Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10,958 days ago...

                Today’s publication date is exactly our 30th wedding anniversary (or 10,958 days). If I could go back and tell that newlywed couple a thing or two (or any newly or nearly married couples like my two sons), this is what I’d say.


1.       Don’t major on the minors. If you read John 14, you’ll see Jesus saying “Let not your heart be troubled” not once but twice. He’s about to die and yet He says that. Unless you are about to be crucified for the world’s sins, don’t get so worked up about anything. Jesus essentially says, “Don’t sweat the big stuff.”
2.       Listen twice as much as you talk. When you look in the mirror and see two ears and one mouth, think about why God did that! And both are close to the brain, so think when you listen or talk. James 1:19 says, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  Hurtful words can never be unsaid.
3.       Forgive quickly. Don’t hold grudges. Quick forgiveness doesn’t make you powerless, it empowers you both and takes away the power of the offense. “Hurt people hurt people” so if you have been hurt, you are more likely to hurt your spouse, who will hurt you back. The cycle only ends when forgiveness comes. The center of forgiveness is “give” and unforgiveness costs you more than it does them.
4.       Little things can make a marriage G-R-E-A-T or G-R-A-T-E. My wifee recently did a whole bunch of great “little things.” Deposits in the love bank don’t have to be big but they need to be often. But oh how the not-so-great “little things” can grate on a marriage. Little withdrawals from the love bank come with huge service fees and high interest rates. Jesus said in Luke 19:12-27 to be faithful in small things.
5.       Don’t win fights; instead lose rights. When you and your spouse fight, there won’t be a winner because you are on the same team. It’s like a boxer’s own right and left gloves trying to knock out the guy in the middle. No one wins. Paul says in 1 Cor. 7:4 for you to lay down your rights for your spouse and it goes both ways.
                I don’t have a secret cure for a perfect marriage (unless of course both spouses are perfect and plan to remain that way). But Jesus did say “What God joined together, let no one separate.” If you ever said, “I do,” then knuckle down and kneel down and say to each other, “And I still do.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christian Home WeekFall 2013, Black Friday and Good Friday

What motivates you?
What do you think motivated Mary to anoint Jesus' feet? What motivated Judas to criticize her? 

Some people say, “You can judge the actions of others but you can’t judge their motives.” I am not for sure about that statement because sometimes you really can’t judge someone’s actions and sometimes you absolutely judge their motives. 

You might could think Mary anointed Jesus feet because of guilt, fear, greed, selfishness, or a dozen different other reasons, but to me it seems quite obvious, she anointed Jesus simply out of gratitude and love.  

Judas’s motives in stating that the money could have been used for the poor could have been out of a sincere heart that he cared for the poor, and even though he loved Jesus deeply, he was simply curious on why Mary didn’t think about using the money it cost for the ointment. 

See what I mean? Maybe not always but sometimes you can discern what people’s motivations are. 

What about you?
The reason why they call it Black Friday is because it many cases businesses operate in the “red” or with a negative bank balance until the day after Thanksgiving. When shoppers come in and buy for Christmas, finally they make a profit and have a positive bank balance. 

So what does that have to do with motivations and discerning people’s motives in what they do? It depends on what you think about Good Friday. 

What motivates you to do what you do? When you walk by a Salvation Army Kettle and hear a bell ringer, are you giving because you really care about the poor? Do you give out of guilt? Do you give because you want to make the poor happier? Do you want to make God happy? 

To really discern your motivation, you have to go to the cross of Jesus. On that Good Friday, what happened? He died on the cross for you. He gave you eternal life absolutely free. He truly rescued you from a life of sin, followed by an eternity of judgment, condemnation and damnation. He literally became the whipping boy of your sin’s punishment.  

Do you believe that? That you were so miserably sinful that it took the horrific crucifixion of Christ to take away your sins so that you could spend eternity free of guilt? Or do you sometimes think you have to help God out in absolving your sin?  

It is difficult to discern the motives of others, but what about your own? Do you wash Jesus’ feet out of love and sacrificially give to Him or others with pure motivations?

Before Good Friday, you were in the red spiritually. You were so desperately bankrupt that you could never climb out of your debts of sin. But with Christ’s deposit of His righteousness into your account, you suddenly were reconciled in God’s bank ledger.  

You no longer have to worry about “going under” in your account. You have God’s absolute forgiveness because of Jesus going in the red by shedding his blood for you. Your motivation should not be that you want to pay God back, or somehow earn your kazillion dollars He placed in your account…you can never repay the price Jesus paid on the cross. 

