Devotional Thought for Today – 04/13/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part X

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Over the past 9 articles, we have looked at the basics of what a Chaplain/Ministerial duties or mission is (provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel) and the Stages of Grief. We noted the importance of understanding what stage an individual is in so that we can better minister to their needs.

Today I would like to discuss some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. As a reminder, my primary duties as Chaplain have been with inmates (and ex-mates) and veterans, of that population however quite a few have had mental health, serious physical, terminal illness, or other issues that I hope to relate to all areas of Chaplaincy.

Some of the things I find most important when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DO’s (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • Affirmation – reassure them that the feelings of grief are normal and support them in the process.
  • Acknowledgment– Do not try and sugarcoat the situation. I am not suggesting we be blunt, rude, or anything of that nature. I am referring to the language that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6.
  • Empathize – One of the best explanations for this I studied explained it this way; Pity: I acknowledge your suffering, Sympathy: I care about your suffering, Empathy: I feel your suffering, Compassion: I want to relieve your suffering. In short, empathy is sharing feelings of Grief with the individual, while Sympathy is feeling sorry for them. No one wants you to throw a pity party for them or feel sorry for them, they need you as a professional to provide Compassionate Empathy.
  • Listen – I do not care if you have to sit there for 15-20 minutes before they say 3 words, be willing to listen. everyone has a story and 99.9% need to tell it.
  • Listen without Judgement – Folks will not talk if they think you are going to censor their speech.
  • Truth – Always be truthful, if you don’t have an answer say so, do not “wing it” folks will see right through that.

Some of the most common MISTAKES I find when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DON’Ts (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • AdviceMy advice to you is…, that is not our mission, they are going to get that from the Job’s of the world. Stick to the mission and use biblical counseling.
  • Assume – Never assume you know what they need, yes they need Care, Comfort, and Counsel, but I am speaking of the application of that here.
  • CichésThey are in a better place now, It was God’s will, or At least he/she is not suffering. These may all be true but are of no help especially in the initial stages of Grief.
  • Criticism – Even unintentional, saying something seemingly as harmless as, I know but you can… tells them that you think they are doing something wrong and are criticizing or judging their actions. They are suffering enough we need not pile it on.
  • Mr. or Mrs. Fix It – Never promise what you can not do. Sometimes there are individuals beyond our help that need professional counselors.
  • Pity – See Empathize above
  • Story Time – Unless directly asked keep your war stories to yourself. They only distract from the issues at hand.

I hope these are a help, when I first became a Chaplain I was basically thrown to the wolves, with no training so I made many mistakes listed above. If you have anything to add to either list please comment below.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would give compassionate care, comfort and counsel to those whom I meet. All the while giving honour to Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Ephesians/4/29


Crisis Hotlines

855-FAQ-HOSPICE (327-4677) – Hospice Hotline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) Mental Health Hotline

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Hotline

The wording of the First Amendment & Who Twisted It

American Minute with Bill Federer

On March 15, 1984, the U.S. Senate voted down children praying in public schools. President Ronald Reagan said: “I am deeply disappointed that, although a majority of the Senate voted for it, the school prayer amendment fell short.”

On September 25, 1982, Reagan said: “Unfortunately, in the last two decades we’ve experienced an onslaught of such twisted logic that if Alice were visiting America, she might think she’d never left Wonderland. We’re told that it somehow violates the rights of others to permit students in a school who desire to pray to do so. Clearly, this infringes on the freedom of those who choose to pray, the freedom taken for granted since the time of our Founding Fathers …”

Continued at Source: https://americanminute.com/blogs/todays-american-minute/wording-of-the-first-amendment-who-twisted-it-american-minute-with-bill-federer

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/30/2021

Logos.com

Proverbs 15

Like all the wisdom books; Ecclesiastes, Job, Psalms, and, Song of Songs, the end goal of the Book of Proverbs is to demonstrate God knows best. His course of action(s) is always far superior to men.

Proverbs however goes about it a little differently, Job for example shows us wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice, while Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience.  Proverbs gives us short simple comparisons or contrasts usually between good and evil.

Our text for today, v.3, is a little different, it is a clear and definitive statement regarding the Sovereignty of God.

