Devotional for Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

Devotional for Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020
Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

Today is Easter Sunday! Rejoice, for our Savior Jesus Christ has risen and is alive!

It seems a bit surreal not being in our church building celebrating as a family today, but, as we’ve said before, a building is just a building. We are the church! Our building doesn’t define who we are. Jesus Christ defines who we are! We do not need a building to spread the love, forgiveness, and salvation of Jesus. Think of it this way, and yes, it is a cheesy Elvis reference, but the church has left the building. God has placed us directly in the mission field where we are called to be! We may not have a cure for the coronavirus but what we have is better! We have the key to eternal life through the death and resurrection and Jesus Christ! So, I’ll say it again. Rejoice, for our Savior has risen and is alive!

Matthew 28:1-7 says this:

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could get out, but so others could see that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as he promised.

The angel who announced the good news of the Resurrection to the women gave them four messages:

• “Do not be afraid” – The Resurrection brings joy, not fear.

• “He is not here, for he has risen” – Jesus is not dead and is not to be looked for among the dead. He is alive, with his people.

• “Come, see” – The women could check the evidence themselves. The tomb was empty then and it is empty today! The Resurrection is a historical fact.

• “Go quickly and tell” – They were to spread the joy of the Resurrection. We, too, have been given that same command.

The Resurrection is the key to our faith! Just as he promised, Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, we can be confident that he will accomplish and keep all of his other promises. Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ is ruler of God’s eternal Kingdom, not a false prophet or idea. We can be certain of our resurrection because he was resurrected. Death is not the end – there is future life. The power that brought Jesus back to life is available to us through him. The Resurrection is the basis for our witness to the world. We do not merely tell lessons or stories from the life of a good teacher; we proclaim the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! He is more than just a human leader; he is the Son of God.

Jesus lived the life that we couldn’t live and died the death that we all deserved. Three days later, he overcame that death so that we may live. The Good News of the Resurrection is too important for us to keep it to ourselves. It means too much – souls are at stake. Let’s get to work in our mission fields!

If you are reading this and you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, let today be the day. What a better day than Easter Sunday to ask him into your heart and accept his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life?

Rejoice, for our Savior Jesus Christ has risen and is alive!

Happy Easter!
Bro. Jeff

Devotional for April 10, 2020

Devotional for Good Friday April 10, 2020

Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

If this quarantine has showed me anything, it is that I am a creature of comfort.  I have my favorite coffee mug, my favorite TV shows, and, just like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, I have my favorite spot on the couch.  We tend to hold on to things that are safe and secure which, by the way, is not always a bad thing.  BUT…

God often asks us to get out of our comfort zone and set ourselves aside for his glory. He wants us to trust him, but we can only do that when we let go and obey.  As I thought about this, it brought to mind the passages in Luke where Jesus predicted his death for the first time:

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:21-27

This was a turning point in Jesus’ instruction to His disciples.  From then on he began teaching clearly and specifically what they could expect, so that they would not be surprised when it happened.  He told them that before he could be the conquering Messiah he first had to suffer, die, and rise again.

But where I really want to focus today is on the next couple of verses (23-24).  We follow Jesus by imitating His life and obeying His commands right?  So what does it mean to take up your cross?  It means that we must deny our selfish desires and to use our time and resources to follow Him, regardless of the comfort level or consequences.

Jesus subjected himself to public mockery, severe beatings, and one of the most horrific deaths the world has ever come up with. As the Son of God, he didn’t have to endure anything; he wasn’t a prisoner of the Roman soldiers any more than he allowed himself to be. Even in those last excruciating hours nailed to the cross, he could have opted out. But Jesus understood his suffering was not about him; it was the only way to restore sinners like you and me to our loving heavenly Father.

People are willing to pay a high price for something they value.  Is it any surprise that Jesus would demand this much from his followers?  There are at least three conditions that must be met when we become disciples:

  1. We must be willing to deny self
  2. We must be willing to shoulder our cross
  3. We must be willing to follow Him

Look, God doesn’t force us to follow him. He doesn’t put the cross on us, but asks us to pick it up willingly.   Our decision will cost us something; there’s heavy lifting, rejection, and personal interruptions. Actually, it will cost us everything.    The only way to get the life we work so hard to protect is to give it back to God and trust him to take care of it.

