Normally I don’t like to use devotionals from other sources. I want to share a personal word to the folks of my faith community of what the Lord has laid upon my heart. There are times, however, when you come across something that captures what you want to say and you don’t feel like you can write about the theme in a better way than the original source. In light of recent events, here is a devotional from Ann Voskamp that captures what lies heavy on my heart this day.
“You woke up to that new headline too --
one we’ve been seeing looming on the horizon for the last several months, and l’m with you — my heart cracked too.
"In the face of pain, may the people of God be found at their post, on their knees in prayer.
"Because we know prayer isn’t just the least we can do,
and prayer isn’t all we can do,
but prayer is ultimately the most important work we all can do.
"Because it’s calling on the One who slays all the dark, wins us all back from the mess, and cuts right through all the impossible knots of desperate things.
"Where there is an invasion on earth, may our prayers war an all-out invasion on the powers and principalities, “against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” (Eph. 6:16).
"Though missiles rain from the sky this morning, rain down Your mercy, Lord.
"Though black smoke rises, our prayers rise higher, surer, greater.
"Though explosions shatter and gunfire rattles, we hold our ground in the face of pain and we move toward the suffering, our hands reaching with bold solidarity.
"Ours is a tired world, Lord, weary of suffering, weary of the dark, weary of all the heartbreak, ours is a tired world, weary for hope — raise us up with the indomitable certainty that this world is a broken one and You alone are our unwavering hope, King Jesus.
"Lord, hear our cry:
"Comfort children who cry terrified, give courage to mothers who gather to calm, strengthen leaders who stand steady to find a way to peace.
"For those who need to flee — may they find our arms a safe haven.
"For those who are hungry — may they find our open hands offering bread for today and living bread for all eternity.
"For all the limping, weary and wounded — may they find us holding on to each other, because when we live like we all belong to each other — we answer so much of the longing in the world… even our own.
"And for all those who despair, both near and far — may they find our hands and feet today to be those of King Jesus, we who get to be His very body of peace in a hurting world today.”
Sermon Notes for 2.27.22
Rumble Strips (part 4 of 4)
Ephesians 5:14-21 (NIV)
February 27, 2022
Along the journey, the Holy Spirit helps your life become a ________________________ for all.
Rumble Strips serve as a _____________________________.
Rumble Strips serve as a _____________________________.
This journey with Christ is not so much about _________________ you are _______________,
but __________ you are ___________________.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit:
- Begins with being _________________________.
- Which leads to _________________________________.
- Worship ________________________ one another.
- Worship _______________________ the heart.
- Always give ___________________________.
Devotions with Pastor Fran Ruecker
God is doing a new thing.
“This is what the LORD says – He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty water… ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19
Have you ever had a scripture verse keep reappearing in devotions you read or in articles you read? God gave me this scripture at the beginning of the year this year and I can’t tell you how many times it has reappeared.
This year is going to be a year of change for me as I contemplate retirement. I have always been a person who likes a well thought out schedule, sticky notes that reminded me of all the “to do’s” I have to do on a certain day, a calendar at work as well as on the refrigerator at home, and a calendar on my phone with a reminder that sounds at the time things are supposed to take place. This retirement thing is all new territory for me. So as I think about what the future really looks like I keep asking God to show me just what I can expect in the days ahead. I keep hoping for a billboard from heaven that has it all mapped out for me; however, I haven’t seen any billboard magically appear along the roadway. But what I have encountered is that still small voice that speaks ever so gentle in my spirit that has given me a deep settled peace.
I was praying about something again that I have been praying about for the past year and asking God to please just show me that I am headed in the right direction because what we have been praying for has taken so long for all the pieces to fall into place. There are still some missing pieces that we are still waiting for confirmation on. So on my way to work yesterday I was talking to the Lord again about this issue and asking Him again for a sign, any sign that He was still working on our behalf in this. I didn’t see any billboards along the highway but almost every song that came on the radio that morning had a promise from the Lord in it. Great is thy Faithfulness…, you have come too far to turn back now…, when you can’t see the results just know God is working in the background…, don’t give up now…give it all to Jesus…, etc. That still small voice that ever so gently says, “I’m making a way.”
Then this morning as I opened my devotional for today, here was this familiar verse from Isaiah 43 again. Just another confirmation that God has it all under control. I know that I can fully trust Him in whatever lies ahead.
