Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Merry Christmas Indeed

by Charity Pence

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

My dad read the Christmas story to me and my sister every year when we were children. It was a great reminder of the true reason we were celebrating. Opening presents was fun, but listening to my dad read from the Bible Christmas morning was always a special time.

As the month of December has flown by, I hope you have had plenty of opportunity to take time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. This is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior. Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-- which means God with us.” (NIV) On the night Jesus was born, God blessed us with the greatest gift we would ever know.

Without Jesus, our lives would be void of hope. But thank God, we do have Jesus. In John 8, verse 12, Jesus tells the people, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV) What awesome news!

Dear Heavenly Father, what joy it is to know You love us so much that You brought Jesus to us, that through him we would come to know You and have an eternally blessed life with You. Thank You for this gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Applications: As you celebrate this weekend, take time to thank God for all that He has blessed you with. Thank Him for Jesus-- our wonderful counselor and prince of peace.

Power Verses:
Luke 2:11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” “NKJV)
Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (NKJV)
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NKJV)

*A quick note. The next devotion will not be posted until the weekend of January 14th. Have a safe and Merry Christmas!

Getting Ahead of God

by Charity Pence


This Week’s Verse: Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (KJV)

In the midst of trials, it is tempting to give up on waiting for God to work. Sometimes I am tempted to take matters into my own hands instead of letting God move. When circumstances have me freaking out, I want solutions. I don’t always want to wait patiently for God to show me the answers. But today God directed me to Genesis Chapter 19, and the story got me thinking. Many of you may be familiar with this chapter. It is here we learn about Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who was directed by two angels to flee Sodom with his wife and virgin daughters. This story from the Bible is more known for Lot’s wife disobeying an order to not turn back while fleeing, and she is turned into a pillar of salt. Though that is a good lesson for obedience, that is not what God pointed out to me. I want to focus on the daughters. Verse 14 tells us the men who were to marry Lot’s daughters did not believe Lot was serious when he told them they needed to leave the city. These two men were killed when they refused to leave, which left the two daughters without husbands. We later learn that Lot takes refuge in a cave with the two girls. And the girls, who are left with no marriage prospects, decide to deceive their father so they can bear children. Their plan is successful; the eldest daughter gives birth to Moab, and the youngest gives birth to Ammon. These two boys become the father of the Moabites and Ammonites respectively. And you know what else? These two races become enemies to the Israelites. God was willing to save Lot and his family, and in return, Lot’s daughters gave birth to two races of people who would eventually become enemies to God’s people. Not the picture perfect ending one would hope for.

There is no way for us to know what would have been or could have been if the two daughters had waited for the Lord to bless them in His own time. And that is the lesson for this week. When we take matters into our own hands without seeking God’s will, there is no knowing what kind of damage we may be causing. Or what blessings we may be missing out on. Ezra 8:22 says, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” (NKJV) Therefore, it is imperative that we remain steadfast and faithful. It’s rarely easy, but God loves us and will not forsake us if we are diligent. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” Hebrews 10:23 (KJV)

Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes I feel as if I am drowning in circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes there is no light, and I cannot see, but I trust You are there. You have always been my provider. Please strengthen me, Lord, so I can stand firm on Your promises and please help me to believe all will be okay. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Applications: Sometimes life is just hard, and the answers are hardly ever clear. But God loves us all and does not desire for us to suffer. If you are struggling this week, don’t let the devil fill you with fear. Stand fast on God’s word and watch Him move on your behalf.

Power Verses:
I John 4:16 “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (KJV)
Galatians 3:14 “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith.” (NKJV)
Psalm 84:11, 12 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold form them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” (KJV)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God Time

by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: Psalm 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (KJV)

Normally I like to have my “God time” in the morning. Each day before work, I sit down with my Bible or with a devotional and spend time studying and praying. But lately I’ve been slacking. And I can always tell the difference it makes. I can feel in my heart when I’ve not been making God my priority. There’s a separation that builds up, and I know God isn’t moving away from me; I’m moving away from Him. Jeremiah 29:12 says, “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” (KJV) This verse reminds me that God will not force Himself into my life. When I turn away from Him, he eagerly but patiently waits for me to come back to Him, and if I am willing to call upon Him once again, He will hear me.

I always talk to God at random moments during the day. But that isn’t enough for me. I need to sit down with God at least once a day with all my focus and attention on Him because that is what strengthens me and protects me from the enemy. Proverbs 15:19 says, “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway.” (NKJV) When I think of this verse, I picture two separate roads. One is unpaved, has bumps, and is covered with briars and brambles. This road resembles my life when I allow myself to drift away from God. The other road is paved, smooth, and easy to travel. This is the road God clears for us, if we would follow His path.

By not spending as much time with God as I should, I have allowed myself to veer off onto the wrong road. I have been stumbling along, getting tangled in snags, and I am exhausted. It’s about time I listen to Isaiah 58:9 which says, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (KJV) The Lord is waiting for me to turn back to Him. It’s time to admit I’ve gotten myself lost and need my Heavenly Father’s help with getting back on the correct road.

Will you pray with me this week? It’s so easy to allow ourselves to become distracted. It’s not so easy to stay connected to our Lord when the world is caving in around us.

