The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Friday, June 29, 2018


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1

I have loved to take pictures from a very young age.  Years ago while I was in high school, I was on the yearbook committee. In my second year our sponsor asked if I would be interested in taking pictures for the yearbook. I loved taking pictures but had never used a professional camera. She gave me the school’s square box camera, I don’t remember the brand but it was not digital!  Every shot counted as there was no preview, no second chances, and film was expensive so there was not taking multiple shots. The film had to be loaded through spools and loaded correctly or you could ruin the film. Taking pictures was interesting, you looked down the top of the camera, no automatic focus, no automatic shutter speeds. To help me the school sent me to Hastings College for two weeks in the summer. There I learned how to take pictures, develop film and choose your shot. I spent the remainder of my high school years attending all the activities, sport events, plays, etc as there was only one photographer and one camera. All my pictures were in black and white. The picture had to tell a story without the beauty of yellow, green, blue...I love the contrast in black and white pictures, but it made me notice the brilliant array of colors. The distinctive shapes of each leaf, rock and creation. 

God's creation is so amazing, breathtaking and it is impossible to capture the complete picture as only God can do. I think that’s why I love taking pictures to share the view I see through God’s work.  

Prayer: Thank you Father for the breathtaking beauty on this earth. Only you can create such divine beauty. Thank you for the colors, shapes, aroma, and feel of all the earth and seas. Amen

Lori Hood

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Turn my Heart toward Your Statutes

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.

Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.

Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.

Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.

Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.

Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.

How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

                                       Psalm 119: 33-40

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Road Map to Happiness

“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.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26

Ever notice how many books have been written about Happiness?  Just in my Nook library I have two – The Happiness Project and Delivering Happiness.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story of the development of the online business Zappos in Delivering Happiness.  At the close of the book, the author, Tony Hsieh, writes “I learned that one of the consistent findings from the research was that people are very bad at predicting what will actually bring them sustained happiness.  Most people go through their lives thinking ‘When I get ___, I will be happy, or When I achieve ____, I will be happy.’…but the happiness they thought they would achieve fades fairly quickly.”  He then writes about three types of happiness – Pleasure, Passion, and Higher Purpose.  Research has shown that of the three types of happiness, the longest lasting is Higher Purpose.  He defines this as “…about being part of something bigger than yourself that has meaning to you” and says, “Many people go through life chasing after the pleasure type of happiness, thinking that once they are able to sustain that, then they will worry about the passion, and if they get around to it, look for their higher purpose.”

Jesus wrote this story a long time ago – “…whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Isn’t it wonderful that in Christianity, we have the opportunity, indeed the command, to build our lives on the foundation that ultimately leads to the longest lasting happiness?  This has been God’s hope and plan throughout the Bible.  This prosperity is not to be confused with pleasure in every moment, not even happiness in every moment, but the kind of happiness that lasts through time.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, You wrote the book so long ago and we, as humans, keep trying to improve upon it.  Thank you for providing not only the road map to happiness, through devotion to you, but the Holy Spirit to help me stick to the road.  Forgive me for the times I try to develop my own road to happiness and thank you for welcoming me back to Your road when I realize how futile mine is.  Most of all, thank you for the lasting happiness that comes from following You.  Amen

Lori Snyder-Sloan (reprinted with permission from her devotional book, Faithfully Devoted to God)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“Jesus said to them. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”” Mark 2:17-18

We have three rescue dogs, animals that were abandoned or left in a situation that was less than ideal; an agency took them in and made it their mission to find new homes for them. It’s become pretty common, so that saying “my dog is a rescue” is understood by many.

When someone unfamiliar sees one of our pets, I frequently mention that they were “rescues”. I am sometimes met with looks of pity or comments like: “oh, I could never do that. I’d want a new puppy.” The implication is that taking in a less-than-perfect dog has great risk. And taking in an animal that has already been through a few bumps in the road is a risk they wouldn’t want to take. There may be behavior issues that are difficult to control or change. They want their own little puppy to mold.

I think of humans, and all our flaws and shortcomings. None of us are perfect; each of us have difficulties and problems that we’d maybe like to overcome. Or, each of us has special characteristics that make us unique, some of which may not be appealing to others. And then there's sin. Regardless, not one person on earth is a perfect specimen of humanity. In spite of this, God loves us. He loves us through our shortcomings, He loves us in spite of them, and He loves us even when we don’t love Him. Like a rescued pet, we may have backgrounds that are rough. We may have behavioral issues. Like some pets, we may even reject the love others may attempt to show us.