I know God hasn’t removed my calling, just maybe changing what all it will look like as I continue to know He is doing a new thing in my life. I will always be a pastor, just maybe not in the capacity I am today. And I will keep listening to the still small voice as He keeps sending me confirmation along the way. God is capable. God is creative. God is carving a new way for me. Praise His name!
Devotions with Pastor Jerry Schmid
Ephesians 4:22 Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
I still remember going to the dentist as a child, watching the old dental drill with numerous extension arms, numerous little pulleys and a very long continuous steel cable running over the full length and around the end of the drill, supplying the drill with its ability to turn the drill attachments. On that long little cable the dentist had fastened a tiny cotton ball to imitate a rabbit. As he used the drill; which ran very slow and vibrated with a grinding noise, he would say “watch the rabbit run”. Sorry to tell you, it didn’t help much! All you could conclude was that chasing this rabbit would get you nowhere, other than running in a lopsided circle.
Today’s version of the dentist drill has hidden from view the elusive rabbit, but has succeeded in distracting the noise with music. And now new technology that makes an exact opposite sound wave to negate the sound altogether.
When you think about chasing rabbits in our Christian walk, you may think of wanting to be more spiritual, reading the bible more, praying more, seeking good biblical advice and on the list goes. We want to live and demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit in our daily life.
Therein lays our problem, the chase, the ever-elusive chase, when Satan lays down so many false rabbit trails. These can be the elusive rabbits of jobs, friends, material things, all leading to very little true happiness only succeeding to control our lives. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Our faith journey must be about chasing the right things, the things God means for us to chase after, that are different for each of our lives as God has planned for us.
If the rabbit you are chasing is only producing pure drudgery, it could very well be a wrong rabbit. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. (Matthew 13:19)
Stop chasing the rabbit and re-focus on chasing the giver of life. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:4-5)
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?”
It always startles us when someone we ‘think’ we know well, so well we have committed to following after Him, proclaims, “You still don’t know me even after all these years?”
And no --- years of following will not, by proximity, create this ‘knowing Him’.
Jesus may not rebuke us for our lack of knowing, still it surprises us.
Here is the rub, this yet to be known can only be discovered through an intimacy that has yet to be explored, yet to be experienced, yet to be entered into.
This intimacy is not offered to everyone; instead, only to those who have experienced and embraced prior moments of intimacy, unlocking the doorway to today’s intimacy.
Be warned, what you discover and experience will not always please you,
Only those who dare to evolve in the understanding of Jesus will come to know Him in the intimacy of today’s moment.
It’s interesting in a world where we say we celebrate diversity and encourage everyone to be unique, how we still feel the need to fit in and follow the norms. The youth group is in the middle of a series called “Distinct”. We have looked at how distinct Jesus was, and last week we took a look at how God made us distinct. We started the discussion with a question about fitting in and one of our students passionately shared, with hurt in her voice that she feels the need to fit in in every way, she felt that if she didn’t look, act, talk or dress a certain way she stood out and of course in Middle school that’s not what you do because that puts a target on your back. She said in every way she just wants to blend in and not be noticed. We all do in a certain way, maybe as an adult it’s cars, vacations, salaries, jobs, parenting techniques, the way you dress, the way you style your hair etc. It’s interesting because we want to blend in, but at the same time, we want to be noticed. We want to know we matter, that if we died we made some sort of difference in this world. Another student who was shaking her head in agreement the whole time this student was talking had just been in my office with tears in her eyes because on one hand she didn’t feel noticed, but on the other she just wanted everyone to leave her alone.
Our lesson took a look at John the Baptist. You want to talk about someone who stood out, I feel like every part of this guy stood out. But John knew who he wasn't, he knew who he was and most importantly he knew where he fit into God’s plan. Wouldn’t it be nice to be that secure in yourself and in God that you weren’t afraid to stand out? Because here’s the reality; you are beautifully and wonderfully made, you’re deeply loved by your creator, you’re on a journey to learn more about who God made you to be and you weren’t designed to be just like everyone else and that is good and it’s ok.
In what ways do you feel pressure to be just like everyone else? What area of your life do you feel like you’re trying to keep up with the Jones’?
Don’t be afraid to stand out, let God show you who He created you to be, and be just that!!
Jeremiah 1:5a “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”
If you've been journeying with us in our series, Rumble Strips, my guess is that every time you go down the highway and drift over the line on the rumble strips, you will remember a part of this series. I pray that it has been helpful and challenging. It has been a joy to share with you where God has been leading.
