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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Presedential election news

We're a week away from what has been dubbed one of the most important
elections in the history of the U.S.A. While that may be true, it's my
belief that every election is critical and potentially a turning point. It's
our involvement that can make the difference.

Today, I'm beginning a countdown to Election Day next Tuesday. Each day I'd
like for us to ask ourselves a question, consider a Scripture (or two), and
then say a prayer.

If you're going to be my President, I need to know sir, will you care for
the poor and at the same time condemn laziness?

"Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and
needy" (Pro. 31:9).

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would
not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thes. 3:10).

Father, thank you for allowing us to live in this great nation. In just a
few days, we'll be voting on who we believe will be the best leader for our
country. Father, give us wisdom to elect someone who will care for people
who are struggling and at the same time condemn the laziness of those who
will not work. Father we know that there are folks who want to work, and can
work if given the chance, and Father we pray that doors of opportunity will
open to those who are diligently searching for employment. In Jesus' name,

For previous devotionals, visit

The Piedmont Road
church of Christ
* Home of the Georgia School of Preaching and Biblical Studies

1630 Piedmont Road NE
Marietta, GA 30066

9:30 a.m. Bible Study and 10:30 a.m. Worship
5:00 p.m. Children's Bible Time, followed by our evening Worship

7:15 p.m. Bible Study

We hope you'll join us this Lord's Day!


Copyright © 2012 Piedmont Road church of Christ, All rights reserved.
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Piedmont Road church of Christ.
Our mailing address is:

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1630 Piedmont Road NE
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Monday, October 29, 2012

#Superstorm #Sandy

Said to impact upwards of 50 million people, Hurricane Sandy will have a
devastating impact on the eastern part of the United States this week.

In all probability, homes will be destroyed, lives will be disrupted,
businesses will be devastated, and as we've seen already with this storm,
there is the potential that people will die.

On my drive in this morning I was thinking about this storm and comparing it
to the storms of life.

No doubt about it. Each one of us will have a storm in life that must be
endured. That's right, difficulty affects more than 50 million. Storms,
sometimes hurricane size storms, will impact the hearts of 100% of the
world's population.

Every time I turn around I learn of a new challenge that one is having to
endure--from job loss to the loss of one's well-being to the loss of a loved
one. All of these are storms and sooner or later, we'll all go through one.

So, what's the solution? I believe we have to look in, look out, and look

Learn to look in. See yourself as you really are. You are an individual of
value, and importance to God. I'm impressed with Scripture like Romans 16
and Philemon in which God references individuals by name. Why? Because they
are important to Him? Guess what--so are you!

Learn to look out. When you're going through that storm, there are folks
that want to help. I think one of the frustrating things about church work
is the fact that sometimes folks struggle and no one knows. Friends, you
don't have to struggle alone. People do care, and people do want to share
your burden. After all, that's the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

Learn to look up. Yes, look up to God. the ultimate help in the storms of
life is God. God is our F.E.M.A. He is our Friend who will not let us down.
He is our Encourager, the One who has our back. He is our Master, leading us
to victory in the end. He is the Anchor of our soul, keeping us secure in
the Faith if we let Him.

All those in Sandy's path have our prayers. To those in the path of personal
storms, we remember you as well.

Have a great day!

For previous devotionals, visit

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Who is on the Lord’s side?

                                                  I am a quotations afficionado and I may have mentioned that before in my writings, but if you haven't heard it, you've no doubt figured that out by now. As such, the other day I was reading through some quotes that I've saved over the years and decided to offer an editorial with quotations and corresponding scriptures for today's lesson. I appreciate your consideration of these mini-lessons and I hope that you find the quotations as interesting as I do.

The format for today's editorial will be that I will cite you the scripture first and then the quotation accompanied by any comments I feel appropriate.

