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Devoted

Thursday, October 22nd

"Never" by Galen Troyer

What does that word mean to you? Many years ago, we were eating out at an old fashioned buffet, and my wife made the statement that she would never like buffets. At that time, I thought, she will change her mind when she gets older. So, I wrote her statement and asked her to sign and date it, which she did. A few years ago I found the signed document stating that she would never like buffets and we had a good laugh. So, has she change her mind? No, and I’m pretty certain now, that when she said “never” she meant it.
While people sometimes change their minds about something they once said never to; I’m thankful that we have confidence knowing that isn’t how God works. We know that he never changes. Scripture says “from age to age He is the same”.
Shortly before he died, Moses told the children of Israel:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” Deut. 31:6
God told Joshua: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5
And in Hebrews, included in the closing exhortations is this:
Keep yourselves free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Heb. 13: 5&6
 
In this world full of uncertainties; it is comforting to know that we can be certain of this: He will never leave us or forsake us!
We are never alone when we are His!

Wednesday, October 21st

“Righteousness” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

In my devotions this past week I came across a devotional that the Doc did in the book “Walking With God”, in this devotions he talks about how we can walk in the path of Christ as righteous. 

Enjoy!

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”  I John 2:29

Now righteousness obviously does not just mean morality, nor does it just mean living a good life. There are plenty of people who are outside the Christian church today who deny the elements of the Christian faith, but who are quite moral and decent. They are quite good people, using the term good in its moral or philosophical connotation; but they do not conform to what the New Testament means by righteous. Righteousness means the quality of life that was lived by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

So John puts it like this: “Every one that doeth righteousness…” If you see people who are living the quality of life that was lived by the Lord Jesus Christ, you can know for certain, says John, that they are born of God—they could not do it otherwise. No one can really live the Sermon on the Mount until he or she is born again; the Sermon on the Mount is impossible to the natural man or woman. Indeed, the Christian life as a whole is impossible to such persons. It does not matter how good people are—they cannot live the Christian life. They can live a moral, ethical life up to a point but they cannot live the Christian life, and the New Testament does not even ask them to. The New Testament standard of living for the Christian condemns the natural man and woman, and it should drive them to see the absolute necessity of the rebirth.

John reasons as followers: “If, then, we are born of God, does it not follow of necessity that we must be living a certain quality of life? If you are breaking the commandments and are living in sin, you cannot claim you are a child of God. The child of God must be living a different type of life.”

A THOUGHT TO PONDER

Righteousness means the quality of life that was lived by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

This devotional by the Doc affirms that our lives should reflect Christ, we are different and our actions are different.  Let us ponder the change that has come over us because of Christ.  Give thanks to the one that pulled you out of the darkness and now lights your every step.  To live a righteous life is to walk in his footsteps. 

Tuesday, October 20th

“Maintaining a Biblical Worldview” by Lynn Koehn

Craving sweets, which usually leads to eating sweets, was something I was not born with. At some point, I innocently and probably unintentionally tasted something sweet. Because it satisfied an insatiable craving in me I immediately accepted it as good and right. Often times the process of establishing a worldview is similar.

A worldview refers to the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world. It’s a learned, accepted or bought-into set of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it. For the Christian a biblical worldview provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man’s relations to God and the world,” says David Noebel, author of Understanding the Times.

Here is the big problem. Nonbiblical worldview ideas bombard us constantly. We are repeatedly fed a certain point of view by news media, friends, co-workers and printed materials, not realizing the consequences of that viewpoint, we buy into it and begin to promote it.

Del Tackett, creator of The Truth Project, and former Senior Vice President of Focus on the Family, shares a solid biblical perspective of buying into and espousing to a Biblical Worldview vs a Non-Biblical Worldview. Below are several excerpts from a recent paper published by Tackett: 

“If we don’t really believe the truth of God and live it, then our witness will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God and man affects our thinking more than we realize. We then are taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

However, by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives, we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s nonbiblical ideas. If we capture and embrace more of God’s worldview and trust it with unwavering faith, then we begin to make the right decisions and form the appropriate responses to questions on abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning, stem-cell research and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions that reveal what we really believe.”” [italics added]

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

My encouragement today is as we examine our worldview, allow the Holy Spirit to pinpoint any non-biblical opinions, viewpoints and perspectives we may have bought into and might be expressing. Then, as our text reads, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ur hearts will be filled with peace and contentment as we live life with a Biblical worldview. We will be a source of encouragement to those in “our community” searching for truth and for something or someone whom they can trust and give them hope for their future.   

