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June 2024 Devotions

June 1

Scripture Reading: Zechariah 13; Matthew 26:30-36

The prophecies of the crucifixion are many and are most vivid.  Psalms 22 is a good example of that.  Here in the 13th Chapter of Zechariah several detailed prophecies of the event are given.  Notice the first verse: “...a fountain opened...for sin and cleansing....”  We sing the hymn written by William Cowper, “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins.  And sinners plunged beneath the flood, lose all their guilty stains.”  This song was undoubtedly inspired by this passage.  By the end of the chapter, it will become obvious that this is a reference to the smiting of the Shepherd.  “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”  Then, of course, there are the words, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”  A fountain opened, wounded hands and a smitten Shepherd are vivid references to Christ’s death on the Cross.  Matthew points out the prophet’s reference to the scattering of the Shepherd’s sheep.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus made reference to Zechariah’s prophecy and the fact that they would all forsake Him on that fateful evening.  Indeed, they did!  See Matthew 26:56.

        The crucifixion and death of the Messiah is definitely a prophecy of the “One That was to come” as we have already noted.  This should encourage our faith as followers of Jesus Christ.  Understanding that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus was God’s eternal plan, and that His plan was motivated by His great love for us (John 3:16), it gives us great assurance that His plan will see ultimate fulfillment.  As Paul said it, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ....” (Philippians 1:6)  Throughout eternity, the wounds in the hands of the Son of God will bear testimony of His love, and His determination to grant eternal live unto those given Him of the Father. (See John 6:37)  Praise the Lamb of God Who gave Himself for us!

June 2

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 53

When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip if the words found in this great chapter were about himself or another, Philip showed him Jesus Christ in these prophetic words of Isaiah.  Most would have recognized quickly that these words were a prophecy of the Coming Messiah, and certainly not references made by the prophet concerning himself.  Note the descriptions given carefully in this short chapter.  He speaks of the Messiah being “despised and rejected of men....”  What an apt description of the way in which Jesus was hated and rejected by the majority of men in His day, and this attitude continues to this very day.  “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” also describes the Lord Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry.  Then, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as being, “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted,” and that because of “our transgressions,” and “our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him....”  Can you imagine the thoughts, the questions that filled the mind of the eunuch as he read Isaiah 53?  He must have been especially perplexed when he read, “with his stripes we are healed.”  How blessed it must have been when Philip showed the dear man that these words were prophecies of One Who had recently been beaten, bruised and crucified in Jerusalem, One that had died but had conquered death in resurrection.

Now, consider other prophetic views of the rejection and death of the Messiah: Psalms 22; Psalms 31; Psalms 69; and there are many others.  This is most important, for the Jews who were looking for the Messiah to come had access to these sacred writings depicting in prophetic detail that coming.  If Jews today would take an honest look at both the Old and New Testament references of the Messiah, they would be forced to face the reality that Jesus is the Christ of God.

Look closely at the last four verses of Isaiah 53 and see if you can find reference to the burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  In this one chapter in the Old Testament, there is the clear teaching given that the Messiah would be rejected by men, be afflicted and die (being bruised by God), and resurrected from the dead.  Thank God, my friend, if He has revealed these truths to you through faith.  Amen!

June 3

Scripture Reading:  Luke 24

“...Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day....”

The details of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ were clearly prophesied in the Old Testament.  We have already noted how that the prophets told in advance of His rejection by the spiritual leaders of the day, His betrayal by Judas Iscariot and the fact that Judas sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.  The prophets also gave in detail the events of the crucifixion (Psalms 22), even allowing us to view these events through the eyes of the Crucified.  Isaiah spoke of physical punishment Jesus would suffer leading up to the cross, including the plucking of His beard, the scourging of His back and the stokes and spitting He received on His face. (Isaiah 50:6)  In Psalms 69, we read of the “gall” and the “vinegar” that He would be given as He suffered. (Psalms 69:21)  Indeed, prophecy revealed that the Lord Jesus would be “hated without a cause” by His rejectors. (Psalms 35:19; 69:4)

There are also prophecies given of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  For instance, in Isaiah 53 we see His rejection, His death and His resurrection. (See Isaiah 53:10-12)  The glorious fact of the resurrection of the Messiah is found in Psalms 110:1, Psalms 16:9-11, Psalms 2:7 with Acts 13:33.   

Why was it essential that the Messiah thus suffer rejection and crucifixion?  And, why was it essential that He be resurrected from the dead?  Isaiah gives an excellent answer to these questions: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed.”  It was essential in order for Him to be the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Savior.  Paul wrote that the Lord Jesus was, “...delivered up for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

All of the events we have discussed thus far concerning the Messiah were concerned with His first advent, His first coming.  In the next devotions, we will be looking at prophecies concerning the Second Coming of the Messiah.  May God give us understanding!

June 4

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7

“And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”

One of the first references given in Scripture concerning the Second Coming of the Messiah is found in 2 Samuel 7 in what is known as “The Davidic Covenant.”  In the covenant God made with David, there is the promise given that his Son would sit upon his throne, and that His kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom.   Most readily agree that this is a Messianic promise of the coming kingdom of the promised Messiah.  Later, we will examine prophecies about His setting up of His kingdom, the judgments that will proceed the establishment of that kingdom and certain characteristics of His kingdom; all of which are Messianic.  Thus far, the bulk of our examination of Messianic prophecies have been concerned with His First Advent and the suffering that He would have to endure in order to redeem His people from their sins.  All of those prophecies concerning the First Advent have seen detailed, literal fulfillment.  Therefore, we should conclude that those prophecies concerned with the Second Advent and the coming kingdom will also see literal fulfillment as well.  It is a tragic mistake to spiritualize all of these glorious prophecies that are yet to see fulfillment.

