Being Different

February 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Jarrod Spencer –

Ketchup, bread, and chocolate chip cookies. What do these all have in common? You can go to the store and have your choice to pick out any one of these in a variation of brands – each one still being about the same idea. There isn’t much difference in the taste and texture in the variation of these three (within their own categories). The idea that they are pretty much the same brings us to this quote by Coco Chanel, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”

A few years ago, Heinz brand ketchup came out with variations in order to make their brand a bit different. Bread companies have tried different things to make their bread seem different. Chips Ahoy brand cookies has “Soft Batch” and “Chocolate Chunk” to try to be different. Once a product is made, others will try to mimic that product. So, the constant challenge is to stay ahead of others in the same business, just to make sure you maintain a status of being irreplaceable.

As Christians, we all are equipped with the same amount of bones and other body components as anyone else. So, what makes us different? Understanding that is a constant challenge. We can be polite and kind, but so are others. We have to keep going toward what is uncommon in order to make sure that we are not ‘replaceable.’ For example, are others able to turn the other cheek when being “hit” in life?

How will you be different? I pray that your individual uniqueness will allow you to find ways to be irreplaceable!

Looking for ways…

PRAYER: Holy Father, I am thankful that You are different. That You will forgive when I do not deserve forgiveness. That You sent Your Son to a world that did not appreciate Him. As a human father, I cannot imagine giving up my son for others’ lives. Thank You for being different!

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

 

Lord, I Need Something Today

January 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Susan Dollyhigh –

I prayed myself out of bed that morning. It seemed I’d existed on prayer for the past two years. A broken foot only forecasted the brokenness that was to follow. Broken marriage. Broken business. Broken finances. Broken me.

“I’m trying to hold on, Lord,” I prayed as I pulled on an old pair of jeans, “but I need You to give me something today.” I couldn’t believe I’d just prayed such a selfish prayer.

“I’m sorry, Lord. You have been my Sustainer. It’s just that I’m so weary, so worn out…”

I had an errand to run, so I drove downtown. As I parked my car, I saw Scottie walking towards me in typical fashion; head down, plaid, wool jacket hanging askew over slumped shoulders and worn-out tennis shoes shuffling under the tattered hem of brown polyester pants.

I stepped out of my car. “Hello, Scottie.”

“Got some money so I can get me some lunch?” Scottie mumbled.

“Where would you like to eat today?”

“Barney’s,” Scottie replied.

“Well, come on, we’ll go to Barney’s.” I slowed my pace to match Scottie’s as we walked the short distance to the sandwich shop.

I pulled the glass door open for Scottie to walk in. Scottie sat down at a table, removed the napkin wrapped around the silverware, gave it a shake and tucked it into the front of his wrinkled shirt.

I walked over to the waitress, “I’m buying Scottie’s lunch today.”

People in our town take care of Scottie, and I could tell the waitress had done this routine before.

“What can I get for you today, Scottie?” the waitress asked.

“Cheeseburger, French fries, and pop.”

The waitress walked back over to me. “He ordered his usual, it’s $5.00.”

I pulled a bill from my wallet, gave it to the waitress, and turned to leave. When I walked by Scottie, he stuck out his gnarly hand and took mine. “Thank you,” he said.

I squeezed his hand in return. “You are welcome, Scottie. God bless you.”

Tears filled my eyes, yet I felt my heart swell. Isn’t it just like our Father to bless us by allowing us to be a blessing to someone else?

I walked to my car with my heart full of praise and thanked God saying, I asked you to give me something today. I didn’t know what I needed or even what I was asking for, but You knew just what I needed and sent Scottie to bless my heart.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your great love and compassions. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord unto me.

BIBLE VERSE: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV).

To Advertise or Evangelize

January 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Hally Franz –

There is a lovely cinema that my family and I visit in a suburban area not far from our home. At that theater, like many others, there are ads running prior to the start of the movie. Over the course of several months, that cinema showed ads for a large, non-denominational church in the area. I don’t remember the name of the church, but I do remember one stunning statement from the commercial. The advertisement invited people to attend their services, assuring them that, unlike other churches, “the people aren’t weird.”

I remember initially questioning myself about what I had heard, but when our minister referenced the same ad one Sunday, I knew I had understood the message correctly.

Wow! What a discouraging way for a church to communicate to the masses! Unfortunately, in our society, there are already enough challenges for Christians when it comes to evangelizing and carrying out The Great Commission. Calling traditional Christians, or any other body of believers, weird would not seem to serve His purposes. Encouraging that thinking seems more divisive than helpful in the pursuit of new believers.

I have great pride (hopefully, not in a sinful way) about my church home. We are blessed with a gifted minister, committed leaders, wise men and women, and an ever-growing group of youth. We are a family, seeking to study and follow God’s Word, and we have fun while we do it.