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for straying so far from You. Help me to get back on schedule so I can be near You. And thank You, Lord, for always being ready to take me by the hand to lead me when I call out to You.

Application: Do you spend time with God each day? It can be in the mornings, afternoons, evenings, or at bedtime, whichever is best for you. If you currently do, great! If not, ask yourself why. God does so much for us; I think He deserves a lot more than what we give Him.

Power Verses:
Psalm 9:10 “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” (KJV)
Proverbs 3:6 “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (KJV)
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with my eye.” (NKJV)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Time For Peace

by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (KJV)

Devotion:
When I was a child, Christmas decorations didn’t get put up in our house until two weeks before Christmas. As I became older, I never understood why people were in such a hurry to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, the birth of our Savior is definitely worth celebrating, not just for a few weeks or a month; we should be celebrating all year. That being said, I have to admit my decorations were out of the attic before Thanksgiving. And why was I so eager to get my decorations up? Because I knew Christmas would be over in the blink of an eye. I wanted to make sure I gave myself plenty of time to enjoy the holiday season.

You see, lately I’ve had a problem with slowing down. By the time I get one thing finished, I’ve thought of three more tasks that need completed. And I feel pressured to get those tasks done. Yes, I pressure myself. I don’t know why I do, but once I have my mental list prepared, I race through the day in order to get all the things done. Those things may be chores or errands or projects, but I’m always busy. And by the end of the day, I’m cranky and exhausted. But Matthew 11:28 tells us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (KJV)

So this month, I have decided I want to enjoy Christmas and everything the holiday means. I want to take comfort in knowing Jesus was born to be my personal Savior. I want to accept the peace and assurance that has been so freely given to me. I want to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and relax while enjoying the decorations in my house. I want to be still so I can allow God to restore me. 1 John 4:9 says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (NIV) Now, more than any other time during the year, is the time to recognize the birth of Jesus and what his birth means for all those who believe in him. And if that means we need to force ourselves to slow down, to stop adding additional items to our to-do lists, then we must do that.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to slow down this week and this month so I can truly appreciate what You have done for me. Forgive me for becoming so busy that I have neglected my relationship with You. I pray that I will allow myself to sit still so I can be surrounded by Your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Applications: If you have difficulty slowing down, allow yourself to take a break this week. Let our Lord restore you this Christmas season so you can focus on what’s really important.

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:14
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (KJV)
Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (NKJV)
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Changes

I'm not a big fan of that word. Changes. Sometimes they hurt. Sometimes they make us uncomfortable, especially when we have to step out of our comfort zone. That being said, the changes to The Olive Branch will hardly be noticeable. Actually, the only change will be to the posting schedule.

The Olive Branch will continue to be about God and glorifying His name. Bethany has done a great job with managing this blog as have the women who came before her. They deserve a round of applause. Let's keep the momentum going and continue reaching others for Christ!

I will eagerly welcome any contributions. If you would like to submit a devotion, please do so. If you are not confident in your writing abilities but would like a specific issue or topic to be discussed, or if something has been laid on your heart, please let me know. In either case, you can send an email to fccgals@hotmail.com

The posting schedule will be slightly different. Rather than having a new post on each Friday, I will be posting devotions over the weekend (so Saturdays or Sundays). And I will try to have a new post for each week.

Okay. That wasn't so bad. I should have a devotion ready for this weekend so expect another post tomorrow or the day after.

I look forward to this journey. Happy Friday!

~Charity Pence

Friday, November 25, 2011

No Worries for Tomorrow

This week’s verse: Matthew 6:34, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (NLT)

Devotion: It always seems like life comes down to 2 choices in every situation: To serve others, or to be served. To worry or not worry. To love or hate. To forgive or to be bitter. To believe or not to believe. It seems simple really, yet not everything seems to be black and white.

What about the gray area? This little area is where my mind tells me to not worry, but my heartache tells me to. Or my heart says to love someone when my mind says “but, I don’t like them”.

Currently, I am in this “gray” situation. A year ago I set out to take over the Olive Branch and did so with much enthusiasm. For one year, I have officially been a “blogger”; and this is something I never thought I would say. It has been fun and very emotional as I have laid my burdens for all to see. I have given over my weaknesses, my strengths, and my faults, exposing parts of my life I never thought I would.

BUT – now is my time to say goodbye. And because of this, the Olive Branch will once again experience change in management! Charity Pence will be posting but not near as often or on a schedule – but the Olive Branch will stay alive!

I hope that I can continue to post blogs whenever time allows, but for now, I will officially sign off as blog manager and welcome Charity to her new ministry at FCC!

Please continue to pray for the Olive Branch as it reaches women at FCC and beyond. Pray for Godly words to be spoken and for all who reads the blog to be exposed to Jesus and the power of his works here on Earth.

God Bless,
Bethany Lashbrook

Dear Lord, please help this ministry to continue to reach others through truth, love, and Jesus’ teachings. Thank you Father for allowing our country to speak freely of how we feel about you. Thank you Father that we live in a town that still accepts religion and belief of you the “norm”. Thank you Father for your Son and his sacrifice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Expectations

by Bethany Lashbrook

Recently, my children had a lot of adult situations poured onto them. Not by choice, but just because life happened. As we prepared for the days, my husband and I had a talk with them. They were to behave, to be quiet, to be respectful, to remember their manners, and to listen to what we told them and do exactly as we said without question.

