I’m writing this because this weekend is my 17th anniversary. Yup, 17 years. That seems like a long time, until I consider those 50 year anniversaries out there… hopefully I can write about my 50th one day. I can’t begin to write our story in a short devotional but I can be a bit transparent and throw out some encouragement to others out there. Last year on FaceBook I stated something like this: “It’s my 16th anniversary and I want to say thanks to my wife for 14 wonderful years!” It was comical, as I had people trying to correct my math. But what I said was true. Our 2nd and 3rd year of marriage was an absolute train wreck. We were not happy, and I think it’s fair to say that we both would have desired a divorce if either of us thought that was an option. We did not see that as an option because we believe the Bible and we know what it says about divorce (MALACHI 2:16 “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.”), (MARK 10:2-12 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”) Also see GENESIS 2, MATTHEW 19, LUKE 16, EPHESIANS 5 and on and on it goes. Now, this is not a discussion on divorce and when it is or is not “ok” to divorce. The point is that in our case there was no reason on either side for divorce. We were both just selfish and stubborn people unwilling to trust God’s promises and continuing to be led by our emotions. A choice that will doom any marriage. A very long story short…we each turned individually to Christ, realizing that if we were going to choose to honor and serve Christ that meant we had to honor and serve each other because Christ lives in our hearts. I have to serve the Christ that lives in her, and she in turn, has to serve the Christ that lives in me, whether we “feel” like serving each other or not. In doing this, we both began to move towards Christ, which eventually led us back together. (GENESIS 2:22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.)
Together we are one. That’s not true with someone you’re just living with, or dating, etc. If you’re not willing to commit, then you’re not willing to serve anyone but yourself, period. Just like a real commitment to Christ means you must die to yourself (1 CORINTHIANS 15:31, ROMANS 6:11-14), a true commitment to your marriage means you must die to your selfishness. This thing isn’t about how you feel. Although God cares about your feelings, your feelings do not matter. Get it? What I mean is that the way you feel will never change The Truth. Therefore your feelings do not matter. However God does care about how you feel and He loves you. But He does not condone making decisions based on how happy you think something will make you or how unhappy you are in your marriage. He bases things on something SOLID. THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE (JOHN 8:32). It will set you free from your own selfish desires. It will set you free from having to have things your own way (cause life ain’t a Burger King slogan). It will set you free from believing stupid things like these book titles, “Your Best Life Now”, because that’s only true if you don’t know Jesus. Your best life is not and never will be here and now. Your best life is what we believers are all looking forward to and why we make the decisions we make while we’re living this life here. Your best life will be the next one but if you want to make this time here as “life-filled” as possible, then base your decisions in all areas of your life on THE TRUTH that will set you free and not your feelings which will certainly deceive you and leave you bitter and unfulfilled. I hope and pray you make your decisions based on God’s truth and that the feelings and emotions that you desire will follow. My wife and I are truly happily married, until one of us does something stupid! Then we’re still married and we have to humble ourselves against the advice of our emotions to regain that happiness. But praise be to Jesus Christ and God our Father that He has truly blessed our efforts to be faithful to His Truth. We truly love Him and each other.
I pray for your marriages out there and encourage you to press on towards honoring God in your decisions. May He bless you, as you obey Him.
by Jackson Bailey
As I lay here with my knee propped up because of a volleyball injury I incurred a week ago, with my left heel bleeding from a staple sticking out of the carpet in my bedroom that I suppose was incorrectly installed by the flippers I bought this house from, I’m listening to the guys who are finally installing the fence I bought 2 months ago, all three of the guys whose ages probably total 30 years old, I begin to laugh through the mild headache. I’m worried these guys don’t know what they’re doing and concerned about my Orthopedic appointment later today and then there’s throbbing still in my head and in my heel. It’s this kind of day that brings this verse to mind: ( Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.)
