Month: March 2016

What You Need When You Need It

By Trey Sullins

I am not going to ask if you have ever had one of those days when you feel like you are being attacked at every area and stage of life.  You have the feeling that no matter what you do, you are doing it wrong and failing miserably at life. We all have these days. I have a beautiful wife who is encouraging and loving when I am in the middle of one of those days. She helps me stay focused on the task at hand. She urges me to keep a clear head.

Peter has written such a letter of encouragement to fellow believers in Christ in the nearby Roman provinces. He has heard of their suffering and struggles living a godly life in the midst of persecution. God knows when we are struggling and often He sends people into our lives to help us walk through our tough time. 

I have noticed in my own life, that the one whom God sends doesn’t take us out of our situation, but encourages through it. 

I want you to evaluate your life and see what God is teaching you. What is His goal for your life and in your suffering?  I am going to take a piece of scripture that was in this reading and just lay it out there because I cannot say it any clearer than God’s Word.

 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear His name.”

My friends, in all things, give God glory, honor and praise.  Encourage others because we will also need encouragement. Don’t forget that to suffer for Christ is a blessing.  Always do what is right because it will always be the right thing to do.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

The Beautiful Betrayal

By Ty Haguewood

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ entered this world. Jesus would live a perfect life as prophesied in the Old Testament. There is a beautiful picture of grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Have you ever stopped and thought about the betrayal?

Have you ever stopped to think about the significance behind the reality that Jesus knew He would be betrayed? This is huge… There was nothing and will never be anything that will catch our God by surprise. The life of Jesus all pointed towards the death that He would experience for you and I. Jesus willingly walked into betrayal in order for you and me to willingly walk into the wonders of God’s grace. The betrayal was not defeat; the betrayal was part of God’s redemptive plan to save His people. Praise be to God for He is forever victorious.

Beautiful betrayal, our God could not be defeated.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

He Touched Me

By Gerry Wakeland

In today’s reading Jesus performs many miracles, but the one that stands out to me is the story of the blind man. It’s hard for me to imagine losing my sight. The thought of not being able to read a book, to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers, or to see the faces of those I love is beyond comprehension. Here we have a man who experienced just that and now lives his life totally dependent on others.

It makes me wonder what goes on in his mind as he hears the sounds around him. What pictures does he dream up? Does he long to see again or has he made peace with his situation? Suffering comes in many forms. Frustration is one of them.

Scripture tells us that “some people” took him to Jesus and begged Jesus to touch him. What a blessing that he had people in his life that cared so much for him. What was Jesus’response? To do as they asked; He “put his hands on him.”

His eyes were opened; his sight restored.

I believe that every person has some form of suffering. Whether it’s in our body or mind, our spirit or soul, our emotions or our pocketbooks, we all suffer. In the case of the blind man he had friends that recognized his suffering and sought healing for him.

When you cry out to Him, He will stop everything He is doing and reach out to you in your suffering. And like the blind man you will be able to say,

“He touched me, oh He touched me And oh the joy that floods my soul Something happened and now I know He touched me and made me whole.”

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

 

 

 

Faith of Works?

By Matt Snook

The book of James has been the center of controversy through generations of Christian leaders and authors.  Many have suggested it does not belong in the biblical canon. Men such as Martin Luther had issues with what James lays out in his book. The heart of the issue revolves around the central question of salvation by works versus salvation by faith. I think that James handles this question and others in a strictly to the point manner that addresses what it means to be a person of faith.  This is one of my favorite books of the New Testament because it deals with practical ways our faith is evident in our daily lives.

Let me list just a few of the major questions James helps believers wrestle with.

  • What should we do when bad things happen to good people? Is that God’s punishment to us?
  • In the beginning of his book he says to consider all trials joy as God uses every circumstance we face to bring our walk to maturity and our faith to completion.
  • God does not tempt us; instead He is the giver of every good gift.
  • Since I am saved and going to heaven anyway, why can’t I say and do whatever I want?
  • James says those who love Jesus will not just listen to His words; they will also do what they say.
  • Love for our Savior is expressed through the way we live.

