Sunday, December 31, 2017


Ann Mizer

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

This is a very meaningful scripture for me as it came to me multiple times during a time of trial for me several years ago.  A college friend quoted it to me when I was explaining the struggle I was having.  Days later, hospice sent a comforting letter after my mother had passed away and this scripture was the heart of the letter.  Then I was showing houses to a client (not someone that I knew very well) and she quoted this to me……

To me, this is when God is speaking to me – hearing the same message in different formats, from different people.  What I began to hear at this time was that God was with me, God would help me through the struggle and that there was hope.  I am grateful to all the people who were the mouth of God.  I am blessed to be beyond the struggle and I am overwhelmed with the awesome mighty God who is there with me.

Dear Lord thank you for the plans that you have for me.  May I rejoice and celebrate with you.  As a New Year approaches, may we all look forward with hope and joy and gratitude.   Amen

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Pat Bricklemyer

"Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits---" Psalm 103 Vs. 1-5

We should always be thankful, but first we have to be thoughtful. If you THINK about your blessings rather than rant and complain about what you don’t have, you will become thankful.

Why do we only realize what we have after we lose it?

There is an old story about a poor Jew who went to his rabbi to complain about his circumstances: 8 people, he, his wife, and 6 children trying to live in the confines of a one-room house. He wanted the rabbi to help him. The rabbi asked if he had any animals—the man said yes, he had a cow, goat and several chickens.

The rabbi told him to go home and bring the animals into the house for the night. After that night the man went back to the rabbi and said how awful it was. The chickens were running everywhere causing so much confusion. The rabbi told him to go home and send the chickens outside.

Next day, the man went back to the rabbi and said how much damage the goat was doing to the family’s belongings. The rabbi said to send the goat outside. On the third day man complained to the rabbi about the cow—how awful the smell was in the house. Once again the rabbi said to send the cow outside. On the fourth day man came back and told the rabbi how thankful he was to live in a clean, safe house with his loving family.

This is from a sermon by Rev. Bob Hicks of the Upper Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church. You can tell it is a country church, but how true. All we need is to become thoughtful of our blessings and we will become thankful to the Lord, stronger and resilient for the challenges that face us.

Prayer:   Dear Heavenly Father, I know that too often it is easy to complain, fight and be depressed about what we don't have. Help us to be constantly thoughtful of the wonderful world you have given us and our blessings, and thus be eternally grateful to You and Praise You

Friday, December 29, 2017


Roy Behling

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!  Psalm 27:14 (NRSV)

Recently, Mt. Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church was doing a week of mission work in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. As a part of this I was manning a "Free Coffee, Water and Prayer" tent for commuters at a bus stop on Washington Road. A middle aged gentlemen approached me for coffee and I asked if there was something on his mind I could pray for? He replied by stating he was on public assistance and had been trying all morning to reach his case worker, as he needed to get to the North Side before 10:30 am to pick up his medications. He was thinking of taking the bus but didn't know what number buses to use and where to make the transfers. As we prayed for a solution, his cell phone rang. It was his case worker asking his location so she could pick him up to go get his medications.

God doesn't always respond this quickly. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for God's response, for His time is not always in agreement with our time. In the Bible we find many people who waited for the answers they were seeking. David waited years to become King. The people of Israel waited for generations to find their promised land. Joseph and Mary waited to see how their son would save his people. The disciples waited following the crucifixion to find out what the true outcome of Jesus' death would be.

God still calls us to wait. We do not know the what, where, or why of how God works; but Romans 8:28 tells us that "all things work together for good for those who love God" - even if it takes longer than we'd like!

O Lord, we pray that you will give us an attitude of peace and gratitude for the blessings you have shown us. Give us strength to wait for You even in the toughest situations. In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Susanne Udvari      

“See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

We all have changes in our lives.  Change is one of the most difficult things for people to face; however, change is inevitable.  Some days we may be shouting “Praise God!”  while other times we may be crying out, “I need a miracle.”

I know about these changes as I strive to form a new identity since the passing of my husband.  I know I cannot get stuck in this difficult circumstance holding on to what God did in the past, but I will certainly treasure those past moments and thank God for each one.  I need to embrace the changes God has for me in the future and move forward with trust and joy.

In the same way, Sharon Church must face changes as we look forward with enthusiasm and hope to the arrival of a new pastor!  What has God promised us?  He has promised to never leave or forsake us, no matter what.  In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.”  We are so thankful for the time we have had with Pastor Doug, but now we must move forward with a new pastor.

So, let the changes come.  We will not walk in fear, but in faith!  We will trust God with all the changes, and know that He is more than able to help us, and that He even has plans to bless us!
I would like to share this acronym with you –

Every second, if need be, we can find a blessing.  Changes can be our friend.  Let’s look for God in them.

Prayer:   Lord, thank you for the gifts you give us each day.  Help us to embrace the changes that we must face, and to seek your will in those changes.  Fill us with patience, grace, trust, and love for everyone around us.  Help us to shine for you.  Amen

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Notes from Florence 

Mark Mizer

1st Samuel 16, vs. 11-12   So, he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" "There is still the youngest", Jesse answered. "He is tending the sheep." Samuel said to him, " Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives." So, he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, " Rise and anoint him; this is the one."

I have enjoyed the devotions from the people who travelled to the Holy Land this past spring. What they saw and when they walked the same paths and roads as Jesus did has to have been a life changing experience.

Ann and I had our own journey. Not quite a pilgrimage, but, still a magnificent experience. We went to Italy in April visiting Rome, the Isle of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Florence and Venice. We both agree Florence is our favorite place to be in Italy. We went to the Academia which is actually an art school focusing on sculpting. And, of course, it is where the statue of David stands in magnificent glory; a piece of marble 17 feet high. You can look at it from all sides as it towers over you.
If you look carefully, you can see the perfect body of a man; six pack abs, bulging biceps, big quads and even the bulging veins in his arms. But, he has the face of a young boy , a sling hung over his shoulder as he contemplates his face-off against Goliath. You can see concern in his face but also determination to do what he knows must be done.