But like Mary, you can have a thankful heart. You can give to the poor always even when there is no bell ringer making you feel guilty. You can live your life as a thank you card back to the Lord, not to earn what He did, or to make you look better to others or even to earn a jewel in your crown when you get to heaven.  

You can be motivated because you know you’ve been forgiven, that you are loved. Because you know that you are a child of the King and you’ve been given all the riches of the universe when you were given God’s spirit of adoption in your heart. 

Pray this prayer to God: Abba Daddy, help me to live like a King’s Kid. Help me remember who I am and whose I am. Let every act I do be in the spirit of gratitude and desire to simply love as I have been loved by you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Christian Home Week, Fall 2013 Thanksgiving Day

Martha, Martha, Martha!
It’s more than interesting that in the Gospels’ depiction of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, two of the narratives include food. The Bible speaks a lot about feasting and the enjoyment of food. At Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, food and family are the centerpieces of the holiday, perhaps even more than giving of thanks.

Personally, I like Martha. In fact, I think I am married to Martha. My wife loves to serve, prepare, fix food, and of course share her food. There are few and I mean truly few times that I fast from food but I do believe I would fast more if I were not married to a Martha (those who know me know my wife is actually Melissa). Just when I am in the midst of a fast, she not only prepares a sumptuous and savory meal, but she persuades me to eat (she suddenly goes from a Martha to something more akin to the serpent!)
I on the other hand am a Mary (and for those who know me know that my name is actually Tim). I love to sit at the feet of Jesus. I love Bible studies. I am after all an education minister and a writer. I wonder how the story would have turned out if Martha had not prepared the food and Mary and Jesus and the disciples had been sitting there, Jesus speaking and suddenly no one was able to concentrate because their stomachs were growling and their throats were parched.

What if Mary looked around and the table was not set, the aroma of a meal did not waft through the house, and there Martha is, sitting down and listening to Jesus as well. “Lord, do You not care that we are all starving here and Martha is just sitting here.” But instead of Jesus saying, "Martha, Martha, Martha," (although it would be clever to say her name the way Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch would), instead he says, "Mary, Mary, you fix it, because Martha is choosing the better part."
How would Mary respond? I think I know (remember I too am a Mary).  I would be quite contrary. I imagine Mary would jump up and with a loud clanging of the pots and pans in the kitchen, she would start a meal but not with a joyful heart.
But if you would look closely at Martha, she is sitting there but not still. Her hands are fidgeting, her eyes are darting, her foot would be tapping, glancing at Mary make a mess of her kitchen. Her face is toward Jesus, but her mind is distracted and she looks as uncomfortable as Mary is.

I don’t know what Thanksgiving will be like in your family, but if you have more than one person, you’ll notice that there are differences. You may not have a Mary and a Martha, but I do believe that God delights in bringing diversity into families. As a parent of four children, Martha and I, excuse me, Melissa and I have noticed that not a one of them are the same.

Just as you feast at the variety of food at the table, learn to appreciate the differences the Lord has brought to your family’s table. That’s not an excuse to not help out in the kitchen, but neither is it an excuse to hide in the kitchen and forsake listening to the words of the Master.

Pray this prayer to God: Master and Teacher, let me know the times and seasons to sit and the time to serve. Keep me from judging others who are different than I am and let me not only enjoy our differences, but relish them as gifts from You, for which we should be thankful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christian Home Week Fall, 2013 Wednesday

Give to God Your Very Best
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This is the season of Giving and Thanksgiving. Today's reading reminds us of the motivation for giving thanks and the costs for giving. At FBC Killeen, we are in the middle of Christian Home week.
Click here for Daily Devotionals (Preview):
Sunday Day 1

Monday Day 2

Tuesday Day 3

Wednesday Day 4

Thursday Day 5

Friday Day 6
Some may disagree, but I believe that there is a parallel reading of this same account in Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13. There it says the anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary took place in the home of Simon the Leper. Knowing Jesus’ healing power, perhaps it should read as “Simon theformer leper.” The anointing the feet was a common practice, one Jesus was not unfamiliar with (see Luke 7:36-50 for a separate event).

Mary is again (see Luke 10:39, John 11:32) at the feet of Jesus, and Martha serving. Mary is anointing Jesus’ feet with very expensive and fragrant oil. Other readings said she also poured it lavishly on the head of Jesus. Such an anointing was more than just simply cleaning the feet of an itinerant traveling preacher. It was an extravagant ceremony and one that put Jesus in an extreme place of honor.

Have there been times when you were extravagant and lavish in your giving or ministering to God? Being extremely honest, there have been relatively few times when my worship of God could have been so excessive that I was criticized for it or that it would have been deemed "extravagant."

