciples, "...Where is your faith?..." (Luke 8:25)  That is our question for today, "Where is your faith?"  Is your faith in the government?  Is your faith in your wealth?  Possibly your job?  Or your family?  Or maybe even the church?  If your faith is found in anything on this earth, it will pass away.  Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33)   Our faith must be in the Lord Jesus. 

"15  Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:"  (Ephesians 1:15-17)

It is faith in the Lord Jesus that gives us salvation.  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"  (Ephesians 2:8)  It is faith in the Lord that gives us a spiritual understanding that God's Word is true.  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report.  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."  (Hebrews 11:1-3)  We have a "great cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 11 that give us examples of faith in the Lord.  Abel worshipped God.  (verse 4)  Enoch walked with God. (verse 5)  Noah worked for God.  (verse 7)  And Abraham went out, looking for that heavenly city, whose builder and maker was God.  Our faith in the Lord can be exemplified in the same way.  We worship our heavenly Father, then we can walk with the Lord, giving us the desire to work for the Lord, so that one day when He returns He can take us home to be with the Lord forevermore.  Where is your faith?  I pray that your faith is in the Lord Jesus.  "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."  (Hebrews 11:6)


6.  Hope In The Lord

The Bible was written thousands of years ago, yet because it is God's living Word, it is still good for us today.  Listen to David's cry in Psalms 31 and think about the times you may have cried out to the Lord.

"9  Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
10  For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
11  I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
12  I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel."

David knew he was not alone in his trouble.  He became the captain of 400 men who faced the same problems.  "And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men."  (I Samuel 22:2)  This pretty much sums up the state of so many across our land today.  We are in distress.  We are in debt.  And we are discontented with the direction our country is taking away from God.  I believe David became their captain because he had hope.  Look how he ends this Psalm.  "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."  (Psalms 31:24)  Are you in distress, or in debt?  Are you discontent?  You can find hope in the Lord.  "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;"  (Hebrews 6:19)  Oh, what a comfort to my soul!  In these troubled times when the storms of life rage all about, our hope in the Lord is an anchor, "both sure and stedfast".  And our hope goes beyond this life.  "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"  (Titus 2:13)

"13  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."  (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)


7.  Light In The Lord

Some of the thoughts today are from a message by Preacher Jack Tripp.  The Lord used his sermon to lead me with this devotional thought, "In The Lord".  Today we see that we have "Light In The Lord".   Let's look back to the beginning.

"1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."  (Genesis 1:1-4)

Before we are saved, our lives can be described as the earth was before light... "without form, and void; and darkness."  But, God spoke, and that made all the difference.  "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."   Just as God divided light from darkness on the first day of creation, He divides light from darkness in our lives when we receive His salvation.  "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:"  (Ephesians 5:8)  John also explains how light dispels darkness in the beginning of his gospel.

"1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  The same was in the beginning with God.
3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."  (John 1:1-5)

The world can't comprehend the joy, peace, hope, and love we have in Jesus because they are in darkness.  Praise the Lord for His salvation!  With His light, we have life!  "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)  Jesus tells us to reflect His Light on a lost and dark world. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)  Let's do all we can to be a light in this dark world.


8.  Obey In The Lord

When my children were very young I chose short Bible verses for them to memorize and at one time we even had a verse for every letter of the alphabet.  One of the first verses they learned is found in Ephesians 6:1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."  I was raised in a Christian home and I was taught (sometimes the hard way) to obey my parents.  This was instilled in me and it carried over to an honor and respect for a holy God and His Word.  We tried to train up our children in the right way and this verse was very important.  "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."  First of all, "Children".  Children must be taught at a young age to do what is right.  They must be taught  that there is a God in heaven.  They must be taught not to lie, and not to take that which does not belong to them.  Children need to be shown the right way to live.  Next, "obey your parents in the Lord."  When children are not taught a respect for their parents they don't have a respect for their teachers, law enforcement, or any other person in authority.  And when children don't honor their earthly father, how will they know to honor the heavenly Father?  Now we come to the last part, "for this is right."  Mike and I were talking yesterday and I mentioned how sad it will be when our generation is gone.  I believe the faith of the older people in our country is all that is holding our nation together.  We were taught to do the right thing, just because it was the right thing to do.  That is missing from our homes, our schools, and our communities.  Many people are fighting to have "The Ten Commandments" removed from any public place so that they are not reminded of God's Word.  They don't want anyone telling them what is right and what is wrong.  Our government leaders are changing laws that have stood fast for centuries, many of which were founded on the Word of God.  But God's Word never changes.  I pray for my grandchildren.  It will be hard growing up in a land where the lines between right and wrong have been crossed out.  When I see the news and see how far people have strayed away from God, it makes me pray even more, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."  (Revelation 22:20)