Nothing material of this world can compensate for the loss of eternal life.  Remember, this world is temporary and souls are at stake!  Are you ready to take up your cross today get dirty for the sake of the Gospel?

Armor up, pick it up, and let’s go!

Bro. Jeff

Devotional for April 9, 2020

Devotional for April 9,2020
Pastor Bill Pursley, EBCWF

As I sat this morning praying for clarity on what to pass on to you today. I was listening to some gospel music specifically one of my favorite tenors (John Starnes) as he sang this great song of faith. “Pray is the Key to Heaven” here are the words: Prayer is the key to Heaven, but Faith unlocks the door. Words are so easily spoken but prayer without faith is like a boat without an oar. Have faith when you speak to the Master that’s all he ask you for.. Yes prayer is the key to heaven but faith unlocks the door.

I have had moments of fear in my life. Perhaps you have too. Have any of you been afraid that your company that you work for would close? Or perhaps that you would lose your job? Have you ever been afraid that you wouldn’t have anything to eat? Have you ever been afraid of going to the dentist or the doctor? Have you ever been afraid of what the X-ray or the CT scan or the MRI might reveal?

The global unrest we’re experiencing, the corona virus pandemic, the shakiness of our once robust economy certainly causes us to be concerned. But we don’t have to feed our fear, let’s feed our faith. David said,

Psalm 56:3 (NKJV) Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

So, when we face times of fear. You may not be afraid now because you have 100 rolls of toilet paper and a case of Ramen noodles. But when we DO FACE FEAR, we must learn how to FEED OUR FAITH and NOT our fears. How can we feed our faith and not our fears?

You feed your faith: 1. THROUGH THE WILL OF GOD

2 Timothy 1:1 (NKJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

Everything Paul did since his conversion was because of following the will of God for his life. Nothing happens to us but what God knows about it in advance, did it ever occur to you that nothing has ever occurred to God? He knows about it before it ever happens AND He allows it for our good and His glory.

2. THROUGH THE WAY OF THE SON

The way of Jesus is life! That’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He offers life, by His grace (undeserved forgiveness and justification) & mercy (deliverance from sin and the death we deserve) and gives us peace!

I want to tell you today, if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you will repent of your sin and believe that Jesus died on the cross in your place for your lawbreaking and believe that He was buried and rose to life…you can be saved! You can never feed your faith if you don’t HAVE faith in Jesus Christ.

3. Through friends:

Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV) The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Let me ask you: Do the people you consider to be YOUR friends, help or hinder you in your service to the Lord? If they hinder you, you need to get some new friends! You feed your faith with the kind of friends you have.If you have godly friends, they will help you to be a godly person too!

Hey folks, we may be in a dark time…not just for our country, but the world. Stay close to Jesus. Whatever you think about what’s happening…regardless of who’s at fault…God has allowed this to happen in His Will. The Way of the Son is life in Jesus Christ. The Worth of our Friends are valuable to us! Let’s Worship as a Family. As we are able, let’s do the Work of the Ministry…we can be the Lord’s hands, feet and mouth in this dark and difficult time. And we can do that because the Witness of the Spirit in our lives is one of Power, Love and Discipline.

Prayer is the key , But faith turns that key.

Until next time remember, God loves you and so do I.

Bro. Bill

Devotional for April 8, 2020

Devotional for April 8, 2020

Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

Change…it’s one of the guarantees of life of life.  People change.  Jobs change.  Relationships change.  The way we panic at change sometimes, you’d think bombs were falling.  Change definitely trampolines our lives, and when it does, God sends someone special to stabilize us.

On the eve of his death, Jesus gave his followers this promise:

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:26-27 ESV

Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would help them remember what he had been teaching them.  This promise ensures the validity of the New Testament.  The disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and teachings, and the Holy Spirit helped them remember that without taking away their individual perspectives.  We can be confident that the Gospels are accurate records of what Jesus taught and did.  The Holy Spirit can help us in the same way.  As we study the Bible, we can trust him to plant truth in our mind, convince us of God’s will, and remind us when we stray from it.

The end result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is deep and lasting peace.  Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, the peace is confident assurance in any circumstance.  With Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future.  If your life is full of change (or stress), allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace.

We don’t face change alone.  The Spirit is with us to help us and guide us.  Call on Him!

Remember, the change in front of you is not as big as the Christ that lives within you!

