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Good morning, Beloved, Dear Child, By Scotty Smith God’s word through Ezekiel was, “I will do this.” Don’t you wish that, at the very moment we were justified by grace alone through faith alone, idolatry were no longer an issue? Our great hope is that we will not always be idolaters. One day we will be as lovely and as loving as Jesus, because God does not lie and He will bring His covenant to completion. So we can relax and go under the surgery of the One committed to our freedom, the One who said, “I will do this.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” John wrote, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 NIV). “Dear children.” “My beloved.” This is how both Paul and John exhort us to fight idolatry: we are beloved children whom God has promised to liberate. It’s this relationship that enables us to be honest about the fact that we give our hearts and our energies to things that are not God. Only those who know themselves to be fully and eternally accepted in Jesus have the motivation and moxie to do this hard—and heart—work. Here is the heart work God has done in my life. Several devastating events intersected with my sinful nature and produced a whole pantheon of false gods. The first of the two most formative events was that I was sexually molested when I was an eight-year-old boy. Honestly, it wasn’t until about nine years ago that I gained an awareness of how devastating and shaming that was for me. And even though I knew Jesus was my righteousness and that He took my guilt, I never knew that He took my shame, too. The second part of my story is that my mother was killed in a car wreck when I was eleven. One hour after I learned of my mother’s death, my father arrived at the home of the people who were caring for my brother and me. The door opened and he asked, “Boys, do you know what happened?” My brother and I answered yes. With that he walked right by us, and my mom’s name was not mentioned for the next thirty-nine years. In many ways, the death of my mom really represents a dark vortex, an intersection where my sinful nature and these profound wounds came into focus for me. Out of this deep pain came idolatries that I have dealt with for years. It’s only as I have grown in knowing that I was the “beloved,” a “dear child,” that I have been able to have the courage to look at my woundedness and rest in Christ’s welcome of beloved sinners, even those who build idols right in the middle of their pain. Thought to Remember for Today: It is only as we learn how loved we are that we can face our wounds. It is only when we know that God will free us that we are free to survey the idols that grow in those dark, bruised places. Yes, today I am a free man, and continually becoming freer, all because of the grace of God. I cannot do the hard work of seeking out and destroying my idols… and neither can you do that with yours. This is work Jesus does. He said, “I will do this.” You can trust Him today. Ezekiel 14:3-5

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Sep 19th at 7:00am


Good morning everyone!! You Are Loved… No, Really By Elyse Fitzpatrick How would you live today if you knew at the very bottom of your soul that you were loved? You know what that would do? It would free you from having to make sure you were being loved. How much chasing after being loved have you done? How much effort have you poured into your pursuit of being loved? God’s one-way love for us is the only love that can free us from our incessant pursuit of the love of others. We must be done with all that! I’ll tell you why: because no matter how many people you get to love you, it will never be enough. Let me remind you of Haman in the book of Esther. Haman had everyone in the entire city bowing down to him when he rode by, but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t have Mordecai’s worship, and it drove him crazy. Even though we can see the stupidity of Haman’s deadly desire, you and I act the same way. It doesn’t matter how much we are loved by others; it never totally satisfies because the holes in our hearts weren’t meant to be filled by anything other than a perfect love—the love of God. But here’s the good news: through the gospel, we get to be free from that slavery. We’ve been loved by Somebody who knows our hearts, who sees every dark and doubtful thing within them. And yet He loves us and He gives Himself for us. God’s grace liberates us from this kind of gluttony for love. I don’t need to seek endlessly and fruitlessly to be loved anymore. The perfect love of Christ has satisfied my need and driven out my fear. Thought to Remember for Today: You are already more loved than you could ever dare hope. This love didn’t come to you because you are wonderful; it isn’t something you earned by your good behavior. That’s really great news, because if God’s love were something we could earn by our good behavior, then His love would be something we could lose by our bad behavior. God’s love rests on us because of His gracious choice of us in Christ, and that love is indestructible. I John 3:1

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Sep 18th at 6:11am


Good morning everyone! More and More As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. ‪Psalm 71‬:14‬‬‬‬ How often do you tell the Lord your praises throughout the day? Worship is a moment-by-moment response, not a one-day-out-of-the-week. In Psalm 71, we see the Psalmist pouring out his praise continually before God. He says “more and more.” Why? Because God’s never-ending hope deserves praise that is never-ending. We live as sacrifices to God in the light of His hope. This is the same Hope that is the Returning of our Great Savior. Even as we live among a hopeless world, in which we experience chaos, hurt, and destruction, we proclaim the mercies of God to share His hope. This kind of perseverance is fueled by our faith and expectation of Christ, which results in giving Him thanks. Do you find yourself praising God more and more on the basis of His continual love? As we are assured of His victory, we take advantage of His free gift of everlasting righteousness and power to live. Prayer for the day: Almighty Father, while we speak of Your hope, and sing Your praises, help us to rise above our fears and sickness, and possess Your greatest visions of the joys in heaven. May the work of Your Redemption be upon our lips as we sing Your praise. Thank You for sending the Lamb who was slain to redeem us. You are worthy of all blessing and praise, now to You, the One True God forever and ever. - Amen.

