Friday, October 29, 2010

Strength vs. Weakness

By Lisa Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually.” (NIV)

Devotion: I attended Women of Faith in Portland, Oregon recently. Shelia Walsh, author and singer stated that talking was one of her gifts, but as a child people would smack her gift. We all got a good laugh but really there is so much truth to that. Why don’t we focus on our own strengths and continue to build on them? Instead, we seem to try to improve our weaknesses.

Gallup Organization, states in 2000 people focused 59% on their weakness and 41% on their strengths. In 2009 people focused on 55% focused on their weakness and 45% on their strengths, just a 4% difference in 9 years.

As an example, what would you do if your child came home from school with their report card reflecting an A in English, 2 B’s, a C and 1 D in Math? How would this change your conversations? I can bet that every night at the dinner table there would be a question asking, “Do you have your Math homework done? How was Math class today?” Before the child goes to bed, again there is a question if the Math homework was completed. As a parent would you hire a tutor for your child?

However, throughout the night, do you think a question or comment could be made about the English class or the 2 B classes? Would there be a compliment made on how well the child was doing in that field? Would you pursue an outside activity where they could enhance their specialty field? Would you encourage them to be involved in a spelling Bee, Bible bowl, or just be a help to other children in need?

This happened to us when our children were in grade school. One of them was having trouble with Math and we hired a retired schoolteacher to come to the house one night a week. She was a sweet lady and was so beautiful in her interaction with the kids. It didn’t take but just a few weeks and we had a better understanding of the subject. It was definitely worth the investment because it built confidence again in my child. I discovered that my child learned easier from the tutor than the teacher. Maybe that was what my child needed - a fresh face to help understand the subject more clearly.

I can’t remember how much we verbally dwelled on this subject, but I do know it didn’t consume our focus. We dealt with the subject it and then moved on.

But I have to stop and think - did I really pursue their strengths? Sure, Kelli got “Most Improved” softball player, Clint was a baseball pitcher and did well in golf, and they both loved going to Awana. But on a day-to-day basis did I always have their strengths in my best interest or was I always concerned about “improving” their weakness for a well- balanced child?

I know I don’t have any strength on my own, it is only by letting God work through me. The Lord would like to work through you too!

Father, help us to find our strength through you in every aspect of our life! Help us to look at our strengths and dwell on those more than our weaknesses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Applications: List 5 strengths in your life and share them with others.

Power Verses:

1 Samuel 2:1 "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation.” (NIV)

1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!” (NIV)

Psalms 28:8 “The LORD is the strength of his people, he is the saving refuge of his anointed.” (NIV)

Friday, October 22, 2010

All Prayed Out!

By Denise Reed

This Week’s Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually” (NIV)

Lately, I have been feeling like I am all prayed out. I pray before every meal. I pray throughout the day if something is weighing on my mind and when God reminds me of something or someone to pray for. I even ask God to help me remember to do things (when I’m not able to write myself a reminder) and He has never failed to remind me! Sometimes when I check my e-mail there is a prayer concern for a friend and I pray instantly. I pray with my children before bed.

Then I sit down to do my ‘serious’ praying and get out my list of prayer concerns. Oh my! The list is long. There is my immediate family to pray for, more further removed family who are struggling with issues, friends, and people who have not asked for prayer, but am praying for anyway (such as their salvation). There is my list of prayer concerns from my Sunday school class, my Life Group, my Mother’s in Touch group, prayers for the ministries I’m involved in, and of course, my own personal needs and wants. And this list does not even include national and global issues, which quite possibly need the most amount of prayer. I guess I think I’m too far removed from those issues that I don’t need to pray for them. Somebody else will, right?

I think, boy, that’s a long list and more are added to it every week. If I pray for everyone, I feel like I’m just going down the list to get it done. So, maybe I should break it up and pray for half the list now and the other half tomorrow. Then I feel guilty for not praying for everyone everyday. How often DO I really need to pray for all these people, especially the people I don’t even know? And how long should I keep someone on my prayer list? With all these thoughts running through my head, my prayer time is stressing me out! Satan knows my weaknesses, so he works on me during my prayer time.

However, when searching the Bible for verses about prayer, I did not find ONE verse where we are told to pray every single day for the same person in order for God to answer our prayer. This gives me encouragement to continue on. James 5:15 says “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” (NIV). So maybe it’s not about how OFTEN I pray for something, but rather, HOW I pray for it. It’s more a matter of the heart. When I am praying for someone, am I doing it in faith that God can and will answer my prayer? Or am I praying for someone just because his or her name is written down on my piece of paper?

Lord, thank you for your examples and instructions on prayer. Help me block out distractions and other thoughts that try to creep in while we are having a one-on-one conversation. I have faith that you can answer every single prayer request I have, and help me understand if you don’t answer it the way I want. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Application: If you have been feeling all prayed out like I have, take heart. It’s not a bad problem to have. Just make sure your heart is in the right place when you are praying.

Power Verses:

Mark 11:24 “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (NIV)

1 Samuel 12:23 “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (NIV)

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (NIV)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Strength 101

By Lisa Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: Nehemiah 8:11 “for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (NIV)

What are you passionate about? What makes you joyful? When was the last time you did something you enjoyed? In your ministry, what gives you the greatest joy in the Lord?

Are you passionate about teaching, serving, leading, children, bookkeeping, maintenance, praying, tithing, encouraging or communicating? The list goes on and on. Your strength will be where YOU are at your BEST and that JOY will bring such strength in the Lord and will reflect in all areas of your life.

When you find the activity and passion that you feel strong about, it will lead to performance and action!

