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May 26, 2016, 12:00 PM

Living By His Word

by Sandy Holt

 

While we were visiting our daughter and her family in another state a few weeks ago we went to watch a movie that we knew the kids would enjoy.  As we were watching that movie unfold, I began to see some undertones that I didn’t especially like.  Now, while the kiddos probably didn’t understand those undertones, I certainly did.  I began to ask myself these questions, “ How have we as a nation moved so far from biblical teaching?  What happened to loving one another and raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?   What happened to believing the word of God and striving to live as closely to it as possible?” 

Well, one thing I do know is that God has not changed.  He hasn’t changed His point of view nor has He changed His views on the fact that we are supposed to live righteous lives if we claim to be His children.

Psalm 1:1-6 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; ...”

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:4: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

The word of God provides all the guidelines we need to produce a healthy and happy family.  His word give us instruction on how to raise our children. We need to read His word, apply His word and LIVE by His word!

Ephesians 6:4 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

 

- Sandy




May 25, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Mantle

- by Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

2 Kings 2:8-14 NKJV

 

  Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. ” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

 

There is one word that I want to focus on here and you've probably gathered that from the title: mantle. Now, if you look up the definition of the word "mantle", you get two meanings;

1. A loose, sleeveless cloak or shawl…

2. An important role or responsibility that passes from one to another.

  Now, to understand the point that I'll eventually get to later, you have to understand how important Elijah's mantle was to Elisha... When Elijah initially took Elisha under his wing, he spoke no words. All he did was throw his cloak (or mantle) on Elisha's back and immediately Elisha knew. He knew that Elijah was going to be his mentor and he would have to leave his family (1 Kings 19:19-21). This cloak meant way more to him than just any other jacket. It represented what had become his life; his calling; his responsibility. Elisha knew that when Elijah left it was going to be hard for him, and he knew that he would need a double portion of the anointing that Elijah had to continue the responsibility that was placed on both of them by God. I believe that when Elisha went back to the Jordan after seeing his mentor be taken from him, he was tested...it was the test of all time for him. Maybe he was thinking, "Am I going to be able to do this? Can I be used by God just like Elijah was? Will the water part for me as it did for him?" I think that's why he cried out, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" He wanted to be used just like his master. In fact, I think he wanted to go even further than Elijah had.  But, he needed God to lead him and help him- I mean, there was no crossing the Jordan River without God's help, and Elisha knew it.

I can't help but think while I read this that maybe the disciples went through this same thought process when Jesus was taken up into heaven. They had spent three years with this dude learning, watching, and performing miracles with him by their side, and now...he was gone. He had told them time and time again that he was going to leave, and he had explained to them that they would do even greater things than he, but when the time came for Peter to step up and proclaim Jesus' name without him by his side for the first time, don't you think he thought, "Where is the LORD Jesus- the One that walked and talked with me for three years. Where is he now? I really, really need Him to be able to do this."

The fact is, in both of these situations, God was there and He used these people to do incredible things. Jesus said in Luke 9:23,

"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." (NLT)

Right before Jesus said this to a crowd, he told his disciples that he was going to suffer, be rejected, and then killed, but they shouldn't worry, because he would rise again on the third day (Luke 9:21-22). As he said this next thing to the crowd, I don't think that he meant to literally take up an old wooden cross every single day and carry it around. I think he was trying to explain to them-his disciples included- that there was a certain responsibility in following him, and he expected them to think about and act upon that responsibility daily whether he was around physically or not.

  What I'm trying to say is that the moment Elijah laid his mantle upon Elisha, Elisha knew that he had a responsibility to leave what he was doing right then and there, and follow this dude. Elijah literally laid his responsibilities on Elisha, and when Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha still had to carry them out. Jesus did the same exact thing when he came to this earth. He laid his responsibilities of spreading his love- his light- to this broken world, on those that chose to follow him, and when he was taken up into heaven after rising on the third day and spending a few more days on this earth, the disciples still had to carry that out. Some failed, some went away sad, some didn't accept the call, but there was still a responsibility to be taken up and carried out by those who had a double portion of his Spirit.

