Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today is the Day


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
 
A popular praise song by Lincoln Brewster is called "Today Is the Day."   Here are some of the lyrics:  "I’m casting my cares aside, I’m leaving my past behind, I’m setting my heart and mind on You Jesus.  I’m reaching my hand to Yours, Believing there’s so much more, Knowing that all You have in store for me is good.  Today is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it; And I won’t worry about tomorrow, I’m trusting in what You say. Today is the day."

The song particularly struck home with me this time.  Especially the phrase, "I won't worry about tomorrow."  I have to admit that I worry a lot.  And usually it's about things that I have no control over anyway, so the worrying is a waste of time.  Like the weather.  Or it may be something I have at least some control over; like whether I have enough money to retire.  And sometimes it's something that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things; like what to wear to a special event.

I need to work on trusting in what God has to say and in setting my mind and heart on Jesus.  God has made the day and everything in it, and He watches over me at all times.  I struggle with wanting control over everything, when it would be better to remember that God is in control.  All he has in store for me is good.  As the scripture states, tomorrow will worry about itself. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, As we approach a new year, we realize every day could present problems, but it doesn't help to worry.  The Lord has made each day, and we need to rejoice and be glad in it.  God is in control and will handle our worries if we simply turn them over to him.  Please forgive us for thinking we can handle everything ourselves and for wasting time worrying about the future. Help us to cast our cares aside and reach our hand to yours.  Amen.

Robin Hadfield
robinhad@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Greatest Gift

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:8-15

 
Just think, way back in the Old Testament, we are told in Isaiah that God was going to send his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved.  What a wonderful gift God has sent us.  How can anyone doubt that God loves and cares for us.  We are his children, and he knows our thoughts and our fears. 


The shepherds were astounded and fearful.  But they immediately decided to go and see this thing which had come to pass.  And, the Bible tells us the shepherds returned and told everyone they met about the wondrous thing they had seen.
                                              

Prayer: Dear God, thank you so much for the wonderful gift of your son, Jesus Christ, who was born in the humblest of places, grew up to be crowned the King of the Jews, was crucified, but rose again.  Help us to re-dedicate ourselves this Christmas to do your will and show our dedication to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  

 
Gerry Draney
Reprinted from December 24, 2012

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brother


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. John 3:16

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

After attending church with my grand niece and nephew, we were to join a few other friends to head to a Christmas Boutique to do a little shopping.  My grandnephew was to go to Sunday school and his Daddy would pick him up after Sunday school.  My grandniece who is to be 3 this December was going with us. As soon as we got in the car, she said what about brother?  We explained that he was attending Sunday school and as soon as it was done, Daddy would pick him up. She again asked what about brother?  We told her we would call and check with Daddy to make sure he got brother. We traveled a little farther; when the time came we called Daddy and made sure brother was picked up.   Giving her the update you could see the relief in her face, but the final relief and comfort came when we got her home and she could visually see brother was home already playing building a tent in the living room. 

What if we could have that same care of others? And pray that they too will be there at home with Jesus when we get there. The concern of watching over, guiding, checking to make sure that they too get home safely. The season of giving is an important time to give the best gift of all –love. We need to lend a hand to those who need someone to help hang a picture, address their Christmas cards, clean up leaves in their yard, go shopping for them, or simply spending time with them. The best lessons are taught by example. 

Prayer: Dear God, Please let us be the best examples of your love.  Help us to reach out to others not just during this time of year but throughout the year.  Help us to remember to look out and help our fellowman.  Guide us to find the true meaning of Christmas and to share the wonderful story with others; those far and near to us.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Lori Hood

Friday, December 8, 2017

For Unto Us a Child is Born


For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

 
On November 19 Voices of Omaha performed Handel’s Messiah at the Holland Center.  This was the 49th annual performance on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Six of us high school classmates traveled to Omaha to watch another classmate and his daughter sing in the choir.  The Halleluiah chorus was magnificent but so were the other songs as well.  My favorite thing to do at musical performances is to close my eyes so I can really listen to the words and sounds. You can just feel the music.  It is such a joy and moves me so that I take a sharp breath in! 

