DEVOTIONALS AND POEMS

WAITING FOR THE SON

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Extended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Devotional verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:10

“And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come” (NASB)

The believers in Thessalonica were relatively new to the faith but the joy and zeal they shared with each other was astounding. Paul had heard of their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” (Vs. 3), and he was full of joy and thankfulness at the persistent and perseverant manner in which they lived for their new found savior. These young converts become imitators of Paul, the Lord, and other churches because of the suffering they endured as followers of Jesus. They became examples to other believers around them for being steadfast in the faith and for being a faithful gospel witness to the watching world around them.

What gave them so much joy? What inspired them to persevere through suffering? What gave their hearts the courage to tell others about the “living and true God? Jesus promised that He is coming back for his beloved (John 14:1-3)! The joy and expectation that is expressed in verse 10 is expected and should be anticipated in those who have, as they have, “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.” Idols do not necessarily need to be fashioned out of gold, wood, or any other material thing for us to be in bondage to them. We are very creative in setting up idols in our own hearts (Ezekiel 14:3). 

Reflecting on these scriptures should “re-awaken” our longing for the Lord’s return. They  remind us that we are to live our lives in faithful anticipation of this event. What a joy it is to read: “he delivers us from the wrath to come.”

                                                                                                           Larry G. Stump Jr.

Prayer: Our Father, we rejoice in God our savior. We admit that we have not lived each day in light of the truth that Jesus is coming back for us and will make all things right. Help us, O Father, to live our lives from this day forward in joyful anticipation of being with our savior. Amen.

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THE GOSPEL

Go and spread the gospel

Over the hills and thru the vale;

It’s truth for hurting souls

Not a children’s fairytale.

O, be gentle in your speaking

But bold along the way;

For we’re not guaranteed tomorrow

And many souls are lost each day.

Speak it’s truth unto your loved ones,

Don’t burn bridges as you go;

Humbly live out the gospel for them

So it’s affects within you show.

Prepare to be rejected

That’s just par for the course;

They rejected Christ as well

O, dear Christian stay the course.

Enlist a mighty army

Going forward into war;

With the gospel as their banner

And God going on before.

Let us pray for those who listened

That His truth He does impart;

So all by grace forgiven

Will receive a blood washed heart.             

  Larry G. Stump Jr.

RUNNING WELL

Extended reading: Galatians 5:1-8.

Devotional verse: 5: 7

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”

Martin was a friend of mine who struggled in the faith. Early on in his life he was a false convert, but thanks to the long-suffering of God he was finally redeemed and by God’s grace was growing in the knowledge of God’s will revealed in His holy word.

But as time went on it appeared that Martin was struggling once again. This time it was because of some false teaching he was listening to. This teaching was drawing him away from “grace alone” for salvation, toward a “works plus” grace salvation model. Martin began well, but eventually became seriously hindered in his Christian walk for several years to come, because he listened to someone’s distorted teaching about God’s word rather than trusting in God’s revealed word. 

Paul’s words echo forth with resounding clarity! Those who were now struggling in their faith started well. They were growing in their faith and living in light of the gospel, but then some false teacher with some pseudo gospel came along. They perhaps, hesitantly at first listened with skepticism, but then somewhere along the way they were deceived into believing a lie. Now there assurance of salvation was lost as they became “subject again to a yoke of slavery” (vs.1).

Paul told the Ephesians that “we are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so none one should boast” (2:8-9). As we have so much available to us today within media, whatever and however that is manifested, let us with caution listen to others who propose to speak for our Lord and exercise discernment (1 John 4:1), and let us with confidence apply the word of God in full assurance and faith (Hebrews 10:22).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us in our ignorance to learn your word. We ask for your Spirit to teach us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Grant us an uncanny mindset that is able to discern truth from error and to reject the false and cling to that which is good. Amen.

Extended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.

Devotional verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:5

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you” (NASB).

