Friday, July 30, 2010

What If?

by Denise Reed

This Week’s Verse: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Sometimes when I’m lying in bed I get a bad case of the “what-ifs”. My mind starts thinking about every possible bad or tragic thing that can happen to me and my family. What if my husband gets in a fatal accident to/from work? What if one of my children dies in some sort of freak accident? What if someone breaks into our house while we’re sleeping?. . . and the list goes on and on.

Next thing I know, I’m crying in bed, and I’m feeling stupid. I’m crying about my husband dying and he’s laying right next to me! I’m just hoping he’s already asleep so he doesn’t hear me sniffling. I wouldn’t want to tell him why I’m crying! Does anybody else do this?

But then, thankfully, God reminds me of this week’s verse and I feel peace and relief. I am not relieved because tragedies will never happen. But I am consoled because I know that if disaster strikes, God will get me through it.

Just look at the example God provides for us in the book of Job—in fact, I’m convinced God included Job’s story in the Word to inspire us to hold on through any hardship. In this extreme case we see the proper way to react when tragedy occurs. He relies on God during his excessive hardships and remains faithful. He learns more about the nature of God through his adversity and we would do well to grasp the same truth.

God is our comforter, our strength when we are weak. It is SO hard when difficulties come, but it will be okay. God promises to never hurt us. We have to trust His promises and carry out our mission here on this earth. Although we would love for it to, the world will not stop for us in times of calamity.

How terrible it must be for non-Christians to go through tragedies without knowing God’s promises! We believers have something they don’t, though, and it’s our job to reach out to them and anyone needing the promises and strength of Christ.

We have the answer to the world’s “What ifs…”

Lord, thank you for the example of your servant Job. I pray that you will remind me of your promises when my mind starts to wonder. I pray that I can console others with your promises when tragedies occur. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Next time you get a case of the "what-ifs" allow yourself to be comforted by God’s word and find strength in knowing that tragedy will not overcome you.

Power Verses:
2 Cor. 1:4, “…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)
Rom. 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”(NIV)
Ps 119:50, “My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life.” (NIV)

Friday, July 23, 2010

One Year Ago...

by Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: 1 Timothy 1:12, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service."(NIV)

I have a thing with numbers. I can remember the exact time I woke up this morning. I can remember dates incredibly well. A lot of times, I can think about what I will be doing six months from now or remember exactly what I was doing exactly a year ago. For example, one year ago today I was just returning from Piedras Negras, Mexico, with my daughter Savannah.

It was our first mission trip.

I saw things on this mission trip that I had never seen before. I saw how poor someone could be financially yet how rich he or she can be in God’s love. I saw men and women sacrificing their lives, their careers, and their closeness to family, to spread God’s word in Mexico.

And, it was here that for the first time in a long time, I was given daily quiet time to walk with my Lord. It’s not very often that I am handed 20 minutes of “down” time just to read scripture. Then, given six hours of time to work for the Lord. THEN brought back with other believers to talk about scripture. It was there that I lived for God, worked for God, showed others God and thanked God 24/7.

I wish I could say I do this every day now, but I would only be lying. Yes, I live for God, work for God, and show others God, but not 24/7. In this world of mine its really easy to get caught up in this lavish lifestyle that I live. I have a car, food, and a house with air-conditioning. I have two children who are schooled, have more than one pair of name-brand tennies, and who have no idea what poor is. I am so BUSY that some days I find it hard to give myself 20 minutes of quiet time… Doesn’t something need done?

I yearn for those days on the mission trip in Piedras Niegras. Yes, it was hot. Yes, we worked a lot and sweat a lot. But, it was here that God spoke to me and I wasn’t too busy to listen.

All week, Savannah and I have been remembering day by day what we were doing a year ago. It has been fun reminiscing and smiling about it. The Lord did amazing things there – which are still shining through us today.

Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunity Savannah and I had to serve you. Thank you for the friendships we made on this trip. Thank you for all those things we saw, heard, and became aware of. Thank you for working in and through us. What an awesome God you are! Bless each one reading this with her own special mission-trip moments with you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Application: This summer, try to find quiet time with God. Find a comfy chair, a quiet place in your home, and go for it. Open His Word, speak to Him, and see where it is He takes you!

