Prayerful – I can talk to God about anything

 “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power.” James 5:16 Corrie Ten Boom, who is known for having helped Jews escape during World War II, posed the question “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” The role prayer plays in a Christian’s life goes far beyond mere wishful thinking or good thoughts. Prayer is our direct line of communication to God! And prayer isn’t limited to asking for needs to be fulfilled! Praying also involves praises to a Providential God, humbling confessions to the Ultimate Forgiver, expressions of gratitude to a Gracious Giver, as well as…

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Orderliness – I know God has a purpose and order for everything

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain wisdom.” Proverbs 90:12 One of my favorite and well worn t-shirts reads “Chaos Coordinator.” Maybe you can relate. It’s not that our life is really that chaotic...it’s just busy. So I do my best to control the chaos by utilizing online calendars and daily planners and a HUGE chalkboard in my kitchen that serves as a command center reminding me throughout the day who needs to be where and when. Chaos is exhausting, isn’t it? I find it remarkable that we tend to crave order.  Maybe it’s because it…

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Sincerity – I don’t try to trick people

“Our goal is love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 How would you define sincerity? I mean, we all know what it feels like because we have experienced both sincerity and its evil twin sister, insincerity. Curious as to how my kiddos would define it, I posed the question to them. They all answered along the lines of genuine or heart felt. That was a good start, similar to my own thinking, but I felt like that wasn’t the full essence of the word. So I went to my…

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Generous – I give what I have to others because I want to and it makes me happy

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart...for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 When our kids were little, one of our favorite books to read together was The Giving Tree. Are you familiar with this children’s book? In case you aren’t, it follows a boy through his childhood into adulthood and captures the spirit of giving, or generosity, as his favorite tree is always willing, out of love, to fulfill a need (branches to be used for swinging, for example). It’s a lovely story that I highly recommend and I’m sure it will become…

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Truthfulness – I always tell the truth

“An honest witness does not lie, a false witness breathes lies.” Proverbs 14:5 No matter how young or old you are, possessing truthfulness can be a struggle. I remember when our oldest child told her very first lie. In actuality, I remember more of how I felt at that time than I do of the actual circumstance (why she lied)! I was disappointed! Sure, she was only 3, but my heart sank as I realized that her little sin nature was indeed there. When sin rears its ugly head, this is where parenting gets real! For many parents, the temptation…

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Self-Control – I do the things I am supposed to do even when I want to do something else.

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28 A wall surrounding a city serves as a preventive measure to ensure protection for those within the walls. It’s to keep something unwanted...out, right? So, how does the purpose (keeping something out) relate to the construction? Well, a lot of thought needs to go into the plan (the how) and the materials (the what). Strength and durability is important for not only initial protection but for the long-term. It’s pretty hard to protect yourself or others if you have to rebuild and defend at…

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Hopeful – I believe that God will make all things right even when I don’t understand.

“Set your minds on things above not on earthly things.” Galatians 6:7 When you hear the word hope, what comes to mind? Wishful thinking or something deeper? In the book of Job, we are presented with a man so righteous that Satan desires deeply to demonstrate that the reason behind Job’s righteousness is the continued blessings God had bestowed upon him. Remove the blessings, remove the righteousness. In other words, trial reveals where man’s true hope lies. But this is where Satan’s thinking went wrong. Job may have lost every earthly thing but his mind and heart didn’t dwell solely…

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Forgiving – I don’t hold grudges against my friends.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13 On Easter Sunday, during a time of shared prayer in the worship service, a powerful testimony was given on forgiveness. A woman told the congregation how she and her husband had recently seen the movie I Can Only Imagine, and on their way home from the theater her husband (who had grown up in a house of abuse) sent a simple text to his step-father “I forgive you.” Not expecting…

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Pure Heart – My heart is totally pointed to God and following His ways.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8 Many years ago, when our children were younger, we used a very simple demonstration to compare a pure heart with a dirty heart. We took two glasses of clean, drinkable water. The first glass was left alone but to the second glass we added a scoop of dirt and gave it a good stir. The children watched as the dirt quickly contaminated the clean water. Then we asked “Which would you rather drink?” Of course, the kids all pointed to the glass of crystal clear water. But…

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Love – I put others before myself and do what I can to meet their needs.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 The image of the cross brings several words to mind, doesn’t it? Sacrifice, suffering, salvation, grace, gratitude, forgiveness, eternal life, and love are all common word associations. And yet out of these words, is it possible that there is one word that serves as the foundation for all of the rest? John 3:16 reminds us that, yes, there is a foundational word, an action that served as a basis for Christ’s sacrifice…