 
I particularly liked the song “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and its descriptions of Jesus from Isaiah.  Those descriptions of Jesus reminded me of the memorable and uplifting video during an Eastridge sermon many years ago where we watched the video of Dr. S. M. Lockridge “That’s My King”.  Dr. Lockridge was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego.  This portion is the last six minutes of a sermon in 1976.  It is well worth the six minutes to watch it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE

 
During this Advent season may the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace be known to you in a personal way.
 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come now and reign in me, Be Lord of my life this hour.
Come be my Counselor and my God, My source of wisdom and power.
Watch o'er me with your Father care, My heart and my mind, fill with peace.
I worship you, my Lord and King, My praise will never cease.  

AMEN.  (Lyrics from Handel’s Messiah “For Unto Us A Child is Born”)

 
Cathy Schapmann

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Joy

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.  Matthew 2:10
                                  

When Advent- the waiting days before Christmas- is approaching, I think of the little word, joy.  It is the joy of Jesus’ birth in the stable and the joy of what Jesus brought to each of us. 

God sent Jesus to be born in the manger to save each of us.  We  can have joy every day when we remember that God gave us a loving Savior who takes our sins away.  We have to make room for that joy in our hearts.  Advent is a time to remember and renew in us, the joy of Jesus. 

Joy came to the barn when Jesus was born

Joy came when they saw the star

Joy came to Bethlehem

Joy came to the world

Joy is here for each of us
Prayer: Dear God, During this Advent time, help us find the joy that Jesus brought to each of us.  Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus so we can have joy. Amen

Susan Taylor, reprinted from our Advent Devotional of 2011

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Avid Reader


Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

I have always said I am not an avid reader; but maybe that is not totally the whole story. I do love to read news articles, history books, autobiographies and of course Facebook. (If you can consider that reading). As a young child I was privileged to have many books in the house to read. It was important to my Mom that we had books available to read. She was an avid reader of all kinds of books, love novels, fiction, non-fictional, medical, magazines ...you name it she read it. I remember as a child having the wonderful “picture” books with Cinderella, baby ducks and cuddly kittens to look at more than the words themselves. Probably the first book I remember reading by myself was “The Adventures of Mrs. Quack” and I read it several times. I think besides the enjoyment of the story it was the pride that I completed it by myself.  

As a teenager I worked for a wonderful friend and mentor in her home helping her clean house, cook and watch over her elderly mother. She was an avid reader of the Bible. I remember admiring her for your loyalty and dedication to her faith. She set aside two hours every morning at her desk. This was her planning time. She reviewed her schedule, wrote notes and communication, read her bible then prayed for most of the second hour on asking His guidance and protection on her daily activities, for those she felt needed a prayer, and any other concerns she may have had. She then proceeded on her daily activities. I know she prayed many other times during the day, but her morning routine inspired me to set aside some of my time during the day to read and spend time with my Lord. 

I am grateful to have had her and my parents to inspire me to read the bible and spend time with the Lord. One of my inspirations is to someday to have completely read the whole Bible. I would love to say I have done it, but I find myself many times returning to the same portions or stories that I have enjoyed or find inspirational to me for whatever life event I am facing. 

Dear Lord: Help me to be an avid reader of the Word. Inspire me to continue to find the comfort and guidance I need from the words of so long ago. Inspire me to achieve my goal and continue to read for the answers of yesterday and todays crisis. Help me inspire someone else to find the same excitement I find as I reread the stories of our past. Thank you for your guidance and protection and continue to help me find your path to becoming an avid reader. AMEN

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Lori Hood

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Commitment to Christ


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” Matthew 22:37-38

I have experienced hardships with this commandment. Even though it seems simple and maybe even obvious, there have been times in my life when I have wondered far from the love of Christ. It seems at times too easy to forget our main purpose as children of God. When all of the bustle and noise in our daily lives overtakes us and pushes us further away from focusing on Christ, it is important to make an extra effort to take the time for quiet moments with God, for fellowship, and for worshiping Him. This is a relationship. We have to work at it like any other relationship in our lives. Taking time to make ourselves available to God is of the utmost importance, just as it is with our friends, family and spouses.


Prayer: Father God, Today help me to remember to make time and space for you in my life. Let my days be focused on serving you and bringing the message of Christ to others so they may know the feeling of Your pure and unconditional love. Help me to bring You joy through my acts as a Christian and through my commitment to our relationship. In Christ’s name, Amen.



