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For such a time as this…

October 21, 2010

If you’ve never read the book of Esther, you totally should.  And not just because it’s one of the two books in the Bible named after a woman (Ruth is the other).  It’s a great example of God’s divine providence.

Esther was the Queen of the Persian Empire, and the King was a lovely wretch of a man named Xerxes.  The King’s evil henchman, Haman, tricked the King via flattery to issue an edict that says all the Jews in his empire should be put to death.  Little did the King know, however, that his wife Esther was a Jew!

Esther had been an orphan, and her cousin Mordecai, also a Jew, had taken her in.  Through an AMAZING set of circumstances, Esther came to be Queen.  Later, when Mordecai heard about the King’s edict against the Jews, he tried to persuade Esther to speak up against the King to defend her people.  Esther was reluctant at first, so Mordecai gave her this encouraging thought:

Esther 4:14 – Yet who knows whether you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?

Mordecai is pleading with Esther to realize that she is NOT where she is by mere coincidence.  Through a very unique set of circumstances (God’s divine providence), she has found herself in a position to do something great for God.  Mordecai begs her to realize the opportunity she has.  ‘After all, you’re already here.  You might as well take it seriously.’  She does, and the Jews are saved.

I had the privilege to share that story with my campus ministry group at college, and I encouraged them to take seriously the opportunities that God places before them.  That evening, a young man expressed interest in learning more about the Gospel, and a short time later he was saved.  I had no idea that would happen, but God gave me an opportunity to share an inspiring message, so I did.

What opportunities has God placed before you in your life?  To whom do you have the chance to lend a helping hand, or even to witness to?  Don’t let the opportunity pass by, for how do you know that God hasn’t placed you where you are for such a time as this?

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A Clark Kent Moment

June 25, 2010

About a year ago, my youth leader from Chippewa Evangelical Free Church was talking about prayer.  “Worrying instead of praying”, he said, “is like trying to push your car out of the mud when you have Clark Kent in your back seat.”

Our lack of prayer sounds really stupid when you think of it that way.

Later, “I mean, why would anyone try to push their car on their own when they have Superman ready and waiting to help?” he asked.

“Oh wait, you mean Clark Kent and Superman are the same?”  One girl had just now figured out the analogy from 15 minutes ago.

A few weeks later a newcomer said something that she thought was dumb and called it a blonde moment.

“Around here, we call those Clark Kent moments”, I told her.  That got me a prompt kick in the shin.

Don’t have a Clark Kent moment about God.  Remember who He is and that He’s there to help you.

Pray.

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God’s Wrath

June 24, 2010

In 1789, First Mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Captain William Bligh on the HMS Bounty.  Bligh and 18 of his loyal crewman who refused to take part in the mutiny were ordered into a tiny boat and pushed out to sea.  Fletcher, 8 mutineers, and several Tahitians set out for the uninhabited island of Pitcairn to enjoy their plunder.

There they made whiskey from some plants, and the result was drunken orgies and violent fighting.  The island paradise had become a prison, and all but one of the mutineers was killed in fights or murdered in his sleep.  Alexander Smith was the lone survivor, along with the women and fatherless children.

As the only adult male, Smith felt responsible to care for the rest, but he knew he lacked the wisdom.  Finding a Bible in a chest, he read it from cover to cover over the course of a few weeks, surrendered his life to God, and began to teach the women and children to read from the Bible.

Eighteen years after the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, the Topaz, an American ship, stumbled upon the island of Pitcairn.  There they found a small, organized, Christian community.  No violence.  No crime.  No alcoholism.  No illiteracy.  Just peace.

The story of the mutineers demonstrates the reality of God’s wrath.  As Romans 1 tells us, after people willingly choose to be ignorant of God, claim to wise, and openly encourage an immoral lifestyle, God gives them over to their desires (Romans 1:24).  God’s wrath, in effect, is the removal of His presence and peace.  “Fine, have it your way”, says God, and the ravaging effects of our sin break forth in full force.

For those of us who know God as our Lord, let us be grateful that He does not give us every desire of our naturally sinful hearts, and that restoration can always be found by those who turn back to Him!