The prophecies of the kingdom on earth of the Messiah are many.  The Church today is not that kingdom and we are not living in the kingdom age of Christ!  Christ is not acknowledged as King in the world today, but the day will come when all will bow before Him and His authority as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:16 and 19:16)  The promises made to David, and others, were not symbolic promises.  His Greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will sit upon the throne in Jerusalem to rule the world.  As we examine this truth further, we will see more details of that coming day, a day that may not be that far off.  Like John we pray, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

June 5

Scripture Reading: Psalms 45

The prophecies concerned with the First Advent of the Messiah speak of His sufferings, of Him being “despised and rejected,” (Isaiah 53:3) of His being “cut off,” (Daniel 9:26,27) of His death and resurrection.  However, prophecies of the Second Advent of the Messiah are quite different.  In these, He is seen as a mighty judge and as a mighty conqueror.  Psalms 45 is obviously a Messianic prophecy.  See Verses 6 and 7.  Compare these verses with Hebrews 1:8 and 9.  Now look carefully as Psalms 45:1-5.  These verses do not depict a suffering and rejected Messiah, but One going forth to judge and to conquer.

We know that there is an interval of time between the First and Second Advents of Christ, and that interval between is the Church age, the Dispensation of Grace. (Ephesians 3:2).  Messianic prophecies concerned with the Second Advent speak of Him in terms as we see in Psalms 45.  See also Isaiah 63:1-6 (Compare this with Revelation 19:11-15).  When the Church age is completed (Romans 11:25), and the seven years of Tribulation have run their course, then the world will witness the Second Coming of the Messiah, the return of Christ to this earth.  During this Dispensation of Grace, the Lord Jesus is the Savior calling the world to repentance and faith in His death, burial and resurrection.  Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, souls are being drawn to the loving Savior through grace.  How different the image of Jesus Christ will be when He returns to the earth in power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)  This will not be the loving, compassionate and tender Savior, but the Lord of Lords and King of Kings coming back to judge the nations (Psalms 82:8; Isaiah 2:4).  The nations will fear to see Him come, and they will have good reason to do so.

Reader, do you know the loving Savior, the Christ of Calvary?  What a tender and compassionate Lord!  He longs to have a relationship with all who will place faith and trust in His glorious work of salvation.  Paul wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men....” (2 Corinthians 5:11)  Trust the Lord Jesus today!  Do not wait to see Him come as King and Judge.  Be saved today!

June 6

Scripture Reading: Zechariah 12

There are those among Christian theologians and pastors that teach a replacement theology, a belief that the Church has replaced Israel.  According to this interpretation of Scripture, all prophetic references to God’s dealings with Israel in the future are symbolic and can be applied spiritually to His dealings with the Bride of Christ.  This is not a sound Biblical interpretation.  The covenant that God made with Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3, is an ongoing and a perpetual covenant, and the promises made to Israel cannot by interpreted symbolically to be applied to the Christian Church.

In our previous devotional studies, we have been examining Old and New Testament references to the Messiah.  Please understand that these are brief studies that only really introduce us to some of the deeper truths that should be examined about these precious subjects.  Over the next few pages, we will be looking at the Messiah and Israel, with an emphasis on His future dealings with His chosen people.

In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed the Second Coming of the Christ and noted that when He returns, He will come to judge the nations and to set up His kingdom upon this earth.  We need to also consider His dealings with His Chosen People, Israel.  For the most part, the Jews rejected their Messiah in His First Advent.  That official rejection was seen on the day of His Triumphal Entry and then later as He stood before Pilate.  Their response to Him was, “We will not have this man to rule over us.”  In Zechariah 12, we read of the coming of the Christ when the nations of the earth will be gathered together against Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.  This event will take place at the end of the Tribulation, the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” (Jeremiah 30:7)  For a brief summary of Israel during this time read Revelation 12.  At the end of the Tribulation, the nations of the earth will be gathered against Israel.  When the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, returns, He will deliver Israel with a devastating judgement against those nations. (See Revelation 19:11-21; Isaiah 63:1-6.)  This is that time that Zechariah is referring to in Chapter 12.  Note carefully Verses 1-4.  Our Lord has not forsaken Israel, and will yet redeem her from all her enemies.  See Chapter 13:1.  Praise God for the cleansing fountain!

June 7

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 2:1-5; 9:6-7; 11:1-10; Revelation 20:1-6

Just before His ascension back into heaven after His death and resurrection, Jesus’ disciples asked Him the question, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom again to Israel?”  The reason they asked Him this is clear; the prophecies of the Messiah told of a kingdom that He would rule over on this earth as the Son of David.  Like most, they were oblivious of the Church Age; that time that the Lord had set aside for building His Church in the world.  Paul would be given the “Mystery of the Church,” later. (Ephesians 5:32)  This era began on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit birthed the Church into being. (Acts 2)  The Church Age continues to this day, and will continue until the “fulness of the Gentiles” is completed.  See Romans 11:25.  When the Church is completed, the Lord Jesus will return in the clouds and call His church out to meet Him.  See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians  15:52-57.  When this event takes place, referred to as the “Catching out” or “Rapture” of the Church, the Lord will once again turn His focus and attention back to the nation of Israel.  Following the “Rapture” of the Church, the world will enter into a seven year period of time known as the Tribulation Period, or the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” (Jeremiah 30:7; Revelation 6:1 - 18:24).  Many things will be accomplished during this time, but the main focus and purpose of this seven year period will be the redemption of Israel.  This was what Zechariah spoke of in our last devotional study. (Zechariah 12 and 13)

The above summary of the kingdom prophecies and the events leading up to the kingdom is very brief, but it gives us an idea of the expectations of the Jews concerning the purpose and work of Christ.  As noted earlier, even the disciples were confused and expecting Jesus to establish His kingdom at any moment during His earthly ministry.  After the Tribulation Period has ended, then will the Lord return to earth and fulfill that long awaited promise of a literal kingdom on this earth.  In our next devotion, we will examine further the prophecies of the kingdom and of the promises God made to Israel that are yet to be fulfilled.