First scripture: "...a time to keep silence and a time to speak." Eccl. 3:7

Before I give you the quote, I'm reminded of the story of a little boy who was away from his house for awhile and when he returned his mother asked him, "Where have you been?" The next door neighbor was an elderly man whose wife had recently passed away and the little boy replied to her, "Visiting next door with Mr. Jones." She asked her son, "What did you talk about?" whereupon he told her, "Nothing, I just sat and helped him cry."

The quotation by the Greek philosopher Socrates: "There are two sciences which every man ought to learn. First, the science of speech; second, the more difficult one of silence."

My addition: "Silence" isn't always better than speech, but many times it is. As proof: how many times have you wished you'd kept your mouth shut and just listened?

Next scripture: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God's." Mark 12:17

We're always hearing something about the First Amendment to the Constitution (Separation of church and state), usually in the form of a law suit regarding a supposed violation of it. We could devote many pages to this topic alone, but I'm going to be very succinct in my comments about it here.

The main problem, as I see it: I believe that "Caesar" has intruded way too much on the "things that are God's" and not the other way around. And now, here's our quote, spoken by President Reagan who was talking about people becoming afraid of violating the First Amendment.

"The First Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values; it was written to protect those values from Government tyranny."

Next scripture: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2Tim. 3:16-17 (ESV)

I believe that the answer to every situation, both good and bad, the reason for everything, for all things we experience, the key to real and lasting peace, and the solution for man's eternal reconciliation with God can be found in His Word - The Bible. Here's what Pres. Reagan thought about it:

"Within the covers of that single book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today if we'd only read and believe."

Next scripture: (Moses addressing the Israelites) "Who is on the Lord's side? Let him come unto me." Exodus 32:26

Before I share another quotation with you, again spoken by President Ronald Reagan, I'd like to do a little teaching on those words of Moses to his nation. They were spoken at a time when the people were behaving themselves in a most corrupt manner, with the assistance and compliance of Aaron, a member of their leadership party. Behaving so badly that God threatened to destroy everyone of them and start over making a nation of Moses's descendants, but Moses was able to entreat God to spare them and He did so. After this, Moses made his speech to the people.

You'll notice that, by asking the question "Who is on the Lord's side?" there is the direct implication that a choosing (dare I say an "election") must be made. There was another implication within the choice that Israel had to make that day that was later spelled out by Christ in Matt. 12:30 when he said: "He that is not with me is against me.."

You'll see in our corresponding quote that President Reagan urges "caution" in a certain way. I too urge "caution" but in the sense of "choosing" the right side as the wrong choice will be eternally disastrous. Now, the quote:

"We must be cautious in claiming God is on our side. I think the real question is, are we on His side?"

I'll bring today's efforts to a close by just making this observation - wouldn't it be great to hear our Presidents and other leaders speaking words such as these? I once had the honor of spending a short amount of time with President Reagan, but it was enough to recognize that he truly was a great human being. In my humble opinion, he is sorely missed these days.

Ron Covey

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Falling shark San Juan Capistrano California

Flying objects are a common hazard on a golf course. The purpose of crying
"Fore!" is to warn golfers ahead that a small white ball may be coming in
direction. Sometimes golf clubs are even seen flying about (though this is
the intent of the game).

But what golfer expects a shark to fall from the sky? That unexpected event
actually occurred this past Monday in San Juan Capistrano, California.

You may be thinking, "I've heard of that place." Yes, San Juan Capistrano
been famous for the annual return of migratory swallows, though recent years
have seen a decline in the numbers of these birds. Now this spot on the
coast will be known for another event. A two-foot-long leopard shark fell
of the sky close to the tee on the 12th hole.

No one saw what happened, but the best speculation suggests a large
bird lost its grip on its prize catch of the day. Quick action by the
marshal enabled the shark to be returned to the ocean alive.

Life is filled with unexpected events. Relatives drop in without calling.
have a way of breaking down when we most need them. Accidents are by
interruptions of our planned schedules. If one thing is predictable about
it is that life is unpredictable.

