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Contact Information

I’d love to hear what you think about Progressive Devotions. Please feel free to email me at the following address. (If you click on the link, it will start your email program up and put the correct address in the To line.)

keith@progressivedevotions.com

If you want to be notified when new stuff is added to the site, be sure to enter your email address in the Email Notifications section on the right side of the main page.

If you’re ever planning to be in the Albany, Schenectady, Troy area of New York, give me a heads up email and we’ll get together. I’d love to meet you in person.

Hitting the Wall.

I think I’ve hit the wall. In the first month of writing Progressive Devotions, I’ve put every spare moment into it. It takes me about two hours a day to create the content for the site. I’m sure others could do it faster, but that’s where I’m at right now. Adding 12 hours a week to a job, Tuesday night jail ministry, and an adult Sunday School class I have to prepare for, there’s no time left in the week. Not only that, but if anything out of the ordinary comes up, it blows me out of the water. As a result, I’ve neglected some other important things and people in my life – especially my amazingly patient wife.

I plan to keep writing Progressive Devotions, so I need to adjust in a way that will keep me in it for the long haul. Several folks have suggested that I switch to a 5 day a week format and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve been reluctant to do it because I want you to be in the Word every day. (I figured you would be in church on Sunday.)

Heather Markowski suggested, “…Friday’s devotion having a weekend long ‘project’ to do.” That sealed the deal for me. I’ll be adding a Weekend Workshop to each Friday’s devotional so you can work with the concepts we’ve discussed during the week.

Hopefully, this change will let me improve the content of Progressive Devotions and still have a life. I hope it doesn’t diminish your enthusiasm for the site. Keep coming back … and invite a friend. Thanks.

Keith Gardner

Missing Day

I got done with Thursday’s devotion fairly early Wednesday night and spent some time with my wife. I even commented to her that it went quickly. Now I know why. I never posted it! (Come to think of it, my son called last night and asked me if I was working on a devotion, but he didn’t eloborate, so it didn’t dawn on me.)

I put up Thursday’s devotion for today (see below) and added the Weekend Workshop to it. I didn’t see any sense in trying to backfill yesterday’s devotion – that day is gone. I’ll just pick up where I left off on Monday.

I was finishing today’s devotion this morning when I noticed that yesterday’s was missing. Sorry for the oversight. By the way, if you notice something like that, zip off an email to me. Thanks.


Keith

PC Repaired

Greetings All:

Just wanted to let y’all know that my notebook is up and running again. I had to reinstall Windows XP. Since I did it from a nonHP CD, it didn’t recognize my wireless network card and my monitor. I also lost the stuff in My Documents and all my software setups. I’m slowly putting everyting back together. I expect to have a new devotion up by Monday morning. Thanks for you patience and prayers.

Keith

James – Day 7

Introduction

Today we begin our passage by passage study of the book of James. We’re going to take small bites so they’ll be easy to digest. Here’s the passage we’ll consider today:

Jam. 1:1-4 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Salutation

James

We briefly discussed the identity of James on day two of our study. I think it’s interesting that James uses no title other than a servant of God. He wasn’t concerned with who he was, but who they were and how he could help them. James was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem.

Twelve Tribes Scattered Abroad

James was writing to his scattered flock. These were the Jewish converts to Christianity who were dispersed because of Saul’s persecution.

Act. 8:1-4 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. (2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. (3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (4) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

This was a difficult time to be a Christian in Jerusalem. What would your life be like if you had to worry about being arrested every time you went to church? Those believers weren’t just fined, they were jailed and killed. Here’s how Paul described it:

Act. 26:9-11 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (10) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. (11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

As a result, many of these Jewish converts left Jerusalem for friendlier regions. Some, no doubt, had lost friends or family members to the persecution. They left homes, work, and a great church with thousands of members. They were starting over again in new communities. These people had their hands full.

Count It All Joy

I love the way James gets right down to business. He rolls up his sleeves and begins addressing the needs of hurting people. His first order of business is to help them know how to respond to trials.

He doesn’t begin with, “I feel bad for you poor folks.” If James believed that God was no longer taking care of his readers, then he would have felt sorry for them. If he believed that the enemy outsmarted or overpowered God, then there would have been reason for sadness. But James begins this letter with a note of triumph. Count it all joy!

Count it all joy when you’re surrounded by all sorts of tests. (The word picture here is of someone who fell into a pit and is surrounded on all sides.) Count it all joy when you faith is tried. James isn’t the only one to say this in the Bible. Here are some similar passages:

Luk. 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. (23) Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

1Pe 4:12-16 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (14) If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. (16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

It sounds like God is serious about us responding to hardships with joy. Is this just putting on a happy face, being brave, or are there real reasons to have joy?

Trials Produce Patience

One reason to rejoice in trials is that God has a purpose for them. “The trying of your faith,” James says, “worketh patience.” Senseless suffering is hard to bear, but believers have a loving Father who only allows things to touch our lives for good.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I’ve flown a few times over the years. I remember one of the first times we flew, the plane hit an air pocket. I was pretty nervous right after the plain dropped and shook. Most of the people around me didn’t seem upset. They kept reading their books, reclining with their eyes closed, conversing with other folks. They were frequent flyers and they knew that this was often part of the process. In the same way, patience keeps you on board so you can reach the destination God has in mind for you.