After the message yesterday, I had a few questions come my way, so I wanted to share with you the right questions that I have used in my life to remain accountable. Now, I must admit that I haven't always allowed these questions to be asked or answered. There have been times where I've cheated and lied to myself and to the friends I've given permission to rush into my life to ask these hard questions. Therein lies the problem. These questions are only as good as you are willing to be honest and vulnerable. If you cannot be honest, there is no point in having someone ask you these questions. If you are not willing to admit to someone that you have slipped up in an area, you will find accountability meaningless. The purpose of these questions is not to run through a check-list and get this segment of your discipleship finished. Rather, its aim is to help you grow.
Here is what I do to make these questions work. I meet weekly with a trusted friend for coffee or lunch. I give my friend permission to ask all or none of the questions each week. I also give them freedom to look through my computer and my phone. With the iphone's screen time feature, I have even given my friend permission to restrict certain features on it. I share this with you, not to prescribe something for you, but to offer a method or system that you might find helpful as well.
So. Here are the questions:
I pray that this may be helpful for you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sermon Notes for 2.20.22
Rumble Strips (part 3 of 4)
Ephesians 5:14-21 (NIV)
February 20, 2022
Main Point: When you listen to the right voices, you end up in the right place
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
“Do not be anxious then saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or with what shall we clothe ourselves?”
We live in an anxious world. Political and moral polarization, tangled race relations, Christianity under attack, the challenge of understanding new definitions of equality, Covid questions, financial uncertainty, health concern; there just seems to be no end to the list.
Perhaps that is a core part of anxiousness – the list.
We worry about things of which we have little or no control. An anxious spirit and its cousin worry has no destination. It goes no place, takes you no place, and always ends up in the same place. No answers, just unsettledness.
Although it is easier said than done, yielding those things out of your control to the One who has absolute control is the answer. When we cannot, He can. It comes down to a matter of yielding and trust.
Yield that which you cannot control and trust God for the resolution.
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” John 1:12, NIV
My sister-in-law is an artist with unique creations hanging in many homes, including mine. She even had the privilege of painting one of the Ichabod statues seen racing around Topeka with their coattails flapping. I’m very proud of my relationship to her. She is also a mother, with three grown children who are healthy, happy, and successful, and we’re all proud of them, too. I seriously doubt that their mom has ever even thought about the distinction between her artwork and her children. Although both are valuable to her and to those around her, there is no comparison. Her works of art are her creation. But for goodness sake, her children are her children.
Frequently we have difficulty seeing this truth about human beings. I heard it again this week, from a well-meaning but misguided believer: “We’re all God’s children.” But that’s simply not Scriptural. According to John 1:12 and many other passages, to be a child of God one must be born again. Otherwise stated, one must be “adopted” into God’s family, because He has only one “begotten” Son (John 3:16). And acceptance of that Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the only way into the family of God.
This is an important concept if we are to win people to Christ. If we mistakenly believe that we’re all God’s children, then we can just love everyone and agree to disagree about our belief systems. But if we recognize that there is only one way to heaven, and that way is a relationship with Jesus, then we must love people in a new way. As God’s beautiful creation, each person is valuable, wonderful, and delightful. I love my unsaved friends and family members, and I want to spend eternity with them. To do that, they need Jesus, and it’s my responsibility to help them see that. “…he who wins souls is wise.” Prov. 11:30
God bless you!
Devotions with Pastor Bill Ritchey
What do you hope for? What brings joy into your life? Romans chapter 12:9-21 describes what are called the “marks of a true Christian.” The beginning of verse 12 says, “Rejoice in hope, ...” Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines rejoice: “To experience joy and gladness in a high degree; to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult.”
As a recovered addict, I understand what it means to chase after “feel-good feelings.” Although feelings and emotions are not bad by themselves, when we place our hope in them we can be easily led into all sorts of problem areas. GOD’s word describes those areas as “deeds of the flesh” (sin nature) and/or sins of the spirit (pride, arrogance, haughtiness).
When our hope is put into the wrong areas, a negative progression begins in the same way it does with substance abuse. Just as an addict needs ever-increasing amounts of the preferred substance to achieve the desired feeling, the person “addicted to” the sins of the flesh and the spirit will find those sins getting worse and worse as they experience less and less joy. Sometimes these behaviors are encouraged by our society, and some type of feel-good feeling is promised or implied, but never occurs.
The person whose “hope” is in anything but Jesus are doomed to disappointment. Many people confuse “hope” with “wish or desire.” In his original dictionary (published in 1828), Noah Webster says these things are different. “Hope… always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wishing and desiring may produce…pain and anxiety.”