There is no modesty in his appearance which to me speaks of David's humble nature.
To be able to see this piece of art is indeed a blessing. It also tells an amazing story from the Bible in one piece of stone. It also reflects God's glory in a creation of one man's art.  Praise be to God.

Prayer:   O God, our God, maker and Master of all that ever has been, all that is and all that ever shall be, help us to appreciate all of creation, even that done by the hands of women and men who love you. Amen

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Mark Mizer

'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be according to your word' (Luke 1:38)

'Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own soul....' (Luke 2, v. 35a)

Rome, the Eternal City, is magnificent. It is not my favorite place in Italy but no one can deny its place in history, its survival through the centuries and its importance in the life and history of Christendom.  Vatican City is encircled by the city of Rome, and in itself is its own sovereign country.

St. Peter's Basilica is the centerpiece of the Vatican. As you enter the basilica from a large nave, to your right, you will find the Pieta, the marble statue of Mother Mary holding her dead Son. It is breathtakingly sad to see Mary's face, slightly tilted and looking downward with a look of numb shock and utter sorrow.

Mary is small and the body of Jesus is large, totally limp and draped across her lap. He is more than she can hold. We see a mother who loves her son holding him as any mother would hold her son yet painfully aware from early on that His sacrifice would be a mother's sacrifice as well. That Michelangelo was able to capture Mary's expression is magical. It is impossible to stand there and not have tears streaming down your face.

In several of my devotions I have related how I have been moved by human creations; der Kolner Dom in Cologne, the statue of David in Florence and the Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica. Many times I see the hand of God present in human imagination and creations. I find a parallel between the Bible, having been written by God inspired people and art created by God inspired artists. They all tell The Story.

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for people who were inspired by you to create beauty out of stone and marble that helps to tell Your Story and for the ability you gave us to be able to be moved and thrilled by it. Amen

Monday, December 25, 2017


Gladys Johnston

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation." - Psalm 62:1 (KJV)

I frequently find myself waiting: standing in line at the store, stuck in traffic, sitting in the doctor's office. I spend a lot of time waiting, and it seems like time wasted. I'd rather be busy.

But not all time waiting is wasted time. Passage after passage in the Bible asks us to "wait on the Lord."  This instruction is hard for me to take. Waiting goes against my nature and seems trivial compared to being up and doing. But I realize that waiting on the Lord is essential to experiencing a vital Christian life.

When God calls us to wait on Him, it isn't simply downtime. He wants us to shut out distractions, meditate on Him and talk to Him in prayer. Such waiting can be productive for God has promised us strength to meet life's challenges and to rise above difficulties if we come and wait to experience God's blessings.

Dear God, Give us the will to take time from our busy schedules to be with you. In Jesus name, Amen

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Karen Singley

The light fades
Into darkness
Then, one by one
The candles are lit
shine soft flickers of light
A symbol of
The Greatest Light
The Light of the World

The last lights are lit
Then the church bell
Across the street
strikes twelve
On Christmas Eve night

As the last chime fades
The bells begin
to ring out
Up and down the scales
Five different octaves
Five different patterns
To create a dream

In the background
The organ plays
The rejoicing, rich
"Joy to the World"

The joyous music continues
"The Lord is Come"
Plays the organ
And indeed he has come
to that very church
Announced by the angelic music
of the bells

A mood blankets the church
Originating in that presence
A mood of
Love, peace, joy, and happiness

Then in the hearts
of everyone
There is a message:
"Jesus has come!

Christmas is here!!"

Friday, December 22, 2017

An Angel Helped Me 

Sara Kobak

Psalm 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (NASB)

In the early 70s when I graduated from college and began teaching, I bought my first car – a “lovely” blue Ford Pinto.  It got me where I needed to go every day – until it didn't.

I had driven back to my alma mater in New Concord, Ohio to attend Muskingum College's (now University) Homecoming Weekend.  I was on my way home to Coraopolis, playing the radio and thinking about the weekend with my friends.  I heard a clanging noise.  I tried to ignore it hoping it would go away.  It only got louder.  I pulled over onto the roadside on Route 70, got out, and looked around the car.  Underneath I could see that the exhaust pipe had slipped out and was dragging on the ground.  I stood there for a while trying to decide what to do and was about to get down on the ground and reach underneath when a car stopped.

A man got out and asked if I needed help. I told him the problem.  He crawled underneath the car and fit the two pieces of the pipe together.  He said I should drive to the next exit and see if I could find a garage to fix it more permanently.  I barely had time to thank him before he was in his car and gone.
It was a Sunday and back in those days nothing was open.  Somehow, I got home without things falling apart again.  I was able to get everything fixed the next week and continued to drive the car for a few more years.

I often think of that man and have decided that I entertained an angel that Sunday afternoon.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending your angels to watch over us.  May we find your comfort and guidance through them and that we too may be angels for others.  Amen.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Ann Mizer      

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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

I have been hearing people talk about being intentional, being present in the moment – intentional eating, intentional listening, or intentional spiritual journey.  I know that so many of us get so busy (especially around the holiday season) that we lose focus, lose our peace.  So I googled verses in the bible about living in the moment and ten or twelve verses came up.  I chose this one because it is familiar, but not as frequently quoted as verses such as 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.  I liked the words “true” “honorable” “pure” – words that don’t seem to be used as often these days.  I also like the fact that it is from a letter Paul wrote to a struggling church, offering them comfort and guidance.  We all struggle and need direction, and this is a good guide.

