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."

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)

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).

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.