Monday, October 19th

“GRACE,” By Bob Elliott

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45 esv

These images that Jesus speaks to the crowd during the sermon on the mount does a wonderful job of revealing the contrast between legalistic religion and grace that is driven by our love for God and our desire to be pleasing to him with our thoughts and actions.

There is a rhythm to walking in Grace that is very different from a spiritual discipline that we tend view as homework, rather than being birthed in relationship.  Notice that the “good person produces good things out of the good treasure of his heart. This good treasure is the presence of the Holy Spirit who is constantly reminding us of the unmerited favor of grace that we receive through Jesus.

Jared Wilson in his book titled Gospel Wakefulness describes how important it is for us to understand that we are not saved by our own works, we are saved by God’s grace given to us. He says, “We can become OCD about the work of obedience to our neuroses” content, but the kingdom rhythms are a result of our spiritual identity, not our spiritual aspirations. We don’t obey to be free, we obey because we are free. It is just what we do.”

The difference between these two contrasting approaches of how we do life, may appear subtle, however there is a huge theological difference between them. The apostle Paul describes this contrast in the third chapter of Galatians. O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Wilson goes on to describe the contrast, “What we are picturing here is the work of the spiritual disciplines in conformity to the law of God found in the scriptures, not as a means of propulsion, but as the means of setting the conditions for spiritual fertility. In obedience, we till the soil of our hearts so that they are more receptive for the planting and growth of the Word in our lives. We obey both in response to the Spirit’s awakening us and in order to raise the sail for the Spirit’s movement.” The outcome of this process is both free and inspirational.

Paul further writes in Galatians 5: 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. This is a spiritual rhythm that returns our affections to God as a reasonable act of service. This is all good and brings joy to our souls. Thankyou Jesus!!!!

Friday, October 16th

"His Time", by Gary Bittner

WATCH VIDEO

Thursday, October 15th

“Stay on Course”, By Galen Troyer

Are you ever distracted? There are many reasons we may find ourselves distracted, even when we don’t want to be. I’m not referring to interruptions/opportunities that happen each day; rather I’m referring to distractions that can change how we live and move us away from following the purposes and plans we have committed ourselves to.

The good news is that we don’t have to stay stuck in the distraction. No matter where we find ourselves, God has promised that he will not leave us or forsake us.

Read what King David wrote:

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right-you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.

Oh that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.

Psalm 119: 1-8 MSG

God never walks away from us, but we can walk away from him. When we realize what we’ve done, the best thing to do is to run back to him. Minimize regrets, return to him-the sooner, the better. 

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your word. I’m single minded in persuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked you’re promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.

Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you. I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. Ps. 119: 9-16

King David knew how a young person could live a clean life. He shares his own experiences in this scripture. No one can lead a clean life on their own. The road signs and promises are the scriptures. Read them often, think on them as you go about your day, thank God for them and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you and lead you. It’s the only way to truly LIVE!

Wednesday, October 14th

“You are not Autonomous”, by Warren Stroup

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”  Acts 2:42-44

We are created to live in community, to say we don’t need each other would be buying into a worldview that is very different than that which is taught in scripture.  There are so many different worldviews that want to tear down community and elevate individualism.  Have you ever said, or heard it said, “You aren’t my boss, you can’t tell me what to do?” That might sound childish but this is the mantra of our ever growing liberal culture. 

We have gone so far as to despise those very things that exemplify community; God, family, marriage, and the church.  This mindset has been birthed from various worldviews over the years and championed by such people as Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood).  Each of these leaders have emphasized a worldview that runs contrary to what is taught in scripture. 

The need for community is part of our DNA, when you look at the structure of life it exemplifies parts all functioning together in perfect unity. 

Think about the Godhead, how we have one God in three persons, perfect unity with the expression of beautiful diversity.  The trinity is imprinted on life; we don’t exist without community. 

During this season of time will you look back and see how you allowed God to birth within you a hunger and a desire to be part of a community?  Will you be reminded of how you grew closer to God and his church or will you see it as lost time, unrealized hopes and dreams, a distancing from others or a lost desire for community?