Dear God, help me to be more in the moment and more intentional in my life.  Amen

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Mark Mizer

'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'  (Jeremiah 1: 5)

I am treading on treacherous ground here, so, please suffer my thoughts with patient tolerance. My intent is not to offend nor to pretend I am a theologian, nor am I asking anyone to accept my treatise, but to make an observation of what I consider a misunderstanding of predestination.

As Presbyterians we are often criticized as those 'predestination believers' meaning we believe our whole future has been laid out for us and we have no control over who we are or who we are to become. Everything in our lives is pre-set, pre-programmed, both good and bad; that God has predetermined whether or not we are to go to hell or heaven.

But, in my mind there is a difference between predestination and predetermination. I believe predestination means we were chosen to receive God's grace, through the Christ, Jesus, who, in the Gospel of John was present at creation with God. We receive this gift even before we have consciousness of our own existence. We cannot earn this grace. It is given freely to us by and through the sacrifice of Jesus, who gave his life to wipe away the sins of all people, both those born and those of us who were yet to be born, and his resurrection overcoming death giving us eternal life and joy with Him.

But, we still possess the freedom to either accept or reject this grace. This is our call to make. Our part has not been predetermined. I believe we are predestined to receive God's gift, but, we are not predestined to accept it.

Prayer:     O God, our God, you have given us the gift of grace through your son, Christ, Jesus. Thank you. Amen

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Roy Behling

The Apostle Paul writes "I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." Eph 3:14 (NIV)

My small group at church is currently studying Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In the passage above we learn that Paul knelt to offer prayer in a time when people stood to pray with uplifted arms as they still do at the wailing wall in Jerusalem. His kneeling emphasizes the importance of the prayer that follows in that kneeling was akin to begging. As you read Paul's prayer for the church at Ephesus, make it your prayer for your church by inserting your name and church.

I _________, a servant of Jesus Christ, to the church at SCPC. "I pray that out of [God's] glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ---that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:16-19

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Eph 3:20-21

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fear of God 

Judy Lentz

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

This Psalm is such a comforting psalm and is repeated so frequently that individuals can often repeat it from memory. Unfortunately, this was not the case for our son years ago.

As a preschooler, our youngest son would get ‘time outs’ for being too rambunctious when playing with his friend, Johnny. One day, he declared to me that he was no longer going to play with this friend. When I asked why, he said, because he gets me into trouble. I encouraged him to talk to his teacher about this situation so she could help him figure out how to be Johnny’s friend but not get into trouble during playtime.

Nothing more was said for several days. Then one morning as we were driving to preschool, he said, “I talked to God last night and asked him to tell Johnny not to play with me.” I immediately asked “Did you talk to your teacher about Johnny so she can help prevent you from getting into trouble when playing with him?” He quietly answered “No”. I said “Why not? If you can talk to God about Johnny, why can’t you talk to your teacher?” He sat quietly for a minute and then said “Because I am not afraid of God!”

I have often told this story and each time I do, I am reminded of the scripture for today. I wonder how often we talk to God about problems in our lives. Do we remember that this scripture assures us that God will walk us through difficult times in our lives if we just talk to him to let him know we need his help. God’s faithfulness assures us of his continuing presence. He seeks to console us; all we need to do is ask for his support and guidance by praying as instructed by Jesus to his disciples.

Prayer:    Matthew 6: 9-13. “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Amen.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Chris Cratsley

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV

After finishing some shopping the Friday before Christmas, my wife and I took the kids to Eat N Park. After we ordered, my wife went up to the buffet to get her food. While we waited I decided to pull out my phone and check our bank account to make sure we were still within our budget.
While I was logging in the waitress came over and delivered our drinks, buns, and soups. After she left, my phone updated and I saw the figure my wife spent at the store earlier and said out loud in a low whisper "Dear Lord!" Without missing a beat my son spoke out and said "We have to wait for mom to get back to pray."

Two things occurred to me. One being I should watch my language. Two, it was nice to be reminded we are instilling good habits in our kids that they actively wait until we are all together to pray. Sometimes I wonder how well we do as parents since I easily see the mistakes we have made more than the success we are having.

Lord, please give us strength and resolve to develope habits in our daily lives that allow us the proper time to acknowledge your presence and works and help guide in the long term to stay close to your plans for us. 

Friday, December 15, 2017


Roy Behling

Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." - Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Today most families have a landline phone at home and mobile phones to use away from home. People have a desire to be connected and with mobile phones and social media it becomes possible to be connected to friends and loved ones 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If we use the analogy of the landline phone versus the mobile phone to apply it to our Christian lives, it suggests that many of us are landline Christians; we only live our faith fully within the vicinity of our homes. However, the mobile phone goes everywhere with us. We can take it to work, to school, the store ---- everywhere. That is what Jesus expects us to do as Christians ---- to be mobile and share our faith with everyone, everywhere.

Jesus traveled widely, teaching and encouraging those he met to love one another. If He had remained in one location, the gospel may not have spread to those in need. Let us all strive to be mobile Christians and spread the word in every place.

Dear God, help us to share our love, your love and the gospel with everyone we meet, wherever we go. Amen.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Judy Lentz

John 4: 23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.

Don’t we always wonder why it is that the church pews are full on Christmas and on Easter. I have actually heard these worshippers called “Chreasters”. Why do individuals feel those days are the only important Sundays to worship and not each of the other 50 weeks of the year? And yet, I thank the Lord for their sporadic attendance in hopes that they might make a decision to come on one of the between weeks. Weekly worship is our practice - why do we value worshipping weekly?

As I was scrolling through my Facebook the other day, I saw this message that might answer this question. The message said “Worship will get you through the ROUGHEST TIMES in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.” Wow, what a powerful statement.

