Friday, December 29, 2017

It's a New Day!

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” — Philippians 3:13

It's a New Day!
It’s amazing how some things never change! As I was cleaning my library, I came across my old journals way back from the 80’s, and read my goals and intention to be a better person. Always the first on my list was to grow in my spiritual walk. Not only that, I listed among my goals to lose weight, learn new skills, and to make a difference before I die. I just have to shake my head knowing how hard I’ve tried to change, how much I strived to accomplish, yet unable to finish what I started.

There’s one great lesson that I learned though. Those things that I aimed to do and wished I could be were seemingly unattainable when I relied on my own ability, talents, skills and knowledge. Desires, determination and self-will were not enough when I tried to rely on myself alone. Five to 10 years from now, if God will give me more years and opportunities, the new goals that I will set now will just leave me oblivious if I don’t rely on the Power greater than anything and anyone else, including myself.

Growing up must be a moment by moment walk with God. It’s holding His hands with stronger grip, letting my Master walk before me, instead of me walking before Him. It’s allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruit in my life. It’s learning to deflate my pride and ego and kneel down in humility, asking God what He wants me to do, instead of telling Him to do the things I planned to do.

It’s a new month again! The past is gone. Today is here, a fresh new day to start anew. The present time shapes our tomorrow. No matter what the future holds, I’m confident that God is doing amazing things in us if we allow Him, even if at times there are valleys and hills along the way.

It’s a new day! My prayer is that we will choose to move forward, instead of looking back and doing the same old things over and over again.

Keep moving on … but forward in Christ.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Here’s to new beginning! Gloria Laroza T

Monday, December 25, 2017

Blessed Christmas 2017

Blessed Christmas 2017

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Luke 2:14 (NAS)

Blessed Christmas 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

Love and Reconciliation = Christmas

Love and Reconciliation = Christmas
“Mom, is Santa real,” asked my little boy.

How do I answer that question, I thought. I knew his grandparents (my in-laws) didn’t like the idea of promoting and talking about Santa. But I grew up believing there was a Santa and I turned out okay (I think). God gave me an answer that satisfied my little fella.

“Santa’s the fun part of Christmas, Tim.”

That was all he needed to hear, it satisfied his curiosity. However, I knew I needed to share with him, again, the real reason for Christmas.

As we rush from store to store, elbowing ourselves into position to grab in-store specials, it’s as if we’ve forgotten the reason for this special day.

It’s an amazing revelation when one discovers the REASON for Christmas. In a world dominated with fears of terrorists activities, dwindling IRAs, 401Ks and another retirement nest eggs, and a possible collapse of our automobile industry, it’s easy for us to wring our hands in worry and fear. Many might even posed the questions: Where’s the joy? What happened to ‘peace on earth?’

I propose the joy and the peace has never left us. Rather, we’ve looked for that joy and peace in other places. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)

We’ve been trapped by the laws. Do this and don’t do that has been ingrained in us we’ve forgotten the love and graciousness of God. Ultimately, we’ve forgotten the purpose of the Law. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply show us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:20 NLT) Sin has robbed us of the joy of knowing God. Knowing we can not restore joy and peace for ourselves, God developed this wonderful plan of sending his only son to set us free.

Paul also wrote, “But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.” (The Message)

To celebrate Christmas is to acknowledge the gift of eternal life given to us by God in the person of Jesus Christ. Eugene Peterson in The Message said, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (John 3:16-18)

Hebrews 12:1 says, “... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us ...” Laying aside sin can only be done through the graciousness of God. There is nothing we can do to earn this forgiveness, it is a gift. Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”

“Mom, if Santa is the fun part of Christmas, what’s left?” His inquiring mind was filled with questions.

“Well, son,” I began. “Christmas is the time we remember that God loved us so much he sent us a gift. It wasn’t a gift we unwrapped. It was a gift of love wrapped in a small little baby . . .”

His little voice interrupted me, “Baby Jesus?”

“Yes, honey, baby Jesus,” I answered softly.

Later that night I heard him singing,

    Jesus loves me this I know
    For the Bible tells me so
    Little ones to him belong
    They are weak, but he is strong
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me
    Yes, Jesus loves me,
    The Bible tells me so.

The reason for Christmas? Love and reconciliation. Praise be to God. Judy Doyle

Friday, December 15, 2017

Lonely Street

Lonely Street
Song lyrics paint a clear picture of life; we share tales of love and loss, joy and sadness, companionship and loneliness. Loneliness … just the word makes me want to hang my head. I am unable to form the word loneliness with a smile on my face. Poets and songwriters pen their deepest pain. Craving the presence of one they love, writers share the ache of feeling alone.

It is ironic, we hear it is lonely at the top. That implies that many who reach success and are in the midst of their peers feeling lonely and isolated. Notoriety comes at a high cost. They lose the pleasure of relationships based on trust.