Jesus told of a farmer who was caught by surprise. The man had just
the best year ever for his farm, and was considering his future. "So he
'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I
store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have
many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be
(Luke 12:18,19).

But that night the man's life would end, Jesus said. All of the earthly
he anticipated would pass on to someone else. "So is he who lays up
for himself, and is not rich toward God," Jesus concluded (Luke 12:21).

Was this farmer's death unexpected? The answer is Yes, but it is also No.
There was nothing to suggest that he was knocking on death's door. His
was good; he apparently was in the prime of his life. He seemed to expect a
long future. But, as we have come to see, death is always near. How often
we've heard of accidents, illnesses that appear out of nowhere and violence
ambushes the unsuspecting. "The unexpected" is a visitor to every community
the world.

Ecclesiastes is a book of observations about life. Those observations are
gloomy: "He who digs a pit will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a
will be bitten by a serpent. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them,
and he
who splits wood may be endangered by it" (Ecclesiastes 10:8,9). Who can
anticipate such things? We're caught by surprise.

But one thing should not catch us by surprise, and that's the fact that the
unexpected is bound to occur. That makes this admonition so appropriate:
"Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth before the difficult
come ..." (Ecclesiastes 12:1). We can prepare for the unexpected!

Timothy D. Hall

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the Appalachian Trail

"The Trail That Unites"

I'm blessed to live within 30 minutes of the Appalachian Trail. The trail,
you likely know, is over 2,000 miles long, stretching from Springer
Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. I've only hiked a small percentage of it,
what I've experienced I have deeply enjoyed. Tens of thousands of others
whether thru-hikers, section-hikers or (like me) day-hikers.

Recently I watched a video that gave an overview of the AT. A statement
my attention, that it was "a trail that unites". The observation has been
confirmed numerous times.

Many books have been written about hiking the Appalachian Trail. In each,
author notes the diversity of hikers one meets along the way. Hikers range
age from the very young to the very old. Females and well as males enjoy
trek, as do Americans and guests from all over the world. Found along this
ribbon on the Appalachian Mountains are people from all kinds of

What is it that unites these folks? Simply put, the awe-inspiring nature
around. The views are the same to each hiker; elevation changes do not vary
according to individuals. The same natural surroundings appeal to each one,
that's what unites them.

John Muir, the "grandfather" of America's national park system, once said,
touch of nature makes the whole world kin." Muir was borrowing the phrase
Shakespeare, but his meaning is apparent to all who get out to enjoy this
beautiful planet. Outdoors we are reminded that we all have much in common,
despite the details that divide us.

There is another trail, established long ago, that had the express goal of
uniting people: we call it "the church". Jesus declared His intention to
His church in Matthew 16:18. That plan was fulfilled in Acts 2. But what
of group would this be? Would it continue the custom of the day by catering
only to certain groups?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations," Jesus commanded in His
Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). In the decade that followed, the church
reached out beyond the borders of Judaism to embrace people from all
backgrounds and classes of society. Jesus intended for the church to be "a
trail that unites".

And don't miss the point that the church is a trail, not a destination. The
purpose of the church is to lead us somewhere else; in this case, heaven.
declared this truth in Ephesians 5:23: " ... Christ is head of the church;
He is the Savior of the body." The church exists while we are on earth.
day we will be saved to a most glorious place!

For now, while we're traveling on this trail, we are to see ourselves and
fellow-hikers as one: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor
uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in
all" (Colossians 3:11).

What a superior way to live! What a glorious destination to which we are

Timothy D. Hall

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rudy Ruettiger

Rudy Ruettiger wrote,

There's no such thing as a dishonorable profession. One great carpenter is
worth a dozen paper shufflers in an office somewhere. MBAs area dime a
dozen, but a truly great auto mechanic is a treasure.

Say, what are you doing with your life?

I was once told by a discouraged employee: "I've wasted my whole life
playing around at jobs and now it's too late to start a career."

