DAILY DEVOTION

This Week’s Devotion Series

Welcome to First Baptist Church of Venice. You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works! We want to help you navigate this very different time in the life of our country.

April 22, 2020

Remembering Normal

 

It is often said, “When will things return to normal?” Could it be that what we used to think was so predictable and boring is what we are desperately missing? Dreading to go to work is now what we long to do. Are we crazy that we actually miss rushing each morning to get the kids off to school and out of the house? We have gained a deeper appreciation for the schoolteacher we complained about. Now we realize schoolteachers are underpaid! I remember normal and I do miss it!

It is odd that I miss what I used to complain about. So, can I really return to normal? Or should this time spent at social distancing give me a needed break from my pattern in life (rut) to redefine the normal I seek to return? I remember normal, but now perhaps I can make my future normal better than the normal I left!

God provides a reason for us to reflect on normal.

When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God,…”     Deuteronomy 8:10-14a (NLT)

Normal living could also be defined as unappreciative living. We fall into satan’s trap of not being thankful for what God has provided. We have been blessed so incredibly well that we can neglect to thank God for my family, my job, my freedom, my health, schoolteachers; my formerly mundane predictable life that I now desperately miss!

When are we going to return to normal? I hope we never return to things that are unnecessary, unimportant, and things that don’t last. My new normal will one of thanksgiving for ALL the blessings God has so abundantly provided!
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving:”     Colossians 4:2 (NASB)

 

Tassie and I love you and we are praying for you!

Pastor Tom


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April 21, 2020

Running on Empty

 

Sheltering-at-home has brought our normal life to a standstill. We rarely get out of the house. When we do there are very few places to go. We are reluctant to gather with friends. What if they are contaminated with the COVID-19 virus? Beaches are restricted. Parks are barricaded. Restaurants are closed. The dream of more time at home and less time at work is not turning out to be the pleasant feeling we imagined. Instead, there is an uneasy almost painful feeling of emptiness.

Something is missing! That is how one might describe a famine; the intense pain of being empty.

But look, the Lord keeps His eye on those who fear Him— those who depend on His faithful love 19to rescue them from death and to keep them alive in famine. 20We wait for the Lord; He is our help and shield. 21For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name. 22May your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you.                                                                            Psalm 33:18-22 (CSB)

God never promised an absence from famine. What He did promise was a rescue from death and survival in a famine.
 
The shelter-at-home directive does provide the Believer a greater moment to hear from God and consider His plans for our lives. We also have an opportunity to adjust our priorities, reflect on our usage of time, rediscover the dreams of others in our home, and let God plan our future!
We rejoice in our “pause in life”. God turns our famine into plenty

because Believers know we can trust God’s Holy Name and His faithful love. Our hearts rejoice! Let us pray verse 22 above. “Father, may your faithful love rest on us, Lord, for we put our hope in you!” This is not a famine but a sabbath!

Tassie and I love you and are praying for you!

 

-Pastor Tom

 


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April 17, 2020

Time To Think

 

The shelter-at-home directive has provided an emotional roller coaster from serenity to stress. We have been afforded the opportunity to pause and ponder our life, our ups, our downs, our future, and our past. If this produces tension be reminded of what the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “love keeps no record of wrongs.” We should be so thankful that God loves us that much!

Still, it may be difficult for us not to keep a record of wrongs.

There is a remarkable story regarding King David and the death of King Saul. King Saul had sought to kill David and had pursued David for years. David had to hide in caves or hide in the cities of

David’s enemy, the Philistines. One would think David would rejoice over King Saul’s death. Just the opposite took place.

“Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. 12They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword —for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.”   2 Samuel 1:11-12 (HCSB)

David mourned for King Saul – Amazing! David had been relentlessly hunted by King Saul and yet David mourns Saul’s death.

This event reminds me of what Jesus said on the cross regarding those who had hunted Him until He was crucified. The scene from the agony of the cross,

“When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided His clothes and cast lots.”   Luke 23:33-34 (CSB) 

For over three years Jesus had been relentlessly hunted by the religious leaders. However, Jesus was keeping His word.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners

love those who love them.”   Luke 6:32 (CSB)

Jesus loves you so much that when you trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, He forgives ALL your sins and keeps NO record of your wrongs – Amazing!