Scapegoats take the blame. Society pushes them away, wanting no association with the guilty. It might be time for me to take a second look at their role. “Aaron will make the Most Holy Place, the Meeting Tent and the altar clean. Then he will bring the goat alive to the Lord. He will put both his hands on the head of the living goat. Then he will confess all the sins and crimes of Israel over the goat. In this way Aaron will put the people’s sins on the goat’s head. Then he will send the goat away into the desert. A man who has been appointed will lead the goat away. So the goat will carry all the people’s sins on itself. It will go to a lonely place in the desert. The man who leads the goat will let it lose there (Leviticus 16:20-22 NCV).”

Imagine the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus is led to a hill outside of the city; the sin of the world is placed on Him. In loneliness, He asks why the Father abandoned Him. He dies in our place. The Father who gave Him, offering the way to receive eternal life loses Him from the grave! He tasted loneliness and reaches out to us with His hand; we never walk alone. PamFord Davis

Friday, December 8, 2017

Love for Others

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ~1 John 4:11

Love for Others
“Ma’am, do you work here?”

The young man stood at the children’s check-in counter at church, looking a bit lost. He was covered in tattoos, sporting a pair of baggy shorts and a white t-shirt. His cross necklace was in context, but the size and length of both the cross and the gold chain necklace it hung from were more apropos for a rapper’s music video than a church service.

Surely he wasn’t talking to me. I knew this for certain because a) I am most definitely not old enough to be a ma’am (in my head at least); and b) I didn’t work there, although the volunteer shirt I was wearing made me look like I did.

Oh, and also knew he wasn’t talking to me because c) he wasn’t someone I would normally talk to.

“Can you help me?” he asked. Oh, dear, he was talking to me.

“Sure,” I replied outwardly, while inwardly groaning because he was keeping me from getting into church service.

He waved a slip of paper in front of his face. It was the tear-off slip from the bulletin for prayer requests. ”I can’t find a pastor or anyone to give this to.”

I looked around. The information desk was all closed up; the pastors were all in service. I was going to have to handle this. ”I can take that for you. I’ll get it to the right place.”

“Thank you,” he said. ”I just … I just need …” He started to cry. ”I just need someone to pray for me.”

With that, he began to talk. And I listened. He was 21, had just returned from active duty in Iraq. He told me about his worries about his girlfriend. He talked about church, and how he wanted so badly to find a church where he not only fit in but where he could convince his girlfriend to attend with him.

I was totally, utterly, completely ill-prepared for this encounter. I have a heart for serving others, but most of my ministry involves others who look like me. I’m comfortable with other moms of young families. I deal well with young women who I can mentor.

But this man – this young, young vet who has already seen much more of the world and war and violence and killing than I hope I ever have to – was not like me. And if he hadn’t stopped me, if he hadn’t reached out, I would have ignored him.

And I would have missed the opportunity to be blessed. Not bless someone. I was blessed by the opportunity God gave me to be his ears, to listen to one of his children cry out. Even if his child didn’t have one single thing in common with me.

It’s difficult to reach out to those who don’t look like us, who don’t think like us, who don’t act like us. We let race and gender and age and stage & station in life build a wall we can behind. Yet God calls us to love everyone, not just the people we choose to love. He calls us to minister to them, to be a blessing to all we encounter.

To let ourselves be blessed by the opportunity to serve him. Amy Ragland

Dear Lord, let me serve you today. Give me the right words to say to someone who is hurting, or scared, or lost. Help me to overcome my own shyness or inabilities. I want to be a light for you, not just among those who look like me. ~Amen.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Love and Grace

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give. (Proverbs 25:14)

Love and Grace
We attend a rather large church. Not a 'mega church', but we have to have two services to fit everybody in. A GOOD problem. But I think I can safely say that most of our members are quite familiar with the 'Who's Who' population.

By that I mean that when you've been around for awhile, you know who you can go to for certain things, or if someone asks 'who does this ...?', you just KNOW! For instance, if someone askes me about childcare, I would say 'see Pastor Neal', our children's minister. If someone needs prayer, it's 'Talk to Miss Pam. She has a direct line to God!' If someone knows someone who needs help financially, it would be Mike K., who is a great advisor. Or if somebody needs help with a party or dinner, then it would be Chuckles ... my own hubby!

Now, that being said, just because certain people are known to excel at certain things, that in and of itself does not mean that they are 'boasters'. Not at all. What it is, at least in these cases, is that these people are leading by example. And because of their willingness to be that example, many others are stepping up and lending a hand when and where they can. And by doing so, they are learning valuable lessons about loving others. Those who lead, do so by God's wonderful grace.

'What would Jesus do?' Well, He would do what true servants do ... serve others. And He would not have a need to brag. He was being the example. So if you do a good deed, and other than obtaining whatever help and assistance you may need to accomplish it, you do not make it a pointed effort to be 'seen', then there is no bragging. If you are noticed along the way, and someone compliments you for it, accept it, but make sure you do nothing more with it. Oh, you may offer to help that person to get involved in some way too, but if you just let it lie for it's own sake, then there will be no thought that you boasted. Which is another way God gives us grace.

Remember, The Father sees what we do quietly; but He will reward us openly. There He is, showing love to us when we are being humble and simply serving. And when we serve others, we are serving Him. When done with a pure and humble heart, and with no complaining, then we are warming the heart of God.