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Rejoicing – I am happy when something good happens to my friends.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” Romans 12:15 The instilling and building of character in our children (and even in ourselves) isn’t for the times when everything goes our way but rather for those times when things don’t go our way! One of my favorite reminders of the important role that character plays in our life comes from the prayer book Valley of Vision: “may my character and not my circumstances define me.” Think about the last time someone you knew approached you with good news. Maybe they just found out they were expecting a baby, receiving a promotion at work…

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Submissive – Obeying God with all my heart, even when I don’t want to

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7 Let’s face it...we don’t always want to submit, do we? No matter how old you are there are moments that really try us; as Christians, as parents, as employees, to name a few, and the struggle with submitting is a real one. We especially see this struggle with our little (and older) ones.  Obeying God (or mom and dad) with all our hearts can seem impossible! What comes to mind when you think of a lack of submissiveness? Your toddler or teenager? Maybe someone who works for or under you? What about yourself?…

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Mercy – Being kind to others even when they hurt us

Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. One of my favorite traditional hymns is “Great is Thy Faithfulness” based on verses 22 and 23 of the book of Lamentations. You are probably familiar with this one as well, especially the refrain: “Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see: all I have needed thy hand hath provided – Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” What a comfort to know that as sure as the sun rises, the Lord’s mercies are fresh with each passing day! So what exactly…

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Contentment – Being satisfied with the things I have

Philippians 4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. How many of us have felt contentment in a time of hurt or need? Or when life goes through a rough patch and we are left at what seems to be the bottom, wondering if things could get any worse? It’s not an easy thing to do, is it...to be satisfied or happy with…

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Compassion – Feeling the sadness or hurt of others and wanting to help

Psalm 103:13 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. In the book of Luke, Jesus is asked how one might inherit eternal life.  The answer? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).  Not quite satisfied with the answer, the young man asks just one more seemingly innocent question, you know, for clarification: Who is my neighbor? We all know the parable that Jesus told to…

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Courage/Trust – Having the strength to do what is right because God is with you all of the time

Joshua 1:9: Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   This past weekend, our church held their annual missions conference.  It was a wonderful opportunity for all of the supported missionaries (both in the US and international) to share with the congregation the ways in which God is using their mercy and service ministries to reach and care for those in need of the Gospel. As I listened to their incredibly moving stories, the one thing that stood out to me was the…

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Faith – Believing in God’s Promises

Acts 16:31 – Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.   Recently, we were having dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to a difficult circumstance in our life.  The couple leaned in and asked “What stones have you seen turned over during this time?” We must have had a puzzled expression on our faces because they continued “You know, what stepping stones or evidences of God’s providence have you seen throughout this?” When they put it like that, well, yes! There had indeed been certain acts of providence! And the analogy of stepping stones…

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God is Love

Bible Reading – 1 John 4:7-21 As Valentine's Day gets closer, I keep thinking about how great the love of God is.  I remember that God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.  Not only did Jesus die so our sins could be forgiven, but He resurrected back to life so that we no longer have to fear death.  Sin and death are defeated in Jesus Christ for all those who love Him.  Valentines is a season of love, and we would do well to think more about love as that great…

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Work and Worship While You Wait

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 Ordinary life can be challenging for the Christian.  Think about this with me:  we have heard countless testimonies of faith in the midst of extraordinary times.  Testimonies of faith in the midst of illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, addiction, and many more things.  These are all amazing testimonies that give glory to God and encourage fellow believers as they go through similar circumstances.  But what about ordinary, routine, daily life?  This has been my struggle over the years.  Is my faith growing and showing through in the ins and outs…

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The Perfecting Love of God

Bible Reading: 1 John 2:1-6; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 1:6 It is no secret that the Christian life should be free from sin.  Once we have professed faith in Jesus Christ and repented of our sins, our lives should be lived for the glory of God.  Although we all believe this to be true, we all still sin.  Not one of us is perfectly holy and righteous, and we all must continue to live a life of repentance and faith in Jesus.  We may feel very saddened by this to the point that we feel that God can no longer forgive…

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The Prosperity of the Gospel

