Devotionals

VIDEO – { POWER INTRO }

Happy “Creation” Weekend, Everyone!
Every year for as long as I can remember there has been a creation festival in a field not far from my home. There is music, and preaching, and all kinds of fun for Christians celebrating God and His wonderful creation. I say that to say this; in Sunday school this weekend I will be teaching on creation from Genesis 1:14-25. Last week was “In the beginning” and this week is God creating Lights and Life.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” (Gen 1:14)
Our lesson this week starts at day four when God says “let there be lights.” Notice that lights are plural as the sun, moon and stars appear. There is a light for day and a light for night and just for fun, God also made stars. Not a big job for God at all, really. The bigger job was when God started dividing. Dividing what, you say? The darkness and the light. He aligned everything just perfectly so that we can live and grow and survive. Do you think He stopped there? Nope, He is actually still dividing.
He divides right from wrong; He gives us principles to live by and He makes distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, righteousness and evil, love and hate.
God also divided the waters from the land on the fifth day as He created fish and birds and crawly things. Notice that God made things after “their kind.” This means that, for example, he didn’t make every single breed of dog, but that He made dogs. In other words, it took time for a Dobermann Pinscher to be developed by breeding other dogs together. I was told once that the first dog used to create the Doberman was white. I see no white in the Doberman; interesting. No one knows for certain, but Dobermann is thought to have crossed many breeds to get the Doberman pinscher. Some of the breeds thought to be involved include the rottweiler, German pinscher, Great Dane, German shepherd dog, Manchester terrier, and English greyhound shorthaired shepherd. But my point is, God created everything in its “Kind” and said, Be fruitful and multiply. Hey, that explains why the Ark of Noah wasn’t any bigger. Think about that.

On the sixth day, God created even more animals like cattle and beasts and more creeping things. And God saw that it was good.

Soooooooooooooooo, do I believe all this? You bet I do! There is absolutely no way anything is an accident with our great Creating Heavenly Father. Creating wasn’t hard for Him. The hard part is keeping His creation in line. Not the earth or the sun and moon. Not the stars, but you and me; that’s the hard part. We just continually keep going off the rails. One day we’re good and the next day we mess up again. So let me give you a way to help keep us in line. Spend time in His creation; look at His majesty; experience His grandeur in the mountains and valleys and waters; enjoy His glorious gift to us in animals and birds and fish and crops; marvel in the created separations of morning/night, darkness/light, work/rest. You see friends, God not only creates, He also divides. Please, please keep in mind the greatest division by God is from life and death; good and evil; heaven and hell. You see, Jesus separated those for us. All we have to do is accept this wonderful gift of salvation by accepting Him. The Bible tells us to Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.

What a glorious world God has fashioned with His hands for our enjoyment -and His glory! Even better yet, what a glorious eternity He is creating right now, for yours and my eternal home.
“Praise the Lord, oh my soul!” (Psalm 104:1) Amen

deacon neal

Happy “Breakdown” Weekend, Everyone!
No, not a car breakdown, or a dance breakdown; I’m talking about barrier breakdowns! How did you hear the gospel for the first time? Was it on TV, or at work, or from your parents, or maybe at church? If so, that’s wonderful. But some people that I’ve run into have no clue about Jesus Christ and His saving atonement on the cross. It’s hard to believe, right? It may be that they believe the Bible is too hard to understand so they don’t bother. It could be that they’ve been turned off by a bad experience. It could also be that they just don’t believe, nor care to.

This Sunday’s Sunday school lesson is taken from Acts 8:26–39. After Stephen was stoned to death, the church was scattered into other areas, one being Gaza. This is where Philip comes across an Ethiopian eunuch reading scripture. The scripture just so happens to be from the book of Isaiah chapter 53:7. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Well, when Philip saw this, the Holy Spirit prodded Philip to go over to the eunuch. Friends, before we talk about what happened let me ask you a question. Has the Holy Spirit ever “prodded” you? You know, like the TV commercial that says, “your belly just keeps, poking ‘atcha, poking ‘atcha!” because you’re hungry? I hope so. A Christian should feel and hear the Holy Spirit all the time, for numerous reasons. One of them is because we are called to witness. “IN season and OUT of season.” Meaning, whether we feel like it or not. You don’t think Jesus felt like dieing on the cross do you?

Soooooooooooooooooooooo, Philip asks the man if he understood what he was reading. I love the eunuchs answer back to Philip…”How could I, unless someone explains it to me.” FOLKS, did the Holy Spirit just give you “discernment?” HOW COULD I UNLESS SOMEONE EXPLAINS IT TOO ME? Friends, there is your answer to, “Should I witness to this person or not.”