So, as we worship together next week, let us remember that our focus is on the problem solver and He will be there for us to help us with any problem that we identify. This is the message we must strive to share with the Chreasters.

Prayer:   Dear Lord, your eye is always watching us and your heart is always loving us. Be with us as our problem solver and may we always focus on you as we worship in your name. Amen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Think Beyond Fairness

Ann Mizer

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Matthew 20:13-15 NIV

I used to work with a man who when things became difficult would say, “Pretty soon we are going to have to use the four letter “F” word.”  Jaws dropped and then he would smile and say, “You know, it’s not fair.”  How often we feel that things are not fair.  Someone gets an unexpected raise, but not someone else.  Someone seems to eat whatever they want, and they never gain weight.  Someone else gets picked for a special project, but not someone else… can list your own examples I am sure.

Jesus tells this parable of an employer paying the same wage, but the people worked different amounts of time.  He uses the word unfair, but he also uses the word envious and generous.  I wonder if we stop to ponder things that we think are unfair and see if it is envy that might cause that thought.  We might also rejoice in someone being generous, without comparing and thinking about fairness.  
People can be generous with money, but they can also be generous with time, with praise, with attention and other things.  It might be good for us to focus on those things.

Dear God, help me to think beyond fairness but to consider generosity, opportunity, and what your intent and hopes and desires are.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why is the Fish a Christian Symbol?   

Jan Weber

The fish is thought to have been chosen by the early Christians for several reasons:

•             The Greek word for fish (ICHTUS), works as an acrostic for I = Jesus, C = Christ, TH = God's, U = Son, S = Savior (Also see Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ)

•             The fish would not be an obvious Christian symbol to persecutors; It is said that during the persecution of the early church, a Christian meeting someone new would draw a single arc in the sand. If the other person was a Christian, he or she would complete the drawing of a fish with a second arc. If the second person was not a Christian, the ambiguity of the half-symbol would not reveal the first person as a Christian. (Also see Christian history and Christian beliefs and Christian fast facts)

•             Jesus' ministry is associated with fish: he chose several fishermen to be his disciples and declared he would make them "fishers of men."

At VBS this year we learned about the early church in Rome and taught the children about the fish symbol.   I brought in a small metal fish for the metal worker's shop that was intended to be put on the bumper of a car that my daughter had gotten for me several years ago.  I was never one for bumper stickers or window decals on my car, but after VBS was over, I decided that I should finally put my fish on my car.  Instead of putting it on the bumper to identify myself as a Christian to whoever was behind me, I decided to put it just above my door handle.  Now every time I get in my car, I see it, I touch it, and I remind myself that I am a Christian.  I sometimes do my best praying in the car.

Heavenly Father, Thank you that we live in a place where we can freely express our Christian faith.  Please protect the Christians in other parts of this world who are still persecuted for their faith, and give them courage and strength.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Be Still My Soul  

Tanya Marshall

Jeremiah 29: 11-13  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

A few weeks ago I went back to visit my mother, who lives in a memory care wing of a lovely retirement center in Hershey, PA.  Often when I visit her, I take her to the grand piano in the lobby, and sit with her as she plays through familiar hymns.  Though Mom’s memory is gradually slipping away such that she can’t come up with any names (not even mine), she can still play the piano.  I’m always amazed at this bit of grace God has allowed her to retain.

As Mom played some hymns, I sang along softly by her side.  On that particular day, the first two verses of “Be Still, My Soul” were particularly meaningful to me, as I thought about the future for Doug and me, and wondered where God will be sending us next in ministry.  These words also calmed me as I contemplated the unknown future for all three of our adult children.

1.            Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2.            Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.  

Powerful words!  So much of life is filled with uncertainty and change.  Thank God that he has promised to lead us and be with us in all things.

Prayer.  Thank you, Lord, for your promise of guidance and provision.  Help us as we go through times of waiting, to know you are with us, and will never leave us.  Amen.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Here’s The Church

Judy Lentz

Lamentations 3: 22-24   Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.”

Do you remember reciting the ‘ditty’ with hand gestures titled “Here’s the Church”?

Here’s the Church
Here’s the Steeple
Open the Doors
And see all the people

I always loved to do this with our grandchildren. When very young, they are always intrigued about how I made the ‘people’ pop up when I turn my hands inside out. To them, it was a mystery.
It is the people of that ‘ditty’ that makes it so mysterious. But there is no mystery to the understanding that the ‘people’ are ‘the church’-- not the bricks and mortar. Our love for one another reflects our love for God. We grow stronger in that love each day. Forming one big family representing the collective church. The bricks and mortar provide the building structure for the ‘church’ to meet for worship.

Our ‘church’ is celebrating two hundred years since its founding. What a marvelous testimony to all the faithful followers who have joined together over those two hundred years. All that we are, all that we do, is for the ultimate glory of God.

So the next time you say the ‘ditty’ and watch the people pop up in the gestures that accompany the words of that ‘ditty’, think of all those who have come before us and will follow after us as we continue to join together in worship to our Lord.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, Great is your faithfulness. Bless each and every person who has been a part of this ‘church’ for more than two hundred years. May your love continue to shine through as we seek to fulfill your plans for us as your ‘church’. Amen

Friday, December 8, 2017


Roy Behling

"For the Lord is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations." - Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

It has been a little more than two years since my beloved wife Peg went home to be with the Lord. She was always there for me during the 62 years we were together. A steady rock in a tumultuous world, she was an excellent listener with appropriate and meaningful responses, who I could count on when needed. Today this role is being fulfilled by my daughter Lindsey and friend Gladys. These are two persons I can always count on and being able to say "I can always count on him/her" is one of the best things you can say about someone.

As stated in Psalm 100:5, we can especially count on God to be with us and be willing to listen and to consider our prayers. We do not have to worry about the reaction we will receive as we speak our thoughts and cares to God. When we need help, God is always available.