If people do good deeds, and then make a point of announcing it to everybody and their brother, then they are indeed like the 'wind and the rain'. And they are giving gifts to nobody but themselves. And what does that profit them in the Kingdom of God? Nothing.

Love ... it is in many forms, in many actions, and in many hearts. Make sure the love in your heart is presented to those who need it. Serving others with a heart of love is made possible for us because of the GRACE that our Heavenly Father shows to us. Loving others is a form of grace, which can only be from Him. Lili Richey Willard

Friday, November 24, 2017

Lost and Found

Matthew 18:12
"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

Lost and Found
I learn so much about my behavior from my kids. Two summers ago, we brought our girls to Six Flags. We were in the Wiggles World and had given my oldest the freedom to wait in line by herself for a ride. We watched her closely, she got on the ride, we relaxed a bit and waited with our younger daughter. The ride let out, and Maggie was not there. We panicked, found the staff and asked what to do next. They calmly asked what she was wearing, turned and pointed to a young girl, leaving a ride. It was Maggie. She had gotten on a different ride and we didn't see her. Unfortunately for her, we left our post and she couldn't find us either. Terrified, she called to us. When we were reunited, she was angry with us for losing her. A long lecture and the punishment of leaving the park resulted in her never repeating that drama.

I think I am a lot like that. See, I'll be walking along with God. We'll be pals. I call on him for help, he comes through, we're a team. Then, suddenly I get distracted. I decide that I know how to do my life better and I go about things my own way. "I can work out finances." or "Look how well I did at that!" I say. God leaves the picture. Inevitably, something goes wrong. I reach for God and he's gone. He's out of the picture. I can't find him no matter how hard I look.

I get angry and confused. I can't understand why he would leave me when I need him most. What I fail to acknowledge is that I left him, not the other way around. Like Maggie in Wiggles World, I had my own ideas, got lost and got angry. If I had stayed close by all along, I could have avoided the stress and confusion of being lost. Like a child, I ignore my role in the situation and blame God. Lonely, I cry out and accuse him.

Eventually, I find my way back, irate that I have been alone for so long. Suddenly, things seem clearer and life gets better. I get into my groove, count on him and feel better. I hardly even realize that I was the one who left and he is the one who brought me back. Luckily for me, he always seems to find me. Amanda Lynch

Heavenly Father, I know I am your child, and that you want what is best for me. So often, I walk away, convinced I can figure things out on my own. Inevitably I mess things up. I get scared and confused. I get angry and cry out to you. Without fail, you bring me back to you. By your side, I can do anything. Thank you for your compassion and companionship. Keep me close to you. Amen

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Blessed Thanksgiving 2017

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the 
hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:11 (NLT)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lost Baggage

Lost Baggage
Recently our son-in-law returned home to his family after two months of military training. The excitement and joy of his return was over shadowed by the frustration of the airlines losing his baggage! In my many years of flying or traveling by bus, I am grateful I have never experienced that. Fortunately his was located; and they brought it directly to their home.

God provides us with all needed baggage, equipping us for service; and it is always handled by Him with care. The equipping gifts are never misplaced or removed, “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).”

When luggage is lost, a person often must replace essentials to use until their personal items, contained in lost baggage are returned. Not only would that be aggravating, but would mean unexpected expenses as well. My mother wisely packed needed items in her carry on, including tooth brush and paste, extra set of undergarments, etc. Mom always thought of everything!

God knows our every need, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8b NAS).” How is that for speedy service? God not only provides our trip itinerary, (Matthew 28:19-20) but He packs our bags with gifts and power (Acts 1:8)! That baggage cannot be lost! PamFord Davis

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lord I Do Not Understand

Lord I Do Not Understand
My mind is unsettled, my soul is in a state of heightened awareness, I am spiritually confounded.

Lord, I sit here dumbstruck because events around me have my mind in a whirl, and if I am honest Lord, I am a bit at a loss. Things are just not suppose to be like this. No, not at all. So help me, Lord, to understand. Everything tells me that what a person sows that person is suppose to reap. But it is not happening, Lord, and I can’t seem to move on.

You see, Lord, I have been planting tomatoes for as long as I know, and my pals have been planting all sorts of vegetables. In every case we are reaping exactly what we sowed. Truth to tell, Lord, I thought recently that I had planted carrots, but now I see that thyme is growing, and when I checked my cupboard I see the carrot seeds that I thought I had planted. Lord, even when I made a mistake I still got exactly what I planted.

Lord, I heard the gospel preached, and I submitted to your call for redemption, and committed my life to you because you told me “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Lord my soul needed rest, my spirit was broken, I felt crushed and traumatised by the world. Truth Lord, I felt useless and utterly unworthy of your grace and mercy because I know that I was bad, worse than bad; I was a reprobate heading for destruction. I knew it, others knew it and Lord, you knew it too.