Let me say to you, the best way to open a door is to ask or answer a question. Questions convey a feeling of wonder, of inquiry, or searching for something. While straight out comments could send mixed signals, as if you are forcing the issue or that you are a know it all. Asking breaks down the Barriers. Do you see the barrier in this Sunday’s lesson? One of the greatest stumbling blocks in the world today,… RACE. Friends, too many of us look at race as a barrier. Philip looked at it as an opportunity to add to the Kingdom of God.

Beloved, when we get to heaven we will be blind to any of that nonsense. Color won’t count; Nationality won’t count; age won’t count; even sex won’t count. Yep, that’s what I said, look it up, there will be no more male and fe-male. We will all be genderless, spirit-filled immortal bodies, serving the One and True God; our Lord a Savior, Jesus Christ. (Were you shocked by that? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!)

Act 8:35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” AMEN!

Happy “Second Chance” Weekend, Everyone!

One of the most awesome things about God is that he forgives us of our sins and transgressions and trespasses and debts far more than we do for each other. He is definitely a God of second chances; and third, and forth, and fifth…

Jesus even tells us to forgive 70X7 times! Good grief, you mean that someone sins against me that many times? Yea, probably; and I sin against others just as much. If we didn’t, Jesus would not have had to teach us this. But His point here is that it is important for us to forgive no matter how many times we need to do so.

This week’s lesson in Jonah is on chapter 3, titled “God’s Love for the Lost.” —“God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:10).

Friends, do you realize that nearly every character in the bible has been given a second chance? Every person we study from scripture has received God’s mercy and grace, for one reason or another. That’s good stuff right there!

Soooooooooooooooooooo, let’s go deeper. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us have to admit that we do not have a deep burden to seek out and reach the lost for Christ. At least not much further than our own hometown. Is it because we are too preoccupied with our own lives to worry about someone else’s? Do we forget that hell is real and eternal damnation is forever?

Friends, many of us…yes Christians, need a renewed concern for the lost around us. This week in chapter 3 we will get a glimpse of God’s love for the lost people that should stir us to a renewed concern for them. Let me remind you of Ezekiel’s warning to us as Watchmen. If we do not warn others of the judgment to come, their blood will be on our hands. Beloved, I don’t want that…do you?

What dynamic lesson this week. Join us! Amen!

Deacon Neal

Happy, “Answers” Weekend, Everyone!
Isn’t it great when we get clear, precise answers to our prayers? Well, there are some prayers that are so clear that we can’t help but see the answer, or the difference in our situation. There are also prayers that take longer and are more difficult to cipher out or to see when blessings and/or answers are given. This weeks Sunday school lesson is taken from Jonah Chapter 2 and is where Jonah is swallowed and spit out after a period of three days (or at least 26 hours – 1 hr + 24 hrs + 1 hr minimum) by the huge fish that had been “provided” by God. Remember that this event was referred to by Jesus as reference to his death burial and resurrection that would soon take place in His life, that would change history for every human being forever depending on their choices from that point forward. (kinda’ what Jonah had to do)

Last week’s lesson was great! So this week’s lesson will continue this great fish story.

What I find most interesting in this lesson is the fantastic contrast in Jonah’s story.

For instance:
Jonah 2:2, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Isn’t it surreal that there may be times when God has to send us as far away as possible before we can even hear His voice?

How about this verse:

Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bases of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever. But You brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.

I noticed much debate and many opinions on this verse, but I had no issue the moment I read it, I knew what Jonah was saying. Here’s why… In my line of business we must abide by strict regulations for workers to be safe. There is one regulation that states, “when in an excavation the spoils pile must be at least 2 feet back from the edge of the trench.” This is to protect the worker from cave-in or being struck by debris. If the spoils pile is too close the excavation, it is considered as part of the excavation and is added to the depth of the trench. So if the pile is 4 feet and the depth of the trench is 4 feet, you are considered to be in an 8 feet deep trench, which is illegal beginning at 5 feet.
Soooooooooooooooooooooo, when Jonah was in the bottom of the pit, he included the spoils pile! He was so low and so deep, that the top of the mountain, even the base, was included in his description.
Friends, Jonah was as low as you can go!
Have you ever felt like you were as low as you can go? Well, let me give you some good news today. You cannot get low enough that God can’t reach you. You can’t go far enough that God can’t hear you. Your prayers can be heard even though you never say a word. We can never be separated from the love of God, and He will always hear us when we call!

God bless these great lessons, and God bless you.

Deacon Neal

 

 

Happy “Disciplinary” Weekend, Everyone!

Since the beginning, man has been catching fish. Rarely does a fish catch a man. Well, there are a few times when a shark will bite, or swallow and kill a person, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There have been a few instances when a person has been swallowed by a large fish and lived.

 James Bartley is one such a man, (1870–1909) is the central figure in a late nineteenth-century story according to which he was swallowed whole by a sperm whale. He was found a day later (36 hours) in the stomach of the whale, which was dead, washed up on the shore.