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Sep 17th at 6:45am


Good morning everyone! “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” ~ John 5:7 NIV “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” ~ Benjamin Franklin I took a course a few years ago and the facilitator made a powerful statement. He said, “In life, there are reasons and results—if you have a reason, then you did not get the result.” So which would you prefer, a good reason or a good result? Excuse-making is one of the faulty patterns that keep us stuck. Excuses keep us from taking responsibility for our lives and our health. They rob us of our personal power and leave us feeling helpless to our circumstances. Excuses in and of themselves are just the symptoms of an underlying problem. One of the most important steps in releasing our addictions is to uproot excuse-making and begin dealing with the real issues behind the excuses you make. It’s impossible to change what you don’t acknowledge. There’s a sad story in the book of John about a man that allowed his infirmity to become his way of life for 38 years! The story outlines a lame man waiting at a healing pool that was believed to heal whoever was the first person to step into the water after it was stirred by an angel of the Lord (John 5:1-9). Although he may have had a legitimate excuse (like most of us) for not going after what he wanted, he blamed his situation on other people not helping him. He complained that other people were always jumping ahead of him and that’s why he could not receive his healing. What reasons do you have for why you have not received a breakthrough in this area? As legitimate as our excuses may be, God wants us to take 100 percent responsibility for our actions and he has equipped us with the ability to do so. Today’s Confession Father, You’ve clothed me with strength and honor. You’ve empowered me to be strong and courageous. I reclaim my power in You by taking 100 percent responsibility for my thoughts and actions. I am blessed with the Holy Spirit to overcome by addictions and whatever is “holding me back.” I will have a testimony in the name of Jesus.

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Sep 15th at 6:32am


Good morning everyone! “WATCH YOUR MOUTH!” is a phrase my siblings and I heard frequently from our parents during our developmental years. “WATCH YOUR MOUTH!” was used as a reminder for my siblings and I to stay within the communication boundaries of discipline, respect, honesty, and positivity established by our parents. I can only recall the phrase being used when we went contrary to our parents’ directives or if our words went against God’s commands. Similar to a parent reminding a child to evaluate their words, God informs his children the power of their words and the importance of choosing words wisely. With our tongues we either speak; life or death, victory or defeat, insecurity or confidence, weakness or strength, trust or doubt, but whatever you say, be prepared to eat the fruit of your words. There have probably been times in your life when you’ve said things that were hurtful towards yourself and others. When that happens it is vital to seek and receive God’s forgiveness, repent and thoughtfully give attention to your words from that point on. It all starts with watching our mouth because the words we speak have long lasting impact directly connected to our present and future circumstances. You’d be surprised how your words are effecting your situation. Scripture reveals several accounts regarding individuals either watching their mouths or carelessly using words. In both cases we are shown the effect of the tongue’s power. Words can teach, encourage and uplift. They also can discourage, reject and demean. Words can express gratitude, love, and joy. They also can express selfishness, hate and despondency. Our aim is to speak what God says about our situations and not what our inconsistent emotions want us to declare. No matter what is going on in your life today, it’s time to “WATCH YOUR MOUTH!” Don’t get distracted by the trial or the mirage that nothing will change, begin declaring God’s word. This is a work in progress that requires discipline, trust, and faith. But once you begin to get in the rhythm of using your words wisely in thanksgiving and praise to God, when the wrong words try to come out, you will be able to take action and bounce back to God’s words. Speak life and watch your mouth! Matthew 12:36 Listen to Hawk Nelson’s song, “Words.” It’s perfect for this devotional!