First, it's never too late to start doing what you really want to do.

Second, don't let a job define who you really are.

A career today is different from a career yesterday. Today's career may be
someone working three jobs to provide for the family and to support what
they really love--doing mission work during the summer months.

So, what are you doing with your life? If every moment is spent "working the
routine" then your job is defining who you are.

If you're a Christian, the most important thing that your remembered for
when you leave this planet is not going to be how many deals you closed,
numbers you crunched, or projects you lead.

The number one thing is, was he a faithful Christian? At work, did he
exhibit the qualities of Jesus and did he seek to do good and serve his
fellow man? In so doing, how many folks did he try to bring to the Lord?

You see, there's no dishonorable profession if at the heart of every
professional is, "how will I glorify God today?"

The Bible says, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of
the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col. 3:17).

I hope you have a great day!

For previous devotionals, visit

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Tears of Paul

We're studying through some of the occurrences in Scripture where we see the
apostle Paul in tears.

Paul "warned with many tears."

"Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased
not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31).

In expression of his deep abiding interest in and love for their souls, Paul
warned his brethren "with tears." These Christians were in danger of enemies
from without and within. Paul told them that men would come in as "grievous
wolves" "not sparing the flock"--that's enemies from without. Then, he
writes "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,
to draw away disciples after them"--enemies from within.

How heartbreaking it must have been for Paul, who gave so much to spread the
message of Jesus, to see the church for which he labored be persecuted by
enemies from without and within.

I wonder, do we have the same heart for the church of Christ today? Do we
hurt when people speak evil of her? Does it bother us when folks try to
change her for the sake of conforming to the world around us? Does it break
our hearts when attitudes within the body of Christ are divisive and
splinter the church for which Jesus died?

Just something to think about.

I hope you have a most excellent day!

For previous devotionals, visit

The Piedmont Road
church of Christ
* Home of the Georgia School of Preaching and Biblical Studies

1630 Piedmont Road NE
Marietta, GA 30066

9:30 a.m. Bible Study and 10:30 a.m. Worship
5:00 p.m. Children's Bible Time, followed by our evening Worship

7:15 p.m. Bible Study

We hope you'll join us this Lord's Day!


Copyright © 2012 Piedmont Road church of Christ, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you're a member of or friend to the
Piedmont Road church of Christ.
Our mailing address is:

Piedmont Road church of Christ
1630 Piedmont Road NE
Marietta, GA 30066

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Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Exorcise a demon


            Not long ago, I was called by a woman while I was in the study. She felt she had some demons in her house and asked me to come expel them. Unfortunately, I did not take Exorcism 101 in college! Seriously, she needed an in-depth Bible study; more than what I could do on the phone. I was not in a position to go study with her at that time and would not have, without another female - preferably Rachel - to accompany me.


            I did direct her to read her Bible in two places in particular - Matthew 12 and Ephesians 6. Matthew 12 is one account of half a dozen in which Jesus or an apostle cast out an unclean spirit (demon). Demons are evil angels in the service of Satan (Matthew 25:41). God allowed evil spirits to leave the unseen world for a period of time to give Jesus and His apostles an opportunity to show vividly that Jesus has more power than the Devil.


            In Matthew 12, Jesus told the Pharisees who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Casting out evil spirits was designed to show three things: 1.) the kingdom of God was about to be established; 2.) Jesus was He Whom He said He was - the Son of God, Savior; 3.) Jesus has more power than the Devil.


            That being the case, there is no need to allow demon possession today. The kingdom of God is already established and the Bible proves that. Jesus stands proven to be the Son of God (John 20:30-31) - the Bible proves that. Jesus still has more power than the Devil - the Gospel accounts prove that definitively. So, demon possession would serve no purpose today.


            For those - like that lady on the phone - who are afraid of the Devil, Paul wrote Ephesians 6. He writes, beginning in verse 12: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:12-13, 18).


