October 19th, 2022
Let's look at another area to keep watch over our hearts.
Jealousy is rather interesting. Most of us would like to believe that we are "above" jealousy. It was something we may have struggled with in middle school or our elementary years, but not anymore. However, if you've ever found yourself looking around at what others have and feeling a sense of lack—whether that be possessions, looks, skills, opportunities, health, height, inheritance, or any other factor—chances are you've experienced a little bit of envy.
Interestingly, we assume our problem is with the person who possesses what we lack. So we avoid them or mistreat them. We make comments that are riddled with criticism. Our problem, however, isn't really with the other person. Our problem is actually with God. God could have fixed all of that for us. Whatever He gave your neighbor, God could have given to you too. He could have made your life just like theirs—or better. But He didn't. Jealousy ultimately says, "God owes me."
The sad news is that jealousy can terrorize your life and cause chaos in your relationships. The remedy to this monster is to turn to God and to celebrate the goodness and wisdom of God in others.
Check out what James has to say about this matter:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3 NIV)
James says that many of our problems with others are the result of desires that have worked their way to the surface. We want something, but we don't have it, so we fight and quarrel with others. The desires James is referring to in this passage represent unquenchable thirsts—our thirsts for more stuff, money, recognition, success, progress, intimacy, sex, fun, and relationships.
So what do we do with these desires for more? James says to take the desires to the one who created them in the first place. In other words, James is giving us permission to pour out our hearts in an unfiltered conversation with our Creator.
Every concern you have—great or small—matters to our Father because you matter to the Father. Whether it pertains to your love life, your career, your marriage, your parents, your children, your education, your finances, your appearance—James says take it to God.
As you take it to God, there's one next step to consider: publicly celebrate God's goodness. Particularly, you celebrate God's goodness in other people's lives. When you celebrate God's goodness, you will not only be reminded of how good and great God is, but you will also begin to shine a light on the very things for which your heart is aching. As you do this, jealousy begins to lose its power.
Here are a few questions for reflection:
October 12th, 2022
This week in our Sunday morning series, Above All Else, we took a look at one area where we need to guard our hearts.
When we hurt someone—intentionally or even unintentionally—we will often feel guilty. Guilt comes because there is an imbalance in the relationship. We owe someone something. That's why we use the phrase, "I owe you an apology." Or, "I need to make it up to you."
For example, consider child who lies to a parent. The child has robbed the relationship of trust. Or a coworker who sends an email belittling someone. They have taken a reputation from another person. Or what about a parent who walks away from the family because of an affair? They have robbed the family of traditions and meals together, as well as financial and emotional stability. Whenever we hurt someone, we cause a debt in the relationship. The thing that keeps that outstanding balance looming over us is guilt.
The Holy Spirit will often convict us when we've sinned or wronged someone. But that conviction serves as means for change. Confession, then, is a first step in a series of steps that brings light to the darkness we often attempt to hide or ignore.
Throughout Scripture, we see how confession was a public step towards abandoning sin. James even says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (5:16) Confession was more about the heart than a ritual that somehow made us feel better about or sins.
One factor to consider. John reminds us that God will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness when we confess our sins to Him. (1 John 1:9) God offers us freedom from our sin because He cancels the debt we owe Him. That's what's amazing about grace. God no longer looks at the debt we have with Him because He paid it in full. However, the forgiveness and grace that He showers on us is not an escape from our responsibility to make things right with those we've wronged. In fact, that very grace compels us to make things right with those we've wronged.
This is exactly why Jesus said, "If you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
It's also important to remember that confession is not what hurts people. Our sin and concealment of that sin is what hurts people.
Confession—the first step in making things right—can break the power of guilt in our lives. Here are a few questions for reflection:
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
According to my research, Joshua was probably at least 70 years old when he took over leadership of Israel following the death of Moses. He led the people across the Jordan River, and then he led the fight to repossess the Promised Land for God’s people. You’d think that would have been enough. But no, it wasn’t.