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Sep 14th at 5:15am


Good morning everyone! Rebuilding Trust One of the most popular TV movies in recent years was Lifetime's The Client List, which chronicled the true story of a Texas wife and mom who started making income by working as a prostitute. Her double life was finally brought to light when the brothel was raided by police and her secrets were exposed. Her husband was disgusted and shocked, and she was eventually abandoned by everyone she loved. You might think that kind of provocative storyline only happens on TV, but the Bible actually has a similar story, but with a much better ending! The Bible's version is about a man named Hosea and a wife named Gomer. Hosea loved his wife unconditionally, and that was put to the test when she abandoned her husband and family to return to her old life of prostitution. By the time Hosea found out, they'd had several children, and he wasn't sure if any of them were biologically his. To make matters even worse, her crimes had landed her in prison, and based on the laws of the day, her next step was to be sold into slavery to repay her debts. Hosea had every earthly right to write her off and leave her to the fate she had created for herself, but God had a different plan. God wanted to use this whole situation to show the amazing grace and unimaginable love he has for us even in those moments when we are completely unworthy. God moved Hosea's heart toward forgiveness and compassion. Hosea went to that slave auction and took most his life's savings to purchase back his wife. Based on the culture's legal system, she now would have had no rights at all. He would have had all the power in the relationship, and he could have used it to punish her for the rest of her life. Knowing this, she bowed her head to him and called him, "Master." What happened next is one of the most beautiful displays of grace ever recorded. In essence, he looked at her and said, "Never call me your master. I am your husband." He gave up his rights to punish, control, or humiliate her, and instead, he welcomed her home as his wife. This simple but powerful act of forgiveness shows us a beautiful picture of the unmerited grace and love God offers to us all. I'm not sure how trust has been broken in your relationships, and I'm definitely not advocating that you give your loved ones a free pass to break your heart, because a healthy relationship must be built on trust, accountability, and mutual respect. My hope is simply that this story will open your mind and your heart a little wider to let more love and grace flow into your life. If we deserved forgiveness, it wouldn't be called grace. If we could earn it, it wouldn't be real love. That type of radical forgiveness doesn’t seem humanly possible, but it is possible through the grace Christ has extended to each of us. Forgiveness sets you free and makes healing possible in the relationship. It’s been said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.” Some couples get stuck in a cycle of grudges and mistrust, because they wrongly assume that forgiveness and trust are the same thing. It’s vital that we understand their distinctions. Forgiveness can’t be earned; it can only be given freely. That’s why it’s called grace. Trust, however, can’t be given freely; it can only be earned. When your spouse breaks your trust, you should give your forgiveness instantly, but give your trust slowly as it is earned through consistency of actions. During this period of rebuilding, fight the urge to punish or retaliate. Those actions won’t do anything to promote healing, and healing always needs to be our ultimate objective. Love, after all, is a healing force. You don’t have to trust someone in order to forgive, but you do have to forgive someone in order to make trust possible again. The process of rebuilding trust might be slow and it might be painful, but it’s worth it! Once you worked through your issues and reestablished trust, your relationship can actually become stronger and more vibrant than it ever was before. I John 1:5-10

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Sep 11th at 4:14am


Good morning everyone! With school starting up again, I thought this devotional might be helpful, and sometimes, not so easy to do... “What’s up, Jackie?” her father asked from the driver’s seat. “You’re usually so excited to go to school and see your friends. Today you’re quiet. Is something wrong?” “No,” Jackie said, “Nothing’s wrong with Carlie or any of my friends. It’s my teacher, Ms. Mitchell. I hate her.” “Wow, that’s a strong word. You hate your teacher?” “She’s so mean! She’s always yelling at me for talking. I hope we have a substitute today.” “I didn’t know you were frustrated with your teacher!” Her dad paused. “Did you try praying for her?” Jackie made a snorting sound with her nose. “Praying for her? What would that do?” “I don’t know, it might help her. And it would definitely make you feel better.” “Like if I pray for her to be absent?” Jackie asked. “No!” her dad answered. “Pray for her to be healthy! Pray she has everything she needs to do her job well. Thank God for her.” Jackie snorted again. The car pulled up to the curb and she opened the door. “Hey,” her father said, catching her eye. “I’m praying for you and Ms. Mitchell today.” A teacher has a lot of power over your life. If you hate your teacher, then life at school is no fun. Thankfully, the Bible gives us advice for dealing with teacher troubles. The first tip is to pray for everybody in authority. That means pray for your teacher. First Timothy gives us ways to pray for people in power. Pray that they do their jobs well, and thank God for them. It probably feels hard to thank God for a teacher you don’t like. But praying helps YOU too. It helps you feel calmer. It reminds you that God is in charge. And prayer helps you think of things that you can do to make the situation better. Try this: Think of 3 things that make you happy (Seeing a friend? Eating your favorite food? Hearing a funny joke?) Now ask God to give each of these to your teacher today. Then think of 3 more things to pray for. The sillier the better. Prayer: God, bless my teacher today with everything she needs. I trust you to give me everything I need too. Amen.

