January 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

As a a father of four, I love being a Dad. When my kids were little, we watched all of the Veggie Tales videos we could find. With grandparents living far away, we watched (and I listened) to every song and line as we drove. We knew them by heart. Our children learned many of the great stories of the Bible, especially from the Old Testament.

Recently, I was teaching about the Great Flood in Genesis and a particular line really caught my attention. It said, “All flesh on the earth that moved perished,…and all mankind.” (Genesis 7:21) As I pondered this verse, I realized that all of the animated ark pictures with smiling faces emerging from under the frame of a rainbow were not realistic portrayals of what really happened. Imagine stepping off the ark after a year and being overwhelmed by the fact that you are one of only eight people on the face of the planet.

Certainly the faith and obedience of Noah teaches us a great lesson about following God. Surely, the grace of the Father was poured out on his family and the rainbow is an incredible reminder of God’s covenant to never destroy the earth by flood again. But if we allow it, we realize the serious nature of the holiness and judgment of a righteous God.

Every child is different and matures at varied pace. However, I have come to realize that as they grow up, we need to give them the most accurate pictures of God, our enemy, real life, and the cost of following Christ.

I still find myself at times humming the tune to: “O where is my hairbrush.” But there is no real Island of Perpetual Tickling as told in the Veggie Tale version of the story of Esther. The Jews were faced with imminent death. We want our kids to know that God is a loving Father. But I am learning to be careful about my characterizations of His nature.

God is not a Veggie Tale character. He is the glorious Creator, Savior, Judge, and King to whom we are all accountable. It is only when we begin to grasp His righteousness that we can see our sinfulness. And when we begin to recognize His holiness, we can experience His grace. That is an amazing story!

Am I Cain?

December 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

In the popular movie, ‘Remember the Titans’, a girl recognized that the relational struggles of our culture were as old as that of Cain and Abel in the first century. How about our struggles in relationship to our God? Have they changed? Have the issues really changed?

In Genesis 4 we read the story of Cain and Abel, each coming to worship, bringing offerings with them. Both came to worship the right God the right way, with the fruits of their work as an offering.

But God only accepted Abel’s offering. For most of my life, I thought it was because he offered an animal. That may be true. But the Hebrew text does not necessarily validate this, and the formal requirement of a blood sacrifice had not yet been given. So why did God accept only one of their offerings?

If both came to worship the right God in the right way, what was missing? The answer may be partly found in Hebrew 11:4, which describes Abel as bringing his offering in faith.

But how did Cain bring his offering? Genesis 4:5-15 gives us insight. When confronted that there was something wrong with his offering, Cain responded in pride with anger, resistence, and hostility toward God. That hostility turned into jealousy and violence toward Abel.

Many of us come to worship the right God. Some of us even come the right way, bringing an offering of the fruit of our labors. But how are our hearts? How is my heart? If we accept that sanctification (becoming more holy) is a process for the believer, then we must know that coming into God’s presence and hearing His Word will consistently confront our sin. But how will we respond?

Our response reveals the condition of our heart. God knows we are not sinless, so His expectation is not that we worship in our perfection. But He does expect us to come with a humble spirit revealing a right heart that desires to be molded into His image for His glory.

The lesson I am learning is how to better evaluate my heart in worship. My heart may be best judged in my attitudes toward others in my family and church. I have found that I can be just like Cain. When I resist God, it is reflected in my words. It is a sure sign of my heart.

So now, my new question each week is: “Am I Cain?”

Tag…You are It

September 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Art Fulks

One of my favorite movies is ‘Remember the Titans’. It is a story of school integration in Virginia during the early seventies, and how a football team helped shape a new perspective in a divided community. During one game, the star quarterback is injured. As the coach prepares to send in the back-up, he relays a quick story about the loss of his own parents and how he had to unexpectedly step into their role. It must have worked because they won that game and eventually the state title.

Being thrust into leadership unexpectedly does not just happen in athletics. It happens in families, work, ministry, and can happen with nations. No matter how you prepare, it seems like there comes a moment when you wonder if you are ready. But at some point, you hear, ‘Ready or not…Tag…you are it.’