Undoubtedly, Mary did such an act due to her appreciation of His raising her brother from the dead. But Jesus said that Mary had kept the oil for the day of His burial. Do you think she knew and understood that Jesus was about to die?
Yes or No

Sometimes God calls us to do something extreme without knowing the reason why. And as in Mary’s case, such giving can come with criticism. But what was the motivation for Judas’ criticism?
a) Care for the poor
b) Greed
c) Concern for Mary’s financial well-being

Doing the right thing, like Mary did, can bring criticism, even from fellow (or in this case "so-called") Christians. Remember the story of the widow who gave all that she had to God (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus did not rebuke her. He did not say, “No, you need that money more than God does.” Jesus praised the widow for giving out of her poverty. Judas’ criticism of Mary was shrouded with a ministerial covering; he appeared to be godly by saying he cared for the poor. Jesus’ response did not mean that giving to the poor was unimportant, but rather we can give to the poor at anytime (see Mark 14: 7).

What does God want us to give?
a) Our very best
b) Our leftovers
c) 10% of our income

Some are offended when "the preacher starts talking about money." But the Apostle Paul thought it was necessary to give instructions about giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). More instructions were given for two entire chapters in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, where he encourages free and joyful giving. Paul, like Jesus, praises giving during hardship and rebukes criticism for lavish giving to God.

There is more to giving than just materially or financially. In 1 Cor.6:18-20 Paul says everything we have was bought by Jesus and we owe all to Him. What do you have to offer to Jesus?

Pray This Prayer To God: “Lord God, I give myself to you. I want all of my life to be a lavish gift to You. Help me to seek first the kingdom of God and Your righteousness. Everything else, I humbly receive as a gift from You. Amen.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christian Home Week Fall 2013, Tuesday

Loose him and let him go
This is Christian Home Week at FBC Killeen, a week in which we cancel all evening activities to encourage families to concentrate on our most important ministry: Our homes.
The past few days of devotionals, we've seen one of the few families in the gospels, the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. As we look towards Thanksgiving, it may be a time of reflection of those who have passed from this life into eternity. It is good to give pause, give thanks and as we saw yesterday, fall at the feet of Jesus in our loss of loved ones, knowing that for believers, we will be reunited with them in glory.
When Lazarus was raised from the dead, it was a symbol of Jesus’ power of resurrection and the power of new life. One day, all believers will be raised up from the dead. It will not matter whether our bodies "stinketh", are decayed, were cremated or were totally eliminated. The resurrection will be God’s work and God’s glory (verses 4 and 40). The hope of the resurrection should strengthen our faith every time we go to the grave or funeral of a believer (verses 15, 42).
Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. If we are absent from the body or in other words if we die, where are we, according to verse 8?

But before our physical death, Jesus also gives us life. When people come to faith, it is as though they have died to their old way of life and born again (read Romans 6:4, 2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 2:20).
We are to consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God. How does that apply to Lazarus being bound hand and foot with grave clothes, his face wrapped with a cloth?


If you have been spiritually raised from your sins, from what “grave clothes” should you be loosed from?


Caiaphas, the High Priest, made a prophetic utterance that revealed the real reason why the Jews were so determined to suppress Christ. They were afraid of Romeand what it would do if someone like Christ would see to set up a different kingdom.
But in fact, one man did die so that the whole world would not perish. It was not the Jewish leaders who put Christ on the cross. It was all the sins of the world and according to the “determined purpose of God.” (Acts 2:23).

Pray This Prayer To God:“Our Father in Heaven. Give me faith to believe that you have raised me from spiritual death and that when I face physical death, you will still be with me. Loose me from my sinful nature and help me to walk in the liberty you have given me to live for you. Amen”

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christian Home Week Fall 2013, Monday

At the feet of Jesus

An interesting study is one of Mary and Martha. Mary is frequently pictured at the feet of Jesus, while Martha is shown as busily working. John identified Mary in verse 2 to the future event when Mary would wash the Master’s feet. There was another time when Mary was at the feet of Jesus…

Read Luke 10:38-42. Which does Jesus say is more important, hearing from Him or doing for Him?

Which of the following is true?
A) Serving God is bad
B) Business can distract us from hearing from God
C) People should only listen to God.

While both serving God and listening to God are both important, oftentimes we want to work for God rather than taking the time to listen to Him.

In John 11:21and 32, both Mary and Martha said the same thing. It is likely that they had been complaining about Jesus’ delay. Martha “the doer” went to talk to Jesus. Verse 20 says, “But Mary stayed seated in the house.” Describe the emotions that Mary must have felt?