The Perfect Work of Patience

You might be thinking, “Big deal. I get to learn patience so I can endure more stuff I don’t want to deal with. How does that help me?” Patience isn’t the goal – patience lets you reach the goal. You’ve got to “let patience have her perfect work.”

What would have happen if I got off the plane at my first layover? Where would I have been if I said, “This is nuts. I’m not going to have the bottom drop out again. Next time it might be fatal.” I wouldn’t have reached my final destination because I didn’t have the patience to put up with the normal bumps along the way.

Your ticket says, “…perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Are you there yet? If you bail out now, you won’t arrive there. And, in my experience, you’ll end up starting over again anyway. You either face your difficulties and get stronger, or flee from them and get weaker. When you give in to fear, your world shrinks- the walls close in on you. (Don’t you think it’s interesting that James had to write to them about how to endure trials after they fled persecution? Apparently, a change in geography didn’t lead to a change in circumstances for them.)

God’s goal is to make you like Christ. The more like Christ you are, the more impact your life will have. Trials are part of that process, and we hinder the process when we try to avoid the problems.

How’s It Going?

  • Do you respond with joy when your faith is tested?
  • Do you believe God has a purpose in those things He requires you to endure? Are you looking for it?
  • Are you running from your problems, or growing through them?

Homework

Read James 1:5-8 and answer the following questions:

  • How does God give us the wisdom we ask Him for?
  • What does it mean to ask in faith?
  • Why do we sometimes receive, even though we don’t ask in faith?
  • What does it mean to be double minded?

James – Days 11 & 12

I asked you to consider the following three questions as you studied James yesterday:

  1. James said, “God cannot be tempted.” How do you explain verses like Num. 14:22, Deu. 6:16, and Psa. 95:8-9 in light of James’ statement?
  2. As a corollary to the previous question, how do you explain the temptation of Christ (Mat. 4:1)? We believe Christ was God. We believe God can’t be tempted. Christ was tempted.
  3. James told us that God doesn’t tempt any man. How do you explain verses like Genesis 22:1 and 2Sa. 24:1in light of James’ statement?

I’m going to leave this post up today and tomorrow to give you a chance to share what you’ve discovered as you tried to answer these questions. To post a comment, just click on the blue Comments link at the end of this post in type in what you’ve found. We’ll review the results together on Thursday and then continue on with our verse by verse study on Friday. Thanks for participating.

Keith

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 2

Introduction

Once you’re saved, one of the most important things you can do to live a godly life is to get control of your time. Today, we’ll take a look at the importance of time management and the role it plays in being the person God wants you to be.

Bible Reading

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
(Col 4:5)

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psa 90:12)

Bible Study

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and lose sight of what really matters. And, sadly, the most imporant things may not cry out for attention like the urgent things do. We are called to redeem, to buy back, our time and put it to good use in God’s service. If you don’t control your time, you don’t control your life, and you won’t be godly.

How many hour, how many days, have you wasted on activities without eternal value? At the end of your life, will you rejoice or regret the hours you’ve spent on soap operas, sitcoms and sports? In these evil days, are you wisely doing God’s will?

To be a good steward of your time, you’ll need to learn how to number your days. Knowing that there are only so many tomorrows will help you live each day wisely. Many folks coast through life on autopilot and are crushed by regret when they get to the end. You can do better by looking down the road and regretting before you waste your life.

Conclusion

  • In what ways are you wasting your time? What do you need to do less of, or stop doing entirely?
  • What important activities are you not devoting enough time to? What can you do to devote more time to these tasks?

A Week to Make You Strong: Day 3

Introduction

The longer you’re saved, the better you should know God’s Word. Today, we’re going to examine how you’ve been growing in your knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.

Bible Reading

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14)

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1Pe 2:2)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15)

Bible Study

Our first passage makes it clear that your knowledge of God’s Word should grow over time. “When for the time,” the writer of Hebrews says. You been saved long enough that you should know enough to teach others. What about you? Does your level of Bible knowledge reflect the amount of time you’ve been saved?

You’ll only grow to know the deeper truths of God’s Word as you exercise your senses – by consistently studying the Bible. That’s how you develop discernment.

Do you desire God’s Word, or have your lost your appetite? Peter reminded his readers that they should long for God’s Word like a baby cries for mother’s milk.

Bible study takes work. It’s wonderful work, but it’s still work. I worked in an apple orchard right before I joined the Marine Corps. During the harvest, moms often brought their children into the orchard to pick apples. They didn’t have any special equipment, no training, no deadlines. They just got what they could reach from the ground and left after a pleasant visit. Most folks study the Bible that way. Thumbing through the pages looking for something sweet and quitting quickly. But a laborer stays at it, looking on every branch, under every leaf, for each ripe piece of fruit.

Conclusion

  • How has your Bible reading and study improved over the year?
  • Are you hungry for the Word of God?
  • When it comes to Bible study, is it a leisure activity, or a labor of love?