True hope comes only from a relationship with Christ which orders our lives. This is why it’s a good idea to follow the words of I Peter 1:13b: “…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” This is the hope worth rejoicing in.
Devotions with Pastor Blake Owings
John 1:1-5 NLT
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
One of Jesus's closest friends was a man named John. John wrote his Gospel to help any one who read it understand who Jesus really was. John choose to describe Jesus by calling Him. The Word. But what does that really mean? How does calling someone Word help us understand who they really are.
The original Greek word John used for word was the word "logos". (That's a lot of words). Logos means much more than just word, however. It is often used to describe reason, experience, and thought. John is showing us that Jesus is the source for all of these things. These things make up who we are. Everything that has existed or will exist was created through Jesus.
So what does this mean for us? What device are you reading this on now? A phone, computer, tablet? How do you get power to the device? In order to get power to your device you need a charger that is created to work with that device. Your phone charger won't work on your computer. Your Samsung charger won't charge your iPad. In the same way the only thing that will fill up our lives is the one who is designed to fill us up. Jesus.
Is Jesus the one filling up your life? Are there things of the world that you are trying to fill your life with that simply won't do the job? Ask Jesus to reveal areas of your life where you need Him instead of something else.
Devotions with Pastor Fran Ruecker
Love Is the Greatest
I Corinthians 13 LNT
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Have a GREAT day!
Sermon Notes for 2.13.2022
Rumble Strips (part 2 of 4)
Ephesians 5:14-21 (NIV)
February 13, 2022
Main Point: There is a gentle nudge that could save your life.
There is a _____________ _______________ that could save your life.
1. The more you __________________ God's gentle nudge, the harder it is to
2. The more you ___________________ to God’s gentle nudge, the more you will
3. The more you ___________________________ God’s gentle nudge, the more places God can
There is a GENTLE NUDGE that could save your life.
1. The more you IGNORE God's gentle nudge, the harder it is to HEAR it.
2. The more you LISTEN to God’s gentle nudge, the more you will ANTICIPATE it.
3. The more you ANTICIPATE God’s gentle nudge, the more places God can LEAD you.
Devotions with Holly Woodbridge
Tornadoes and Groanings: A Pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Romans 8 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Anyone who has watched “The Wizard of Oz” knows you have got to be prepared for tornadoes when you live in Kansas. I insisted on a basement in our home when we settled here because of that fact. And then those first Mondays here when those noontime tornado alarms sounded, yikes, we hardly knew what to do with ourselves.
In the Northeast, where we come from, we have hurricanes. Hurricanes are widespread and destructive, but not like tornadoes. Tornadoes dig in and pierce the earth wiping out everything in its path.
Lately, it feels like I have had a tornado storming through my head. All the twirling and swirling is shaking the peace I have known. I find myself groaning in prayer, unable to find words to voice the pain. And then I hear HIM. There is someone groaning next to me, and HE is groaning for me. I have a STORM-SHELTER, who is actively interceding for me, protecting me, caring for me, holding me through the storm. And I can trust HIM to work out good for me.
So, although the storm rages on, I know it is going to be okay because I am hanging on to the WEATHERMAN.
A Song to help you as the winds blow.
The Art of Precious Scars
Psalm126: 1-6 When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping,Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.
In Japanese culture they practice the art of Kintsukuroi. That is quite the mouthful isn’t it? Say that back 3 times real fast…Ha! Ha! Kintsukuroi is the mending of broken pottery by joining the pieces back together with gold. The pieces are highly valued not because they are perfect but because they were once broken and have healed. It has been called by some the art of precious scars.
Psalm 126 depicts the great hope of our faith. God, even in the messiness and chaos of our broken world, is making all things new. That our weeping might turn to singing and our tears to laughter. That even the most broken places within ourselves can become beautiful masterpieces in God’s hands. That when we lay our broken pieces at the feet of Jesus, when we open our hands and our hearts revealing our deepest shame, God will not only respond with healthy discipline, but also with mercy, renewal, and restoration.
I would add only one more thought. Pastor Holmes mentioned from the pulpit the other day, that there is only one being in heaven at the end of time who still carries their scars on hands and feet. It is a beautiful picture that we see in Revelation chapter 5. The apostle John finds himself in the very throne room of God. He blinks through his tears and he peers. And there between the one that sits on the throne and all of creation is the lion of the tribe of Judah. But in this scene the great lion morphs into the slaughtered lamb of God. He carries the precious scars that he bore for us that we might become whole. We are reminded throughout all of eternity that by His stripes we are healed.
