Thursday, March 23, 2017

Don't Be Discouraged, Better Days are Coming!


2 Chronicles 36:23 - This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of His people may go up, and may the Lord his God be with him.

The Old Testament kings of Israel were a mixed group. Though some honored God, most did whatever they wanted to with no regard for how it impacted their relationship with the Lord. Their disregard for the God of their fathers caused tremendous pain not only in their personal lives, but in their nation.

As the story winds down at the end of 2 Chronicles, the entire kingdom collapsed. Jerusalem was destroyed. The people were carried off into exile in distant lands. At first glance, it seemed that all hope was lost and nothing great would ever happen again in Israel. Then we come to the last verse of the story, 2 Chronicles 36:23. In that verse God touched the heart of King Cyrus of Persia, a foreign conqueror who was not a follower of the Jewish faith. King Cyrus passed a decree allowing the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. This story, so filled with disappointment and failure, ends with a promise of hope.

Life is often like that for us when we allow God to be at work in our lives. We may face many failures, hardships and difficulties, but when we re-focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we find hope in the midst of despair. Godly hope does not disappoint. It leads to amazing things we never thought possible.

The book of Ezra follows Chronicles. It picks up the story of the Jewish people in exile. In the opening verses we learn that not only were the Jews allowed to return home and build their temple, but that the very kingdom that enslaved them was now going to help pay for the repairs of the temple. Though some opposition remained, and many hardships still lay ahead, the tide had clearly turned. They were eventually able to rebuild their temple, which remained intact and functioning for hundreds of years.

Many times in our lives God uses the very thing that looked like it would destroy us as an instrument of blessing to us. I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20 which reminds us that Christ is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. When we are discouraged, we must remember that better days are coming and they will be more amazing than we could ever imagine.

Lord, when we find ourselves in the midst of despair and our days full of trouble, help us remember that better days are coming. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Where Are the Missing Leaders?

Nehemiah 3:3-5 - The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate. They built it with beams and installed its doors, bolts, and bars. Next to them Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, made repairs. Beside them Meshullam son of Berechiah, son of Meshezabel, made repairs. Next to them Zadok son of Baana made repairs.

Beside them the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors.

When the Jews returned from exile to Jerusalem, the city was in ruins. One of their first tasks was to rebuild the wall around the city so it would be a safe place to live. Nehemiah 3 lists the community leaders who each adopted a certain section of the wall to rebuild. It is a wonderful picture of what can happen when a group of people band together, each doing their part, to get a job done.

However, there is a very intriguing phrase in verse five about one set of leaders. In verse five it says that the Tekoites made repairs "but their nobles did not lift a finger to help their supervisors." The Tekoites were from the small town of Tekoa, which in historical times was the home of David's mighty men. Though we do not know the whole story, from this verse, and from other places in scripture, it appears that the general populace of Tekoa was made up of hard working people who could be counted on to get the job done. In fact, they are one of only three groups that eventually repaired more than one section of the wall. This indicates that they were not only willing to do their share of the work, but were willing to go beyond the call of duty and do even more than what most other people were willing to do.

Though the Tekoites were hard working, they had leaders that were not so great. For some reason their nobles were not willing to get personally involved in rebuilding the wall. Perhaps they thought it was beneath them? Maybe they were too busy entertaining other nobility? For whatever reason, they were not supportive of what God had led the people to do. Their lack of support was noted at the time and recorded for all history to read. Thousands of years later we still know of their lack of leadership at a crucial time in history.

There are powerful parallels in this passage of scripture and our current culture in North America. Many people are working hard trying to earn a living, raise a family, help their neighbors, and make their communities better places to live. But where are the leaders? They are occupied with other things. They are focused on making more money or increasing their political power. Few leaders seemed interested in joining the common people in making our nation a great place to live. History will record their lack of leadership in this critical hour.