Big conversation. Big expectations. Big girls.

Turns out, I have never been more proud of my girls. They behaved and not only that, they became beautiful young ladies in the process. They could have chose to not listen, to not behave, to blow off their mom and dad but they chose to do the opposite.

I wasn’t surprised that they behaved, because they behave a lot, but I was somewhat surprised that there were no questions as to why they were to behave. There were no questions as to why they couldn’t talk. There were no questions as to why they didn’t get a say in the matter.

Big conversation. Big girls listening. Big girls understanding of who was in charge.

As for myself, I don’t know if I can say the same. Many times the Lord speaks to me and says “no questions, Bethany”. But, I don’t seem to listen. I instantly say these words:

“But, I’m not the right woman for the job.”

“But, somebody else might do this much better than myself.”

“Are you sure I am to do this?”

“Father, I’ve failed at this before. I don’t want to fail again.”

Just like my girls, I must learn to listen to those times that it means something bigger than the Lord just telling me something. Sometimes, it brings on growth. Sometimes our conversation can make me more mature in my faith, in my increasing trust in Him. Sometimes, I just need to listen, to not talk back, to act in faith, to believe and to trust in his word. And then afterwards, realize:

Big conversation. Big expectations. Big growth.

Father, thank you for continuing to believe in me and asking me to do things, even though I have turned you down many times. Thank you for your constant forgiveness in my life and knowing that sometimes I AM the right person for the job. In your name I pray, Amen.

Application: Have you ever heard "don't ask the Lord for patience"? Well, sometimes I ask the Lord for something, but act disappointed when he gives it to me. Like growth. I ask him to grow me, yet when he gives me a task, I turn Him down. This week, let's ask for something, but then have the faith that we can finish the task!

Power Verse: 1 Chronicles 16:8, “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” (NIV)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Let's Dance!

By Charity Pence


This Week’s Verse: John 15:11 (KJV) “These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”


Devotion:

A few weeks ago, our Sunday school class was discussing how we worship during church. In particular, we discussed why some people do not lift their hands during worship services. Psalm 67:3 says, “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.” (NIV) Showing our praise by doing anything that is considered out of the ordinary can be frightening, though. We fear judgment or ridicule even though we shouldn’t. Isaiah 55:6 tells us, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” (NKJ) When we are at church, our focus should be on God alone.


Up until a few years ago, I didn’t dare lift my hands. I prefer not to draw attention to myself. Therefore, lifting my hands when others were not was out of the question for me. That’s not the case anymore. Over the last few years I have had the chance to experience God’s presence in such a way that I couldn’t help but cut loose. I like the picture we have of David dancing in the street which is found in 2 Samuel 6:14. Unashamed, David allows his joy for the Lord to consume him. When his wife expresses her disdain for what he has done, he tells her, “I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.” (NKJV) David’s heart was on fire for God, and he wasn’t going to let anyone prevent him from expressing his love for his Lord.


Have you ever danced with God? I have! There’s a worship song I used to listen to regularly while dancing in the kitchen. And just this morning as I was considering this devotion, a song came to mind, and I started jumping up and down, praising God. I have to admit I will probably not be dancing or jumping around in my pew at church any time soon, but there is freedom in giving all I have to praise God. When my entire focus is on my heavenly father instead of what others are thinking, joy overwhelms me. And when I lift my hands, I’m not just lifting my hands in praise; I’m reaching for God and showing Him I want Him near.


Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to keep my eyes and heart on you while worshipping at church and throughout the week. We should all seek to please you and you alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Applications: If this is too much for you, that’s okay. Some people worship quietly, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you ever feel the urge to offer your praise in such a noticeable way, don’t hold back!


Power Verses:

Psalms 100:1 “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” (NIV)

Proverbs 150:6 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (NIV)

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me early and diligently shall find me.” (Amp)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday's Ministry

This Week's Ministry: Samaritan's Purse; Operation Christmas Child

Click on the link above to find out all about Operation Christmas Child. In a nutshell, here is what you can do.

1. Find a shoebox (or 2 or 3) or a plastic container that is the same size. Pray for the child who will be receiving the shoebox.

2. Decide if you want your gift to go to a boy or girl (age specifications are clearly laid out on the website).

3. Fill the shoebox with gifts (the funnest part!)

4. Include $7.00 donation for the transport of the shoebox.

5. Find a drop off location. Our location is First Christian Church foyer!

Or you can mail it to:
Samaritan’s Purse
Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

First Christian Church has a goal of 100 shoeboxes! Any questions - direct them towards Sandra Ledermann. Collection week is November 14-21 so don't hold off!

This Christmas, spread the joy and the love of Jesus - just by sending a shoebox!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fresh Fruit

by Bethany Lashbrook

This week's Verse: Galatians 5:22, "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."

Devotion:
One of my friends, Denise, has been reading a lot of Jim Cymbala (probably most known for his book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, and pastors Brooklyn Tabernacle). She decided to bring one of Jim's lessons into our Sunday school class. It has been about listening to the Holy Spirit in our lives and letting the Holy Spirit work through us and within us.