Would you pray with me please?
God, please grant me the grace to know you in my life.
Please help me to see myself as more than just broken.
Please help me to see myself as you see me.
If you would like to spend some time in worship singing to the Lord on this theme, here is a beautiful song by Lauren Daigle.
COMPROMISE: ACCEPTING STANDARDS LOWER THAN DESIRABLE
O how I remember my first car! I had been looking in car lots, deciding color, make, MOTOR SIZE, etc. knowing what I wanted. Then one weekend my parents went to Lincoln Ne and came back with what was my new car. It was NOT what I had in mind in any areas. It was a 1961 medium blue Corvair. The only compromise I was given was “here is your car, and you get to pay for it”. However, even 58 years later, that was probably the best car and learning experience with a vehicle I ever had and wish I still had the car today.
In life we are faced with frequent decision points to either compromise or not in our day to day lives. Our old original sinful nature passed on to us from Adam, is always present, but we do not have to give in or compromise to it. God gave us a way out: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
We often try to compromise in simple areas of the world because we don’t like or find God’s standards too restrictive, or what the world may think of us if we try to be different, or we stand out from others. Remember, Jesus’ message of salvation has never changed and is as relevant today as when he died for us that we could be holy in all we do; Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; (1 Peter 1:13-15)
Our compromise may not involve wholesale sell-out to the world, but it subtly and quietly invades our life when we accommodate it. We don’t toss Jesus out with the bath water so to speak, but we allow those little new idols of life to take a place on the shelf of our life, beside Jesus. Just another object of worship right, no harm, right, we still have Jesus, right? WRONG! 1 Peter 1:14 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
It is ok to compromise in some areas, like carpet color, paint color, scheduling a trip or family vacation, but we can never compromise on the values that Christ set for us; our Christian faith, faithfully following and preaching the Word, our one and only Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and our morals as defined by the scriptures.
We must actively pursue a deeper relationship with God, resisting compromise. Philippians 2:12 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
The world is redefining marriage; abortion; teaching God in our schools, and on and on the list goes for us to be worldly and politically correct.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
What are you compromising to the world? 1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
May we conform to the Cross of Christ, without Compromise.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
The Other Half of Forgiveness:
Micah 7:19 Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
Psalm 103:12 He has removed our sins as far from us, as the east is from the west.
All of us have, at one time or another, been hurt by words or actions of other people or events. There are times when we have to seek God's help to be forgiving because the hurts were so deep that we cannot find it in ourselves to forgive. Sometimes we need to seek forgiveness when we were the one that did the hurting, and there are times when we need to ask forgiveness, even when we weren't the one that caused the hurt.
There are times when we really feel like we have truly forgiven someone, only to find our mind replaying over and over the scenario of the event. We suddenly realize that the more we replay the tune, the more apt we are to become angry and hurt all over again. Sometimes the event becomes all distorted and embellished. We really did forgive them, didn't we? Or did we?
True forgiveness comes when we go to the person and apologize for whatever part we might have played in the event, but perhaps there is another part of forgiveness that we neglect. That part is forgetting. The part of forgetting can be the bigger challenge of forgiveness. I have heard people say, "Well, I can forgive him/her, but I can never forget what he/she did." Unfortunately, our mind is like a computer that stores the good events, as well as the bad events in our lives.
Bad memories have a tendency to crop up every now and then. Sometimes the enemy, Satan, attempts to destroy us with reminding us of the bad events. When we come to God and ask forgiveness for the things we do that hurt Him, He buries them in the sea of forgetfulness, never to be remembered anymore.
Micah tells us in chapter 7, verse 19, that God will have compassion on us and will tread our sins underfoot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Psalms 103 tell us that God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. The depth of the sea and as far as the east is from the west! Wow! Forgetting should be as important as forgiving. If we are keeping a record of wrong or nursing the grudge we have toward someone, have we really forgiven them? Philippians 3: 13 tell us to forget what is behind us and strain towards what is ahead. To press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.
We can't really press on toward the mark if we are holding on to the memories of our past hurts or events in our lives. Perhaps you have forgiven someone, but have you really forgotten? Is it really buried in the sea of forgetfulness, never to be remembered anymore? Remember, there is another half of forgiveness-forgetting!
“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd……..”
We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ commands us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success.
We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us;
What is my dream of God's purpose?
His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now.
If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed,
God's training is for now, not presently.
