Devotions with Pastor Jerry Schmid
HOLY SPIRIT, COME QUICKLY
If you or I, or the church is starving from the power of the Holy Spirit in our life, we cannot defeat the devil and his attacks. Only “Through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13) may we aggressively stand. Only “By the power of the Spirit of God.” (Romans 15:19) may we defy the world to defeat the enemy.
A reservoir cannot provide a healthy stream unless it is first filled. Likewise, we as individuals and as the church must first be filled with the living water of Jesus Christ before we cannot pour out a living stream of the Holy Spirit. When we ourselves are full of the Holy Spirit, then from within can flow out the river of living water, only then.
The disciples could not feed the multitude with empty baskets containing only a few tiny loaves of bread and small fish, but Christ did it by the outpouring power of the Holy Spirit.
How can we speak out of the abundance of the heart if it is empty? Or from our very soul pour out the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit to feed others? Only out of the fullness of our heart can our mouth speak of edification.
Let us first seek God through prayer for His blessing to shine on and through us with the power of the Holy Spirit by which we may be fully consecrated to the Lord. Not just living in a façade of morality, or divine beliefs because of duty, but living a true life in holiness, molded in His will. This, we and the church must have through the Sanctification and operation of the Holy Ghost as we yield ourselves to being entirely dependent on the Spirit of God working through us.
Therefore, let us pray for the power of God through His Son Jesus Christ to be manifested in us by the power of the Holy Spirit changing us into a reservoir overflowing with the grace of God to all who thirst for His living water.
I pray the Holy Spirit touches you, speaks to you even now as He kindles a blazing fire of living water within you that is impossible to hold back, breaking forth like a vast lake overflowing from you to others. DO IT NOW LORD!
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
“Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
“In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus.” --- Oswald Chambers
The ‘actualities’ of life, those circumstances of the present moment randomly appearing out of the chaos of life, are the direct by-product of the ‘engineering God’, who creates circumstances in which your ‘follow Me’ must take place. You will be tempted in your ‘following Him’ to ignore the ‘actualities’ of your circumstances, attributing those ‘actualities to random chaos’, conditions resulting from ‘something’, ‘anything’ but the hand of God, rendering this ‘present moment’ void of meaning and purpose, destined to be merely endureduntil calmer fishing conditions appear. However, every present moment has been precisely engineered, ushering in perennially fresh moments for the Spirit of God.
Jesus is very clear about the intention of the engineered random chaos that God has orchestrated in your ever-present moment. Your random actualities, engineered with the precision of the master engineer, arising out of the chaos, are nothing more, nothing less, than the creation of the perfect storm in which the fishing of men can best take place.
Your false assumption,
The flash of insight arrives yet again, fishing for menrarely occurs in calm waters.
Instead, it is the perfect stormthat prepares both the fishermanand the fish.
So Jesus said to Peter, “Come.” So Peter got down out of the boat”….Matt. 14:29
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Too many people, walking across the chasm into new life in Christ, miss the path just a little. Not understanding that this is a relationship where we walk daily with Jesus, they try to change their lives by their own efforts. They conform, no longer to the world, but to the higher standards of the church. The problem is that this is still conformity, which is NOT what we are called to. We are called to surrender to Christ, to let Him take control and change us from the inside out. It is conformity itself which must be put to death, in favor of transformation of the inner person, and this is achieved only by surrender to Christ.
Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.”
II Corinthians 5:17 is a favorite verse for many people: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new is come.” That sounds so good. “The old has passed away, the new is come.” Doesn’t that mean my old habits are gone? My old ways of thinking? My old sin patterns? Unfortunately, no. I have heard that 80% of all we do, we do by habit. And if it takes 21 days to develop a new habit, then another 90 to solidify it…well, you get the picture. I don’t know about anyone else, but I came to Christ with more than one bad habit! Changing into a person fit for heaven has been, for me, a fifty-year process. And I’m not done yet. I must daily “set (my) mind on things above.” Otherwise, I slide right back to where I need not be.
Christ-centeredness is a lot of work. Jesus died on the cross to give us new life. We must daily take up our cross if we are to live that new life in holiness and truth.
God bless you!