Power Verses:
Romans 15:17, "Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God."(NIV)
Job 13:17, "Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say."(NIV)
Proverbs 13:7, "There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches."(NKJV)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Prayer Modeling

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: Luke 11:1, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."(NIV)

Prayer came hard for me on a recent morning. I’d been praying for a lot of people’s health issues lately, as well as my own “usual” stuff, and I just felt I couldn’t ask God for one more single solitary thing. Do you ever get to that point? He’s just given us so much, ya know?

Plus, I’d just woken up and wasn’t fully engaged mentally. Trying to put aside the grogginess, I told God, “I have no idea what to pray, Lord. You take care of all things, I know that, so I’m finding it hard to put thoughts into words. And you already know it all anyway.”

Instantly, my mind woke up to a verse in Luke 11 where the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Jesus’answer? The Lord’s prayer. I felt like God responded to me by saying, “Just pray that.” So I did, in a personalized way:

Lord, you are my God in Heaven. Holy is your Name. Let your Kingdom burst forth here on earth just like in Heaven and allow my family and me to be a mighty part of that. Show us your will and give us the strength to walk in it. Thank you for providing food, shelter, transportation and so much more and I do ask your continued provision. Thank you for your forgiveness and please keep extending grace, helping me to do the same with others. Keep temptation to sin at bay governed by the self-control your Spirit allows and keep evil from us by your wall of protection. To You is the power and glory, Jesus, forever. Amen.

By the end of the prayer I felt that wonderful peace that passes all understanding. God reminded me that I sometimes make things more complicated than they really need to be—even talking to Him, when he modeled how to do it.

In this simple prayer, all the power of heaven is released to do its work here among us.

Lord, thank you for modeling prayer for the disciples, both then and now.

Practice putting the Lord’s Prayer into your own words, including more specific and detailed requests, if you’d like. Or revel in the simplicity of keeping it general. Anticipate the Kingdom descending to earth as it is in heaven.

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:9-13, “This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”(NIV)
1 Kings 8:28, “Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today.”(NLT)
1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”(NIV)

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Wanna Thank You . . .

by Paula Sprigg

This Week's Verse: James 2:23, "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend."(NIV)

. . . Thank you for bein' a friend. . . I wanna thank you . . . Thank you for bein' a friend!!!

We all have friends. We all--more than likely--have many friends. We go to dinner, play cards, take walks, go to the movies, go on vacations. I think you get the point: we spend time with our friends.

Some friends are those you can call--in the middle of the night if necessary--to pray with you when something terrible has happened. Or perhaps they pray for you when you are so burdened that you simply cannot pray. Those are the friends who know your plans; they know what you're doing throughout the week (and feed your cat when you're gone), they know what your kids are doing (and would spank them for you if it was necessary), they know what you're having for dinner tonight (which is good 'cause often times even I don't know that!), they know your deepest, darkest secrets (and they won't judge you). They know what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you do the 'happy dance', what you like for dessert (anything with cherries)!

Good friends will come to your house, sit at your kitchen table, and share their hopes and dreams with you. They might even ask for your opinion now and then! And once they've asked, they'll take the time to listen. They seek, listen to, and (sometimes) even take your advice when given humbly, and with compassion and genuine concern. They don't stomp their foot, and go away mad. They may have to ponder your words for a time, or they may never see your point of view at all.

But the sweet thing about that true friendship is that you know they still love you no matter what! True friendship begins with the journey of "Give-and-Take" on "Two-Way Street".

Abraham had a relationship with God that was just like that. But it didn't happen without Abraham putting some effort into it, without taking the time to know God. Of course, God knows everything there is to know about us--the aches, pains, joys, and sorrows, the number of hairs on our head, the number of days in our life. Even so, He created us to be in a relationship with Him and He wants us to know Him.

