Friday, December 30, 2016

Learning from Victories of the Past

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1 NAS)

Learning from Victories of the Past
Looking back as a way to learn from the past and to move forward into the future is not a bad thing. However, looking back and remaining in or reliving the past leaves us stuck and paralyzed.

God’s desire is for us to grow and mature. He provides a “host of witnesses” to encourage us as we strive for excellence in our daily living. They have gone before us, set the path and are the shoulders upon which we all now stand. Take time to learn the qualities, characteristics, and strategies of Biblical and other leaders. What obstacles did they face? How did they achieve success? What can you learn from their stories? How will you apply it to the story of your own life? Tracie Morrison

God you have left us a legacy of greatness. We thank you that their stories live on to encourage us as we run our race each day. When we start to slow down or come to a complete stop, or want to turn back, give us strength. Help us to let go of anything that is holding us back. We declare that we are moving forward – we are pressing toward the mark — we are keeping our eyes on you! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Learning Contentment from a Tree

Learning Contentment from a Tree
I have to say that I greatly marvel at the wonder of God we call a tree. There are countless insights wonderful in the design and function of these plants we see every day. But in our busy and mired modern lives there is a particular insight that has brought great blessing to me. The Creator gave this same profound message to the shepherd David. He wrote this inspired insight about those engaged to godly living in the first Psalm.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. (Psalm 1:3 NLT)

Trees do not have feet, they have roots. So while a quality gardener can uproot a tree and relocate it, the process is traumatic. The first seasons after the transplant see a significant reduction in the fruitfulness of the tree. It takes a couple of seasons for the roots to expand so that they can absorb the nutrients needed to support a fruitful harvest. So trees that live long and fruitful lives have two things in common: they are planted in a good location and they stay there for a long while. In a word trees are content. They spend their entire lives without ever knowing what is around the corner. They see the deer run past, feel the wind blow through, and only improve their view by increasing the height and breadth of their present makeup.

People do not have roots, they have feet. In spite of this fact, past generations tended to be more like trees than we are today. In those days families in transition were described as settlers. They usually only moved around when something traumatic forced them to do so. As soon as they found a suitable place they settled with the intent of never moving again. Modern people have forgotten that a happy and fulfilling life is grown not found. We are too busy climbing the ladder, moving on to better opportunities, and broadening our horizon to let our roots expand and find the nutrients in the soil where we are.

So what is God teaching us with the trees we see every day? Uprooting our lives is sometimes necessary but always traumatic. A fruitful and fulfilling existence is not found elsewhere but by growing deeper where we are planted. If God has placed you where you are, then find faithful contentment there. God always plants his children along the river where we can find what we need to grow tall and strong. If your life is not a fruitful one then you have one of two problems: either you are not planted along the river or you are not allowing your roots to dig into the soil where God has planted you. Jeremy Higle

Friday, December 16, 2016

Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life
The expression “larger than life” is one I have heard and used myself to describe a thing that is so enormous the only way to convey the size of the matter is to compare it to something that everyone would consider the epitome of largeness.

At times life situations may seem to become more than one can handle. Those feelings, whether it be pain, heartache, anxiety, etc., can take on a life of its own and we cease to function as God intended and that is when the problem seems “larger than life.”

Exactly what is life that we would consider it a pivotal point to measure the enormity of a situation? It is the breath of God in us. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7 KJV)

How many of us ever stop and consider this truth? We breathe and live because of His breath in us. Everything we are and everything we do is because of it. That is why life is to be esteemed. We are created as individuals with a plan and a purpose. Our major thrust in life should be to work toward fulfilling His plan for our lives.

There seems to be only two times when we as humans really stop and consider life. First, the birth of a baby; it causes us to become newly aware of the miracle of life. Once again, God’s breath brings forth creation. The other is when we face sickness that is unto death. In these circumstances we find ourselves fighting to preserve life, not willing to let go. At these times, life and the living of it, becomes our most important goal.

If we did not consider life to be our greatest commodity, then we would give very little thought to our Lord’s death on the cross. We would not be able to understand the great sacrifice He made on our behalf. The Word tells us that “life is in the blood.” Jesus poured out His blood and died for us that we might have life and life more abundant.