Devotions with Pastor Bill Ritchey
In the last few weeks, the Lord has led me to reexamine the roots of my faith. These were born in 12 Step recovery in 1983 and began to mature there. Later they were followed by baptism and discipleship in a Bible believing church. I have been reviewing my relationship with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and developing a deepened understanding of my walk with Him who called me from darkness. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, I need to heighten my personal prayer life, identify and turn from any wicked ways, and trust in His power to see me and my family through the darkening times growing in our land. The principals involved in the 12 Steps continue to be used by the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me according to the Father’s will and plan for my life – when I’m willing to listen obediently. Paul challenges us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” We are given guidelines by which to examine ourselves in Galatians 5:16-26. Here we are given a comparison and contrast of the deeds of the flesh (a person’s sin nature) and the fruit resulting from the presence, guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life. I’ve recognized I still have a few things I need to be working on. While the Holy Spirit is working with/on us, let me leave you with the blessing the LORD instructed Moses to have Aaron and his sons say to the people of Israel in Numbers 6:24-26 ESV:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Shalom, Pastor Bill
Devotions with Holly Woodbridge
Making Waves: A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you drop a pebble in a puddle, it ripples. Whether the pebble is beautiful and shiny or scratched and gunky, it makes waves.
God dropped you and I into the puddle of humanity. We will make waves. The question is what kind of waves will we make. When I get angry or short with someone, they often pass that along to the next person they encounter. If I am cheerful and encouraging, that will more likely be passed on. If I continually exhibit wrong attitudes and words in front of my kids, they will likely pick it up. If I model generosity, they usually do the same. You are making waves.
The kids and I have been going through this Making Waves theme for the summer. We are learning that we can choose joy, choose kindness, choose patience, because we have been set free and we have the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us all along the way.
Our theme song is linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLV93igPF0E
Now go make some waves for Jesus! You might even experience the joyful splash yourself!
Jim Cymbala is the Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in New York City. Many people know him because of the amazing Choir ministry they have had there at their church in Brooklyn that has reached people all across the world for decades. There is, however, a much more substantial part of their ministry that is a shining beacon to the dark areas of that city that surrounds them. Often when I start losing a proper perspective on what ministry is really about, I think of the following story that Pastor Jim shares….
“It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there, I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?” We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him.
I asked him, “What’s your name?” “David.” “How long have you been on the street?” “Six years.” “How old are you?” “Thirty-two.” He looked fifty—hair matted, front teeth missing, wino, eyes slightly glazed. “Where did you sleep last night, David?” “Abandoned truck.”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking, I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people; we take them to get something to eat. I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I can’t use you, because this is why I called you where you are. This is what you are about. You are about this smell.
Christ changed David’s life. He started memorizing portions of Scripture that were incredible. We got him a place to live. We hired him in the church to do maintenance, and we got his teeth fixed. He was a handsome man when he came out of the hospital. They detoxed him in 6 days.
He spent that Thanksgiving at my house. He also spent Christmas at my house. When we were exchanging presents, he pulled out a little thing, and he said, “This is for you.” It was a little white hanky. It was the only thing he could afford.
A year later, David got up and talked about his conversion to Christ. The minute he took the mic and began to speak, I said, “The man is a preacher.” This past Easter, we ordained David. He is an associate minister of a church over in New Jersey.
And I was so close to saying, “Here, take this; I’m a busy preacher.”
I wish I could say I have learned my ministry lesson about this. In the spirit of true confession, I find myself re-learning it over and over. We obviously have a job to do here at Wanamaker whether we are clergy or laity. It is easy to get caught up in the machine of ministry. We can get so full of ourselves and lose sight of keeping the main thing…the main thing.
I think it is important to thank the Lord for sending others our way. The reality is we need them as much as they need us. Matthew 25 reminds us that in the presence of the one who needs a cup of cold water we see the face of Christ. John Wesley would claim that only as we consistently find ourselves in the presence of the needy and downtrodden will the Church truly be sanctified. May we never stop seeing the ones that God sends our way as His precious children no matter how busy or tired we become.
Devotions with Pastor Jerry Schmid
PAIN OF A SPLINTER
Have you ever had a teeny tiny splinter in your foot; so small a splinter you can hardly see it? And yet when you try to remove it, it can be enough to make a grown man wince with pain or even cry. I recall when my daughter had a little sticker in her foot that needed to be removed. She would scream and yell at the top of her voice; even before you touched her foot. She yelled so loud that a close friend four houses away heard her screaming and came running to see what was wrong. To this day both of my daughters will cringe and say NO, if I offer to remove a splinter or sticker from their foot or hand, because they know I will complete the task (I can dig it).