            Of course, in between verses 13 and 18 is the "whole armor of God" (panoply in the Greek). Every item in our armory is related in one way or another to the Word of God.


            The bottom line is that Jesus is stronger than the Devil and He can eradicate our fears if we'll submit our lives to Him and follow His Word. That's what I tried to explain to the lady on the phone.


--Paul Holland


Friday, October 5, 2012

Marion Gilbert

Marion Gilbert wrote this little paragraph, I thought it was worth sharing.
"One morning I opened the door to get the newspaper and was surprised to see
a strange little dog with our paper in his mouth. Delighted with this
unexpected "delivery service," I fed him some treats. The following morning
I was horrified to see the same dog sitting in front of our door, wagging
his tail, surrounded by eight newspapers.
I spent the rest of that morning returning the papers to their owners."

I know it seems like a silly little story, but what would you have done?
After all, you didn't tell the dog to bring all of those newspapers, it's
not even your dog! It's not your responsibility to get them back is it? At
the most, we might call the newspaper office… but to return all of the
papers ourselves, that's going just a little to far isn't it?

The apostle Paul wrote to the young man Titus inTitus 2:7, "You must in all
things show yourself an example of good deeds; in your teaching showing
integrity, reverence, incorruptibility."
Wow, that's difficult isn't is, "you must in all things show yourself an
example of good deeds… showing integrity…" I think the point Paul is making
is that you never know who is watching what you do and how they will respond
to your actions. You see, that is part of "Showing ourselves an example…" It
takes more than just saying the right words and proclaiming that we are good
people; we have to show by our example the stuff of which we are made… In
this context of course I am talking about living our life so that it's not
just our words that say, "I'm a Christian," it is our example also.

It is the little things in life that make a difference… You may never have a
dog bring you your neighbor's newspaper, but what about that clerk or teller
who gives you too much change or some other mistake made in your favor. How
will you respond then? What will your example say?
My prayer is that our God will give you a pure heart of integrity as you
walk through this life.

May He continue to bless and keep us all!

--Russ Lawson

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled

We're doing a short study of Jesus' "heavenly attitudes" from Matthew
5--looking at three each morning. Here are three more to add to yesterday's

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they
shall be filled" (5:6).

The term "righteousness" is used in the New Testament some 92 times. Here
the Lord declares that those who feel a most intense desire for
righteousness shall obtain it. Isn't it interesting how the Lord uses
language here that is so practical? Man's two most primary needs are food
and water—hunger and thirst. If we're hungry or thirsty, we'll let nothing
stand in our way to have those needs fulfilled. So should be the intensity
of our desire to know the Word of God.

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (5:7).

This attitude has reference to the forgiveness of offences. There are so
many examples in the Bible of those who were merciful—read again the account
of Joseph and how he treated his brethren (Gen. 45:1-15); David, and how he
treated Saul (1 Sam. 24:16-22; and, the good Samaritan and how he treated
the weary traveler (Lk. 10:29-37).

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (5:8).

This describes those who are free from evil desires and purposes—not just
moral purity, but a consistent love for God (Mk. 12:30). These are the ones
who now see God by faith. Add to that, these will one day see God face-to-
face in the heavenly after awhile.

Today, have heavenly attitudes. If you do, I know you'll have a great day!

For previous devotionals, visit

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big South Fork National Recreation

"Strike The Tent"

For about 18 hours it was a delightful place to live. This past weekend
some of
our children and I enjoyed a campout in the Big South Fork National
Area in northern Tennessee. The campground we chose (Bandy Creek) turned
out to
be a good choice. I arrived about an hour before the others and spent the
setting up two tents. The next morning it took only a few minutes to take
everything down. It was hard to tell anyone had been there as we moved on
our hike.

There's another spot where I once lived that shows little trace of anyone
lived there. A frame house on the side of Pine Mountain was home to me for
first nine years of my life. After that we moved into a new house and the
structure was torn down. Today there's only a storage building there. Were
not for a few old photos, I might have a hard time remembering what that
looked like.