  You see, there's another correlation here. Elisha knew that he was going to need a double portion of Elijah's spirit in order to carry out the responsibilities they had, and he was given exactly that. Jesus explained to his disciples in John 14:12-19 that anyone who believed in him, would do the things that he did and even greater because he was going to ask the Father to send them another Advocate called the Holy Spirit, and He would live inside of them and lead them into all truth. When Jesus left this earth, he didn't leave us alone, he sent us the Holy Spirit so that those who believe in Him could continue doing what He did on this earth, and even greater. Did you catch the even greater part?

  So, to those who believe in Jesus, you have a responsibility. You have a responsibility to be the light in this dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). To share the love that Jesus shared with us. To use the gifts that God has given you to glorify Him. Maybe you're thinking exactly what Elisha thought right before God split the Jordan River through him: "Where is the LORD...?" I'm writing this to tell you that the Holy Spirit is here to meet with you right where you are. He is here to comfort you, guide you, lead you into all truth, and take you deeper into a relationship with Him than your feet could ever wander. And when you're in a relationship with the God of the universe, there is nothing that He can't do through you. So, the question is not, "Where is the Lord?" The question is, "Where are you?"

  I guess the next question I should ask you is: are you really taking up the mantle that has been placed upon you? Or are you simply content with watching the world burn while you do nothing about it?

 

- Haley




May 24, 2016, 12:00 PM

He makes me lie down in green pastures - Psalms 23:2

by Greg Higgins

 

One of the most recognizable passages in the scriptures is Psalms 23. David paints a beautiful portrait of the Christian life. The verse listed above is, perhaps, my favorite verse in this setting of scripture.

In the passage David describes what a shepherd's role is in the life of sheep. If you think of how they treat sheep, the animal doesn't have to worry about anything. It doesn't worry about food or drink. It knows the shepherd will lead it beside still waters. They know that there will be green pastures for them to graze in because they trust the shepherd.

Verse two is very interesting to me and especially in this day in which we live. In a society in which we have everything to keep us busy and everything given to us in a hurry, we sometimes lose focus. It's easy to get caught up in television or our smart phones and forget to focus on the things that matter.

This is where this verse comes into play. The Shepherd realizes we can get overwhelmed and realizes it's time to recharge and rest in Him. That's why Jesus said to take my yoke and my burden because it's light and easy. So the next time you feel a little overwhelmed, don't grab the smart phone. Instead take a break and rest in the arms of God.

 

- Greg




May 23, 2016, 12:00 PM

"The best sermons are lived"

by Brenda Farmer

3/23/16

 

 

Have you ever read an email from someone, and it touched your heart in such a way that it really made you think below the surface?  And, just maybe, it brought tears to your eyes... 

My sister sent me this one last month, and I knew it was a favorite!  Originally, there were a dozen anonymous, short literary sketches.   For today, I narrowed it down to my top five favorites.  I hope you enjoy them:

            
1.  Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.  When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, "Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.” 

2. Today, I asked my mentor - a very successful business man in his 70s- what his top 3 tips are for success.  He smiled and said, "Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”

3.  Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face. 
 

4.  Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work.  At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I looked into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too.  A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow. 


5. Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy. 

 

- Brenda
 




May 20, 2016, 12:00 PM

Marriage Advice from 1886

By Sandy Holt

 

 

The other day I stumbled upon this Marriage Advice from 1886.  I found it very interesting and really quite simple.  See what you think!

Marriage Advice from 1886

“Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. 

 

Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break. 

 

Believe the best rather than the worst. 

 

People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.

 

Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.  The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends.

 

Please hand this down to your children and your children’s children:  The more things change, the more they are the same.”

Jane Wells (1886)

 

Living in the 21st century where life is such a hustle and bustle sometimes we get too busy to remember to extend common courtesies to our loved ones and in all circumstances to love one another.  We have a mind-set of “each man for himself,” being so afraid that someone might get something over on us.  But, the scripture is very clear in Matthew 22:37-40 when it says, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

Jesus’ love for us is perfect, unchanging, and self-sacrificial. Our capacity to love others the way Jesus commands comes only from our experience of His love and from the power of the Holy Spirit! When we  live by HIS command we might just see a change in our family relationships!

 

- Sandy


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