And yet, Lord, you, knowing all this brought me to you, you cosseted me with your love, you filled me with your grace, you wiped my slate clean with your mercy, you even elevated me to a heavenly place with you and the saints, and not once did you condemn me, you did not badger me for my many faults, Lord, you dried my tears and took away my sorrows. And Lord, you know I haven’t earned any of this, I am reaping what I did not sow and Lord, I do not understand.

For my many sins you gave me peace and comfort.

For my waywardness you showered me with love and plenty of blessings.

For my many fears and insecurities you underpinned and supported me with your mighty arms.

Lord, through your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, you are showing me something that all believers are experiencing. You are showing me that you do not do anything by half measures, Lord, and I am so humbly grateful. Lord, I did not expect to have so much joy, so much deep-seated happiness, so much divine peace that I can scarcely contain my heart from bursting.

Lord, you told me, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22). Lord, I did and for the past 50 years you have kept these promises, in deed all your glorious promises are unshakable, timeless and applicable to all those who put their trust in you. Lord, I still do not understand how you do it, but in your mercy and grace I ask that you help me to keep hanging on.

All I ask, in addition to your blessings and love upon all believers in Christ everywhere, is that you, Lord, help all those like me, who may not fully understand the ineffable workings through your grace, but cling to the simple promises of redemption and glory through faith in Jesus Christ. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11) Dr Henderson Ward

Friday, November 3, 2017

Lord, Break Out

How often I have looked to heaven and cried, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens, Lord, and come down!” (Isaiah 64:1)
I have bent myself in my prayer closet and whispered, “Lord, come and break through the darkness.” (2 Samuel 5:20)

Lord, Break Out
There is nothing inherently wrong with these prayers and certainly we do want the Lord to come near and give breakthrough in our situations.

But lately, I have felt like the Lord wants to change my point of view. If I am always waiting for the Lord to break into my life and circumstance, I have adopted a mindset that He is somehow separated from me, outside what I am living in and walking through. This skewed understanding makes it seem as if He is sitting far off on some white cloud watching to see if I can figure things out in my life. My experience in this salvation is vastly different.

You see, I have known Jesus to be a Good Shepherd, always close and guiding me with His sheltering love. I have known Him to be the One standing firm footed on top of the billowing waves, pulling me out of the stormy waters when I wavered in my faith. I have known Him to be the One Who holds my hand as we walked together through the blazing furnaces of my hardest circumstances. I have known Him to be the wind blowing on my face in the secret place, eyes blazing with passion as I worship. No, I have never known my Jesus to be in any way separate from me. I abide in Him and He abides in me. We are connected. He is closer than the breath in my lungs. That is the Jesus I have known.

He will never leave us nor forsake us, Church (Hebrews 13:5). He is not far away waiting to break in. The Lord is very much present in the Body of Christ and in the life of the believer, and He is still very much a miracle working Messiah. All the power that surged out of Jesus as He walked the streets of Galilee still resides in Him now. The voice that healed the sick with a word, made devils tremble in fear, and raised the dead, is the same voice that whispers in our souls. We are filled with the mighty Holy Spirit, Church. Instead of breaking in, perhaps we should be praying, “Lord, BREAK OUT.”

Pray with me? Lord, we stand absolutely amazed at You. You fill us with wonder and joy. We are captivated at the very thought of You. We praise You. You have made our lives so much more than they were supposed to be. You have poured glory into us and we didn’t deserve such generosity. —Cynthia Bowen

Lord, as we look around at our community, we can be overwhelmed at the problems we see. So, Lord, do BREAK IN for those who around us, but can we dare ask it? BREAK OUT of us. Let Your light shine through these earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Let Your love be poured out of these frail vessels. Let Your miracle power be manifested through us. Let these earthen vessels leak the power of God.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lord I Am So Angry

Lord I Am So Angry
Lord, as I sit here doing my meditation, reflecting on your blessings, and engulfed in the warmth of your love, and the splendour of your grace, I am nevertheless deeply troubled. I can’t seem to put off this deep anger that seems to have cloaked my body like a second skin, and I am wondering if my anger is sin.

Lord, I know the scripture that is often quoted with regards to anger, but knowing it seems not to be working for me. That scripture is found in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus and says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Ephesians 4:26). True, Lord, one can be angry and sin not, meaning that anger is not the same as sin, but why does it feel so sinful, so wrong if it’s not. Or am I allowing my feelings to colour my judgment?

I was angry when I heard of the pointless, avoidable death of those Brazilian football players, and all the others, who died in a plane crash because their plane had run out of fuel. Before that anger had subsided, I heard of the  pointless, avoidable death of so many innocent souls in the raging fire at a converted warehouse in Oakland, California, USA, where the death toll is nine and mounting, and many people are still unaccounted for. And only a few hours ago, I heard that the naked body of a teenager  was found on the beach, with his head smashed in.

Lord, it seems my anger cup is full, and overflowing.

Then I remembered that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, was angry too. I am in good company. That’s better. How did Jesus get on, and can I learn a thing or two? Let me check.

Jesus must have been angry when he saw the thieving Jews doing their dirty business in the temple, and when he made whips and drove the thieves out, and overturned their money tables. But the three mentions of this incident in scripture, Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18 and John 2:13-22 did not say that Jesus was angry. The word “angry” was never used. No help here, so I am forced to move on.