The church is the expression of God on this earth, let your Christian Worldview shape your actions and reactions to life.  We have a Cultural Mandate, how are you doing fulfilling it? (Genesis 1:28)

Take time today and meditate on this passage that was instrumental in establishing the church in the early 1st century.  This was not only their expression of doing life together, it is ours.

Tuesday, October 13th

“Coram Deo”, by Lynn Koehn

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase translated "in the presence of God" which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God. [A new phrase to me.] If you’re interested, this encouraging short video will give you a better understanding of the phrase;

https://www.google.com/search?q=coram+deo&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS879US879&oq=coram+Deo&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i59j0l3j46j0l2.3554j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_dJGEX4KMGdXO0PEPqcKg2A811

We should be thankful daily that the Lord took the initiative to call us unto Himself, for apart from this call, we would be separated from the presence of God in this life and no hope of eternal life in the life to come. Acts 9 is a detailed description of when Jesus took the initiative to apprehend Saul on the road to Damascus and supernaturally transformed his life into whom we all now know as the great Apostle Paul. Do you recall that moment in your life? The place, the people, the circumstances and surroundings when Jesus supernaturally stepped into your life and rescued you from a path that leads away from the Presence of God and set you on the path that leads to “Coram Deo!”

I remember that day, more than fifty years later, as if it were yesterday. Please allow me to share that experience with you. I hope it will bless and encourage you to recall the moment Jesus saved you!

I was thirteen years old, in the sixth grade, riding in the back seat of our Pontiac. My mom was sitting next to my dad singing hymns to keep him awake and alert as he drove the family home from a late evening church service, when I said to mom, “I have a strange feeling about this evening’s service.” Mom, with a grin on her face turned to me and said, “That is Jesus knocking on the door of your heart.” …that’s it! That’s all she said! She turned back around leaving me to wonder. What…? What does that mean—to me? I don’t recall the thoughts I had during the rest of the drive home but I do remember thinking dad either missed our turn or is intentionally taking the long way home…it seemed like we drove forever! By the way, my parents, myself and my three brothers were members of the church in Cimarron, Kansas. We moved quite often, but wherever we lived, we always drove to Cimarron for church (every…Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night…very seldom, if ever did we miss a service.)

When we finally arrived home, my mom asked me to come to the bathroom (don’t ask. I asked mom several times while she was still living, “why the bathroom?” She had no idea. :) It was there, next to the clawfoot, cast-iron tub in our house in Montezuma, Kansas my mom and I knelt together and I accepted God’s free gift of eternal life!

I couldn’t wait for the next day to go to school and tell my buddies. Several of them had already experienced their own encounter with Jesus. They were all excited and happy for me.

I am incredibly grateful that Jesus took the initiative to save me from all the anguish and discontentment that comes from living a life of selfish ambition and aimless living. That night in that bathroom, with my mom by my side, Jesus gave me the gift of meaning and purpose, a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life filled with the joy of the Lord! That night, in Doc Johnson’s house in Montezuma, Kansas my life in the Presence of God…really began!!!—Coram Deo—

Today, fifty-five years later, I continue to appreciate the significance of what Jesus accomplished for me (and you) on the cross. Particularly, as I consider the consequences of the fall (Genesis 3) and as my understanding of God’s free gift of eternal life continues to broaden and deepen.

  • Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

It is as if a spiritual virus has infected every human being ever born from that point on. A world-wide pandemic to which God had a cure even before the virus developed!

  • Romans 6:23b. “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I encourage you to listen to the powerful lyrics one of my favorite songs, “Red Letters” by Crowder. Listen for the phrase, “I became a free man that day!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1ohrZaZfTI

Please join me today in proclaiming with Crowder, “I am a free man today!”

Thank you, Jesus!

 

Monday, October 12th

“Wilderness”, By Bob Elliott

(A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1

We see in this scripture that David is found in the wilderness of Judah. This place is full of challenges. It is not his usual habitation.

This setting appears to take place during Absalom’s revolt. David is the rightful king and heir to the throne, however Absalom is attempting to overthrow David with the help of many in David’s army.

David is forced to flee into the wilderness. Not only is David dealing with the elements and lack of water, he is also dealing with the treachery of his own son.