Bible Reading: Matthew 19:16-26; Psalm 119:97-105 Although it is a popular story that many of us know, it is always good to revisit the story of the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19.  In the story, a young man who has great wealth, possessions, and prominence in his community, approaches Jesus and asks an important question: “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  His desire is for eternal life, but it is how he seeks it which is the problem.  This young man is seeking to earn his way to eternity because that is what he has…

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I Will Sing of Your Love Forever

Bible Reading: Psalm 89; Luke 2:1-14 Psalm 89 begins, “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”  Is there a more powerful and true statement for this Christmas season?  As the children of God, Christmas means much more to us than the rest of the world.  We are the most blessed people, because our God has loved us enough to send His Son to save us from sin!  89:15-18 says, “Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the…

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The LORD Has Done Great Things For Us

Bible Reading: Psalm 126 When you stop to consider the chain of events that Christmas sets in motion, it is humbling to see all of the great things God has done for humanity.  Romans 5 teaches us that at the right time, Christ was born in order to save the ungodly.  That’s us!  We were ungodly sinners that were in need of redemption, and God sent His Son to earth in order to save us.  This is our heart’s dream come true!  As the opening verse of Psalm 126 says, “we were like those who dream.” When you think about…

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God Promises Peace

Bible Reading: Psalm 85 God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Our Lord never changes, and He is always faithful to be and do what He has claimed He will be and do.  As we read Psalm 85, we see that this community prayer moves from past to present, and then looks to the future, and does all of this through the lens of God’s faithfulness.  In 85:1-3, the people are looking back on what God did for them during a time when they had been sinful and wicked towards God.  God forgave their iniquity and, “covered all their…

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“Restore Us, O God”

Bible Reading: Psalm 80 If you were to google, “What is advent?” you would receive two definitions.  The first says, “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.”  The second says, “The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.”  For Christians, Christmas is the greatest advent there is: the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  He is the most notable person in history, and His birth is one of the most notable events in history.  The Church celebrates Advent every year by focusing on the story of our dear…

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The Kindness of God

Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 9:1-13 I love this story of kindness!  David was still young in his reign, and after establishing his place as king, he does the strangest thing.  David asks if there is anyone left among the sons of Saul and Jonathan.  We might assume that King David is looking to exact some revenge for all of the trouble King Saul had done to him.  Saul had tried to kill David on more than one occasion, and David had spent much of the previous years on the run in the wilderness.  Now that he was king, David could…

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Thankful Through the Fire

Bible Reading: Daniel 3; Psalm 119:46-48 This is the week we all sit around a table filled with food and rattle off a list of things we are thankful for.  We are challenged by this time of year to look beyond ourselves and think about the things we take for granted.  Even our commercials and other advertisement ask us what we are thankful for.  Honestly, it is not hard to think of things to be thankful for.  The main obstacle to thankfulness is our circumstances.  Can you remain thankful in the midst of chaos?  Would you have a heart filled…

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God Only Knows

Bible Reading: Job 42:1-6; Proverbs 2:6 I love old sayings that we continue to use today, especially when they are more true than people realize.  Back home, when a person was being asked continuous questions (like your child constantly asking “Why?”), they would get frustrated and say, “God only knows!”  It may be venting frustration, but it is incredibly accurate!  There is so much going on in this world, that often times we find ourselves throwing our hands up and saying, “Only God knows!” The book of Job gives us so much insight and wisdom into the wisdom of God. …

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God Knows the Hearts of All

Bible Reading: Acts 1:15-26; Ephesians 2:1-10 Have you ever felt unqualified for something?  Maybe you were offered a new position at work you weren’t confident in taking, or perhaps you were selected to lead a group or project, and you did not think you had what it takes.  Can you imagine being recruited to be the apostle to replace Judas?  This is the task said before the man, Matthias.  He is selected by God to be the twelfth apostle right as the Church is about to explode to over three thousand members.  Matthias would be one of foundational pillars that…

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Give to God What is His

Bible Reading: Luke 20:19-26; James 4:7 The wisdom of Jesus is on full display in this passage.  The Pharisees were doing all that they could to trip him up and discredit Jesus, but Jesus was too smart for them.  In the passage for this week’s blog, the Pharisees think they finally have the perfect trap when they ask a question of loyalty:  Is Jesus loyal to Israel, or Rome?  Since Rome was the ruling nation over Israel, there was some tension in this question.  Citizens of Israel had to pay a tax to Rome, but to encourage people to do…

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The Courageous Faith of Caleb