His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future.
We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards.
What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.
God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now.
If we have a further end in view,
Sermon Notes for 2.6.22
Rumble Strips (part 1 of 4)
Ephesians 5:14-21 (NIV)
February 6, 2022
Main Point: God places rumble strips in our lives to protect and direct.
• God places rumble strips in our lives to ___________________ and ___________________________.
• God places rumble strips in our lives to PROTECT and DIRECT.
I took my kids to the mall tonight, I have no idea why, maybe I was just craving a bubble tea and needed an excuse, maybe I just wanted them out of the house and burning up some of the energy somewhere other than using the couch as a trampoline, or maybe the Lord was prompting me. I say the last part because I think that’s really why we were there. As I was sitting watching my son get super creative with the way he was playing “the floor is lava” with another family that happened by, I glanced over and the other mom sitting on the other side was crying.
Maybe it’s the empathy in me, I just couldn’t help it. I found myself walking over to her. I asked her if she was ok, asked if she wanted someone to talk to. “Yo soy Pastora,” i said and something said to come over. She allowed me to give her a hug and slowly started telling me what was going on. We talked for a bit and then she said, “hmmm you know God always has a way of finding me.”
Those small prompts can lead to such rich times. I’m so glad He led me to her, even if I didn’t even know it was coming from Him at the time. I pray in this dark and hurtful time she is going through, that God reminded his precious child that He loves her and hasn’t forgotten her. God has a way of always finding us when we need Him, maybe just maybe you may be that reminder to someone, when you feel the tug, lean into it.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." -Revelation 21:5
If you're anything like me, cold weather gets you down. I'm not sure what it is because I was born in December. I'm told by my parents, however, that the day on which I was born, there were records broken for how warm it was. The day after I was born—a blizzard. I'm not sure if my birthday and the blizzard correlate or not.
Part of the reason I don't enjoy the cold is it seems to last forever, and it's hard to believe there's anything living beneath the icy surface. But there is, of course, as spring will eventually remind us. Each spring reminds us of the beauty God has. But for now, we have to wait.
Our spiritual lives are often the same way. Many times we can't see beyond the spiritual season of winter in which we find ourselves. We feel lifeless, uninterested, and disengaged. We crave things that will offer a glimpse of new life, but often fulfill our hunger for God with something that won't satisfy us. Sometimes the season we're in is weary and we wonder how long it will last.
This is exactly when we need to remember that spring will come.
This is when we need to keep the faith. We need to remember all that God has done for us, even if we don't feel as connected to him as we would like. It's during these wintery times that we must remember God's love is constant. It does not waiver or decrease.
You will get through your present winter struggles as sure as spring will bring new life. God has already planted new life within you and he makes all things new.
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
Over 2000 years ago, a Roman Governor chose to ask a profound question of a man who was about to be executed.
His question was, “What is truth?”
This question has been posed and pondered by just about everyone, especially at critical points in their lives when they are struggling with the question and the meaning of life.
In today’s culture and time we find many asking the same question. What is the truth about vaccines, pandemics, mask wearing, world affairs and leadership? Who should we believe and whom should we discount?
Psalm 15 seems to answer the Roman Governor’s question (note that Jesus did not give an answer to Pilates inquiry in John 18:38). Just prior to Pilate’s question, Jesus said, “for this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
For the truth seeking Christ followers, spend some time in Psalm 15 and then listen for His voice.
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to act according to his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil. 4:8
If I understand these two passages correctly, God doesn’t just save us so we can go to heaven. Someday. He saves us (through his grace, not by our works) so our lives can be changed right now. And that change, begun in our hearts at the moment of salvation, must move on out into our thinking processes. Otherwise, it will never make its way into our behavior.
I have heard it said that ultimately, people do what they want to do. That’s the bottom line. And that’s why it is necessary that we let God change our “want to.”
Frankly, sometimes my “want to” just isn’t right. I want the wrong things – not bad things, really, just not God’s best for me. And in order to make the right decisions and do the right things, I have to get my “want to” under control. Phil. 4:8 gives me a formula for that. Control my thoughts. If my mind starts to wander down the wrong path, I have to exercise my self-control (part of the fruit of the Spirit) to corral my thoughts. Is this thought honorable? Is it worthy of praise? If not, why am I allowing myself to dwell on it? I can’t control everything in my life, but according to Phil. 4:8, I can control my thoughts. And I not only can, I must. It’s the only way to holy living.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
God bless your destiny!
Notes from the Staff @The Woods