This past week, we looked at the Holy Spirit in relation to fire. We were taught that:
1. Fire is cut-throat. It pierces through everything.
2. Fire is illuminating. Everyone can see it.
3. Fire spreads. And not only does it spread, but it does so quickly.

Luke records in Acts when Jesus told his disciples, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit". (1:4-5, NIV, emphasis mine)

Later in Acts 10:47, Luke records that Peter says, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have". (NIV)

If we are to let the Holy Spirit work in us without quenching it, we must give it authority in our lives. We must let it spread like fire. Fresh fire can lead to Fresh fruit - and who couldn't benefit from more of the fruits of the Spirit.

Freshness of anything is good. A Fresh start in life once we are baptized promises a life full of newness (Romans 6:4). Putting out this fresh fire can inhibit spiritual growth (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

This week, it is my goal to purposely listen for the direction the Holy Spirit gives me in my life. I guess I should say not only will I listen - but then I will act. Maybe along the way I can spread some joy or some peace. And maybe, I can learn some self-control and faithfulness in my life!

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May we all know and learn from your direction in our life. Amen.

Application: Do you ever hear the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you? Does anything happen (heart beat increase, sweaty palms)? Is the holy spirit directing you to do something small (like letting the woman with only several items go in front of you at Walmart checkout line) or something big (paying for her groceries)? Pray this week to be attentive to what God is choosing in your life!

This Week's Verses:
John 7:37-39, 'On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.' (NIV)

Matthew 16:25, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lightbulb Moment

by Bethany Lashbrook

This week's verse: 1 Peter 2:1-3, "Therefore, rid yourselves of malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk; so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good. (NIV)

Devotion:
Yesterday, everything just fell into place. Just like that. A year long spiritual drought in my household ended just as promptly as it came on. One year ago, my husband and I were swallowed up and we have been running in a black hole every since. We just kept running by each other - waving - wondering when we were going to make it back up to breathe again.

And then I came upon this verse in my reading today. I'm gonna break it down for you in the way I saw it today with fresh eyes, fresh breath, fresh fire in my life.

Rid yourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Surely I couldn't be any of these harsh words. That's exactly what I have been. I have been mean (without the Lord put first in my life, I tend to focus on past failures, past inadequacies, past regrets and in the process, I become mean). I have been deceitful to my friends, my family, and most importantly, to God. I think he doesn't see things but he sees it all. Hypocrite, envy - check - check. Been that too. Slander - not so much out of my mouth - but what about the TV shows I choose to watch? Are they all for the Glory of God? Am I allowing slander in my home through my choices? What do my children think of this?

Crave spiritual milk, so that you may grow in salvation. In one day, my husband and I held hands and started walking up out of the dark hole together and as we were reaching for the top, we agreed that without growth, this last year is worth nothing. Without growth, we have been taught nothing, haven't listened at all, haven't learned our lesson. Without growth, we fail to trust that the Lord brought us through this valley for a reason and we will continue to grow.

Now that you have tasted the Lord is good. That's exactly what the Lord is. My girls have a saying when I make one of their many favorite meals. They like to tease me. They say, "Mom, it's not good. (pause) Sorry, mom, it's not even great (pause, pause), it's terrific!"

That's how I feel today. The Lord isn't just good, He isn't just great, but for what He has been in my life - he is terrific! And for that, it was worth the year's drought. For that feeling, it was worth the growing pains. And for that, I will be ever grateful!

Dear Lord, thank you for valleys, and thank you for mountains. Thank you for changing seasons, periods of growth, and periods of drought. Thank you for you Son. Amen.

Application: Pray with me this week for those who are in a spiritual drought. Help them be revived by the Holy Spirit! Just as Jesus walked the Earth, we too can Spread the good news, of our Lord Jesus Christ!

This week's Verses:
Psalm 46:10, "Be Still and know that I am God." (NIV)
Isaiah 66:2, "Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being, declares the Lord. This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." (NIV)

Friday, October 14, 2011

We Know the End

By Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: Revelation 21:6, “And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End…’”(NLT).

Devotion:
Are you one of those who likes to take a peek—just a little one—at the end of a book before you read it? Or maybe you’ve recorded or DVR’d the big game and didn’t mind “accidentally” seeing the score at the end before you watch it? Sometimes the stress and drama of conflict in a book, movie, or game is too much and we just want to know how it turns out so we can relax and enjoy watching how it unfolds.

If that concept is sometimes true for entertainment, imagine how much more true it is for real life.

When you’re stuck in a desperate situation and see no possible way out, you can find your confidence in the fact that it will all work out in the end if you place your faith firmly in the One who can (and wants to!) work it out.

Is the worry of debt stealing your hope for a future? Praise God as your provider with faithful tithing and wait for the floodgates to open. (Malachi 3:10)

Does addiction swallow you so oppressively in blackness that even a mere pinprick of light seems impossible? God calls you out of darkness and into His wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Is the health of you or a loved one so compromised that restoration seems completely out of reach? Your Jesus was wounded to heal. (1 Peter 2:24).

When the drama of reality begins to surround and oppress us to the point of spiritual claustrophobia, it is comforting to peek at the end of the book we base our lives on and to know the end—Jesus. He was there in the beginning, He’s here in the midst, and He will be there in the end, triumphant.

