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December 14-20, 2015 (Monday thru Sunday)
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Praying for you all.  I hope you all have a great week.
God bless, 

- Josh Allen, Minister

Remember, the goal is not just to read through the Bible this year, it is to read it, meditate on it, discuss it, challenge yourself, and pray.

Monday, December 14 
  • Bible Reading Hebrews 12-13  
  • Devotional Seeds
    • One of my favorite ways to describe the Christian life is how the Bible compares it to Running in a Race. This is seen in Hebrews chapter 12. ““Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (v. 1-2). What is described is not a sprint, but a race of endurance. Think about all that is involved to win a footrace. Daily training, daily discipline (1 Cor 9:27), having at times to run through the pain (James 1:2-4), maintaining good form (2 Tim 2:22-26), staying focused (1 John 2:15-17, Phil 3:13-14), finishing strong (2 Tim 4:7). The apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:24-27). 
    • Keep Your Eyes on Jesus - As we read Hebrews 12:2 I am reminded of the Apostle Peter when he walked on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-34). As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was walking on the water, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus, he became distracted and began to sink. As we go through life, there will be some storms. We will encounter some pretty rough water. As long as we keep our eyes upon Jesus and put our trust in him, we will be okay. But when we take our eyes off of Jesus and lose our connection to Him, then we will surely sink!
  • Recommended Reading:
Tuesday, December 15
  • Bible Reading James 1-2  
  • Devotional Seeds
    • Let Every Man Be Slow to Speak - What does this mean? It means to guard your tongue. The word "tongue" is referred to over 100 times in the Bible. The word "words" is referred to over 500 times in the Bible. The word "lips" is referred to over 100 times in the Bible. The word "mouth" is referred to over 400 times in the Bible. On can see it is an important subject! In our reading James says, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26). James does not pull any punches. He wants us to understand that the tongue is powerful. In chapter three he will illustrate just how powerful (James 3:2-12). Used properly it can bless others richly, but used improperly it can destroy! The wise man has said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov 18:21). “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles” (Prov 21:23). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov 25:11). So think before you speak! Most of the things we do in our lives we think about first before we do them. However, when it comes to our words we don't always think about whether they are appropriately chosen. We wouldn't choose our clothes by reaching around in the dark and just grabbling something to put on and yet that is how we often speak. “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov 29:20). 
  • Recommended Reading:
Wednesday, December 16
  • Bible Reading James 3-5 
  • Devotional Seeds -  
    • The Christian's Prayer is a Powerful Thing (James 5:14-16) - James says “prayer…avails MUCH!” Someone has said, “The best way to get on our feet is to get on our knees and pray”. The most important work of God’s servants is prayer. James uses the great prophet Elijah as an example of prayer’s power (vs. 16-18). Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. Don't think of him as a superman, having special powers. He was like you and I. In 1 Kings 17 he prayed it would not rain because of Ahab's wickedness and it didn’t. In 1 Kings 18:41-42 he prayed for rain and it came. In the midst of these two prayers there is more prayers offered. Look at two different prayers offered during the challenge on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-25). Prayer is effective, avails much, because of the one we pray to. We need to get the focus off of our power and back on God’s! (2 Cor. 3:5). We need to focus on that power and not our problems.  The Power Prayer of Comes Also From A Godly Life. It is the “the effective, fervent prayer of a RIGHTEOUS man avails much” Prayer must be with faith. James 5:16 takes this beyond, merely believing, and reveals that successful prayer comes from a life of faith, a righteous life. At the core of effective prayer, is the decision to live godly. As someone has said, “Prayer w/ out obedience is like begging the doctor to heal you but refusing to take the medicine” (cf. 1 John 3:22; John 15:7; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 28:9). Elijah not only prayed to the right source (GOD) he walked the walk of faithfulness. Like Daniel (Dan. 6:10). Pray with righteousness. Pursue God even when there isn't an emergency. Prayers Must Be With Fervency! The effective, FERVENT prayer of a righteous man avails much (v.16). The fervency here. Speaks of the belief one has in prayer and in the God of prayer. Fervency is not just making a fuss, it is putting your heart into it. Prayer is a privilege. God answers the prayers of His children (John 16:23-24). “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”  -- SO LET US PRAY!