In these parallels, I both dislike the impression that by getting a puppy instead of an older dog you won’t have to deal with imperfection, and I like the thought of God “rescuing” us, like we may rescue a pet, by offering love and acceptance.

There’s no need to be perfect, and God has already “rescued” us by sending His son as our Savior. Both are reasons to be grateful!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving me in spite of my shortcomings, in spite of my sins. Thank you for the grace and forgiveness you offer. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Photos of my “imperfect” rescued pets: Pippa, Louis, and Leo:

Monday, June 25, 2018


Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. Philemon 1:7 

When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:23-24

I'm not sure I realized when I wrote this devotion many years ago, that my mom was the encourager that had most influenced me and that I was most thankful for. I'd like to resubmit this devotion as a tribute to Donna Stalcup, the best encourager EVER!

I believe that behind many of God’s “success stories”, you’ll find one or more encouragers that God used to help that person get there. For example, Barnabas was a wonderful encourager and very influential in the days of early Christianity (as we see in the scripture from Acts). Through his relationships with both Paul and Mark, he was able to keep each of them going when they might have failed.

I think we sometimes underestimate just how important encouragers are. They don’t have to say much or even say it eloquently. We all know that even the smallest encouragement can make a big difference. It can lift you up right when you need it. Sometimes, though, you don’t realize the effect that these people have had until you look back later. Maybe they gave you a nudge in the right direction at a crucial turning point in your life, or maybe they provided you with constant support that gradually built you up. Through them, your faith grows and you gain a more positive outlook on life. It’s so wonderful how God uses these people to help us to become more than we thought we could ever be.

I am so thankful for the encouragers God put in my life--and I’m inspired by their example. They make me ask myself how I can be a better encourager.  Unfortunately, sometimes I hold back encouraging words for fear of sounding awkward, silly, or even pushy. And worse, with my family I’m sometimes guilty of following a compliment with “constructive criticism”, or even criticizing instead of complimenting. Ouch. If I’m trying to teach my children to say positive things to each other, I know I need to start by more often saying positive things to them.

I must be ready and willing for God to use me during any moment of the day as an encourager. Even if it’s not my strongest gift, God has the amazing ability to help me be a positive influence to someone who needs it. (And we all need it sometimes). I just need to pray at the beginning of each day for God to give me the courage to say the kind of encouraging things He needs me to. I don’t need to worry how I will sound, because when I’m speaking on God’s behalf, the words will always come out just right!

Prayer: Dearest God of Grace, forgive us for the times we neglect to offer encouragement to others when they need it. Help us to not only notice, but also point out the positive we see in others. And thank you so much for the encouragement you send both to us and through us--for encouragers are invaluable to building up the Body of Christ. Amen.

Sharon Irvin (edited and reprinted from February 2005)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Psalm 145

A psalm of praise.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
 Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
    and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Faith Heals All

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Philippians 4:6

In the Lincoln Journal Star on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 there was an article about Mental Health: The Invisible Crisis. This was a troubling story about drug abuse, sexual abuse, paranoia, fear and a real roller-coaster ride for a young lady. She was able to have children but had them taken away from her and lost her parental rights. This is considered a crisis of our times.

The part which touched me was the heading under the photo of this beautiful lady with a horse at her grandmother’s place. It said, “with treatment and Christian faith, she was able to fight the issues brought on by mental illness and substance abuse.”

As I walk the Eastridge neighborhood praying for the people surrounding our church, I pray for people that might be hurting just as this young person. I pray for Eastridge to be there for them and that God may nudge them to come to us. I believe the Christian faith can take away our fear and we can turn over all to Him. This story is an example of a true story of what faith can do.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you we have Eastridge where we can meet with our church family and we can pray. Help us to keep our entire neighborhood in mind and so that all may hear the word of God and be healed. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”   They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:36-50

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What Am I Waiting For?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I can relate to the lyrics in the song, “In the Blink of an Eye”, by Mercy Me: “Sometimes I feel disappointed, by the way I spend my time. How can I further your kingdom, when I’m so wrapped up in mine?” The song also says: “If I give the very best of me, that becomes my legacy. So tell me, what am I waiting for?” Good question. I think I wait because I’m just too timid! I really want to give God my best, but I can’t if I refuse to leave the safety of my comfort zone.