Tying up our loose ends.

Answering the unanswered.

And trumping evil in the final move to end all moves.

Jesus, when I get so caught up in my day-to-day problems, help me find strength and joy in knowing you have the final victory in everything. It may not be my way or in my time, but you work ALL things for the good of those who love you. And I love you, Lord Jesus, in Your Name.

Application: Name a battle you face right now in prayer to God and claim His victory over it, recognizing Him as Alpha and Omega.

Power Verses:
John 19:30, “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, ‘It is finished!’ then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”(NLT). (emphasis mine)
Revelation 22:5, “And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.”(NLT)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rummage Giveaway - Part 2


















This week's verse: Proverbs 19:20-21, "Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.


A HUGE thank you goes out to all those involved with this year's 3rd Annual Rummage Giveaway! May God bless, protect and keep all those who were in need this year. May the Lord continue to work in their lives and bring them Glory on Earth and then in Heaven.













































Friday, September 30, 2011

Rummage Giveaway - Part 1

by Bethany Lashbrook

This week's verse: Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Devotion:
Two years ago, in a small group that met on Wednesday nights in our church, a friend of mine came up with a brilliant idea to have a free yard sale. The assignment: find a need and do something about it. The need: people. The goal: to help. Simple, yet profound.

So, our small group set off on a wonderful adventure of the first year of the Rummage Sale. It wasn't necessarily a yard sale because it would take place in our church's gymnasium. But, there was definitely going to be some rummaging - because the goal was to ask people to donate anything and everything. Our small group accepted all sorts of donations: clothes, toys, baby items, household items, and practically anything else worth giving.

Another small group came up with the idea to serve a nice, hot meal during the rummage sale. As they prepared for the meal, our group prepared for the rummage event.

The people in our church were gracious; donating selflessly for weeks leading up to the rummage sale. The week prior to the sale, we all were sorting every night. The small group was featured in both of our town's newspapers. WBGL and our local radio station broadcast for the event.

What else could we ask for? We had a gymnasium full of goodies, a tribe of volunteers helping throughout the week and advertisement across several counties. We just needed the people to show up.

Through lots of prayer from us (and for us!) - the 1st year came and went with an explosion. It was almost a whirlwind - setting up, people coming, taking down, and then it's done. I really couldn't wrap my head around it until it was said and done and stories started to circulate.

~Like the man who walked in and picked up some blankets and left.

~Like the people who lined an hour before the rummage sale began.

~Like the woman who insisted on donating money and gave us $5 to put in our offering plate.

~Or the woman who called the church and asked if it was okay to donate brand new items, such as heavy coats for winter.

Such simple things with such profound meaning. Sometimes it's not what you do, or how you do it, how you experience it, or how long it takes, but it's the love that is put into it that makes it a celebration - a love for the Lord that is uncrushable. Psalm 115 states, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness." (NLT)

Dear Lord, thank you for the love you show us as you work through us. Help us to remember we are all created in your image. We all deserve to know you, to love you, and to experience your love. Thank you for your Jesus. Thank you for your presence in our life and help us to show others this love for the growth of your kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Power Verses:
Psalm 117:2, "For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 15:57, "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." (NLT)


Friday, September 23, 2011

Accept One Another

by Bethany Lashbrook

This week's verse: Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (NIV)

Devotion:
Recently, one of my friends cried to me and other friends regarding a way someone had spoke about her child. As a mother, there is nothing more discouraging than others thinking your child is inadequate. After all, they came from us. We raised them. They are a blessing in our lives, no matter their circumstances. Everyone makes mistakes, but let's face it, when it is our children - we have more compassion.

Our children are condemned by others. Yet, when I am upset with someone (for simple or large things) I tend to forget that this child has a mother, a father, and a family who loves and cares for them deeply - even with their inadequacies.

Just the same, God loves us as we love our children. God has watched us from the beginning idolize other gods (Deuteronomy 7:4 & Jeremiah 5:7) but continues to adore us (John 13:1, Deuteronomy 7:9). Our inadequacies don't matter. We know we can repent and ask for forgiveness (Acts 2:38). So, why don't we use this general rule when applied to our own lives? Why look so harshly upon others? We don't know the whole story.

But, God does know our whole story, and He loves us anyway. Today, let's be less judgmental and more loving towards others. Let's remember who Jesus loves - each and every single one of us. We are all created in his image (Genesis 1:27). Praise the Lord for that!

Dear Lord, thank you for your forgiveness when we are wrong. Thank you for making us each unique. When we fail you Lord, help us to remember that you love us anyway. When others fail us, help us to remember we are all human. We know we all make mistakes, but help us to remember we all need forgiven too. In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.

Application: Do you have an issue with someone in your life? Do you look down on someone for choices they have made? This week, every time you want to snuff them, pray blessings upon them and let's all marvel on how our lives will be changed!

Power Verses:
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)

Acts 10:43, "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (NIV)

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Life Today - in Prayer

by Bethany Lashbrook

Today's Verse: 2 Chronicles 6:19, "Yet, LORD my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence." (NIV)

Dear Lord, May your blessings continue to flow on my family and my town and my church as you have always let them. May you continue to find favor with my friends and family and keep your ever present arms around us. May you continue to guide and lead us in the direction we are to go. Thank you for being there. Thank you for the good times. And thank you for the bad in which I could grow.