9.  Rest In The Lord

Today is Sunday, our day of rest.  In Psalms 37:7 David reminds us to, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:..."  (Psalms 37:7)  God created the heavens and earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day.  Exodus 31:17 tells us that on the seventh day He rested and "was refreshed."  When the Lord Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week, that became our holy day of rest, set apart to worship our God.  And it is so refreshing to go to the house of the Lord and worship.  We also think about vacation time as a time to rest and get refreshed.  This was important to Jesus and it is important for us still today.  "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat."  (Mark 6:31)  I have enjoyed our summer, but where has the time gone?  Mike has just one more week before he goes back to teaching school.  We had a really busy summer.  We spent a week on vacation with some of the children and seven grandchildren, helped two of our sons and their families move, just had a blessed week during Youth Jubilee, and now it is August.  The vegetable garden, which we have really enjoyed, is a reminder that summer is almost over, with the wilting vines and dying corn stalks.  Autumn is on the way, bringing shorter days and cooler nights.  Then, winter will follow shortly, and the ground and living things will rest a short while before spring shoots forth its new life.  No matter what the season, summer, fall, winter, or spring, set aside a time for rest on the Lord's day.  Answer the Lord's call and find rest for your weary soul. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)


10.  Delight Thyself In The Lord

We looked at Psalms 37:7 yesterday, and today we are backing up to verse 4 of the same Psalm.  "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."  This thought is also shown in Isaiah 58:14, "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."  Later we may look at the verses which tell us to "rejoice in the Lord" and also those which say, "be glad in the Lord."  But to delight in the Lord takes our joy to greater heights.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary online gives the definition of delight as follows. 

"1. : a high degree of gratification : joy; also : extreme satisfaction.
2. : something that gives great pleasure"

I can truly say that I have "a high degree of gratification" in the Lord.  Both of the verses show the promises of the Lord for those who delight in the Lord.  Many times I have been reminded of this Psalm, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."  There have been countless times in my life when I would see something and not say anything to anyone, but think in my heart that I would like to have something like that, and a short while later I would get it from somewhere.  I remember once thinking that I needed a good umbrella, and our employers gave sturdy umbrellas to us at work.  I saw a bag with Philippians 4:13 on it once, and my daughter-in-law gave me one for Mother's Day.  Twenty five years ago, after blessing us with four healthy boys, the Lord gave us a precious baby girl.  Only God could continually give me the desires of my heart in such a loving way.  Many times God has sent these "desires of my heart" and I am so thankful for them all!  Next in our definition we see "joy."  The Lord does bring great joy to my life; also "extreme satisfaction."  The Lord has never let me down.  He gives complete, even "extreme, satisfaction."  Moving on to definition 2, we have "something that gives great pleasure."  The pleasure I find in the Lord grows and grows.  The more I read my Bible, the more He shows me from His Word.  The more time I spend in prayer, the more prayers I see answered.  The more songs I sing to praise and bless His holy name, the greater the blessing I receive.  We read in James 4:8,  "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you..."  The greater delight we have in the Lord, the greater our delight from the Lord.  It is a beautiful circle of sowing faith and trust and reaping bountiful blessings, all because of His great love.


11.  Encouraged In The Lord

We looked earlier at David and his four hundred men that were in distress, in debt, and discontent when we talked about finding "Hope In The Lord".  Well, in our story today his number of men has increased to six hundred and they went to the land of the Philistines and lived in the city of Ziklag.  When David and his men returned from preparing to go to battle, they discovered that the Amalekites had destroyed Ziklag and taken their wives and children captive.