Abraham knew God so intimately, that God convened His heavenly council at Abraham's tent and shared His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah with him (Gen. 18:16-19). WOW! God actually came and had coffee with Abraham. And then, God actually listened to Abraham and . . . well, you know the story about how Abraham proceeded to argue with God about sparing Sodom and Gomorrah if 'so many' righteous people could be found. Abraham had the audacity to ask God not once, not twice, but SIX times to spare the cities from complete destruction.

Abraham knew that he risked God's anger by continuing to ask, but he also knew that they were good enough friends that he could beg forgiveness for his brazen behavior, and approach God with humility, and genuine concern and compassion for the people. Abraham and God knew one another. They talked together. Abraham listened to and obeyed God, and consequently God shared his plans with Abraham (and I like to believe it was over a cup of coffee or possibly a glass of iced tea!). And then God spared the lives of a few righteous people from the destruction of Sodom.

I don't mean to imply that we can change God's plans. But we might find it easier to hear Him and obey his will for our lives, if we know Him better. I think I'll fix another pot of coffee this morning, and spend some time getting to know my Friend better!

Lord, I want to know you better. I want to have a close and deep relationship with you. I want to know you, I want to love you, I want to see your face. I know that I can only have that relationship with you by spending QUALITY time with you each and every day. My prayer is that you will convict me of your desire to know me better, and create a burning passion within my soul to take our relationship to a whole new level.

Application: Do you KNOW your friend? How well do you know the one person who should be your best friend? Will you commit to taking some time each day to spend with Jesus either in prayer, study, or silent meditation/reflection and learn to know Him on a more personal level?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”(NIV)
Isaiah 41:8–9, “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend. I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.”(NIV)
Genesis 33:11, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. . .”(NIV)

Friday, July 2, 2010


by Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”(NIV)

Lately, I’ve had to trust a lot. I trust that Gabrielle will do just fine in kindergarten. I trust Savannah when she tells me she only grabbed one piece of candy from our candy jar. I trust Clint when he tells me six hours of sleep is enough per night for him. I trust that I can have the strength to sometimes refuse dessert, even when it looks yummy!

But lately, I have really had to put my TRUST in the LORD. I am at a major crossroads in my life and I have complete trust that the Lord will put me on the right path.

I have complete trust that no matter how bad I want to mess with things, that the Lord will quietly (or maybe loudly) tell me to quit meddling in His business. I have 100% trust in letting him make the right decisions for my children when long, hot summer days have us exhausted and in each other’s hair at the end of the day. I have given the Lord all my trust to continue to bless my marriage that I am in; to help Clint and me become more fruitful in our endeavors each and every day.

While studying the book of Job this last month at FCC, I have often wondered how much trust Job put into the Lord after all of his hardships. We see him lose his family, his livestock, his servants, and then is afflicted with painful sores. We see Job deal with his feelings in the next several chapters following these life-changing moments. He really starts to feel sorry for himself, wondering why he had to go through all of these mishaps.

Even so, he seems to return to understanding that trust in anything but the Lord is useless. He says “Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return”(15:31, NIV).

It is not very often in our lives that we are REALLY tested like Job was. I have to wonder how trustworthy I would be if something serious were to happen. The events thus far in my life seem “manageable”. But other events, they could be detrimental to my life. I hope that the Lord will be proud of me just as He was with Job. I hope to stand tall, proclaim that the Lord is in control, and be the best Christian that I know how to be.

Dear Lord, thank you for the book of Job. Thank you for choosing these men and women of the bible to remind us that we are not alone. Thank you for knowing just what we need to hear, need to read, and need to focus on in your Word so that we can apply it to our lives. And thank you, most of all, for sending your Son to die on the cross. Continue to help us grow in You. In Your Son’s Name I pray, Amen.

Have you read the book of Job? It can be a tough book, but a chapter or two at a time helps make it easier. Job really is on an emotional roller coaster. He loses his family, his friends turn on him, and he feels rejected and left alone. Yet, he continues on. I don’t know about you, but as a woman in today’s world…I get to feeling like this. Job really is an inspiration to turn to. He survives – and so can we!

Power Verses:
Psalm 9:10
, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”(NLT)
Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”(NKJV)
John 12:36, “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.”(NIV)