Please be with my work friends. Help me to show them the love that I have in my life, and not the nastiness that a long day brings my way. Please continue to watch over my church family and help me to remember to pray for each of them - specifically by name - when they have entrusted a prayer request to me. Send something my way (a reminder if you will) if I am not holding up my end of the bargain. Help me to pray YOUR prayers and not MY prayers. Please guide me, Holy Spirit, in my life. Guide my words and my actions. Help me to be the Lord's hands, feet, ears, mouth, LIFE!

Continue my growth in you Lord and when I am headed down the wrong path, help me to turn around - to repent - and go about the right way. And thank you for being there with open arms (once again) when I walk towards you. Help me to find joy in you, life with you, and forgiveness through you. Remind me when I can't love, that you can. Thank you for healing within when I didn't know it could be possible.

Remind me to smile at someone when it looks like they need a smile. To hug someone when they need a hug. To shut my mouth when they just need an ear.

And when I come home after having all these thoughts swarm my head all day, remind me to be nice to my family, to be the mom who makes everything "just right", not perfect, Father, but just right for my family. Help me to walk through that door reenergized, full of life, and definitely full of YOU! Give me compassion towards my children; to give time to kiss the booboos, to give the 30 second hug that makes them push me away, to listen to their fun-filled stories about school. And when my husband walks through the door, fill me with a longing to talk to him, to share with him, and to LISTEN to him (you know that's hard, and not because it's not interesting, but because I don't shut up). Help me not to bombard him with my issues but to be the mate that listens as well as shares.

Thank you for keeping us happy, healthy, and for the roof over our head. Thank you for air-conditioning, heat, refrigerators, carpet, grilled food, corn on the cob, and smiling kids with full bellies as we tuck them in. Thank you for this blessed life in this blessed country where I can speak freely. Thank you for those that have served so I can live and love as I please.

Please repair those friendships with which I have failed. Please be with those family members who don't believe in You and with those who do believe in You but struggle everyday with convictions and aggravations towards themselves. Please show me tomorrow what I can repair in which I have ruined.

Please give me the time, the energy, and the will power to either get up early or stay up late to learn about you, read about you and give you the time in prayer, quiet study, and concentration that you deserve. Then guide me in sharing it all with my children. Help me to be that brave warrior that you call for. Thank you Father for listening to me complain, for listening to my excuses (even when there shouldn't be any) and for being there every step of today, even when I didn't acknowledge you.

And as I go to sleep, Father, help me to wake up, and to think of Creation and thank you for the awesomeness of it. And if you so choose to take me before I wake, help my family to know that I love them, more than they will ever know.

Please help me get rid of all the worry, the regret, and mistakes I made today and remember that you sent your Son so that I may wake up, start afresh and begin anew. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

So be it. Amen.

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. And I will teach you the way that is good and right." (NIV)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

"My prayer for this ministry is that women become united by opening up and sharing their hearts with others. I pray for God to fill these women with the Spirit as they write these devotions." ~Denise Reed

"I look forward to reading the devotional every week because we really get to know the heart of the woman doing the writing. Women are a lot busier now than they used to be. If we make enough time for our own families, our church activities and still hold down a full time job, that leaves little time for "friend time". We are all friends in one way or another. It's nice know how many of our gals at FCC love the Lord with all of their hearts and souls. Keep writing girls - We love you and are praying for you all." ~Debby Craig

"It has been so exciting to see the Olive Branch grow! I love how more and more women have stepped up to answer God's call to share through their writing. I'm honored to have been a part of it's launching four years ago, and I'm blessed to see it has flourished under new management. God's hand is on the Olive Branch." ~Kathy Lay

"The Olive Branch serves as a God-inspired ministry, directed at women from women whose hearts are focused on the Lord. Everything written is evidence to this." ~Charity Pence

"The Olive Branch provides encouragement, guidance, and a lot of wake-up calls to me once a week, and it always seems to be just what I needed. Thanks to everyone who has been so willing to serve." ~Brenda Pickering

"Olive Branch is a place where I can both give encouragement to and receive encouragement from my sisters in Christ. When I go to the Olive Branch blog I know I will find others that are facing the same struggles that I am. I will also find sisters that are encountering victories over the enemy and sharing with me how to do the same." ~Mollie Thompson

"Watching this blog grow has been exciting! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for the next year!" ~Bethany Lashbrook




Psalm 30:4, "Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name." (NIV)


















Saturday, August 27, 2011

Garden Growth

by Bethany Lashbrook


This week’s verse: Genesis 2:9, "The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (NIV)

Devotion:
Clint and I have not been very successful with gardens at our home. Three years now, we have planted various flowers, plants, and gardens. All have had portions that have failed. I tend them, water them, weed them, nurture them, and love them. I rarely miss a day without taking care of them.

I love watching flowers grow. I love knowing that I have planted something and I can help it grow!

But, on the flip-side, it’s very discouraging to watch something fail. I often comment that it costs more to water these plants than it did to buy them.

I was mentioning to our neighbor the other day about how hard it is to keep anything alive on our property and she reminded me that our homes were built over a landfill (yep - back in the day). We have found whole bricks buried in our yard while planting. Rocks of all sizes are in our hard clay-like soil. This is discouraging, yet, I don’t give up.

