Friday, July 25, 2008

All Bibled Up

by Marsha Loftis

This Week's Verse: Psalms 119:11, "I have hidden your word away in my heart that I may not sin against You."

Well, this week's devotional comes straight on the heels of VBS. If you were involved, thank you. You did a great thing for a lot of wonderful kids. If not, there's always next year! VBS is a five day program that teaches kids some of the basic Bible stories. It also teaches the parents, if they're late Christian bloomers like I was!

During a conversation with my 11-year-old daughter, she was trying to convey some information to me regarding the parents of our two bilingual volunteers and wondered if they spoke another language too. She said, "You know--Mary and Joseph!" I had no idea who she was referring to. Then it dawned on me... Mary and RICH, Kash! I laughed that she automatically put those two names together! Her response was, "I guess I'm all Bibled up this week!"

All this week I've been thinking what that means. My conclusion is that it must mean to be so full of the Word that it is the first thing that comes to mind. It's automatic. So, I tried to come up with some practical application of being "all Bibled up" that might be said or heard in 'normal', everyday situations.

In the morning, when you and your family are getting ready to start your day....You might say, "Take your bath!" But think He has washed me whiter than snow. If you say, "Don't forget your coat and hat!" You could think Put on the full armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. When you take care of your own hair, think of how Mary wiped Jesus' feet with her hair after pouring out her expensive perfume.

At work, depending on where you work, you might hear or say any number of these things...."Receiving, you have a delivery." You can think, Ask and you shall receive. You may say, "The boss is upstairs meeting with the board members" and think, Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples. It might be "Did you hear about so and so?!" Your next thought could be I need to avoid godless chatter, so that I may not become more and more ungodly.

In the car, if you are a woman, you might have to stop and say, "I'm lost and I need directions" and think Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If you come to a place where you can turn either way, think of how many times a day we choose the narrow path, the one less traveled, instead of the wide one that's been trampled by all the people making wrong choices in their life.

Around the house, if you hear someone ask, "Please pass the salt," you can think about what it means to be 'salt to the world'. And if you've turned off the bathroom light five times in the last half hour, like I do, remember that we are to be light in the darkness, every time! Even five times in a half hour, especially to the ones leaving on the light! You may peer into your closet on Sunday morning and think I have nothing to wear. Think about the story in Matthew where Jesus tells them not to worry about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear. God clothes the grasses of the field, will He not clothe you?

Meditate on the Word as it applies to all your situations. Let's get all Bibled up!

Lord, be with me in every situation, every circumstance, every conversation. Help me to think of You and Your Word first, to put Your Word on my heart and in my mind. Help me to have a desire to do this daily, that I may meditate on it day and night. Thank you for Your Love Letter to my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Read some of God's Word every day. If you are just starting out, a daily devotional or a flip calendar is good way to begin disciplining yourself. Ask God to give you the desire to this with a willing spirit.

Power Verses:
Deut. 11:18-19, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds...Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home, walking along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."(NIV)
Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."(NIV)
Col. 4:5-6, "Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracioius in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."(MSG)
Matt. 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."(NIV)

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Spiritual Gift

By Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: Romans 12:6-8, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

This past week in Sunday school class, we talked about these verses. Afterwards, I was desperate to find what was my “gift” that I contribute with, or could work on. I came home and first thing Monday morning, I was on the computer doing a Spiritual Gifts Inventory Sheet that had been emailed to me long ago.

Was I the Teacher? Did I have the “Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by motivating other’s to action by urging them to pursue a course of conduct”? I love teaching the smaller children at FCC. I work at a handicap day camp during the summers with children. I have children of my own that I am teaching! Surely, I am a Teacher.

Or, was I a Server? Did I “desire to serve God and render practical help in both physical and spiritual matters”? I love helping others. I try to help older and younger ones in the church. When something is needed – just ask me – I will help! Surely I was a Server!

Was I the Giver? Did I have a strong “desire to serve God by giving our material resources, beyond our tithe, to further the work of God”? I was sure this would be at the top of my list! I love to give. OR I LOVE TO THINK ABOUT GIVING EVEN IF WE CAN’T AFFORD IT! I love to help others in time of need. I try to support local missionaries in their field. I just love the feeling of giving! Surely I was a Giver!

Nope. Nada. What appeared at the bottom of my screen was a word that I just barely gave a thought to…it was THE PROPHET. Can you believe it? I am classified as a Prophet, with “the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by proclaiming God’s truth or the hell-fire-brimstone preacher who points out sin”.

The preacher what??? How could I point out sin to others when I have sinned so much myself? It all boils down to this. The Lord gave me a story so I could tell it to others. The TRUTH is that I have lived through a lot during my short time here on Earth. Some days it’s amazing to look back and think that I am even alive, let alone thriving in my Spiritual Life with a husband, two beautiful children and a wonderful supportive family behind me.

