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)

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


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

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