From God, we learn how to be good listeners by taking the time to listen more and talk less. God is the best example of a good listener, available and approachable, the One whom all of us can count on.

Dear God, Thank you for always being ready to listen. Help us to listen carefully to you and to be good listeners to others. In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Gladys Johnston

"The Lord watches over you---- the Lord is your shade at you right hand." Psalm 121:5 (NIV)

Outside on a sunny day, shadows are our constant companions. When we move along they move along with us, connected to us. Regardless of our pace, our shadow keeps up. It is impossible to separate ourselves from it.

This is what I think of when I read that the Lord is the "shade at your right hand". I see God attached to us as determinedly as our shadow. Sometimes our shadow is lengthened and more obvious; other times it is shortened and not so easily seen. God's presence is the same. At times we can clearly see God moving in our lives. At other times God's work isn't as obvious and we may doubt that God is even there. During these latter times, we can depend on the word of God and know that God is forever with us.

When we see the shadows cast by our bodies and how they stay with us, may we be reminded that it is the same with the Lord. God is always with us.

Dear God, our companion, thank you for your constant presence. Amen.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Mark Mizer

'The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.' (Deuteronomy 32:4)

It is said that Michelangelo chose an ordinary piece of marble to use to sculpt the statue of David that is in the Academia in Florence.  Michelangelo supposedly wanted the stone to serve as a metaphor to the life of David because as a man, despite his heroics, despite his leadership and faithfulness to God, he was still imperfect and sinful.

So, does this not serve as a metaphor for us all? Despite all of our works and prayers, despite all of our caring for others, despite all of our unselfishness and faithfulness to others and the church, we remain ordinary and imperfect. So, you may ask, why try so hard to be a good and faithful servant to our God?

In my mind there-in lies the magic of the marble and the sculptor, the sculptor being Jesus Christ. He takes us, as ordinary folk, and transforms us into something extraordinary, something we cannot do on our own.

Only Jesus Christ can transfer the gift of Grace on us. We cannot earn it, we cannot buy it. We can only say 'yes' to it and let the perfect Sculptor transform us into what He desires.

Prayer: O God, our God, we confess we are sinful and imperfect. Take us and mold us into what you would have us be. Amen. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Roy Behling

"Because [Jesus] himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

Although the Bible clearly tells us that Jesus was tempted (as we are) and suffered (as we do) we still tend to overlook His humanity. Somehow we think He was above all the nitty gritty of daily life. However, Jesus came as a helpless baby, needing someone to supply His every need. He grew up in the home of a carpenter, so He probably endured His share of childhood cuts, bumps and bruises along with daily dust and dirt. He experienced the ridicule and hate of the Jewish leaders and finally the pain and suffering on the cross. Although Jesus experienced life in a different time and culture, the risen Christ understands and identifies with our daily dilemmas.

Whenever we feel alone and wonder who will understand, or how we can continue, we can remember that Jesus has already been there. He hears our cries and stands ready to walk with us through whatever difficulties we face. He holds us up in our lowest moments. He offers hope when life seems hopeless and celebrates with us when our hardships cease.

O God, thank you for your never-failing presence in every circumstance. Amen

Monday, December 4, 2017

An Attitude of Gratitude - 

Sara Kobak

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20

I remember telling my daughter on more than one occasion: “Do not give me that kind of attitude.”  I am sure that God has wanted to say that to me on more than one occasion as well. 

I realize now in my “older” years, more than ever, that I really need to have an attitude of gratitude.  Certainly I need to give thanks to God for all the blessings He has given me.  But I also need to express this to everyone around me: to my family and my friends, of course,  but also to those I randomly meet each day like the clerk at the Giant Eagle, the maintenance staff at the gym, the nurse at the doctor's office, or the young man who holds the door open for me at the library.  A thank you just might make their day.  And it will make my day even better. 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for everything that you have given me.  Help me to express my thanks to others.  Amen

Saturday, December 2, 2017

 -God's Eye  - 

Toni Sample

“I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16(b) 

“When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

On August 21, 2017, in Greenwood, South Carolina I sat in the front yard of my friends. The sun was shining fully overhead with few shadows. It was 88 degrees. I leaned my head back and glanced for a half a second toward heaven. The full ball of the red-hot sun was visible in the sky.

I pushed the black eclipse glasses over my ears, resting them on the bridge of my nose. Glancing upward again, I lost my breath. Only a small slip, about 1/16th, of the full sun, remained uncovered by the moon as it passed between the sun and the earth, in its path of totality.

That small sliver of light was still lighting the world, keeping it warm, while appearing to our naked eye to be the full burning orb.

When God tells us that he will turn darkness into light, make the rough places smooth, and never forsake us; do we believe? When Jesus tells His followers that He is the light of the world, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life; do we believe?

When the moon passed fully in front of the sun, during the eclipse, a corona appeared. The corona is described as the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun, normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, appearing as a pearly glow surrounding the darkened disk of the moon.

I saw that pearly glow and darkened disk, and it looked like God’s eye looking down on me.
The eclipse was both a scientific and spiritual experience for me, and God gave us both.

Prayer Thank you, God, for allowing us these brief views of your glory. It is so important that we never forget that you are the Creator of the heavens and earth, the moon, and the sun, and that you allow us to walk in the light of your son. It is through Jesus that we are reunited with you, and through Him, we feel the peace and strength that erases darkness from our most difficult days. With open eyes and open arms, we praise you. Amen

Friday, December 1, 2017


Roy Behling

David said, "The Lord who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from this Philistine." - 1 Samuel 17:37 (NRSV)

David was a young boy whose job was to protect his flock from predators. He wasn't a mighty warrior, but what he lacked in size he made up in faith. David didn't cower in Goliath's presence; he was ready to fight him face to face with only a slingshot. He didn't need anything else because God was there in the fight with him.

