Wednesday, October 31, 2018

7 Vital Prayer Points

Some material taken from - 7 Vital Prayer Points for the upcoming election
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
How can Christians make a difference in the world today?  It seems an impossible thing to imagine but we can still make a difference in so many ways.  The most important thing we can do for our country today is to pray. Elections are coming up next week so now is a great time to focus prayers on our country and its leaders, as well as the decisions made at the polls.  This week our church is having a pre-election prayer vigil where people have committed to praying for our county every day.  We have a designated place in the church for this special prayer time. If you feel led to come and pray and you didn’t sign up, you may come anyway between the hours of 9-5.  
Today Pray That We Would Recognize the Real Battle Is Not Fought Against What Is Seen, But What Is Unseen.There is a war going on in America right now.  It is not a war between political parties. It is a war between what is seen and what is unseen, light and darkness, truth and deception.  The real enemy is not a person or political party, but is Satan himself, and his dark forces that oppose God and fight against Truth. The enemy’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy, and he wants nothing more than to see us waste our energy and time just battling one another. Let’s stay aware of his evil plans and stand against his attacks through the power of Christ and His Word.
Satan must be pretty happy with the way America is living today.  We have not only crossed lines of morality, we have erased them altogether.  Anyone who still takes a religious or moral stand may be subject to criticism and accusations of discrimination.  We have completely flipped things around so that we see the good as bad and the bad as good.  We live in a world where the police are the enemy and the lawbreakers are the victims. Those in authority are unjustly attacked and accused, the innocent judged guilty, while the guilty walk free. There is truly something wrong with a society that has a such a backward view.  
The enemy is real and on the move.  He has managed to start to turn America against itself.  Our country was founded on faith but now Satan is trying to destroy that foundation completely.  It is time for God’s people to pray as never before.  This is a battle that will not be won with words or weapons or even elections. This is a spiritual battle between two unseen opponents.  We are warriors for our Heavenly Father and prayer is our weapon.  He has given us everything we need to fight this battle, even though the adversary is formidable.  
Pray today for the light of the Lord to invade the darkness of evil so prevalent in our nation.  Pray for protection of the hearts and minds of the leaders and people everywhere, that they would be shielded from the enticement of Satan and his tactics, that his plans would be intercepted, and truth would prevail.  Pray for Christians to keep our eyes and hearts on Him, and live and move in His spirit.  

Scripture to Claim: 
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  2 Corinthians 10:4

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

7 Vital Prayer Points for the upcoming election

Some material taken from - 7 Vital Prayer Points for the upcoming election
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
How can Christians make a difference in the world today?  It seems an impossible thing to imagine but we can still make a difference in so many ways. The most important thing we can do for our country today is to pray.  Elections are coming up next week so now is a great time to focus prayers on our country and its leaders, as well as the decisions made at the polls.  This week our church is having a pre-election prayer vigil where people have committed to praying for our county every day. We have a designated place in the church for this special prayer time.  If you feel led to come and pray and you didn’t sign up, you may come anyway between the hours of 9-5.  
Today Pray For Leaders and Those in Authority- knowing that their decisions directly affect us too. Pray for God to give them wisdom and courage as they lead our nation, and for a desire to listen for his voice and follow his ways. May God in His mercy, appoint principled, godly men and women into positions of authority in our nation.  Pray for their families, and for God to provide godly advisors for them.  Pray for their eyes not to be clouded with all that the world throws at them, but to focus on the real issues we are facing as a nation. Pray for bravery, for the Christian candidates to take the stands confidently that God calls them to take.  
We need to pray for our leaders, even the ones we didn’t elect.  We are called to pray for them and respect them, and anything other than that is not the way God wants His children to respond.  He wants us to be an example in all things.  Showing respect for the leaders in place only glorifies our Father in Heaven.  
God is in control.  He is in control even when it seems that the whole world has gone crazy, and yet, He has power and authority over all authority. He isthe King of Kings.  We forget so easily, but He is working for us always.  The elections may not end up like we want them to, but God is still in control!  He will never be impeached.  He may be cursed and rejected but that doesn’t change who He is.  Sovereign Lord, God of all creation.
God desires His children to stay focused on Him and to pray with a persevering prayer.  We need to humble ourselves and call on His name to bring about a change in our nation.  We need to be His hands and feet to the crazy, out of control world.  During this time of unrest and anticipation of what the future holds, hold to Him, unswervingly.  

