Friday, May 29, 2009


by Stephanie Neibarger

This Week's Verse: Col. 3:13, “You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT)

A few years ago, while up from Kentucky for a visit, Jeff Noel gave the message for a Wednesday evening service. I don’t remember everything he talked about, but the key concept of his message was that as Christians, we are to be “un-offendable.” I have reflected on that message periodically over the years. If you know me very well, then you probably know that I can get offended a little too easily. I usually remember Jeff’s message some time after I have gotten offended… hey, at least I eventually do remember! One of these days I will remember before being offended!

It’s easy to get upset when things don’t go our way or at least the way we had pictured it in our head. We can get upset when someone has said or done something to harm us, and we may want to ‘pay them back.’ But we are instructed in 1 Peter 3:9, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you do and he will bless you for it”(NLT).

We need to follow Jesus’ example in 1 Peter 2:23: “Although he was abused, he never tried to get even. And when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he had faith in God, who judges fairly”(CEV). It is not our place to judge the intentions of someone’s actions.

Joyce Meyer puts it this way, "The devil sets you up to get you upset." This is confirmed in 1 Peter 5:8, where it says “Be careful – watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart”(TLB). Satan, the father of lies, wants us to believe the worst about a situation to get us upset. That’s when we are most vulnerable to be attacked by Satan and his attempts to destroy our faith.

We need to be patient with each other, including ourselves, and not be so quick to jump to the wrong conclusion. I’ve had Jeff’s message stuck in my head for years now and I’m still working on being “un-offendable!” 2 Cor. 4:16 says, “Do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Are you easily offended? How many times could you have offended God by some of the things you have done? In the same way God has forgiven you for those offenses, we need to learn to forgive others.

Proverbs 18:19, "It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars."(NLT)
Romans 12:17-19, "Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. 'I'll do the judging,' says God. 'I'll take care of it.'"(MSG)
Genesis 50:20a,"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…"(NIV)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Got A Yet Praise?

by Kathy Lay

This Week's Verse: Psalm 42:11, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."(KJV)

There's a song I really like called "Yet Praise Him." I didn't get it at first. In fact, there's a portion of the song where the choir shouts repeatedly "I've got a yet praise...I've got a yet praise!" I thought they were saying I've got a yes praise--as in "Yes, Lord, I praise you!--because "yet praise" just didn't register in my mind. I finally realized my mistake when I saw the title in print: Yet Praise Him. Hmm, that's weird, I thought and then moved on to something else.

Then I ran across this week's verse which brought back to mind the lyrics to the song. And then, being the English nerd that I am, I thought about what the word "yet" means, and yes, I even looked it up.

There were several time-related definitions which made sense out of context, though they didn't quite fit here. But something clicked when I read this: "even; still (used to emphasize a comparative)" and my heart soared when I read this: "though the case be such; nevertheless." That definition is like a formula!

Even though or inspite of x, nevertheless y. Now before you start thinking "Oh no! This sounds like an equation! I hate math!" let me assure you this one's simple. The passage fills in y for us...PRAISE. And the result, let's call it z, is filled in too--hope and a healthy countenance. Our formula is x + y = z, but the only variable is x...fill in that blank with whatever the problem is. Because y = praise, and z = hope, the outcome is promised if you simply fill in x.


Let's put that into context, shall we? (Can you tell I've been in the King James Version?)

Lord, I feel so depressed. YET I still recognize you as my source of joy. I praise you anyway.

Father, I've been hurt and cheated by people I thought were my friends. YET I praise You because you're my hope.

God, I'm overwhelmed by the difficulties going on in my life. YET I praise you because nothing's too hard for you.

x + Praise = Hope

A yet praise is a praise you choose to offer God in spite of your circumstances, no matter what your x is. Your heart may not feel it. Your mind may even contradict it. But when you do it anyway (yet, nevertheless), your soul reaches out to God for His supernatural power and a little spark of hope ignites.

