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Every Day, Every Day, Every Day

I am in seven different accountability groups each week. In the groups, we each report on how we are doing on our goals and the spiritual disciplines. This morning’s group had eight guys, and every one of them said, “read my Bible every day.” It is incredibly encouraging as a pastor to see the number of people in our church who are very faithful to read the Bible almost every day. Most are following a reading plan that will get them through the Bible in a year, and some more than that. We have a bunch of people who are very sick right now, and a number with a variety of serious health issues, but from many of them, in spite of how they are feeling I see their report that they got in their Bible reading for the day.

The Bible mentions over fifty different blessings that come into the life of a person who honors God by faithfully reading His Word. One such blessing is stated in Psalms 119:165,”those who love Your Law will have great peace, and nothing will cause them to stumble.” Another one is in Psalms 1, “He meditates on God’s word day and night, and as a result he will yield fruit and in all that he does he will prosper.” Churches that have a majority of their church family reading will be blessed as well.

Churches that are blessed by God, bless the world, and are used by Him to reach many others.

Psalms 67:1-2 God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us—
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Genesis 12:2 . . .And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;

I have gotten personal goals from 25 different people to pray for. I would love to get a bunch more. If you are part of the JBC family and would like to be in an accountability group, let me know, I would love to plug you into one, email me deefduke@icloud.com

Pray for Me

As a pastor of Jefferson Baptist Church I get lots of requests, and the most often given one is, “Pastor would you pray for me?” And when I say “yes,” they give me details of some issue, trial, or problem they are facing.

I pray for every person who attends Jefferson Baptist Church every week. I have a prayer app for my IPad that works great. I can put unlimited information under each person’s name and I can add a picture with their name. Having the picture is a super help in learning people’s name who are new. It takes me about one hour each day to keep up with this commitment, and as a Pastor wanting to make a difference in people’s lives, I believe that nothing that I do has as much power to change lives as praying for them does. In John 17:9 Jesus declared that He prayed for the ones that God the Father had given Him, He had a special jurisdiction in their life. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me;” I believe that God has given me that same power, that same authority with Him on behalf of those He has given to me.

According to the teaching in the New Testament I have been given authority from God to pray and

-ask that He protect you from the temptations of the devil.

-that He would show you His perfect will for your life.

-that you would have strength and power to bear up under trials and to accomplish a lot with your life.

-that your behavior would please the Lord.

-that God would stir up your heart to witness to lost people.

-that God would give you joy and peace in spite of trials.

-that God would give you His wisdom to know what to do and say in any situation you may find yourself in.

-that He would convict you greatly for sin.

-that He would make your relationships healthy and unified.

-and that you will seek the Lord diligently through the spiritual disciplines.

The Best

It is interesting that the quarterback of the national college football Champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, is ranked 104th in college football quarterbacks; he is an unimpressive 5’11” tall and 190 pounds, was a walk-on and not recruited by any college, and several sportswriters are saying that when he returns to Georgia next year, he probably won’t be the starting quarterback. Stetson Bennet is not your typical National Champion quarterback for sure.

He is one of those guys that work hard every day, never gives up, doesn’t complain, doesn’t insult those who called for his benching most of the season. After his team won the National Championship, and he was awarded offensive player of the game, the people doing the interviews with him tried hard to get him to badmouth his detracters, but he refused. After the game, listening to the coach and players talk about him, it was evident that they immensely loved and respected him.

Next season I am going to pay close attention to Stetson Bennet and the Georgia Bulldogs because I love seeing someone succeed based on character and hard work.

Ten Million Dollars

If you take one penny and double it for one month, for thirty days you will have over ten million dollars. That seems impossible but that is the power of doubling. If you or I are trying to do something great with our life, there is great power in getting a little bit better everyday. But there is a problem, the doubling phenomena starts out slow. After ten days, one-third of the days and the total is a bit over ten dollars.

In real life people get discouraged with slow starts and quit, if you do that you will miss out on the equivalent of ten million dollars. One of the principles with both Paul and Jesus was that money is around us all the time and it is easy to invest our money and our time.

The key to success is perseverance, going beyond the time of small returns. Endurance and self-control are essential character traits needed to accomplish anything of value. I think the Lord made it that way to separate the champions from the mediocre

Darn Parkinson’s

My Parkinson’s disease goes in cycles; it seems for no apparent reason that I can figure out. The last couple of days have been worse than normal. I stay on top of it most of the time with my extensive exercise, and it is just a nuisance to put up with, but occasionally it will get worse. That worseness is mostly in my legs not wanting to do what I want them to do, and also lots of pain in most all of my muscles, sort of like a full-body charlie horse or cramp. When it happens I work very hard at not grumbling or complaining to myself, to others or to God. I take it as a trial that God is using to develop my character and make me like Christ.