Scripture to Claim:
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2

Monday, October 29, 2018

It’s Time to Pray

Some material taken from - 7 Vital Prayer Points for the upcoming election

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” Ps. 33:12

It seems these days that the majority of America is leaving God out of everything, and taking Him out of the places He was already a part of, such as school prayer, etc.  It feels like we have been spiraling downward for a while, with not much hope for the future of this country.  But God never leaves us hopeless.  Until we bring God back, there won’t be hope, because He is the hope.  He is the hope for our broken lives and He is the hope for our broken county.    
As Christians we are fast becoming a minority with a meek voice. But we still havea voice and now more than ever we need to raise that voice in prayer to our Heavenly Father.  One way we can use our voice is at the polls. Elections are next week so this week we will be looking at the power of prayer and how we can pray for our nation and the important decisions to be made at the polls.
For the believer prayer is a vitally important part of our daily walk. Why would we not make praying for our Nation and political leaders part of that daily walk?  We as Christians need to bring God into everything.  It is possible for God to turn this country around and bring people back to Him, but we need a spiritual awakening. 
Today Pray for Our nation– We can start by praying for our Nation to turn back to God again.  Pray for spiritual awakening in our land.  We need God desperately to renew our hope and restore our land. We need his forgiveness and healing. Pray that Christians will seek the Lord like never before and pray that non-Christians will feel His absence in their lives and seek Him.  
God can bring this nation to a spiritual awakening.  The power of all our voices in prayer to Him is music to His ears.  He wants His people to pray.  He wants His people to seek His face.  He wants us all to turn from our wicked ways.  He wants to heal our land.  
No matter what happens in life, we know above all else that God is sovereign.  He ultimately has the power over all things, including all presidents and kings and any political office.  And with all that power, He still wants us to set our hearts on Him and trust Him.  Pray today for our nation to have a spiritual awakening, trusting in God’s sovereignty above all.  

Scripture to Claim:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Friday, October 26, 2018

On Waiting…

Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.   James 5:7
Between your “now” and “when” is just “a little while.” What seems long now will seem a heartbeat then.  Let five words become the banner-waving answer to all that is ultimately worth waiting for: When Jesus Christ is revealed. – Beth Moore
Waiting in general is a hard thing for us humans and in some situations waiting can almost be unbearable.  We have become an instant society to the point that we have minimum waiting periods for most things.  When we do have to wait, it feels so much worse.  We are used to getting what we want, when we want it.  But, patience is a virtue and one of the fruits of the spirit so clearly God wants us to pursue patience.  In the scripture above, James tells us to be patient and uses farming as an illustration. The process of cultivating, planting, watering, and harvesting applies to our life of patience. And just as the process of farming takes time, so the fruit of patience takes time.   All farmers must submit to the process. To fight against it and insist they must have fruit in the middle of the process is futile. To ask God for patience that then deny the process is futile. Patience is not granted on the basis of our demands.  
As we submit to God's process we will inevitably undergo stressful times when it appears the rains will never come. God asks that we wait in positive confidence that the process will take place and the fruit of patience will be ours.  As God works His process, our hearts are to be established (inner firmness) with an attitude of prayer (prayer takes patience!), confident that God's hand is upon us.  It is so much easier said than done but the only way to have peace in the in-between times. 
Waiting on God and His process is worth it and when the time comes, He will be revealed. When He is revealed, when we can see Him in the process, that is ultimately worth waiting for.  When we become impatient and try to rush through the process or try to process it on our own is when we get in trouble. Patient endurance will keep us from giving in to the world and running ahead of God and His timing.  We are called to faithfully trust God and allow His process to be accomplished in our lives. 

