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June 10, 2016, 12:00 PM

Back to the Basics

By Greg Higgins

 

There’s a disturbing passage of scripture in Revelation 2. The first several chapters of this book are dealing with the seven churches in Asia Minor. Most of the churches have completely rebelled against God and He is rebuking them because of this.

Revelation 2 is different though. The church at Ephesus is being praised because of their work. They have been praised because they are standing against evil. They are being the church. Then something happens, though. After all the praising and all the good stuff reported about, something happens. The church is told that the Lord has something against them.

This is where we should pause and reflect for a second. The church, up until this point, had done nothing wrong. They had not aligned themselves with false prophets. They had not given into temptations of sin and perversion. They were doing the work of God and trying to be the church Jesus called them to be.

So, if they were doing what they needed to be doing and they were being recognized by God for doing it, what could He possibly have against them? The problem they had is the same problem lots of Christians run into today. They were told in verse four that they had left their first love.

What does this mean? Leave the first love? Remember when you first fell in love with someone. You had to be around them all the time. If you weren’t around them, you were on the phone with them or thinking about them. That person literally consumed you. Your mind was constantly on them. Your actions were for them. Your words were about them. You were in love.

The same thing happens to us as Christians. When we fall in love with Jesus, we can’t stop thinking about Him. We talk about Him all day and all night. He consumes our every being. This is great. Then, we start working for Him. Maybe it’s teaching a class or keeping the nursery. Perhaps the bus ministry or helping with the youth department. Anything we can to help further the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, though, we forget why we started doing this. We’re doing all the right things. We’re witnessing and being a light, but we don’t have time for Jesus like we used to. We don’t read the Bible as much because we’re busy at church. We don’t pray near enough because we’ve been witnessing. Then, what happens, is we start doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. It’s now become an obligation instead of an opportunity. It’s a career instead of a choice.

I would ask you to check yourself. Where are you? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Where’s your love? Perhaps you need to step back from everything you’ve been doing and fall in love with Jesus once again.

 

- Greg




June 9, 2016, 12:00 PM

God, I'm beginning to forget

by Brenda Farmer

June 6, 2016

 

Recently, I read a story about a little four year old as she spoke to her little baby brother.  I would like to share that short story with you today.

 

The precious story reminds me of the scripture found in Jeremiah 1:5.  It states:

 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

 

The story follows:

Soon after her brother was born, little Sachi began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that like most four-year-olds, she might feel jealous and want to hit or shake him, so they said no. But she showed no signs of jealousy. She treated the baby with kindness and her pleas to be left alone with him became more urgent. They decided to allow it. 

Elated, she went into the baby's room and shut the door, but it opened a crack -- enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Sachi walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his and say quietly,

 "Baby, tell me what God feels like. I'm starting to forget."

Be encouraged and know that God knows today exactly where you are and what you need, just like He did before you were born.  And, Our Father and His Son, Jesus, love you passionately!  The Holy Bible is full of scriptures to tell us all about it. 

 

Don’t forget what it feels like to have that special relationship with God and His Son.  That relationship will bring multiplied earthly blessings to you and your family, and it will escort you right into heaven one day!

 

- Brenda




June 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

Seasons of Strength

By Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

 

Seasons. We all experience them, and we all see them changing. We watch the leaves fall in autumn, and then watch them come back and blossom in the spring. We know when the rains will come, and when they will cease. We feel the cold and we feel the heat. But, in all of this, I’m not just writing of the physical seasons that we can all see, I’m writing of the seasons that maybe no one knows we’re going through- the ones that we can’t see with the naked eye. Maybe even the ones that we, ourselves, don’t know we’re going through until they’re over. I’m writing of the seasons that we can’t see the end of and, the seasons that we never want to end. There’s a passage of scripture that I stumbled upon that describes a certain season that I think that we forget is necessary. This season helps us, yet we tend to despise it and wallow in grief and sadness when we have the opportunity to go through it. This season is referred to as a strengthening season.

 

1 Samuel 2:9-10 (NLT)

“He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone. Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the Lord judges throughout the earth. He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.”