Bible Reading: Joshua 14:6-15 After reading this passage, how can it be that Caleb is not one of our favorite people from the Old Testament?  I am so encouraged by the faith of this 85-year-old!  Can you imagine all that Caleb has seen and experienced in his long life?  Through it all, his faith is not only intact, but stronger than ever before.  Caleb has experienced so much.  He began as a slave in Egypt, and passed through the Red Sea as God parted the waters.  He was with the people as God led them as a pillar of cloud…

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Healing Faith

Bible Reading – Luke 8:40-48 Have you ever been at the end of your rope and looking for any hope to grab on to?  Have you ever been so desperate for relief that you would try literally anything?  I can imagine this is the mindset of the woman in Luke 8.  She has suffered from a discharge of blood for over twelve years.  She has used all of her resources to find a cure, and nobody could cure her.  This is no exaggeration.  The Bible says, “though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed…

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The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Bible Reading: Malachi 1:1-5; Proverbs 3:5-8 Lately I have been pestering the people around me about reading the Minor Prophets.  I started a plan to read through them all in a 25-day period, and quickly fell in love with them.  To read through the promises of God for His people, but also getting a glimpse of His holiness and justice as He judges all of the nations of the earth. In the Minor Prophets, we see the discipline of our perfect Heavenly Father towards His people, Israel, as well as His promises of hope and peace for them after He…

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Resting in the Shade

Bible Reading: Micah 4:1-5, Colossians 3:1-17 There are few better images of rest and being worry-free than of a person napping in the shade of a tree.  Can you imagine propping up against a tree, finding that comfortable spot, and feeling the coolness of the shade, you fall asleep.  Even imagining it gives us a sigh of relief and peace.  But then we open our eyes, and we are back to reality.  What if this kind of rest was real?  What if it was possible to experience such peace, and have it last?  This is an image Scripture gives us…

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To Fulfill All Righteousness

Bible Reading: Matthew 3:13-17 Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to be baptized?  He is the Messiah; the Savior of the world.  We know that Jesus was sinlessly perfect, so why did He have John baptize Him?  Baptism, we know, is an outward expression on the heart-cleansing salvation God has done.  But Jesus did not need to be saved from sin.  Actually, the exact opposite is true, in that Jesus had come to save sinners.  When He comes to John seeking baptism, John says that Jesus should be the one baptizing him.  Jesus gives an interesting response that can…

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Growing Where God has Planted You

Bible Reading: Mark 5:1-20 Can you imagine what was going through this poor man’s mind?  For so long, his mind had been under the control of a legion of demons.  His hometown feared him, and he had been isolated from his community.  There is no telling how marred his body is from breaking chains and shackles, or how scarred from the demons causing him to cut himself with stones.  But once Jesus enters the picture, Legion is cast out, and enters a herd of pigs.  For the first time in years, this man has control of himself again.  The first…

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Never Forget

Bible Reading: Psalm 103 As Americans, we cannot help but feel a heaviness in our hearts today.  For those of us who are old enough, we remember where we were when the terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.  Maybe you were so young that you did not fully understand the gravity of what was happening, or maybe you were old enough to have been filled with anger, sadness, and fear.  Most days in our past are hard to remember.  I cannot remember how I felt on the day I became a teenager, or the…

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Humbled by Love

Bible Reading: Romans 8, Psalm 95 I was trying to get ahead on some writing projects I have coming up, and God stopped me in my tracks with this thought: Have you ever considered how unlovable you are?  We have all been told and know how great and how powerful God’s love is, but have you ever thought about how hard you are to love?  Each one of us have faults and setbacks.  We are selfish, proud, envious, gossips, disrespectful and hold grudges.  We all have been guilt of lust, being self-centered, and filled with hatred and anger.  We may…

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Having Active Faith

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 4:6-16 Living in the south, there is an excitement in the air this time of year.  Football season is kicking off, and everyone is looking forward to tailgate parties and get-togethers with family and friends.  Throughout history, sports and athletic competitions have been loved by people.  In ancient Rome, the people enjoyed taking in gladiator fights and other events at the Coliseum.  Today, we just need to see the overhead view of sporting events to see how many people are willing to pile into a stadium and cheer on their favorite team.  Most everyone has a…

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The Wisdom in Obedience

Bible Reading: Matthew 7:24-27 I have a love and hate relationship with the beach – I love it and it hates me.  I always try to build a sand castle at the beach, and the beach always destroys it!  All of my planning, effort, blood, sweat and tears are poured into my castle, the ocean waves and shifting sand always leave me heart broken.  I guess I should not be surprised by this, as sand is not the sturdiest foundation to build on.  We all know that sand is unreliable, and that is why Jesus uses the illustration he does…