Scripture to Claim:
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  James 5:8

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Way to Discontentment

Godliness with contentment is a great gain   1 Timothy 6:6, HCSB
These days everyone is looking for contentment.  “Do what makes you happy, Take care of yourself first,”and self-care are often the main focus of advertising.  It is easy to get trapped into a discontented life by adopting worldly goals.  The irony – looking for contentment in the wrong place only brings great discontentment.  These goals always boil down to: More. Bigger. Best. Scripture defines them as indulgence, greed, and pride. 
In our society it isn't normal to "step down." Once a certain level of income (or spending) has been attained, it is considered a failure to step down.  Even if you didn’t care about looking like a failure, it is incredibly hard to scale it back when you are used to living a certain way.  But is this concept of conservation and moderation really a loser's attitude? Not according to biblical standards. 
God’s WayAlthough the Bible says a lot about the dangers of material riches, God's Word doesn't teach that poverty is the alternative. God wants us to understand that money is a tool that we are to use in accomplishing His plan through us.  If Christians are to find true contentment, some basic lifestyle guidelines must be established:
  • Establish a reasonable standard of living – 
  • Establish a habit of giving -Above the tithe, God wants Christians to be involved with the needs of others. Every Christian family should be directly involved with the needs of another family.
  • Establish priorities -Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5, HCSB). Too often we let what seem to be the urgent things take priority over the truly important things.
  • Develop a gratitude attitude -True thankfulness is a state of mind and is not dependent on such things as good health and other important benefits. But, much of what we call "thankfulness" is based on whether we have accumulated certain assets. Until we can truly thank God for what we have - whether little or much - and be willing to accept that as God's provision for our lives, contentment never will be possible.
  • Reject a fearful spirit - Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them, within reason. But, when a fearful spirit dictates one's life to the point that giving to God's work is hindered, foolish risks are assumed, and worry becomes the norm rather than the exception.
Contentment, then, is knowing God's plan for your life, and looking to Him to fill every void.  So, if you're discontented, that's an indication that you need to get serious about what God wants for you and seek His will for your life. And, once you've discovered His will, then you must trust God's promises.  God did not give His Son’s life on Calvary to pay our greatest debt so that we can live in debt on earth.  There is no freedom in debt.  Debt sits on you like a boulder and if you dig yourself into a big enough hole, you quickly become hopeless.  You can’t have the freedom God intends for you to live your life for the Lord, doing what He wants you to do, in the bondage of debt.  Look to God to find contentment, not the world or things. Look to God and seek His direction for your life.  Look to God for "great gain"
Scripture to Claim:

The peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7, HCSB.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Little Did I Know…

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
"The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8 NAS
“The Spot”
Weeks ago, following one of the gully washer rainfalls we’ve enjoyed this fall I was ascending the steps eastward out of the Fellowship Hall toward the Fireside Roomof our church.  Arriving upon the landing at the top of the stairs, I looked down at the carpet there.  It had become soiled from a leaking roof that had dripped there multiple times before. Arriving at about the same time was Keith Warren, our Executive Pastor, to whom I said: “That spot looks awful. I may have to bring up my carpet cleaner and give that spot a good shampoo.”  Keith’s reply was very strange… He said: “No, let’s leave it there. I kind of like it!” and he walked away. The encounter was strange not only because of what Keith had said, but because he gave me no indication that he was kidding, nor that shortly he would have the building maintenance team tackle getting the carpet cleaned.  How odd…
A couple of times later I would pass over that ugly spot on the floor and reflect again on how it wasn’t the best reflection of who we are as a church.  THEN YESTERDAY… I ascended the stairs once again and stopped at the landing at that same spot, this time to speak with one of our precious members.  Wrapping up the conversation, my eyes drifted down to the floor where I was standing, and I was quite taken by surprise!  Gone was the stained carpet…it was not cleaned up…it was altogether gone, having been replaced with brand new floor covering…the complete length of the hall! And it’s important, yes quite important to note here that it isn’t like Keith, or anyone else took my idea to fix a dirty spot on the carpet and ran with it!  No indeed – I think perhaps that may have been key to the response by Keith that I found so odd that morning that I remarked that something needed to be done.  For you see, not only was something going to be done, plans were ALREADY IN MOTION…completely unknown to me, long before I even recognized that anything needed to be done. No, not my plan.  OTHER plans…better and bigger plans were underway before I even conceived the idea that something needed to be done!