June 8

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-8; 31:27-38; 33:14-17

Beginning with the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 12, the Old Testament is filled with promises that He made to Israel.  Many of these promises have yet to see fulfillment.  This is due to Israel’s disobedience and unbelief.  However, during the Kingdom Reign of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, all of these promises will be fulfilled completely.  For instance, God made promises to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 concerning the extent of the boundary of the land that would be Israel’s, a promise that has never been fully realized.  Perhaps the greatest extent of her borders was achieved during the reign of David and during the early years of Solomon.  But, during the Messiah’s Kingdom, Israel will be given as their possession all of the lands promised to their father, Abraham.

Another line of promises Israel was given had to do with peace and prosperity.  Again, their greatest time of peace and prosperity was during the reigns of David and Solomon, but true and lasting peace has been unattained by God’s chosen people.  The promises of lasting peace will only be fulfilled when the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) comes and establishes His kingdom on earth.  Notice the imagery in the words of Isaiah 2:4 and that of Micah 4:3.  The thought of turning implements of warfare into implements of agriculture denote the peace that will be attained during Christ’s reign on earth. (Revelation 20:1-6)

One promise that Israel was given repeatedly was that of righteousness throughout their land, and throughout the world.  They certainly have never known such widespread righteousness, but during the Messiah’s kingdom, that righteousness will be universal.  When the Lord reigns in Jerusalem, the scepter of His kingdom will be a scepter of righteousness. (See Hebrews 1:8)

Beloved, all of the promises of God in Christ are “yea...unto the glory of God....” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  Israel has been a suffering people, and continues to be so today.  Antisemitism is more prevalent in our day that at any other time in history.  Satan wars against God’s chosen people, but Christ is coming to redeem Israel and to fulfill in, through and for her all of the promises made throughout Scripture!

June 9

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-40; 32:36-44

Earlier, we noted how that some teach a replacement theology; that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s program for the ages.  This erred theology spiritualizes all of the promises made to Israel to apply them to the Christian Church.  It teaches that the kingdom of the Messiah is a spiritual kingdom, not a literal one at all.  This amillennial view of the prophecies of the coming kingdom is not an accurate interpretation of Scripture, and is detrimental to true Biblical understanding.  The promises made to Israel, some of which we discussed in yesterday’s devotional thought, were literal and will see literal fulfillment in God’s time.

The Christian Church was not an alternative devised by God upon the rejection of Christ by Israel.  The calling out of a Gentile body was prophesied in the Old Testament. (See Isaiah 11:10; 60:3-5)  Because of their rejection of the Messiah in His First Advent, judicial blindness was brought upon Israel for their unbelief. (See Romans 11:25)  This judicial blindness will be lifted when the Bride of Christ is complete, and she is removed from this earth in the Rapture.   At that time, God will deal with Israel in mercy, revealing the True Messiah to them, and granting them the opportunity and privilege to know Him as Lord, as Savior and as King.

Hopefully these abbreviated studies of the Messiah have been beneficial and will encourage you to examine this precious topic in greater detail.  As stated earlier, it is really the theme and message of all the Word of God.  The Bible revealed that the Messiah was to come, that He did come and that He will come again.  How privileged you are that know Him today as Lord and Savior.  Through His abiding Spirit, He makes known to us deep truths of the Bible that the world will never be able to fully understand.  Among those truths are those about the Messiah, the Christ of God.

The woman that met Jesus at the well in Samaria ran quickly into the neighboring village saying to one and all, “Is not this the Christ?”  O, how we should emulate her enthusiastic witness for the One Who came that He might die on the Cross, and Who will come again that He might reign on David’s throne!  “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

June 10

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1

Php 1:9  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

Php 1:10  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Php 1:11  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Thirty eight years ago, I was in my first official week of ministry as the pastor of this great church.  I was excited, and a little nervous.  There was no way I could begin to imagine what the next years would be like.  Each day was a new adventure; some pleasant, others not so.  I had heard older pastors speak of the “honeymoon” time for new pastors, and I really enjoyed that for several years.  My first real trial didn’t come until my sixth year, making the following year one of the most difficult in my life.  Goodness, that was now over thirty one years ago.  There have been many battles and struggles over those years, but I cherish the time that God has allowed me to serve Good News Baptist Church.                                                                                    Paul had strong feelings toward the Church at Philippi.  This is obvious in his letter to them, a letter we cherish these many centuries later.  While he did not serve as their long-time pastor, he was used of God to establish this wonderful church as recorded in Acts 16.  In the above verses, Paul speaks of a prayer that he had for the Philippian church.  He prayed that they would abound in their love toward one another, and be filled with the fruits of righteousness.  Jesus told His disciples once that the Father was glorified when they bore “much fruit.”  It is my prayer for our church that we would ever bring glory and honor to our Lord, that He would be blessed through our faithfulness and fruitfulness.  May He help us individually to thus abound in love and fruit, and bring glory to Him in all we do.  Amen!

