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)

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)

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)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Conversation with God

by Karen Keim

“Lord, I am really hurting right now. I can’t quit crying. That person once again spoke to me and treated me in a manner that I don’t deserve.”

“I know how you feel, Karen. I didn’t deserve the treatment I received so long ago. And you know what else? Not that I want to hurt you more, but I don’t deserve the way YOU treat me sometimes either.”

“I know, Lord, and I’m sorry, but can we deal with that later? Right now can we just talk about me? I mean, how much more can I take? How much more SHOULD I take? I have a notion to just e-mail them and give them a piece of my mind!”

“You know, if you really consider yourself religious and don’t keep a tight rein on your tongue, you deceive yourself and your religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

“So I’m just supposed to sit back and continue to take this treatment at their will?!? Psshh!”

“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:29b)

“But who do they think they are?”

“I could ask you the same thing, Karen. Who do YOU think YOU are? You’re a sinner saved by my grace. You were once lost, too, you know.” (Ephesians 2:5)

“All right, all right. But, Lord, you know my friend and I have even been praying for them, even going so far as to literally hold in our hands things that belong to them and praying that they would soften their heart, that they would in some way come to accept You. Boy, that’s sure done a lot of good!”

“You don’t think so? Sounds to me like you’ve gotten the attention of satan! Sounds to me like he is on the prowl, like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Are you going to let him get you?” (I Peter 5:14)

“Great! So now what am I supposed to do? I can’t fight SATAN!”

“Resist him. Stand firm in your faith. Be self-controlled and alert.” (1 Peter 5:8)

“I can’t, Lord! Don’t you hear me crying? All I want is to give them a piece of my mind!”

“Don’t you trust me? Don’t you think I can handle this one for you? Don’t take revenge. If there is revenge to be taken, I will take care of it.” (Romans 12:19)

“Well, okay. But I’m just not going to talk to them! If they’re going to treat me like that, I’ll just treat them the same way!”

“Would that really make you feel any better? How about just forgetting about it and turning the other cheek?” (Matthew 5:39)

“Oh, for goodness sakes! I suppose the next thing you’re going to tell me is I should overcome their evil by doing good to them, so it’s kind of like heaping burning coals on their head!” (Romans 12:21)

“You got it! I love you, Karen! Isn’t that enough?”

~This is a rerun of a post in July 2009

Friday, July 8, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

By Bethany Lashbrook

Today’s Verse: Psalm 18:30, “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” (NLT)

Recently my family went to a theme park where we road roller coasters and went to a water park all day long! On one roller coaster, I was riding with our youngest daughter, who is just six. From the time the roller coaster started to move until the time it finished, I believe I screamed.

As soon as we came to a halt, I said, “I screamed the whole time!” Then, Gabi, sitting next to me said, “I didn’t scream at all!”

I think in life, it doesn’t matter if you are a screamer or a non-screamer; what matters is if you get on the roller coaster or not!

Life isn’t all about peaceful walks without interruption, one-way streets without traffic, and life lessons learned without pain.

Life is more like a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, turns we aren’t expecting, terrifying moments that make our heads spin, yet thrills we just can’t humanly explain.

I’ll take the roller coaster ride any day – because I know every day is a day God is by my side helping me through the ups and downs and ins and outs!

Dear Lord, thank you for the simple pleasures in life like roller coasters. Help me to hold on tight to you when life becomes a swirly, twirly, exhilarating walk. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Application: This week, think of how God is displayed in all areas of our lives, and then tell others about it!

Power Verses:
Genesis 2:7, "Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person." (NLT)

Exodus 3:12, God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” (NLT)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Growth - One Day at a Time

By Bethany Lashbrook

Today’s Verse: Proverbs 13:1, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

Devotion: Last week I took my oldest daughter to her first camp. Yeah, she’s been to church camps before with family, friends, and church family, but this was the first camp she has attended solo. We took her to camp, signed her in with complete strangers in a different town, and kissed her goodbye. And that was that for four whole days.

In the instant I kissed her, I saw her being born nine years earlier. Then, I saw her graduating nine years later. Sometimes sad tears can be happy tears too! Is that how the Lord sees us as we start a new adventure? Does he see us the day we were born? Does he envision us later in life after we have ventured out on our own for a bit? I would like to think that a tear of happiness comes to his face as he says, “well done my child”.

What is it about growing up that can be so exhilarating, yet still so scary at the same time? Growing pains are needed while growing in age: learning boundaries, testing curfews, increasing independence from parents, starting families, listening to wiser more experienced elders.

Yet, growing in Christ is just as hard: daily disciplines, holding of the tongue, following God’s lead, trusting God’s plan, learning to love everyone around us, serving others, thinking of others first. It is all part of growing up.

Paul reminds us in the book of Romans that we “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (5:3-5, NIV)

With the Holy Spirit, we can all continue to grow. It doesn’t matter if we are the nine year old going to camp, the mother dropping the nine year old off at camp, or the six year old going home as an only sibling for four days. We are all equipped to learn God’s teachings, follow God’s lead, and listen for his message in every event in our lives.

Dear Lord, thank you for helping me grow this week during this “first” in my life. I trust you to watch over her because it was you who made her. Thank you for continuing to teach and guide me in all things in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application: Join me this week in praying every day for the Holy Spirit to guide our children in all things in life. If you don’t have any children, pray for your nieces, nephews or friends children. One week of prayer can equal one life changed forever!

Power Verses:

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 11: 8-9, “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.” (NIV)