“…For I know the plans that I have for you…”  
Jeremiah 29:11 seems most frequently pulled up in the scriptures on those events where we or someone else has had their knees knocked out from under them.  When an identity or faith crisis emerges, and we are seeking to find our point of navigation, our life direction once again.  Imagine me in such a situation.  You might pull up the passage and tell me:
“You know brother Kerry, I know this is a very difficult time.  You may be feeling like your life has been completely interrupted.  However, Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
…And that would be true, and very welcomed words of counsel!  But, what I want to do today is to enlarge our vision of God’s hand guiding us…of him making a way for us, and providing for us LONG, LONG, LONG before we ever come to realize that we are in trouble.  Before we ever got lost in that wilderness and accidentally stumbled upon that little creek whose waters gave us the strength to wander further to our rescue…how long had our God been working to make ready that little creek so it would be there for us?  Who did God move across the nation 45 years ago and establish in business in our community so that a service that they alone provide could by His hand in His perfect timing supply a need that we will suffer in the near future?  Are you getting the picture here??

“I know the plans I have for you…” says the Lord.  Ephesians 1:4-5read: 
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…”

Our God was making plans for us before even the foundations of the earth were laid.  Before the universe had settled into its clockwork network of orbiting solar systems and galaxies…God was making plans for us.  And the things which concern us?  He desires for us to bring them to him…even though he is already on the job of leading us through them.

And finally, rest in the knowledge that God is in control.  He is working your case. No matter the outcome you are in his hands and he will not let you down.  Psalm 55:22reads: “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Oh Lord Jesus, so many times we forget that you are not only with us in the right now, but that you are ahead of us as well.  Ageless and timeless, you see…and move in our future, making our paths straight, and guiding our steps toward the goals you have established for our lives.  Help us to submit to your commands.  Train our ears to hear and know your voice.  And give us faith to always look for your guiding, no matter what our circumstances.  In your name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How Much Victory Do You Want?

Submitted by Lara Cook
The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”  2 Kings 13:19
Recently Brother Van preached a sermon series on the book The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus.  The book is based on the story of King Jehoash in 2 Kings. Elisha is old and dying but he has one last thing to do before he dies, he has to prophesy to the king.  
Jehoash is the king of Israel when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are divided and at war against one another. During this “family feud”, his kingdom is being threatened by the armies of Amaziah, King of Judah.  Elisha has been a source of protection and resource for Jehoash.  At this point, he calls out to Elisha to help him with the most recent threat against Israel.  Elisha tells Jehoash 
Take a bow and arrows." So, he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." And he put his hand on it, then Elisha laid his hands on the king's hands. He said, "Open the window toward the east," and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot!" And he shot. And he said, "The LORD'S arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them." Then he said, "Take the arrows," and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground," and he struck it three times and stopped. So, the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." 2 Kings 13:14-19 NASB
Elisha was frustrated with Jehoash because he could have had completevictory.  Elisha told him to take the arrows and strike the ground, but Jehoash struck the ground with only three and then he stopped.  He would only know victory against Aram three times instead of completely destroying them.  What made him stop?  Why wouldn’t he, in desperation, be slamming those arrows into the ground as hard and fast as he could?  Why would he nottake the victory Elisha was trying to give him?   
How many arrows are you holding in your hand today?  How many arrows are you refusing to strike on the ground?  What about the arrow of your marriage, the arrow of your kids, your career, or your health?  How bad do you want the victory?  We hold tight to these things and refuse to give them to God and get the full victory that only He can give.  We will never have complete victory in any of those areas unless we submit them to God. God wants to give us the victory like Elisha was trying to give to Jehoash but we have to strike the ground – as much as we want the victory.  Strike the ground and let the splinters fly! Let God have total victory in all the areas of your life today. 