I know there are other congregations in our small town doing the same thing. Our orders of worship may differ, membership size may vary, and our church cultures are all unique. And, while my family is blessed to be just where we are, there are many other churches doing great things, too. I wouldn’t judge them as “weird” simply to appeal to the unchurched.

People re-connect on facebook because they share a high school or college alma mater. Serious fans buy season tickets to large-scale and local sporting events. We offer up huge amounts of time to our children’s activities and endeavors. Let’s remember to support our church bodies with the same enthusiasm, time and energy. That display of spirit and home-church pride will bring more people to Christ than calling the other guys names any day.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, provide wisdom for individual Christians and church bodies as they seek to reach others in the community. Lead us to evangelize with kindness and excitement for You, so that Your message is heard.

BIBLE VERSE: “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 NKJV).

 

The Long and The Short of It

January 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten –

“Give me the long and the short of it,” queried a friend regarding my recent trip to South Africa. The dichotomy of this statement resounded with my experience in that fascinating country.

Wealth and poverty are simply separated by a municipal boundary and white and black mingle, yet remain deeply segregated.  A personal experience occurred on a visit into a township. The entire house of our hostess was smaller than my master bedroom back in North America.  Each member of her family would be fortunate to have one meal that day, while I had already eaten a hearty breakfast and my rumbling tummy meant that I would soon be headed for a satisfying lunch.

This setting was enough to shake up my worldview, but as I stood at the bedside of a woman whose body was ravaged by the effects of HIV, I was struck by the difference within our spiritual reality.  As my African cohorts began to pray, the Holy Spirit’s presence became so real that all I could do was kneel, knowing that I was standing on holy ground. The physical poverty that surrounded me mirrored the spiritual poverty that gripped my soul.

What was it about their prayers that made them feel so forceful?  Did they demand that God would touch this woman’s physical body?  Did they plead for food or protection from thugs?

No!  The power in their prayers came from practicing the discipline of worship.

You see, in the midst of abject poverty and fatal diseases, these people approached the throne of grace, first and most forcefully, with praise for a God who created everything and cares for them by holding them in the palm of His hand.  Their unabated worship led them to praise Him for being full of grace and mercy, compassion and love.

In this African setting, God showed me that my prayers are mixed up. I am quick to approach God with my long list of requests but my offering of praise is meager. Conversely, my African sisters come to God full of praise and worship and then simply asked Him to meet their needs.

What’s the long and short of it? Worship redirects our perspective, helping us see our needs in light of our awesome and loving God.  God inhabits the praises of His people.

PRAYER: You are an awesome God, full of mercy and grace, Creator of everything and Sustainer of all.  You are magnificent and beyond comprehension.  You are Alpha and Omega.

BIBLE VERSE:  “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name” (Matthew 6:9 NIV).

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

December 21, 2019 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Sherri Holbert –

I received the call. She said, “You know how most girlfriends call and say, do you want to go to the beach for the weekend? I’m calling to see if you’d like to go on a mission trip to Pakistan!”

My first reaction…Of course not! Are you crazy? Never wanted to go to the Middle East and I certainly don’t want to go to Pakistan. Do you know how dangerous it is there?

I was currently going through Priscilla Shirer’s study:  Jonah – Navigating a Life Interrupted.  Through this study it was clear to me that God was allowing several “interruptions” to shake up my spiritual walk. I felt that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and grow my faith in some different areas of my life. God asks Jonah to go to Ninevah and spread the word in one of the most dangerous and volatile areas and to people that Jonah simply does not like because of their hate for God. If you know the story you know Jonah runs, gets swallowed by a large fish and three days later is spit up; he finally resigns to the fact that he can’t run and he must obey.

Believe me. I have so much more compassion for Jonah now. I wanted to be just like him after I got the call! I wanted to run. Despite the fear, here’s what I know. God has a bigger plan than I can see. He is a God of details and will work them out for us. Yes, He asks us to step out of our comfort zone and that may cause some fear but we can be assured that He will never put us in a situation He can’t control. I leave in two days and I am telling myself, “Fear not. God is with me.”

Here’s my challenge to you. As you think about spiritual goals you’d like to accomplish this year, what will take your spiritual walk to a deeper level? Are you playing it too safe? Is there an area in your life you feel God wants you to experience a little fear so that you have to put more trust in Him? Do you trust Him enough to step out of your comfort zone?

I have chosen not to run. I can’t promise the trip will be easy or even safe. I doubt I will be swallowed by a fish. I’m more likely to be trampled by a camel. What I do know is when we obey, God provides all we need.

PRAYER: Father, provide us with safe travels in our daily life whether taking a trip out of the country or simply going to work. We know You provide us with protection, guidance and wisdom in all circumstances we encounter. Help us step out of our comfort zone and past the fear in order to do Your will.

BIBLE VERSE: “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed/” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).

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