Father, regardless of what is going on in our lives, make us faithful with our yet praises. When we feel our souls suffocating in world-weariness, raise our chins just enough so that we look up to you and say, "YET, I praise you, Lord."

How many yet praises can you offer up right now? Plug into the above formula (as many times as you need to if you have lots of x's!) and then follow each with a hearty yet praise.

Power Verses:
Psalm 42:11, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (NIV)
Isaiah 61:3, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."(KJV)
Psalm 71:14, "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more." (KJV)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

by Stephanie Neibarger

This Week's Verse: Psalm 84:5, "Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who want above all else to follow your steps." (TLB)

About a month ago, while covering a soccer match in 40 degree weather, a bunch of us were huddled together under blankets and layers of clothing trying to stay warm. I heard one friend say “I’ll be happy when it warms up!”

I replied, “Ya know, in a month we will be complaining that it’s too hot!” And sure enough, on a nice 70 degree day, I heard one of them say “Man,- it’s hot out here!”

Why is it that we are never happy? Why is it that we have our own set of standards as to what it is to be happy. In Ecclesiastes 11:4 it says “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

I’ll be happy when… I’ll be happy when I get married. I’ll be happy when it stops raining. I’ll be happy when the weather warms up. I’ll be happy when I get that promotion at work. Sound familiar? Why is our happiness determined by our circumstances? Happiness is not defined by our circumstances but trusting God with our circumstances. Be happy now, knowing God is in control.

Chuck Swindoll once said that “Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.” How we react to life often determines our level of happiness.

I had a friend from my church back in Iowa who was battling cancer (he has since lost that battle). One rainy Sunday morning while giving the communion meditation, he said “Just because you can’t see it, the sun is still shining.” He knew that life was not determined by his present circumstances. He knew there were better days ahead. He chose to stay positive in the midst of his circumstances.

You may be having some ‘rainy days’ but just remember – the Son is still shining!

Lord, help me to remember that no matter how dark my situation may become, You are the light of my life and can never be put out. No matter what dark clouds settle on my life, You will lift me above the storm and into the comfort of Your presence. Only You can take whatever loss I experience and fill that empty place with good. Only You can take the burden of my grief and pain and dry my tears. I am desperately aware of how much I need Your power to transform me and my circumstances. Help me to remember to give thanks to You in all things, knowing that You reign in the midst of them. (From Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Woman.)

Learn to be happy no matter where you are or what the circumstances may be. Put your trust in God and in his timing, you will reap a harvest of blessings. (Galatians 6:9)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful." (TLB)
Hebrews 13:5, "Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.'" (TLB)
Eccles. 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season." (NCV)
Eccles. 3:12, "I know there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good as long as they live."(NLB)
Prov 16:20 b, "Whoever trusts in the Lord will be happy."(NCV)

Friday, May 8, 2009


by Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: Ecclesiastes 5:18, "It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life." (NIV)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a devotion called “Confessions” regarding my personal struggles with my body and how I have asked God to help me love my body like he does. He has given me some answers most recently on how I should feel about myself, and I wanted to openly share them with my fellow sisters.

Regarding my belly roll, my Father has said: “My daughter, don’t you know I gave you that roll to remember giving birth to your two lovely daughters? Some women can’t have children, and you want to complain?”

Regarding the dark circles under my eyes, my Creator says: “Oh child, all of those years that you stayed up late, partying the night away. If only you would have known then what you know now. I just gave you those circles of a reminder of where you came from. Never ever look down on others who are having a rough time. Never dwell on your past – rather, help those who are going through a situation like yours and let them know how well lit their future is with Jesus.”

Regarding the age spots appearing on my body, my King says: “Oh beautiful, these spots are a sign of maturity and age. Do you dare complain to me about getting older? Aren’t you glad you can say you have been on this Earth for 30 years?”

Regarding the wrinkles appearing on my face, my God says: “Darling, don’t you know that wrinkles can be caused from the sun? Dare you complain about spending too much time in the sun? You have a life of liberty to be able to lay out by a pool and soak up the sun all summer long and then want to ask why I gave you wrinkles?”