Then I remembered that Jesus Christ was angry with some Jews because of their meanspirited, wretched attitude to a suffering human being. Bingo! I found the scripture, and here it is: “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” (Mark 3:5)

Lord, meditating on this scripture is awesome. I get it.

Jesus was angry, just as I am, and my anger will remain a little longer, but Jesus did not sin. Jesus did not sin, although he was angry, because he dealt with his anger in the right way.

So how did Jesus manage it, and can I follow his example?

In his normal, exemplary fashion, Jesus dealt correctly with his anger because:

  1. He was angry for the right reasons. Not for some petty personal matter or some piffling annoyance. There was nothing personal, hypercritical or sneering in his manner.
  2. His focus was centered on a specific sinful behaviour. Jesus was infuriated when he saw their lack of compassion for a suffering soul.
  3. His anger was grounded in love. Love for the suffering man with the withered hand, but love also for the Jews, “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts”
  4. His anger was controlled. Jesus did not shed blood because he was angry, he never let his emotions get out of hand and beyond his control. The discipline that comes from a dedicated life was on full display, even when he chased those crooks out of the temple.
  5. His anger lasted just right. He did not allow the anger to fester, and perhaps turn to bitterness and resentment.
  6. His actions were righteous. Jesus had every reason to be angry and he acted in such a way as to bring honour and glory to God.

Yes, Lord, I get it, and as ever, it was the excellent example of Jesus that brought it home. My anger might be deep, but you have assured me that it too will vanish, even as your word comforts me with knowing that, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Dr. Henderson Ward

Father, teach me always to remember that Jesus, “... was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and that in every troubling situation, in every distressing event in our life, we can turn to him for consolation and guidance. Speak peace to your children everywhere, and give us all the reassurance we seek, that we might serve you better day by day. Amen.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Look Up and Don't Give Up

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Look Up and Don't Give Up
I only have eyes for you, Jesus.

Sitting flat in the dirt of the garden near an olive tree, Jesus was weeping before the Father while his companions were peacefully sleeping just yards from him. “Father, I really don’t know whether I can do this. If it’s your will … please may this cup pass from me … but I know … it’s not what this flesh wants but what you want, Father. This is what I need to do. Oh Abba …”

Jesus sinks his head into his hands as drops of blood from burst capillaries in his skin, mix with his sweat and dampen his fingers. Jesus knows he’s facing crucifixion; the consequence of sin for which he is not guilty! Slowly the Son of Man submits and as he does he straightens up and sighs, “Abba, not my will but your will be done.” Suddenly a surge of power of the Son of God that he is, comes upon Jesus’ flesh and he looks beyond the cross and sees himself at God’s right hand, glorified as King of kings!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus …” My friend, just as Jesus took his eyes off of the pain and anguish in his soul and looked beyond the cross, take your eyes off the pain in your body and fix them on God’s healing power. Take your eyes off that debt or poverty and see God’s provision for all that you need. Don’t focus on the problems in your marriage, look to the Lover of your souls and, with a softened heart, see the One who unites you in his love. Pay no attention to that bullying at work or school and trust in God’s love to heal those hurts and make you strong. Look beyond the hopelessness of your problems and know that God does have a blessed and a prosperous future for you. Never look down! Never look back just look-up! Press forward with joy and courage right now just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, declaring with me, “I only have eyes for you, Jesus!”

Look-up and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God! Dudley Anderson

Dear Lord, forgive me for taking my eyes off of Jesus and looking at my problems. I know that you do have a purpose for me. Jesus, you are my example, my role-model. Help me to get through this time and meet my needs, oh Lord. Thank you for your joy and courage, I praise you now, Lord, for my healing and deliverance in Jesus’ name. I only have eyes for you, Jesus. Amen.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Living Room Light

Living Room Light
Aint love grand? That special someone comes into view and lights up the room. To others he or she may go unnoticed but you see a spotlight falling upon your beloved and breathlessly await the rapture of falling into loving arms. They not only briefly light up a room; your significant other lights up your life.

The Lord dispels darkness from spiritually blinded eyes and hearts draped in darkness of despair. “For you will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness (Psalm 18: 28 NKJ).” Lord, open my eyes; light up the living room. A dark cloud hovered over Job; he lamented over loss of light.

“Oh, that I were as in months past, As in the days when God watched over me; When His lamp shone upon my head, And when by His light I walked through darkness (Job 29:2-3 KJV).” Job endured through suffering and once more God lit a lamp and removed spiritual blindness. “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You (Job 42:5 NKJ).”

I hunger for the sight of my loving God. Will I mystically enlighten foreboding darkness through mind over matter or through positive thinking over negativity? No, God’s word envelops light. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light o my path (Psalm 119:105 NKJ).” God keeps his lamp burning and lights my path from here to his everlasting arms! —PamFord Davis

Friday, October 6, 2017

Living in the Valley

Living in the Valley
People say that life is all about climbing the mountain, or life is full of peaks and valleys. Well, in a sense it is. Trials and things we must work through or overcome; tests to teach us who we belong to and depend on. On a short side note, I believe that when God tests us, He is not trying us to see what we are made of-He already knows. I believe the trials come so we can see for ourselves what we are made of, to strengthen our faith and our resolve.