In Sunday school one morning my grandfather gave a prayer request but right after him another man in his class also asked for prayer but his list went on and on about his health, the loss of his job and his struggling marriage, etc. Just after this man shared his request my grandfather raised his hand again and said, “Just forget about the request I just made, I think he needs your prayers more than me.” That story cracks me up. It’s also funny to me because my grandfather was not trying to be funny. Here’s the point. We all have worries and concerns and things going on. No matter the size of the situation, God still wants to hear your prayer requests. He wants you to CAST YOUR CARES UPON HIM, BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU. Did you hear that? He cares about you. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit how much I’ve doubted His care. I know He cares and it seems like it should be so evident, but let me tell you friends, deception is really, really….deceiving. These feelings and emotions we have should always be checked by THE TRUTH. Feelings can imprison you, but The Truth shall set you free
(JOHN 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”) and when Jesus makes you free, you are free indeed and I believe somewhere it says that HE IS The Truth (JOHN 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.). There it is, the answers are in the Bible if we will just look for them. Your emotions would have you sit on the couch and eat ice cream, feeling worried or sorry for yourself, but The Truth would have you work, read, and get prepared for the deception coming your way. Remember Jesus and His disciples in the garden? He told them to stay up, watch and pray (MATTHEW 26:40-41 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”) You are weak, but He is strong. Therefore you must walk in His ways every day to have strength. Eat Him, drink Him, and live in Him. If you don’t eat, you get weak and will grab for anything, no matter how unhealthy it is. Stay hydrated in His word and eat of the fruit of The Spirit that comes forth when you commune with Him in prayer and you will find strength and reassurance that HE CARES FOR YOU. HE CARES FOR YOU. HE CARES FOR YOU. Keep saying that truth to yourself today.
No matter what you’ve done, HE CARES FOR YOU. No matter how imperfect you are, HE CARES FOR YOU. No matter how many times you’ve fallen and disobeyed, HE CARES FOR YOU. I hope you get the point that HE CARES FOR YOU. I leave you with this scripture for you to look up and read on your own today and while you read it, be reminded how much HE CARES FOR YOU.
Get Over The Hump Day Devotional
by Jackson Bailey
Christians live in a state of Grace. We are given what we do not deserve, and that’s a very good thing. I can’t count how many times I’ve failed. Let me see if you can relate. Sometimes I struggle with a sin of some kind and find myself disobeying God on purpose because I want what I want. Then after getting “my way” I feel shameful and defeated, knowing good and well that I knew my way would not bring me true happiness, and having known the truth I exchanged it for a lie. And I find myself depressed and broken over my sin. I repent and then turn around and sometimes do the very same thing again leaving me feeling like I’m useless. If you can relate, just say, “Amen, God help me” and keep reading.
All sin is an offense against God, and the Enemy seems to know which ones we are most susceptible to. And so we find ourselves in the midst of trouble, and life starts to get overwhelming…..until we hear God saying, “I Love You” and we feel unworthy, because indeed we are, and we cry out, “I am unworthy” and God smiles and we cry out for forgiveness and God says, “I forgive you.” And we begin to feel broken and strengthened at the same time, understanding that God has promised to forgive us (1 JOHN 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”). He is eager to forgive us (PSALM 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You). He wants a relationship with us (1 JOHN 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”) He died for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS (ROMANS 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.). He knows we’re weak, and wants us to know He is Strong. He knows we will fall, but He will pick us up. Search out and believe His promises. They are for you. They are true. They are real. You can be useful. You will be forgiven when you ask. No, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail (MATTHEW 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.) He forgives because He is long-suffering, He is patient, He is kind. GOD IS LOVE (1 JOHN 4:7-8). It doesn’t matter if you feel loved, because love isn’t a feeling, Love is a Person, the very person of God. God is Spirit and He IS the spirit of love. Rest assured believer, you are still loved. He doesn’t leave you or forsake you (DEUTERONOMY 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”)
There are things God can NOT do! He can Not be untrue to His nature or His promises (Psalm 89:34 My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.) He must be faithful, He must be true, He must forgive, He must love. And that is great news for us believers. (There is of course, another side to that for those who do not know Him. He also must punish sin for those who will not deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him [REVELATION 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire)]. I’ll say it again, because some of you may doubt it. God still loves you, God still wants to use you, God still forgives you again and again and again. Grace. Accept it. Believe what God has said. Don’t make the sin worse by denying the forgiveness He has promised to give you. All hail the power of Jesus ‘name. Grace is yours, from God. Be free from that guilt. If your boat was sinking and your child had a hold on the boat and wouldn’t let go, how would you feel? Right, so let go of that guilt that is trying to drag you down and be free again. The Bible is full of great men and women who were failures for a reason. It’s so we could relate. It’s so we would understand that God forgives, He picks us up, He uses us anyway. A man after God’s own heart can commit adultery and murder and be forgiven and used again for the glory of God. Read in Psalm 51 one of the most sorrowful and thoughtful prayers ever. Use that as a guide when you need to pour out your heart to Him.
“Grace to You” is how Paul liked to open his letters. He knew the scriptures better than anyone, and had ignored the truths in them for years. Peter knew Jesus, and he was ready to fight one moment and the next he was denying He even knew Him. Maybe that’s you. It’s been me before. Good news! God loves you. God forgives you. God will make you useful once again. Ask for His forgiveness, and don’t forget to receive it.