It was said that he was in the whale for 36 hours and it was also said that his skin had been bleached by the gastric juices, and that he was blind the rest of his life. He was, however, supposed to have returned to work within three weeks in some accounts. He died 18 years later and his tombstone in Gloucester says “James Bartley- a modern day Jonah.

The Bible character Jonah is another.  It just so happens that our Sunday school lessons for the next 4 weeks are on the book of Jonah. Lesson 1 explains how God loves us so much that at times we need disciplined to get us back in line with God’s will.  He never disciplines us to hurt us, but to make us better and more like Christ.

The word “discipline” is related to the word “disciple” by the way. So what’s the connection here, spiritually? Well, sometimes parents have to discipline their children to help them in their discipleship. Why do we discipline? Because we love them! In this week’s lesson, we will see how God disciplines Jonah because He loved him.

Friends, the book of Jonah is said to be one of the greatest learning stories ever because it has so many powerful lessons in it. We learn about discipline, protection, God’s love for the lost, and God’s love for the world and everyone in it.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooo, we will read about a storm, the calming of that storm, and the results. This is a whale of a story, friends; a story that many do not believe ever happened. But, let me just say to you…crazier things have happened that have been used by God to get the best results for His glory. How about the time He left heaven and manifested Himself into human flesh so He could be and feel and understand and love and die and save because we were dead in our sins and trespasses?

Think about this…we are born into a storm, and when we accept Christ as our Savior, although the physical sometimes doesn’t change, our spiritual storm has calmed.  Has your spiritual storm calmed? Are you still in your sins and trespasses? Accept the saving work of Jesus on the cross and Him as your Savior and then your spiritual storm will cease.

Join us this Sunday for a little taste of some spiritual discipline, Big Fish Style!!!

I will make you fishers of men, Fishers of men, fishers of men. I will make you fishers of men, If you follow Me. If you follow Me, If you follow Me, I will make you fishers of men, If you follow Me. Hear Christ calling “Come unto Me Come unto Me, Come unto Me.” Hear Christ calling “Come unto Me I will give You rest.” “I will give you rest. I will give you rest. Hear Christ calling “Come unto Me I will give You rest.”       

Deacon, rng

 

 Happy “Demonstration” Weekend, Everyone!

Friends, Christ died for the un-godly! Before you and I were saved God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us. Now that we are His children, surely He will love us even more. God demonstrated His love by taking our places on the cross. He is the propitiation, in other words, the atonement for our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross “satisfied the Father” so His wrath would not be upon us. Wow, when you think about that and the power involved, it’s almost heart stopping, it’s a miracle, and it’s amazing!

 The lesson in this week’s Sunday school is taken from Romans 5: 6-11 & 8:31-39.  We are going to learn in the lesson that because He lives, we are eternally saved (according to Heb 7:23-25).  If God saved us when we were His enemies, surely He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. Yep, He will!

 Have you ever seen someone carrying a sign that says, “I’m for this or I’m for that?” “Vote for Him or her, Pick This or That.”  Well, the Bible says, that God is for US! …and Paul says , “If God is for US, who can be against US? We will also learn that God will not fail us. Sooooooooooooo, what’s the problem? The problem is…we many times fail Him.

 God does not always shelter us from the difficulties of life because we need them for our spiritual growth. It may not seem like it most times but the difficulties are working for us and not against us. We just don’t often take the time to reflect on God’s Will to understand what He is doing.

 Beloved, if you are a Christian, you are completely victorious. We are free from fear because Christ intercedes for us and we cannot be separated from His love. No condemnation! No obligation! No frustration! No separation!

 If God be for us, who can be against us!  Jesus is Lord!

 See you in Sunday school 9:15

 We here at Three Springs Baptist Church would like to thank everyone that came to Sunrise Services, the breakfast, and Sunday school and Worship during our Resurrection Sunday services. 

 

 

Happy “Rebirth” Weekend, Everyone!

 “Ye MUST be born again” said Jesus to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, which is this week’s Sunday school lesson. This is the chapter with the most familiar verse from scripture that the world has ever known, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Wow, two power verses in this chapter, right? Let’s look at the first one this weekend. Ye must be born again. Friends, there is a little sentence I use a lot when I’m teaching these verses, and many others. It goes like this… “if you’re born once, you will die twice; if you’re born twice, you will die one.”

Let me explain…Everyone of us that are born, are born of (water) according to Jesus; therefore, everyone of us will die. Jesus goes further to say that if we are born of water, (the first birth) and then are born of spirit (the second birth) we will only die the physical death. In other words, our bodies will die but our spirit will not.  But, if we are only born once, (physically) we will not only die, we will die spiritually as well. In other words, our resurrection will be to eternal torment, not heaven. Friends this is a major teaching by Jesus that MUST be understood. We must be born again! The most spiritual thinking about the “water” is that it is the cleansing power of the WORD.  The Word and Faith will transform a person’s life!