Brandi Phillips

Monday, December 4, 2017

I can't believe she wore that!


"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

Judgement is a very powerful sin; it allows us to believe that we are better than someone, and that our sin isn't as significant as the one we are judging. Have you ever looked at someone and immediately judged them? I have! I've thought to myself I can't believe she wore that dress, I would never forgive my husband if he did that, or the best is: my children would NEVER do that! How about when you hear gossip (true or not) about an individual and condemn them out loud. Then everyone joins in and it becomes a witch hunt! How dare we as Christians judge someone else when we have so much sin of our own to worry about. I am just as guilty as everyone else!

Forgiveness is the ultimate gift from God. Think of how many times he's forgiven you. Mine are too many to count! Judgement and Condemnation go directly against the teachings of Christ. Life is often unfair, we could probably all be offended daily if we allow ourselves. Instead of being resentful, let's rejoice and be thankful. God always rights every wrong in his own time. 

Have a blessed day!

Becky Rankin

Friday, December 1, 2017

Serenity and Acceptance


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal,

A time to tear down and a time to build, A time to weep and to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to laugh, A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, A time to embrace and a time to refrain, A time to search and a time to give up, A time to keep and a time to throw away, A time to tear and a time to mend, A time to be silent and a time to speak, A time to love and a time to hate, A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
 

These verses written hundreds of years ago by a God-inspired prophet, have always resonated with me, but even more so as I age; maybe because I think they reference the same type of Wisdom that the author speaks of in the later verses of Ecclesiastes. Under heaven refers to human life. And, our lives are not lives that remain the same, that are always serene or even content; even though we tend to think it should be that way. There is always going to be change, adjustments, sad times, jovial times, smoother times, and more difficult times, times to ride the tide and times to readjust and change direction, times where we feel clueless as to direction.


In my life, the best outcomes in any of these changing seasons happens when I can remain calm, reflective, accepting. I can only do that if I actively rely on God, actively be in a state of Faith and Trust in God. I need to be mindful that he is Always there for me, and that he is All loving, All good and merciful, and in charge. There is such strength in that belief and knowledge for me. I can handle all seasons, with God's guidance and love. I do not have to fear any of these Seasons, they are all part of Life.
 

Prayer: Dear Father God, thank you for your never failing Love, your plan for my life, and the guidance of Scripture. Help me to use you as my ultimate guide through all Seasons of my Life.

Connie Barry

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Walk with Thee


Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” Psalm 86:11a 


The traditional gospel song, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is one of my favorite hymns.  When I researched its origin, I was surprised to learn that the author of the words is unknown and the music is anonymous.  Circumstantial evidence suggests it dates back to southern African-American churches of the 19th century.  It became better known nationally in the 1930s when African-American churches held huge musical conventions. 

 

Recordings of  “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” began in the early 1940s.  Well-known artists who recorded it include Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Randy Travis.
 

In 1997 when I was selected as Nebraska Mother of the Year, I planned an ecumenical worship service.  Music shared included our two daughters and spouses singing as a quartet, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”  They began singing the first verse, in a slow tempo:
 

“I am weak, but Thou art strong;

Jesus, keep me from all wrong;

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.”
 

As the refrain began, the tempo accelerated:
 

“Just a closer walk with Thee,

Grant it, Jesus is my plea,

Daily walking close to Thee,

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.”

 
An African-American chorus, scheduled later as part of the service, joined in. What a memorable moment! The blending of joyous voices reminded us that we can all walk together close to Thee.

 
Prayer: O Lord, teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Amen.
 
Lois Poppe


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thankfulness


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessolonians 5:16-18 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 

In this holiday season, we ought to adopt the attitude of thankfulness not just on one day, but every day. In his book “Life’s Greatest Lessons,” Hal Urban has an exercise that I am going to do and I hope you will too. Take a sheet of paper and title it “I am thankful for…”. Draw two vertical lines so there are three columns. The column headings are “Material Things,” “People”, and “Other”.  “Other” can be freedom, Jesus, faith, health, etc.  Fill in all of the lines on the paper as you think about this. Keep the list handy (or make a few copies) and read over it four times a day. In his over 30 years of teaching, Mr. Urban says this is one of the best assignments he has ever given. Join me in this exercise and let’s see what happens!