In Joshua 13:1, we read these words: “When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the Lord said to him, ‘You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.’ He then goes on to itemize the jobs he has set out for Joshua. There was still work to be done, and there was a faithful servant to do it. What did it matter if he was “very old”?
I “retired” in 2019, and many of my former co-workers are also retiring. However, as I talk to each one, I discover they’re not really retiring, and neither did I. Our ministries just changed locations. God can use the very old, and He can use the very young. My little granddaughter loves to help. She accompanied me to Be Filled of South Topeka last week, and as a new reader, she stopped at one of the doors and said, “I can’t go in there.” “Why?” I asked. “Because the sign says ‘Volunteers Only,’ and I’m not a volunteer.” What are you talking about, child? You work as hard as anybody. You most certainly are a volunteer! One of our regular volunteers at Be Filled has two bad knees, other mobility issues, and depends on others for transportation. But he is there every time the doors are open, and he works like two men. We do need to accommodate him regarding his disabilities, but there is plenty he can do, and he enthusiastically does it.
So the point is, it doesn’t matter what your age is, or your gender, or even, really, your state of health. There is work to be done in the family of God, and there’s something YOU can do! I pray that you will.
Devotions with Pastor Bill Ritchey
In Ephesians 4:17-24 NASB Paul tells us, “So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves up to indecent behavior for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
I recognize that our Lord has brought me a long way from my old self. Not always with my entire surrender to His will, yet a lot of progress has been made over the years. I’m also very grateful that He is not done with me yet. How are you doing?
Shalom, Pastor Bill
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
We live in an anxious world! Political and moral chaos, tangled race relations, Christianity and family values under attack, family struggles, financial uncertainty and yes even those nagging health concerns. There just seems to be no end to the list.
Perhaps, just maybe, the core of our problems is the list. The list affects both our outlook on life as well as our inner decision making. The list is usually the things we worry about.
As Christ followers, we know we shouldn’t allow worry to consume and dominate us, but we still too often allow it a place at our emotional table. Worry is the attempt to control the unknown. Few mortals, if any have managed to control the yet to happen things of the future. Unfortunately it does not stop us from trying!
You will recall, Jesus said, “Is life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
While most will not stop trying to control the un-controllable, maybe we could begin to put it into perspective. When you find yourself in the jungle of fear, frustration and uncertainty, remind your spirit that this is not who you are or want to be!
Then allow God’s Spirit to come alongside you and carry your burdens for you. Allow Jesus’ Word to make a home in your heart, for it was this very Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my load is light.” Matthew 12:28-30
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
Adversity visits everyone at some time or another. We don’t like it, but the hard reality is, adversity does not ask or seek permission for a visit.
How we handle adversity and challenges says a lot about what happens after. After things calm down and after things return to some level of normalcy, will it have changed you? If so, is that change something that made you stronger or weaker?
Today, if you are in the midst of adversity or encounter it tomorrow, don’t allow it to define who you are or what your priorities and values are. Adversity can only have a negative effect upon you if it gets into your spirit. So when the cold winds of difficulty blows, protect your spirit.
A wise man once said, “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them, Ships sink because of the water that gets in them.”
Devotions with Pastor Fran Ruecker
This will be my last devotional as I retire on August 28th. I have so enjoyed sharing with you all stories of my life. I have served Wanamaker Woods for 20 years and it is time for me to take a step back and follow God’s leading into something else.
I have sold my house in Silver Lake and purchased a house in Downs, KS that God literally dropped in my lap. I have also purchased, along with my oldest daughter and son-in-law, a hotel in Downs that has two storefronts. So I will be moving my quilting business from my home in Silver Lake to the new storefronts. Little did I know that when I purchased my long arm quilter that God would be sending me to Downs, KS. God has opened mighty doors for us to be able to do this. I know He has a great ministry there for me.
This move is bitter sweet. I am so excited to see what God is going to do but on the other hand I am sad that I will be leaving all of my dear friends at Wanamaker Woods. There will be a reception for me after church on August 28th, so come and give me a hug and say see you soon. (NOT good by!)