This verse also applies to the Christian sub-culture that exists inside our overall North American culture. As the walls of Christendom have fallen into ruins, we must be bold as we seek to rebuild the spiritual foundations that our society was built on. Far too many Christian leaders are more focused on building their brand or erecting ever larger buildings but fail to interact with communities that are crumbling around them. History will record their lack of leadership in this critical hour.

Lord, help us be leaders and focus on building Your Kingdom and sharing Your Word with others. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beware of Becoming An Enemy of the Jews

Esther 6:12-13 - Then Mordecai returned to the King’s Gate, but Haman, overwhelmed, hurried off for home with his head covered. Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai is Jewish, and you have begun to fall before him, you won’t overcome him, because your downfall is certain.”

In the story of Esther, we meet Haman, who was an enemy of the Jews. Haman plotted genocide against the Jews, but had a special hatred for one particular Jew, Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him as he walked by.

In chapter 6 the King realized that Mordecai had once done him a great favor that had not yet been rewarded, so he called Haman in and told him to go honor Mordecai for the unrewarded deed. Though Haman hated Mordecai, he had no choice but to do what the King commanded, even if he loathed every moment of it.

When Haman got home that night he whined to his family about how he had to honor Mordecai that day, the very Jew who had refused to honor Haman. He was expecting sympathy. But their answer to him was startling. That answer is recorded in Esther 6:13 "If Mordecai, before who you have begun to fall, is Jewish, you won't overcome him, because your downfall is certain."

It is amazing that Haman's friends, who had no love for the Jews, recognized that the Jews were special and that Haman would not be able to stand against them. Whether Haman's friends had access to the Old Testament or not, they clearly understood the teaching of Genesis 12:3, where God promised Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Almost since the beginning of Jewish history as a people, there have been those who sought to destroy them. Time and time again their people have been persecuted, often with great enthusiasm. But through God's supernatural protection, the Jewish people have survived. 

In our modern world the media have somehow painted the Jews as the bad people of the Middle East. Any effort they make to defend themselves from far superior numbers of enemies gets spun to somehow make the Jews the aggressors instead of the victims. We may not always agree with the tactics that the modern nation of Israel uses against her enemies, but we should not be foolish enough to put ourselves in Haman’s place. The Jews are still God's chosen people and if we stand against them, our fall is inevitable.

Lord, help us be a blessing to the Jewish people and remember that if we bless them You will bless us, but if we curse them, then we will be cursed. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:





Monday, March 20, 2017

Dangerous Beauty

1 John 2:15- 16 - Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.

When my family lived in Connecticut we often enjoyed visiting the Mystic Aquarium. The aquarium has a number of interesting species of life on display. One wall of the aquarium is filled with small glass boxes that contain unusual frogs. They are brightly colored and look like the kind of creature that would be fun to have in a home aquarium. Except that these particular frogs are very dangerous. They are called dart frogs because indigenous people in Central and South America use the secretions from these frogs as poison on their blow darts. Some varieties will only make a person sick. Others will kill an adult. Just looking at the frogs, one would never know they were so dangerous.

What a powerful lesson to learn in life. Just because something is pretty does not make it safe. In fact, beauty can be deceptive, even dangerous. Far too often we are taken in by people with charming personalities, attractive bodies or eloquent sounding speech, only to be taken advantage of later. Perhaps we get caught up in the story line of a movie, enjoy the rhythm of a great song, or become an expert at a video game that has great graphics or cool special efforts, without realizing the poisonous message that is being put into our minds. Marketers want us to believe that buying their product, or joining particular clubs or groups, will make our lives better, but have we considered if those products or groups will take up so much of our time or money that it affects us in negative ways?

As Christians we must constantly be on our guard for the things that look pretty on the outside, but are poisonous on the inside. Recall the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He was having the adventure of a lifetime, until all the money ran out. Then the young man longed to eat pig slop. Think of David's one night of indiscretion in 2 Samuel 11, which led to years of pain for his family. There is always pleasure in sin for a season, but then comes destruction. We must not be fooled by how pretty things are, but we must keep our eyes and focus on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.