Now, apply this to represent God and me (of course!). God is the nurturer, the lover, the gardener, and I am the garden. Sometimes I grow. Sometimes I flourish. Sometimes I am beautiful.

And then sometimes I fail. My heart is as hard as a brick. My mind becomes hard as stone. I fail to receive any of the nutrients the Lord is trying to feed me. Sometimes I am ugly. And, yet, He doesn’t give up.

I’m so glad that we have a Lord that continuously, relentlessly, knowingly, and forgivingly loves us. To him, we are always beautiful - even at our most ugly moments.

Dear Father, thank you for our chance at life. We know you have magnificently made us in your image. We anticipate the day we get to meet you and see what a perfect man is like. Thank you for your forgiveness when we just can’t get it straight. Thank you for your unending love when our hearts are ugly and filled with grit. Thank you, Father, for you Son Jesus. And it’s in his name that we pray, Amen.

Application: Pray this week that your heart is opened to what God is calling you to do, to say, or to act on. Be still and listen. And then take action. Be prepared for what He has sent your way. Know, ladies, that he would never call us to do anything that we couldn’t handle!

Power Verses:
Ezekiel 17:22-24, “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.'" (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 3:11, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." (NLT)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wait Upon the Lord

by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: Proverbs 20:24, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (NIV)

Devotion:
A few months ago, I read a book called A Moment of Weakness by Karen Kingsbury. I mention this book because the message I took from it has stayed with me since I finished it. The message is this: God has a plan for His children, a plan He will bring about in His way and timing. When we try to accomplish God’s plan in our own way and in our own time, the consequences can be devastating. And in the end, God’s plan will still be completed. Now, I’m not sure this is the intended message of the author. However, I am sure it’s what God intended for me.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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) I love this verse, and it is repeated throughout the book. This verse instills hope in me. I find comfort in knowing God has a plan for my life which at times seems chaotic and out of control. However, I have to be patient. And patience is not something that comes easily to me. The Bible tells us, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:4 (KJV) Still, how often do we try to come up with our own plan anyway? Or how often do we fail to wait? When God reveals His plan for us, and we try to speed things up or cut corners, we may end up doing more damage than good. When I consider my life, I wonder how much pain I could have avoided had I sought God’s direction and what circumstances could have been prevented if I had waited for God to move instead of doing things my way.

God’s plan is much better than any plan we could devise. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (NIV) I have to remember God really does have my best interest at heart.

Dear Heavenly Father, I know your plans are better than mine. Help me to sit still when I need to sit still and move when I need to move. Direct my steps, Lord, and show me your way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Application: Sometimes we find comfort in having our own plan; we trust in it instead of trusting in God. And sometimes, when we know and accept God’s plan, we get in such a hurry to accomplish it that we start running before we’ve been given directions. If you’re struggling in this area this week, take time to seek God. Let him show you the way.

Power Verses:
Psalm 127:1-2, “If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap.” (MSG)
Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (KJV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Infinite Word, Personal Savior

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: John 1:1-4, “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.” (NLT)

Make no mistake—there is no greater authority than Jesus Christ, the Word, who existed with God before He created a single thing. When the apostle John established this “bigger than we can imagine” aspect of our Lord at the beginning of his gospel, he was leading up to the ultimate irony: that so many who were eagerly awaiting their Savior did not accept him when he came. The Word made flesh was even rejected by many of His own people.

On a much smaller scale, that’s like saying, “Tom, I’ll pass on the Mercedes so that I can see what’s behind door number two.” And behind door number two is a toaster.

It’s like brushing off a child’s sweet curiosity with an abrupt “Um hmm” because you’re busy checking email.

It’s like missing the majestic splendor of a vivid winter sunset because the guy in the car in front of yours isn’t driving fast enough.

It’s about the sting of missed opportunity, missed blessing. We don’t want to miss a thing, do we? There’s never been anyone like Jesus and there never will be again. God sent His Son to earth once for all time and for every sin.

All you have to do is accept Him. Accept Him as your Savior, yes. But far beyond that, accept Him into every minute of your life—submitting each one to His awesome, eternal authority—as His true child.

Lord, I confess that I often overlook your infinite awe-inspiring “big-ness”—maybe in part because it’s difficult for me to fully grasp. Instill in us a deeper sense of wonder as we discover new aspects of your divine nature in our daily, sometimes ho-hum lives. We don’t want to miss a single opportunity that you have for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application: Read John 1:1-14 and try to wrap your mind around the infinite depth and wonder of The Word made flesh. He’s so much more than we often allow Him to be. Is there anything He doesn’t see? Is there anything that He can’t handle?

Power Verses:
John 1: 14
, “So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” (NLT)
Mark 6:4-5, “Jesus told them, ‘A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.’ Jesus wasn't able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that's all. He couldn't get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.” (MSG)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lesson Learned

by Bethany Lashbrook


This week's Verse: Exodus 32:16, "
These tablets were God’s work; the words on them were written by God himself." (NLT)

Devotion: For those of you who watch this blog for posts, you will notice that I was late this week! For the life of me, I couldn't get it right. I had a post that I worked on several days and I just couldn't make it happen. It didn't flow. I wasn't feeling God's word.