There are many other issues James tackles with his writing but the last and most difficult to be discussed is the following question: Am I saved by faith or saved by my good works?

What did he mean, “What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Many churches and denominations have split over this passage of scripture. The way this passage reads to me, is not suggesting that we are saved by works, but rather that works are the fruit that confirm the presence of faith in our lives.

Ultimately, it is our actions that reveal what we truly believe.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

Do You Preach the Gospel Without Fear?

By Kevin Linthicum

Philippians 1:28

“ without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.”

Did you know one of the primary reasons Christians never share the gospel is fear?

That is right, we are afraid. I wonder what we are afraid of. Are we afraid someone will ask a question we do not know the answer to? Are we afraid we might lose a friend? Are we afraid we could start an argument we are not able to win, or are we simply fearful that God will fulfill His promise to lead us? It really does not matter what we are afraid of. What truly matters is that in our reading today we are reminded to proceed “without being frightened”. The truth is you will be opposed when you share the gospel, and the mere existence of opposition is enough to keep most Christians from proclaiming the very gospel message that saved them.

After twenty-seven days of reading I pray you are beginning to realize the power and authority of God’s Word. I hope you are experiencing in your own life the transforming impact of Bible intake. Today we are driven to not be afraid, but to boldly move forward in our walk with Christ. Today’s reading provides an excellent explanation of why we face opposition in our journey.

The key for the reading today is not simply recognizing we will face opposition. The key to the reading today is acknowledging how we are able to conquer the opposition.

I pray today God will use each of you to overpower any opposition you may face as you allow God to work in your life to reach others with the gospel message.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here.

No One Greater

By Karen Polich

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

In reading today, I found myself thinking about what gets my attention and focus. Family, work, church, money, leisure, friends, my time and personal desires, the list could go on… We have so many things in our lives demanding our attention. Many are important, but what should be our first priority?

Jesus. There is no one greater, not the angels, nor apostles or prophets.

Those of the first New Testament churches may have struggled with the ways of the old covenant versus the new covenant, but ultimately, it was more a question of their focus. Are we so different from these early believers?

Are we putting something above Jesus? Despite the history of God’s people and the knowledge of Christ, early followers still needed reminders.

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

God’s Word tells us to “fix our eyes and our thoughts” on Jesus. As we embrace each day, a “Jesus first” attitude will impact everything else we do. It is a choice we get to make. The world is full of distractions and struggles. Despite any of that, we have a choice to be obedient or fall into rebellion.

Regardless of responsibilities and expectations, it comes down to one thing. What are we “fixed” on? We may not be distracted by angels or prophets, but are we focused on Jesus?

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Break Your Heart

By Ann Bentley 

Easter is my favorite holiday. I don’t like calling it that though. The term “holiday” implies a vacation or a time of relaxation and for many people that’s all it is. But for us as Christians it means more.

I love Easter. My gratefulness knows no bounds when it comes to the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But I do tend to focus on the resurrection rather than the sacrifice. I don’t want to think too much on what Christ endured on the cross . . . for me, for my sins, for you, for your sins.

 We forget.   

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

 Page 286:     “Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others                           slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?’”

 Page 287:     “But he had Jesus flogged . . .”

                        “They stripped him . . .”

                        “. . . Twisted a crown of thorns and set it on his head.”

                        “They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the                                             head again and again.”

 Jesus knew what was coming.  He struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the pain and humiliation that was to come.  He knew He was going to die.

 Page 284:     “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of                                                         death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”

 He desperately wanted his disciples, His friends, to pray for Him and intercede for Him. He knew the glory that was to come and He still struggled with what it would cost Him. And we forget His pain. We forget what He went through for my sin, for your sin. But God says we’re worth it. Jesus says we’re worth it. Rejoice in His resurrection but never forget what it cost God, what is cost Jesus.