For all those quilter in the church, come on up to Downs and spend the day in my quilt shop!
I have so enjoyed my time at Wanamaker Woods and I can’t even to begin to tell you all that I have learned under Pastor Holmes. Thank you Pastor for taking me under your wing after I was ordained and for giving me a great place to serve and learn! A BIG thank you to Joyce Terrill, who taught me how to always be gracious no matter the circumstances and for loving me like a sister. Thank you to all the staff for always being there for me when Arnie was so ill.
Pastor Michael, I am so glad I got to serve with and under your ministry for the past 7 or so years! I truly believe God is going to use you in a mighty big way to grow His church! I’m a little sad that I won’t get to have the front row seat to that any more but you have a great staff and Big God! I know you will find someone that can read Pastor Holmes’ hand writing and sit in my chair!
I encourage all of you here at Wanamaker to support Pastor Michael in all that God is calling him to do! He is one of the most spiritual leaders that I have ever known and I know he doesn’t do anything without the leading of the Holy Spirit! Pray for him daily for he has some mighty big footsteps to follow!
A BIG thank you to all those who have served under my leadership. There are too many to name individually but I love each and every one of you! Continue to do the work that God has called you to do!
Well I will sign off here and say, “See you when I am in town!”
DID YOU FORGET TO ADD YEAST?
Matthew 13:33 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
Bread dough has no power to change itself, no matter how hard it tries it cannot become bread on its own. It requires an external power adding the most important ingredient; yeast, and the kneading to bring the dough to its perfection. Yeast, when added in the bread making process, eats up sugar in flour and produces carbon dioxide that is the reason for rising of bread. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is the yeast and kneading that we require in our life to develop us into the true bread of life; developing us into God’s disciples. Until we allow the Holy Spirit to truly direct and empower our lives, we are helpless to assist in the development of other disciples until we yield control of our life to the Holy Spirit.
Ignace Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) was a prodigy pianist and composer. He took piano lessons from the age of six. He entered the Warsaw Conservatory at the age of twelve and by eighteen, he was appointed as professor. He was a master piano composer and performer, mesmerizing audiences across Europe and America.
As the story goes, the Great Paderewski was preparing to play a concert in a certain city. The stage was set. A beautiful ebony grand piano sat strategically placed on center stage. A mother brought her son to the concert in hopes of renewing his interest in playing the piano. As the audience settled into their seats, the young mother noticed that her son was missing. Then, in horror, she watched her young boy walk onto the stage, climb on the piano seat, and begin playing “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. The audience gasped as Paderewski appeared. He placed his arms around the child and—to the audience’s surprise—began to play “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” with him. Together, they made a beautiful arrangement of melodies, counter melodies, and harmonies. All the while, the great composer whispered in the boy’s ears, “Don’t quit—you are doing great. Keep going!” That night the small child and the master composer made beautiful music together. When the song was over the audience burst into applause.
Like the young boy in this story, we are powerless to do much without the Holy Spirit’s power. We can do little to develop ourself as a disciple of Christ, let alone invest in people for the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is the ingredient which causes true growth to happen, giving us new and renewed life in Jesus by the changing of our heart and mind in response to His gospel.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
As the Spirit does the work inside of us, we must be willing to work with him. Philippians 2:12-13 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Do not resist the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life because it exposes the lack of power in your life, or avoid responsibility for change, rather allow the Holy Spirit to change you; adding the spiritual yeast and kneading to develop the Holy power to be a disciple and disciple others into the image of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it this way in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
I pray you allow the Holy Spirit to so permeate your life that you, like the wonderful smell of a freshly baking loaf of bread, are a pleasing aroma to God.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Jerry Schmid
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
When my oldest son’s children were small, he told me, “The first Bible verse I’m teaching my kids is ‘Children, obey your parents.’”
I teased him a little, saying, “Michael, that’s not the first verse you teach children. The first verse you teach children is ‘God is love.’”