  • Recommended Reading:
Thursday, December 17
  • Bible Reading 1 Peter 1-2 
  • Devotional Seeds -
    • The Cleansing Blood of Christ in Prophecy - Peter said concerning the blood of Christ: “knowing that you were...redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ...He indeed was foreordained...” (1 Pet 1:18-20). The shedding of his blood was foreordained. It was a part of God’s plan even before the foundation of the world. It is first hinted at in Gen 3:15. Later the prophets of old spoke concerning this precious blood: Isaiah foretold of this cleansing power (Isa 1:18) and the prophet Zechariah foretold of a great fountain (Zech 13:1). Even when we look back to the Old law we discover that for centuries the blood of bulls and goats had been poured out, yet this was not the fountain spoken of by the prophets, they merely looked ahead to the blood that would bring lasting redemption! This fountain was opened at Calvary. The Apostle John bore witness of this fact (John 19:34-35).
    • “This World Is Not My Home!” (1 Peter 1:1) - Throughout the New Testament, various phrases are used to describe those people of God who make up the Lord's church. Collectively they are called: the church, church of God, churches of Christ, body of Christ, the temple of God, the family of God, etc. Individually, they are referred to as disciples, saints, believers, priests, Christians. Each of these terms are very descriptive and significant. In First Peter an interesting phrase is used in reference to the people of God. In the very first verse Peter addresses christians as “the pilgrims of the dispersion”. The word “pilgrim” usually makes one think of Thanksgiving, men with wide brimmed hats, big buckles on belt and shoes, stepping off the Mayflower, standing by Plymouth Rock, or seated around a feasting table with Indians. This is not the Biblical definition of a pilgrim. A pilgrim, as Thayer defines the word, is “one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives” “a stranger” “sojourning in a strange place, a foreigner”. Another definition: "One who stays in a place as a stranger or visitor” (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible). Peter views the Christian as one to whom heaven is his native country, who merely sojourns on earth for a while. Peter is reminding us that our citizenship is in heaven and we are are temporary dwellers on earth (cf. 1 Peter 1:1, 1 Peter 1:17, 1 Peter 2:11, Heb 11:13). The theme of 1st Peter may be summed up in the title of a well known hymn, “This world is not my Home”.  
    • Precious Blood - Almost seems like a contradiction right? Precious “blood”. Most people are repulsed by blood. It is not uncommon for people see blood and pass out yet Peter calls it “precious”. It is precious because of whose it is and what it accomplished (1 Peter 1:17-19, Heb 10:28-29). Peter reminds us that the Blood of Jesus is a precious substance. It is the price of redemption (1 Pet. 1:19). It is the proof of God's love for us (Rom. 5:8). It is the only substance known that can cleanse away our sins (Rev. 1:5, 1 Jn 1:7). It is pure blood that was shed by an innocent men. His blood and His death were accepted in place of our own by the Father in Heaven. His blood is to be cherished by the believer. We make much of the cross, however, the cross doesn't save anyone it is what happened on it that matters! The Lamb of God poured out His life in His blood on the cross and sin was forever atoned and redemption completed. It is indeed precious.    
  • Recommended Reading
Friday, December 18
  • Bible Reading – 1 Peter 3-5 
  • Devotional Seeds
    • Be Clothed With Humility (1 Pet 5:5-7) - In today’s world often bigness is synonymous with greatness. But what are the qualities of true greatness? Jesus reveals one in Luke 14:7-14. Through this simple parable, Jesus has taught us a most important truth about the need to be humble in our relationship with God and those around us. Humility is not a popular grace in our culture. It is considered a sign of weakness by many, yet Peter challenges Christians to “clothe themselves in humility!” God has said,“For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa 57:15).
  • Recommended Reading:
Saturday, December 19
  • Bible Reading 2 Peter 1-3 
  • Devotional Seeds
    • Ellen Glasgow once said, “All change is not growth; and all movement is not forward.” Are you growing, or are you stagnant? Moving backward? One of the key words in Second Peter is “GROWTH” (3:18; 1:5-8). When it comes to pursuing spiritual growth Peter uses the words: “WITH ALL DILIGENCE”. Repeated he uses of the word (2 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:10). To be diligent means: To have an earnestness, zealous approach. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ requires effort. It doesn’t just happen. We do not "accidentally" or "naturally" develop these graces. Our religion is shortsighted if we are not growing in the knowledge of Jesus (v. 9). Peter gives insight into this “spiritual construction project” and tells of various “graces” we are to add to your faith (2 Peter 1:5-11). Are you growing?