And so, I put it off. Until today. Going into church this morning, I thought that the Lord would inspire me and I would write about an experience I had at church this morning. I was searching for a devotion to post.

In Sunday school class, we learned that reading and praying daily helps us keep spiritually intact with the Lord. We learned that spiritual fitness is like physical fitness. It is something we have to keep up at and work hard for to obtain results!

In church, the message was also about reading the bible. It's a big difference in saying we will do something and then going out and actually doing it.

So, what was the big moment I was waiting for? I wouldn't call it big, but I would definitely call it a moment. I cried during our worship music - before and after the message. Why? There really isn't a reason why. Sometimes it's just the simple things that the Lord needs to tell us.

Not everything has to be a story or some big "ah-ha" light-bulb moment. Sometimes Jesus just says - it's simple Bethany - just read what I have written.

And there you have it. I failed to issue this blog on Friday. However, I gained a knowledgable lesson from the Lord. Keep it simple. Don't look so hard at the easy stuff. And, don't stress the small stuff. The blogs can wait - but He can't!

Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me that you have authored the best book in the world. Help me to remember to pick it up daily, to read it, to study it, to memorize it, to share it with my children, to engrave it in my life! Thank you Jesus for your Word! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application: Turn to the word this week! Make it a game with your kids! Keep a New Testament Bible in your car for your wait at the drive-through! Set a calendar appointment on your phone to remind you! Challenge yourself this week in God's word!

Power Verses:
2 Timothy 3:14-17, "But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." (NLT)

Ephesians 6:10-17, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (NIV)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shine On

by Bethany Lashbrook

Today’s Verse: Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (NKJV)

Devotion:
Not very often do I feel useful when it comes to working for God’s kingdom. I don’t feel as if I am equipped with very much that could do much good. I know God’s word says that I am but I still doubt myself. Even though I know this is Satan picking up on these doubts of mine, I sometimes find it hard to overcome these thoughts.

Two weeks ago after our first night of VBS at FCC, I was closing up shop (i.e. the kitchen), when I went outside to dump some garbage in the trash. I had pulled up my car with the girls in it so as soon as I was done, I would be able to hop in the car and go home. My headlights were on, shining light so I could see our dumpster out back. As I was walking towards the dumpster, I noticed hundreds of thousands of glitter pieces from the night’s craft project. I even started to wonder if there were millions of glitter pieces. They covered the ground.

Walking back towards my car, I noticed something. My headlights were shining on all these glitter pieces and they were BRILLIANT! I stopped in my tracks to just admire all these pieces. How wonderful that one big light could shine so magnificently on all these little lights and make them shine so bright. One glitter piece by itself is really quite insignificant, but thousands (if not, millions) together, shining their little light, reflecting and refracting the larger light becomes quite remarkable!

So there’s my God-given answer to my wee little self feeling insignificant in God’s kingdom. I might not be equipped with what I want, or with what I think I should have – but I am equipped with something that shines on my neighbor, who shines on her neighbor, who shines on her neighbor…well – you get the point. And, with all of us being shined on by the Light of the Lord – we make one magnificent bright light for the world to see.

As I got back in my car, and turned around to make sure the girls were buckled up, I saw glitter on their faces.

Shine on, the Lord says. Shine on.

Father God, in the name of Jesus, please help me to realize you have equipped me with all I need. Help me shine on my neighbors. Help them shine on others. Help us to be seen from others who need some light in their life!

Application: Pray this week for God to show you how you are equipped to spread his Word. Find your niche, and run with it!

Power Verses:
2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (NLT)

Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (NIV)

Friday, July 22, 2011

God's Word is His Promise

By Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (NKJV)

Devotion:
A few years ago I wrote out some Bible verses and posted them around my home. The purpose was to keep myself surrounded by God’s word. Deuteronomy 11:18 says, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.” (KJV) God commands us to keep his word before us. However, over time, I became oblivious to the posts I had put up. They began to blend in with the surroundings so that I barely saw them.

Finally realizing this, I recently took them down and opened my Bible so I could write down verses that apply to my current circumstances. Then I stuck them in places where they would be hard to overlook and made a point each day to acknowledge them. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (NKJV) God’s word has exactly what we need when we need it.

A week later, I noticed an obvious change in my attitude. Coincidence? Not hardly. Being surrounded by God’s promises reminded me of all the good God has planned for me. My hope was renewed! “This hope we have as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, which enters the presence behind the veil.” Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)

I plan to move the verses around and update them as often as necessary. I want to continue to be surrounded by God’s word.

It is interesting that God’s word is always available to me. But I have to recognize it. I have to accept it, believe it and claim it! “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (KJV)

Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes I forget that the Bible is not just a book filled with your words but also your promise to me and all people. When I am reading your word, help me to see you are speaking directly to me. Please protect me from Satan’s attempts to steal your promise. Your word is true, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Applications: When is the last time you really allowed God’s word to soak into your heart? Take time this week to study God’s word. Find a verse that applies to whatever you may be going through and keep it before you at all times. It makes a difference!

Power Verses:
Hebrews 4:12
, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (NKJV)

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” (KJV)

John 8:31-32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” (NKJV)