Lord, help us keep our hearts and minds pure and not be deceived by the attractive things of this world. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Five Healthy Spiritual Disciplines

I grew up in a fairly strict religious system that had a lot of rules about what we should and should not do. It was easy to wrongly conclude in that kind of system that simply following a checklist of religious activities led to true spiritually. Somewhere along the way I came to more fully understand the gospel of grace. Grace is not a license to sin, but it is a deeper understanding that inner spirituality is not the automatic byproduct of following a certain list of behaviors. Real spirituality must flow from the heart.

But here is something to consider, if real spirituality flows from the heart, won't it produce some type of observable behaviors? If so, then checklists are not necessarily bad, they just need to be kept in proper perspective. They should be viewed as a tool that might lead to deeper spirituality if they flow from the right heart. One can never assume they automatically lead to a deeper walk with God.

But if we want to use a checklist as a tool, how do we find one that is more conducive to spirituality instead of just ritual? I adapted the following list from a conversation with a friend from Canada. Perhaps they will be helpful for others to consider. 

1. Regular daily personal Bible reading and prayer - it really does not matter what system one uses, just use it regularly and daily.

2. Regular participation in weekly corporate bible study and worship - it really does not matter what style of church one goes to, so long as it is biblically based and has Christ-centered worship. Just participate weekly in a corporate gathering for worship and Bible study.

3. At least one intentional gospel conversation with a non-Christian each week - Do not let life get so busy that we neglect to try to share our faith. We may not get through a whole gospel presentation in any given week, but we can make an intentional effort. God will do the rest.

4. At least one intentional act of service to other believers each week that utilizing our spiritual gifts - God has gifted each of us with certain spiritual gifts when we came to know Him. Those gifts must be used to build up His church. We should develop and use that gift to serve and not simply expect to be served.

5. At least one intentional act of service to non-Christians each week with the goal being to have more intentional gospel conversations - in an increasingly post-Christian world we are going to have to "earn the right"  to have a gospel conversation with our friends. One way to do that is to think of ways to serve non-believers on a regular basis for the purpose of relationship building. Then when the relationship is strong, the conversation will happen.

Though this list dos not guarantee practitioners will be deeply spiritual, it is hard to do on a regular basis unless it flows from spiritual hearts. Try is for three months and see if it works for you.

What ideas do you have to help inspire deeper spirituality? Feel free to post them in the comments below.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Four Tips to Preaching Sermons that Stick

In my role as a denominational leader, I hear a lot of sermons. Let's assume for a moment that all preachers pray and study adequately during their sermon preparation. Then why do some preachers seem to be able to connect to their audiences while others do not. While delivery styles vary greatly, here are four things I have observed that seem to make sermons stick more effectively in the minds of the hearers.

1. A central point that can be expressed in one sentence

Effective sermons have a central point that is reinforced in a variety of ways throughout the presentation. A sermon must be more than a collection of bullet points of interesting things the speaker read in theological commentaries. What a preacher studies during the week must be organized in a logical way that makes sense to those who haven't read all the commentaries. Some pieces of information are better left out, not because they are unimportant but because either the speaker or the hearers are not yet prepared to handle them. So keep the points that reinforce the main idea and save the rest for a different sermon. It is far better to make one point well that really impacts the audience, than to make 20 points poorly and everyone leave without a firm understanding of what that sermon was about.

2. A visual aid that focuses the hearers' attention

In today's media driven culture, pastors really should use some type of visual aid. It can be a power point presentation, or whatever your favorite presentation software is. It can be a physical object, or objects, on the platform that are referred to multiple times during the sermon. It can be a worksheet to fill out that outlines the preacher's notes. It can be some type of group experience where the audience is invited to participate. But in today's media driven culture, it is increasingly difficult for a group of people to listen to someone talk for 45 minutes without some notes to fill in or visual aids to help the listeners follow along. For those who may think this is merely entertaining the masses, I remind you that Jesus used visual aids all the time. He pointed to items in nature while teaching outside. He held up items to use as object lessons. He once used a small child to emphasize a key point in a sermon. He invited group participation through asking his audience questions. Jesus was not just a talking head that droned in and on. Modern preachers would do well to adopt the ancient practices of Jesus and start using more visual aids.