Regarding my fat dangle from my arms (no snickering please), my Maker says: “Honey, that is to remind you of your family whom you so dearly loved. I gave you a piece of each of them on your body. Your dangly arms from Grandma Virgie, your skinny feet from your Grandma Viv, your hands exactly like your Grandpa Bill’s, and your love of children from your Grandpa Dick. Although it might not look right to you, this is perfect to me! Remember their hard work and their dedication to their family. They knew the important moments in life were well worth remembering. They taught you many things.”

The Lord has spoken to me through prayer, through my heart, through dear friends and family, through His Word, and through other reading material constantly the last three weeks. I need to remember that I am precious to my Maker. I am a princess, belonging to the King. I can openly choose to accept my lot in life, and be happy or I can complain, looking down on the way God created me. I choose to be happy.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the security of having three meals to eat everyday. Thank you for allowing me to stay home with my children, and enjoy almost each and every summer day in the sun by a pool. Thank you for reminding me of my history. Thank you for planting each of my grandparents and parents into my body so I can remember them daily. Thank you for allowing others to speak to me and opening my ears to listen. I still might struggle from time to time with my body, but I will praise you for making me – well, me.

Do you have honest friends and family who help you in times of need? Sometimes friends can spell it out for us in the easiest ways. Be open to suggestions and feedback from good Christian sisters and brothers!

Power Verses:
Matthew 10:29-31, "What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries. (MSG)
Genesis 1:26, "Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)
Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (NIV)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh, for the Love of Pete!

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: John 6: 66-69, “At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, ‘Are you going to leave, too?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life. We believe them, and we know you are the Holy One of God.’”(NLT)

When I was a kid, I would hear frustrated adults mutter under their breath, “Oh, for the love of Pete.” It was an expression equivalent to a negative “Oh great, now what?” or “Sheesh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

But when I read this week’s verse, I grasped a new meaning of the phrase. You really do have to love Peter—the disciple who usually had the quick response, the guy whose passionate declarations sometimes escaped his mouth before undergoing the process of thoughtful evaluation. But when Peter was right, he was right. And in this verse we see him being as right as right can be.

Peter knew—and I believe he knew it in every fiber of his being, not just in his head—that this man before him was the real deal. The ONLY deal, for him. Jesus had been teaching some hard truths that were offending some of his followers. Some were so offended they left never to follow Jesus again. But not the Twelve. Look at how the Amplified Bible records Peter’s response to Jesus asking the disciples if they were leaving too:

Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God.”

Can’t you just sense Peter’s 100% sold-out-to-Christ faith? He knew there was nothing else worth following.

His zeal led him to do things like walk out into high waves to his Lord. Even though he started to sink, he knew where to turn for help: “’Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.” (Matt. 14:30, NLT). And save him the Lord did.

When Jesus was predicting his own death, Peter’s loyalty and devotion prompted him to say, “'Heaven forbid, Lord…This will never happened to you!” But this time his passion was misdirected, getting this back from Jesus: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men"(Matt.16:23, NIV). Apparently this rebuke only strengthened Peter’s love for Jesus though, because six days later at the transfiguration, Peter’s fervor led him to blurt out “’Lord, this is wonderful! If you want me to, I’ll make three shrines, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” (Matt. 17:4, NLT).

See, Peter’s unabashed trust and dedication enabled him to take even the hard truths. I want to be THAT in love with Jesus.

Oh, Lord…for the love—the fleshy, imperfect but nonetheless COMPLETE—love of Pete. Amen.

Have you ever made a fool of yourself on behalf of Jesus? He built the church on a man who was willing to take that risk. Consider an area where you’ve been playing it safe and then tackle it with the fervent trust of Simon Peter.

Power Verses:
Luke 22:31-34
, "Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I've prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start." Peter said, "Master, I'm ready for anything with you. I'd go to jail for you. I'd die for you!" Jesus said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me." (MSG)
John 21:15-17, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?'
'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.'
Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.'
Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?'
He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.'
Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.'
The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?'
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.'"
Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (NIV)