June 11

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 1

One of the first challenges I faced at Good News, and that which officially ended my “honeymoon” era, was concerned with a doctrinal issue.  When the issue surfaced, I dealt with it as the pastor of the church in the way that I felt at that time was necessary.  (I still feel that it was necessary these many years later.)  Unfortunately, while the majority of people agreed with me on this issue, not everyone did.  This was what caused the problem.  We survived it, and it is just part of our history now as a church.

Was this doctrinal issue worth the struggle?  Would it not have been easier just to have ignored the issue altogether, and let it work itself out on its own?  One of the bits of advice that Russell Rice gave me when I worked here under him was that much prayer needed to be given to such issues, in order to determine if one needed to be ignored or to be dealt with directly.   He told me that true wisdom was in making the right determination.  Doctrinal issues always need to be addressed.

There is an important reason for this.  The doctrine of a Church is one of the most important determining factors in its success or failure in the service of our Lord.  A church can be filled with people, enthusiastic and outwardly seem thriving, but if it is wrong doctrinally, nothing of eternal value will ever be accomplished through any of its efforts.  When a church’s doctrine is wrong, it’s very existence is detrimental to the cause of Christ.  It will do much more damage that it ever does good.

Doctrine must be sound.  Biblical interpretation and presentation is paramount in the advancement of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Souls cannot be saved, and Christians cannot be matured as effective disciples of Christ without sound doctrine.  That is the reason sound doctrine is so strongly emphasized in the Pastoral Epistles in God’s Word.  May God ever keep the doctrine sound at Good News Baptist Church!  Pray earnestly that it may be so!  Amen!

June 12

Scripture Reading: Mark 3:22-30; Genesis 13:7-8; Psalms 133:1

       One of the most difficult struggles for our church over the years has been divisions within.  Thankfully, this has not been an oft repeated problem, but like all churches that are doing something for God, Good News has not been exempt.

       There have been oppositions from without through the years, but these usually only seem to strengthen and unite.  One of the first such outward conflicts took place in my early years here when adding the vestibule addition.  We had some severe opposition, even the threats of a legal battle.  The Lord took care of that and it really hardly even slowed us down.  As I said earlier, it actually only strengthened us.

       Those inner conflicts, however, have been more detrimental and damaging.  These have usually surfaced when someone felt they were better equipped to lead the church.  At times it came when some felt decisions made by the leaders of the church were wrong.  Such inner divisions have always been destructive, but, thankfully, they have been few and far between.

       Unity within Christ’s body is a precious thing, and a unified church is difficult to stop.  Our Lord is honored, and the Holy Spirit has greater liberty to accomplish His desires.  The Psalmist compared unity to the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron and his sons.  This would have produced a most pleasant fragrance.  What a beautiful picture of the blessed spiritual fragrance produced in God’s house when such unity exists.  While it is true that we will never fully agree on everything in church, it is possible that even in times of disagreement, there can be a blessed unity that honors Christ and advances His cause.

       Let’s ever pray that unity will abound in our church, and that our Lord will be honored through that unity.  Pray that you will never be the implement Satan uses to sow discord among brothers and sisters at Good News Baptist Church.

June 13

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 3

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

       Looking back over thirty eight years of ministry at Good News brings back many memories of young people that we have watched get saved and grow up in the church.  Beloved, these are precious memories.  Some of these “children” are now all grown up, and are still serving God.  Some have gotten out of church, but we continue to pray that the good “Seed” that was planted in them will yet produce fruit for God’s glory.  By the way, never give up on wayward children.  Keep praying and believing, trusting the Lord to draw them back to Himself.  He loves them more than you ever could, and He wants them back in church, too.  We were given a promise in Proverbs 22:6 that if we would raise up our children in the way they should go, that they wouldn’t depart from that in latter years.  I have never understood that as an iron clad guarantee, but as the very best chance that young people have in this sinful world.

       Sometimes we forget how very important ministry for young people really is.  Brother Charles Mitchel, who passed away several years ago, told us once of meeting a lady in Burnsville.  When he told her where he attended church, she said, “I was saved there in Vacation Bible School about 20 years ago.”  20 years later she was still praising the Lord for her salvation that she traced back to our Bible School.  One day Lynn and I were being waited on in a local restaurant.  The young lady waiting on us said, “I know you.  You’re the Pastor at Good News.  I was saved there in Awanas one Wednesday night.”  Bible Schools and Awana ministry are both expensive and time consuming.  Are they worth it?  If we labored for many years, and only one soul was saved, all the effort and costs would be well invested.  Amen!

June 14

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 30:1-6; Psalms 42

       Most pastors readily acknowledge that one of their greatest battles is that of discouragement.  It is caused by many things.  Unfulfilled, and admittedly sometimes unrealistic expectations, can discourage.  Low attendance is a discouragement.  (We pastors often forget that everyone vacates, has providential hindrances and occasional times of sickness.). Of course, we also know that there are times when the couch just overpowers.  It does me occasionally, but Lynn reminds me that I have to go because I’m the pastor.

       Opposition discourages, especially when it comes from one that has in the past been a recipient of much time, prayer and attention.  Probably the greatest source of discouragement, or perhaps I should say the greatest instigator of discouragement, is the adversary of all believers.  Our enemy knows that if the pastor is greatly discouraged, the ministry will suffer proportionately.

       I read once that 1,500 men leave the ministry yearly, and the vast majority give discouragement as the number one cause.  We must remember the way David dealt with discouragement.  He “encouraged himself in the Lord.”  All Christians, not just pastors, must learn that lesson.  All are under attack, and all suffer from discouragement.  The devil works diligently against all of God’s children to try to get them to quit because of being discouraged.  Talking to a young man recently about church, I could hear in his voice bitter disappointment and dissatisfaction in his experience with church.  This caused him to make statements about church and the Lord that were rather sad, and even fearful.  He indicated that the Lord had let him down, saying, “He left me, I didn’t leave Him.”  Now, we know that wasn’t true, but his discouragement had made him believe it was.

