Tuesday, April 16, 2019

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1: 18

Have you ever had a civil conversation about religion with an atheist? Most I have met want something that can be proven by science. For me, the proof of intelligent design is comparing an atom to the solar system. The basic design is similar if we look at the sun as a nucleus and the planets as electrons spinning around the center. I have yet to convince anyone, but it does give them something to think about and I keep trying.

The resurrection of Jesus is an even harder discussion. I’ve heard it called a myth and arguments it was a hoax. At this point there is usually some eye rolling, head shaking, and scoffing on their part, but I smile and explain the message of salvation and love. Thankfully, most do agree on the “do unto others” message.

In this verse, Paul is comparing the believers to the non-believers of Christ, although his letter was referring to the Greeks and Jews. They could not believe someone would be foolish enough to follow a man who was executed for his teachings in the shameful way of crucifixion.

But those of us who believe know that through this suffering our sins are forgiven. Because they are forgiven, we strive do better in our lives to live up to those expectations. And even though we all stray, because we are sinful people, God still forgives us because of our belief in Jesus Christ. The true power of the story of the cross is ultimate forgiveness.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your forgiveness and let our faith never waiver when we are faced with adversity and judgement. Help us to respond calmly and with grace when our beliefs are challenged. Put kind words on our lips during difficult discussions, no matter the topic, and help us find peace with those around us. Amen.

Emily Boward

Monday, April1 15, 2019

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

I like The Message’s version of this verse:

“Be a guest room where I can retreat; you said your door was always open! You’re my salvation my vast, granite fortress.”

No matter how hard our lives can get, we need to remember that we have a haven to retreat to. In these times, we need to lean on God the most.

Be to me a strong fortress. What is a fortress? A fortress is a strong building that is impossible to get into. Think of God as our fortress. His stability is impossible to break. When we feel weak or need strength, we know we can look towards God to be or strength as he cannot be broken.

Over time our bodies may grow frail, but our confidence can become sturdier: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.” We can trust that when we cry out and ask the Lord for healing, he always hears our prayers.

Prayer: Lord, be my rock and my fortress. When I am struggling, comfort me. Remind me to retreat to you in the good and bad times for you are my salvation. Amen.

Allison Keller

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Luke 19: 39,40

The Pharisees were not bad people. They were learned, and above all obeyed the law. They were politically correct, and they feared the Romans. And the Romans were wary of a Jewish uprising.

Now here comes Jesus, a man they revered as a Master and Teacher, parading through the streets proclaimed loudly by a multitude of followers to be THE Messiah!
Just not the Messiah they had imagined. He was riding a donkey instead of a stallion, and there were no legions of angels to drive the Romans out. They missed the allusion toward a heavenly kingdom.

Shhhhh! Please keep them quiet! Make them stop, the Romans will hear! Nothing good can come from this. There will be repercussions. Don’t make things worse for us!

They missed the Messianic announcement. In response, Jesus declares the impossibility of containing the proclamation. Even if all His followers could be kept silent, all of creation would still feel the effect of His coming as foretold in the scriptures.

He is here. Jesus, the Messiah, has arrived.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, as we celebrate this Lenten season, help us to understand, and not miss your message. Give us loud voices to declare and spread the Word of your amazing grace as we wait for you to come again. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

David Russo

Friday, April 12, 2019

Cast your cares upon him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Anxiety is a struggle every day. Some may struggle more than others, some may just mask it better. I don’t know anyone, including myself, who hasn’t laid awake in bed some nights or every night for that matter, thinking about the next day, week, year and even the past. Things as simple as… Did I lock the front door? What are we going to have for dinner tomorrow? Where is my cell phone? I need to schedule the car for an oil change. To more pressing things such as… What bills are due? How will I speak in front of everyone? My promotion depends on it. And serious issues… How will I take care of my elderly parent/grandparent? My sick kids? What happens if I get sick, too?

I’m a list maker, organizer, analyzer, and a repeater. I go over and over things many times in my mind, replaying scenarios with all the outcomes I can think of. I tend to dwell on things too, things that have already passed, thinking, “I could’ve done that better, I could’ve been better.” “How can I do better, for next time.” I’m pretty sure I drive everyone in the household nuts! I find myself singing with Elsa, “Let it go! Let it go!” to give myself some solace. Why am I telling you this? Because it is okay to admit our mistakes so that we can repent them. It is okay to ask for help when your inadequacies get in your way. It is okay to not be perfect.

