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Inspiring Generations

Persistent in Prayer

March 30, 2015

And there was a widow in that city that kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.”  Luke 18 :3

The Bible says much about prayer.  Pray consistently, pray until you are answered, pray until the day you die. Sometimes we think we prayed a great prayer, and then think that was good enough… but NO!!  We must continue and pursue God. We must be persistent.

On the trip home from my very first mission trip to Grenada I was detained by the government from coming home. This detainment was not random. Before this trip for many years I prayed and asked that I be made pure, that any sins of my past were made new and fresh. That I was brought to light. This detainment brought forth a few things from my past that needed to be cleared up. I sat in this detainment cell and shared the gospel with Francisco.  We talked for quite a while as this detainment was not quick and speedy. As I shared we talked about Faith. He asked Why are you not afraid? I answered Jesus has got this. I need not worry because this is all for his glory. If I were not here to share Jesus with you that would be a greater sin.  We prayed and Francisco received Christ and was subsequently  released  as was I .

I had a few things to clear up… things I had prayed for years to be rectified. I wanted these things cleared up. This detainment gave me an opportunity to share and also to receive an answer to years of prayer. The experience was not easy, on the contrary it was hard.  But with persistent prayer it was answered. Just like the persistent widow,  it wasn’t easy but every day she went to the judge and asked for justice.  After a good amount of time she was granted just that.

So I ask you what is in your heart that you are asking God for? Is it justice? Is it clarity? Ask for it, daily. Pray without ceasing. Be persistent in your prayer.

Personal Application: What is something you need to persistently pray about?

Home Application: Maybe your  family or loved ones have a situation that you are praying for. Remind them to never stop praying. Be persistent.

What does persistent praying say to God about our request?

Devotional written by Luis Holguin.

Spiritual Armor… Don’t leave home without it!

March 27, 2015

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6: 13-15

In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with advertisements that offer “protection” for our personal interest. Everything from credit and mortgage protection, home security systems, computer virus protection, these things have infiltrated our mail, television, and our emails. What about our spiritual protection? I have yet to receive anything about that!

Imagine you wake up and you jump in the shower brush your hair and teeth , eat breakfast and then off to work, take the kids to school or whatever it is that you do, then you feel a slight draft and you realize that you are naked…. Because you had so many things to do this morning you had no time to get dressed!

While this story is not true for us in a physical way, most of us do this every day when it comes to our spiritual armor.  We forget to get dressed spiritually. We may be doing things that are good and necessary, but we leave ourselves open for the enemy when we don’t put on the armor of God each day. We must make sure we are dressed in Gods armor to be able to withstand Satan’s attacks.

Put on the belt of truth which is God’s word, open up your bible, read it!

Put on the breastplate of righteousness which is living like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Get your shoes on which are perfectly made for you to share how Jesus changed your life… this is the gospel . What is this gospel I speak of? It’s simple, Christ died for our sins and was buried for our sins and on the third day He rose from the dead.

We are in a spiritual war and we as believers need to be prepared for battle. Just as we would never leave our home because we forgot to get dressed we should always put on the armor of God every day.

Personal Application: How are you getting dressed spiritually before you start your day?  I challenge you to be prepared, dive into God’s word this week don’t leave your house without getting dressed.

Home Application: Encourage those in your home to see life as a battle and the need to wear the armor of God if we are going to win the battle.

How do you spiritually put on the armor each day?

Devotional written by Luis Holguin.

Catch fire… bring LIGHT!

March 26, 2015

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  John 1:7

In 2009 I came home from back to back mission trips from Guatemala and Africa. I was on fire for God and wanted to share what I had just experienced. I was bearing witness to a man at the airport upon arrival to the states and as I spoke with him about what I had seen and done I shared a story about a very frail and sick 83-year-old lady in Guatemala and the sick ward I visited in the African prisons. As I spoke with this gentleman his only question was, “Did you touch them?” to which I replied “We laid hands over them and prayed.” As I said this man turned away with a look of disgust on his face and said “I would not do that for a million dollars.”  I replied, “I would not do it for a million dollars either, I would do it for my God.” Our conversation turned from there to God and his great Love for us as his children. The Lord has called us all to bear witness to Him in every situation we face in life. We should constantly be on fire for the Lord and this Fire should exude from our person. It should be our very existence whether we are in an airport, in the car driving, or even at home having dinner with the family.  This gentleman devoted his life to Christ that afternoon and I will be forever encouraged by his willingness to listen believe.

To bear witness to God we must know God and be on fire for him. This Fire comes from spending time in the Bible, it comes from fellowshipping with other believers, it comes from bible studies, quiet time and most importantly Prayer.  Pray and listen and the Lord will direct you path.

Personal Application:  Are you a light for Christ? How are you seeking to bear witness for him?

Home Application: This week I encourage you sit down with those in your home to open that bible, dive in for 20 min, close your eyes and pray on whatever it is you have read.  You WILL be a LIGHT this week!

What changes could you make that would fuel the fires of passion for Christ in your life?