 Let it break your heart.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

 

 

He Has the Whole World in His Hands

By Susan Rasinski

God has a plan. He has always had a plan. He does not deviate from His plan. While we sway and change our plans, God knows the end from the beginning. We may follow hard after Him, then lose our footing and fall away from the diligence of our walk with our Maker, but His plan never changes. We see time as a continuum; God sees all things at once.

Reading through today’s section of scripture we can look at the words written on page 279. Jesus is talking to his followers of things to come in the end of days. He warns them that the world as they know it will come to an end with much violence. “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

Did you catch that? “If those days had not been cut short…”  While Jesus is talking about things to come He is using language that indicates something that has already occurred. For God there is no before and after, no BC or AD. God is not subject to the laws of time and space as we are. He sees all things, all time, all people, all at once. He sees His plan in its entirety, simultaneously. There are not parts to His plan which can become fragmented. There is only His plan.

For me there is great comfort in understanding this. I get to be a part of God’s plan and when I submit myself to His care, I know that He knows how all things work together.  No matter what today brings, or how much I’m caught off guard, God is not surprised, or having to adjust His plans. All things are under His control; He has me in the palm of His hand.

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God?

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

Practical Faith

By Stewart Linthicum

Wow, today’s reading is a bit overwhelming. There are so many amazing stories and elements that one could spend days writing about them. Throughout this entire NT8 experience, I have done my best to look at the readings as a whole and not get lost in the details of a single verse or story. It has been inspiring to see God’s word in a fresh new format.

As I listened to today’s passage*, I kept noticing over and over again how Jesus’ disciples had to be reminded to have faith. As I imagine these experiences, I can’t help but see the same things happening again and again today.

Each Sunday at AFBC, I am responsible for making sure that most elements of the worship services run smoothly and there are no major hiccups. I am constantly concerned about the logistics and practical elements of things. It’s easy for me to get swept up in trying to predict what will happen next and what is required for that to be accomplished.

While hearing these stories today, I found myself relating to the disciples each time they were concerned about feeding the many people who were following Jesus.

“…Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy some food.”

This is very practical and understandable. I have no doubt that the disciple’s hearts were in the right place, wanting the people to be fed and sustained. They were so concerned about the wellbeing of the people that their faith in God to provide had faded. This happened again and again as Jesus taught and lived throughout His time on earth.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in the practical and tangible problems of this world. We sometimes lose sight of the deeper elements. Jesus calls us to have faith. It’s that simple. Don’t let your concern of worldly things cause you to lose your trust in His faithfulness.

*You can listen to the audio version of the NT8 project here (under resources) or on the AFBC app.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here

Take Heart My Child

By Sarah Battle

The compassion displayed by Jesus during the days of his ministry was evidence of his love and care not only for the individuals of his day but his love for us today. The compassion demonstrated by Christ was not a new revelation to me in my readings but a reminder of God’s immeasurable love for you and me.

The verse, “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases” is proof He loves us. Jesus healed the sick, reached out towards the dying, struck out the impure spirits, and understood the hurts of those seeking help for the restoration of their loved ones. By the touch of His hand or by the command of His Word Jesus showed mercy to the weak.

The Lord’s compassion was demonstrated when he spoke to the crowds in parables. He wanted his followers to understand his mission. He spoke in parables to reach the hearts and minds of those searching and needing answers. Time and time again Jesus would give an illustration of a person or an object in order for the crowds to relate to his message. Reflect on the last time you spent time with someone you loved giving them examples of experiences in order to keep them from destruction.

Jesus’ care and compassion for his disciples was another demonstration of his love. He gave them warnings, advice, and left them with the Holy Spirit. He advised them not to be afraid. He explained to them that they were worth more than many sparrows. Take heart my son, my daughter; he gives the same message to you.

Your Father is waiting for you to approach Him with your needs big and small. Remember the next time you ask Christ for something he longs for your heart first. He longs to show you his compassion, to heal you from your infirmities and give you advice. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.

Next time you hear or sing the old hymn…

He touched Me, O he touched me,
and O the joy that floods my soul
something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole.

Perhaps you will have a deeper understanding of His love for you.

Learn more about NT8 at AFBC here