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Never Weary in Doing Good

Bible Reading: Galatians 6:6-10; Matthew 5:13-16; John 1:1-5 A question that has plagued mankind as far back as the wise king, Solomon, is this: why do bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people?  I believe that many of us fall into this dangerous and weird type of “Karma Christianity”. In Karma Christianity, we think that if we do good, then God will make good things happen for us.  But life tells us that this is not the case.  It is not that God gives us bad in exchange for our good works, or that…

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Keeping in Step with the Spirit

Bible Reading: Romans 6, and Galatians 5:25 Our CCS daily staff devotions have been in the book of Galatians the last few weeks, and it has been a blessing.  I love reading and studying God’s Word!  Galatians 5 is particularly challenging.  It begins with talking about the freedom that believers have in Christ, and it ends with the charge to bear fruit of living a life for Christ.  Galatians 5:25 gives a charge that I need to be reminded of multiple times a day: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  What…

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Love Your Enemies

Bible Reading: Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 5:43-48 Last Wednesday, I was struck by a thought I had never truly considered.  Many of us have heard and love the verse from Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”  We love it because it is God redeeming from sin and welcoming us as His children.  But would we expect anything less from the God who is love?  Of course not!  By the time this verse came our way, we knew that God was gracious and loving, even while we were lost…

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The Vainness of Vanity

Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon has set out to find the secret to a fulfilled life.  He first tried to gain wisdom and learning of all things, but he found that this left him empty and unsatisfied.  He has now turned his attention to self-indulgence.  In 2:1, Solomon writes, “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’”  Solomon had the wealth and resources to live in such a way that he did not keep and desire or pleasure away.  He indulged himself in every way.  He writes,…

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Elijah: The Whisper of God

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Last week we read of how God and Elijah defeated Baal and the 450 prophets, and how all of Israel came to see that God was the true God.  If this were a movie, we would expect the story to be wrapping up after the final battle.  Sometimes we read the Bible like a story man made, and we look for happy endings, but we must remember that these are real life stories.  Even though Elijah won the showdown, his story is not done, and neither are his problems.  It does not take long for…

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Elijah: The Battle with Baal

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-40 We have read and seen Elijah become a man of God through the testing of his faith.  What we read in one chapter takes place over a three and a half year period, and the time has come for God to send the rain to the earth once more.  But before the rain comes, God is going to show His supremacy and glory before all of Israel.  God going to demonstrate His power by dethroning the false god, Baal, and He plans to use Elijah to do it. God sends Elijah to confront King Ahab,…

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Elijah and the God Who Provides

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 17:8-24                 We continue to look at the life of the prophet Elijah.  Last week we focused on the beginning of his story, and how ordinary Elijah is called by God to confront the wicked king of Israel, and then goes to live in the wilderness.  Elijah is being prepared by God for many things to come.  But before God uses Elijah for something big, He first puts Elijah’s faith to the test.                 As a result of no rain, the brook Cherith dried up, and Elijah had no source of water.  God directs Elijah to…

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Elijah: Faith At All Times

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 17:1-7 I love the story of Elijah.  Close to seven years ago, I listened to a series of sermons that made Elijah come to life for me, and since then I revisit his story once or twice a year.  His is a story of courage, boldness and faith.  For the next few weeks, we will be spending time with the story of Elijah and see what all we can learn from his life. We begin with the first seven verses of 1 Kings 17.  This is our introduction to Elijah, and we learn something interesting about…

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Keeping Faith in the Perfecting Work of God

Bible Reading: Philippians 3 (emphasis on verses 8-16) I love Philippians 1:6. It fills me with hope and confidence in my Savior.  It reads, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  This picture Paul has painted gives me such comfort as I strive to live for God day in and day out.  Sometimes, I can beat myself down by thinking that I should be better than I am. I have thoughts running through my head saying, “I have been a Christian…

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Don’t Waste Your Talents

Bible Reading: Matthew 25:14-30 Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”  We read this, and there is an immediate agreement.  We all know that when we work diligently, we see the fruits of our labor.  We also know and agree that the lazy person will not see and fruit because they did not labor for it.  Even though we know both of these statements to be true, there is still a thought I cannot get out of my head.  Everyone I talk to seems to be…

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