Devotional written by Luis Holguin.

Draw Me Nearer

March 25, 2015

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor. 1:18)

To many, a cross is simply a widely recognized religious symbol. It’s worn as jewelry and on t-shirts. Most churches have one hanging somewhere, right? Folks may have no earthly idea what it represents, other than Christianity. But, like all symbols, the cross represents a message. And this message is a hard one. For the message of the cross includes hopelessly sinful people like you and me. And God’s hate of sin. And a rescue plan involving the cruel death of an innocent son as planned by him and his father. This message includes horror and ugliness and suffering and death. Yet it also is a message of love. And forgiveness. And peace. Quite simply, it is the greatest love story ever known.

Before long, followers of Jesus will acknowledge his death on what is called Good Friday. To those who have turned from their ways and trusted him as their savior, it is indeed a good day. Because on that cross our sin debt was paid in full. Our confidence is grounded on his finished work. Our hope is anchored in the promise of forgiveness and new life. There is no more powerful message in all of history.

Personal and Home Application: Is it ever too early to begin to stop and linger at the cross?

When you think of the cross, what first comes to your mind?

Devotional written by Clay Barton

Can You Hear Me Now?

March 23, 2015

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27: 51)

A lifetime spent in Baptist churches sometimes makes it hard for me to understand the importance of something described in the Bible. Never have I witnessed an animal sacrifice to God. Never have I been physically separated from him by any sort of door or curtain. But an ordinary Jew during Jesus’ day clearly could have understood some of the miracles during Jesus’ crucifixion. A 60 feet tall, temple veil, approximately 4 inches thick separated the High Priest from the very presence of God. And they were quite used to being separated from God. For ever since the original tabernacle, man was restricted from drawing that close to God.

But God tore the veil in two. From the top down. Just so that none of us would somehow believe that our righteous acts gave us permission to stand in his presence. God, on his terms, decided when his creation could fellowship with him in an unrestricted way. Why now? Because Jesus, by his death on the cross, perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Simply put, you and I have direct, unrestricted access to the living God of the universe. And Christ paid our way.

Personal Application: Have you thanked him lately for tearing the veil in two such that you can have access to God?

Home Application: Often our kids feel as though only parents prayers are heard by God. Remind your family this day that they, too, are heard by him.

When do you most feel like your access to God is blocked?

Devotional written by Clay Barton

The Light of the World Went Out

March 20, 2015

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. (Matthew 27:45)

This was no ordinary day. At high noon, the sun went dark. Not because of an eclipse. Not because of a storm. But because of God. For a period of three hours, God suspended the laws of space and time. As a shroud of cold, lifeless evil came over the land, Jesus hung on a cross between two robbers. For three solid hours, the world got to experience what life is like without the Light of the world. When God first spoke in Genesis 1, he said “let there be light.” And light was good. For it allowed the creation to worship the Creator. Later, in the opening of the gospel of John, Jesus is described as the true light of the world. But now, everything is dark. Jesus was forsaken by God.

The great theologian Martin Luther once said, “God forsaken by God, who can understand that?” At the least we know this: during those dark hours, Jesus was suffering the punishment for the sins of the world. He was bearing sin. He was carrying it. He wore it on his bleeding shoulders. We cannot fully understand it. Our explanations fall far short. Yet we do know that Jesus suffered in the dark so that you and I never have to. God’s children will never be forsaken. How much does God love you? Look at the cross. How much does God hate sin? Look, again, at the cross.

Personal & Home Application: The same powerful God who brings darkness at noon offers you life eternal. Have you accepted His gift?

When in your day do you ever contemplate what happened on the cross?

Devotional written by Clay Barton

Forgive, But Not Forget?

March 19, 2015

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

“I’ll forgive you, but I will never forget what you have done to me.” Sound familiar? I suspect you’ve heard such a statement before. Some have been the ones who have actually said it. Others have definitely thought this way, yet they will not admit it. Lip service is paid to an apology. But deep down, you’ll never, ever forget what he said or did to you. And in a twisted kind of way, we feel better because we are forgiving, like we know Jesus commands us to do; we are convinced that we also are “protecting” ourselves by never forgetting or letting go. Sounds perfectly reasonable. Yet it is quite different than God’s approach to our sins.

Contrary to our well practiced approach of “forgiving, but not forgetting,” God tells us this: He is merciful. He is forgiving. He does not constantly accuse us. He is compassionate. Make no mistake, God sees sin for what it is. Sin. He is not in the habit of pretending that something is different from the truth. Yet he also does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. He forgives. And he lets go. So too should we. As Paul encouraged the early church at Philippi, let’s forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead. Forgive, as Christ has forgiven us. And then move on…

Personal Application: Do you really want to let go of the past?

Home Application: The home is the best place to forgive, and then move on. Why not start there?

Why do we find it so hard to let go, even after someone has apologized to us?

Devotional written by Clay Barton

Holding Out

March 18, 2015

…You shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life…” (Philippians 2: 15-16).