"3  So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
4  Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5  And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6  And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."  (I Samuel 30:3-6)

Have you ever been so distressed and cried so much that you just couldn't cry anymore?  David couldn't go home again to Israel because he was still on the run from King Saul.  Now his home in Ziklag had been burned and his family carried away captive.  He couldn't find comfort from his men because they were all in the same situation.  They were so distressed they talked of stoning him.  David had no where to turn, "but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."  I have never been in such a desparate situation as this, but there have been times in my life when I encouraged myself in the Lord.  Next, David enquired of the Lord.  "And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.  So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed."  (I Samuel 30:8-9)  David and his men recovered all.  The last few verses of the chapter tell us that David sent gifts of the spoil "to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt."  (I Samuel 30:31)  King Saul was killed in battle and David went back to Hebron where he was made king.  "So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.  In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah."  (II Samuel 5:3-5)

When life gets you down and there is nowhere else to turn, encourage yourself in the Lord and enquire of the Lord in prayer.  Find hope in the Lord, and realize that He may not be through with you yet.  The best may be yet to come!


12.  Strength In The Lord

Sometimes we spend our Bible reading time in the New Testament or with the familiar scriptures we have come to know and love and neglect the small books of the Old Testament.  Mike has been teaching from the minor prophets for several weeks and we have learned that the same message preached by some of those prophets long, long ago, is needed today.  If we take time to read through the Bible, cover to cover, the Spirit can show us amazing truths that can help us in our daily lives.  Today we are going to the little book of Zechariah.  This prophet was given many visions, some which were fulfilled during the first coming of Christ, and some to be fulfilled when He comes again as King.  We open this little book today and find "Strength In The Lord."

"And I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD."  (Zechariah 10:12)
"And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God."  (Zechariah 12:5)

That's what I need today.  I have salvation in the Lord.  I am encouraged in the Lord through faith and hope in the Lord.  I delight in the Lord and even find rest in the Lord.  But sometimes, I grow weak and weary, and I pray, "Lord, please give me the strength I need."  As I looked at David yesterday with our topic of being encouraged in the Lord, I found a Psalm that he wrote when hiding from King Saul.  I am using it today, because it shows that one way David was encouraged in the Lord was through the strength he found in the Lord.

"1  <<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said,>> I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.
2  The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."  (Psalms 18:1-2)

We can find that Paul also found strength in the Lord.  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  (II Corinthians 12:9)  And in return, we can use all our strength for the glory of God. 

"28  And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33  And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."  (Mark 12:28-33)


13.  Be Of The Same Mind In The Lord

I have heard of preachers in the past who called people down from the pulpit.  Well, Paul did this in his letter to the church at Philippi, and it is still on record today.  Wouldn't you have hated to be Euodias or Syntyche?  He is pleading with them to "be of the same mind in the Lord."  "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord."  (Philippians 4:2)  I know that everybody does not agree on everything, but it is a shame when Christians can't get along.  Paul addressed the same problem in the church at Corinth.  "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."  (I Corinthians 1:10)   Again, to those in Rome.  "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;...&  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."  (Romans 12:11 & 16)  There are enough enemies to the church that we don't need to make enemies of each other.  Looking again to the letter to the Philippians we see the answer in verse 5, plain and simple, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."  What a difference it would make if we all tried to be like, and think like Christ.