  • God sees, eyes of the Lord, therefore, knows everything – omniscient – Hebrews 4:13
  • God is everywhere, are in every place – omnipresent – Jeremiah 23:23
  • God stands guard over all creation, keeping watch on the evil and the good – Omnipotent – Jeremiah 23:24

Man can try an fool himself into thinking he knows best, but it is nothing more than lying to ones self. God and God alone is the true judge of “good and evil” He has set forth His moral law and all those who refuse to follow it, (Think Abortion, LBGTQ, Evolution, Etc.) will one day answer to Him.

The “Good News” is that all who repent and have Christ as Lord of their lives reap the reward of eternal life in the kingdom glory.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, help me to walk in Your light, understanding that most of mankind will refuse Your grace and mercy. Help me to always show them that self same grace and mercy. Help me to trust in Your Sovereignty, and no my ways, knowing Yours are always better. I pray for wisdom and knowledge to be a warrior for Your Kingdom and its glory. – Amen

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/29/2021

What Does Deuteronomy 6:4 Mean?
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Deuteronomy 6

As always some context is required with our main text v.4. In the previous chapter, God has made a covenant promise with His people and the 10 Commandments are delivered through Moses.

Chapter 6 can be broken down as follows: A persuasive to obedience. (1-3) An exhortation to obedience. (4,5) Obedience taught. (6-16) General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children. (17-25) – Matthew Henry

Our text obviously come from the second part an exhortation to obedience:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

I do not usually quote from the NLT but in this case, I like its rendering over most others for a couple of reasons. First where it says … the Lord alone it is making a definitive statement there can be no other God but Jehovah. Second, in verse 5, where most translations render You shall love, the NLT renders it

you must love again nothing passive or suggestive about it.

Not only the Jews by birth but all those who were grafted into the nation of Israel sounds like the New Testament Gospel message were to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and love Him unconditionally.

Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary

What a blessed verse is this, which folds within its short, but mighty contents, the foundation of all our faith. Our GOD, though existing in a manner totally distinct from all his creatures in a threefold character of Person, is but one and the same JEHOVAH. For, as the apostle beautifully represents it, There are Three that bear record in heaven; the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST yet these three are but one. I would beg the Reader to remark with me, that though the verse be but short, yet no less than three times is the glorious name of JEHOVAH repeated in it. May we not suppose, that the very design of this was to convey the glorious truth of a threefold character of Persons in the divine unity? Happy the soul who hath an evidence in his own breast of the truth of this; in being enabled there to trace the tokens of the FATHER’s love, and the Redeemer’s grace, and the SPIRIT’s fellowship. I detain the Reader only to make a short observation more upon this precious Verse, and to ask him, whether the manner in which Moses calls upon Israel to attend to this leading truth, that our GOD is but one LORD, doth not carry with it a testimony, that as the people had been accustomed to receive tokens of a plurality of persons in the GODHEAD, they were not to lose sight, at the same time, of the unity of the divine essence. 1 John 5:7.

Today’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of our praise and worship.. for You alone are the true and living God. What amazing grace You have shown to me, and the entire human race, that Your love for us is so great.. that You would send Your only begotten, Son to die for our sin. No matter what it takes, I pray that I may learn to love You with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength – and with every fiber of my being, knowing, that it is only as I die to self and live for Christ, that Your love may be manifested in me Praise Your holy name for You alone are worthy of our worship, in Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Deuteronomy/6

Devotional Thought for Today – 27 March 2021

Death and the Christian

Matthew Henry quote: He whose head is in heaven need not fear to...
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2 Corinthians2 Corintios 5:5 5:5

Over the past few months our family has experienced the death of family members and dear friends. While we can and should mourn their deaths, we also need to look at these events from a Biblical and practical standpoint.

In some cases the individuals were sick and suffering, in other cases the sudden loss was from an accident or in one case a random act of violence. In all but one of these deaths I, was able to provide comforting words to the families because I was convinced the individual was a true believer. For some it was that they were no longer suffering and were as the Bible promises ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord.’ For others we can not begin to explain why things happen, why the guy ran a red light, but we can find comfort in knowing God is in complete control and His ways are always greater and wiser than ours.