Scripture to Claim:
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.  Deuteronomy 20:4

Monday, October 22, 2018

Breakfast with Jesus

Submitted by Lara Cook
Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” — knowing that it was the Lord. — John 21:12
Breakfast with Jesus
It was a short time following Jesus’ death.  The disciples were still not back to their normal routines, but they were trying.  This particular morning, some of the disciples had been out fishing all night but they had not caught one single fish.  A man standing on the shore called out to them to drop their nets on the other side of the boat.  They were frustrated with the results they were getting and decided they had nothing to lose by following the stranger’sweird advice.  They cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught so many fish that they could barely drag the netinto the boat.  Immediately they knew who the stranger on the beach was.  It was Jesus.  John shouted, “It is the Lord!”  Jesus had been seen twice since His resurrection and this makes the third time.  Jesus’ response to that was “Come and eat breakfast”.   
Breakfast on the beach with Jesus.  What a great invitation.  Peter was among this group of disciples who Jesus had just cooked breakfast for.  It was just a short while ago that he had denied Jesus three times, much to his horror.  He thought about that as he stepped out of the boat.  Would he be able to face Jesus?  Would Jesus bring it up?  Jesus did bring it up, but not the way Peter expected:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.  Some think Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to proclaim three times out loud his love for Jesus, just as he had denied him three times.  He was subtly reminding Peter of his sin while giving him an important jobto carry on, assuring Peter of His love for him and His trust in him to lead others.  In fact, Jesus entrusted Peter with something that was very important to Him – feeding His sheep.  What Jesus meant by that was that he was entrusting Peter with shepherding new Christians. 
Jesus had the chance to condemn Peter, but He doesn’t.  Instead, He cooked him a meal and sat and visited with him, taught him something new and challenged him.  Most of all, He loved him, and Peter knew that he was loved and forgiven.  Jesus doesn’t discard us when we fail Him.  He doesn’t stop loving us or stop using us for His glory.  The Bible is full of broken people that God used.  In our brokenness, He showers us with grace, mercy, and love.  He invites us to Him just as He did Peter.  He loves us and gives us another chance at obedience, and another, and another, and another.  He does not reproach. He restores.  He redeems.  He renews

Scripture to Claim:
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:17

Sunday, October 21, 2018


John 12:1-8

Taking a step of faith can seem reckless to those around you; however, the Bible goes to great lengths to point out the people and the blessing that belongs to those who step out in faith and put themselves on the line no matter the cost.
The Lord expects usto respond to Him in faith.  
 I.        At this Party, Jesus Was Surrounded by People Who Respected and AppreciatedHim, But Only For Their Own Selfish Reasons.
·     The Disciples saw Jesus as a way to become richand powerful.  
·     No one has a problem following Jesus as long as it helps them to getwhat they want.  
·     Godowesyou nothing.
·     Some people follow Jesus because they are seeking an emotionalexperience.
·     Do not be deceived into thinking that emotionalfeelings are equivalent to spiritualgrowth in your life.
    II.        Mary Showed Her Love and Affection For Jesus Through Complete Subjectionand Submissionto Him. 
·     Mary was always foundat the feetof Jesus
·     Mary counted the costand gave the bestthing she had to Jesus.  
·     God wants allof you, not just the leftoverparts you are willing to give Him.  
·     There is a costto followingJesus. 
·     It is not enough to be in the crowd who respects and appreciates Jesus; you need to be brokenat the feetof Jesus.  
·     Trueworshipis realizing that even your best and most valuableis nothing compared to the feet of Jesus, yet you still bringing it to him in humility.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Most Important Book