Each one of us, I suppose, can identify with such experiences. Certain
structures (or tents) served as our dwelling place, and life may have been
enjoyable there. But time has passed and many of these buildings no longer
exist. We, however, continue to live apart from those houses.

Robert E. Lee is reputed to have said, just before his death, "Strike the
In his years of military service that would have been an easily-understood
order. Soldiers would know that it was time to take down their tents and
on to the next battle site. On this occasion, though, there were no army
encampments nearby. What did he mean by saying that?

Lee, as you likely know, was also a religious man, well acquainted with the
Bible. Could it be that he was using imagery that was once used by the
Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1? "For we know that if our earthly house, this
is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
in the heavens." To remove any doubt about his meaning, Paul returns to the
image again in verse 4: "For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened,
because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be
swallowed up by life."

Paul connects "tent" with "mortality"; the cessation of life in this
body is like taking down a tent. The tent may be gone, but the one who
inside it is still alive and well.

Nearly a thousand years before Paul, Solomon spoke of the separation of body
soul at death: "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the
will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). James agreed with this
view of the nature of man: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so
without works is dead also" (James 2:26).

This concept is welcome light upon a subject that for many is dark. Is
anything beyond death? Or, to use our image, will we continue to exist
we've taken down the tent? The Bible's answer to that question is a clear

More good news: Jesus is presently preparing a new home for our spirits!
"In My
Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.
go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). One day, after I have struck my
tent, my soul will need a new home. That's why I choose Jesus!

Timothy D. Hall

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the kingdom of heaven

For the next three mornings, I'd like for our morning devotional to center
on the opening words of the greatest sermon ever preached--the Sermon on the
Mount, in Matthew 5.

In the beloved Sermon on the Mount, the perfect presenter of truth began His
sermon with what has been dubbed "the be attitudes." Others have called it,
"the attitudes that should be." Both are accurate, but I'm calling them
"heavenly attitudes" because they are the attitudes that heaven requires of
those who wear the name Christian.

Let's look at just three of those heavenly attitudes this morning, and three
more each day for the next two days.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven"

This is so fundamental. To have this quality of life, we must empty
ourselves. The word "poor" here is the Greek word ptochoi and describes one
who has been beaten to his knees by life. Contextually, this is one who
realizes that he is nothing without Christ (i.e. Paul—Rm. 12:3,16; 11:20;
Gal. 2:20). To be poor in spirit is to be without pride, self-assurance and
self-reliance in relation to the spiritual qualities of life. The result of
poverty of spirit is that we are compelled to turn to God's spiritual

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (5:4).

What a contrast. The world places priority on the enjoyment of life, and
living life to its fullest. Its whole philosophy is to seek physical
pleasure. This is referring to a spiritual condition and attitude toward
life. So, what type of mourning is the Lord talking about here? It is not
despair, depression, or even disappointment in life. To mourn is to possess
the attitude of the Publican—"God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk. 18:13).
The mourners Christ has in mind are those who grieve over their sin.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (5:5).

This is the opposite of the world's ideologies— strength, aggressiveness,
and power. Meekness is a mental attitude and the expression of that attitude
in my relationship with God and others. Those who are meek are those who
trust in the Lord, who delight in the Lord, who commit their ways to the
Lord, and who are still, restful, before the Lord (cf. Psa. 37:3-7,10-11).

I hope your attitudes today are heavenly, and that you have a great day!