Prayer: Dear Father, we should be overflowing with thankfulness for all you have given us but sadly we often complain or take for granted what we already have. We ask that our thankful hearts be a light for others to see the contentment and hope we have in you. Amen.

Cathy Schapmann

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Helping Little Ebert of Bolivia


Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them.  To help the poor is to honor God. Proverbs 14:31

Two years ago at the Northminster  Presbyterian Church in Tucson I heard about helping children in need in poor countries.  I heard about Compassion International which is a Christ Centered, Child Focused, Church Based and Committed to Integrity organization founded by a Rev. Swanson.  It is headquartered in Colorado Springs.  It started with 34 orphans in South Korea and today it has grown to serve more than 2 million children in 26 countries.

Compassion is linked to local churches in areas where the need is great.  Compassion reaches out for sponsorships from people who are passionate about helping children learn about Jesus, learning to read and write, personal hygiene and healthy nutrition.

For a small fee each month you can sponsor a child to help him overcome poverty.  Phil and I have sponsored Ebert in Bolivia for two years now.  He is now seven years old and because he has a sponsor he can go to his church school, which also reaches out to his parents.

We exchange letters-some written by his bigger brother or his Mother but Ebert says thank you because soon he will be able to write with the help of his wonderful Christian teachers.  The teachers translate my letters to the language they understand.  We encourage Ebert to continue in school and learn about Jesus.  When we send Ebert a birthday or Christmas gift the money goes to the school who will help the mother buy something Ebert wants or needs.  Phil and I feel we are helping Ebert grow in Christian love.

Prayer: Thank you God for finding Ebert for us to love and help.  Keep him in yours arms so he can grow and become a Christian leader in community, teaching others of your love.  Amen

Eleanor Etzelmiller

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Won!

"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." Jeremiah 29:11
Everywhere you look there is a flashing sign POWERBALL Winnings 385 Million, Mega Millions Winnings 259 Million, Win $1000 a day by entering TODAY!  What would you do if you won BIG! You can’t know unless you enter; at least that is what the advertisements say.

The financial crisis on so many families is devastating these days, so many families struggle to put a good decent meal on the table, provide footwear for each child, medical care, and transportation to school or work. It’s a day or in some cases minute by minute survival mode.  

We each have our own financial issues and some of us have taken the jar down and counted the change to see if we can pay a bill to keep the lights on, or to just get by for that day. The financial advisors say to reduce your budget give up magazines, give up that daily drive thru coffee, give up that newspaper every Sunday, reduce the number of channels on your tv network, cut back on your travel, or skip a shopping trip to the mall. Many of us may have already done that and those items would be luxury if we could afford just one. 

We have won, through the power of prayer, through each struggle or decision of what to do next, the comfort of prayer and the faith in God that He will guide us in His plan. It may not be easy but He is with us each step of the way.

I felt my prayers were answered when I sat down with a good friend and we started discussing expenses and how it continues to go up. She said she was worried she wouldn’t get to retire at all. I told her my home repairs, taxes, insurance were concerning me too for my future. It started as a thought when she said what if we shared expenses. It didn’t seem a serious conversation or option at the time; but as days passed and we visited it became a reality. It took months of frustrating, time consuming, exhausting physical and spiritual preparation. There was the garage sale, house transfer, many trips to the city mission as both of us were downsizing and combining our life collections. But the final result has been a solution that both of us have grown to love. We each have our own private space, but find it nice to have someone to talk out the daily woes, and share the household and lawn chores. The extra advantage is our pets get along and it enriched their lives too. Again God had a plan...

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven please help us to hear your message, to envision your plan and open our hearts and minds to new adventures. Guide us to helping others less fortunate than us, even when it seems we have nothing left to give. 
Lori Hood

Friday, November 24, 2017

Do the Right Thing


“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12: 32-34

I love this verse. I especially love it as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. It reminds me to expand the spirit of giving. To worry less about what I have. To invest in things that will always be valuable to me. To take actions consistent with my desires. You could insert something cliché here – family, friends, faith… but it goes beyond that. It’s not about the right gift, or giving away all our things, but instead, reflecting the things we want in our kingdom. 