Most people seem to believe the mountain top is the achievement, and the valleys are low points in life, and they want to stay on the mountain top once they arrive. Have you seen the top of a mountain? With the ice, cold wind, and thin air, life is not sustainable. Sure, stay and enjoy the view for a while, but you must come back down to the valley to survive. The valley is where you grow and harvest what you need for the next trip up the mountain. I think that’s where all the hard work is … The grind of everyday life; the preparation for the trip.

Romans 5:3-5 “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Without suffering, there would be no need for the Comforter.

Climbing mountains are only temporary excursions in our life here. We must learn to live in the valleys. Mark Miller

Friday, September 29, 2017

Living in Exile

Living in Exile
Do we ever consider that today there are those who live in exile from the will and hope of God because they fail to see and understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You see as much as we might love this world we live in; scripture tells us that since Adam’s fall the whole world groans in anticipation of being set free once again. Just as each of us as Christians do (Romans 8:19-22 NLT). I look forward to that day every morning when I rise and every evening when I go to sleep. Yet as I wait along with you I have come to realize we live in exile from the place we long to be.

In 1 Peter 1: 1-2 we read a greeting that while addressed to certain cities and regions applies to each of us today. Peter states;

1 This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NLT)

Today we are living in a world that sees what we believe as Christians as more and more foreign to what the world holds as truth. We are foreigners in a country and a world that once held many of the same beliefs and was founded on the same principles outlined in God’s Word. Yet today there is a movement to forget that and move away from it and establish a world based on man’s ethics and ideas. So when we as Christian believers hold fast to God’s word we find ourselves mocked and ignored often seen as ignorant and intolerant of others.

The same was true of those Peter wrote to; many were dispersed and came to live in these places but many more were converted and began to change the communities in which they lived. The truth is the church flourishes under persecution and the more the world tries to exile it from the public the more growth it sees in the lives of people.

I just want to challenge you today to hold fast and know that to walk in the light of God’s Word through a real relationship with Jesus Christ will bring you one day into the place God has created for you and me. The exile will be over and one day He will welcome us home. —Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, September 22, 2017

Living for Tomorrow

Living for Tomorrow
At one point in my life I was an alcoholic. I was surrounded by individuals who required drinking as part of the organization and if you did not drink you were quickly replaced because there was a lack of trust in you as an individual. It was so bad that one time, we got in trouble for alcohol related issues and fifteen people had to start AA. Yes I was one of the lucky ones who got to experience that. Now I have no fight with individuals who drink; I personally believe that a little wine or moonshine at the right times provides medicinal relief for certain ailments, Paul even instructs Timothy to take some for his stomach problems. The reason I shared that was this morning I was studying and as I was reading Proverb 31:4-7 (ESV) it is advice from King Lemuel’s mother and it reads,
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

You know throughout scripture; starting in the Old Testament with Daniel in Daniel 7 that we will rein and rule over all the earth. Again Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:2 and Jesus in Mathew 19:28 that one day we will rule alongside of Him. We will be judges and rulers over the entire world even judging the angels.

You might wonder what the point of this is. It’s not to bash someone who drinks but it’s to point out a simple fact that I have recently come to understand. If you desire certain things in your life you have to live and act like you really want it. Case in point I desire to serve as a chaplain and I need to lose weight to do that; but to be honest I need to lose weight, whether I ever get to serve as a chaplain or not. The bottom line is I must live the life I desire in preparation for the life that is yet to come. I hope that makes sense.

It’s not just about drinking or tobacco or any other point you might want to argue over that someone might call or consider a sin, but every area of our Christian walk. Do we want to see God move in our worship services? Than do we worship Him in our private time? Do we want to see Him answer our prayers and bring healing to the sick? Than do we pray without ceasing? Do we believe He can provide for our every need or do we work ourselves to death trying to provide for our wants?

I ask you today, are you drinking in the world trying to satisfy your flesh; thinking you have reached your greatest potential or are you willing to slow down and focus on God and follow after His leadership allowing Him to prepare you for the best that He has to offer?

Have a blessed day as you walk in the light of His Word. —Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, September 15, 2017

Living for the Cause of God

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Living for the Cause of God
Nothing in this world can change the plans that God has for us. Our life, best interest, and destiny are in His control. Our complete trust in this truth and full submission will yield blessings which are far beyond our imagination and human potential.

Our primary life purpose is not to just earn money and have a good life. It is not about worldly matters, trying to care for ourselves or create the perfect social image. The plans of God are great for us, He has assigned us the position of a co-heir with Christ and empowered us as ambassadors of the gospel. This life is about wholly trusting and serving the Lord while leading the lost to the eternal safety we have already found.  It is about giving Him praise and trusting Him for all our needs and wants. When we do the Lord’s will, we do not toil. His grace strengthens us to complete our mission. 