I am amazed at the incredible pictures of the universe now being provided by the Hubble space telescope as it hurdles through the far reaches of space as we know it. What we can see with the naked eye does not begin to tell the story of God’s creative genius. In our text today the scripture declares that in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation we shine like the stars in the universe as we hold forth the words of life. In my office is a sextant that ship captains used to find their ways across expansive seas by determining their position by the stars. In like fashion as we share the Word of God its’ truths can guide others to discover where they are in relation to God and His purposes for them. God’s word shared by us enables others to respond to the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit in their hearts.

God reminds us that His word is quick and powerful. It is a light for our path. It will never return void but accomplish what it is sent to accomplish. It will keep us from sin when hid in our hearts. It brings life and salvation. Just one thing is lacking for His Word to do all these things—a willingness on our part to share it. I have  put into practice a habit to seek a nugget of truth from God’s Word regularly and just as regularly share that truth with someone else. When we intentionally share the impact of God’s Word in our lives daily, God will do incredible things with the truth that is shared. Pastor Nathan shared on Sunday the need to be like a river allowing the Word of God to flow through us rather than being like a pond where truth collects but never moves beyond us. Don’t be caught holding out on the benefits of God’s Word shared with others. Choose to be a river that refreshes others as His Word is shared through you.

Personal Application: What scriptures have been beneficial to you recently? Intentionally share them with someone today.

Home Application: Make a list of the benefits of God’s Word according to His Word. Choose to share a scripture with someone today and share how God blessed as a result.

What ways has God’s Word  shared through you benefited yourself and others?

Devotional written by Chuck Davis

Powerless

March 17, 2015

“But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto me…..” (Acts 1:8).

The result of the Holy Spirit’s presence is power that enables us to witness.  Have you ever tried to share you faith with someone and sensed a total disconnect between what you were sharing and what they seem to be hearing? At such times I have learned to silently seek the help of the Holy Spirit through prayer. In doing so I am reminded  that it is not the skill of my words or Bible knowledge that makes what I say effective but rather God’s Spirit which is the one and only source that can convict the heart.

Today I took a one day quick trip to the coast to refresh my spirit. Though it was rainy and foggy most of the twenty-four hours I was there, the change of pace and location gave a much needed refocusing of my heart.  Upon arriving home I went about unpacking only to discover that I was missing the power cord for my cpap machine which allows me to breathe while I sleep.  I knew I had packed it. While my dear wife prayed and I panicked alarmed at the possibility of a sleepless night, the thought occurred to check the extra pair of shoes I had taken. Behold the power cord for my breathing machine was neatly rolled up in the toe of one of my shoes. To the uninitiated this would seem to be mere coincidence -the discovery of my cord and my wife’s prayers. I have learned otherwise. Without the proper power source my ability to breathe was at risk. Likewise without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit my witness is ineffectual and dangerous.  I must always seek the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit  who makes my witness effective.

Personal Application: Think about times you have shared your faith with someone. How did you invite the Holy Spirit to direct your words?

Home Application: Share times when a lack of a good power source had a negative impact on your life. Share times when a good power source preserved or saved your life. Together ask the Holy Spirit to arrange opportunities for you to share your faith and give you the words to say.

In what ways have you asked the Holy Spirit to empower your witness?

evotional written by Chuck Davis

Intended For Launch

March 16, 2015

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands” (Psalms 31:14-15a).

King David was a man after God’s own heart. The Psalms provide many insights into his character. Often he sets the stage for declarations of trust in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. His songs are not merely praise for praise sake but rather praise that directs the heart to God when all around protests such praise. Our scripture today in its context might well be stated “Regardless I will trust in you.” Jesus stated “In this world you will have trouble but do not be afraid I have overcome the world.” As believers we often seek out places that are safe and predictable–places where we are comfortable. God calls us to places where the only reliable trustworthy thing is Him. He does this not to irritate us but rather to draw us closer to his own heart and purposes for us.

In my journal is an entry for which I did not provide a source. So I offer it acknowledging its origin is not from me:

“Safe” is a place that engenders no risk, no gain ,no loss–it is a ship at anchor in the harbor unused for its intended purpose and design. More realistically a ship in dry dock receiving necessary repairs awaiting its intended launch. The sea is the land of the unknown, the unexpected place of change and adaptability. Lord let me set sail and know the fullness of your Spirit carrying me across the expanse of your grace. Let my heart beat strong with faith as you lead me in the twilight of my years. Help me embark in the tide of your purposes and only anchor down when I reach my final harbor.

In our lives there are times we need a “Safe” place to repair or retool but we are not intended to stay in dry dock but rather set sail in God’s purposes.

Personal Application: How has God shaped and retooled you for His purposes? Where is he asking you to launch out in faith trusting Him?

Home Application: Share times in your life God has temporarily set you aside to prepare you for faith stretching adventures.

Where is God asking you to trust Him completely?

Devotional written by Chuck Davis

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Guiding generations to become passionate followers of Jesus Christ, one home at a time.