It is here in this place of challenges and difficulties on every side that David cries out to God, “my soul thirsts for you.”  He further goes on to say, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”

Friends, no matter how difficult our challenges are, there is steadfast hope to be found when we set our minds on spiritual things rather than on the circumstances.

Romans 8: 12-13 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 

Friday, October 9th

Enjoy this video devotional by Gary Bittner

WATCH VIDEO

Thursday, October 8th

"Give your life to God", by Galen Troyer

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention in God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings out the best of you, develops well formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misrepresent yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by who we are and what we do for him.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped off finger or cut off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts of Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves to each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. Romans 12:1-8. (MSG)
Someone has said that if he (Jesus) isn’t Lord of everything, he’s not Lord at all. So many people in the world today live empty lives because they haven’t responded to The Call of God. Nothing gives lasting satisfaction outside of knowing Him and the plan He has for them. Because they don’t “know” Jesus, they don’t know that: “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”
 
Pastor Warren wrote in yesterday’s devotional that: “..we are not called to survive in this life, we were created to thrive...”
Surviving can often be tedious. I can’t swim, so surviving in water would be more than tedious for me, it would be impossible on my own. I need a life jacket. I have no choice but to trust the life jacket if I expect to survive. I also need others, I may not make it back to shore on my own. For sure it would be difficult without it; that’s why we have each other. We need each other in order to “Thrive”..
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering.
Rom 12:1

Wednesday, October 7th

“What are you thinking about?”, by Warren Stroup

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-5

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night rolled over and saw that it was 3:30 a.m.?  You knew that for the next hour you’d be wrestling with your mind, trying to fall back to sleep only to toss and turn over what you’d be doing that day.  When we see our day as an attempt to avoid difficulties, to endure to the closing bell, we are caught up in a dualistic perspective of the natural and the supernatural and we don’t even realize it.  We see nature as a struggle, an endurance test, that we so often fail. We think, “Can I survive today, yesterday was hard?” It’s as if God made the world as a test of your spiritual fortitude, saying “Will you be able to endure until the end? I think not!” Followed by a sinister laugh, “Ha, Ha, Ha.”

Christian, this is not a Gospel picture of your life.  He is the author of it all.  It says in Genesis over and over again that as God was creating life he said, “And God saw that it was good.”  We are not called to survive in this life; we are created to thrive in this life.  We were once slaves to the flesh, separated from God and facing corruption even as all creation groans in anticipation of the freedom that will one day come. (Romans 8:18-22) We are a people, that are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Our mind has been set free from the thoughts of the flesh to think on the things of the Spirit.  We now see everything through a different lens.  Everything is filtered through the cross.  We not only appreciate what was created in the beginning, we see God’s handiwork in the present and look forward to what will be created when death takes its last breath.

When it comes to your mind, let it think freely about the things of the Spirit that we experience every day, the beauty of creation, the smile that crosses a child’s face just because they recognize you, the rhythm of your heart during a morning run, the smell of coffee as the sun rises over the trees, the thoughts of being at work finishing up a project, or the smile that comes over you when you are reminded of God’s lavish Grace. 

Today is a good day, why? Because it was created by the Lord and we’ve been invited to share it with Him.

Enjoy your day today!

Tuesday, October 6th

“Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit—Matthew 5:3”, by Lynn Koehn

How often have you thought to yourself while listening to the preacher; what I am listening to right now is basically fundamental but yet unbelievably radical and extraordinarily profound!  Several Sundays ago, was one of those messages. To me, each word Pastor Warren spoke and every sentence was meaty and worth pondering. I encourage you to go to your favorite River Center internet platform and listen to the message, especially if you were unable to be with us in person.

Allow me to share several poignant thoughts that stand out to me:   

  • Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
  • It’s our inability, our spiritual poverty, our weaknesses that illuminates His ability, His wealth and His strength.
  • It’s our inability that elevates His ability…what He can do.
  • Our weaknesses are not a limitation to him. They are not something that keep Him from fulfilling and doing His story, accomplishing what He wants to accomplish. He’s still doing His work.
  • Our inabilities allow room for the Holy Spirit to speak and move through us; to lead us and guide us.
  • In our weaknesses we can rest in the sense of; “It’s ok, because I know who my God is. I know who’s leading. I know who’s story I’m a part of - that He is the one being elevated.”
  • We can’t be the hero of the story, because…the story isn’t about us. The story is about Jesus! There’s already a hero. And the hero is Jesus!  Our position in the story is to elevate the hero.
  • We are celebrating Him. He’s the victor!
  • When I walk in that place of humility—that place of contriteness—that place of surrendering and saying, “God, I am dependent upon you,” we don’t find ourselves so easily living life without God—without Christ—without the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us.