We all face challenges. Some are small and we easily work through them. Others become more difficult and seem to be life-altering, but we can stand firm and face them because God is with us.
No matter what giants we face----unemployment, health issues, loss of a loved one----we can take our focus off the overwhelming situation and turn it to God. Then we may overcome the obstacle in an unexpected way as God can show us how to overcome our situations and be victorious.

Heavenly Father, give us courage and strength. Help us to trust you as we face seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Amen. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gladys Johnston  


" You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."  Matthew 5:43-44

We often wonder what we can do to help others, especially those in great need. The recent devastation by hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought this to the forefront in our minds. But 'helping others' is not limited to physical items like money, supplies or rehabilitation labor. There can be mental, emotional and spiritual needs involved in helping others that we encounter in our daily lives.

As Christians we are called to love others and minister to their needs whether they are friend or foe. Prayer is one of the powerful ways we can do this. It is not a sign that we have given up on worldly methods of helping when we say "Let us pray for one another."

Rather it is a sign of strength when we invoke the power of God, the Son and the Holy Spirit to address the needs and concerns of others whether they be Christians or non-Christians. To pray, that is to communicate with the One who calls us to love others as He has loved us, is the most powerful thing we can do for others.

Dear Lord, thank you for the power of prayer and make us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

THE POETRY OF SHARON CHURCH(by members, circa mid-1960's) Aldena Hedge Sieber


You are never completely defeated in life,
As long as you keep on trying--
No matter the trouble, whatever the strife,
God's interest in YOU, is undying.
He wants for His children,
Life's very best things--
And the gift of salvation to
All them He brings--
You've been in a hurry,
A hurry to where?
You've stumbled, and fallen,
And think it's unfair,
That other folks' plans
Aren't shattered, like yours--
And your hall of life,
Is meeting closed doors--
Each one is pursuing the path of your choice,
While grumbling so loud that you can't hear His voice, when He bids you, "Be still,
And know I am God"--
So take a good look at the path you have trod.
You kneel down to pray, ask, His will be done,
And then you complain, when your own will's not done
Just trust our dear Saviour to handle your life,
Know the power of His love undying-
And remember, You're never completely defeated in life,

As long as you keep on trying.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mark Mizer   

We need God more than ever.

In the 1930’s, the Age of Rational Thought began its reign in creating a palpable and enduring tension between scientific or rational thought and traditional religious beliefs.

With rational thought the world could be explained in scientific terms with the goal of eliminating the need of the mystery and magic of an unseeable God.

Evolution theory and survival of the fittest provided much of the foundation for this ‘discipline’, further explained and ‘proven’ through a growing understanding of physics, chemistry and biology.
In my mind there is no doubt that our scientific methods have led us to living longer and hopefully healthier lives. Science has opened the heavens to exploration. Science has made our lives easier and more convenient. But, science cannot explain the ‘why’.

Can science explain the love between two people who commit their lives together in marriage? Can science explain the love that exists between a parent and a child? Can science explain the joy I have when I walk into Sharon Church and see my brothers and sisters in Christ?

I do not have a problem with science but I do have a problem with people who use science as an alternative to believing in a mysterious and wonderful living God, trying to convince others of their ‘proven truth’.  In our post- Christian Modern world we need God more than ever.

I believe without God, there would be no science and no magic to life. There would be no existence.

Prayer: Wonderful and mysterious Lord, we seek meaning in ways that cannot include You as the foundation of all existence and being. Our hearts are hard as stone and our minds closed to your magnificent love. With and in Your power melt our cold rejection of Your love and grace. Amen.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Toni Sample

“The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

I had the delight to be the facilitator of the October, 2016 Women’s Retreat at Sharon Community Presbyterian Church.

On that cold but sunny Saturday morning, I watched the women enter the room and enjoy an informal gathering time of fellowship. I felt blessed to be a part of this group of women who obviously supported and cared for each other.

Throughout the day we searched our Bibles repeatedly, staying in His word and letting Him guide us through the materials. Our study was based on Paul’s words to the church of Corinth, (2 Corinthians 3:3) when he wrote: “Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”

Although our focus was on the words in Corinthians we moved throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Each verse, each discussion that ensued, showed that these women were not only ‘letters from Christ written on human hearts’, but they were delighted in their relationship, not just with each other, but with their LORD. Some of these women were in the middle of struggles and were being upheld with His mighty hand; others had come out the other side of recent struggles and were enjoying a time of rest.

The corporate church goes through struggles, much like we do individually. We may stumble but He will never let us fall. God has been yoked to SCPC for 200 years, making the load lighter for those who gather to worship and delight in Him. It is the delight and hope in our LORD that sees us through our times of struggle. As we celebrate His faithfulness, He celebrates ours.

Prayer:  Dear God, we come to you through your Son, Jesus Christ, in awe of your power, your forgiveness, your love, and your healing grace. Thank you for never forsaking us. Thank you for helping us to walk on your path. Thank you for the hope we have in you. Amen

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Meditation for Deacon Meeting February 2017

Based on the Book Bread of Tomorrow, Prayers for the Church Year Edited by Janet Morley
In the introduction to the book titled, Bread of Tomorrow, which actually is a collection of prayers meant to be read year round, the editor, Janet Morley, challenges the reader to grow in faith and understanding of how the poor are perceived and why those in need should be helped. 

She hopes the prayers will inspire those that are “unpoor” to respond to the poor out of a feeling of solidarity instead of out of gratitude that they are not so afflicted.    After all, it is not our moral superiority or our faith that protects us from disease, loss of employment or natural disasters etc.  It usually is just happenstance that separates us from a similar fate to those we offer our generosity to.  Acts of charity done out of pity miss an important aspect of what God intends for us to accomplish when helping others.