 

            Hannah, a woman of courageous faith, prayed this prayer as she was giving her baby boy, whom she had earnestly prayed many, many years for, to a priest named Eli who would then raise her baby in the temple all of his life. The very last words that she prayed were, “he increases the strength of his anointed one.” Is it not true that He does? If we were to look back at our lives, have we not grown stronger throughout the years? I know for a fact, that we can all look to a certain point, or situation, in our lives that more than likely was not pleasant, and we can agree that going through that hard time, made us stronger. Yet, in that hour of unpleasantness, most of us tend to forget that we are protected by the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

            My question is: why is that? Why do we forget whom we serve the minute that things go awry? I’m just as guilty as the next person, but this doesn’t quench my curiosity. Shouldn’t we, as children of the Most High King, know that through everything that life may throw at us, we will be protected and provided for? Maybe we doubt so easily because we’ve tried to rely on our strength alone for too long, and when God puts us in situations where we HAVE to completely rely on Him, we freak. Like Hannah said in her prayer, “No one will succeed by strength alone. Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.” Yet, we still fight. Like I said before, we wallow in grief and sadness when the opportunity comes for us to go through this season. In turn, we are fighting against the One that allowed us to be in this situation in the first place. I am in no way saying that we should just let the enemy walk all over us, but what I am saying is that instead of coming against our situations with our strength, and doing whatever we can do to get out of it, we should trust in God to do what He does best: love us.

 

James 1:2-3 (NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

 

            Endurance just happens to be a synonym of strength. So, instead of seeking God’s hands to give us the strength to “get through this trying time,” maybe we should start seeking His face so that we can get closer to His strong arms that will get us through every situation. Then, and only then will we be able to consider our trials pure joy because, we have the great opportunity to come closer to God. I do believe that’s what all of this strengthening stuff is about. If we are as close to God as we can possibly be, then nothing can get in between our relationship with Him. Because, strength really isn’t about how physically strong we are, but about how strong our relationship is with our Father. So, endure the season that you’re going through with pure joy, and continue on to seek His face. Stop being the victim and stop being shattered. Your Father is waiting in the wings for you to start claiming the victory that is sure to come if you will just trust in Him.

 

- Haley




June 1, 2016, 12:00 PM

Fresh Bread

By Greg Higgins

 

Too many people try living their lives on yesterday’s blessing and yesterday’s Word. This reminds me of the children of Israel wandering in the desert. The Lord sustained them for 40 years as they walked around the wilderness when they left Egypt. He gave them manna (bread) every day except on the Sabbath day.

What happened was the people were to gather enough bread for them and their family for that day. They did this every day. On the sixth day of the week, they would gather twice as much. This way they would have enough for that day and the Sabbath as well.

If they tried keeping manna left over, it was moldy and no good to eat. You only got enough for that day. Nothing more. God was trying to teach them a principle here. The principle was simply this: The Lord will sustain you every day of your life. It’s the Matthew 6:33 principle. Don’t worry about tomorrow because God will take care of these things.

Too many times, though, I see people who are just the opposite. We have church members who are trying to live off yesterday’s manna. What I mean by this is that we are trying to hang on to something that maybe wasn’t meant for today. Or perhaps it wasn’t even meant for us. Perhaps God gave the Word to someone else entirely.

The Children of Israel had to go out and gather the bread for their family. They didn’t rely on someone else to get some and bring it to them. That’s not the way God intended it to happen. The same holds true today. We are supposed to allow God to speak something fresh into our lives every day. He wants to. He’s just waiting on us. When will we stop living on stale manna? The choice is up to you.

 

- Greg




May 31, 2016, 12:00 PM

Simple, Old, and Worthy

by Brenda Farmer

5/13/16

 

There is a prayer that many of us have heard and read on plaques many times.  It is called       “The Serenity Prayer”.  It was written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) and used widely in sermons as early as 1934. This prayer may be old, but it carries deep insight into how we can develop a mindset, a way of thinking, in regard to a life situation that we would change if we could.

This prayer is expressed in only a few words, but it delivers high impact!

The brief version goes like this:

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and Wisdom to know the difference.

 

Receiving Serenity from God will bless us with peace of heart and mind.  His Serenity and Wisdom can keep us from wasting our time and energy worrying and thinking about things we cannot change. 

Receiving Courage and Wisdom from Him can help us let go of the past.  We can become encouraged and motivated to do our part to make significant changes in life with the faith and confidence that things will get better! 

Receiving Wisdom and Serenity from God will help us learn through faith to enjoy our current season of life and to cast our care on Jesus (1 Peter 5:7).  If we seek the Wisdom of the Lord deep enough, we may glean some measurement of understanding why things are the way they are.    But, as many of us know, sometimes there is no understanding of the whys…

Today, I encourage you to keep praying, keep doing the right thing, and keep moving forward!  May the Peace of God, that passes all understanding, keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 

- Brenda


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