When I was in high school, I was a teacher’s aide my junior and senior year. I thought I wanted to be an elementary teacher. God had another idea and lead me into personnel management. My career was coordinating, training and teaching course curriculum to 300 to 700 staff. I would get extreme satisfaction thinking about going into a classroom and providing staff with information that would help them with their careers. I would prepare and try to be creative in my delivery to make a subject exciting! Often times I would have a hands-on activity to help demonstrate the objectives. I wanted learning to be fun!

In my personal life over the years, I have taught different ladies bible study groups, communicated information while volunteering at a Pregnancy Life Center, been a VBS Director and VBS leader, and I am currently leading the Side by Side Sunday School class at 8:30 am. As a mother we are always teaching our children and grandchildren. This is the most rewarding!

Ask yourself this S.I.G.N.:

S = Success. Do you feel effective in your passion and service?

I = Instinct. Do you look forward to this service?

G= Growth. How do you feel while you carry out this service?

N= Needs. How do you feel after – invigorated?

How often do you express your strength? Is it only on Sunday? Wednesday? Every day? I hope you love your strength as much as I love mine! If you are not sure about your strength area in life, check out the website and discover your top 2 life skills.

Dear Lord, thank you for helping me find my spiritual strength. Thank you for making each of us unique so that we may serve you in many ways. Lead those who don’t know you towards you and help those that do know you to discover their strengths in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Applications: Look for opportunities to express your passion with others and share the joy!

Power Verses:

Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” (NIV)

Psalm 18:32 “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:12 “And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.” (NLT)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hard Work and Dedication

By Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (NIV)

When I was in high school, I had posters in my room of all the latest models. I liked their flat bellies. I wanted a flat belly like them. So, I worked hard at doing sit-ups and off and on during high school I was able to get a flat belly out of it! But, it came with a price. Each night before going to bed, I would find myself doing hundreds of sit-ups.

Most great things come with a price. When I started attending a new church as a young woman, I looked up to women that I believed maintained the model Christian life. I believed they had it all together – lovely family, nice smile on their face, willing to help others, loving unconditionally. I believed that this came natural for a fine Christian woman.

I have since learned this: it takes work. It all does. These women don’t just rise and shine to a smile on their face (okay – maybe some women do, but not all). They have to do certain things to make it happen. I’m sure they read the bible daily, pray daily, and choose to walk with God daily.

It takes sit-ups to get a flat belly. It takes hours and hours behind the wheel to become a safe driver. It takes reading many books to become intellectual in a subject. It takes many mistakes to become a good parent.

So, why would I think that it wouldn’t take a lot of hard work to become a model Christian woman?

It takes hard work and dedication to read the bible daily. It takes practice to become a good prayer warrior. It takes LOTS AND LOTS of encouragement to proclaim Christ to others. It takes holding of the tongue on many occasions. It takes discipline to remain faithful to Jesus and his teachings.

My husband and I have this saying “it takes time or money”. It seems like everything in this world either takes more time, or more money. I can’t buy Christianity, so why didn’t I think that it would take more time to become a good Christian?

Becoming a disciplined Christian means more than Sunday morning church. It means learning to live life as a Christian every day of the week and every moment of the day. It is a discipline, but a good one!

Dear Father, thank you for giving us your word so we may learn more about you, and try to become the way Jesus was – caring, loving, forgiving, full of joy, and peace. Help me to show the fruits of the Spirit so others may see You in me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Application: *Are there women that might be looking up to you, watching you, wanting what you have? Make sure to share what you know about FAITH with them. We need to be on-call 24/7 for others who want to know more about what we have that they might not have.

*Do you find yourself wanting what someone else has that you just can’t quite get? Well, ask her how she got there. Ask her about her study habits and disciplines she has picked up through the years. Most women would love to share her story of how that smile got on her face!

Power Verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:12 “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.” (NLT)

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)

Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (NASB)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rummage Giveaway

By Bethany Lashbrook

This Week’s Verse: Matthew 25:40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (NLT)


I like definitions. So, I chose to look up the title of this week’s devotion. To rummage, according to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, means to discover by searching or to examine minutely and completely. Giveaway means the act of giving something away free.

This Saturday, October 2, First Christian Church in Marshall is hosting its second annual rummage giveaway. It is designed to help those who could use some extra clothing, children’s items, or household items to make it through the winter.

The response is overwhelming. Donations are piled up in the hallways. Volunteers spend countless hours preparing. And as those who come to the giveaway line up, the joy is incomprehensible.

Although this act is selfless in nature, the term rummage and giveaway put together remind me of the most selfless act ever in history. Jesus.

Jesus gave away his life for us. And, he chose to do it for free. Because of him, we can lay our sins at the cross and ask for forgiveness. He bore our sins for FREE. How amazing is that?

And we must rummage to find him. We must discover Jesus in our lives. Yes, he is there from the beginning. But, he gives us the free will to find him, to follow, and to listen for his words. We must examine minutely and completely his word and relate it to our life.

As the date approaches for this year’s rummage giveaway, pray with me for those who enter our church to find the one free gift that Christ paid for all – our salvation in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Dear Father, we thank you for the ministry of believers who have chose to give sacrificially and selflessly. We ask for those who enter the church to be blessed beyond our own human awareness. We thank you in advance for those lives that you will touch. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application: If you find yourself in need, please come to the rummage giveaway on Saturday. If you find yourself in need of giving, please pray for all those involved with this event. If you would like to give your time, an extra pair of hands is always helpful!

Power Verses:

John 19:29-30 "a jug of wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done...complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit." (MSG)

Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (NIV)

Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV)