Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sin's Destruction

by Charity Pence

Proverbs 5:21-23 states, "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly, he shall go astray." (NKJ)

This passage has long been a favorite of mine, though I'd had to read it a few times before it really took hold. The meaning is clear. Sin leads us away from God. God loves us unconditionally; His love never fails. But that doesn't mean He is pleased when we allow sin to control our lives. When I've allowed sin to hinder my walk with God, I imagine God shaking His head and asking with a heavy heart, "What are you doing?"

We know better, don't we? Yet we partake in sin anyway. We tell a little fib. Take part in gossip. Pass judgment on another. Doesn't that make you just cringe? It's so easy for us to get it wrong, which is why instruction is so important. And where does our instruction come from? The Bible. As Christians, we should make reading the Bible a priority. Reading God's word helps us to draw near to our Lord. And the closer we become to our Heavenly Father, the less enticed we are by sin's destructive ways. We may still stumble, but when we repent God will be right there to pick us up.

Dear Heavenly Father, I am far from perfect; I am a sinner. Thank You, Lord, for Your never ending grace. Thank You for remaining by my side even when I choose the wrong path. Please forgive me for the sins I've committed, and help me draw near to You so that I can follow You and not the world. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Church

by Charity Pence

Let's start this week's post by picturing the church. What do you see? A large brick building with glass doors? A small country church with a steeple and a bell?

Once you have a picture set in your mind, consider the following:

"You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)

Do those verses match the picture in your mind? Probably not. That's because we are the church. Read the following again: "In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temply in the Lord." I believe that verse means that when we, God's people, join together, we become God's temple. And in becoming God's temple, we become a haven that leads others to Christ. In the temple we help build, people find hope, grace, mercy, and a love like no other. How do we become the church? By recognizing our part. By showing God's love through our actions and words, and by offering forgiveness to those who have hurt us because God has forgiven us.

There's nothing wrong with the church building itself. But without us, God's children, and without His presence, it is nothing except an empty, useless building.

Dear Heavenly Father, You have called us to be so much more than what we realize. We are Your church. And by creating us to be Your church, others can come to know you not just on Sundays but every day of the week. Halelujah!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Something Different

by Charity Pence

Due to my schedule, I've had a difficult time keeping up with this blog. That being said, I'd like to "change it up" a bit. Rather than keeping to the traditional format, I will be varying the posts. Though I will occasionally share a regular devotion, on any given week a post may focus on one of the following:

one verse
a group of verses
a person from the Bible
a group of people from the Bible
an issue currently affecting the church
a prayer...
or anything else I or anyone else feels led to share.

The Olive Branch has been God's tool since this blog was created, and I do not want to interfere with that. This blog has been a spiritual building block for me and everyone else who has taken part in it. So let's continue the work. If you have anything to share, please let me know by commenting or sending an email to I will also welcome any feedback.

I'd like to end this post with this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please use me and this blog as Your outlet so that Your light shines to the world. Let it be You that people see, and let it be You that people turn to. Please help me to be open to your leading, Lord. Thank You for trusting me in this endeavor. Sometimes it seems like such a small attempt to reach others for You, but if one person comes to know You, Lord, then it's more than enough. In Jesus' name, Amen.