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119: 9-11 (ESV)

The Bible is the book that is owned by more people in America than any other single book. But what do Bible owners really know about the Bible?  Far too many people, including Christians, have the Bible in their homes, but not in their hearts, and that is a tragedy.  In Psalm 119, the psalmist tells us that God’s word is a treasure chest filled with jewels of joy for the one who will mine its riches.  v.162, I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.
The Christian who sets out to know the power of God in life soon discovers the importance of the Word of God in living.  The Word of God is the instrument that God gave us in our lives to accomplish His will. It is a source of comfort, wisdom, direction, and power for us.  It will only be as useful to us as we make it.  We are only as coachable as we want to be.  We can find true help and guidance and learn a lot when we study God’s word with a sincere desire to hear and learn from God and with a true commitment to apply what we learn.   
Reading God’s word every day will help us learn and keep us close to our Father’s heart. Memorizing scripture will help us know victory over sin in our lives and our sin nature.  It will also help us to be more obedient to God’s instruction for us and to prepare us for service and witness.  When we fill our hands and hearts and minds with His word, God gives us something to say.  When we begin to share what you have learned, then we realize how much you we grown.  
The journey through life with Christ is an adventure and we have been invited to go. What an honor and privilege.  You and I will be changed so, don’t accept the invitation unless you truly want to be changed.  You cannot want what He offers and not agree to go where He leads. It is sad the victory we never know and the defeat, despair, sin, and loss we suffer because of a poor relationship to the Word.  You may feel that you honor the Word and that is good.  But it is not enough to guide and protect your life.   You can read it, listen to it, respect it, quote it and love it…but until you walk in its truth you will never know its power and purpose. 

Scripture to Claim:
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Psalm 119: 12-16

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Light the Way

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  Psalm 119: 105 (ESV)

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…. That is the way I learned the verse as a child and the way my children learned it – same meaning just a different way of saying it.  Then Amy Grant came out with a song about this verse in 1984 when I was teen and I sang along with her over and over again.  Chances are, most people are familiar with these words, even if they didn’t grow up in church.  It is one of the most popular verse of the Bible.  Sometimes we grow up saying and singing these familiar passages without really ever giving much thought to what they say.  The verses that precede vs105 are pretty important to the message that was being conveyed: 
I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path.” Psalm 119: 101-104 ESV
The author knew that the Word is a guidebook for us to keep us on the right path. When we follow that path, we are less likely to go down a wrong path that leads us away from God.  The Word of God is the law, but also grace.  It is truth, and a life preserver.  It helps usknowthe way, but we must still choosethe way.  Obedience is the key to staying on the right path.
When we are camping or out in the woods in the dark of night, a lamp is only going to light the next step.  You can hold it at arm’s length, but you will not be able to see all the way to the end of the path.  One step at a time.  That is all God gives us.  He wants us to trust Him for the next step as we go, just like we trust the light of the lamp for the next step on a dark path.  Trusting Him, being obedient to Him and pouring His Word into our lives will take us all the way, one step at a time.  The path changes.  It dips and winds and may even drop off a cliff here and there, but God and his Word never changes.  We can find direction and safety in Him for every step of the way.  

Scripture to Claim:
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.  Psalm 119:169-170

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Safe Place

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.  Psalm 119: 114 (ESV)

Sometimes it just feels good to hide away.  I don’t know about you but some days I have to fight the urge pretty hard to shut the door on the world and stay to myself.  Even if we can’t do that, and I honestly think we all should do that from time to time, we can hide away in the safety of our Heavenly Father.  He provides shelter and shield for us when we need it the most.  On those days we feel unloved, rejected, alone, unwanted, He is always standing with us, loving us with a lavish love that fills every crack in our broken hearts. Nothing can satisfy or complete us the way His love can, and nothing can heal us the way His love can. 
God doesn’t want us to hide behind Him and stay there, living inside the pain, but He wants us to find healing and HOPE in Him.  He rescues us, He is the lover of our souls, He is jealous for us – all these statements tell of the passionate and unending love He has for us and how He will help us out of a dark cell of pain and heartache.  We can find rest when we need it in His presence.  We can find safety behind His shield.  We can find redemption from the love He poured out on Calvary.  
We can also spend time with God alone, hiding in His presence, meditating on His word. When we are distraught and need some distance between us and the world, He fills the gap.  Getting away and focusing on Him for a day or so can definitely bring things back into perspective.  He can speak to us and we can hear His voice without all the distractions of life bombarding us.  We can rest in Him leaving the stress and worry behind for a little while.  He restores us and fills our cup so we can then go on and share that love and good news with others.  

Scripture to Claim:
Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.  Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise.  Psalm 119:169-170

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Unique Psalm with A Message of Amazing Grace

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithful ness you have afflicted me.  Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.  Psalm 119:75-77
Psalm 119 is a very unique chapter in the Bible.  It is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. The format of Psalm 119 is an alphabetic acrostic, meaning it is composed of 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 stanzas is built on a different Hebrew letter, of which there are 22 in the Hebrew alphabet. In each of the stanzas, each of the eight verses begins with the letter of that stanza.  Some believe that it was written this way as an illustration of order verses chaos because one of the themes in this chapter is living a life of obedience to God – a God of order.  
Other themes of Psalm 119 are persecution of believers, and the ultimate truth that God’s Word is more than sufficient for every area of life.  There are differing opinions among scholars about who actually wrote Psalm 119 because the author did not disclose his identity along with his wisdom.  It is obvious from his writing that he has experienced great trouble in life but has come through it and has gained understanding of God’s exquisite love and mercy.  
The psalm is filled with beautiful sections of the author pleading with God to teach him His ways, along with beautiful sections of God’s faithfulness and love.  This past week in my Bible study, one interesting thing was pointed out.  In the beginning of the book, the author of Psalm 119 says in vs 5-8: Oh, that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.  I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.  I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!  Here he is expressing how he is going to keep the Lord’s statutes and keep his eyes fixed on all His commandments. Then, in the very last verse of the chapter, he says if I do stray away like a lost sheep, please come after me!  The psalmist knows what we all must eventually learn, that we fail to live the life of holiness that we should, or that we strive for. From the opening of the chapter to the end, he realizes that a safety net is in order for us fallible human beings, and what better safety net than for God Himself to come and rescue us.
Three Things to Remember When You Lose Your Way:
  • He admits his failure- Even the strongest Christians lose their way sometimes.  This author obviously loved the Lord and was seeking His laws, applying them to his life.  He has the best of intentions and a seemingly pure heart that desires God. But he admits that he has failed. 
  • He cries out to God– He is not happy about the wrong choice and he does not want to stay there.  He admits he needs God’s help.  He asks God to come and get him and bring him back.  
  • He has not forgotten God’s commandments– He made a mistake, but he has not forgotten what he has learned. Even sin cannot take away the knowledge of God in our lives.  Sin often brings that knowledge back to the front of all our thinking because we are often desperate to not stray again. 
We have a Heavenly Father that understands that we will make mistakes, and He waits, always willing to not only take us back, but to come and get us when we cry out to Him.  He will seek us, like a shepherd goes after his stray sheep, and bring us back to Him again. 

Scripture to Claim:
Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.  Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.  By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.  Psalm 119: 89-91 

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