Again, if you get a chance, I encourage you to listen again to this message. As you do, join with me in asking:

  • Is it difficult for me to acknowledge to God that I have weaknesses?
  • How do I resist that ‘human-heroic spirit’ during my time of weakness?
  • Do I work harder, faster and longer, attempting to overcome my weaknesses?

The above statements and questions are real ‘doing-life’ truths. I hope they inspire and challenge you. As we humble ourselves before the Lord, place our dependency in Him, be assured and encouraged—He will strengthen and lead us during and…through…our time(s) of weaknesses. You will be blessed! Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you

(We experience the sufficiency of God’s grace when we experience our own insufficiency. The world around us, experiences the grace of God when we exhibit His strength through our weaknesses.)

…for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

(We can’t receive the power of God’s grace until we admit and respond to God from a position of our insufficiency. We experience God’s strength not by God removing the load but by God strengthening the shoulders that bear the load.)

 

“Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

 

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

Monday, October 5, 2020

“Love one another”, By Bob Elliott

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 esv

I am reminded of a popular song way back in the 1970’s, the lyrics go like this, what the world needs now is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.  If the song was poignant back then, it certainly is in play for today.

With all of the division facing our nation, Christ’s words of instruction to us to love one another presents an opportunity for us to be salt and light and bring healing to our nation. There is such great value in our church being a public display of people loving and caring for one another in community.

Many people have forsaken church attendance, thinking that it is not necessary to be involved in a community of believers. However, that thinking is shortsighted and bypasses God’s plan for his church to be the main vehicle for establishing and extending the Kingdom.

Jesus often used examples of fishing to convey parables or instructions that his followers are to embrace. The concept of a fishing net where the netting is meshed together in order to catch fish is a good example of what the church is supposed to be. We are linked together in brotherly or sisterly love, in order to be an example to the world. This is discipleship in action. It is a sacrificial love that believes and hopes for the very best for everyone.

Belonging to a church is much more than coming together in order for us to have some social needs met. There is a larger calling for us to be conduit for God’s power to flow through us. This is also an opportunity to be attractional to our family, friends and neighbors to come, taste and see that the Lord is good. What if we found a way to be creative in inviting these people to church? It’s not like trying to force a sale of something, rather it is bringing an exciting opportunity for people to see God’s love on display.  1st Peter 4:8 says  above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Thursday, October 1st

Bless The Lord

By Galen Troyer
Last week I challenged you (and me) to think God’s thoughts. I believe He wants us do that, so that we may enjoy the blessings that come as a result. Scripture says that King David was a man after God’s heart. He thought on God’s thoughts and his writings in The Psalms reflect his praise and adoration based on his experiences with God.
Today as you read this Psalm, be encouraged and blessed, knowing that He is still the same as He was in King David’s time.
Ps. 103 MSG
 
O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins- every one.
He heals your diseases- every one.
He redeems you from hell- saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy- a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness-beauty eternal.
He renews your youth- you’re always young in his presence.
God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. As far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.
God has set his throne in heaven; he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So, bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels, alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are- everything and everyone made by God.
 
And you, O my soul, bless God!

Wednesday, September 30th

“Let’s be among the few!” by Warren Stroup

Jesus was sending out the seventy-two into the towns that he was about to go.  He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:2

Reading the first part of this verse you might say, “Yes Lord, here am I, send me,” but as your read further, you may change your tune.  I don’t know about you but being a lamb in the middle of a wolf pack doesn’t sound very appealing, but wait just a minute, we aren’t alone among wolves, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a messenger of truth.  We have something to say, the truth is on our side.  One of the battles we face today is that the world keeps telling us that what we believe doesn’t impact or affect how we look at the world.  That is a false narrative.  The gospel, the message of Jesus is the foundation for understanding life, science, humanity and purpose.

The world would like to relegate Christianity to heart issues.  It serves a person that is in need of comfort or encouragement and when they are dealing with heart issues, like lose, pain or suffering.  Telling us that we have a role to play, but that role is limited.