    • Would you like to have the same amount of faith as Peter? (2 Peter 1:1). Think of all the things Peter experienced...(One on one w/Jesus, Garden, Upper room, Mt Transfiguration, walk on water). So often we are tempted to say, “I could never have faith like that!” Yet I get to this verse and realize, “I can have a faith like Peter's.” Peter says his audience had a “like precious faith” (meaning Equal in value/substance). Though they (like us) had never seen Jesus (1 Peter 1:8) they had faith equal to Peter's. How? Because the Word was specifically designed to create that kind of Faith (2 Peter 1:3; John 20:26-31; Rom 10:17).
    • Precious Promises - Peter loved to use the word, “precious” in his epistles. Five times in his two epistles, Simon Peter mentions possessions that are precious to the people of God. He reminds us: As believers, there are things which we possess that are truly precious. What is precious? All the material wealth that we esteem will one day perish. All the people we count to be so precious will also perish from this earth. However, we have been given some very precious things by the Lord that will never perish or be taken away. Peter tells us of our Precious Possessions: We have a Precious Lord and Savior (I Peter 2:4-7). We have been redeemed by His Precious Blood (1 Peter 1:17-19). Peter also speaks of Precious Trials & Precious Faith (1 Peter 1:7, 2 Peter 1:1) and Precious Promises (2 Peter 1:4). In Peter's last statement about precious promises he reminds us that the promises of God are valuable and are to be held in great esteem. It is said that there are over 7,000 promises contained in the pages of the holy Scriptures. I have never counted them, however I do know this; every promise God ever made He will bring to pass! He never lies (Heb. 6:18). 
  • Recommended Reading:
Sunday, December 20
  • Bible Reading1 John 1-2 
  • Devotional Seeds
    • Why would someone want to walk in darkness when they could walk in the light? Physically, it just doesn't make any sense unless one is forced into it. It can be dangerous to walk in darkness! Spiritually, it can be dangerous as well, however, many desire it on a regular basis. We would do well to heed the wise man, who said, "The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness" (Ecc 2:14). We know how difficult it is to walk in the dark. We know how pleasant it is to walk in the light. Do we make the distinction in our spiritual lives? In our reading John exhorts us as Christians to...“walk in the light as He is in the light, (where) we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”  (1 John 1:7). 
    • Have you ever donated blood? Many people are helped by donated blood. There is a story of little boy whose sister became ill. She  needed a simple blood transfusion. The little boy was a match so they told him and asked if he would do this for his sister. He hesitated then said he was willing. As he lay beside his sister and His blood was slowly drawn, he asked, “How soon will I begin to die?” In this touching story the child was willing to give his blood even if it meant his life! Jesus did the same for us. John mentions the blood of Christ and it’s cleansing power (1 John 1:5-10). We sing songs about the blood, and rightly so: For “There is power in the blood”. The blood not only allows for our initial cleansing but provides Perpetual Cleansing. A sinner can come to Christ, be baptized into Christ and have the sins of his old life washed away (Acts 22:16, Rev 1:5, Eph 1:7, Rom 6:3-11, Gal 3:26-27). But what about afterward? John discusses this in 1 John 1:5-10. As we strive to walk in the light (Follow God, seek fellowship), when we sin (1 John 1:6,8,10 – we will sin) and confess those sins, the Blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. There should be deep gratitude in our hearts for Christ who freely shed his blood (Rev 5:9-14).
    • All throughout the book, John stresses brotherly love: As evidence of abiding in the light (1 John 2:10), As evidence of being a child of God (1 John 3:10), As evidence of having passed from death to live (1 John 3:14), As evidence of knowing God and being born of God (1 John 4:7-8), As evidence of loving God, to love his children (1 John 5:1-2).
    Recommended Reading:
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"A rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends knocked out"
—  Larry Acuff (on Revitalizing the Church)

DAILY GOALS
FOR 2015
 

They are easy to remember. Just remember "ACTS"

A = Attend Attend every service of the church (Heb 10:25).

C = Commit - Make personal or family devotional time a daily priority (Acts 16:25). Pray every day as often as I can (1 Thess 5:17). Read my Bible every day. Follow the plan to read through the entire Bible this year (Acts 17:11). 

T = Tell - Look for opportunities to share my faith & tell people about Jesus (Mk 16:15-16, Luke 19:10)

S = Serve - Look for opportunities to serve others (Titus 2:14)
THIS MONTH'S MEMORY CHALLENGE -

Colossians 1:15-20
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
 
If you are in the Pikeville area, we invite you to visit us at the Main Street church of Christ in downtown Pikeville. This year our theme revolves around the study of the great book of Acts. Come join us in this Bible study adventure.
Copyright © 2015 Main Street Church of Christ, All rights reserved.


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