I’m so thankful that Christ completed the task for us. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
His sufferings were much greater than just a mere splinter, but rather from a spear and old crude nails which left their evidence as Christ urged Thomas to “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:27)
Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. (2 Corinthians 1:6)
Just as you and I face irritations in life that poke and jab at our flesh, our spirit, our will to do what is right, Paul faced the same issues of which he called them “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
So, when we suffer from the splinters of life, may way we place our faith and trust in Jesus as our Savior, our Lord, and the one who holds the tweezers to both remove the splinters of life from us, and or remove us from the splinters of life into his eternal kingdom. But, in the interim, may we face each situation with the affirmation of Paul: Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.(Romans 8:1)
A few years ago, when my wife and I were looking at buying a house, we came across one that was a significant fixer-upper. It sat vacant for some time, decaying and falling further into disrepair. When we viewed the house, we could tell it was only one step away from being condemned by the city and torn down. Perhaps you've seen a house like that. It looks a little haunted, with boarded up windows and a sinking foundation. These sites are sad remnants of their former glory, when they were new, strong, and beautiful. When my wife and I were looking at properties, we knew that no matter how hard I worked, this home was beyond repair.
Sometimes we treat others like an old house that has fallen into disrepair. We look at the product of their lives and say something like, "There's no way." Or, "They're too far gone." Or, "They'll never change." But our God is a master builder. God always sees through the disrepair and damage and still chooses to rebuild. He gives every opportunity to begin the hard, sometimes long and painful work of rebuilding. And friends, this is good news! Through faith in Christ, God forgives us, loves, and brings us new life. What's old has passed away. He's doing a new thing in each of us.
God refused to leave you in your condemned state when you came to him. The same is true to everyone around us. So, let's keep introducing people to Christ!
As Jesus stood before Pilate to answer the charge, “Are you a King?” note both Jesus’ answer and Pilate’s response.
“Pilate therefore said to Him, so, you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. 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.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
Reflect with me for a moment; Jesus says He came into the world to bear witness (testify) to the truth. He then qualifies His statement with these words, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
In contrast, Pilate seems to speak for our culture today when he asks, “What is truth?”
Socrates searched for it, Einstein longed for it, Leonardo DE Vinci attempted to paint it and Isaac Newton looked for it through the lens of mathematical equations.
Jesus gave us the answer to “What is truth?” He said, “I am the way the truth and the light.”
Today, if you are struggling with Pilate’s question, you will find your answer in Jesus. Seventy eight times in the gospels Jesus says, “I tell you the truth.” His written word is truth. Truth is a reality, yet our culture and our tendency is to look for a viable alternative.
Put your faith in His truth, remembering, faith is believing the promises of God!
July 06th, 2022
I was raised in a family that was Christian in name only. My father was an alcoholic, non-practicing Roman Catholic and mom a non-practicing Mormon. Both sides of the family rejected the other and my sister and I were left spiritually adrift.
As I matured I followed in the footsteps of at least 3 previous generations of Ritchey males leading me into alcoholism, abuse of other substances and a licentious lifestyle. This lifestyle led me into a skid row period that involved me sleeping in an old garage on a dirt alley. After several negative experiences with church I developed a hatred for organized religion but I still “kind of” believed in GOD. In September of 1983 I was out looking for something to hang myself with in that garage – I just wanted to end my abusive lifestyle. But GOD . . .
I know now that the great I AM met me in my despair, empowered me to overcome my resistance to a religious, spiritual life and when I heard the Gospel for the first time it was outside of a church setting. I was then led into a local church where I became baptized and discipled into a Biblical worldview. Shortly I was introduced to both rescue mission and preaching ministries – I have become a new creation in Christ with a calling (2 Cor. 5:17-19).
What in the world was I thinking??? Why didn’t someone tell me how hard it was to pack up a house that you have lived in for 45 years and move to a new location? I am finding that change is hard no matter how big or how small that change may be. The trouble with me is I start the “what if” games in my mind. What if this and what if that and if I do this then what about that????