       Beloved, encourage yourself in your faith.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus.  Don’t let a belligerent Christian, or an unsaved bitter soul discourage you in your faith, and get off the couch and serve God!

June 15

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:36-43; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

       Good News is aging.  The plaque on the back wall of the auditorium reminds us of that truth.  Every time that a name is added to it, we are reminded that we are still on this side of eternity, and that former faithful members of our church family are now part of our family in heaven, waiting for us to join them there.

     How well I remember some of our first members to leave us in my early days of ministry at Good News.  Some of those precious saints had been serving God for more years than I had been alive.  I was a young shepherd ministering to aging sheep, and preaching their funerals after they departed this life.  I remember thinking, “I wish I had known these people longer.”

       Then there was once a funeral of a nine year old.  Then a seventeen year old boy.  These were the most difficult.  However, all of these were faced in faith; faith in God’s provisions and His promises.  I was able to tell these grieving families, “Because He lives, these precious souls are yet alive in Him.”

       This is something all need to grasp in faith.  When life ends for the child of God, and it will for all of us because of Adam’s sin, immediately that precious soul is in the presence of the Lord.  “To be absent in body is to be present with the Lord.”  The Psalmist wrote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalms 116:15)  It is precious to Him when one of His own are coming home, coming to be with Him forevermore.  What a blessed thought!  It is a thought we need to hold on to in our time of grief.  And, there is grief!  We can’t avoid that.  There is sorrow.  But, we sorrow not as others that have not hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  Our sorrow is seasoned with hope; hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of our sharing in that resurrection.  Some of the most precious words spoken by our Lord were, “...that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)  That’s where our precious departed loved ones are, with Him!

June 16

Scripture Reading: Psalms 37

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

1981.  That was the year I came to Good News as pastor.  A lot has changed since then.  That year gas averaged $1.25 per gallon.  The average income across the country was $21,000.00 per year.  The average new home in America cost about $78,000.00.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 875, and the yearly inflation rate stood at 10.35%.  The year end Federal Reserve interest rate was 15.75%.

That year the AIDS virus was identified.  The first American test-tube baby was born.  The Iran Hostage Crisis ended after 444 days.  Anwar Sadat was assassinated.  The Space Shuttle Columbia made its first flight.  This was the first year that “internet” was mentioned, and MS-DOS was released by Microsoft and the first IBM personal computer.  Post-it notes were launched by 3M.  Our president was Ronald Reagan (his first year in office), and this was the year that Pope John Paul II was shot by Mehment Ali Agca.  He survived the shooting.

Much has happened and much has changed since 1981.  The world seems to have gotten smaller, but hasn’t gotten more righteous or closer to God.  Things are happening publicly today that were considered unthinkable 38 years ago.  But, some things have not changed.  The Bible is still the same.  Our Lord has not changed, and He has not changed His mind on what is right and what is wrong.  His grace has not changed, nor has His love and care for His own.  Remember that, child of God.  Changes are happening all around us.  The professing church around the world has really changed, and all of those changes have not been for the good.  But, the Lord Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forevermore.  Praise God for that security!

June 17

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:14; 2:1,42,46; 4:24; 5:12; 15:25

Like all churches, Good News has had its difficulties through the years.  There’s a reason for that.  It is made up of people like you and me, sinners that is.  We make mistakes.  At times we can be selfish, and often we walk more in the flesh that we do in the spirit. (Galatians 5:26)  We all tend to have preconceived ideas about how things ought to be, or how things ought to be done.  We all have different tastes.  Some things that seem really neat to me might seem rather ugly to you.  (Remember, I always say that everyone has the right to be wrong.)

Yep, we are all different.  Isn’t it amazing that the Lord brings us all together through His workings of grace in our lives to make of us a church to bring Him honor and glory?  One of the things that has always impressed me about our church is its unity, or being “in one accord.”  Even though we differ on some things, and have different opinions and tastes, God has brought us together in our common faith and love for Christ, and in our love one for another.  I praise His Name for that!

One of the things that stood out about the early church was this idea of being “of one mind, and in one accord.”  When there was a little ripple in this oneness in Acts Chapter 6, it was dealt with immediately and decisively.  This was when the office of Deacon was instituted.  The early church was unified, and that made it a difficult thing to stop, or to even slow down.  They marched from victory to victory, in spite of the fact that the adversary warred against them vehemently.

This unity has been a blessing at Good News.  Like I said earlier, we have had our problems, but overall, the church has been unified in love and faith.  I sense that in our services, our fellowships and in all our interactions with one another.  Let’s pray that this will ever be a characteristic of Good News, and that the Lord would be pleased to bring us even closer together as we move on toward His coming!

June 18

Scripture Reading: Numbers 11:26-29; Mark 9:38-41

“...because he followeth not us.”

      The disciples were so human.  I am so glad they were.  We can associate with them because they talked like, thought like and acted like us; especially in the beginning.  They thought, “Who do these people think they are.  They’re not in our group, and yet they are using our Master’s Name in their work.  Surely this has to be some kind of infringement, or something.  They can’t be right, because they are not one of us.”  Ever thought anything like that?  “They can’t be right, they’re not even Baptist.  And, after all, everyone in the New Testament was Baptist.  John the Baptist, and....”  There really is a group that believe that the Bride of Christ is Baptist, and that everyone else are just “friends of the Bride.”