Another issue that I struggle with during these times is that I don’t want to do anything, just sit in my chair and look at youtube videos. One thing I do to counteract that pull toward nothingness, is I make one day goals of all that I want to get done, and push hard to overcome my natural inclination to do nothing. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but for sure I don’t give up. I am going to increase my time on my stationary bike and faithfully lift weights.

One of the blessings of my condition is that I am eagerly waiting for Jesus return, the transformation of my body into conformity with the body of Jesus, thinking about heaven a lot.

Many people never think about heaven because they have no clue if they are going there or not. If I were in that condition I would look and seek hard for answers.

My Perfect Model

In college I had a class where the mid-term and the final test were the basis for our grade, nothing else. On test day there were three questions on the chalkboard and you wrote as much as you could on each question in the hour that we had. The trick was to guess accurately what the questions would be and study a bunch on those alone. It was unreasonable to think that I could accurately guess all three, so I would guess on six, and study hard for those. The professor wasn’t trying to be sneaky in the ones he chose. If a person attended all the classes, listened attentively, and took good notes, it wasn’t hard to guess accurately, at least with six. But because there were no other assignments for the class many people skipped the class regularly, and then come test day they had no idea what the questions could possibly be. I got an “A” in the class, both semesters that I took it.

It seemed unreasonable to me that I would pay good money to go to college to learn and gain knowledge and then skip the class to do something more enjoyable.

As I write about and describe the imaginary, perfect person that I am striving to be like, one of the predominant characteristics is being responsible and faithful. A responsible and faithful person makes choices and decisions all day long based on principle, not on convenience or comfort. I remember a class I had in the seventh grade where the teacher had a ten-dollar bill and a Big Hunk candy bar. He said, ”if you offer these to a four-year-old, they can have one or the other, but if they choose the ten dollar bill they can’t have it for a week, but the candy bar they can have immediately, which one will they choose?” The class all agreed, the candy bar. Then he asked this question, “At what age will that change?” And then he said this, “Some of you might still struggle with that decision!” That class stuck in my head, and made me want to be a wise person who understood value. The inability to postpone gratification is a significant problem with many people. Mature and responsible people live by well thought out values.

One of my life values is expressed in the little motto that I learned from my Dad, “Do the right thing because it is the right thing, always.”

I want to be a responsible person who always chooses the ten-dollar bill, always does the right thing instead of the convenient or comfortable thing

Who I Want to be Like

As I grew up as a kid, I always had heroes, people I admired and wanted to be like. I didn’t know them all personally, some were sports personalities and missionaries, and some really good hunters. There are still many people in my life that are role models for me in a variety of areas, but a number of year’s ago I decided to create a person in my imagination and then put it in writing so that I could use him as the ultimate model. I wrote an even dozen descriptions of my superhero in areas of life that were important to me. So far I have shared with you two of those descriptors, how my perfect person talks and his work ethic, and today I will describe his moral purity.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.

When I was a kid on the dairy we washed the milk tank, the pipeline, and the milking machines very carefully. We used a special kind of soap and rinsed everything with chlorine. The reason was that the driver of the milk truck that picked up our milk always took a sample of milk from the tank and the company that bought our milk would test it for a variety of things and one of them was bacteria. If the bacteria count was to high we didn’t get paid for that tank of milk which was a lot of money. As I washed that tank as a teenager and then as a young man I visualized myself washing my heart and making it squeaky clean.

I want to be squeaky clean in my thought life, where I let my eyes go, what I watch on television and movies, what I look at on my computer, and what I do. So many great men have messed up their lives, the lives of their families, and destroyed their ministries because they let immoral temptation get the best of them.

I know a person who is very afraid of catching COVID and they wash their hands 20 times a day and it seems like they use gallons of hand sanitizer. I am as obsessed with staying morally pure. Immoral behavior is everywhere around us, and the opportunity to partake of this behavior is everywhere and 24/7.

The desire to be morally pure is strong in me, but I must be wise; I must build fences into my life that keep me away from tempting situations, I must not compromise on practices that would make it easier to slip, I must stay close to my wife and foster a strong and growing love that will keep me faithful to her.

Above all I must faithfully practice the basic disciplines of the Christian life so that I will have a growing intimacy with God and a desire to please Him, and so that I will have God’s strength to maintain self-control.