I know in my heart that God has orchestrated all of this and He has all the “what if’s” figured out. I just have to lean hard on Him so that my anxiety level doesn’t get out of hand! Whew!
I listed my house on Monday and it went on the market on Tuesday. Had someone come look at it on Tuesday eveningand they made a full price offer on Wednesday morning! I was able to purchase a house from a lady in Downs, that’s where I will be moving to, even before it hit the market for a very low price. So I have no doubt that God has all this planned out. I just have to hang on as I fly through the doors He has opened!
Then I look around and there are boxes and boxes of “stuff” I haven’t touched in years! It is very mind boggling. As I have been going through things that have been in storage for years I have once again realized how much “stuff” we accumulate and stuff in boxes when we don’t know what else to do with it. Some stuff that are precious memories and some is just plain stuff!
As I think about this I can relate it to our spiritual walk. How many times do we just stuff things into areas of our heart that is just plain stuff because we really didn’t want to deal with it at the time? Hard feelings, hurts, bad experiences, anger, jealousy, precious memories, and the list goes on. You fill in the blanks! I really believe we all need to clean the “closets” of our heart and throw away any trash that doesn’t belong there, any hard feelings that are still hurting relationships, and any un-forgiveness that is hindering our spiritual growth. Maybe we need to carefully box up the precious memories and the precious moments that need to be saved and throw all the rest away! Some of the boxes in my store room have been there for years and I had forgotten what was even in them.
Sometimes it’s the same with our hearts! We have hard feelings towards someone or are angry at someone and we have forgotten why we are even angry or what happened to hurt the relationship. Sometimes it causes us to relive things and the “what if’s “start all over again! Going through the boxes can invoke feelings that come with stirring up old memories and some of those things I just tossed in the trash! Figured I hadn’t read those journals for 20 years so why stir up all those hurtful or dumb feelings now! So I just put them through the shredder without even opening them up! And you know it actually felt good! It was a part of my hurtful past that was under the blood of Jesus and because of that I could actually finally be rid of any old feelings that I forgot I had.
Perhaps maybe you have some of those same feelings and hurtful memories that you need to put through the shredder! All I know is that it has felt so good to finally be rid of all the junk and be able to declutter my life as I cleaned out my storeroom. It also gave me time to reflect on how good God has been to me over the years! And I was also able to praise Him for what He is doing in my life now and for the many doors He has opened and is going to open for me to minister in my new location. But best of all I can move without all the “stuff” that has been cluttering my life for years!
I remember accepting Christ when I was 6 years old (my parents will say I was younger than that even, but agree to disagree). I never had any reason to doubt my faith. At a revival event around the age of 10, I felt a very distinct call to the mission field, and knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I would be serving God in Taiwan. At age 14 I got caught up a sinful lifestyle that plagues many men from their teens on, and my faith suffered for it. God got ahold of me again at age 17, and my call undeniably shifted. I began working at the local Homeless Shelter and again, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I would be doing urban missions for the rest of my life. About 7 years later, I once again felt my calling shift, and began pursuing Church ministry as a pastor. I have now been doing pastoral ministry for as long as I was doing homeless outreach, and feel amazingly fulfilled, as one will when they’re pursuing their God-given calling.
My point in going over all this is that at 30 years old, I have felt three distinct calls. Does the fact that I am now pursuing a call as a pastor mean that the previous calls were invalid? I don’t believe so. As you are serving Christ in whatever capacity He has called you to, remember that we are called to be servants first and foremost. Don’t be afraid of change if it means serving God the way He needs you to.
The Who of Provision: A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
When Adam and Eve walked in the garden, God provided every meal.
When Israel faced a turbulent Red Sea, God provided a dry path.
When the widow had one last meal, God provided unending oil and flour
When we were dying in sin, lost and alone, God provided a Savior
There is NO time, no event, no experience, when that God does not provide.
My stroke and the recovery following can seem so long, frustrating, and even scary at times, but as I walk through those moments, again and again I am reminded:
When I am weak, He is strong,
When I fear, He assures,
When bills run high, His generosity abounds,
When I doubt, He gives hope,
When I stumble, He holds,
Even in death God provides eternal life. There is NOTHING that He cannot provide for. For if we look closer at all of these, HE is the provision.
And HE is always enough.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Notes from the Staff @The Woods