      When the disciples rebuked these other people, Jesus told them to stop.  That wasn’t their place.  Jesus said, “If they’re not against us, they are for us.”  And, implied, Jesus was saying that rebuking other folks who were not in their group was unproductive, and that their best recourse was to worry about their service for Him and not worry about everyone else doting their “I’s” and crossing their “T’s” just like them.  It was as though Jesus was saying, “You let me take care of that.  You just faithfully serve me.”

      I am told that there are about two billion professing Christians, and while I’m sure that all of these aren’t truly saved, I’m equally sure that more than just the Baptists are.  Let’s serve our Lord and let Him take care of everything else.  “... the Lord knoweth them that are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19)  We just need to make sure we are right with Him and His Word.  We may not be able to join hands with some who profess to be His, but we certainly can pray for them and trust the Lord to do what is needful in their hearts.  If they are not against Him....

June 19

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 4

“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world....”

      When Paul used the word “forsaken,” He was saying that Demas let him down when he needed the man the most.  He left Paul in a lurch, as it were.  I have had that happen a few times through the years and, unfortunately, I’m sure there are some folks who feel that I let them down also.  There was one Christmas service years ago, when a fellow who was heading up our program that year, called me about two hours before the service was to begin.  “Preacher, it’s just too cold for us to get out.  We won’t be there tonight.”  It’s good that I wasn’t able to reach through that phone cord.  Of course, we handled it and all was well.  Needless to say, he wasn’t trusted with that duty again.

      Ever had anyone “forsake” you at a time when your need was great?  Most have.  We all know One Who would never do that.  He promised He wouldn’t, and He has lived up to that promise for two thousand years.  You may find yourself in a lurch, in a time of great need, but you will never find yourself utterly forsaken.  When all else have left you, or let you down, you can know by faith that He has not, nor will He ever. O, there will be times that you won’t sense Him, and the heavens will seem brass, but just keep believing.  You will find that He was there all the time.

      Honestly, every time members decide we’re not what they need, I feel a bit “forsaken.”  We recently talked about discouragement, and this has forever been a source of discouragement for me.  But, if these folks belong to Jesus, He wants what is best for them, and so should I.  So, we pray, trust the Lord, and continue trusting in His ever abiding presence, love and care.  I am so glad He never “forsakes.”

June 20

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3

“...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before....”

      Much time can be spent looking back at past victories and defeats.  How many times have you said, “If I had just....”?  I’ve caught myself many times saying, “I wish I had....”  Some spend most of their time thinking back over the glory days, the days of great achievements or wonderful experiences.  The tragic thing is that too much time spent in the past squanders away the present.  That is true in our spiritual life as well.  I know preachers that live off great revivals and movements of God that happened in their ministries many years past.  I’ve always asked the Lord to help me to avoid that.

      I really have some great memories here at Good News.  Before I came here as pastor, I preached a revival here and eight teenagers were saved one night.  Praise the Lord!  My mind takes me back to leading people to the Lord, baptizing them and then watching them mature in the faith.  There are good memories of special services, of various campaigns and even weddings.  I remember once splitting the seat out of my pants outside the Little Fellowship Hall at the beginning of a wedding reception.  It was pouring the rain, and folks inside were saying, “Come on in, preacher, out of the rain.”  I couldn’t.  I went up in my office, took my pants off and stapled the back seam together with a paper stapler.  What a memory!  Hope nothing like that ever happens again.

      What a blessing to have such good “Good News” memories.  Thank God for His blessings on our church.  Let’s pray that He continues to give us precious memories by His grace.  Amen!

June 21

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:13-14; Hebrews 6:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Judges 20:15-16

      In the days of the Judges of Israel, there were seven hundred left handed soldiers of Benjamin that could throw a stone out of a sling with deadly accuracy.  Through many hours of practice, they could sling a stone consistently and hit just what they were aiming at.  I’m sure that their practice taught them about the right stones, the weight and shape being such as would fly accurately toward their target.  They learned just how quickly to sling the stone, and just when to release the thong of their sling at precisely the right time.  They were taught that they needed to identify their target, take aim and then commit to hitting it.

      Paul spoke of not dwelling on the past, but he did encourage taking aim for the future.  If you have no real target, or goal, or something you’re aiming at in life, you will hit it every time; nothing, that is.   There really should be personal goals for believers.  This could include goals for Scripture reading, memorization or in-depth Biblical studies.  There could be goals for personal witnessing, sharing the good news of the Gospel of Christ.  The Christian’s personal goals could include areas of his or her church life; i.e. attendance, involvement, etc.

Churches should also set goals.  Paul seems to have been speaking more on a personal level when he speaks of, “...reaching forth unto those things which are before....”  However, this certainly could be applied to churches.  We can contemplate much on what has been in the past, but should we not look forward to that which is future.  We certainly have done this.  For instance, we have looked forward to potential growth needs and planned accordingly with our facilities or parking.  As we look ahead to the future, we should sincerely seek God’s direction in all of our planning and setting of goals.  After all, Good News, like all other local churches supposedly belongs to Him.  May His wisdom guide us in the days ahead as we contemplate the future of our church.

June 22

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 8

“...make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee on the mount.”

One would be hard pressed to find information on physical buildings of churches in the New Testament.  In fact, many early churches were house churches, meeting in the homes of various individuals connected to the church.  Elaborate facilities for churches didn’t come until later, and “elaborate” is the right word to use for some of the facilities built after the first few centuries of the Church’s existence.  So, there really isn’t much to go on as far as the New Testament is concerned when contemplating the physical structures for local churches.