Mary did not go out to meet Jesus. It wasn’t until He called for her did she go out. Mary’s complaint also indicates that she may have come to the end of her faith. While Martha professed her faith in verse 22, Mary’s grief led Jesus to groan, weep and be troubled. If Jesus knew Lazarus was going to rise again, why did He weep by what He saw?

If Jesus was able to weep, surely God understands that we too will mourn when we lose a loved one in death, even though we know they are in heaven. Jesus says clearly in verse 25 that He is the Resurrection and the Life and that faith in Him is all we need to have life after death.

Read 1 John 5:13. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
What is it that gives the Christian the confident assurance that he or she is going to heaven?

If you have come to the end of your faith, as Mary may have been, there is only one place to go. Fall down at the feet of Jesus. It was at His feet we learned of faith. At His feet is where we declare our love, as Mary will do in the following chapter. And it is at His feet where we fall when we have nowhere else to turn.

It’s one thing to profess your faith in Christ. But as Martha found, it is another thing when Jesus tells us to move the stone. Has God ever asked you to put your faith in action and actually do something for Him that might raise a stink? If you want to see the glory of God, move that stone!

Pray This Prayer To God:“Dear Jesus, like Mary I fall at your feet today and seek to do your will. Be glorified in my life today. Help me trust when I have little faith and help me in my unbelief. Amen”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christian Home Week Fall 2013, Sunday

He’s an On-Time God
(John 11:1-6)

Watch the story of the family tragedy and triumph from the Gospel of John here
 (Please use caution as you are opening up a new page and we are not responsible for its contents)
Today, we begin Christian Home Week centering on the Home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Last Friday, all the news agencies were focusing on the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy. The untimely death of anyone, but especially a young president full of charisma and hope, makes even the firmest of believers questioning the presence, power, and compassion of God and His timing. A new book states that a series of events could have prevented Kennedy's death; how much more could so many seemingly senseless deaths and tragedies be prevented if only God would intervene?

When Jesus left Jerusalemin John 10, verse 39 says that again the leaders sought to take Jesus, “but He escaped out of their hand.” Jesus had previously said He was not going to Jerusalem (John 7) and for good reason. After the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple (Hanukah), Christ went east, to the other side of the Jordan River, where John the Baptist had earlier worked.

Even though John did not perform miracles, many believed his prediction that a greater Person was coming after him. John’s witness of Jesus was proven true by Jesus words and miraculous works. John 10:42 says that many believed on Jesus there.

What is it about the Christian message that leads you to believe it is true?


In Jerusalem, Jesus was rejected and was even wanted dead, yet, just a few miles away, many were coming to salvation. Jesus knew His time on earth was short, and many were trusting in Him and responding positively there because of seeds sown by John the Baptist. No wonder Jesus did not go immediately to heal Lazarus!

All three siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, were all still in the home of their father, Simon, indicating they were young, perhaps not much more than teenagers, and Lazarus was likely the youngest of the three. Yet all three had a fondness in Jesus’ heart, so much so that the sisters referred to their brother as “He whom you love.”

Sometimes your affections will tempt you to leave where you fully see God working in your ministry. Jesus was pulled by His earthly affections for His friends, yet prioritized His ministry. As a result, God received even greater glory than if Jesus had dropped everything and left.

When Jesus made the decision to go back to Jerusalem (Bethany is just east of the city), the disciples tried to talk Him out of it (verse 8). Jesus response was “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walks in the day, he will not stumble.”

What exactly do you think He meant by that?_________________________


The disciples knew the danger Jesus would be in by returning to Jerusalem (verse 16). But both Jesus’ timing to stay and His decision to go fell on God’s perfect timing. When we pray for God to act or when He calls us to act, we need to look for His leadership. There’s a phrase that says, “God may not respond when you want Him to, but He is never late.” Trust God to answer your prayers on His time. Trust also to respond to God when He tells you to.

Pray This Prayer To God: “Lord, I commit my life to follow Your light. As long as You shine Your will clearly in my life, I will do my best to walk in Your time and in Your truth. Amen”

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christian Home Week Fall 2013: Preview

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

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We have seen a lot of death in the past few weeks at FBC Killeen. Part of my testimony is that it was the death of my father when I was four and grandfather when I was six that led me to my Christian salvation. It was also the death of my parents at such a young age in their early 30s that led me to go into the ministry. If you are parents of young children, you may think death is too strong of a topic to discuss, but based on my testimony I would disagree. Children need to know about death and more importantly, the victory of Christ over the grave.