"1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2:1-11)


14.  Glory In The Lord

When I was growing up the old folks called this time of year the "dog days of summer".  My grandma had certain ideas about what we could and could not do during these long hot days, like not playing in the creek.  So what am I doing, while it is too hot to be outdoors?  I am typing Christmas plays.  It is hard to imagine with the rising temperatures, but there are people searching our website and sending emails about Christmas plays.  While Michael was cleaning out a filing cabinet this summer he found some old Christmas plays, two that he had written while in college and our youth performed (I won't say how many, many years ago that was.)  With our requests for new plays I am typing them for our site.  (I remember typing one of them originally on a manual typewriter, and there are plenty of mistakes to correct as I go.)  In typing these verses which have grown so familiar over the years, I am rejoicing with the angels.  "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  (Luke 2:13-14)  There are a lot of people who like to bask in their own glory, but Paul reminds us to glory in the Lord.  "That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."  (I Corinthians 1:31)  "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."  (II Corinthians 10:17)  So, if you want to bask in the sunlight, go ahead, you have a few more days of summer.  But, leave all the glory to the precious Son of God.  He alone deserves all our praise and glory and honor.  In fact, He outshines the sun!  He is coming again, just as sure as He came that first Christmas morn, and we will shout with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest!"

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."  (Revelation 4:11)
"Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.  And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."  (Revelation 5:12-13)

"10  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11  Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;...
18  And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass...
21  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
22  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."  (Revelation 21)

(Here is the link to find out more about our Christmas Plays.)


15.  Saved In The Lord

There was a news report that hit the internet about a couple in Florida that had been arrested for selling golden Tickets to Heaven for $99.99.  It turned out to be an April Fool's joke but made its way around the web without the disclaimer.  This was a false story, but it made me wonder what people are doing in hopes of buying their ticket to heaven.  How many people give money to the church or their religious group thinking that this will buy their way to heaven?  How many try to do "good" hoping that their good will outweigh their bad, and be their ticket to heaven?  It is sad, but there are many religions which give their followers false hope of reaching the golden city.  Isaiah 45:17 tells us, "But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end."  Jesus came and died and opened up the way not only for Israel, but for "whosoever" will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  (John 3:16-18)  Jesus is the only way to reach heaven.  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)  We can't buy our ticket to heaven from someone on the street, and we can't buy our ticket with our good works.  The only way to reach God is to be saved in the Lord.  There is no other way.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"  (Romans 3:23)
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8)
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Romans 6:23)
"9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  (Romans 10:9-13)


16.  Trust In The Lord

The most common phrase I found while searching for this devotional theme was "Trust in the Lord."  The next most repeated was "Rejoice in the Lord."  That is a great representation of our standing with Christ.  The more we trust in the Lord, the more we can rejoice in the Lord.  Proverbs 3:5-6 have been favorite verses of mine for many years.   "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  Our faith grows stronger as we learn to trust in the Lord with all our heart.  Psalms 118:8 tells us "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."  Often when we come to the end of our rope, and there is no one else to turn to, we put all our trust in the Lord and He is there.  He may not immediately deliver us out of our circumstance, but He will be with us through our trials.  Just as He was with the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace.  For the next phrase, "lean not unto thine own understanding" I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9.  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."  God is above us in every way and He can see the whole picture.  I like having a GPS when I am trying to find a new place, but when I plan a trip with my Mom she pulls out her Atlas and shows me the way we will go.  I like looking at a map.  I have no sense of direction and I like to see the path, from start to finish, and not just one road or turn at a time.  Well, God not only sees the whole path that He is leading us on, but He also sees our lives from start to finish.  He is not surprised by the rocky roads or times that life throws a sharp curve up ahead.  That brings us to the next verse.  "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."  When we put all our trust in the Lord, He leads us in paths of righteousness, just as we learn in the 23rd Psalm.  I wanted to use verse 3, but I think the whole Psalm is a great example of how David trusted in the Lord.

"1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."


17.  Rejoice In The Lord

As I look over the verses which tell us to rejoice in the Lord, the dearest and most important in my life are those which exhort us to rejoice in our salvation.  "And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation."  (Psalms 35:9)  Isaiah paints a beautiful picture in Isaiah 61:10.  "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."  Then, Habakkuk reminds us that even during times of trial, we can still rejoice in the Lord for salvation.  "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."  (Habakkuk 3:17-18)  Hannah rejoiced in salvation at the birth of a child, as I have done with my five children, and now with my grandchildren.  "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.  (I Samuel 2:1)   In the book of Psalms we are reminded that rejoicing in praise and thanksgiving of the righteous is pleasing to God.  "Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright."  (Psalms 33:1)  "Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness."  (Psalms 97:12)  Then in Joel 2:23 I share in rejoicing in the Lord for the rain.  God blessed my little garden this summer and we ate from it most of the summer, and had a little extra to share with others.  "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month."  Paul rejoiced over the love and care which others showed him.  "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity."  (Philippians 4:10)  In fact, Paul is great in encouraging us to rejoice in the Lord!  "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord...."  (Philippians 3:1)  "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."  (Philippians 4:4)