The great preach Charles Spurgeon had much to say on the Subject of death having preached many a sermon on the matter. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes of his:

1. “To be prepared to die is to be prepared to live.”

2. “It is the very joy of this earthly life to think that it will come to an end.”

3. “The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven.”

4. “The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church.”

5. “If I do not think of death, yet death will think of me.”

6. “It is not a loss to die, it is a lasting, perpetual gain.”

7. “Let us learn to hold loosely our dearest friends. Let us love them, but let us always learn to love them as dying things.”

8. “It is a grand thing to see a man dying full of life.”

9. “He who learns to die daily while he lives will find it no difficulty to breathe out his soul for the last time.”

10. “All the glories of midday are eclipsed by the marvels of sunset.”

Today’s Prayer

Pray for the Grace Needed to Die Well

We must pray for grace to deliver us from death* and to carry us well through our dying moments.

Lord, make us know our end and what is the measure of our days; let us know and consider how fleeting we are, that our days are as a few handbreadths and all mankind stands as a mere breath! Psalm 39:4-5(ESV) Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 1 Chronicles 29:15(ESV)

Lord, so teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12(ESV) and make us to discern our latter end! Deuteronomy 32:29(ESV)

Lord, make us always ready, dressed for action with our lamps burning, Luke 12:35(ESV) for the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect. Luke 12:40(ESV)

Keep us all the days of our service, waiting till our renewal comes; and then shall you call, and we will answer. Job 14:14-15(ESV)

Bring us to our grave like a sheaf gathered up in its season; Job 5:26(ESV) satisfy us with life, whether it be long or short, and show us your salvation. Psalm 91:16(ESV)

And when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, be with us, that we may fear no evil; let your rod and your staff comfort us. Psalm 23:4(ESV)

Let goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life, and let us dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6(ESV) May steadfast love and faithfulness be with us. 2 Samuel 15:20(ESV)

Ransom our souls from the power of Sheol, and receive us; Psalm 49:15(ESV) guide us with your counsel, and afterward receive us into glory. Psalm 73:24(ESV)

MATTHEW HENRY’S “METHOD FOR PRAYER”

* We must all die (save those alive when the Lord comes), so the author directs us to ask for deliverance not from the inevitable fact of death, but from the fear and power of death. Editor.

OTHER RESOURCES

A Believer’s Last Day, His Best Day – Thomas Brooks

Mortality – Christians Need Not Fear Death by J I Packer

What does the Bible say about death? GotQuestions.org

What Does the Bible Say About Death And Dying? 100+ Bible verses

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/24/2021

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

Romans 6

Just about a year ago, I used this same verse in a devotional entitled Wages of Sin. My focus then was God’s call to salvation. Today however as I read this verse, something completely different bothered me, the actual phrase the wages of sin is death. 

Everyone likes getting “paid” for their work.  Even volunteers get paid in the sense they see the results of their efforts. For those with a job that has a monetary wage, that paycheck is their reward, their payoff for hard work. That is their WAGE, their RECOMPENSE, or REWARD.

I think for the first time I put it all together that “we” work hard for our final payment of death.  In other words, the payoff for all our hard work of living a sinful life, our reward,  is eternal death. Culture tells us to just live life to the fullest and damn the consequences.  The Bible makes clear the consequences. In the end,  there is no one else to blame, no one to turn to except ourselves, we are without excuse.  Maybe it is just me but I can think of far better rewards, can’t you?

As I noted in last year’s devotional; Is the Holy Spirit tugging on your heartstrings? Answer God’s call Repent of your sins and make Christ not only the savior of your life but Lord of your life today. 

Today’s Prayer

Heavenly Father, I am a sinner and deserving of eternal death and the lake of fire, I am not worthy to set my foot in Your heavenly home, but I believe that the Lord Jesus paid the price for my sins through His death on Calvary and I heed Your call, Your free gift of salvation and eternal life IN HIM. I ask that Christ be Lord of my life, let the Holy Spirit guide my paths that I may do Your will.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Romans/6/23

 

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/22/2021

Logos.com

2 Corinthians 9 

In short, this Chapter is a reminder to the church in Corinth to fulfill their promise to help the church in Jerusalem.  Paul reminds them that gift-giving should be done willingly and cheerfully, that God blesses those who do so and closes with our ext v.15.