For those who trust and submit wholly to His plan, He faithfully clears the way throughout their journey, leading them to level ground. He uses them to be a blessing, to influence people with His word and to bring souls closer to Him. He establishes the work of their hands and freely gives them the wishes of their heart. He walks beside them scattering blessings and fulfilling their needs and wants by His grace.

Oh, what a wonderful Lord who promises to reward the heart’s desire of the faithful! Trust and faithfully obey to see His miracles happen in your life today. Deepika Emmanuel Sagar

Friday, September 8, 2017

Living Free Comes at a Cost

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV)

Living Free Comes at a Cost
Paul understood something that I think we often forget; he was not saved for his own benefit but to serve God. You see he was zealous for God before he met Jesus. When Jesus brought him to his knees he finally really understood what God had been preparing him for. All the years of training and serving in and around the temple learning all the scriptures, the zeal for God and the determination to serve him was all in preparation for the future.

That is us today as Christians. God has brought us to this place with our wide variety of experiences so that when people we meet have a need we are prepared to witness to them about the difference a life in Christ can make.

Paul never really forgot what he had been saved from or the purpose he had been given. He did learn though to reach the lost he would have to continue living and working among them. Yes he gathered with those who were saved and taught them but he never forgot those who were once just like him and needed to hear the good news.

Verse 21 makes a statement that we must apply; we are as born again believers no longer under the law of God but we are called to live under the law of Christ. Christ gave us two clear commandments that were to love God with all your heart and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. How many of us are able to say we can live under those two laws?

Paul lived a life loving people and he did it by becoming involved with them no matter what situation they were in. Can we as Christians today say that we love God and others enough to go were the needs are?

I pray you have a truly blessed day as you walk in the light of God’s Word. Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, September 1, 2017

Live From Your Calling

... I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1 NIV)

Live From Your Calling
Before Paul urged the Ephesians to live a life worthy of their calling he spent three chapters explaining "the calling" that God has placed on our lives:

Paul pointed out that through Christ:

  • we are saints (1:1);
  • we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3);
  • we are chosen in Christ (1:4);
  • we were predestined to be adopted as God's son (1:5);
  • we have been redeemed and forgiven (1:7);
  • we are recipients of his lavish grace (1:8);
  • we have been made alive (2:5);
  • we have been raised up and seated with Christ (2:6);
  • we are God's workmanship (2:10);
  • we have direct access to God (2:18);
  • we are fellow citizens of God's family (2:19);
  • and we may approach God with boldness (3:12).

Paul knew it would be in response to knowing and believing all that Christ had done for them that the Ephesians would be able to live a life worthy of their calling.

The same is true for us today. It is only as we live by faith, believing what God says about us is true, that we are enabled to live effective Christian lives. Susan Barnes

Friday, August 25, 2017

Living by the Watch

Living by the Watch
Watch ... watch your weight, watch your calories, watch your temper, watch your back, watch your time. Hmm, it seems that we are very alert people. We do not allow anything to sneak up on us unawares. We diligently use caution and attempt to take control over all things at all times. A night watchman is in the midst of people living by the watch.

Christ commands me to watch. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good-man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:43-44 KJV)

Jesus will return; He is coming. I am compelled to take heed, watch and pray. “Take ye heed, watch and pray for ye know not when the time is." (Mark 13:33 KJV) Clock watching will be a waste of time; no man knows the day or hour of the Master’s arrival. The sign’s of His coming are many; I will watch the sky and anticipate meeting Him in the clouds! PamFord Davis

Friday, August 18, 2017

Living by Lamplight

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 NAS)

Living by Lamplight
Lamps in Jesus’ time were small bowl-like clay vessels using olive oil as fuel. A burning wick inserted into the oil illuminated a small room. Lamps allow one to see even in darkness and protect from lurking danger. Hebrew families left lamps burning through the night to ward off prowlers. In our modern age, homeowners light their home’s exterior and leave lamps on at night for the same reason … protection.

Psalm 119 teaches that God’s Word is our lamp, the source of all Truth. There you can find answers to every question, solutions to each dilemma. God’s Word used properly produces light, the light of Truth, to illuminate our path AND keep us safe on our journey. However, God’s lamp requires the oil of the Holy Spirit to produce the intended result. When we approach His Word, we must invoke the Holy Spirit to come and produce the needed light, for both the lamp and the oil work together to give us light.

Let us dust off our lamps and pour in the oil. 2 Peter 1:19 emphasizes the preeminence of the Word: “... we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” God’s lamp shines with Truth, brightens our path, and protects us along the way. It is a sure guide. Don’t live in fear, doubt, or ignorance. Walk in God’s light and gather faith, peace, and wisdom. You were created to live by lamplight. Karen Pourbabaee

Friday, August 11, 2017

Live In Love

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)

Live in Love
The New Testament reduces the laws of the Old Testament to one overriding rule: love. If you want to know what true love is, you only need to study God's behavior toward you. God is generous, forbearing, kind, faithful, supportive, nurturing, forgiving, and just. He is everything you want and need.