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Sep 5th at 9:19am


Good morning everyone! The Naked Marriage One of the first love lessons we learned in our marriage was the power of a “Naked Marriage.” You probably think we are just talking about sex right now, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The sexual aspect of your marriage should be a huge priority, but remember that true intimacy requires more than just what happens in the bedroom. In the Book of Genesis, we’re given the account of the first marriage. God created a couple that temporarily lived in an ideal setting with no debt, no crazy in-laws, no baggage, no stress, no fighting, and last but not least . . . no clothing! “Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25) When God painted this picture of a naked marriage, we believe he was revealing to us something more than just sexual intimacy; he was revealing the importance of having complete transparency, vulnerability, acceptance, and intimacy at every level of the relationship. I’m certainly not advocating that we all walk around nude all day (although I do think most marriages would benefit from more naked time!), but I am suggesting that we all need to become more intentional about reconnecting with that true intimacy that Adam and Eve got a taste of in the Garden of Eden. Love, by its very nature, is honest, and this is especially important to the sacred bond of trust in marriage. When you’re not living in a naked marriage the way God intended, you’re opening yourself up to very dangerous temptations. Those temptations have led many down a dark path. Our friend Jesse is a dramatic example of this. Jesse had finally hit rock bottom. He found himself sitting at a computer screen late one evening while his wife was out of town to solicit anonymous sex. His porn habit had evolved into a full-blown addiction and ultimately had created a devastating pattern of depravity and self-destructive behavior. His life was out of control, and his marriage was in shambles. He was completely miserable, but he felt powerless to change the situation. As he sat in that dark room planning dark deeds, he caught a glimpse of his reflection from the computer screen and realized that he no longer recognized the man he had become. That night some light broke through the darkness, and Jesse finally realized that he needed to take immediate action to set things right. He called out to God for help, and he made a commitment to do everything in his power to break free from sexual sin and to rebuild his wife’s trust. He set out on a long journey to reclaim his honor and his family. Several years have passed, and I’m happy to say that Jesse and Tricia are happier than they have ever been in their marriage. Jesse has an amazing wife, two beautiful sons, a successful career in the United States military, and many great adventures ahead. Today, as I’m writing these words, Jesse and his family are on a plane to Germany where they will spend the next three years. I spoke with him on the phone two days ago, and his voice was filled with excitement and anticipation as he talked and dreamed about the great days ahead. You might be reading all this and wondering how it’s possible for a marriage to be restored after that kind of behavior. It happened because of a tremendous amount of grace from God and from Jesse’s wife, Tricia. Grace alone was only part of the equation. This marriage was saved, because Jesse was willing to put some uncompromising boundaries in place. Those boundaries created a protected climate where trust could be rebuilt and healing could begin. He recognized that he had become powerless to fight the battles by will power alone, so he surrounded himself with people who could encourage him and keep him accountable. He started a support group for men who were wrestling with similar struggles, and that group provided an outlet for continued growth and healing. Together, those men talked, prayed, laughed, cried, studied the Bible, and found practical solutions to the issues that haunted them. Jesse’s newfound boundaries also included putting a filter on his computer that tracked and documented every website that he visited and giving his wife complete access to that information. He also gave his wife full access to his phone, texts, voicemails, emails, and all of his communication devices. He then cut off all contact with certain “friends” and committed to never return to places that could put him in tempting or compromising situations. Those boundaries created a framework where his marriage could be rebuilt. If your marriage seems like it's stuck in a rut, one reason may be secrets that need to come out into the open. You'll be amazed at the power of honesty and grace. Let truth and forgiveness flow freely in your marriage, and you'll be able to get through any challenge that comes your way!

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Sep 4th at 5:36am


Good morning everyone! You Will Be Refreshed Isaiah 58:10-11 is one of my favorite verses when it comes to serving others, because it’s like a tall glass of cold ice water on a hot day. It’s refreshing...encouraging...hopeful.It describes the power of serving others--in your own life. Sometimes it’s in your darkness and in your tiredness that you are called to pour into others more than ever before. It’s an offering that goes beyond your humanness and displays the infinite power of God. If you can pour yourself out for others and satisfy the desires of those in need, even as you find yourself in the desert, God will make you strong and satisfy your own desires. In fact, He promises to make you like a spring whose waters never fail. If you can pour into others even as you feel empty, God will start a miraculous work in you. He will fill you with an everlasting abundance of water to keep you going. You will always have something to give, no matter what form or size it comes in. I pray this reading plan encourages you to find ways to pour out for others when you feel empty. It won’t always be easy, but it will always have eternal value. Take care of yourself but find small ways to serve and love others when you feel depleted. Know it’s important to your identity as a believer and it’s something God cares deeply about. So much so that he will honor you and take care of you for loving those He loves as well. Understand these biblical principles and find practical ways to serve others, and you’ll find the abundance to pour out for others! Isaiah 58:10-11

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Sep 3rd at 7:35am


If you are unable to join us on Sunday morning, the service is streamed live on our website jasperbiblechurch.org . Just in case you missed it, here is last week's service. Have a blessed day. https://youtu.be/UuTuzv6L108

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Sep 2nd at 9:17am