“Nope,” he said. “The first verse I’m teaching them is ‘Children, obey your parents.’ Because if they will obey me, I can teach them anything they need to know. If they don’t obey me, I can’t teach them anything.”
Those children are grown now, and a joy to all who know them. In learning to obey their parents, they learned to obey God as well as their earthly authorities, and have avoided many pitfalls that have befallen their peers.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, the followers of Christ, could embrace obedience?
The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is all about the Word of God – His law, His testimonies, His precepts, His ways, His rules, His commandments, His promises, His statutes. More than that, though, this psalm is about the author’s relationship with God’s Word. Frankly, he loves it! He begins by saying, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” And in verse 11 we find the familiar, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” And verse 15: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Goodness! I would love to quote the whole Psalm. But it IS the longest chapter in the Bible.
I believe those who learn obedience at the feet of the parents are the most fortunate, because that training is transferable to God and His Word. But for those who didn’t learn it as a child, it’s not too late. My advice would be to spend a little time in Psalm 119 and learn to rejoice in obedience to God.
James 3:13-18 or contrasts two types of wisdom, God’s and that of the world. Godly wisdom is innocent, gentle, reasonable, peace-loving, impartial and sincere. It is full of mercy and willing to yield to others. It leads to godliness and peaceful relationships with others. Worldly secular wisdom tends to be self-centered. It exalts one’s self. God’s Word calls such wisdom “earthly, unspiritual, demonic“ (James 3:15b). Without Godly wisdom we cannot have the peace associated with the serenity we are seeking – rather, it could actually lead into a form of useless, toxic rage about that which we desire to change but cannot.
“Courage to change the things we can” results when we have the guidance and empowerment to work in submission to Father GOD’s will and plan. Acceptance of non-Biblical, worldly wisdom may provide courage to change but the changes will be based on worldly, secular values. That type of change may well bring success according to worldly values, but at what cost? Will that type of change brings honor and glory to our LORD GOD Almighty? James says no! “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
Shalom, Pastor Bill
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.
This portion of the sermon on the mount is commonly known as the Beatitudes. In this sermon, Jesus is telling Christians the attitudes we are supposed to develop. If we live according to these things Jesus says we are blessed. But why are we blessed for being poor, mourning, and persecuted? It kind of seems backwards. We are blessed because these situations open us to God’s work in our lives. Whether it’s a situation, perspective, or character. All of these things Jesus is talking about give us the opportunity to grow closer to God. And the blessing that God gives us, overshadows the pain.
Never overlook the power of community. Last week we had something called District Assembly, where a representative from all the Nazarene Churches gather together for discussion and decision making. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with others that we haven’t seen in a while, and build relationships with others dealing with similar struggles and difficulties in their ministries. Gathering together each week for corporate worship can have a similar effect. We build relationships, share struggles, and come closer together and to God through each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Can you be a Christian without going to church? Maybe, but you certainly won’t be growing as effectively in your faith trying to go through it alone.
I’ll see you Sunday!
Swimming: A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
In the Nemo movie, Dory, the forgetful fish, has a mantra. " just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."
The waves roll, the tides beckon, but she just keeps swimming.
Ephesians 4:14 says,
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
We live in a tricky, topsy, turvy time, when words are printed, posted, preached as truth.
As we grow up in Christ, we are challenged, urged, to be swimming in the Word, meditating on God's truth so we can recognize what is trustworthy and true, from what just tickles our ears.
I have heard that the people who investigate counterfeit bills, carefully study the real bill continuously, so when a fake comes along they can recognize it. They don't study, the fakes, they study the real deal.
We must do the same. We must study God's Word so when other voices begin to beckon, we remain steadfast.
Remember while you are swimming in God's Word, the Holy Spirit is the life guard before, beside, beneath, within.
We do not make this journey on our own. The One who calls, provides.
So, get swimming in the Word. Now is a great time to start. How about the whole chapter 4 of Ephesians. Or the whole letter to the Ephesians.
Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...
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.
Notes from the Staff @The Woods