Serving with Your Gifts

Luke 19

Luke 19_3a
Hey my name is Jesse Allen I am the Youth Pastor at Blood River Church of God in Springfield Louisiana. I am so impressed with our next 7 devotions for the FUEL Bible reading! These next devotions come from Students of the Blood River Church of God Youth Group. The devotions are on Luke 14-20. We are so glad you are able to read them and I pray you may be blessed by them!
 
Hey I am Brian and I love playing football, going fishing and riding atvs.  I’m glad to have an opportunity to talk to you about Luke 19:1-10 As football season started this year, I earned the spot of quarterback. I was excited and knew that it would be a good year. Through a series of unfortunate events, I had to move away for four weeks rights in the middle of the season. When I returned, I was a little like Zacchaeus (and not because I am short – I’m not) because I had to find a way to stand out and earn back the position that had been given to someone else. Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to stand out above the crowd. I had to work harder than everyone else to prove that I deserved the position for the rest of the season. Bryan
 
Hey I am Olivia, I have a younger sister and brother and an older brother. I was born in Indiana but moved to Louisiana in the 3rd grade. I love animals and want to be a vet. I enjoy sports and being active, I am a proud member of the Blood River Church of God family. 
Last summer I got the chance to go on a mission trip to Panama. While I was there we had a VBS program going for the kids. Before the trip I didn’t see how being good with kids could help me serve God and glorify him. As we went through the week more and more kids started coming and that led to more chances to spread and share the Gospel with them. Luke 19:16-19 Is the parable of the Minas and servants. In this parable the Servants use their gifts to increase their minas and they prosper but the one who did nothing got his mina taken away and it was given to the one who had the most. This story focuses on why we should use our gifts to increase God’s kingdom and to serve others so God may be glorified. What are you doing with your gifts to glorify God?  

Jesus’ Target Audience

Luke Chapter Five – Jesus’ First Disciples

Luke 5 10 11

Soon after Jesus began his earthly ministry, Jesus went out to find some people who would follow him.  One would think that Jesus would choose his followers from among the elite scholars.  After all, shouldn’t the king of kings have an elite group of close followers?  However, Jesus did not go that route.  Instead, we see in Luke chapter five, that Jesus chose the likes of fishermen and tax collectors to be his select, close followers.  Fishermen had very little to no education, and they would have been close to no one’s first choice when starting a revolution.  Tax collectors, on the other hand, had a poor reputation, as they often tried to cheat people out of their money.  Therefore, tax collectors would have been close to no one’s first choice either.  For whatever reason, Jesus chose this group to be his followers and to take over when he was to ascend to heaven.

 

A big part of Jesus’ ministry revolved around healing people of their ailments.  In chapter five, Jesus heals both a leper and a paralytic.  One would think that after Jesus got done healing people, he would want them to go tell everybody of the great miracle.  However, the opposite is true.  Often after Jesus would heal somebody, he would tell them to tell no one!  We see this in verse 14, as Jesus told the leper to tell no one.  Now, why would Jesus not want others to share of the great wonders Jesus had done?  The answer is because Jesus’ time to die had not yet come.  Jesus still had much to accomplish before his death.  If word had spread too much, they would have had him killed sooner.

 

After Jesus had called Levi, a tax collector, to be one of his disciples, Jesus went to eat with the tax collectors.  This caused the Pharisees to grumble and ask Jesus why in the world he would eat with the sinful tax collectors. Jesus replies, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance,” (Luke 5:31).  Here Jesus says that his target audience are the sinners rather than the righteous.

 

Too often in church, our focus is on the righteous rather than the sinners.  We design our services, classes, and events for those that are churched and not unchurched.  Perhaps we should consider the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31. Perhaps we should put our focus on the sinners, rather than the righteous.  It is those who are lost and sinners that really need the church!  Our churches should contain people who are not currently saved but are on the road to salvation.  Jesus says it is these kinds of people that he came to call to repentance.  Our target audience should reflect that of Jesus’ target audience.  At the same time, we do need strong Christians within the church to bring up the unchurched.  There is a healthy balance somewhere that we all must find.

 

Kyle McClain

Who Will Stand?

Revelation 6

Revelation 6 17

Reality TV has a certain way of grabbing my attention. Mostly because what happens could be something that happens to us in real life. Whether you watch Survivor, The Bachelor, America’s Got Talent, or Man vs Wild, etc. there is often one thing that they all have as a goal – who will stand victorious?