Here’s the rub, we have allowed them to put us there.  We have acquiesced and by doing so we’ve given up the high ground. By high ground I mean the “mind”.

Quote by Nancy Pearcey, “Total Truth”

               “As a moral being, the Christian follows the biblical ethic. As a spiritual being, he or she prays and attends worship services. But as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularism…we participate mentally as non-Christians…”

The world would tell us we have nothing to add to an intellectual conversation, when it comes to the mind we Christians can’t relate.  The reason Jesus sent the seventy-two into the towns he was going to visit was because he knew the power of the good news. Jesus impacted people at a grass-roots level.  The truth changes how we see the world, it radically alters our worldview.  It’s not to be relegated to the Sunday morning preach it’s to be a message talked about on the streets. 

There is a harvest and we are being called to spend time in the fields.  The entire book of Acts is about a Spirit Filled people being a witness, sharing the good news and demonstrating the power of the Spirit.  Are you ready to go? It doesn’t matter what level of schooling you have or the type of job you’re in or if you have everything together.  Just go and let God do the rest!

Something to think about

Don’t let the world tell you if your message is relevant, know that it is and tell them about it.

Monday, September 28, 2020

“Seeds”, By Bob Elliott

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.  And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.  And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.  And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 4:1-8 esv

Often times we tend to look at this scripture with focus on the negative aspects of the seeds that failed to produce. Today I would like to share with you a positive point that I had the pleasure of experiencing.

During my time of ministry to international students at OSU, I would often meet up with potential seekers over coffee. There was this one Chinese Graduate student that I had been having conversations with that seemed interested in Christianity. I normally would engage in conversations that were based on questions that the seeker might have, however on this occasion, I just told him that I would like to start our conversation with this parable. He was inquisitive and said sure. I felt led by the Holy Spirit to make this portion of scripture the main focus of our conversation.

While I was reading the text, he was fully engaged in the description of each one of the places that the seeds were tossed. When I finished, he replied, “wow Bob I really get it. I want to be one of those good seeds that you were talking about.” I was surprised at his response, the power of the word of God was in full force on display. Shortly afterward this gentleman received salvation and also was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the same time.

I am reminded of the scripture that says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  I was so encouraged by how God orchestrates how we can be salt and light to the world around us. Something as simple as reading a portion of scripture to a person can bring life and hope.

Friday, September 25th

"Sheep need the flock", by Gary Bittner

WATCH VIDEO

Thursday, September 24th

"God’s Thoughts", By Galen Troyer

How would you answer this question: What are God’s thoughts?
Years ago, Pastor Keith Stroup preached a message from Isaiah 55 and one of the things he said was “ If you think God’s thoughts, you will have God’s future”. I wrote his quote in the margin of my Bible that day and I’m blessed each time I see it. I don’t know about you, but I think you’d agree with me when I say “I want God’s future!”
Let’s look at this scripture beginning in verse 6:
Seek the Lord while He May be found, call upon Him while He is near. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. 8. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. 9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55: 6-9
In this chapter, God, through the prophet Isaiah, is inviting the children of Israel to return to Him and the Abundant Life that He offers. I am amazed after all these years, that God’s offer still stands! His steadfast love never ceases!
He desires that we think His thoughts because He wants us to have the future that He is preparing for us. That future, my friends, is out of this world! Nothing can compare to it!
So, how can we know God’s thoughts? In order to think them, we need to know them. He has given us His Word and The Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth -if we listen. I like Isaiah 40: 31. Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Practice Thinking God’s Thoughts!
Wait on the Lord; read the Bible; ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and remind you!
You Will Be Blessed!!!

Wednesday, September 23rd

“Confessing Christ” by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

I love sharing from this amazing devotional, ‘Walking with God Day by Day” by the Doc.  Enjoy!

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” I John 4:15

John’s whole case is that you cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God unless God dwells in you and you in God; that is his argument. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” And the way in which God dwells in us is by the Holy Spirit. So we can say that the people who do confess that Jesus is the Son of God have the Holy Spirit already within them. Or to put it another way, they cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of God without possessing the Holy Spirit.

Now this is a doctrine that is common to the whole of the New Testament. The apostle Paul puts it like this: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory….But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:7-8,10).