My Ideal Person

I have written twelve descriptions, purpose statements of different areas of life, behavior, attitude, and character. I have made these the standard that I am aiming to become. I probably will never fully reach or become my standard unless I live to be 200 years old, but I want to grow a little bit closer to it every day, a little bit every day, every day.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

I want to live my life as if I am in a race to win, not casually or comfortably, not in a casual stroll through life. I want to program my mind to believe that being slow and comfortable is boring, but fast and demanding is fun, that being busy is good.

Proverbs 10:4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule,
But the slack hand will be put to forced labor.

A simple picture for me is a huge pile of gravel that I am shoveling into a wheelbarrow and wheeling to a construction site and dumping out. How many wheelbarrows of gravel will I deliver to the job site before I die. I want that final number to matter to me very much, every day, all the time.

Proverbs 12:27 A lazy man does not roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a man is diligence.

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit,
But mere talk leads only to poverty.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might;

I want to train myself to enjoy the feeling of being weary and tired, to see it as a sign that I have accomplished something with my life that matters. My flesh can easily wallow in self-pity when exhausted, but I want to take my negative thoughts captive and rejoice in the great honor of being able to serve the God of the universe.

John 17:4 I (Jesus) glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

I want to accomplish more in my lifetime than Jesus did. Not as a point of pride but because He said I could.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

God’s grace is God’s power. Grace is not an excuse to do nothing with my life; grace is doing more than Jesus did with His power.

Healing Words

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,
But a good word makes it glad.

Proverbs 12:18
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:14
A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words,

We live in a day when people think they are tough when insulting another person and making them look like a fool. What the politicians and media have been doing non-stop is now influencing our culture more and more.

I have written a number of purpose statements for my life. Statements that define what I want to be as a person. They aren’t goals because they aren’t measurable, and they are a bit more wordy than my morning commitments. I don’t have a lot, just a dozen, but together they are my picture of a perfect person, the person I am working towards becoming. Here is one of my purpose statements.

I want to serve God with my words, my words to people all around me in my life. Words have great power. God created everything by speaking it into existance. I have the potential, being a disciple of Jesus, to create, to motivate, to heal, to change people, and to communicate the gospel. So many people are full of fear and anxiety, and I would like to fill them full of joy by the words that I speak to them. So many people have wounded hearts from failure, hurts, and disappointments. I want to be able to heal their heart by speaking the right words to them. I want to talk about the Bible to people in such a way that it becomes alive, and they have a real encounter with the God of the universe by the power of words. I want to be able to motivate and energize the discouraged, the depressed, and those who don’I think they are capable of doing anything that really matters, convincing them that they can. I want to speak to people who are confused and don’t know what to do next, and give them wisdom and counsel that would guide them into God’s perfect will for their life. I want very much to speak words to people who are angry, bitter, and at odds with others, moving them to forgive, to be patient, to be kind, and to be at peace with all people.

I believe that I can become that kind of man, that kind of communicator, teacher, servant of God as God teaches me and empowers me.

The Most Important Goals

I have 73 goals, and here are the top dozen.

#2. I will pray 30 minutes every day by myself.

#3. I will pray for an additional 15 minutes twice a week on my kneeling bench in my office.

#4 I will pray for a total of 40 hours during each of the “Five Day Prayer Events” that JBC holds four times a year.

#5. I will pray with Patty a minimum of three times each week.

#6. I will pray through the Church Prayer Letter each week.

#7. I will pray for every person in JBC every week using my IPad and the app that I have to help me keep track of people, their needs, victories, and problems.

#8. I will pray for Patty, all our kids, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, and all grandkids every day.

#9. I will keep my prayer app “PrayerMate” up to date with information, pictures, and the needs of each person in it.

#10. I will write prayers in my prayer journal and pray through previously written prayers twice each week.

#12. I will pray a “Commitment Prayer” presenting my life to Christ as Lord of my life every morning, first thing.

#31. I will pray in three regular JBC corporate prayer times each week.

#54. I will pray for each staff person, each Elder and their families twice each week.

#63. I will pray every day for 44 baptisms at JBC in 2022 and remind everyone in JBC to do the same at least once each week.

Oops, there are 13 of my goals that are prayer-related goals, not a dozen. Prayer is very important to me. I believe the time I spend praying has great impact on my life, the life of those that I pay for, and on the health of JBC.

My life “Mission Statement” is to be a man devoted to prayer, and to convince as many other people as possible to be people devoted to prayer.