In the Old Testament, much was said about the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as far as construction is concerned.  While these facilities really cannot provide us a “pattern” for modern churches, they can give us some basic ideas.  First, the facilities were functional.  They were designed and built to facilitate what God intended to be accomplished in them.  They were basically designed to facilitate the various sacrifices and offerings specified in God’s law.  They weren’t really designed for gatherings, or really for public worship.  While there were spaces for gathering outside the actual building of the Temple itself, these were really not concerned with the activities within the Temple itself, other than a place where the people could come when they brought their various offerings to be presented to the priests.  It was in these areas that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” of the money changers and chased those out of the Temple compound area that had defiled the House of God, turning it into a den of thieves.  Therefore, the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, had a very functional design that directed their construction.

June 23

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:42-47; 4:23-47; 6:1-7

We are discussing goals for the church, starting first with the more physical aspects of the work.  As noted earlier, the Tabernacle and the Temple were designed in a very functional way to facilitate the work that was accomplished in them.  In the Scriptures that we read today, we get some ideal of the activities in the early church that could direct our thoughts and our planning for the facilities of a New Testament church today.  Like the Tabernacle and Temple, church facilities need to be functional in their design.

What activities were prevalent in the early church?  Look carefully at Acts 2:42.  Four different activities are mentioned; doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread and prayers.  “Doctrine” was concerned with the teaching activities of the church.  They gathered that they might learn “doctrine” that was being taught them by the Apostles.  A very important part of the Great Commission is reflected in this aspect of the church’s activities.  Jesus said, “...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you....”  Therefore, one of the main functions of a local church is that of teaching, training and making true disciples of Christ.  With that truth in mind, church facilities should be designed, built and maintained in a way that is complementary to and facilitates teaching and training.  The church is a training institution, and should be constructed and maintained accordingly.  When setting goals for local churches such as Good News, the teaching and training of it’s members should be one of the foremost considerations and concerns.  All goals for the church must reflect this.

June 24

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:42-47; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 3:13

The second activity mentioned in Acts 2:42 of the early church is that of “fellowship.”  This word speaks of partnership, of communication  and even distribution or sharing of that which meets physical or spiritual needs.  The early church did not only come together for teaching and training, but they came together for fellowship.  They needed one another in those early days of Christianity, for they were really alone, despised and persecuted in the world they were living in.  Christianity was not at all popular, either among the Gentiles or the Jews.  When those early believers came together, they found strength and encouragement from their brothers and sisters in Christ.  They were partners in their common faith, in their common sufferings and in their common needs.

Church facilities should be such as facilitate the fellowship of those gathering there.  I remember one of our godly charter members, who has now gone on to be with the Lord, expressing concern that we had put a kitchen in our fellowship hall.  She believed that the church was not a place for such activities.  I loved that dear saint of God and respected her feelings entirely.  I assured her that we would keep the sanctuary separate from all such activities, but that we had built the “fellowship hall” for exactly that purpose, “fellowship.”  It is my personal feeling that the “sanctuary” should be kept separate and dedicated for the more spiritual aspects of the activity of the church; i.e. teaching, training and worship.  That is not to say that there should be no “fellowship” in the sanctuary.  On the contrary, this is a wonderful place to love one another, to encourage one another and to share “fellowship” with one another.

In looking forward to the needs of our church, we should always keep before us goals to meet and facilitate the strong fellowship of our members.  We need that fellowship.  We need each other.

June 25

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:42-47; 20:7,11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:17-34

One of the activities of the early church mentioned in Acts 2:42 was that of “breaking bread.”  A careful reading of this and other passages dealing with the subject reveals that “Communion,” or “The Lord’s Supper,” is the thought expressed here.  In other words, the early church was much concerned with the ordinances that the Lord Jesus had given them.  Those ordinances were “Baptism” and “The Lord’s Supper.”

I preached a revival in a church in Elkin several years ago.  During the meeting, the pastor told me that one of the concerns he had for his church was their neglect of both Communion and Baptism.  One of his deacons had told him that he couldn’t remember the last time the church had practiced either.  He was very much concerned, and rightly so, for these ordinances were not given as options for local churches, but as marching orders from the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus.

It should ever be the goal of local churches that they would ever be obedient to the Lord of the Church, that He would have complete authority.  Unfortunately, many churches today are negligent of the Scriptural mandates given, and are negligent of allowing the Lord to govern the church through His Word.  This would include more than just the Scriptural ordinances, but would include every aspect of the operations, the message and the very purpose of the church.

I have often wondered if one of the Apostles of our Lord were to walk in the average church in America during one of its services if they would recognize what was happening.  While I do think the Lord has given us leverage in some things, we certainly should ever have as a goal that our church be what it is supposed to be in every area of its operations.  May God ever guide us through His Word to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to function in such a way as a local church as to be pleasing to Him!

June 26

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:42-47; 1 Timothy 2:1-6

We are discussing goals that should ever be in place for New Testament churches, goals that we should ever have for our church.  The last of the four things mentioned in Acts 2 concerning the first church is that of “prayer.”  They continued in “prayer.”  We have looked at their “doctrine,” their “fellowship,” and their “breaking of bread.”  “Prayer” was a very evident characteristic of the first church.  Take a quick look at the first chapters of Acts and witness a group of people that believed in and practiced prayer.  They prayed for ten days after the ascension of the Lord Jesus, praying almost incessantly until the condescension of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  They prayed for guidance, for boldness and for power.  When they were persecuted, they prayed.  When they endured times of hardships, they prayed.  When they experienced great victories, they prayed.  Much of the success they enjoyed in those early days, and they were very successful, can be attributed to the fact that they prayed.  It was said by their adversaries that they had “turned the world upside down.”  Much of that could be attributed to their being such prayer warriors.