You see, the whole case can be put like this: Even the princes of this world, the great men of the world, looked at Jesus of Nazareth and saw nothing but a man, a carpenter. They may have regarded Him as a kind of unusual religious genius, but they did not know He was the Lord of glory. Why not? Well, says Paul, because they had not received the Holy Spirit. But you and I, he says to the Corinthians, we understand these things, we believe them. Why? Because God has revealed them to us by His Spirit, the Spirit who searches all things, “yea, the deep things of God.”

A THOUGHT TO PONDER

God has revealed “the deep things of God’ to us by His Spirit.

Tuesday, September 22nd

“Go Through!” by Lynn Koehn

 James 1:2-4   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. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Deuteronomy 31:6. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Betty’s mom loved Jesus, her family and her friends. She was steadfast in her beliefs and did not waver in her faith. Like most in her generation, she learned a great deal of wisdom through the ‘school-of-hard-knocks.’ She was slow to speak and would listen carefully to what others were saying. I personally learned to listen very carefully when she was offering words of advice and instruction. Because…she was more often than not “correct!” During one of those special mother/daughter talks, Betty’s mom said to her: “When you have hard times, you must go through them – God will help you - don’t try to go around them.”

How often do you find yourself, when faced with what seems to be a difficult task or maybe in your estimation—impossible, you find yourself contemplating, researching and strategizing a way to get around the task at hand? In the back of your mind you know the ‘right thing to do’ but you plot out your ‘easy-way-out’ and go for it. All the while, knowing it is likely not going to work and you or someone else will need to fix it later. We think ‘go around our issue,’ [out-of-sight-out-of-mind] it will go away and we can go on with our life. But is that true?

This is a true story:

Every time it rains, which happens a lot here in Oregon, water gushes out the downspouts where they connect into the drain(s). After doing some investigating, it became clear the drains had zero slope to them so the silt, leaves, dirt and most detrimental, the roofing sand was not flowing through the drains! Needless to say, all the drains were plugged and needed to be fixed! So, spending quite a bit of time and a lot of energy digging up all the drain pipes, washing out the gunk, putting them back where they were—on the foundation footing and covering them up with dirt and bark mulch was great…until the first heavy rain storm. Water was still gushing out the downspouts! I knew in the beginning I should redo the slope of the downspouts, but I chose to take what I thought would be the easy way out. Wrong!! So now, I get to dig them all up again.

I realize this is a physical illustration of “going around.” However, the point of resisting what we know to be true and how to appropriately deal with the situation or task at hand is the same when it comes to relationships, emotional, spiritual, financial endeavors, etc. Settling for a quick and easy fix, knowing it is not going to resolve the issue or solve the problem still applies.

My encouragement to us today is: let’s lean into what is set before us. “go through it.” Don’t spend time, energy and resources trying to “go around it.” You are not alone. You are never alone. God has promised to be right there with you, every step of the way. Face your difficult trials head-on. Roll up your sleeves. Hike up your britches. Grab ahold of the hand of Almighty God and go to work. God has promised, “He will walk with you!” You will learn some new things along the way. You will become more resilient. And most of all, you will experience God in a way you may have never known Him. The disciples never knew Jesus could walk on water until they rowed all night in the middle of a storm!

A Prayer for when you are facing a task that seems too hard or even impossible:

“Father, I thank you for Godly courage to take on the difficult tasks you allow to come into my path. Thank you that you invite me to lean into you (Matthew 11:28.) Thank you, Lord, for walking with me ‘all the way’ through this situation. And I thank you for giving me your strength to work through this situation (“for when I am weak, you make me strong” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Thank you, Jesus for allowing me to know and experience you in brand new way!”

Monday, September 21st

“Bonhoeffer”, By Bob Elliott

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. Ps. 23 esv

I wanted to share these comforting words in light of all that we are facing, particularly in the arena of political uncertainty. I think that it is pretty easy for us to be upset about where we are at right now, and potentially where we are headed from here. These words from the psalmist are so reassuring and apolitical!

While I believe that it is necessary for us to be politically informed and get out to vote as our conscious dictates, we cannot place all of our hopes on any form of political system. Our hope is truly found in our shepherd. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, be we will trust in the Lord our God.

I just recently finished reading a biography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a dissenting pastor and theologian in Nazi Germany during WW II. His courage in the face of horrible societal evil and eventual martyrdom for Jesus brings so much inspiration as someone fully committed to Christ. No matter how difficult the circumstances were, he was constantly engaged in the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit with a positive and creative attitude. Even as the social environment got worse and worse, he kept a cool head living out the 23rd psalm on a regular basis.