The same goes for our walk with Christ.
Revelation 6:16-17  gives us an image of people facing the day of judgment questioning who would be able to face Him who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.  “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17)  That being the judgment he will decide on each of us.
So who will stand? Will you be able to pass the judgment and have confidence in Jesus?

Jesse Allen

Work Smarter and Harder!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 4 NIV

 

There is a mantra out there these days that says “Work smarter, not harder.” And although the meaning of it is to find more effective ways to do your work (“smarter”), you still have to get the work done. Working more efficiently doesn’t ever mean that you will have to work less hard. It gives the connotation as if working hard is bad. In all reality, there is great value in diligence. It teaches perseverance, persistence, and determination. It teaches us that hard work pays off. It teaches us to push through when times are tough.

 

When we think about hard work, it paints several different pictures.  Some may see someone with sweat on their brow and callused hands, others may see long hours of studying or learning, and others may see someone trying to save their marriage or building relationships…hard work can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Regardless of how you view hard work, it takes time and effort.

 

The wisdom we glean from Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you’re too lazy to plant seed, it’s too bad when you have no harvest on which to feed (The Passion Translation).” The NIV version uses the word sluggards for lazy. A little name calling there but the point is hammered home. You don’t put in the hard work, there will be no harvest. It is the basic principle of sowing and reaping. What you work for is what you get.

 

We see this illustrated again in Proverbs 20:13 (The Passion Translation), “If you spend all your time sleeping, you’ll grow poor. So wake up, sleepyhead! Don’t sleep on the job. And then there will be plenty of food on your table.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, l love a good nap! But too much sleep means that you are missing out. If you put the work in, you’ll get a lot of it. And this is not just applicable in work life; it is also in relationships and intellect/wisdom. For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you actually have to spend time learning. You spend time and energy on lessons, and practice and more practice in hopes that someday you will have mastered the song you were working on. Rarely will you find someone who can just sit down to a piano and play Beethoven without putting in the work!

 

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you think about “your work” through the lens of this verse, then our hard work will eternally pay off! I think it might be wiser to say “work smarter and harder!”

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seduced by Temptation

Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 25 26

The first five verses of this chapter again talk about how important it is to have wisdom.

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding your intimate friend;
That they may keep you from an adulteress,
From the foreigner who flatters with her words

This is re-iterating what a lot of chapter 1 talks about.  It is not enough to just know the commands and teachings.  You must consider them as some of the most important things you know.  Following the commands and having wisdom will allow you to live.  This implies that a lack of wisdom will bring death.  The rest of the chapter details how this can lead to serious harm, and death.

The rest of the chapter can be a literal case of a man being seduced by a woman, or it can be symbolic of any person being tempted and falling to that temptation.  This shows a pattern of falling.  The first step is going to a place where the temptation is found.  This is in verse 8 where it talks about passing near her corner, and then going all the way to her house.  Wisdom would show that we should avoid going around things where we know we will be tempted.

Then, verse 9 says that this is being done in the darkness, or when we don’t think people can see us.  In most cases, if we are going to sin, it is going to be when people are not watching, or at least people that we know would be bothered by what we are doing.  Again, if we are wise, we will surround ourselves with people who will help us avoid temptation and stay away from those who draw us in to sin.

Then, when we are close to temptation, the sin can look very appealing, and it appears that we won’t get caught – so it is okay.  Verses 17-21 are showing this when talking about the couch and bed being adorned, and when it talks about the husband being gone for a long period of time.

With all of this, the man being talked about in this passage falls into temptation and sins.  He does not know this will cost him his life according to verse 23.  This is not saying that falling into temptation once and sinning means death, but when we fall into a temptation and are not wise enough to run from that in the future, we are going to fall into that same temptation again and again.  Then, we will escalate the sin, and get sucked into it until it is a lifestyle.

Wisdom, specifically Godly wisdom, is critical to both avoiding unnecessary problems in this life and in having eternal life in the kingdom.  This can only be accomplished by treasuring scriptures and a relationship with God.

Andrew Hamilton

Judy’s Candy Bar Story

Proverbs 5

Proverbs 5 23 NIV

Solomon begins Proverbs 5 again reminding us to seek out God’s wisdom. We must not only hear the wisdom offered, but we must absorb that wisdom and apply it to our lives, so that we can make wise and moral decisions.  Then your “lips may preserve knowledge”.  In other words, the things we say will be full of knowledge and insight.  Solomon knows that we need God’s wisdom to help us make wise choices, because we are constantly facing temptations.

