Month: February 2016

The “Be-Attitudes”

By Robert Thomas

A while back, I tried to memorize the first fifteen verses of Matthew 5. I spent my spare time at my job at a movie theater, meditating on this passage.

Verses 3-12 comprise what are known as the “Beatitudes”, or as I like to remember them, “Be-Attitudes” (can you tell I work with children?) They’re attitudes you should allow yourself to “be”. This Scripture is begging to be lived out in our lives.

These are promises. If you mourn, you’ll be comforted. If you’re merciful, you’ll be shown mercy yourself. If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you’ll be filled.

One of the Beatitudes that stands out to me is, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Purity of heart involves both your mind and your actions, to be totally free of evil, which is only possible through Christ. The promise is that you will see God, beholding the Glory of Him who created you as He works on this earth.

The passage turns toward the outside world and describes how we can be called blessed when people persecute and insult us. We are to rejoice and be glad, because our reward in Heaven will be great. If we’re persecuted we’re in good company: the prophets of old (along with many, many New Testament characters) were persecuted in the same way. Who wouldn’t want to aspire to their level of faith and service to Christ?

Meditate on these promises today. Which of the Beatitudes really speaks to you? Which ones do you struggle with understanding and doing? Today, I pray you would read these “Be-Attitudes” and really consider how to put these things into practice.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here


By Michael M. Cook

I enjoy basic woodworking as a release to the stress that I acquire during the day. One thing I have learned in woodworking is that the clearer the instructions the better the finished product.

Paul makes several things crystal clear in our reading today. If we would abide by God’s instructions, many things would turn out well.

How many problems could be eliminated if we would just follow the wise counsel of older women as they invest and guide younger women in key areas of their lives? What impact would there be if young men would be self-controlled and older men sound in faith, love and endurance? These are powerful words.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we find these words as part of his instructions to a young pastor, “But keep your head in all situations…” How important is that instruction?

The Bible contains a lot of really good advice. It lays out guidelines and provides key measurements for proper balance in our lives.  Yet, it is not a self-help book. It’s much more important than that. A self-help book may be a useful tool, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The Bible is an integral part of our relationship with God. The Bible is more like an instruction manual. It shows us how we are constructed and what we are designed for. It tells us very specifically what we must do in order to run at maximum capacity. The more closely we follow what the Bible says, the better chance we have of creating a life that resembles God’s blueprint.

I trust that today will be a great “shop” day as we follow His instruction manual.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

The Reason for Church

By Kristi Sullins

It is hard to find a more beautiful, functional picture of the New Testament church than the church in Philippi. Paul’s letter to these churchgoers was a letter to friends and surrogate family. In Paul’s time of struggle in a Roman prison it was his church family that reached out to him with both spiritual and financial encouragement.

In Philippians we see the church and its members functioning the way God intended the church to function. Love for others directed their actions. The goal was to be selfless, faithful, loving followers of God. When Paul was in need in a Roman prison the church did not hesitate to send a fellow believer with money as encouragement. The members of the church in Philippi did not separate their problems from the trials that Paul was experiencing because they understood that it was all for the kingdom.

Whether a full time evangelist like Paul, or new convert, we are called to show love to others in the church just like we are called to show love to the lost. The church should be made of those who bring thanksgiving to our hearts when we think of them. Instead, so often it is made up of those who cannot be content, and are not willing to sacrifice for the needs of others.

The church is meant to be a gathering of those reflecting the love of God with a passion to make sure that Christ is preached and needs are met. Never forgetting that as we pour out our short lives for others God is always meeting our needs according to His riches.

God’s church is for His glory, preaching the message of Christ, and loving His people. What do you expect from your church?

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here



The “Encouragement”

By Trey Sullins

Have you ever felt that you don’t belong? I know I have.

In my reading, I see Paul writing this letter to a group of people called Gentiles. This means that they didn’t belong to the original chosen people, the Jews. I am guessing that they were feeling that they were not on the same “spiritual” level as the Jews. They were probably considered second tier Christians by the Jews and were treated differently.

As humans, if you think about things too much, you tend to begin to believe those things. God instructed Paul to write this letter to encourage the newly converted Gentiles. His letter was meant to assure them they were made part of the same family as the Jews through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.  They had been chosen to the one hope in Christ Jesus.

This is encouraging to me because I am not one of the chosen people groups that the Bible talks about. I would be considered a Gentile and yet, I have the same hope as God’s chosen. I have been grafted in the lineage of Christ as one of His children.

Now I must take the words of Paul and apply them to my life. I must use these words to help me live a godly life through my everyday preparation and commitment to focus on good things and not the things of this world. We need to call evil what it is and avoid it at all cost. Believers have been given tools to protect ourselves from the enemy and a weapon to combat evil. The most important tool is God’s Word.

God’s Word is powerful and alive.

Paul used it to encourage Gentiles who were struggling with their identity in Christ. He is calling you to use it to encourage others. We are all one family, worshiping one God.

Encourage someone today.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

The Supremacy of Our Most High God

By Ty Haguewood

“…So that in everything He might have the supremacy.”