Satan would have us believe that Death is larger than Life, but Jesus defeated Death at the cross. He proved the point by His resurrection three days later; and because He lives, those of us who have received Him as our Savior live also. Life goes beyond the grave. Once the breath of God is in us, life becomes eternal. Nothing is larger than life except the one who created it, God our Father.  Sylvia Hensel

Jesus, I know You love me more than life
Because You gave Yours as a sacrifice.
No one could take it
You willingly gave it.
Your blood was not spilled, but poured out for me
As an act of pure love to set me free.
Your life seemed to be no longer,
But resurrection power was much stronger.
Death had no power and Satan conceded
Life was restored and Death was defeated.
Death and the grave have run their course;
Life proves larger because of its Source.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Keeping Christmas Simple

Every year we try to make Christmas meaningful, but instead we 
end up with shopping, spending, credit cards, 
traffic jams, crazy schedules ...

Here's taking a look how we can make a difference this year 
to keep Christmas simple and meaningful.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Large in His Charge

Large in His Charge
Looking back on tougher days, on harder days, and even on the easier days, I recognize that at the beginning of those days I never would have guessed it would have worked out the way it did. Not so much the ending, as much as the 'during' part of it. See ... I like to think I am a strong, independent, resourcefully tenacious person. But, without the Lord in my life, I'd be pretty pathetic, much more inclined to whine, and by far more willing to run/hide from challenges (in our hearts, we choose our own winnable battles).

But, when we are called by God, when we are committed to Him, when we are dedicated to His will in our lives, each day's challenges are matched with His strength. Sure, we each have 'an idea' how the day is going to go ... we have something of a routine, schedule, or plan.  But, as you encounter the variances in your day (flat tire, traffic jams, medical calamity, etc) a certain calm, assurance, and something of a peace empowers your soul ... in the Lord.  Otherwise, panic, terror, utter chaos all overtake your being.  Sure, we don't all handle our daily challenges the same way ... some even avoid 'the very appearance' of a challenge. But, Psalms 105:4 reminds us; "Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.", which is to say that you should NOT try facing your day alone ... not that we only turn to the Lord WHEN tragedy appears on our horizon.  When we have a constant, fresh, and consistent fellowship with the Lord, these tumultuous times will seem like nothing to you.

So, you cannot 'see' the future, but you CAN see the one who holds the future!  Jesus' presence in your life doesn't give you foresight, it only gives you His sight. Ephesians 1:18-20 states; "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,". As you approach your day, as you approach tougher times or easier times ... they all are God's guidance for your life.


Consider a time when you were faced with a pending expense.  Maybe you had vehicle trouble (car/truck won't start) and the mechanic's shop has diagnosed the problem. If you have deep enough pockets, this pending news doesn't cause you panic ... for, you know you have the funding to cover the expenses and resolve this trouble.  Similarly, as you maintain a close and sincere fellowship with the Lord, His presence in your life leaves you with a confidence, an assurance, and certainly a peace. Deuteronomy 33:25 reminds us; "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.", which is to say that with the Lord in your life, with Jesus by your side ... you are Large in His Charge! G.W. Bill Elliott, Jr. MDiv

Friday, December 2, 2016

Language of the Spirit

Language of the Saint
Music is the language of the spirit, winging the joys and sorrows of our deepest emotions through words or captivating tunes. It is no wonder The Sound of Music remains a favorite to movie critics and viewers after decades. Cameras and audio crews combined the senses of sight and sound; creation linked with lyrics and as Maria climbed mountains the grass beneath her feet seemed to celebrate and harmonize.

“When you are set free, you will celebrate and travel home in peace. Mountains and hills will sing as you pass by, and trees will clap. Cypress and myrtle trees will grow in fields once covered by thorns. And then those trees will stand as a lasting witness to the glory of the Lord (Isaiah 55:12-13 CEV).”

God’s people have often been in bondage and experience his release and liberation; we break free from captivity to sin and his landscape joins the choir to his praise and glory! PamFord Davis