Solomon continues the chapter talking about our temptations, using the example of an adulterous woman.  He says, “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3) Simply put, this means that this immoral woman may come to you with sweet, flattering words.  She will look and sound very tempting.  She will tell you whatever it takes to lure you into believing that sexually sinning with her will bring you nothing but joy and happiness.

However, the next few verses go on to say, “But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”  (Proverbs 5:4-6)  In verse 3 it seemed as though the woman was offering bliss, but we find out in these verses that she actually will lead us to suffering and death.  You notice it says “her steps lead straight to the grave”.  We are all moving on a path.  Each day we make countless decisions that are leading us down a path.  We need to be using the wisdom God has provided to us in the Bible to make sure we are making choices leading us on the right path.

In verse eight Solomon goes on to offer this advice, “Keep to a path far from her (the adulteress), do not go near the door of her house.”  The message here is stay as far away from temptation as possible.  Do not put yourself in situations that will tempt you to sin.

The story of Judy’s chocolate bar is the perfect illustration of the stay-as-far-away-from-temptation-as-possible principle.  Judy loves chocolate.  In fact, Judy loves chocolate too much, so she decides to not eat chocolate for a month.  One day, after deciding to give up chocolate for a month, Judy is at the grocery store buying food for dinner.  While at the store, Judy decides to just go down the aisle where the chocolate is.  She is not going to buy any, she just wants to look at it.  As she gets closer to the chocolate she notices that it is on sale.  Judy decides to purchase just one bar of chocolate.  She will not eat it now, but it is on such a good sale, she wants to take advantage of the bargain and buy it for later.  When she gets home from the store, she keeps thinking of the chocolate bar that is now sitting in her cupboard. Judy believes that just getting to smell the chocolate will be very satisfying and help her to stop craving the chocolate, so she unwraps the chocolate bar and takes a large whiff of the delicious chocolate.  It smells incredible.  Judy sets a small piece of the chocolate on her tongue, not to eat it, but just to take a little lick.  You guessed it, soon the chocolate is gone!  Judy devours the entire bar.  The question is, when would it have been easiest for Judy to refrain from eating the chocolate? Would it have been easier to not eat the chocolate when it was sitting in the wrapper in the cupboard, or when it was sitting on Judy’s tongue?  What if Judy had never gone down the chocolate aisle at the store, but had instead just gone to the fresh produce section?

We need to constantly pursue wisdom, so that we can make God-pleasing choices.  We must be vigilant so that we do not believe any of the world’s lies. And finally, when we have identified what our stumbling blocks are, we must stay far away and avoid those temptations.

Jill McClain

In God I Trust

Proverbs 3 5 NIV

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 is an often quoted and memorized Bible verse.  However, not surprisingly, it is easier said than done.  It is easy to say the words, without really thinking about what living out these words looks like.

Trust in the LORD.  When I trust in something I can count on it.  The dictionary definition of trust is, “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; to have confidence in (someone or something); to believe that something is true or correct.”  All of these definitions need to apply to my trust in God.  I must believe that all his promises are reliable and that what he says is true.  I must believe that he had the ability to create the world and that he has the strength to stand against my enemies.  I need have confidence that he cares for me and believe that his word, the Bible, is true and correct.

There are so many things in this life that I can put my trust in.  I can trust my family, my doctor, the government, my pastor, and the list goes one.  But over time, all these people will disappoint and let me down.  There is only one that is totally faithful and trustworthy, and that is my Heavenly Father.  However, if I don’t take the time to get to know God personally, I will never be able to totally trust him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart.  If I truly trust in God, it must be with ALL my heart.  If I only trust God some of the time, or with only some things, then I am not trusting God at all.  Trust is an all or nothing kind of proposition.

And lean not on your own understanding. I need to let go of what I think I know, and totally rely on God.  I must stop trying to be self-sufficient, but instead depend on my Creator and his infinite wisdom.

In all your ways submit to him.  Trusting in the Lord requires that I submit everything that I have, and everything that I do to him, all the time, every day.  Some versions say, “in all your ways acknowledge him.”  I acknowledge him when I feel his presence with me throughout the day, and turn to him for comfort, companionship and guidance.

And he will make your paths straight.  When I fully trust God, then he can lead me down the correct path.  So often I want to go my own way and do my own thing.  I like to be the boss. However, when I am truly trusting in God then I eagerly follow God’s direction.

When I want to know what God’s will in my life is, I only need to trust in him with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways submit to him.  If I am trusting, leaning, and submitting, then I can be confident that I am following God’s plan for my life.

Jill McClain