Doing the right thing for the right reason resonates strongly within me. When I am faced with an especially difficult decision I often need to take a step back. Is what I am doing the right thing, or the easy thing?  Am I lulling myself into the idea that the two are somehow tied together? That I will have a greater personal gain from the easy thing?

I feel like there are times we all pick the path of least resistance – even when we know better. It might be something simple – sending a text or e-mail instead of making a phone call or being face-to-face because the conversation is difficult or painful. It might be something bigger, eliminating a service because it doesn’t make money or it is too hard to staff, even if the people receiving the service need it desperately. Beyond these simple examples may be those that are harder still, forcing someone to do something they really don’t want to do, because the job has to be done. None of those are the right thing and none of them make us feel good. But all of them happen, and you can probably think of personal examples where you have chosen between right, and easy. It’s embarrassing sometimes. Disappointing others. Certainly not something that we would brag about. 

As humans there are decisions that sometimes have to be made in a moment, and we have to live with the consequences. We don’t always get a moment to step back and wonder, we just have to hope that we have done the right thing and that we are reflecting what is best for our kingdom.

Prayer: Gracious God, help me to more easily see between right and easy. Help me to remember those things I treasure and the lessons I have learned to point me in the direction of right. Give me strength in those moments where right is not easy and I fear I don’t have the stamina to press on. Be with me now and always.  Amen.   

Christi Moock

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Being of Service to Others


Serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 1 Peter 4: 10

As I listened to the Trustees talk about Stewardship Sunday and thought about my monetary donation to Eastridge Church for 2018, I also thought about the other ways I can support the church.  Many of us volunteer to participate in one of the many missions of the church, such as serving on the Session, Trustees or Deacons, helping with funerals, participating in Bible studies, volunteering at the Gathering Place, and the list goes on. 

I was reminded of something I read by the anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It made me know that all of us have gifts and talents that we can share to serve others in our church and community, and in doing so, have a great impact on the world, be it small or large. We all can be of service.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to take my place as a channel for service to others around me.  Let me give joyfully of my time and talents to insure that your love flows to all individuals I meet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Storing Treasures

 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21
 



Jesus teaches about the orientation we must endeavor to achieve, directing our hearts toward the things of heaven, rather than worldly possessions and desires.  He speaks of moths, rust and thieves as threats to the material goods we strive to attain.  Of course, Jesus is also addressing more broadly the many agents ready and waiting to erode the worldly wealth we are so inclined to try and possess. 
 

I am inclined to be a saver, or as we sometimes joke, an “archivist,” following in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents.  My more minimalist adult children often respond with a polite “no thank you” when I offer “treasures” that I see as important elements of the history of our family.  Their arguably more scriptural perspective prompts me to contemplate how I might direct my heart more faithfully in sharing the worldly possessions—from financial assets to antique china—with which I have been endowed.  This is especially true during the season of stewardship. 
 

The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it another way:  “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
 

Prayer: Heavenly Creator, thank you for the many ways you care for us as we navigate this physical world.  We ask for your direction in turning our hearts toward heaven.  Guide us in using and sharing the worldly possessions for which we are responsible in ways that bring glory to you and your light to those we encounter.  Amen
 

Barry and Alinda Stelk

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sorrow in America


"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:4

How many times in the last few months have you asked yourself "will this violence and pain for America ever stop?" When is the next tragedy and will it be in my hometown or to someone I love? Unfortunately emotional and spiritual pain is very prevalent in our society. During these times we see no hope in sight for our country and ourselves. But we are promised that our suffering will end, that all tears will be wiped away and there will be no more death. 

During these times of tragedy we can only rely on God and his word for strength. One thing that has always helped me is that I have Bible verses memorized and I will chant them over and over in my head when I am in desperate need of inner strength. His message is embedded within my heart when I have no other words. God is our hope, continue to pray! 

Have a courageous day!


Becky Rankin

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tongue


But no one can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8

Someone recently said the following in a conversation. The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.

Harsh words said by one human to another stirs up anger and hurt. It can cause a real rift.  The dictionary says that a rift is a breach in friendly relations between people or in the unity of a group.