I’ve learned from the first scripture that although God gave me a quiet nature, he didn’t make me timid. Timidity has to do with fear--fear of failure, pain, embarrassment and more. Unfortunately,  I’ve let fear hold me back far too often! Since “there is no fear in love”, I should focus intently on love.  I want to let my Savior’s amazing love wash over me. Not only that, but I want to show my immense love for Him by giving it generously to others. I need to fill my soul with much that I'm swimming in it. So much that the fear drowns in it! 

I've let timidity have too much power in my life. Just imagine what I could accomplish if I would fully rely on the “spirit of power, love, and self-discipline” God has given me! I could “give the very best of me”. No more waiting around. It’s time to take a leap of faith from my comfort zone--free from the grasp of timidity--and allow the power within me to do its work!

Prayer: Loving Savior, forgive us for letting our timidity keep us from giving you our best.  And thank you for boldly going to the cross so we may always have your amazing power, love and guidance within. Amen.

Sharon Irvin (revised June 2018 from Lent 2006)

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Tests in Our Lives

Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-5

Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they fall away. Luke 8:13

For many years I worked beside a colleague who, after frustrating conversations or interactions, would observe ruefully, “That ______... he/she is a test.”  Then we would chuckle, knowing that each of us had been at some point (or many points) a similarly disconcerting test to our students and coworkers. In fact, even after retiring, I’ve continued to be a test to others. A high-spirited 7th grader, with whom I worked this spring as a volunteer tutor, didn’t always appreciate my encouragement to attend to conventions for pronouncing consonants. Sighing, he announced, “Mrs. Stelk, you are running my battery down.” After a momentary pause, we both shared a laugh before getting back to the text. 

Tests have been part of the human experience since recorded history began.  I’m sure that, like the Israelites, 40 years of wandering in the desert eating manna and quail every day would have run any of our batteries down a bit.  Likewise, many current events feel as though they present a test of faith. I must admit, I don’t always (or even often) consider such tests pure joy.  Guess I still have some maturing to do….

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for providing strength to persevere when we face tests and trials. Help us to comprehend the joy that comes through cultivating true and deep roots of lasting faith in you. We ask for your forgiveness when we fall away in times of distress. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Barry and Alinda Stelk

Friday, June 15, 2018

Honoring Fathers

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 

In the same way, let your light see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 

For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26

We will soon be giving honor to our fathers as we celebrate Father’s Day. It is fortunate that we have a special calendar day to call attention and give thanks to our Dad. According to our Ten Commandments, we are expected to give honor and respect to our Dad at all times. This day recalls important memories when he provided support, protection, encouragement, knowledge, love and even punishment.

As the result of our Christian faith, we also have a Heavenly Father to give honor and thanks. In the Bible, we are repeatedly taught that we are the children of God. Gratefully, we have the assurance of a Heavenly Father, a Savior, who loves us and can provide the safety, comfort, or assurance we might need at any moment in our daily lives. By turning to our Heavenly Father and involving Him into our lives and hearts, He too can and will provide fatherly comfort and assurance that we need. Believe and rest assured in Him. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may we be comforted and thankful by the knowledge that you are always there for us if we will just turn to you and ask.  As your children, we give You honor for providing fatherly care and concern.  We give You thanks for being there for us.  Amen

Lauren L Holcombe

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Mystery and Message of the Moss Rose

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40: 28-31 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13  

My mom was a talented florist and gardener. I spent many an hour watching her “green thumb” work its “magic” in our family’s flower shop and her gardens at home. As I was growing up, I learned to appreciate and love flowers by watching her plant, and tenderly care for, a large variety of colorful annuals and perennials she nurtured each cool spring and hot summer. I, too, love to plant flowers each spring but I find I’m not as nurturing as my mom, especially as the summer grows hotter and hotter. So, I look for annuals and perennials that don’t require much attention and can thrive through our hot, and sometimes, very dry Nebraska summers.  One of my favorite annuals to plant, with these qualities, is moss rose.

Last May, I found some beautiful moss rose and planted them in the sunniest parts of our front yard. As usual, and in the extreme heat and drought of the summer, they flourished.  Not only did these plants flourish, several seeds mysteriously found their way to a crack in the hot cement of our driveway. Even in this inhospitable hot and arid place of the cement, they kept growing and growing and reaching their bright and beautiful heads to the summer sun. To me, they took on a quality of defiance, that against all odds, they were going to survive. As I watched these plants continue to grow until the first frost, I suddenly was struck by the message God was sharing with me through them. Their tenacity told me that, even in the hardest and driest times of my life, if I keep my focus on the Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior, and on God, the source of all my strength, I can, and will, continue to thrive and flourish, as well.