Paul uses v.15, as a reminder that they, the members of the church in Corinth had already received a very special gift.  The CSB, NASB, and NIV all render it “his indescribable gift!”  The ESV is depicted above the KJV uses “unspeakable and the NLT renders it “this gift too wonderful for words!”

What is this gift?  It is interesting (to me at least) here Paul does not clearly spell it out, one has to dig a little, I think he understood the church at Corinth should know and so should all true believers. A clue is given in the previous Chapter 8:9 (AMP)For you are recognizing [more clearly] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [His astonishing kindness, His generosity, His gracious favor], that though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich (abundantly blessed).  The Gift that goes beyond measure is none other than Christ.

Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary – Read the whole commentary here

REFLECTIONS

It will be a blessed improvement from this Chapter, Under the Lord’s teaching, to learn, while Paul is speaking of alms-deeds, and liberality to the poor; how pure that source of real charity is, which runs from God, and leads to God. What an astonishment would it induce in the minds of some men, if they were told, that as no alms-giving whatever is real charity, unless it ariseth, as a stream doth from a fountain, from the love of God; the numberless public charities as they are called, which have not this origin for their birth, cease to be real charities; and will be found more the effect of pride, and ostentation, than either intended for divine glory, or human happiness. If all the actions of men on the score of charity, were ascertained by this standard, what a draw-back would be found, in the calculations of self-righteous Pharisees, of their real state before God? Reader! do attend to the Apostle’s character of the love of the heart, in that which comes from God, and leads to God. God loveth a cheerful giver. Not simply self-delight, in the deed; for this is often the choicest fruit the self-righteous character gathers, from his charity, in the offering made to the shrine of his vanity: but a cheerful giver to the Lord, of his own bounty, as the Lord’s Almoner. Cheerful in seeing the Lord’s poor, fed from the Lord’s gifts; in which self hath no gratification of pride, but feels humility. Here it is, the cup of cold water becomes a precious gift. And the hundreds of the affluent, given without it, hath no value in the sight of God.

But, Reader! if things be so, think what a gift was, and is, that which flowed, and will forever be flowing, from the free, pure, disinterested love of God, in the gift of his dear Son? Think, what a sovereign, unlooked-for, boundless, bottomless mercy, in the gift of God the Spirit! Oh! for grace to have a right apprehension, of this unspeakable gift!

Today’s Prayer

Loving heavenly Father – thank You for the unspeakably precious gift of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ – Who has been freely given to me and to all who will sill simply believe in His name. Father the gift of Your only begotten Son is beyond all expression, beyond all measure, and beyond all bounds. I fall on my face and worship You for Your unspeakably precious gift to me – in JESUS’s name I pray, AMEN.

Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/2-Corinthians/9/15

Sunday Sermon Series – The Guilt and Danger of Such a Nation as This

You may have noticed recently I have been posting many devotional thoughts concerning the trends in America. Here is a sermon from John Newton best known for composing Amazing Grace he was with his friend William Cowper a prolific hymn writer and excellent preacher. 

While Jeremiah was obviously speaking prophetically to the nation of Israel in Chapter 5, every nation that turns its back on the one true God of the universe should be equally forewarned. 

Jeremiah 5:29 Shall I not visit for these things? said the LORD: shall not  my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

SERMON

The Guilt and Danger of Such a Nation as This

BY JOHN NEWTON

 

THREE times* the Lord God repeats, by his prophet, this alarming question. Their ingratitude and obstinacy were so notorious, their sins so enormous and aggravated, the sentence denounced against them, however severe, was so undeniably just, that, partial as they were to themselves, God is pleased to appeal to their own consciences, and to make them judges in their own cause; inviting, or rather challenging, them, to offer any plea why his forbearance and patience, which they had so long despised, should be still afforded them…

CONTINUED > > 


Today’s Prayer 

Dear God,

We as a nation are in turmoil. We have partisan politics, ungodly laws, and tempers flaring over uncertain times. We ask you, Lord, to dwell among us, to not forsake you remnant, nor lift your hand of divine providence.  We confess our nation’s unworthiness of your mercy. 