Many Christian people I know are afraid to share the gospel with others because they get extremely nervous thinking about what they would say. Other Christians I know believe that they don’t have to say anything; they believe doing good works and serving people is sharing the gospel. In our verse we find both qualities are active and useful in evangelism when used simultaneously.

Paul and Silas spoke words to the Thessalonians because they believed that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), but words of men, any men, are inadequate and powerless to save, without the power of the Holy Spirit working through them and opening up the minds and hearts of the hearers to understand and believe those words. 

These men also proved to be good “components” of that spiritual power. They lived holy, upright lives before these people. They suffered much affliction and persecution to bring the spoken gospel to them. They lived disciplined lives, worked night and day so they would not be a burden to them (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). Their lives were powerful examples to these people, but that alone never did and never will save anyone. 

We may feel weak and fearful and not be the brightest bulb in the light socket, that’s ok. Paul felt the same way too (1 Corinthians 2:1-5), and yet he still told others about Jesus Christ. He didn’t trust in his life example or his own “persuasive words,” to convince others, rather he trusted in the Holy Spirits power to take his words and make them “living and active” inside them! 

Next time we get fearful when we have an opportunity to share the gospel, we need to remember that God simply wants to use us, but it’s His Spirit working through us that truly makes the difference.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, when we are weak you are strong. Please encourage our hearts with this truth so that we will be more confident in telling others about your Son Jesus. Amen

Today’s reading: Colossians 2:1-7

Verse for devotion:

 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”  Colossians 2:6 (NASB)

Shortly after my wife and I had purchased our new home, our oldest daughter became very sick. We didn’t know it at the time, but she would be diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Our lives changed so dramatically after the doctors talked with us an laid out there plan of action to fight the cancer. For several weeks our daughter was in the hospital on some serious medicines, unable to eat food and barely able to drink water. My wife stayed at the hospital  during the day, and I would stay there at night. During this time I still had the rest of my family to care for; two other children that needed nurturing, guidance, and an education (we homeschooled). I still had my job which I needed to be at each day, needless to say, my faith was being challenged in some pretty striking ways. 

These words of Paul in verse six were very helpful to me then and are an anchor for me now. How did I receive Christ? By faith. How am I supposed to walk or live as I deal with the ebb and flow of life’s blessings and challenges? By faith! Nothing has changed. Through it all, good and bad, I am lovingly exhorted to persevere, remembering that the roots of my faith are connected to Him. And, if I let my life be built on Him, my faith will grow stronger and I will be better able to express my thankful heart to Him.

Our daughter was fifteen when she was diagnosed with cancer. She is now twenty eight, cancer free, and married with two beautiful children of her own. I continue to walk by faith in Christ. He has always proven Himself worthy and that gives me confidence to face whatever challenges are yet ahead.

                                                                                                                                    (Larry Stump Jr.)

Today’s prayer: Precious Lord, because you are faithful, help us not to be faithless amid the trials of life. Help us to grow stronger in the truth’s we’ve been taught, so we may continue forward with a confident trust in you. Amen

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THY WORD

Thy Word is like a hammer

Breaking rocks in pieces;

Removing all deception

So within it we’ll see Jesus.

Thy Word is like pure water

Washing filthy souls from sin;

And by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Sin stained souls are cleansed within!

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet 

And a light that lights my way;  

It is bread from Heaven that strengthens

and renews my soul each day.

Thy Word is like a mirror

Reflecting back to me,

The kind of man I am

And the man you’d have me be.

Thy word is truth that never changes,

Eternal and will never pass away; 

It’s nourishment for hungry souls

For those who regard your way.

Thy Word I have hid within my heart

That I might not sin against thee;

And when temptation comes my way

More strengthened I will be. 

Thy Word is like a sword

Empowered by Thy Spirit;

Enable me to use it well

To defend and counter with it.

Thy Word is full of wisdom

Revealing a holy perspective;

Trained by it our lives should be

Lives that are reflective.

Thy Word is forever settled in heaven

It’s testimonies are wonderful and true;

Sustain me according to Thy word

Till I finally dwell with You.

Written by: Larry Stump Jr.