The following summer, in that same crack in our driveway, two moss rose plants once again thrived and flourished in the hot, summer sun even though no new plants were added to our yard that previous spring. The mystery and message of the moss rose continued.

Prayer: My Savior and my God, the source of all my strength, I praise and thank you for the messages you send to me each and every day in a variety of ways. May my eyes, ears, mind, heart and soul continually be watchful of, and open to, the mysteries, messages and revelations of Your Word in my life.  Amen

Patty Niemann (reprinted from June 2013)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Love Your Neighbor

When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19: 33-34  

Immigration laws are a hot political topic. Should citizens of other countries who enter the United States illegally be entitled to public benefits such as health care and food stamps? Should there be a path to citizenship for undocumented workers? Should certain immigrant students be allowed to have driver’s licenses, and should they be charged in-state college tuition rates? What should be done about the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving from Central American countries? 

As Christians, in struggling to answer these complicated questions, we must certainly consider God’s law as it was imparted to the Jewish people through Moses long ago.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of living in a safe and secure environment with access to food and shelter and health care. We know that we have brothers and sisters for whom these basic needs are not easily met. We ask that You guide us in making fair and just decisions that will improve the quality of their lives and bring Your Kingdom nearer for all of us.  Amen.

Judith Keller  (reprinted from September 2014)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6

Within the last couple of weeks I fell down the last three steps in my house; I remember laying at the bottom of the steps trying to figure out what happened. My foot and ankle swelled up. I would later find out that I had broken my foot in two different locations and also broke my ankle. The good news is the doctor said the bones were still in a good location and that if the ankle bone break stayed in place it would be best to let heal as is but that means, as the doctor has repeated several times, it is critical not to put any weight on it at all. We would need to X-ray as it heals and if the bone moves then I would have to have surgery. Now after a little more than two weeks in and another three weeks before next X-ray, I find myself frustrated as I am not able to complete tasks that I would normally do. I am frustrated waiting for help in doing things and trying to accept that things aren’t being done the way I want or would complete or in the time frame I want.  

I find myself struggling, using crutches and the scooter, which the health representative said, "the kids love the scooter." Now I am frustrated that I am apparently either too old or not coordinated to use. 

How many times does something interrupt our plans and we find ourselves learning to deal with change?  

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for always being here for me. Grant me patience for those things that I can not change, help me to see the purpose in all things. Thank you for all the blessings you have provided and help me not to forget how blessed I am. Amen

Lori Hood

Monday, June 11, 2018

God at Work

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." Matthew 12:46-50

At a recent meeting we were asked to identify an instance when we had seen God at work at Eastridge. I sat thinking while people went around the table once, then twice. It wasn't that I couldn't think of a time. It was that I could think of so many times that it was hard to choose the one that really showed the essence of Eastridge.

Was it when the physical and verbal hugs of members of all ages have helped pull me and others through times of loss or sadness?
Was it when we rejoiced with the youth after a particularly moving Youth Sunday service?
Was it when we sang songs with VBS kids at Eastridge or Schuyler?
Was it when the light bulb went on for a child in Sunday school?
Would it be the hours and hours given by choir members and Sunday School teachers and Youth group sponsors and Pantry volunteers and others?
Would it be the times when people call you about the program they're working on, then inquire about helping with the mission trip you're setting up?
Would it be the people that loved and shepherded my children even when they weren't being very lovable?
Is it that the fact that you can mess up and be forgiven?
Or should I say the smiles of welcome and conversation from the constant stream of people going in and out of the doors on a weekday as they come in for their projects and programs and I work in the garden?

Now, a couple of days later, I realize that I really see God at work in the way Eastridge and other churches act like a family; everyone going their own way but moving in a common direction and caring for each other along the way; each doing the will of our Father in heaven.

Prayer: Dear Father of us all, thank you for the earthly families we've been given and for those in our church family that love us and work beside us as together we carry out your work in this world. In the name of your son Jesus, Amen

Lori Snyder-Sloan (reprinted with permission)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Pray Without Ceasing

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

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22  

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests by made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 

Sometimes we wonder if something is from scripture or a quote from somewhere else.  What about these three?  Which one of them is from scripture?

            “Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.”

            “Prayer: the heart of the matter.”

            “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.”

That should be easy unless you skipped over the I Thessalonians scripture at the beginning of the devotion.  Different translations state it as “pray constantly,” “never stop praying” and “pray at all times.”