In the Lord’s Prayer we say we want things “ to be done on earth as they are in heaven” and if we believe God has created us all in his image, it follows that He wants us all to be well fed, secure and happy.  When life presents challenges to some of God’s children, it should be an issue for us all.  For example, we shouldn’t think that “they” have a problem with drought causing hunger but “we” have a problem.  When drought leaves some of us hungry, we are all responsible for addressing the issue.
Responding in solidarity with someone’s plight is different than giving things away to the poor from our excess and then feeling the task is complete because we are nice and willing to share our wealth with strangers.  As Christians, we need to recognize our responsibility for assisting our brothers and sisters in need, to help problem solve issues working with those afflicted and be willing to get involved in a deeper more personal level.  Sharing in the struggles and hopes of those in need makes it a personal endeavor where human interaction can foster the growth of life enriching relationships.  

It’s important to understand that those in need have gifts to share with us as well.

Our ministry to others should always incorporate prayer.  We need God’s guidance as we strive to live in this world together as God’s beloved people.  The editor, Janet Morley wrote; “Prayer leaves space for God to reach us, and by praying we place ourselves, with all our sisters and brothers, within the hands of God.”


Father in Heaven help us grow in our way of thinking about helping others in need so we are responding in solidarity and not out of pity.  All of our blessings come from you and we need your guidance as we strive to minister to others.  Open our eyes to the possibility of being on the receiving end when we reach out to help the needy.  Help us to love and serve others the way you love us.  Amen  

Friday, November 24, 2017

THE POETRY OF SHARON CHURCH (circa 1964 by Aldena Hedge Sieber)


The world's great problems I can't solve
May never be famous--but I resolve:
As a Christian mother, to do my part,
To raise each child with love in his heart.
God IS love, so can't you see?
The important mission entrusted to me:
I'm so unworthy of all things good--

God guide my mission of motherhood.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

God’s Unconditional Love 

Jan Benard

Jeremiah 31:3  "the Lord appeared to him from afar. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you."

If you have ever had a dog, you will probably relate to this. Last year I took in my daughter's dog since she couldn't keep him. It was an 8 month old Golden Retriever. I had not had a dog in a long time, much less a puppy....just cats.

What a difference in many ways! I just kept thinking, "God only gives us what we can handle".
I have learned that a dog's love is unconditional. He is so faithful, it's unbelievable. No matter what has happened, he is there ready to greet me and be next to me. He is so willing to protect me. When I return from a trip, he is the first one to greet me.

I can only hope that I have this kind of faithfulness to God. I know God's love is unconditional, but I ask myself if my love and faithfulness to him is the same? I try on a daily basis to keep God in my heart and in the activities I do. It helps when I am walking Cayden (the dog) as I can reflect on how God works.

Prayer:   There are many ways God shows his love and faithfulness to us. Please help me to return this love and faithfulness in my everyday thoughts and activities.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ann Mizer 

With God all things are possible

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

I have always found comfort in this verse of scripture.  It assures me that what may not seem logical or reasonable, could happen if God chooses.

A friend of mine was very disturbed by the thought of a “fox hole Christian”, the one who on their death bed becomes a believer.  He thought that so unfair and not right that they would be saved, but to me, with God, all things are possible.

It seems to me to be a hopeful passage, not a guarantee of what I want, but the opportunity that things will be what God knows to be best.

I would assume that most of us pray for specific things that we want or that we believe would be good.  I think that this passage is one of the reasons that we say these prayers because we believe God can make them happen.  The passage however does not guarantee that what we want is what will occur.

Prayer: God, please help me to believe all things are possible with you, and also to understand that you will do what is best.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Bearing Fruit For Jesus!


"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:16. ...for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes..." Hosea 10:12

Have you ever felt that life is so full of distractions and that there are such pulls on your time that you have lost your focus? As God's stewards, our goal is to live our lives for God's purpose according to his grace given us by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament.

Getting our priorities straight and sticking to them is one of the most difficult tasks we face. We are called to be faithful and not misdirected by the world, our flesh, or Satan. "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 that you do" (1 Peter 1:14-15).

It is challenging, but with God's help it is possible to keep God at the center of our busy lives and to keep some of life's diversions from consuming our time...

We may ask ourselves the question, "Does the way I live my life reflect the importance of my relationship with God?" We may also ask, "Does my faith focus my life or does my faith get lost in the blur of busyness and day-to-day routine?" Our goal is to keep "the main thing the main thing," which is to love, serve, trust, and obey our heavenly Father.

Prayer:  Father, I thank you for the gift of life. Please grant me your wisdom so I can see the foolishness of my ways. Help me, Lord, to use my time wisely so that I may glorify you. Guide me in your path. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roy Behling


"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." - Proverbs 14:12

We were on a trip to Hilton Head and left after work on Friday so we only planned to go as far as Beckley, West Virginia that first night. We had plugged the address of our hotel into the GPS. As we approached the environs of Beckley, the voice guidance on the GPS system and the display were guiding us to the hotel. As we entered the city in the dark, things didn't seem right that a Marriott property would be located in this residential part of town, but the voice guidance was so soothing and confident sounding we proceeded as directed. Well we ended up on a dead end, in a less than desirable part of town. We eventually found the hotel by calling them and getting directions.

It makes me think how easily we can be misled or distracted as we travel through life. Our world can offer any number of tempting paths, which may or may not prove to be the right direction for us. Other people can persuade us to think we are making the right choices. But sometimes those options can lead us down roads that are dangerous.

Fortunately, through prayer, we can ask God for daily guidance and wisdom to know which paths are right for us. Centering our lives in daily prayer helps us find the way, guiding us toward joyful living and an eternal home.