Grace. It’s a gift He wants you to have, so take it. Hold onto it. Never let it go. Grace be to you today, and every day.
I’ll leave you with this last verse:
HEBREWS 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Everybody out there seems to be drinking the haterade these days. Relax brothers and sisters, that ain’t no surprise. When I lived in Panama City Beach, FL I waited tables at Sharky’s. It is a restaurant on the beach and boy it was boomin. That’s when I learned that people from Alabama don’t know how to tip. Sorry Alabamians, I’m just saying that it was pretty well known amongst the wait staff, I’m not just “hating” on Alabama. Go Vols! I digress. The point is that I was one of the two Christians working there at the time and when I first came on board I wasn’t well received. By the end of the summer, I was part of the family and I had the opportunity to share my faith both through my words and my actions. I’m not gonna act like I was a perfect example, but they knew what I believed and they loved me anyway. I don’t know if any of them came to know Jesus or not. I still pray for them. When I was working in Orlando it was a different story. It was obvious that some of my co-workers hated what I stood for and they were cordial to my face but it was obvious they hated what I believed. I pray for them too. Through the years I’ve seen a lot of different reactions to the fact that I’m a Christ follower. Some people love you, some hate you and others accept you for who you are but want nothing to do with your faith, more specifically my Friend, my Savior, my Lord. Accepting people is the “in” thing to do so it doesn’t shock me when people act as if they accept me even if they don’t want to hear about my beliefs. Truth is, they hate who I am. They hate who you are believer, because they hate who Jesus IS. The world doesn’t want a Lord over them. They want to be lord of their own lives and they certainly don’t think they need a Savior. At least not the One we’re telling them about. Haters gonna hate. Jesus told us that a long time ago.
JOHN 15:18-25 (NASB)
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
It is not our job to try to make the world “like” us. We’re not popular. Please grow up. You didn’t win state, get over it (Napoleon Dynamite reference). There’s no time to be cool. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re any wiser. High school is over and if you’re in High school right now it will be over soon and they won’t give you a diploma saying that you’re mature. If you’re not walking with Jesus, you’re not any wiser. The world wants to be cool. It wants power. It wants and wants and wants. It wants to fit in, and believer, believe me…you don’t and you won’t fit in. Now don’t get me wrong, we need to befriend the lost, we do need to love others and share the gospel with them, but you don’t win a ton of friends by telling them the truth. You win “worldly friends” by telling them what they want to hear. Just go ask Joel Osteen and he’ll tell you that crap works. We should live at peace the best we can with others.
Romans 12:18 (NASB) If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
The time for pansy Christians who just want to be liked is OVER. We need believers who can love people and tell them the Truth with a heart of compassion with no interest in being cool but with every interest in others coming to know Jesus with a full expectation that people will hate them and reject them because that’s what they did to The One that we’re trying to be like. Count it all joy brothers and sisters….
James 1:2-3 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
We need steadfastness these days, knowing there will be haters. Stand strong my brothers and sisters knowing that people will hate you.
James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
We don’t need cool, we need steadfastness. Be steadfast. Be faithful. Be peaceful. Be bold. Be loving. Be kind. Produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life (GALATIANS 5:22-23).
Let’s stop flapping our lips and go live for Christ. Enough talk. (BE YE DOERS of the word and not talkers only…..is that what it says? OK maybe not, but you get the point).
JAMES 1:22-25 (KJV) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
“You’re welcome to come but I don’t think you’ll like it”, “This probably isn’t for you”, “This is not really your kind of place”……Have you heard these things said to you before? If so, great! People will say those things and when they do, just say, “Thanks for warning me” then leave. That place probably isn’t for you, you probably won’t like it, and it’s not you’re kind of place. Be friends with the lost, just don’t try to be like the lost cause well……then you’re both lost and two lost people have a hard time finding where they’re going.
Be steadfast. Don’t fit in. Love those who need your Savior. Be set apart. Be hated. Be ignored. Be left out. Just don’t be like the world. The day will come when we will be glorified.
ROMANS 8:16-18 (ESV) The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
PSALM 27:14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
JOSHUA 1:9 This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
PSALM 31:24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!
Be strong. Be Courageous. Be patient. Be brave. Be glorified. Remember, haters gonna hate. That’s not you. You’re gonna love. You’re gonna display the fruit of The Spirit and you’re gonna persevere.
MATTHEW 16:24, MARK 8:34, and LUKE 9:23 all say DENY YOURSELF.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
A,B,C,D……yep, I like that better.