TRUTH is that God told me “Bethany, use your story to help others and if that means pointing out sins, then point them out.” I guess I just feel blessed to have sinned (as silly as that sounds) so that I can say loud and clear to others “YES I have sinned,” and if others know that and recognize that – maybe they can come to Christ just as I have. So, today, I will continue “prophesying” and asking God to help me further understand the spiritual gifts he has laid upon me to help others reach him.

Second on my list was Serving – thank goodness!

Lord, help us to fully understand our spiritual gifts given to us specifically by you. Help us to let the Holy Spirit guide us daily with these gifts, so that we may serve you better. Guide us and direct us in all areas, all gifts, and all walks of life. Lord, clarify to us what you want us to use our gifts towards and help us to attain our goals for your satisfaction and glory. It’s in Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

*Discover your spiritual gift(s). Go to All you have to do is read the directions, click which “number” fits you best and find out what gifts you have.
*Pray about these gifts that God has given you. We are each powerfully blessed with them, but just because they are God-given doesn’t mean we don't sometimes slip into misusing them for our own glory and satisfaction. Make sure to use them wisely.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (NIV)
Joel 3:28, "Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. You old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions." (NLT)
Acts 15:8, "God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us." (NIV)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Serious Berry Pickin'

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: Hosea 10:12, “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’”

Blackberry bushes line the perimeter of our yard and this time of year we’re usually out reaping the harvest. These are wild bushes; we didn’t plant them and yet we’re able to enjoy their luscious fruit.

There is a small price to pay for the bounty though. The thorns on the bushes can make berry-picking a painful experience if we’re not careful. Most of the time, we just stick to the outside berries—even though they’re usually smaller—so that we don’t have to endure being poked and pierced. We usually take the easy way out.

But while I was doing the “easy” picking last year, I spied through the leaves and branches a fat, full, succulent cluster of berries. They were so much better than “the outside berries”—so plump and huge.

I weighed my options. I could lean straight forward through a lot of thorny branches, tough it out, grab the blackberries, then deal with the consequences later. Or I could try to find a way in from the back, decreasing (only a little!) my exposure to the thorns, but increasing (a lot!) the time invested for the berries. With the heat and bugs pestering me, I opted to get right to business and leaned through about three feet of prickly hell. But I got those berries! And it was so worth it when the kids and I had dark juicy stains on our lips!

How like berry-picking is living for God. He graces us with blessings we don’t deserve (we didn’t plant those bushes), but then our will comes into play as far as what we do with them. We could ignore them altogether. We could randomly pick at them as we speed past on the lawn mower of life. We could make an intentional effort, but merely settle for small fruit while playing it safe on the outside.

Or we could sacrifice ourselves and go deep, seeking the biggest and the best waiting for us.

Lord, put a longing in our hearts to keep our eyes on the prize—the best fruit for Your kingdom. Put a yearning in us to go beyond our comfort zone and sustain us to persevere. Even if we get pierced or hurt along the way, help us to remember that You, Jesus, did it first. And thank You for that.

Power Verses:
Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”(NIV)
Mark 8:34, “Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?’” (MSG)
Jeremiah 45:5, “’And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,’ says the LORD. ‘But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.’” (NKJV)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Deep Beyond the Surface

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse: Hosea 6:3, "Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring." (NLT)

Are you a people-watcher? It can be fun to sit and conjecture about the individuals walking by. You might observe, “That man is very well-dressed, but he doesn’t carry himself with much confidence.” Or, “That woman must be very proud of her body; she’s showing so much of it!”

These first-glance superficial speculations are just that, pure speculation. That well-dressed man may have just finished a bad interview. The scantily-clad gal might be seeking attention she’s not getting at home. The truth is, it’s difficult to learn much at all about people—especially what’s in their heart—based on a surface encounter.

The same is true with God. A superficial relationship will not reveal His heart. Warming a pew for an hour a week isn't enough. He has a profoundly deep and wonderful bond planned with each of us, but knowing Him personally is foundational for it to develop.

Has God seemed distant lately? Maybe even unreliable? Consider whether you have been spending enough time learning at the feet of the Teacher. This week’s verse indicates that learning about and knowing Him will bring Him to you.

Ask the Lord along on a walk so you can get to know each other. Study the Word and seek Him out at all times. Cultivating a cherished rapport with the Master opens the gate for Him to become as dependable as the seasonal rains and sunrise. Tuck that promise away in your own heart today as you open it up to mingle with His.

Lord, show us more and more of You. Put a desire in our hearts to seek Your ways with an intensity unlike any of us has seen before. Steady and guide us as we dive below the surface and explore the depths of You.

Specifically ask God to show you more of Him before you delve into the Word. Become involved in a Bible study.

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 2:12, "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD." (NASB)
Jeremiah 31: 34, "And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,' says the Lord. 'And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.'”(NLT)
Hosea 2:20, "I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD." (NKJV)