The Matthew scripture assures us that when we pray with faith, we will receive.  How often we pray without really believing!

The Philippians scripture urges us not to worry about anything.  I am very good at worrying.  I keep a copy of this scripture by my computer and use it as a frequent prayer.

Prayer: God, you know that we worry about things you can handle.  We often forget to thank you for all the blessings we take for granted.  May your peace surround us.  Amen.

Lois Poppe

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven....  Luke 6:37

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  Colossians 2:8

The Facebook post from a rabbi friend startled me: a news story about a Dallas church whose promotional flier for a summer series on "Dangerous Isms" included Judaism. For a moment, I thought it might be an attention-getting tactic to remind us of the power of faith being dangerous to the power of evil. 

But the bald accusation was true. The events in the series were on Denominationalism, Pessimism, Islamism, Materialism, Atheism, Liberalism, Alcoholism, Emotionalism, and Judaism. The obvious intent was to consider each of these to be a negative threat to a Christian existence.  

Fliers were left on neighborhood doors, causing much anxiety for people who saw the message as a threat, not an invitation. The local media quoted a response from the church's minister: "We are not here to criticize or be antagonistic toward people and to beat them down". 

The response from a local Muslim leader was: "It just makes people scared and anxious about the world around them when people who normal are painted as dangerous", and suggested that there are more productive ways to discuss differences among religions. 

Community groups are trying to set up some communication between the church and other religions in an effort to raise awareness and defuse the negative impact this has had on the community.  

As Christians, we enjoy the ultimate privileges of our faith, and we take on the heavy responsibility of Christ's mission at the same time. We are to be like the Samaritan who ministered to another human regardless of faith.  

My rabbi friend's synagogue houses a space where local Muslims can worship safely. This illustrates to me the perfect way we invite people to be part of our faith community. Many churches have outreach programs to extend to all members of their communities, and to people throughout the world. This is evangelism in action.  

We are in a period of time when Christianity has been betrayed by so many who profess to be part of it. We should expect great things of ourselves through the grace of God, and we should fully exert the power of our faith in our lives to shine for everyone around us. But when we defend something from a narrow point of view as being part of our duty to Christ, we are working to extinguish the very faith that feeds us. 

I hope that positive things come from the response to the flier that alarmed people far beyond the community that first read it. Perhaps it will awaken a desire for more exchanges that will benefit the movement of people coming together to protect and support one another, instead of feeling hurt by the dangerous exclusionism of a misguided interpretation of faith.

This prayer is by Thomas Merton:

O God, we are one with you. You have made us one with you. You have taught us that if we are open to one another, you dwell in us. Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts. Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection. O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you, and we love you with our whole being, because our being is your being, our spirit is rooted in your spirit. Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world, and which makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen. 

Mollie Manner

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Good and Faithful Servant

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:23 NKJ (New King James version)     

The last several months we have struggled with my Mom's health, and last week she went to be with Jesus. As her daughter I thought of all the things she did for me and what I would miss about her the most. When we met with the pastor of the Broken Bow Berean Bible church he said what would you like me to preach about during the service? My sisters and I all said Salvation. 

My Mom lived in a town of about 4,000 people and everyone knew her; she was vibrant, outgoing, kind, and never knew a stranger. But what we want her to be remembered for is her love for Jesus and being a faithful servant. She became a Christian at a young age, but as she matured and especially when she retired we saw incredible changes in the way she served her community, church, and her family. She had always been involved but once she had time she made it her #1 priority. The verse says "you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things". 

Every day God is working in our lives to help us become the best disciple that we will allow Him to make us. We all need to volunteer a little more, help with VBS, work at the Food Pantry, the list could go on and on. God has created us to serve him, and by being servants we are able to touch others so they can see the Face of Jesus!

Becky Rankin

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why Go to Church?

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10: 23-25  

“If going to church makes you a Christian, does going to the garage make you a car?”  I recently saw this question on a vehicle’s bumper sticker and found it intriguing to consider what kind of person was asking this nonsensical question.  Is he a “nonbeliever” with animosity toward Christians for some reason?  Could he be a “believer” who attends worship services regularly but questions the sincerity of the others who occupy the pews around him?  Could he be a “believer” who thinks his personal relationship with Christ is adequate and attending church is unnecessary? 