Have a great day!  Miss you guys!

Bro. Jeff

Devotional for April 7, 2020

Devotional for April 7, 2020
Pastor Bill Pursley, EBCWF

A dear friend and her husband have a motto. “Today is a good day to have a good day.” As I went out this morning I realized what a beautiful day it is. Everything may not be going my way, but, I am healthy, my family is healthy. I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my pantry and a God who loves me. I think of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Right now might not be the brightest spot in our times but, we must cling to this promise that God made us. That all things will work out for the good.
Suffering can make us bitter but it can also make us better if we give it to God, asking him to use it for our good, for the good of those we love and for the kingdom work of the church.
Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite verses, because it gives Christians hope for the hardest times of life.
Most anybody who has been a Christian for a while can look back and see how God proved this verse in their life. We may not be able to come and go as we please, or see our families, we may be limited in our fellowship with our church families but, rest assured, God is in control, just as much today as He was the day He started creation.

Have faith by trusting in the one whose got the whole world in His hands and make this a good day.

Until next time,

Bro. Bill, Pastor

Devotional for April 6, 2020

Devotional for April 6, 2020
Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

I know that these are tough times but when I woke up this morning, I saw my beautiful wife, heard a bird singing outside in the dark, and I was reminded how good God is and that He is in control. God has got this and no matter what “this” is, His grace is enough.

Paul Wrote:

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV

We don’t know exactly what Paul’s thorn was because he never tells us. Some have suggested that it was disease or sickness. Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused. Paul was a very sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. However, it kept him humble, reminded him of his need for constant contact with God, and benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life.

Although God did not remove Paul’s affliction, He promised to demonstrate His power in Paul. The fact that God’s power is displayed in our weaknesses should give us courage and hope. As we recognize our limitations, we will depend more on God for our effectiveness rather than on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our limitations not only help develop Christian character but also deepen our worship, because in admitting them, we affirm God’s strength.

So, whatever your thorn is, God’s grace is sufficient. His grace is not a gentle shower washing away the problem. It is a raging, roaring river whose current knocks us off of our feet and carries us into the presence of God. It is plentiful and powerful. It meets us right now and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. So hang on – the wave is coming!!!

Let go and let God. Amen.
Bro. Jeff

Your Grace is Enough by Chris Tomlin
https://youtu.be/vpYtYYaTFGQ

Devotional for April 5, 2020

Devotional for Palm Sunday April 5,
2020
Pastor Bill Pursley, EBCWF

Once again, good morning from Emmanuel Baptist Church. I hope this message finds you all doing well. I want to encourage you all to hang in there. I can’t wait until we turn on the news and hear, “The Corona virus has been beat.” But today finds us all still being urged to stay at home and, would you believe it, Palm Sunday has crept up on us.

This day is the day leading into Holy Week just before Easter. It’s sad that we can’t be together on this special day but in our hearts, we are together. This day that we celebrate is bittersweet. That’s because even though we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we know that Friday is coming. We know that with Friday comes the cross. We know that many of the ones in this crowd today will be exchanging their shouts of “Hosanna to the King” for the words “Crucify Him.” What we might not realize or remember is that Jesus knew what this week would bring as well.

Let’s pause just a moment and think about the crowd that day. Among them would be people Jesus had healed. Maybe some of the thousands that Jesus fed. Many had seen His miracles, and listened to Him speak and teach. They listened and their lives had been changed. Jesus must have seen the mixture of expressions on their faces.

And that brings us to today. Just like the people of Jerusalem, we find ourselves in the presence of Jesus. I wonder what He sees when He looks at us? Does He see people worried about so many things—this virus pandemic, about income taxes, about job security, about their health, or lack of it? Does He see people who are so busy doing things here and there—so busy that they never bother to consider those things that are eternally important?

Or does He see people who recognize Him for who He is—the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, our Savior. When He turns and looks into our lives, I wonder, will He weep once again because of what He sees? Or will we have the peace that passes all understanding as we respond to His outstretched arms and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord”?

At the heart of Palm Sunday is Jesus’ desire to bring peace into our lives and to be willing to carry whatever burdens in life that are weighing us down. But the only way Jesus can complete His desire is for us to allow Him to march in and take over without having to fight us all along the way.