Soooooooooooooo, how hard is it to be born again, and what exactly does that mean? To be born again is explained in the Bible. Let me try to enlighten.

The child inherits the nature of the parents, and so does the child of God. We become “partakers of the divine nature.” (2Peter 1:4). Nature determines appetite, which explains why true Christians have an appetite for the things of God. (1Peter 2:2,3).

Of course birth involves life; and spiritual birth from above involves God’s life. Birth, involves a future, and we are “born again to a living hope.”

Let’s briefly look at it from another angle. Those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are those who believe that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross as atonement for our sins.  The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. So Jesus came to this place and died in our place, paying the debt we owe and could never pay ourselves. That’s how much God loves YOU!

Friends, to be born again you do not re-enter your mother’s womb. You call on the name of Jesus, confess your sins to Him, and live for Him, a new creation in Christ.  You don’t need talents, you don’t need works. There is nothing you can do to earn your way but to believe. Once the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you, those good works and the fruit of the spirit will begin to grow.

NO, you don’t need to wash off before your shower. In the same way, you don’t have to get religious to be born again. You just need to allow God to come in and work in your life. He will take control and you will release your will to His.

See you in Sunday school where we will further research this miracle of re-birth. 

Behold the Savior of mankind Nailed to the shameful tree!

How vast the love that him inclined To bleed and die for me!

But soon he’ll break death’s envious chain, And in full glory shine;

O Lamb of God, was ever pain, Was ever love like Thine?  Amen.

 

Deacon RNG

 

 

Happy “Poetic” Weekend, Everyone!

There is a famous psalm written by David that, if written in today, would be Christian music’s number one hit – a multi-platinum recording. It is Psalm 23 and perhaps you have heard of it’s lyrics? Perhaps you have them memorized.

There can be no question that this song beautifully expresses the goodness of trusting in a personal shepherd. But, I understand that a shepherd probably holds very little weight for those of us in a busy city or even a quiet suburban town. So, let’s modernize this reference that David, and later Jesus, used. Instead of calling the main character a good shepherd, let’s exchange it for the word ‘bodyguard.’ The idea of a constant protector is what David was communicating and David, a once shepherd-boy turned mighty king, understood the importance in taking care of helpless animals. David also knew that the Lord was faithful in providing and watching over him.

Can we echo this response when we find ourselves running or hiding in metaphorical caves? Can we echo this when we feel forgotten or lost? Hopefully, we aren’t only proclaiming the following words found in Psalm 23 when life is working in our favor. And for goodness sakes, this isn’t a funeral dirge. The truth is, these words can produce the most power in our lives when we feel the very weakest.

Let’s take a look at each well chosen lyric to further understand David’s words to God:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

Soooooooooooo, there is truly so much wisdom to be gained from these verses, especially when we attempt to discover God in our lowest of moments, calling Him our forever Lord.

God is THE only thing that can bring about comfort and peace.
We must place God in the highest position of our lives at all times
David believed God was always there.
How can we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives regardless of our circumstances or emotions? Something to think about until class this Sunday.

God Bless,

Deacon Neal

 

 

 

Happy “Returning” Weekend, Everyone! 

“Yet even now turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, declares Jehovah.

Yes, tear your heart, and not your robes; and turn to Jehovah your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and He pities concerning the evil.” Joel 2:12,13.

Friends, when we are right with God, we want the day of the LORD. We long for Him to show His strength because we know that we abide in Him. When we are not right with God, we dread the day of the LORD, because when God shows Himself strong, His strength may work against us. In Joel’s day Judah was not right with God, so the day of the LORD would be nothing but darkness and gloominess to them.

There are some major things happening in this week’s Sunday school lesson. We are to:

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, gather the elders, gather the children, and those who suck the breasts. Let the bridegroom go out of his room, and the bride out of her room.

This is a most beautiful and finished representation here of a praying assembly, and what blessings might not be expected to follow, where the Lord gives grace to the several characters to seek his favour. The congregation at large; the elders the children, also, little children and babes at the breast; as if to bring down the mercy of God in Christ, upon the helpless, unconscious little ones, who all take part in the common calamity. And the bridegroom and bride are to forego their own private happiness to take part in the public evil, contrary to the kind provision the Lord had made for the marriage state, in the first year of their nuptials.

Joel is a sincere and powerful book! Soooooooooooooo, we must consider these books and not just the easy readers like John and Psalms.

 Friends, the events of Joel are a look into the future and these events are real. You and I will either be a witness to them physically or spiritually but for sure we will be involved.

Remember this in daily life. Count your blessings. Consider others who need Christ. So their fate isn’t that which Joel describes for the lost sinner. Amen.

 

 

 

R. Neal Gracey, Deacon