Nick B

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Charlie’s List

June 23, 2010

I have recently been encouraged to commit some Bible verses to memory after coming across the story of Charles Hayward.  Inspired by Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…, Hayward started memorizing his favorite Bible verses.  He began his “Whole Bible Memorization Plan”, as he called it, at the age of 73, and committed 239 verses (at least 1 from each Old Testament book, the Gospels, and Acts, and at least 1 from each chapter of the rest of the New Testament) to memory before his death 14 years later.

239 verses!  I’m not sure if my mind has the capacity for that kind of memorization, but I desperately long for the “word of Christ to dwell in [me] richly.”  I often recall that when Christ Himself was tempted by Satan, He responded to the Prince of Lies with the Truth of the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11).

Charlie’s List, as his kids called it, has been made available to everyone with this encouraging note: “It was his wish that others would be as blessed as he was by committing this list (or one like it, using your favorites) to memory.”

Taking a few verses from Charlie’s List and adding my personal favorites, I have begun to compile a list of my own that I hope to store in my memory bank.  I hope you will join my efforts with a list of your own!  There is no doubt that many lives were in fact blessed by Charlie’s Scripture memorization, and his inspiration can continue to impact lives through the likes of you and me.

Feel free to share a few of your personal favorites with me!  Some of mine that are not so well known are:

2 Kings 7:9 – We are not doing right.  This day of good news, and we remain silent.

Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Jonah 4:4 – Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Nahum 1:9 – What do you conspire against the Lord?  He will make an utter end of it.  Affliction will not rise up a second time.

Good luck!

Nick B

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Brainwashed

March 14, 2010



The washcloth I use to do the dishes gets absolutely filthy.  Poor thing.  Dried up spaghetti sauce, hardened ketchup and barbecue sauce (ick), strands of Ramen noodles clinging to the side of the bowl, and the washcloth has to tackle it all.  It sounds a little funny to have to wash a washcloth, but it definitely needs done.  I can think of only one thing that should be washed more often than that washcloth.  My mind.

Our minds soak up everything we expose them to.  Whatever we watch, read, or listen to gets sucked into our brains like a vortex, affecting our thoughts, feelings, and desires.  Man do those things get dirty.  Where’s a good brainwasher when you need one?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed through the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2 NIV).  Ah ha!  A good mind renewal sounds perfect.  But how exactly do we let our minds be renewed?  Philippians 4:8 commands us to focus our minds on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things! (NIV)

We have a tendency to allow ourselves to be slaves to our sinful nature by what we choose to fill our minds with.  Instead of starving our sinful nature, we choose to fuel it.  When we try under our own power to change, we inevitably fail.

But God’s Word has the answer.  Instead of trying to simply remove our sinful thoughts and actions, we should focus on replacing them with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.  I can think of no better way to fill my mind with God-honoring thoughts than by studying the Word, the ultimate truth.

It’s time to undo your thinking.  Wash your mind with the Word.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life, you can be renewed from the inside out.  If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, studying the Bible daily most certainly is.

Have you had a good brainwash lately?

Nick B

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There your heart will be also

March 7, 2010

rap1

If the picture has you enticed, then you absolutely HAVE to watch this rap from New Hope Church in Hawaii about tithing.  Come on, you know you want to…

Everybody watch?  Good.  Now first thinks first, that was quite possibly the best thing ever! Kudos to those guys for not only remembering the classics like “Hammer Time” and “Running Man” but also being up to date with a little “Walk it Out.”  Very impressive.

Now that you’re all done giggling, let me share my take on the basic message that was being shared.

A line towards the end of the rap said, “Where’s your heart?  Just follow the cash.  I’m storing up mine in a Heavenly stash.”  This of course is based off of one of Jesus’ teachings during the sermon on the mount: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:21,24 NIV).

Many people think that this teaching applies only to the Donald Trump’s of the world: greedy traders on Wall Street and selfish CEO’s who put their wallet before God.  However, what Jesus said applies to regular people like you and me, too.

No one can serve two masters.  There are many things besides money that we can put before God.  Sometimes I get too busy with homework and tv that my evening just gets away from me, and before I know it I don’t have time for my daily prayer time and Bible study.  What are the effects of this?

There your heart will be also.  I sometimes end up caring more about getting perfect grades and about Jim and Pam’s wedding than about what God might be trying to do with my life.

Who has been your master this week?  Who have you been serving with your time, talents, and love?  Have you been too busy with friends, school, or a significant other to spend any time with God?  We cannot serve both God and ourselves.  The Lord has given us all gifts, and He intends for us to use our gifts to serve Him, to serve others, and to build up His Kingdom (Romans 12:6-8).