As you shelter-at-home and you are provided some extra time to ponder your past, forgive those who have wronged you. You will experience the peace of God that is beyond understanding!

Tassie and I love you and we are praying for you.

Pastor Tom


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April 16, 2020

Unexpected Miracles

 

Governor DeSantis has issued a “stay-at-home” order for the entire state of Florida. The coronavirus pandemic has almost made us captives in our own homes.

This reminds me of a Biblical incident where Paul and Silas were placed in prison because of casting out a demon. They were falsely accused, beaten by the authorities, and placed in prison. It was midnight and Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns. God sent an earthquake and released their chains. The earthquake release was a miracle, but an even greater miracle was the jailer and his entire family accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord!

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. … 29The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He escorted them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ 31They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.”                          

Acts 16:25-26, 29-32 (CSB)

Let’s pray for an earthquake medical miracle. God will break the chains of this pandemic and set us free. Let’s also pray that people who have not trusted Jesus will see God’s miracle and ask, “What must I do to be saved?”

Our miracle is only an “earthquake” away!

I love you and I am praying for you!

Pastor Tom


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April 15, 2020

Whew, What A Relief

 

Normally, April 15th is the dreaded time our income taxes are due. We have worked hard, saved, invested, tithed, and kept all our receipts; only to have to pay the taxman what seems like more than our share! Too often we do not take uncertain deductions for fear of being audited – judgment! We are overly cautious to make sure all our deductions are justifiable. We want our good deductions to outweigh our bad deductions! We do not want to face an I.R.S. Judgment Day!

 

One day our life will be audited by Jesus. Some falsely believe that when Jesus takes an accounting of our life that if our good works outweigh our bad deeds, we will not face judgment. This belief is completely wrong.
 

“…For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

Romans 14:10 (CSB)

 

We have recently received great news, our Federal Income Taxes are not due until July 15. We have been given a judgment reprieve for 3 months!

 

There is even greater news. When you receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord your reprieve from God’s judgment is not for 3 months but an eternity. When Jesus is your Savior you acknowledge that Jesus died on a cross for your sins. When Jesus is your Lord, you covenant to serve Him forever!
 

“He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.”

1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)
 
 

Your President Trump postponed your IRS Judgment Day for three months. But you still have to pay your taxes.

 

Your Savior and Lord Jesus eliminated your judgment day sin audit forever. Jesus paid for your sins.

Tassie and I love you and are praying for you.

 

Pastor Tom

 

 

 

 


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April 11, 2020

Overcoming Your Regrets

 

One of the most difficult emotions to overcome is regretting something from your past that you simply cannot undo. A regret will keep you up at night. A regret will impact the way you see other people. The more personal and public your action that caused the regret, the deeper the pain.

The day following Jesus’s trial and crucifixion was the most difficult one for the Apostle Peter. He had boasted to Jesus in front of his friends, “Peter told Him, ‘Even if everyone falls away because of you, I will never fall away.'” Matthew 26:33 (CSB) Then three times Peter denied he even knew Jesus. The last one with cursing!

Jesus is dead and buried. Peter can never take back his abandonment of Jesus. Peter can never ask Jesus for forgiveness. Peter can never forget that when his friend Jesus needed Peter the most, Peter ran away from Jesus in fear!

“When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; they were alarmed. 6‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he told them. ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they put Him. 7But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.'”                                           Mark 16:5-7 (CSB)

The angel emphasized for the women at the Resurrection, be sure to tell Peter. Peter cannot erase his fearful abandonment of Jesus. But Peter will get an opportunity to ask for forgiveness. And most of all, Peter will get another opportunity to make amends for what he had done!

Peter made the most of his second chance. He was brought before the same Jewish rulers that had crucified Jesus. But we see an entirely different Peter.

“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. …18So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.'”                    Acts 4:13,18-20 (CSB)

What happened to Peter?

  1. Peter saw the resurrected Jesus.
  2. Peter received forgiveness from Jesus.
  3. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit.
  4. Jesus allowed Peter to turn Peter’s fear and failure into courage and boldness.
  5. Peter was not going to live with another regret!

You can overcome your regrets.