Think back and remember a time when someone did not control their tongue when talking to you or you observed this happening.  Remember your hurt or watched someone being hurt.  Can you remember a time when you did not control your tongue in a situation and you hurt someone?  Think about controlling your tongue and the words that break a heart.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Help me remember not to use harsh words aimed at others- tame my tongue and not hurt others.  Amen

Susan Taylor

 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trust in Times of Turmoil


Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.  My eyes fail, looking for my God.  Psalm 69: 1-3
 

I have been thinking recently about challenges in life.  The times when we feel we are up to our neck – in the mire, or the deep water, or the floods.   As I read this verse I couldn’t help but think of a very dear friend who, after 20 years of sobriety, relapsed and has not been able to get control over her addiction for more than a year.  In a recent call, it was as though I could hear the flood of addiction taking over her life…. The mire sucking her down.  One moment she was begging for help, and in the next moment unwilling to take any help that was offered. 
 

How often do we get caught in the mire and don’t use our voice to call for help or our eyes to search for God?  Moments where we choose to remain miserable, times at work when we believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, times as a parent that we miss the joy of raising a child because we are struggling through the unrelenting responsibility of being a parent… there are so many times when we can feel overwhelmed and alone in this earthly life. 
 

These times in the mire are not constant, we all have good days, and bad days.  Sometimes the mire sucks at our ankles and we know we are free to escape but we choose not to.  Sometimes we even know people who love the mire and can’t get enough of the drama, or the problems. 
 

Knowing that I can lean on God is a tremendous relief, knowing that he has the strength to pull me from the mire gives me comfort. 
 

Prayer: Gracious God, I know you are always close by.  I know that you don’t want your children to suffer, please continue to be with those who have lost their voice or whose eyes have turned away.  Help them from the flood, do not let the undertow pull them down. 
 

Christi Moock

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!


A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21

 
November is my birthday month and so many happy memories fill my mind of birthdays past. My family is big on celebrating birthdays. My parents always made our special day a day of excitement, recognition and a joy knowing we had reached another year. It has always been a celebration that each of us is special in God's eyes. In my younger years it would mean a homemade cake of your favorite made by Mom. There was always a present but it seemed the best part was family together.  
 

I find it sad that so many don't celebrate their birthday or meet it with regret that they are another year older. It isn't about the gifts, the cards, or the cake; it is the time we get. Time to spend with family and friends. More time to extend the good news of Jesus Christ and continue to share the passing of peace.  
 

Yes I am getting older but because of this great gift I meet each birthday with the same spirit of joy, happiness, excitement of what my next year holds for my future.  It is a time to count my blessings. 

 
Prayer: Dear Father: Thank you for another year. Thank you for giving me more time to enjoy my family and friends and their life milestones.  Thank you for giving me more time to do your work here on earth.  Continue to guide me in my life's journey in the way of your plan and not mine.  Help others to see the glory in your gift of life and in the lives of others around us.  In Jesus name we pray Amen

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
 

Lori Hood

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Friendship


A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17 

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. (Anais Nin)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17  

One of the benefits of investing in long-term relationships is the ability to know someone more deeply and fully.  Humans can complement one another in so many wonderful ways, and experiencing these interactions is also a gateway to experiencing more closeness with God.  I love how the years of life I have been granted have blessed me with the crossed paths of so many different strangers who have become friends for eternity.  It is a wonderful richness to treasure.

I began to realize as a young adult that the face of God was present in the faces of so many in my earthly community.  The generous spirit shines very brightly when someone tries to reach into your life and share his or her strengths.  it feels so good to have something to offer to someone else, too, and to have so many gifts to share. 

A young woman I know recently told me how she looks to me for guidance on how to face life.  She said she had a difficult childhood, but survived and thrived by choosing to discard bad influences and cling to the examples of those who inspired her.  Every time she sees me she gives me a hug and thanks me for being there.  She helps me to be my best self.

My decades-old friendships have given me the chance to have many sisters and brothers, and people who could be nieces and nephews - and in my heart, a lot of aunties and uncles.  Families are wonderful, but families and friends can blend into a lovely mess.  I am delighted to see the lines blur between blood relations and heart relations. 