Joshua had been preparing to take over for Moses for forty years. In fact, he and Caleb were the only men left from their generation after standing courageously during the reconnaissance report from spying out the land of Canaan. But imagine what it must have felt like when God tapped him on the shoulder and said it was time.

Moses had gone up to Mount Nebo and then died. The man God had used for decades to lead the nation was suddenly gone. How could Joshua fill his shoes? Would the people follow him? Was he capable? Was he prepared? But then, just as God had spoken to Moses, His words came to the ears of Joshua.

“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2) God’s words of commission continued with instruction, promise, and encouragement. Then Joshua responded, not by declaring his own position, but by proclaiming and carrying out the commission he had received from God.

When God places someone in leadership, they need not declare what has already been declared. They need only proclaim the commission to which they have been called and lead the people to carry out that mission for the glory of God.

That may sound like a church scenario. However, I believe that this is God’s model for marriage, family, work, and nations. Joshua was one of two potential, faithful men.

Has He ‘tagged’ you?

Connecting With God

August 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

Recently, I watched a video on the internet about connecting with God. I was simply searching for an illustration for some teaching that I was doing in my church on worship. What came from the process was a fresh perspective for my own life.

The message of the video was not spoken, but rather a series of phrases attached to a visible thread. It framed a cohesive thought reminding me that connecting with God in worship is not simply about an attitude of recognizing His worthiness. Nor is it a practice or behavior supported by a conducive set of worship songs or the right litergy.

Instead, true worship is the natural response of a person who is in a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe that is uninhibitted by sin. There is only one problem: There is no person on earth who’s relationship with God is not impacted by sin. That is why there is no way to connect with God in worship apart from the Gospel.

Simply put, the Gospel message is that Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross to pay for our sin, was buried, and rose again from the dead three days later to secure our victory over death. He has ascended back to Heaven and will return again for His followers (God’s children) to live with Him for eternity. This salvation is a free gift that is received by grace through faith and repentance.

In John chapter 4 we read a story about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. Their conversation begins on the topic of a human’s essential need for water, but quickly turns to a universal heart issue about people connecting with God in worship. It reminds us that people all around the world striving to somehow connect with God.

As I continued to search for videos, the diversity of approaches illustrated online demonstrated that people across the street and on the other side of the planet are searching for spiritual peace and life in many ways. But God’s Word tells us where the connecting point truly is. It is found in Jesus Christ. In every aspect of our faith journey, there is a connection with the Gospel. Connect with Jesus and you connect with God.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” (John 4:26 NASB)

Growing Up in 2012

July 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

New Years resolutions are a waste! Maybe that is a bit harsh, but it probably got your attention. Most of us set aside any reality of keeping our resolutions by January 2nd. Setting goals is good, but our failures often make us forsake the goal as either impossible or improbable.

As I study the Bible, I am increasingly convinced that our definite, one-time decision to repent and trust Christ as Lord and Savior may be the only significant, instantaneous event on the Christian journey. After that, the process of becoming the follower of Christ that He desires requires daily acts of the will, (empowered by the Holy Spirit), that develop into patterns of noticable change in our life.

Following Christ is a journey of mountains and valleys, victories and set-backs. It is a path filled with joy and suffering, glory and grace. Understanding this helps maturity begin to grow in our lives. As we decide to surrender our life daily to God, our victories will not make us complacent and our defeats will not cause us to quit.

Bible passages like Ephesians 4 help us see a picture of what growing up in Christ looks like. Our progress is not measured by whether or not we keep one ‘resolution’, but rather faith that produces noticable change in our life over time.

All four of our children are now in their teens. I am noticing more how they are maturing, especially in the younger kids. Why? Because I am observing the patterns of our older kids being repeated in the younger. As a parent, I am not over-reacting as often as I used to because I have faith in the temporary nature of the process. Hopefully, I am also growing in patience.

I cannot help but wonder if that is how our Heavenly Father sees us. He sees our victories with joy and views our failures with disappointment. Yet He has the advantage of Sovereign knowledge that the process of maturity will be perfected in His children.

May we look back at 2011 and notice the ways we are maturing, while evaluating the areas where we still need to mature in the coming months. But whether it is becoming more healthy physically or spiritually, my prayer is that we will all look back at the end of 2012 and be able to see the noticable change as we grow up in Christ together.

BIBLE VERSE: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

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