Jesus wants to make a “Triumphant entry” into your heart this morning. This day can be either TRIUMPH or TRAGEDY. Tears of SORROW, or tears of JOY. But it’s up to you. You have a choice to make.

Love from your Pastor,
Bro Bill

Devotional for April 3, 2020

Devotional for April 4, 2020
Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

During the past couple of weeks, most of my devotionals have focused on us being disciples to others and spreading the Good News during this dark time. After all, we, as Christians, can offer hope. But what happens when we struggle? Hopefully today’s Word will lift you up!

The book of Roman’s assures us that nothing can separate us from God’s love:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:31-39 ESV

Do you ever think that because you aren’t good enough for God, He will not save you? Do you ever feel as if salvation is for everyone else but you? If so, then these verses are especially for you! If God gave His son for you, He isn’t going to hold back the gift of salvation. If Christ gave his life for you, He isn’t going to turn around and condemn you. He will not withhold anything you need to live for Him.

The final four verses above contain one of the comforting promises in all of scripture. Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, and even death. These sometimes cause us to fear that we have been abandoned by Christ. We cannot fall into Satan’s trap of doubt! Paul exclaims that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be separated from Christ. His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s presence. God tells us how great His love is so that we will feel totally secure in Him. If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid.

So, when Satan starts causing you to have doubts, reflect on these verses and remember that you are secure in Christ! Satan may even go as far as to remind you of your “before Christ” past. When he does that, stand tall in the armor of God and remind him of his future!

Have a good weekend!
Bro. Jeff

Devotional for April 3, 2020

Devotional thoughts for April 3,2020
From Pastor Bill

I love watching birds. If you didn’t already know that. That is why we have so many feeders in our backyard. As I was looking out the kitchen window this morning watching the birds brave the cold brisk air and feed, out of the corner of my eye I see this large cat drop down from the fence and began stalking the birds. All of a sudden one of the doves notices the cat and with a loud ruffle of feathers, every bird in the yard takes flight. The cat looking defeated climbed back up on the fence and went down on the other side.
That brought to mind the scripture from I Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” That made me think how appropriate that is for our present day. Satan is on the prowl seeking whom he may devour spiritually.

We are much removed from those to whom Peter wrote, and yet many similarities remain. We too face challenges and struggles in life, especially in our current crisis. Like the saints of old, we are expected to remain steadfast in trials, portraying a positive witness for the Lord. So, all of this begs the question – how does one overcome adversity and remain influential in a culture that is opposed to everything we hold dear? There is only one way, and that is through the guidance and provision of Christ. Apart from Him, we will suffer defeat and discouragement.

Believers must be willing to humble themselves before the Lord, submitting fully to His will in order to overcome and enjoy victorious Christian life. We must realize our dependence upon the Lord – He is God, and we are not. He is omniscient and omnipotent, seeing and knowing all, while possessing the unrestrained power to move in our midst and secure victory in our lives.

Through being willing to humble ourselves before the Lord, we are promised that in His time, and according to His divine will, He will exalt us.

Let us hold strong to our faith and remain sober in our thoughts, not panic, but just like that that sharp dove, keep our eyes open for the prowess of the devil.

Stay safe and faithful

Bro. Bill Pursley

Devotional for April 2

Devotional for April 2, 2020
Youth Pastor Jeff Hughes, EBCWF

I tell our students this all the time, “You may be the only Bible anyone ever reads”. I truly believe that! We may be the only Jesus anyone ever sees. Those who do not believe in Jesus notice what we do. They make decisions about Christ by watching us. When we are kind and gracious, they assume Christ is kind and gracious. But if we are arrogant, self-centered, and pushy, what will they think about Jesus? When we are dishonest, what assumptions will an observer make about our King?

It’s no wonder that Paul said this:

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a] so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

Integrity and courteous conduct honors Christ. We should be wise in our contacts with non-Christians, making the most out of our opportunities to spread the Good News of Jesus. When we tell others about Christ, it is important to always be gracious in what we say and do. No matter how powerful the message is or how much sense it makes, we lose our effectiveness if we are not courteous. Just as we like to be respected, we must respect others if we want them to listen to what we have to say.

You can make the greatest speech ever about the love of Jesus, but if your actions do not show that love, your words alone will mean nothing.

Think about you behavior over the past week – have people seen Christ in you? If not, what changes can you make? Remember, people are watching!!!

Love you guys!
Bro. Jeff