Jesus said, “...without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:15)  What an incentive to pray!  Jesus was given to much prayer, at times spending all night in prayer.  What an incentive to pray!  We are totally incapable of doing anything of value for our Lord through the energies of our flesh.  What an incentive to pray!  When Jesus cleansed the Temple of those that had turned it into a place of merchandise, He said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” (Matthew 21:13)  What an incentive to pray!

This practice of the early church is one of the chief reasons for their success, and it serves as a great challenge to us today.  Of all the duties we perform as followers of the Lord Jesus, prayer is perhaps one of the more difficult to accomplish consistently.  May we ever have as a goal to be a Christ honoring “house of prayer.”

June 27

Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Acts 4:13,29,31; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Along with the goals previously mentioned in our devotions, there must be the goal of souls saved.  This certainly must be the goal of all churches that seek to please their Lord.  The very purpose of His condescension was that He might “seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  The Great Commission given to the Church has to do with the propagation of the gospel so that souls might be brought to saving faith.

For this to be the goal of our church involves several thoughts.  First, the condition of souls around us needs to be on our minds continually, so that we might pray effectively that this need be addressed.  When Paul was answering to King Agrippa, the king said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  Paul’s response to this was, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:27-29)  These weren’t empty words from the Apostle, they reflected the real burden of his heart.  He genuinely wanted all that heard him to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In another place he wrote, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men....” (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Our church must ever be burdened for lost souls.  As stated earlier, this should be reflected in our prayers.  Our prayers should include imploring the Holy Spirit to draw souls to saving faith. (John 6:44)  We should ever be seeking His guidance and power for witnessing to the unsaved, and that His power might permeate our services.  There must be prayer for the various ministries we are involved with; i.e. Awana Club, radio ministry, podcast ministry, track distribution and personal evangelism.  Isaiah wrote of Zion travailing to bring forth her children.  May we ever “travail” in prayer in order that souls might be saved!

June 28

Scripture Reading:  Acts 1 -2

As we have been looking back on past years at Good News, and looking ahead to the future, we must give consideration to the Divine Administrator of the Church, the Holy Spirit.  Speaking to His disciples prior to His ascension back to heaven, the Lord Jesus gave them charge concerning their need for the Holy Spirit’s power, direction and control.  The people that “turned the world upside down” were part of a Church that was empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus had said, “For without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)  We certainly cannot be victors over temptation, find the perfect will of God for our lives, be effective witnesses, or live lives that are pleasing to our Lord without the Holy Spirit.  Any efforts we might put forth will be to no avail without His power.  There will be no understanding of the path of obedience as a church without His guidance.  O, how we need the Holy Spirit!  The adversary is great, and the pull of the world is tremendous.  Only through the Holy Spirit can we be victors.

I feel that much of the professing church’s activities and efforts today are designed to overcome the vast shortage they have when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s power.  It is still only Him that can convince men of sin, righteousness and judgement. (John 16:8)  Instead of relying completely on His power, there has been the pull to rely on the world’s philosophies and schemes to draw people to Christ’s message.  We have had activities here at Good News that have been designed to bring people into the reach of our witness, but activities can never be a substitute for His power, and His presence and direction must always be sought for such efforts to reach people for Christ.  Let that be our aim!

June 29

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3

“Unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

That our church might ever glorify the Lord should be our utmost desire and one of our greatest goals.  This must be one of those things that is ever on our hearts and in our prayers.  Our church must never be driven to magnify herself, her pastors or any other aspects of her physical presence or existence.  We are what we are by the grace of God, and that same grace must be depended upon if we are to be anything for our Lord in this world.

Paul had a noteworthy goal in Philippians 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”   In whatever he was called upon to face in this life, and he was called upon to face much difficulty and hardship, the overriding desire of His heart was that Christ be magnified in him.  This same overriding desire can be ours individually, and also collectively as a church.

Why is it so important that Christ be glorified and magnified in all that we are, and in all that we do?  Jesus answered that question in the following statement, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32)  The primary meaning in this verse was His being lifted up in crucifixion, but it can equally be applied to Him being lifted up in our lives and in our church.  He is thus “lifted up” when we honor Him in all that we do, say or think as a church, and as individuals that make up that church.  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus....” (Philippians 2:5)  When considering goals for our future collectively as a church, and individually as members in this church, may this ever be our motto, prayer and goal!

June 30

Scripture Reading: Luke 18

“...when the Son of man cometh, will he find faith on the earth?”

What a probing question!  His is coming, and His coming is much nearer than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)  Prophecies of the days proceeding His coming depict a lukewarm, carnal professing Church that has abandoned many precious doctrines and practices of the true faith.  You and I have lived to see that day in the professing body of Christendom.  In many circles, the Bible as been abandoned as the only rule of faith and practice.  Many have sliced it and diced it to make it more palatable to the world.  Consequently, much of the professing church looks more like the world than God ever intended.  He wanted His Church to be peculiar, not weird, and certainly not worldly. (1 Peter 2:9)

The question posed by the Lord was a simple one; “...when the Son of man cometh, will he find faith on the earth?”  He will!  There has been, and there will always be a faithful remnant.  Elijah was told that there were seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed their knees to Baal, (1Kings 19:18) and there will be a faithful remnant serving Him when He comes again.  The real question is, “Will we be among that number of faithful souls?”

Preaching a chapel service to high school students once, I challenged them with the fact that no school team sets out as it’s goal to be losers.  I had them imagine a group cheering for their team to “LOSE, LOSE, LOSE.”  That was a ridiculous image, and they laughed to think of it.  It must ever be the goal of believers to be conquerors for Christ.  May it ever be ours here at Good News!  Amen!


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