3. Verbally emphasizing key words, but only key words

We all have heard hard hitting preachers who empathize every word, basically shouting their sermon. After a while, we tend to tune out that kind of sermon because it can give us a headache. We all have heard sermons where the speaker emphasized random words to get people's attention. While this can sometimes work, if done too often in a sermon, people get confused because they are trying to figure out what point is being made by emphasizing that word. When they realize there is no point, they tend to quit listening. That is never good for a pastor's credibility or the listeners' spiritual growth. When preaching, if a word is verbally emphasized, there should be a reason. That reason should be explained so that understanding the word becomes key to understanding the passage. This not only helps hold people's attention, it helps them grow in their knowledge of the Word.

4. Use current illustrations

Not long ago I was preaching to a group of college students and referenced a Pinto (the automobile, not the bean) in an illustration. I could tell from the look on their faces they had no idea what a Pinto was. Fortunately, a younger preacher was also in the room. He realized the point I was trying to make and called out from the back, "He means a Mini-Cooper, not a Pinto." Suddenly the illustration made sense and I saw the lights go on in the students' eyes. To be effective, illustrations must be current enough to connect with the audience. We should not use statistics that are out of date, or refer to cultural ideas that were in vogue 25 years ago but are no longer held by a large number of people. Using out of date illustrations leaves the hearers thinking the preacher is out of date. That might lead them to incorrectly conclude that the scripture itself is out of date and irrelevant.

Delivering effective sermons is hard work. But it is hard work worth doing. Remember these four things can help.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has served in New England since 1993. He is a prolific author, a passionate preacher, a proven leader and a devoted father and grandfather. You can find all of his books on Amazon at:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Be the One!

Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had preached my heart out at a rural church in a small town in Mississippi. In my sermon I had urged each person present to be the one to pray, give and be on mission both in their own community, and in Vermont, where I was serving as a church planting missionary. At the end of the sermon I asked that if anyone was willing to be the one to make such a commitment, for them to come down the aisle and tell me so during the closing hymn. Only one person responded. I can still see him in my mind making his way slowly down the aisle. He was an older gentleman with white hair and a cane. His name was Jim. When he got to where I was standing, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I'm the one." He then put something in my pocket and slowly made his way back to his seat. Later that day, when I looked at the piece of paper he had put in my pocket, it was a check for $10,000 to the mission organization I was serving. That single check helped that organization share the Gospel with many people in Vermont for several months.

For the next 15 years Jim remained faithful in praying and giving. He kept my newsletters by his bedside and prayed through every prayer request multiple times. He often sent notes of encouragement or called on the phone just to lift my spirits with encouraging words. Jim also continued to give generously, often at great sacrifice. There were certain years in which he and his wife were the largest benefactors our small mission organization had. Many are now in the Kingdom of God due to Jim’s praying and giving.

One morning, the week before Easter, Jim’s wife Margie called. She said Jim would be spending Easter with Jesus that year. He had passed away the day before. Margie found great comfort in knowing that Jim had made a difference in the lives of others. We prayed and cried together over the phone, thanking God for Jim's life.

Jim answered the call of God to make a difference with his life. We may not all be able to do things exactly the same way that Jim did, but we can all do something to make a difference in the lives of others. We can pray. We can give. We can offer an encouraging word. We can make a difference in the lives of those around us. Let us determine to be the one.

Lord, help us be the ones who pray, give and go in Your name to make a difference in the world. Amen.

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This devotional is from the book “Heavenly Mundane” by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. Dr. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: