Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: Sept. 26, 2011              
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

                                             PHILIPPIANS 4:8
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

So what do you do about the things that are not? A young man from my church opened my eyes this past weekend. In our church service he shared with us that "tomorrow he would be embarking upon 40 days of chemo and radiation treatments." This is the same man who shared with our congregation his battle with MS not too long ago. When he began to speak, my natural response was pity. How much can one person handle? How much should a family have to endure?

Something was different about this young man's testimony. There was no self pity, no negativity, and no loss of hope. In fact he taught me a huge lesson that day which came in handy as I found myself surrounded by  some negativity today.  I remembered the words of this young man. He said "he was looking forward" to what God had planned for his life through this experience. Can you imagine? He went onto help us understand his faith and he didn't cover up his fears. But something stood out to me. He was not bitter and he had hope. He expressed that no matter what happens, he wins! I just stood in awe of his testimony.

You see my friends, David knows God personally and he has experienced his sovereignty. He knows that God loves him. He knows that God is in control. He knows that God will not abandon or forsake him. He knows that God will provide. He knows that God will comfort and support him and his family every step of the way. He knows God will carry him when He has no strength of his own. And, he wanted us to know that no matter what happens, whether God chooses to heal him physically this side of heaven or take him home, he wins!

When I got home, I stood before a picture that I have hanging in my home titled "Living Life." It reminds me to recognize the special people you have been blessed to know. Although I do not know this young man or his family personally, I have been touched and blessed by his courage and what he shared that day. I desire to learn to emulate his confidence in His Creator and Savior. I want to never forget his example. David led praise and worship on this day. He challenged us to celebrate life no matter what we face, because we don't face it alone.  Jehovah Rapha ~ The God who heals is with us every step of the way.  If you have a moment would you please stop and pray for David and his family. God knows exactly who you will be praying for.

Life is not a race - but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say "thank you," "I love you," and "great job" to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you've been given, it is not accidental - search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself - plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you've been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment. - Bonnie L. Mohr

Thank you Aunt Peggy for this picture reminder. Thank you God for the following:

John 14:6
"Jesus answered, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Psalm 23:4
"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 staff, they comfort me."

John 14:1-4
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You will know the way to the place where I am going."

Life's Application Commentary:
Jesus' words show that the way to eternal life, though unseen, is secure - as secure as your trust in Jesus. He has already prepared the way to eternal life. The only issue that may still be unsettled is your willingness to believe.

Have a blessed week ahead.
In Christ by grace,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: Sept. 19, 2011                  
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

                                                  James 1:2-4
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials, Testing and Joy
When you first read the above Scripture, you might be tempted to view it as preposterous, hang in there. Nothing in the Word of God is without value.

Kay Arthur in her book As Silver Refined asks the question; “How do you respond when your husband or wife tramples your emotions?  When your boss fires you unexpectedly? When you lose your life’s savings?  When the child you loved and prayed for turns his back on you and your values? How do you respond?

As I was reading Kay’s introduction to her book, it was like God was sitting right next to me. Through this book, it appeared that God might be attempting to answer some questions that I had been agonizing over myself. God is so gracious in how He provides for our every need. In addition to resting in God’s Word, I know that it was no coincidence that I was involved in the As Silver Refined Bible study with the sub-title being; "Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments." I was truly in a season of heartache and this would prove to be perfect timing on God's part.  

In an article titled “Trials and Joy,” Dr. Charles Stanley expounds on James chapter 1. He explains that “considering it pure joy” is a divine vantage point, not a human one. Dr. Stanley explains: “First of all we need to understand that these verses are not telling us to be happy in our pain, but rather to rejoice in the blessings that accompany suffering. The word consider is an accounting term that means, “to evaluate.” When we look at hardships from God’s perspective and place the proper value on them, we can rejoice in the beneficial outcome, even while experiencing pain. Humanly speaking, trials hurt; but from the Lord’s point of view they help.

The only way to rejoice during trials is to understand what God designed them to accomplish. Regardless of the difficulty’s source, we can know that the Lord wants to use it to test our faith and thereby produce endurance and spiritual maturity. In every trial, He has hidden a beautiful and precious character gem; but whether we receive it or not, depends upon our response.

Those who really want to be transformed into the image of Christ can rejoice in the many benefits that accompany suffering. How about you? Does your hunger to know the Lord and be transformed by Him exceed your dread of suffering? None of us want to experience pain, but since it’s an unavoidable reality in this fallen world, why not respond in a way that produces eternal benefit? Let’s not waste suffering.”

The gem I discovered through my season of pain and testing was the ability to recognize the healing and restorative power of Christ. At the time that I entered my painful situation, I can honestly tell you that I did not understand it in the context of what Dr. Stanley wrote. However, as I look back over the past year and a half, I see so many blessings birthed from the circumstance. Yes, I said blessings! I have not only learned many things about myself, I have learned to value and live out the wisdom found in Scriptures such as Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 91:1 and Philippians 4:6-7. May I please ask you to take some time to read these on your own?