  1. See that Jesus died for your sins and He is resurrected to give you life.
  2. Receive forgiveness by trusting in Jesus as your Savior and committing your life to Him as your Lord.
  3. You will receive the Holy Spirit.
  4. If possible, Jesus will give you an opportunity to go to anyone that you have wronged and ask them for forgiveness.
  5. Through God’s Holy Spirit you will have the wisdom, courage, and boldness to live for Christ without regrets!

 

We love you and we are praying for you!

-Pastor Tom

 


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April 8, 2020

You Never Have To Be Alone

 

Social distancing is redefining our ability or our inability to connect with people. Sure, phones and social media will continue to provide a form of personal connection, but most people miss face-to-face interaction. We feel lonely.

Loneliness causes many people to feel empty, unwanted or forgotten. In our nation’s state of fear, it is easy for a person to be ‘overlooked’ by family or friends. Loneliness, according to many experts, is not necessarily about being alone, it is real. The devastating emotion is the feeling of being alone.
 
God promised His people that Christians never have to be overcome by the feeling of being alone.
…For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6b (HCSB)
 

Jesus said,

“If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and He will never leave you.”

John 14:16 (TLB)

The comforter is the Holy Spirit that every born-again Christian receives. If you have committed your life to Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit living in you! You are never alone.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me!” (Psalm 23:4)
[emphasis added]

 

Christians are NEVER alone!
 
We love you and are praying for you!
 

Pastor Tom and Tassie


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April 6, 2020

Freed from the Pandemic Prison!

 
Our entire nation is being held captive in what some call the COVID-19 prison. The daily news cycle provides us a disconcerting hour by hour death toll. We are afraid to venture outside our homes. Deliveries are potentially coronavirus contaminated. Our favorite fragrance is now disinfectant spray! We are captives!
 
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying fervently to God for him.”                                               

 Acts 12:5 (CSB) 

 

The last half of this verse is powerful! But the church was praying fervently [Greek ἐκτενής: without ceasing] to God for him. God’s people were interceding without ceasing for Peter!
 

“Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, ‘Quick, get up!’ And the chains fell off his wrists. … 11When Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp…”                                    

Acts 12:8,11a (CSB)

 

God’s people prayed and God sent His angel to deliver Peter. Five times the Bible records where God sent His mighty angel. God sent His angel and Daniel was delivered from prison. God sent His angel and Lot was delivered from Sodom. God sent His angel to minister to John in exile and to Jesus after His encounter with satan in the wilderness.

We are seeking a miraculous deliverance from the pandemic prison. Let God’s people pray without ceasing that God will rescue His people and our nation from the COVID-19 captivity! We need God’s Angel of Deliverance!

Thank you for your faithfulness! You are an incredible Church!

Tassie and I love you and we are praying for you.

Pastor Tom


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April 02, 2020

Standing Between Life and Death (Part 1)

 

Have you ever thought of yourself as a priest? Maybe you automatically think of a priest as an ordained minister that serves in certain religious denominations.

Websters defines priest: one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God. When you accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, God filled you with His Holy Spirit and made you a priest.

John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6 (CSB)
 

Jesus intercedes for true Christians. “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.”Romans 8:34 (CSB)

As a true Christian you are a priest, a mediator between people and God. You have the authority, ability and power to pray for people; interceding for them to God.

Pray for your family, your friends, people that you meet, those in authority; you can intercede for them to God. Through Christ, God has given Christians a great privilege; intercession!

I love you and I am praying for you!

Let’s pray together at 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM

Pastor Tom


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April 1, 2020

Encouraged When Alone

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many people into a self-imposed isolation. We are listening to our governmental leaders and reluctantly reasoning that perhaps they are correct! This isolation definitely brings its own set of challenges.

In the Bible, King David had convinced his soldiers that they would be safe living with the Philistines during King Saul’s pursuit of David. While David and his army were safe with the Philistines, an enemy raided David’s stronghold and captured the wives and children of David and his entire army.

When David and his men returned home, they discovered their great loss. David had to escape from his own troops because they were planning to stone him!

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

                                                               1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV)

 King David found strength from God even in isolation. So can we. God has promised never to leave us and never to forsake us. We may be in isolation. We may be lonely. But, as a Believer, we are never alone. We have the Holy Spirit living in us! Let’s read our Bible, pray and strengthen ourselves in the Lord. We are never alone!
-Pastor Tom Hodge

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