For previous devotionals, visit

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to have a great mission trip

Returning from a mission trip brings its challenges, not the least of which
is the physical adjustment to a time zone that is almost eleven hours behind
the place you just left. Sometimes I really struggle with adjusting my
biological clock to the clock on the wall, and the reality that, while your
body tells you it should be six o'clock in the morning, the sky outside
tells you it is nigh unto dusk. When I woke up in Bangaluru Thursday morning
it was 6:00 A.M. there, but it was 7:30 P.M. Wednesday night here at home.
It would be almost 40 hours before I would be able to lay my body down for a
decent rest. Going that far, that fast, does not seem to be a part of what
God intended for our physical bodies. Of course, the "slow boat to China"
may be easier on the body, but it really chews up a lot of time. So, until
my body adjusts to the Central Time Zone, I'll take advantage of those wee
hours of the morning when I can't sleep to get some reading, study and
meditat ion under my belt. I figure that just about the time I am used to
getting up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning instead of 2:00 or 3:00 that it
will be time for Daylight Savings to kick in, and I'll have to roll back the
clock and find myself getting up yet one more hour earlier.

But there are other challenges that I face when I come home. For one thing
there is the readjustment to a daily schedule that is disrupted when I make
a mission trip to Russia or India. At home there are those constant
reminders that there is a sense of "permanence" here that is not present
when travelling over seas. Medical appointments, mowing the lawn, paying
bills, and weekly shopping, to name but a few. When I leave all this behind
and immerse myself in preaching and teaching, I tend to forget those things
that await me when I come home. For several days after my arrival home I am
busy catching up with bills, correspondence, writing, and reading; and the
longer I have been gone, the more there is to catch up with. Sometimes it is
simply overwhelming.

Another challenge is readjusting my emotional barometer (if I may call it
that). The opportunities for preaching and teaching the gospel in some
places are abundant; and in some cases simply astonishing. Take for example
my recent work in India. Brother J.C. Bailey first went to India to present
the pure message of Christ to a people steeped in idolatry. The response was
so astonishing that brethren back home simply did not believe there were so
many being baptized. The response was in the 100's, and in some cases in the
1,000's. Churches of Christ were being established throughout India,
especially in the south eastern part of that country. After fifty years the
rate of growth does not seem to have abated. The receptivity of the gospel
continues to this day. Large audiences, open hearts, and precious souls
responding give a visiting missionary a spiritual "high" that lifts his
spirit and gives him a deeper appreciation for the work of those who have
"bea utiful feet" [see Romans 10:15). When I come home there is a return to
the reality that the soil for planting the seed of God's word that exists in
India on a wide scale is not present in much of the Western world. Wealth,
prosperity, humanism, atheism, self indulgence - pick what you want; these
are the things that have hardened the hearts of so many in our country so
much so that trying to find the good and honest heart is like the proverbial
search for a needle in a haystack. I realize that work in this "mission
field" we call the United States is difficult, disheartening and often
discouraging; but we rest on the promise that we shall reap if we faint not.

Finally, there is a challenge of readjustment to a society that is literally
saturated with sin and ungodliness. From the head to the foot (to borrow the
words of Isaiah) the moral climate in America is in the cesspool. I am not
suggesting that India is a sinless society, but it seems that here in
America sin is flaunted openly and without any shame on the part of the
people and the politicians. America wears her pride on her sleeve. Humility
is an endangered species. Right or wrong, my perception is that in India
there is a sense of moral responsibility and humility of heart that makes
the preaching of the gospel such a success.

I can adjust my biological clock fairly quick; I can adjust to my daily
routine here at home. But I find it much more difficult to face a world that
seems bent on slapping God in the face. Therein is the great challenge of
coming home.

by Tom Wacaster

Monday, October 1, 2012

This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru

                            "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru..."

                                                   (Words of a well-known spiritual song)

From time to time I like to present a lesson based upon songs that we sing. Today I'm going to use two hymns that we're all familiar with and a new song that I just heard for the first time the other day. The two hymns are "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "This World Is Not My Home." The new song that I mentioned is a beautiful song entitled: "Foreign Land."

Let me just start with the new one and tell you a little about it which will tell you what inspired it to be written. It's a song about soldiers who gave their lives overseas, who died in service to their country, in a "foreign land." It truly is a beautifully written and performed song, but I'd like to cite to you just a few words of it that will serve as a lead-in to our lesson.