18.  Stand Fast In The Lord

Back when there was a moral majority in America it was easier to take a stand for right.  When some talked of the danger of communism opposing our churches, Christians stood and said, "We won't let outside forces keep us from our worship."  So the devil changed his plan of attack and has brought on opposition from within our own country.  And many who once stood strong for the Lord have stopped going to church and neglected the things of God.  Can I encourage you today?  Don't quit, take a stand for what's right.  Stand fast in the Lord.   "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."  (Philippians 4:1)  "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."  (I Thessalonians 3:8)  And even when you feel like you are the only one left standing, stand your ground.  When King David came to the end of his life and looked back over his battles he recorded a list of mighty men, and right there near the top of the list is Shammah.  "And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.  But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory."  (II Samuel 23:11-12)  Everybody fled from the enemies, but Shammah stood firm and defended his ground, and God gave him the victory.  Today we have something of greater value than a field of lentiles to defend.  We must stand our ground and do all we can to protect our Christian freedom.  The letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus is so prevalent for us today.  I have read these verses many times, but recently I noticed the period at the end of verse 13.  "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."  Sometimes it takes all the strength and power of His might just to stand.  When I was struggling with my breathing problems last summer, there were a few times when it took all the strength I had just to stand.  In the spiritual realm, we have to rely on God for our strength and power to stand.  Then, when we are standing, what do we do then?  I like verse 14, "Stand therefore..."  Put on the whole armor of God and just keep on standing strong in the Lord!

"10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"  (Ephesians 6:10-18)


19.  Speaking Boldly In The Lord

We talked about standing for righteousness in the Lord, and as we continue with the next few verses in Ephesians 6:19-20 we see that we also need to speak boldly in our testimony in the Lord.  "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,  For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."   Paul asked the church to pray that the Lord would give him boldness to preach the gospel.  In the book of Acts we see the boldness of the disciples after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  "Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands."  (Acts 14:3)  "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."  (Philippians 1:14)  Paul recognized that his boldness in the Lord gave confidence to others to speak out for Christ.  We have great opportunities to witness today.  We are surrounded by people who are lost and need the Lord.  I confess that I often lack the boldness that others have in being a witness for my Lord.  As I pray and try to think of the right thing to say, I wait too long, and the opportunity passes.  My thoughts seem to come more slowly, and it is easier for me to meditate on God's Word and type out the things He seems to put on my heart.  It is my constant prayer that God will use the devotionals each day for His honor and glory.  Someone sent me an email last week asking if she could share the devotionals with others on Facebook.  I told her that would be great.  I believe that we are in the last days and we need to do all we can to share the Word of God.  I try to give the plan of salvation quite often, and I trust that God will use it as He promised in Isaiah 55:11.  "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."  I want to encourage you today to speak boldly in the Lord.  Share God's Word with others.  If these devotionals help you in any way, please don't hesitate to share them with others.  Don't be ashamed of God's Word.  Jesus said, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26)


20.  Labored Much In The Lord

I go to church with the most wonderful Christian people I know.  They are so helpful to do things around the church.  Many are retired from public work, but they still labor in the Lord to keep things working smoothly in the building and on the grounds.  I am amazed each summer during Youth Jubilee.  The women work hard in the kitchen preparing and serving food, then washing the dishes and getting ready for the next day.  The men also work keeping colas and water on ice and keeping the trash emptied. The young people come in on buses and vans from neighboring states and spend their mornings and evenings listening to good preaching and singing at the High Point Camp Meeting site, where the weather can be very hot, but they keep coming, year after year.  This year eleven young boys and girls said they got saved.  That makes all the work worthwhile.  Paul wanted to recognize those who labored in the Lord.  "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord."  (Romans 16:12)  I would love to call each one by name who labors at Pine Grove Baptist Church but there are so many things that get done it would be impossible to name every one.  Also, I know they don't work so hard to be seen of men, but the good Lord knows all the work they do and He won't overlook anyone when He gives them their reward.  "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  (I Corinthians 15:58) 

Here is something I wrote at the end of Youth Jubilee 2007 after a small boy watered our artificial flowers.