Today I am grateful that the God of the Bible is teaching me the importance of loving, forgiving, and extending grace within my disappointments. I have seen with my own eyes the grace and mercy of a loving, caring and Sovereign Lord. Nothing in our life comes as a surprise to God. No matter how bad something appears; it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s hopeless unless one is unwilling to work through the issues at hand. Even then, God has the power to control a situation to fit His purpose. I am a firm believer that love has the power to conquer all if we will only choose to offer it. 

Through prayer and an unwavering attitude that God is in control, I am beginning to see light. He has empowered me to work in ways I never expected. He is helping me to get better at waiting on His timing. We are working on patience and I am also learning to better evaluate a spirit of anger and bitterness. Today I truly get that blessings will depend on my level of obedience to what God is teaching me.  Let me end today by sharing a quote that serves as a daily reminder to never give up. I believe that for the believer, better days are still ahead, but we have to work at becoming part of the solution. Be blessed.

“Your level of obedience to My Word and your faith in My promises will be tested. Disobedience and unbelief will be revealed in the fires of testing, and you will have opportunities to make corrections as necessary. Do not be afraid, for this is part of the cleansing process that will produce the power of My presence. Without the fires of purification, you will not realize the power.” – Marsha Burns

Additional Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48, 1 Peter 4:8, Romans 12:18

Book suggestion: Lord I Just Want to be Happy by Leslie Vernick

Today’s prayer:
Father, thank you for the many lessons found within Your Word and through our experiences in this life. Help us to see our disappointments as divine opportunities to learn and grow spiritually. May we not succumb to defeat when it comes to our pain, trials and testing. Give us what we need to endure and persevere. Help us make the necessary corrections in our thoughts and help us align our actions to Your Word.  We ask this in Your son’s precious and holy name. Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: Sept. 12, 2011                    
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

If you missed last week’s devotion on Discerning The Voice of God please go back and read it before moving on today. I promised I would pull it all together with an awesome reveal and I wouldn’t want you to miss the full impact of this lesson.

                                                   Psalm 119:10

             “Do not let me wander from your commandments.”  (NASB)

When King David spoke the words in Psalm 119:10 he was placing the responsibility for staying in the will of God on God Himself. To conclude with the teaching by Priscilla Shirer from the book Discerning The Voice of God, the following are my remaining notes from Chapter 7, A Revealing Voice. Be blessed.

“David says, “You, God – please don’t let me wander from your will!” Our responsibility is to get to know God. His is to keep us from wandering from His will for our lives.

Are you desperately seeking to know the will of God for your life? Are you in bondage because you can’t take a step in any direction without being afraid that you’ll wander from His will? If so, here is the truth that will set you free: It is God’s responsibility to cause you to hear and recognize His voice.”

Ok, I have to interject here. Did you hear that? Let’s just rest here a moment please.
“God’s responsibility to cause us to hear and recognize His voice.”  How does he do that?

Priscilla shares:
“God wants to reveal His will to you, and Scripture clearly shows that He will do it:

  • Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV) – “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

  • Philippians 3:15 (NASB) – “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (mature) have this attitude and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you.”

  • Philippians 2:13 (NIV) – “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Listen to the words of the psalmist in Psalm 37:14 (NASB), “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Once again, we find God’s promise to steer our desires in the direction of His will if we will just get down to the business of delighting in Him.

Many of us suspect that God is doing everything in His power to keep us from discovering His will. On the contrary, He is doing everything in His power to reveal it and cause us to go after it!

If you keep seeking God, He will continue to develop your awareness of who He is and His will for you. As you study His Word, listen to His revealing voice. Ask yourself, “What does this teach me about the character of God?” Make knowing Him your goal. Seek a Person instead of a plan. Seek a relationship instead of a road map. The closer you get to God, the more He will reveal Himself to you, and the natural result of knowing Him better will be a greater ability to discern His voice.”

To this I say AMEN!

“I know God is speaking when what I hear is consistent with what I know about Him. I remember a time when someone told me something my husband Keith said. It wasn’t negative. It just didn’t sound like him. I found out later it was a different Keith Moore. I knew deep inside that wasn’t my man. Likewise we can know deep inside, ‘That just isn’t my God.’ I’ve got to know God and His Word well enough to know what ‘sounds’ like Him and what doesn’t. He never speaks contrary to His Word and His character.”  - Beth Moore

How about you? Do you know it’s God’s Voice? I pray that together as we continue to explore God’s Word together through these weekly devotions, that God will reveal to you his personal attributes in order not to miss Him speaking.  I am listening El-Shaddai – All Sufficient God. I am thanking you for clarification Jehovah-Jireh – Our provider and I look forward to your continuous leading Jehovah-Rohi, Our Sheppard.

“Whoever seeks God as a means toward a desired ends will not find God. The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures. He will be all in all or He will be nothing.”  – A.W. Tozer          

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: September 5, 2011                      
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

                                                  Jeremiah 24:7
                  “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD.”