One line of the song goes like this: "Countless souls who give their lives on 'Foreign Land." Can't we take these words and see a spiritual lesson within them? I think that we can and I'm going to do my best to present it in a way that you can see it also and here's how I'm going to do it.

My first point is: all Christians are soldiers. We've all enlisted (volunteered) in the army of God, led by our King, Jesus Christ. Several scriptures use the analogy of warfare to describe the adversarial situation that ever goes on between God's army and Satan and his army. Our "tour of duty" is the accountable years of our lives here on battlefield earth.

Here are a few passages to show what I mean about the Gospel's analogy to Christian warfare. In 2Cor. 10:3-4 we're told that, even though we "walk in the flesh" we do not "wage war according to the flesh." That our weapons are not of the "carnal" or fleshly kind, but are even better because they are of "Divine Power."

To get more specific as to our weaponry, we're told that we only have one offensive weapon at our disposal while in the field. In Eph. 6:12-17 is found the oft-quoted passage regarding the "whole armor of God." Every item mentioned there, with the exception of one, is defensive in nature. Only the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," the "Divine Power" with which we engage the enemy.

These thoughts should allow us to segue into a brief connection to one of our old, familiar hymns and allow me to tie the words of the song "Foreign Land" to this point of the lesson. You see, this earth, this world is not our home. Our souls are here in a "foreign land" in the service of our King. And this is where we'll die in that service.

It doesn't matter what special talent/s we've been blessed with, we're expected to serve, use them, to the best of our ability. Sort of in keeping with last week's editorial wherein we said that God doesn't have a "second string," neither does He have "reserve troops." We're all on the front lines at all times. And, we all operate under the same set of orders.

At this point I'd like to point out a big difference between fleshly warfare and spiritual warfare and that difference is this: not ALL earthly soldiers die in their service to their country but, ALL Christian soldiers die in their service. We do not have an "Honorable Discharge" after X amount of years of service. Our enlistment is for the duration of our Christian life. When we come to the end of our enlistment, if we've "faithfully" served, then we'll receive the reward promised as shown in these scriptures: Matt. 10:22, Heb. 3:6 & 14, 1Pet. 1:9 and Rev. 2:10. There are others but, these should be sufficient.

A thought about our fellow soldiers leads me to our third song and final hymn: "Onward Christian Soldiers." Allow me to, just briefly, tell you a little about this famous old hymn.

One would think that by the nature of it being put to music in a "march beat" that it would have originated as an "army song." Or, maybe as a "battle song." If one thought that, they'd be wrong. The writer of this song was a minister in England by the name of Sabine Baring-Gould and he wrote it in 1864.

The inspiration for the song might surprise you as it originated as a children's marching song. It was customary on a particular day of the year for the Sunday School kids of his village to walk, in procession, to a nearby village for a church outing. Baring-Gould thought that they should have a song to sing as they marched so, in one evening, he penned the words to this song.

In order to tie this song into the subject line of our lesson today, I'd like you to note some words from the 3rd verse of the song: "Brothers we are treading where the saints have trod." Ever think about the import of those words? If not, here's what I thought about in regards to them.

We are the present army of God occupying the battlefield. The current soldiers serving the cause in this ongoing war against "the wiles of the devil." Ever consider our connection to the battles and the lives of our former, fellow soldiers? Those valiant, faithful brethren who have "fought their good fight" and "finished their course," their enlistment, if you will. More to the lesson; those who have died in the course of their service in this "foreign land." God bless them for their service and their example to us still engaged in the "fight."

One last little thought for today and I'll shut up. One of the things standard to armies is their "standards." Their battle flag or their "colors." In a sense, returning to the words of our last hymn, we find identified there the "standard," the "colors" of our Christian army: "With the cross of Jesus going on before."

Ron Covey


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