You exist in God and know God through your own acts of love in the world. He is in the face of everyone you reach out to, no matter from what station in life he or she might come. His love is in your gentle word to a friend in pain, in the simple work of making a home for your family, and in the kindness you show a stranger. When you live in love, you become more and more like God. Faith Daniels

God, fill my heart with love for you and for those whose lives I touch each day. Thank you for first loving me and showing me how to love others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Live Like a Favored Child

"Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate." (Luke 15:22-23 NIV)

Live Like a Favored Child
The fact that Jesus would die so we could be forgiven is an astounding act of love on God's part, but sometimes we overlook the fact that God then places us in the position of being a favored son or daughter.

This is seen so clearly in the story of the prodigal son. The son would have been happy to have become one of his father's hired men (v. 19). This is reasonable, considering he had prematurely demanded his inheritance, and then wasted it living an unacceptable lifestyle. The son figured the best he could hope for was to gain employment with his father. But the father doesn't just forgive him, he restores him to the position of a favored son.

So often as Christians we act like God's hired men. We know that God has forgiven us, but now we seem to think we have to work in order to be acceptable to God.

The Bible tells us we are not God's hired workmen or women but rather we are his "dearly loved children" (Ephesians 5:1) not because of anything we have done, but simply because God chose to put us in that position.

So let's accept that the robe, the ring and the sandals are really for us, and live like God's favored children, celebrating his amazing grace. Susan Barnes

Friday, July 28, 2017

Living Proof

Living Proof
I was just standing at my sink washing dishes when the thought occurred to me that about 20 years ago, I had completely turned my back on God and was running as hard as I could the other direction. Had it not been for God's grace and my best friend's obedience to Him, I don't believe I would be alive today.

Not only am I living proof of God's patience, forgiveness, love, grace, mercy and redemption, but also of His bountiful blessings to those who love and trust Him. Ephesians 1:7 says, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace."
God's grace abounds. Look at this:

    "Main Entry: abound
    Definition: exist in abundance

    Synonyms: be alive with, be all over the place, be knee deep in, be no end to, be plentiful, be thick with, be up to one's ears in, crawl with, crowd, flourish, flow, have a full plate, infest, overflow, proliferate, swarm, swell, teem, thrive" (from

We are alive with God's grace, knee deep and up to our ears in it, there is no end to it. It is plentiful and thick. It crowds and flourishes, flows and overflows. WOW!! How great is our Father's love for us!!

I said all of that to say this ... if you are running from God: STOP!! He will not stop pursuing you, so you might as well give up and surrender. He loves You so much and just wants the very best for you. Not only will he heal your mind, heart and soul, but He will bless you beyond measure.

If God is telling you to do something: OBEY! Someone's soul may depend on your obedience to Him!

You may not like what I have to say right now ... but I am being obedient to the One who loves me with an unconditional, everlasting love. He has given me the gift of salvation and blessed me with so many things that I cannot count them all. I can never do enough to repay the debt I owe Him, but I will serve and obey Him as long as I live on this earth. Then I will worship Him for eternity when I see Him face to face.

I pray this gets to the person it needs to get to, but even if it didn't, it reminded me of how blessed I am to have everything that I have right now!! Teresa Schultz

Friday, July 21, 2017

Living in God

He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him. (Luke 20:38 NAS)

Living in God
God was living before the “beginning”, lives today, and will live forever. He will still be living after the last grain of sand pours out of the hour glass of eternity. Jesus was with and within God throughout all yesterdays, is with and within Him today, and will be with and within Him for ever more. The Holy Spirit who is our daily guide has been alive and well through all ages, times, and seasons.

God in His various personas has always lived and never died. All of His creation has always existed in one form or another. You and I and all of mankind have been with God forever. When our time on earth ends, we will not die but simply continue living in God.

Abraham first became aware of our Creator: He realized that there is no other God beside the all powerful and loving One. Abraham still lives in God. Moses who spoke with God in the burning bush and atop Mt Sinai still lives in God. Jesus who died on the cross and rose on the third day still lives in God. You and I also live in God and will forever more. God is the God of the living, with death and resurrection being the proof. Arthur Hill

Father, live in us and help us to live in you. Amen.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Listening for the Bell

Listening for the Bell
Clock watching is futile and frustrating; I cannot rush time in my anticipation for an activity to end, or for one to begin. As a young child, and into my teens, I frequently turned my attention to huge clocks hanging on classroom walls. At the beginning of class, it seemed that I had such a long time before I would be allowed to leave. Yet, I remember most the regularity of craning my neck to watch the second hand move at a snail’s pace just before class dismissal. As if an athlete involved in stiff competition, I wanted the clock to run out. I listened for the bell.

“My time has almost run out. Very soon now, I will be on my way to heaven. I have fought long and hard for my Lord, and through it all I have kept true to him. And now the time has come for me to stop fighting and rest. In heaven a crown is waiting for me which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And not just to me, but to all those whose lives show that they are eagerly looking forward to his coming back again (2 Timothy 4:6b-8 Living Bible).” Class is dismissed!
PamFord Davis