In 1 Peter 5, God wants us to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Being humble is casting your cares onto the Lord. Not wanting acknowledgment or reward. The risk of not being noticed or looked down upon.

The reason Peter deals with anxiety is because, he is dealing with the problem of humility, as we all do, every day. But God wants us to have faith that he will lift all of the resistance. In 1 Peter 8, we read, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The anxiety we feel every day isn’t our own. We are not alone in this battle. God wants us to let him take the burden, He LOVES us! So “Cast your cares upon him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Prayer: Dear God, let me lift all my anxieties up to you, for you are the only one who can relieve me from them. I pray for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, that you may give us all the humility and grace that we so desperately need. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen

Kristen Kessler

Thursday, April 11, 2019

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

When first I read this verse I wondered why it had been selected. After all, isn’t it the same message we read throughout the Bible? Why this particular verse? Then I thought, maybe I’m not “reading it in the proper context.” I decided to review Colossians and realized that I couldn’t even remember what Colossians is all about! It didn’t take long to review – four chapters of less than 100 verses total; but, I still had no idea as to why this verse. So off to a trusted internet Bible study site. Ten minutes later I had the following historical information (most of which is contained elsewhere in the Bible – Acts, Philemon and other New Testament Books).

Paul had written this epistle while in prison, having not yet ever been to Colossae, home to this group of Christians. Epaphras, likely their leader who had been converted by Paul and spent over two years in ministry in Ephesus, had written a report to Paul. He was concerned about false teachers among the Colossian Christians. They were saying that Jesus was not God in human form nor was He a deity. Colossians is Paul’s response to Epephras’ report.

Now let’s look again at the subject verse. It begins: And whatever you do . . . which is almost always a warning, and I believe it is here. Usually, it’s followed by what not to do. Paul chooses to concentrate rather on what you must do for salvation. He wastes no time on the false teachers, which to me seems to place a sense of urgency on the matter. Is this applicable today? We still have the false teacher with us, don’t we?

Prayer: Dear Lord, Please grant to all of us the patience and diligence to closely examine every word that you have given to us through the prophets and apostles, that we might have complete understanding. Amen!

Walt Rudisill

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Jesus called to the crowd along with his disciples and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)

This verse reflects Jesus’ command us to keep vigilant about those things, pursuits, and ways of being that displace God from the center of our lives and distract us from the goal of forever living with God. Given the era in which they lived, the people of Jesus’ day understood crucifixions as the political billboards on the roads of their homeland. If you were to pick up a cross, you were slated to die. Jesus’ instructions to deny oneself and take up the cross meant to die to what is keeping you from God, from being Jesus’s follower.

Excerpted from an online sermon entitled, “Principles of Discipleship” by Pastor John Hamby: What does all this mean in a practical sense? Someone has said it this way, “If when you are good, evil is spoken, and when your wishes are crossed and your advice is disregarded, and your opinions are ridiculed and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, and even defend yourself’ but you take it patiently in loving silence, then you are dying to self. And when you lovingly and patiently bear any disgrace, any irregularity, any annoyance, when you stand face to face with extravagance and folly and spiritual insensitivity and endure it, as Jesus did, that is dying to self. And when you are content with any food, any money, any clothing, any society, any solitude or interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self. And when you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works, or itch after commendation from others, and when you truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self. When you see your brother prosper, see his needs wondrously met, and can honestly rejoice with him [with his big house, with big car, with his big pool – whatever it may be] without feeling envy, and never question God though your needs are greater and still unmet, that is dying to self.”


Dying to self is the most difficult thing we can do. Life affords so many distractions and false paths, and fears and self-doubts, as well as hungers for love and recognition. The transformation requires a discipline borne from self-examination, study, and a daily conscious choice to love of one’s neighbor as you’d love yourself. Somber but lined with promise, Lent is the season to examine ourselves and put to death those things within us that we hold onto and which keep us from entering fully into and reciprocating God’s love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please grant me the discipline to look deeply into my inner self and release all that holds me back from dying to self and, thus, following you. Grant me the grace to trust the cross I am to bear and to remember that you go before me and yet are beside me all the way. Amen.

Kathy Poole