If anyone asked me what Christianity boiled down to I would quote the Apostle Paul in saying, “so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” This is the essence of our faith. My heart hurts to think that we have made Christianity so much about us and so little about the Lord. As believers, we must come to the realization that we are not the center of the universe. We are not God’s primary focus. We are not the main characters in this marvelous love story. We are merely a great part of it all. If we were to examine the Bible, we would constantly find that God is for His own glory. God is not for our glory. God is for God. This changes the way we view everything. In absolutely every situation, God reigns supreme. In everything, King Jesus reigns.

In the darkest of places, He reigns.

In the most difficult of times, He reigns.

In the midst of our complacency, He reigns.

In the times we fail to acknowledge Him as the Supreme, He reigns.

Let our lives be the proclamation that our God reigns.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.



The Altar of Love

By Gerry Wakeland

Have you ever done anything you did not really understand?

When I was seven years old I invited Jesus into my heart. At the time I knew two things, I loved Him and I did not want to burn in hell. What I did not completely understand was what it meant to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. Even now I’m still learning what this looks like in my life.

In today’s reading the words that spoke to me are these,

“Therefore, I urge you, my brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

When I think of the word sacrifice, I am reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham loved Isaac so much, but in his obedience and love for God he was willing to place this young man on an altar as a living sacrifice.

Paul’s words tell us to do the very same thing – “to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.” He goes on to say that this is our “true and proper worship.”

What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice?” To me it means to surrender everything I am, everything I have, and everything I hope for, to my Lord and Savior. This is how I worship Him, how I demonstrate my love. It’s not always easy. It couldn’t have been easy for Abraham to bind the son he loved and lay him on the altar. But he did it. God loved each of us so much that He gave His only son. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life.

How about you? Are you willing to offer your body as a living sacrifice no matter the cost? Can you, in love and obedience, worship your Lord by placing your body on the altar of love?

When you are able to do this then you will have learned what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here



All the Little Pieces

By Matt Snook

The book of Romans is a great place to start for the new believer. Paul lays out a thorough theology lesson that answers so many questions that are common about our faith.

  • How do people find out about God when they don’t have the benefit of a church or a preacher?
  • Why do we need a Savior?
  • Do we earn any part of our salvation?
  • How do we cope with bad things happening to good people?

In this short post I’m going to focus on one particular passage that stood out to me.

On page 177, the passage gives light to an incredible truth. It is not God’s intent to condemn us but rather to justify us. His love for us is greater than we can possibly imagine. His purpose is not to point out our mistakes from on high, but to sanctify us through Jesus. Once we are His, there is literally nothing that anyone, including ourselves, can do to separate ourselves from His love.

Our very best is nothing and our very worst is no surprise to Him. My obedience to Him is not from obligation, it is my willing response to His kindness and perfect love. The bottom line is that it’s just not about following rules anymore.

We walk in His Spirit in total freedom and the net result of our love is obedience. There is no need to replace the rules that He lifted from our shoulders. If we walk with Him, all the little pieces will fall into place.

Are you willing to walk in obedience today?



“We Killed the Author of Life”

By Kevin Linthicum

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Acts 3:15 (NIV)

As I was reading today, I was reminded of the magnitude of my sin. My attention was focused on the fact it was my sin that led to the crucifixion of Christ. Peter tells us point blank that we killed the Author of Life. That is right your sin and my sin contributed to the death of Christ. We spend most of our lives blaming others for the consequences of decisions that we make. In this case the blame can be placed only on you and on me. We killed the Author of Life. I want you to take a few moments and let that fact penetrate deep into your soul. Jesus was beaten and mocked; He bled and died to pay the penalty for your sin and for mine. The good news today is “God raised him from the dead.”

Peter also talks about the term repent. Greg Laurie in his book, Making God Known stated this “remorse is being sorry, repentance is being sorry enough to stop”. When we consider the suffering, love, and compassion Christ has for us, and we weigh that against the fact that we killed the Author of Life. We can and should be moved to the point of repentance.

Have you repented from your sins, or are you merely sorry for your sins? I want to remind each of you today it was our sins that killed the Author of Life, and it was His love that saved us from the penalty of our sins.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

Confident Living

By Karen Polich

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians

We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God.

This isn’t shaky ground. Yet, why do we often sit in worry and fear? Of course, it is easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power.  We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God. His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

List the ways you have seen God work in your life and share them! How has He shown His strength and faithfulness?  You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

God’s Gift

By Ann Bentley

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Today, when we hear or read these verses, they are usually associated with the relationship between a husband and wife or maybe the relationship between a parent and child. We hear them at weddings or maybe at baby dedications. But shortly before these verses on love, Paul speaks to us about our spiritual gifts and how we all have a role to play in the church.

As I read these without the chapter and section headings, I realized that Paul was not speaking into our marriage or parental relationships but rather how we use the spiritual gifts that God gave us.

What is your spiritual gift? Can you teach? Are you an encourager? Do you know what your gift is? Do you struggle with wanting a different gift? God has designed each of us with a purpose and a role to fill in His church.

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.  1 Corinthians 12:18

It doesn’t matter what gift you have as long as you are using it with LOVE. Be who and what you are called to be.  Embrace your spiritual gift and use it for God’s glory, with love for God and for His people.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here