Likewise, we have the option to spiritually thrive, no matter which direction our nation is headed in November. We have the opportunity to still be Kingdom people. Circumstances, (whether good or bad) should not be the deciding factor in how we are to live out our lives. The scripture teaches us that all things can work together for good, for those who love Christ and are called according to His purposes.

Friday, September 18th

With God It Is Always ‘NOW’, by Gary Bittner

I believe it is God’s desire that each one of His kids live full of faith that He wants to use them in their sphere of influence, in their church and in our cities and beyond…NOW!

WE MUST REMEMBER AND REALIZE THAT, AS GOD IS ETERNAL, IT IS ALWAYS ‘NOW’ WITH HIM…I AM, I AM, I AM!!!!!

Ephesians 3:7-13…7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms....

Now: Merriam Webster: At the present time or moment. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Sooo, His desire for His people, for YOU, has never changed! SO ‘NOW’ HE WANTS TO SHOW HIS MANIFOLD WISDOM, THRU YOU!

Who else is He going to use but the His people? We are the ‘called out ones!’

  • Genesis 1:26-28 = We were created to have dominion
  • Genesis 2:15 = We were created to be His stewards and managers
  • Psalm 8:3-8 = Glory/Kawbad…weight (of responsibility) Ruler/steward
  • Psalm 115:16 = Given/assigned to man…you and me! We are to be His representatives in the earth. Represent = re-present = to present again His glory, grace, love, kindness, forgiveness, justice, joy….

AND…We are to enforce and release His victory that is needed in the earth today! While we certainly are not are not ‘re-doing’ the work of the cross we are enforcing and releasing and re-presenting the work of the cross touching and redeeming the culture, about bringing salt and light, healing and hope wherever we are, NOW.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

The past is where we learned lessons, the future is where we apply the lessons learned. BUT TOO OFTEN WE GIVE UP BETWEEN PAST AND FUTURE, WHICH IS NOW!

And I believe God wants His kids to live in joy, in confidence, in peace and go all around their world with the confidence that God is good and with that confidence in their minds, in their hearts, on their face and coming out of their mouths….NOW!

If we get stuck in the PAST we will be paralyzed in the PRESENT and never move forward toward our FUTURE…

Not later, NOW……

You are more than a conqueror. And that is what He says to you today. You are not weak, you are not at the devil's mercy, you are not defeated. You are a conqueror.  You are more than a conqueror.  You are a mega-conqueror.  You are a super conqueror through Him that loved you.

 

What a blessing to know that God gives us new opportunities, fresh days, new strength, another chance.

God has that for you TODAY…NOW!  I pray today you will claim it.  I pray you will stake your claim on it.  I pray today that you will embrace your future.  It is a wonderful future. 

Amen.

 

Thursday, September 17th

"GLORIOUS DAY" By Galen Troyer

The words to this song have been going through my mind the past few days. Sunday morning as we sang in church: “...when you called my name, I ran out of that grave; out of the darkness, into your glorious day. I needed rescue, my sin was heavy, but chains break at the weight of your glory; I needed shelter, I was an orphan; now you call me a citizen of heaven. When I was broken, you were my healing; now Your Love is the air that I’m breathingI have a future, my eyes are open, ‘cause when you called my name, I ran out of grave....”
Gods love is pure, fresh and life giving! We all know how important clean air is and are especially aware with the unhealthy conditions in our area the past 10 days. The physical air we breathe has been rated “hazardous” for several days and we’re told to stay indoors and wear a mask, especially if we go outside. If we breathe in this hazardous air or get it on our skin, there can be lasting health effects; also scratchy throat, congestion and trouble breathing at times. Clean air is important in order for us to lead healthy and active lives. God designed us that way and our bodies thrive on breathing in clean air.
Think with me for a few moments about the spiritual aspect of the “air we breathe”. The song says “..God’s love is the air that I’m breathing..”. That shouts of LIFE, doesn’t it? There is nothing as pure or as great as God’s love! It’s what opens our eyes and gives us a future. God’s love for us was so great, that he sent his only son Jesus to earth to die for us. Because he rose from the grave and today sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us; all