"You Just Gotta Keep Watering And Watering"

The last plate had been served.  The last cup of iced tea had been poured.  Everyone was busy: washing dishes, wiping tables, stacking chairs, and bagging trash.  We collected salt and pepper shakers and then I started gathering the glass jars of red, white, and blue flowers to put away for another day.  One little boy came up to me and said, “Those are pretty flowers.  You just gotta keep watering and watering.”  I carried those jars to the shelf and as I went back for more he said again, “You just gotta keep watering and watering.”  He then turned and ran off to join the other kids.  I had to make one more trip and when I got to the corner table, and picked up the last jar, there was about two inches of water in the blue marbles in the bottom of the jar.  I laughed as I showed it to the women in the kitchen and repeated the little boy’s words, “Those are pretty flowers.  You just gotta keep watering and watering.”  In his way, this small child tried to help as he watered the flowers. As I thought on this I remembered these words of Paul in I Corinthians 3:6-8, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”  I want to thank each of you who had a part in the Youth Jubilee.  We all labored together.  The Word of God, the precious seed, was planted in the hearts of these young boys and girls.  Others watered, and God gave the increase. Thank you for your prayers and support.  Thank you for the unity you showed as you all worked together in “one accord” for the Lord’s work.  Thank you for cooking and cleaning, and giving your time and talents for God’s glory.  All through the week, as the preachers and singers planted the seed, you kept watering, and watering, the garden of pretty flowers.  And you did it with smiling faces, even when I didn’t have my camera in hand.  Thank you!  God only knows how these lives will bloom… and you helped water.


21.  Faithful In The Lord

We can search through the scriptures, but nowhere can we find a requirement to be successful.  We all have our own ideas of measuring success, and even the leaders in our minds, would probably fall short of how the Lord measures success.  We are not told to be wealthy or popular, traits which we associate with success.  But, we are told to be faithful.  In the book of Corinthians Paul tells us that "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."  (I Corinthians 1:9)  He also tells us that we are to be faithful.  "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."  (I Corinthians 4:2)  He even gave the church an example of someone who was faithful in the Lord.  "For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church."  (I Corinthians 4:17)  I play the piano some at church, and I often get discouraged when I hear how well all the other ladies play.  I feel so limited in my ability, but then I try to remember that God knows I am doing the best I can, and I just need to be faithful.  Sometimes God calls us to do things that we feel someone else could do better.  He may even call us when things seem impossible.  Our faith is made stronger when we can't "see" the way.  Look at Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Notice how the faithful men and women found in the same chapter were called to do the impossible, but God stepped in!

"7  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8  By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
11  Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
24  By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25  Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
27  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
29  By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31  By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace."


28.  Die In The Lord

We have come to the end of another devotional theme.  I have enjoyed looking at things we have in the Lord, such as hope, faith, and light.  We began with being called and chosen in the Lord, and saw things we are to do in the Lord; believe, obey, rest, trust, and rejoice.  After talking about laboring and being faithful in the Lord, it seems appropriate to end with Revelation 14:13,  "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."  God has been so good to me and blessed me in so many ways, it is thrilling to know that it doesn't end here.  He has given me a home down here, but it is temporary.  He has promised me a home in heaven where I can be with Him.  "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)  He is going to change this earthly body I have into a new body, free from pain and sorrow.  "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."  (Philippians 3:20-21)  He has given me many Christian friends, and though some have gone on, I have a promise of being reunited with them. 

"13  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18  Wherefore comfort one another with these words."  (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  (Philippians 1:21)