How do you know for sure when the Lord is speaking to you? According to Dr. Henry Blackaby it’s a fairly simple answer; “The more you know God, the better you will be able to discern His voice.”  J.I. Packer says, “A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him.” This reaffirms to me how important it is to move beyond just knowing about God to actually getting to know God. When we take God outside of the Sunday box we discover that He has much to say.

I wonder if any of you can relate to calling someone and halfway through the conversation you are told, or you realize that you’re talking to the wrong person. It’s kind of embarrassing isn’t it? In her book Discerning the Voice of God, author Priscilla Shirer explains how she is able to recognize the difference between her father and brother’s voice that many people miss when talking to them on the phone. She explains that her brother is quite crafty in his attempts to fool people into thinking they are talking to his dad Dr. Tony Evans; however, it doesn’t work with her. Priscilla explains that, “No matter how alike my brother’s and father’s voices sound, my brother can’t fool me! Just a couple seconds on the phone with him reveals to me exactly who is on the other end of the line. I have spent enough time with both of them to know the small but distinct differences in their voices.”

If you have not yet read the book Discerning the Voice of God, I highly recommend it. Today I am going to share some key points from the chapter titled “A Revealing Voice.” Because I am at a place in my walk with God where I just have to know that I’m not being deceived, I keep going over and over this particular chapter. Priscilla Shirer does a remarkable job in relaying that “God wants our relationship with Him to be so close that Satan’s voice can never deceive us.” Please don’t miss the word “never.”

As I move through this book I am learning that the closer I grow in my relationship with God and His Word, the less opportunity there will be for Satan to deceive me any longer. This is exactly what we learn all throughout God’s Holy Word. By focusing our priorities on learning God’s attributes, His goals, priorities and His responsibility, we will be able to clearly hear from God. We will be able to discern His voice over the worlds voice and the deceit spewed from the mouth of the enemy. We will also be blessed to recognize proper guidance. Oh, how I want this! Anyone else?

The following are my notes. I pray that something within them will help you discover the gift that you have been given when you accepted Christ into your heart. If you are not there yet, I pray that something prompts you to begin exploring. God has such blessings for those who chose to know Him.

Psalm 23:1, 6
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
…Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Notes from Discerning God’s Voice by Priscilla Shirer
Chapter 7

“When God speaks, His voice will be revealing for He passionately desires for us to know who He is. In fact, that’s what salvation is all about – knowing God. (John 17:3) God doesn’t want you just to hear about Him or from Him; He wants you to experience Him in your life, so you will know Him.

In The Word we read examples of people who sought God in prayer and Bible study.God spoke to them about His love for them, and that gave them the assurance they needed to do what He was asking of them. They decided that obeying God’s voice, no matter how crazy it might appear to others, would enable them to experience God in a real and personal way. They believed that He would go before them and that His goodness and loving-kindness would follow them. So they moved forward in obedience.

Within the Word we learn the attributes of God. We discover He is our provider, our Sheppard, and our All-Sufficient God to mention a few. Without understanding the nature of God, obedience to Him becomes more difficult, if not impossible. The more you know and believe to be true about who God is and what He can do, the more willing you become to obey what He commands.

To recognize Satan’s lies, all we have to do is spend our time in intimate fellowship with the Truth. When God speaks, His voice will reveal the same attributes as He reveals in His Word. The Apostle Paul warns us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He deliberately tries to speak to us in a way that sounds like the Holy Spirit. But as hard as he tries to imitate the voice of God, he will never sound exactly like the real thing, and the more intimate we are with God, the more quickly we’ll be able to tell who is speaking.

If we wish to discern God’s voice, we must make His priorities our priorities. The first thing Paul asked when he met the risen Savior on the road to Damascus was, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5 NASB). Later he wrote, “Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ: (Philippians 3:8 CEV).

Nothing, Paul says, is as wonderful as knowing God – not even hearing His voice and knowing His will. As precious as those things are, they were never Paul’s primary goal because he understood that if he knew God, they would automatically follow. From the very beginning of his relationship with Christ, Paul had his priorities straight.

Pause a moment to take a personal inventory. Could it be that you can’t discern God’s voice because you have somehow bypassed the need to know who He really is? Hunting for the voice more than hunting for God can trip us up.

You know when you’re seeking something other than God when you’re in one of those “in between” stages where nothing seems to be happening and God doesn’t seem to be speaking, so you stop pursuing Him. This indicates that you’re more interested in what you think He is going to do for you that you are in knowing Him in order to have an intimate relationship with Him. To discern God’s voice, you have to get your priorities straight. You have to want Him, His glory, and a relationship with Him more than you want anything else.”

Ok, I believe this is a lot to absorb in one session, so I’ll save my notes on God’s responsibilities for next week. Please come back as I don’t want you to miss an amazing reveal.

“There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God. Only those who have experienced it can understand. However, I don’t advise you to practice it for the sole purpose of gaining consolation from your problems. Seek it, rather because God wills it and out of love for Him.” 

                                                               - Brother Lawrence.