Recently, I have had the gift of time with a friend I met in junior high.  She was one of the people who eased me out of my academic rigor into a person who could relax and have fun with others, and she really pulled me out of a narrowness that was not healthy.  She encouraged my spirit of adventure and helped me to relax in the face of stressful situations.  She and I have had the chance to explore and laugh and talk about great ideas and just take time to look at the world at our feet.  She has just come out of a challenging set of experiences, and for the time being I am able to give her a little of what she needs to remember about herself that restores her to living fully. We open a new gift every time we see one another. 

Prayer: Lord of all friendships and all colors of love, thank you for the people whose hands you have placed in ours, who are your hands in our lives.  Let us always treasure them as you treasure us, and to be your gentle hands reminding them of the power of love that is you.  Amen
Mollie Manner

Monday, November 13, 2017

Helping Others

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'  
 
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
 
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40




The Eastridge Pantry has a new manager, Heather Douglas, who is doing well in a difficult, important job. As Matthew tells us here, God wants us to use our gifts to help others who are in need. There are people in Lincoln today that need our help. Heather is working hard, giving a lot of her time to help feed the hungry in Lincoln, but she needs help from all of us to make this happen. In particular, donations of food, household supplies, and toiletries would be much appreciated. So please send any loaves, fishes, and/or baskets of fragments you can spare.

Prayer: (From Peter Shaw, Editor Tear Times and Prayer Diary): Lord you are our Father. […] Help us, as part of your church, to be obedient to your call to look after people in need in your name. Give us your daily bread, and help us to share abundantly the plenty that we have been blessed with. Amen.
 
Gerry Draney

Friday, November 10, 2017

Praises to God


Sing to the Lord a new song, for HE has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

 
Consider the ways we can tell our Lord of the Praise we have for him. We can support our Church in many and various ways, as our Church gives us many opportunities to use our God-given talents. First and foremost, we can pray for our Church, our Pastors, our Deacons and Elders, our children and youth teachers, our session and session staffs, our Church staff, who give tirelessly of their time, our Stephen Ministers, and many more, who give daily of their time and talents.

We can also share our many gifts, one being our monetary blessings to support and further the needs of our church and community. By doing these things we can honor and praise our Lord, and thank Him for the many daily blessings.

How will you choose to Praise our Lord, this day?


PRAYER: Gracious Lord, thanks for the talents and gifts you have blessed us with, and help us to use these talents to Honor and Praise you as you continue to guide our lives and the lives of our church.

 
Shirley Flynn-Bell

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Acceptance

“So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” Romans 14:10-13

A lot of people I know have struggled with finding an accepting, non-judgmental church home. Some of those people have even lost faith in what they see as being “Christianity” due to this. This saddens me, not just for them, but for us as Christians whose job it is to live in the light of the Lord and to bring lost sheep to Him, not to push them away. I have found myself on more than one occasion trying to explain that not all churches are judgmental, and not all are condemning to people who might have different points of view or live their lives in a different way than the majority of their congregation does. Everyone deserves a chance to live in the wonderful perfect light that Christ shines on his children. When a Christian chooses to love God, and accept Christ as their personal savior and leader in all things, that person also accepts the responsibility, the privilege of loving all of God’s children.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, guide me today in showing others the light of God within me. Help me to accept others who are different from me. Help me not to judge Your children, because that’s Your job, not mine. Show me how to bring lost sheep to You, and help them see the beauty of Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Brandi Phillips

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Path


In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path. Proverbs 3:6 He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 Direct my footsteps according to your word. Psalm 119:133

 
My friend said after her mentor, Ann, died, “You can be my Ann now.”
 
My sister said to me,” I was asked in a class, ‘Who was the person who had always been there for me during my entire life?’  I thought about saying my mother; but decided you were the person I counted on the most. Mom was always working so hard on the farm and caring for four children. You, the older sister, was who I counted on being there when I needed someone as a child and this continued after I grew up.” I was honored by this statement yet concerned.
 

My friend, who has been away from Lincoln for some time, said to me after her dad’s funeral, “You are my foundation.”
 
I am afraid; how can I live up to their expectations Lord? The above scriptures speak to me. I can turn to him and he will direct my path. It may not be an audible voice but he will speak to me as he knows me as said in John 10:27, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Then I can go forward and say, “I being in the way, the LORD led me.”
 
Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, help me listen to you; help me follow your way as there are those who see me. Amen.

 
Sandra Hilsabeck