How can you serve God today?  Who do you know that is in need of a few moments of your time?

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

In Christ,

Nick B

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New Devotions Upcoming!

March 6, 2010

Howdy, TFF fans!

My name is Nick (not the bass player), and on behalf of Third From First I will be contributing some devotions. I am a Riverside ’07 alum along with Steve, Mike, and Andrew, a fan of Christian rock, and a lover of all things pasta. I will be drawing from my personal experiences and Bible study time when posting. I will try to post weekly or biweekly, so check back on Sundays. Comments are always welcome. Keep up your prayers for the TFF ministry!

God bless,

Nick B (not the bass player)

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Unconditional Contentment (Phil 4: 11-13)

May 18, 2009

“…I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:11-13

The roller coaster of life.  We have all faced it.  We’ve all had a front-car seat for the ups and downs of life.  Personally, these past few months have been very trying for myself, and for the band. I (Troy) just lost my grandmother, and the band is going through some growing pains and big changes. It hasn’t been easy.

But then again, is life ever easy? Of course not.  But whatever your situation is right now, my question for you is where are you turning?  Who are you turning to? Paul was thrown in jail, beaten, mocked, and eventually beheaded for the Gospel. Yet, he knew something many of us don’t.  It was a “secret”. This secret was that no matter what came along in Paul’s life, he could withstand it.  He could be content in all things with Christ having his back.

Do we know this today? Can we face the ups and downs of life knowing that Christ is our rock and our “strong tower”? It is great to sing such words or hang up up kool posters. But when the going gets tough, do really we stand firm, stay calm, and appreciate the life God has given us? Are we content because of Christ?

My challenge and encouragement to all of you is to never forget that Christ is on your side. Though life may go through the good and bad times, do not let it throw your emotions around. Be content, able to face every situation with grace. Remember, it is Christ who gives you the ability to do so! 😀

As always, keep your head up, and remember.. God, others, self. We love you all!

In Christ, Troy and TFF

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Don’t Forget Whose You Are: Revelation 7: 15-17

December 4, 2008

Revelation 7:15-17 (Bear with the length, it really is worth it!!!)

“They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple, and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;  he will lead them to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

I know I had last month’s devotion, but this thought hit me hard, and I want to share it with you: You know, its so easy to get frustrated and bitter in life.  Things never work out the way you want them to, and we get hurt by people and ourselves.  But as you read this passage, simply remember: You belong to God.  You have been bought at a price.

This scripture simply tells us that though things are tough now, and Jesus told us we would face trials and tribulations in life (John 16:33), a time is coming when all pain, sorrow, stress, sin and death. will be done away with.  He will wipe away every tear, and be our God. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what that will be like!!

Be encouraged this week and month.  Though it may be rough, Christ has promised us that he will return. And even if he doesn”t in our lifetimes, we still have a paradise, a renew earth (read Rev. 21) to look forward to where we will be perfected and live with Christ!! Keep Your head up!! Take Heart because Jesus overcame this world and because of him, so will we!

God Bless, and finish strong! We love You guys!

Troy and all the guys of TFF

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Take a Time Out

November 1, 2008

Isaiah 40:28-31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the3 ends of the earth.  He will NOT grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

If you’re like me, you spend most of your time DOING.  Running here, going there.  Any more, poeple just do… Why is that? Is it because we feel that we have nothing better to do but everything?  Do we feel this desire to have some kind of meaning in our lives that comes from what we do?

Lately, I’ve been feeling beat down by everything that life throws at me.  I’ve been up long hours doing homework for class, and have kept myself very busy with things at church or on campus. I am one of those weary ones mentioned in Isaiah 40.  But it hit me this week that nothing I could do would ever give me fulfillment in life.  Nothing I do will please God.  It is by GRACE through FAITH ALONE that we please God.

So in the next week, rather than feeling like the world depends on you, take a time out! Just relax, and spend time with the Lord. As this passage shows, we were made to lean on Him for our strength. When you do this, you’ll find yourself more capable of giving of your time and energy than when you try to do things on your own power (Also read Proverbs 3: 5-6 for this). May God bless you this week.  Always seek Him first, and live third.

Love in Christ

Troy– TFF

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