A natural place to turn to is John Chapter 11. But too often in this chapter, many readers will rush to see Jesus “resurrect” Lazarus (actually Lazarus is not truly resurrected, but raised from the dead). There are several lessons that we can learn from death, sickness, and grief before we get to the chapter’s climax.

Lesson 1 (verse 3): Affliction can be interceded for. We can go to God in prayer for the sick and the dying, like Martha and Mary did. Unlike eastern religions, sickness is not a result of bad karma. Unlike certain cults, sickness is not a state of mind or a result of lack of faith. James 5 tells us it is one of the functions of the church leadership to pray for the sick. Mark 16:18 states we should expect healing to occur. One of the signs that Jesus was the Christ was that He healed people. It is not uncommon for a church prayer list to be filled with requests for healing from illnesses because the Bible tells us to pray for those who are sick and suffer other afflictions. We should pray for those who are sick.

Lesson 2 (verse 4): Death and sicknesses can be instruments for God’s glory. If we do not see instantaneous healings, it may not because of a lack of faith, but because God seeks to glorify Himself through it all. The Bible says those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah40:31).

Lesson 3: (verses 6-10): Death is intentional. Jesus purposely waited for Lazarus to die. God has a purpose in death, primarily to save us from this sinful world. Read Genesis 3:22-24--God purposely disallows us from living forever in this fallen state of sin. But if we walk with Jesus, His light will guide us, regardless of the circumstances around you (John 11:10-11). A frequent statement made by missionaries serving God is “The best place to be is in the center of God’s will.” It is not a guarantee that you won’t encounter death, but it is assured that God will be glorified.

Lesson 4 (verses 11-15): Death is inevitable. Heb. 9:27 says everyone will die. For a Christian it is temporary, and some day God will raise us. Notice in verse 15 that something that caused grief to Mary and Martha caused Jesus to be glad because it helped them to believe. Through adversity we grow stronger in our faith. Ps. 116:15 calls death “precious” in God’s eyes.

Lesson 5 (verses 16-27): Death is NOT invincible. Since death is guaranteed, we have cause to rejoice that Jesus has overcome and defeated it and offers it to us. The only way to beat death is to have a belief in Jesus Christ. Belief to the Christian is not just agreement, but it is an assurance, it is putting faith in the only One who can deliver us from death by beating death Himself.

Pray This Prayer To God: “Lord Jesus, I say with Martha, ‘I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ Give me faith when I face adversity, sickness and even death that You are in charge. Help me understand that your delays only allow for greater deliverances. In your holy name I pray. Amen.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spiritual blindness

We are going through the Gospel of John in the Explore the Bible series these two quarters. For more devotionals on John, see johnoneday.blogspot.com
To see, you must first admit your blindness

These verses reveal that Jesus healed the blind man not just to deliver him from darkness, but to show how dark sin truly is and how spiritually blind some people, even religious people, can be. Do you remember what you had to first recognize in yourself in order to be saved? You must first admit your own sinfulness and that you were helpless to save yourself.

Notice how the Pharisees continued to harass the man in whom Jesus had done a miracle. They had become so blinded that they did not know how ridiculous they sounded, even to the healed man (see his joking and incredulity in verses 27 and 30).

Judging from verse 34, what do you think was the sin that was blinding the Pharisees from the truth of Christs miracle? What was it that they could see in others but they could not see in themselves?
Could you also have a "blind spot" in your life, a sin which you can see in others but oblivious to it in your own life? Jesus said elsewhere remove the log from your own eye before you try to cast the speck out from someone else.  

To be cast out, as seen in verse 22 and 34-35, means to be excommunicated from the Jewish faith, to no longer be allowed to worship in the synagogue. Since you became a Christian, have you experienced any shunning or being cast out from your family, your friends, your co-workers, even your church? If so, describe how and how you felt?
Notice that Jesus cared for the man who was cast out and came personally to Him to comfort him. If you have been cast out because of your faith, know that Jesus has and will continually seek you out and encourage you.

Do you believe that the Pharisees saw themselves as sinners? (See verses 24, 34). If true vision means being able to see yourself as a sinner in need of forgiveness, and if spiritual blindness means seeing yourself as being able to work for your own righteousness before God, then paraphrase verse 41 in the lines below in terms of how unbelievers see and how they are blind.



Pray This Prayer To God: Dear Jesus. Thank you for the forgiveness of my sins. I am absolutely helpless without you. Keep my heart from pride and arrogance when I look at the sins of others. I believe in you and worship you as the Savior of my soul and the giver of sight to my true spiritual condition. Amen.