We are comforted by the knowledge that You alone are our Savior and Lord, and the sovereign Master of life. We trust our nation to Your loving care, Lord. Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. Give us Your light and Your truth to guide us in our ways so that we may seek Your will in our lives and impact the world around us for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen 

Modified from: prayer

Devotional Thought for Today – 03/20/2021

God is the one who dishes out justice, let Him handle it! - Psalm 37:8-9 eCard - Free Facebook Greeting Cards Online

PSALM 37

SUBJECT. The great riddle of the prosperity of the wicked and the affliction of the righteous, which has perplexed so many, is here dealt with in the light of the future; and fretfulness and repining are most impressively forbidden. It is a Psalm in which the Lord hushes most sweetly the too common repinings of his people and calms their minds as to his present dealings with his own chosen flock, and the wolves by whom they are surrounded. It contains eight great precepts, is twice illustrated by autobiographical statements, and abounds in remarkable contrasts.

DIVISION. The Psalm can scarcely be divided into considerable sections. It resembles a chapter of the book of Proverbs, most of the verses being complete in themselves. It is an alphabetical Psalm: in somewhat broken order, the first letters of the verses follow the Hebrew alphabet. This may have been not only a poetical invention but a help to memory. The reader is requested to read the Psalm through without comment before he turns to our exposition… C.H. Spurgeon

Our text today v.8-9 imparts an important principle for all believers. Worthless or unrighteous anger, and how to deal with it.

Before I continue I want to make sure we understand that righteous anger is not forbidden in the bible. We should be angry at abortion, same-sex unions, LBGTQ stuff, the lack of Christian fighting the good fight, etc. 

Here v.8, the psalmist is saying stop being so angry at these rich evil men or at God for allowing them to be in power. Remember pent-up anger can turn to wrath and that can lead to ungodly acts of rage. In v.9, we find a twofold promise. Those who do evil will be cut off from the eternal kingdom and those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

They shall inherit the earth. He means that they shall live in such a manner as that the blessing of God shall follow them, even to the grave. John Calvin.

The “Christian” that says I never get angry or it’s a sin to do so, is either not living or never read the book. Most “stuff” in the world today really makes me mad, and Jesus certainly got mad more than 0nce. Yet the Bible is clear Ephesians 4:26–27 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (ESV). We are to be angry at the immorality, the unethical behaviors around us without sinning. 

Today’s Prayer

Lord, whenever I see injustice and unbiblical acts I can easily become angry.  Far too often, I keep this anger within, this affects me and those around me.  It prevents me from serving and glorifying you. Help me Lord, to have this righteous anger yet never sin.  To understand your promises concerning those who do evil and to pray for their souls. Teach me to respond to others with graciousness and love.  In the name of Jesus I pray – Amen. 


“What does it mean to not let the sun go down on your anger?”

 

Devotioanal Thought for Today – 03/19/2021

Grace Notes Sermon Ministry - Make America Godly Again

Joel 2

Before we get to our text for today most folks would have picked Psalm 33:12-22 Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the nation whose God is the Lord,…In proportion as we have [a]hoped in You.

Given the overwhelming evidence that America was not founded as a “Christian Nation” that is a theocracy, but clearly a Republic upon Judeo-Christian principles I think a better choice for our main text is found in Joel.

The nation of Israel had once again abandoned the Lord God and He sent Joel to warn them of the coming wrath. In chapter one, it is a plague of locust, here in chapter two the threat of something far worse drives them to repentance. 

Even now,” says the Lord, “Turn and come to Me with all your heart [in genuine repentance], With fasting and weeping and mourning [until every barrier is removed and the broken fellowship is restored]; 13 Rip your heart to pieces [in sorrow and contrition] and not your garments.” Now return [in repentance] to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness [faithful to His covenant with His people]; And He relents [His sentence of] evil [when His people genuinely repent]. 2:12-13 (AMP)

In 2020 the US had a population of 331,000,000 people of that approximately 68% self proclaim as “Christian.”  Even if we take out one-third for children, infirmed, etc. 68% of that is still 148.5 million Americans.

Think of the effect if all of those folks were thinking BIBLICALLY and praying BIBLICALLY daily.  We do not need to Make America Great Again, we need to Make It Godly Again. 

Here is a thought, get together with some friends, neighbors, co-workers, and pray for America weekly.