THE GOSPEL OF GOD

Extended reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Quoted verse: 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (NASB).

The Open Air Campaigners have an evangelistic ministry that has at its core the burden of preaching the gospel to lost people anywhere and mobilizing the body of Christ to do the same. I had the pleasure of learning from these men, many years ago, the skills that were needed to do well in open air evangelism. Using a sketch-board, painting a gospel message, rope tricks and other illustrations; as well as spiritual discipline, faithful study of God’s word, earnest prayer, teamwork, and compassion for the lost. But there is one thing that I learned from them that has affected my gospel witness more than anything else, and that is this: God working through His word performs His will in those who hear and believe!

You and I cannot save anyone. Our flattering speeches, or supposed superiority with words; our perceived wisdom or persuasive rhetoric, never did and never will save anyone. God uses people to proclaim His word, this is true, but He uses weak people led by His Spirit, so that when He opens up minds and hearts to His truth’s, it will always be a demonstration of the working of His Holy Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)!

This truth should be encouraging and reassuring to God’s people. Just as the word of the Lord sounded forth from these believers in every place they went (1 Thessalonians 1:8), so too it should from us. You and I can faithfully share the gospel of God with others (vs 9), confident that He will do what He will in those peoples lives that have heard the truth from us. This means that you and I can share the gospel and then go home and sleep in peace. If people are to come to faith in Christ, such faith cannot rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God!

                                                                                                                                    Larry Stump Jr.  

Daily prayer: Help us O God, to trust in your Spirit and power in the salvation of the lost. Grant to us thy peace which surpasses all understanding as we pray and seek to win souls for Christ. Amen.

THE SOURCE OF ALL BLESSING

Devotional verse:  1 Thessalonians 1:1

“Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV).

A few years ago when I was cleaning out some drawers in my dresser I came across some old letters that I had received, along with a few I started to write but never finished. I was totally absorbed with them; opening up and reading each one again as if it was the first time I had received them. Reading each letter elicited some memory of past events, some memories of the person who wrote it, and the hopes that were held at the time for some yet future event. Than I picked up the letters I started to write but never finished. As I read through them I began to recognize a common theme within them that was so different than the letters of Paul that I have read over and over again in my bible.

My letters often began and ended with myself as the focus, the main theme, whereas in Paul’s letters he always begins and ends with some form of this very greeting we see here. Unlike myself, and probably most of us, It was characteristic of Paul to encompass his writings with a theme of and prayer for grace and peace to the recipient. Grace and peace were constant themes in Paul’s writings and by it he was able to point his readers to the source of all the blessings of redemption they enjoy. How much better would our letters be, whether by pen or keyboard, if we employed the same theme into our writing and thereby pointed our readers to the source of all the blessings of salvation?                        

                                                                                                                            Larry Stump Jr.

Prayer for today: “In your beauty, blessed Lord, we see a fullness of grace, truth, and righteousness. It corresponds exactly to the wants (needs) of poor sinners – your blood to cleanse, your grace to comfort, and your fullness, to supply” (Robert Hawker). Help us, O Lord, to be more diligent with our opportunities to share Christ Jesus with others, Amen.

THE FIRELIGHT

Sitting by the firelight

Enjoying its warmth and glow;

I noticed within its flames

Truths to help me grow.

At first the fire was raging,

Its tongues reached toward the sky;

Reminding me of His punishment,

For those, who Him deny.

Flames traveled to the left

And flickered towards the right;

God led Israel with clouds by day,

And by a pillar of fire by night.

The tongue it is a fire,

Set on fire by hell;

Another truth, if truth be told,

These rolling flames will tell.

The flames, as they relented,

Brought forth a gentle hush;

Reminding me that God appeared,

To Moses, midst a bush.

Amid the glow of orange

Almost ready to retire;

I thought I heard these words sound out,

“Is not my Word like fire?”

His Word is like a fire,

And fire does refine;

I know that work is needed

In a sinful heart like mine.

Written by: Larry G. Stump Jr