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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: March 11, 2013                         
Guest devotion by Sharon Jaynes

Forgiving Yourself
Today’s Truth
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9, NIV)

Friend to Friend
An email comes to me hundreds of times every year. The names are different, the situations are varied, but the underlying theme is the same…I can’t forgive myself. Grace just doesn’t make sense. I don’t deserve to be forgiven.

And these women are right…grace doesn’t make earthly sense. We don’t deserve it. We keep reliving the Garden story with ingratitude and believing Satan’s lie, and then grace shows up with an outstretched hand. “I don’t deserve it,” we cry. And we’re right. Grace, by its very definition, is unmerited favor from God or a gift we don’t deserve. But until we accept God’s grace and forgiveness, Satan will hold us in the vise grip of guilt, and we will miss moments of sudden glory as we hide in Eden’s bushes of shame.

After King David’s affair with Bathsheba, he was held in the shackles of guilt, unsure if he could ever be set free. But mercy came with the key of forgiveness and flung the prison door open wide. David then had to take the necessary steps to walk out of the prison and into the kingdom of grace. No matter what you have done, God has made a way for you to be set free—a very costly toll has been paid for the road to your restoration. Jesus gave His life that you might have not only eternal life after physical death, but life filled with moments of sudden glory beginning at your spiritual birth. I in no way want to diminish the seriousness of sin. Neither do I want to lessen the truth of grace. Refusal of the Christian to repent and dogged determination to continue a lifestyle of sin spits in the face of what Christ did on the cross. Unconfessed sin draws the shade on God’s glory. Confession with repentance raises the curtain once again for God’s glory to shine through.

When we say, “I don’t feel forgiven,” that is like saying that what Jesus did on the cross is not enough. Why should we require more from ourselves than our Creator requires of us? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….” (Romans 8:1). None. God’s grace river washes away the devil dams of shame and condemnation that block the flow of the glory life.

If you are feeling condemnation for past sins that you have already asked God to forgive, that condemnation is not coming from God. Once you have repented and asked God to forgive you, it is finished, over and done with, wiped away. If feelings of condemnation persist, they are a result of listening to the accusations of the enemy as he tries to keep you behind those bushes and away from union and communion with God. Believe the truth. Walk in the truth, and it will lead you to moments of sudden glory all around. Without accepting God’s grace gift,in Him we live and move and have our being will be nigh to impossible to become a reality in your life. A life saturated in grace makes it so.

Satan knows that the slightest whisper of guilt is easily received by a fragile heart plundered by life. Do not let him convince you to remain in hiding. If you have been crouching in Eden’s bushes of shame, listen closely. That sound you hear is God walking your way. Whispering your name. Do you hear it? Singing love songs of grace. Inviting you to stroll with Him in the garden of your heart where He has taken up permanent residence. Where are you? I want to commune with you. I want to show you glimpses of my glory. Where are you? I hope you will say with me… “Here I am Lord‘Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.’”

Let’s Pray
If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, then pray this prayer…Dear Lord, I come before You today, confessing______________. I am truly repentant and sorry for my sin against You.  I ask that You forgive me and cleanse me.  Right now, I receive Your grace and forgiveness.  I believe that You have forgiven me and will no longer hold my sin against me.  I accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sin and thank You that my debt has been paid in full.  Thank You God for forgiving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

Weekend edition:
Guest devotion by Gwen Smith of Girlfriends with God

Let’s Run Away

Today’s Truth
And don’t let us yield to temptation.(Matthew 6:13, NLT)

Friend to Friend
It was a windy winter day. Our three dogs needed to stretch their legs and get a bit of outside playtime, so I let them out to roam freely in our fenced-in back yard. An hour later, my husband asked me where the dogs were. “Out back,” I replied.“Honey, the wind blew that gate wide open and only Rocky is on the deck! How long ago did you let them out?” He asked.“An hour ago!” I exclaimed, as feelings of unease crept into my heart.

Grabbing our jackets and our shoes, Brad and I bolted outside and began to scour the neighborhood looking for our two runaway dogs.“Roman! Steeler! Come!” We yelled endlessly into the biting wind. After covering several blocks of our neighborhood, having seen no traces of our dogs, I ran home to get my car. While Brad continued to search on foot, I began to drive around and call out for Roman and Steeler from my car. My stomach was in knots, my heart was gripped with ache, and my mind swirled with longing and prayers for our very-much-loved pets to come home. Please, be safe doggies! Please, Lord, help us find our dogs.

We searched and searched. No dogs.Our phone number is on their I.D. tags! I thought. Maybe someone saw them wandering and took them into their home to call us. I drove home quickly to check our voicemail. No voicemail. I decided to stay by the phone in case someone called. Brad continued to search by driving through our development and the surrounding neighborhoods. After a long while, he returned… without Roman and Steeler. We were crushed. Though we had been praying for the Lord to help us find our dogs the whole time, with heavy hearts we prayed some more. And we waited.

More than three long hours after the dogs had run away, our phone rang. Hope sprang to my heart as I heard the question from the other end of the line, “Do you have two missing dogs?”“Yes, ma’am! Their names are Roman and Steeler! We’ve looked everywhere for them! Are they with you?”“Yes they are. I saw them playing outside by the street and thought that they must belong to somebody, so I called them over. They ran right to me and I’ve got them in my house. They are both a good bit dirty and a little bit scared, and the small one is limping slightly… but they are safe,” she said.The skies parted and angels appeared in the clouds singing, “Hallelujah!” as I jumped up to grab a pen to write down her address. They were safe! Thank You, Lord! Roman and Steeler had wandered over a mile away from our home.