No, going to church does not make me a Christian. It is my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior that makes me a Christian. But attending worship services at church on Sundays makes me a better Christian….and I don’t mean better than other Christians. I mean that it makes me a better follower of Christ than I would be without the encouragement and support of others in my congregation.

Prayer: Father God, You have provided an awesome plan for the spiritual nourishment of Your people through the church. Thank You for the privilege of coming near to You through church attendance and fellowship with others who believe in You and Your Son.

Judith Keller (reprinted from July 2011)

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Message of the Spider Web

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Hebrews 6:10-15

Earlier this summer, as I went out to water the flowers on our deck, I noticed four thin, silvery threads connecting the deck railing to several leaves on one of the plants ….. the beginnings of a spider web.  As the week progressed, the spider web grew a few threads each day until I noticed the spider finally taking its rest in the middle of the web. I sat one morning, looking at the web, and reflected on the patience and time the spider had painstakingly taken to complete its masterpiece. It seemed in no hurry to finish its task and when it had finally accomplished what it set out to do, it rested and, I imagined, enjoyed the fruits of its labor.

As I reflected on the spider’s patience, a smile formed on my face as I remembered a song I used to sing to our sons when they were much, much younger and would show their impatience and frustration to me at various times.

“Have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. 

When you are impatient, you only start to worry. 

Remember, remember, that God is patient, too.

And think about the times when others had to wait on you.”

Being patient takes a great deal of self-control and is mentioned over and over again in God’s Word.  As we find ourselves in situations that try our patience, may we remember the message of the spider and take our time to allow the “masterpieces” of our lives to unfold, allowing us to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Prayer: Master Planner of our lives, we thank you for your Word and the various messages you have shared with us about the importance of patience. We pray you will guide us in our quest for more patience and self-control as we allow the scripts of our personal lives, and the life of our congregation, to unfold as you have set forth.  Amen

Patty Niemann (reprinted from May 2013)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Patience is a Virtue

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, and patience."  Colossians 3:12

When raising my daughter, I found myself saying to her quite often, patience is a virtue.  She would reply consistently, "that I don't have."  It became almost a private joke between us.  I now realize how much I need to work for and pray for this in my own life and person.

In my last three devotions, I have discussed living and loving with kindness and compassion (virtues which are easier for me to grasp and practice in my life) and humility, which is more nebulous for me and difficult to grasp and live.  I am striving to do better with these virtues in my life on a daily basis.  My prayer life helps with this. 

Now, I will attempt to tackle patience, which is even more difficult for me, especially in light of my get 'er done, let's move on, take charge personality.  Patience, according to, is an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.  So, it is refraining from a somewhat "human" reaction to delay.  Maybe the idea of refrain and suppression are the keys to reminding me to be patient, as I do like to show self control.

Patience is also defined as a quiet, steady perseverance, even tempered care, diligence.  So, patience may even be a form of inaction, which again goes against my very nature.  In my nearly forty years of teaching, it was almost second nature for me to be patient with my amazing "special"  students.  In my more personal relationships, however, it is more difficult to be patient.  Other emotions get in the way. 

Synonyms for patience include submissiveness, sufferance, endurance, and fortitude, even stoicism.  Wow!   In the last devotion, I discussed how my father modeled humility for the 90 years he lived.  My mother is 96 and is a picture of patience.  In fact, sometimes it is almost annoying, especially when she acts stoic and I am in emotion mode. 

In Galatians v. 16 and 17,  Paul admonishes us to " by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another."  Impatience, therefore, is sinful.  Again, that may help me as I reflect on refraining from sin.   In verse 22, Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  These virtues go together, hand in hand. 

In Thessalonians: 14-15, Paul again tells us to be patient: "And, we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else".   Romans 12:12 states, "....Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer".   Especially In difficult times, I know that I can only do that with God at the helm, through Him, with Him, and in Him.

I will end with this Prayer for Patience by Heather King

                        God, I have been impatient.

                             I have lost my temper.

                 I have said things I shouldn't have said.

                   I have scarred people with my words.

             I have grown deeply weary and given up on waiting.

              I've struck out on my own to make things happen.

     I have been impatient with myself, criticizing and condemning,

                  And holding myself hostage to perfection.

                               PLEASE FORGIVE  ME.

               You love me and you have lavished me with grace.

                  You are slow to anger and abounding with love.

                                   PLEASE HELP ME.

                          Help me to receive your patience.

     Help me to show patience to others, even the most difficult people.

   Help me to have patience with myself, and with this Season of my life.

                                    In Jesus' name, Amen.

Connie Barry