Over a mile!

We scooped them up from the kind woman’s house as fast as we could and rejoiced in their homecoming. They needed to be cleaned, cared for, and held. And that’s exactly what we did: cleaned them, cared for them and held them. Oh, how we held them! And as I spoke with gentle, reassuring words to my small, limping dog it wasn’t lost on me… the parallels between them and me. Between them and all of us wanderers.God has established boundaries in His Word. They are beautiful boundaries surrounding wide-open spaces of His blessing, purposed to bring Him glory, allowing us to thrive in life and to keep us safe from harm. Yet we wander. Oh, how we wander… through so many different gates of temptation. What is your open gate of temptation? Is it worry, fear, or doubt? Is it food, alcohol, shopping, money, or a good-looking guy who needs to be off your radar? Everybody faces temptations, and while being tempted isn’t a sin, giving into temptation is. Jesus himself faced temptation and He demonstrated that we are to ask God for help. “And don’t let us yield to temptation.” (Matthew 6:13, NLT)

Promise of Deliverance
What should we do when we face temptation? We should call out to God. He promises to give us a way out of any temptation. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Because he himself (Jesus) suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.(Hebrews 2:18)

The wind had blown hard on the day of our doggie drama. Our two furry friends had been allured by the temptations of an open gate. They gave in – disregarding the boundaries that had been established for their safety and wellbeing – and ventured out into dangerous territory where cars wisped by and other dangers loomed. Thankfully, they made it home safe. We are fully aware that the outcome of their rebellion could’ve ended horribly.

Friend, we need to be on high alert. Gates are going to fly open. Temptations are going to come and we need to be ready to run from them. God will give us the strength to resist each one - if we will only ask for His help.
SO… Let’s run away today! Not from the fence of God’s protection, but rather from the gate of temptation.
Let’s run away from any gate that flies open. And let’s pray that the Lord will keep us from yielding to temptation.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Please forgive me for the times that I’ve wandered from Your plan for me and given into temptation. Teach me Your ways. Lead me to make choices that bring You glory and that allow me to experience the life You intended for me to live. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
What are your gates of temptation?
What is God’s best for you concerning these temptations?
Do you trust that God’s boundaries are for your good? Why or why not?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: March 4, 2013                              
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Encouragement as we journey on the roller coaster called "parenthood."

Do You Hang Out With Friends or Fools?

March 4, 2013

"Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." -  Proverbs 13:20

Transformational Thought by Lighthouse Network
As I look back over my childhood, I recall my mother paying close attention to those I selected as friends. If she saw me making friends with someone she thought was not a healthy relationship, she would clearly warn me that a bad apple spoils the whole batch, and that we are who we hang out with. A friend shared with me his mother’s time tested law: God would always provide a great, new friend for every not-so-good-friend that I lost. But I’m not sure where to find that verse in the Bible.

Today’s scripture makes it clear that our choice of friends plays a vital role in our lives. This is especially true during the teen years and the early twenties. They are no longer little children, but they’re not yet adults in judgment either. To fit in, feel valued, develop their “own” identity separate from their parents, or to figure out who they are, teens tend to pick up or adopt many of the behaviors, values, and characteristics of the people they observe and hang around. This is a difficult age for teens. They don’t understand their limitations. They underestimate or fail to recognize many dangers. Parents allow them to make many more independent decisions than in the past, but must still enforce some boundaries when activities or relationships may cause their teens harm.

We often think peer pressure is silly and cowardly. But just think how many times you let other’s opinions or even fear of rejection influence your thoughts or actions. A recent TV show, “What Would You Do?” features somebody doing something wrong in public; I am amazed that so few adults speak up. Please recognize the peer pressure that impacts your teen, and offer alternative answers to their dilemmas. Do not “put down” your child’s friends, but rather encourage godly relationships as you help them achieve their inner psychological, relational, and spiritual goals.

Church attendance is very important and should not be optional. Church youth groups can be invaluable sources of godly friends and activities. But they can also be cliquey as well. Encourage your teen to try. Strongly encourage involvement in extra-curricular activities. Sports, band, specialty clubs, dance or music lessons are all possibilities for healthy involvement. Ask questions and take an interest in their activities, and help them process the roles the activity, and the peers or mentors play.

It can be hard to wrap your mind around why our kids crumble and do such stupid things, and are easily influenced by their peers. But just look at how many adults cave to societal or peer pressure: keeping up with the Jones', playing games and politics in the workplace, gossiping, influencing others to engage in inappropriate work practices, having affairs at work. We adults also struggle to discern friends from fools and we often don’t model what we preach. Unfortunately, our missteps influence the next generation in major ways.

Today, focus on being involved as a family in godly activities with godly people who have kids the same age as your teenager. Examine the friendships and the relationships that influence your behavior. Are you proud of what you are doing? Don’t let your relationships adversely influence you … your teen will notice the hypocrisy. Who influences you is your decision, so choose well … because people, especially your kids, are watching.

My dear heavenly Father, parenting is so hard. It’s a roller coaster of emotions! Such pain when they are traveling on a 
dangerous road. Please lead my children, regardless of their ages, into relationships that will influence them in a positive way. Give me wisdom to guide them and courage to protect them. Give me energy to make regular efforts to connect with them, even when I am not interested in their activities. Help me love the friends of whom I do not approve, and remember to pray for them, also. I pray this in the name our perfect friend, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!