Dear Lord, thank You for guiding me through life. Thank You for Your wisdom that shows me what to do in difficult situations. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

 Roy Behling 


"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God." - Psalm 146:5 (NIV)

For four hundred years the Israelites where slaves in Egypt. From a human standpoint their situation seemed hopeless. But God sent Moses to proclaim God's power and concern for the people. A seemingly hopeless situation was transformed by the unimaginable acts of God.

When Jesus was executed, His followers scattered fearing they would suffer the same fate. The ray of hope that Jesus' disciples had found in Him died on that cross. But the unimaginable power of God once again transformed a situation of despair. Christ's resurrection kindled a flame of hope that would never be extinguished.

Sometimes situations in our own lives and the news from around the world can cause us to despair. But the unimaginable acts of God still break through seemingly hopeless situations. Through faith and prayer, we can call on our loving God to enter in and give us hope once more.

Dear God, you have no limitations. When our imaginations and efforts reach their limits, give us courage to step out into the unknown and trust in You to help us. Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tanya Marshall   

Pilgrimage Reflection – The City on the Hill

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

We landed in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the evening, so by the time we were riding in our mini-bus to our hotel in Tiberias (two hours northeast), it was dark.  As we drove through the dark, our guide, Ibrahim, pointed out a city on our left on a hill, a well-defined conglomeration of lights, with darkness around the lit up area.  He said Jesus may have been referring to this particular town, Safed, lit up on the hill, when he made the statement quoted above.  When Jesus lived, the lights obviously would’ve been dimmer, with no electricity.  But still, the concept was the same:  everyone could identify where the city was by its lights on the hill.

This view immediately reminded me of driving after dark with my family, when I was eight years old, through a desert from Mexico City to the small town where my parents were missionaries for a year.  Now and then we’d see the clearly defined outline of a town on a hill, surrounded by darkness.  Perhaps you have a memory of a spot like this from your travels.

Is your life a light in this often dark and difficult world to others who desperately need a haven of light and hope?  Does your life give guidance to those who need help reaching the path to the Father?

Prayer: O God, help us to shine brightly for you in the world, not hide our faith from those around us who need to know you.  Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ann Mizer


Proverbs 3:7 - Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
I googled fear and the Bible and found 33 Verses about Fear and Anxiety to Remind Us: God is in Control and then I googled fear of the Lord and found 32 verses.  I have heard that “be not afraid” is one of the most frequent phrases on the Bible. 

I am writing this the week following the shooting that happened in Las Vegas and I was thinking about how frightening that would be.  I was listening to the news commentators discussing what could the motive have been?  I think that we want to understand how this could happen and how to prevent it.  Part of that motivation is people’s desire to control things. 

Fear can be a powerful motivator.  It can also be debilitating and cause us to not act as we should.  Everyone does not fear the same things, but certainly we can use prayer to help us (or others) to deal with things that we are afraid of.

Dear God, hear my prayers, calm my fears, guide my actions and help me to follow your way.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Judy Lentz 

Every Day is a Gift From God

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

On my refrigerator are four magnets inscribed “Every day is a gift from God”. Every day in the news and in our personal lives, we are reminded how precious life is and how quickly situations can change where life is no more. The privilege of watching the sun rise or set is one that has been given to us as a gift from God.

I always love when the worship service begins with the pastor quoting this scripture. Even better is when the pastor starts the scripture and we the congregational members end it. Best of all is the song with these lyrics that I learned as a young child. Such a powerful reminder of God’s blessings provided for us.

As many of you know, for the past 3 years I have been coordinating the Palliative Care Ministry along with other team members which is provided to those experiencing serious illnesses who wish to participate. What you may not know is that I also serve as a Palliative Care Doula for those who are not members of our congregation. Recently through the urging of the Lord, I started a Palliative Care Ministry in our southern church. More than 25 individuals are currently being served in one of these three ways. These individuals demonstrate daily how precious each day is and how we should indeed rejoice each morning when we awaken and be glad for yet another day.

Each time I open the refrigerator, visit a sick friend, minister to a fellow parishioner, sing the song or start the worship service with this scripture, I am joyfully reminded of the significance of the gifts we receive from God daily and I hope you do too.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father – Help us to remember you are the creator of this beautiful world and the many blessings contained therein and that each day is truly a gift from you. Let us rejoice and be glad for all that we have but most of all for the sacrifice your son, Jesus, gave for us. In the name of Christ, Amen

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE POETRY OF SHARON CHURCH (by Mrs. S. W. Hixson,circa 1964).

When Jesus calls us do we listen?
Do we answer, "Here am I"?
Or is your life so full of living
That you never think of Him on high?

Do you know Him as your savior?
Know he died for you and me?
Have you given time for thinking
Where you'll spend eternity?

As we go along life's pathway
We should always keep in mind
That we leave a trail to follow.
Is yours the leading Heav'nward kind?

When e're we have the chance for service
We should answer willingly
Do our part in God's own planning
Saying, "Here am I send me."

If your task is big or little
Of your talents you should spend
Helping spread the word around you.

Of each stranger make a friend.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bearing Fruit  -BECOMING RICH

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Through the working of the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts and minds to understand God's Word, we learn that riches do not consist of money. In fact, riches have nothing to do with money. We can have very little money and be very rich or be very wealthy and be impoverished. True riches have to do with a right relationship with Jesus who brings us satisfaction, joy, love and peace and who enables us to "take hold of that which is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:19).

Material possessions do not constitute real riches, as many have discovered to their sorrow. Material things are transitory. What we possess materially can be lost... All material things can be gone very quickly.

The wise person who desires to be rich will look at Jesus' words. Enlightened by the Spirit, he will understand what God's Word means when it speaks of the lack of foundation material riches provide. He will understand what a poor investment wealth alone is. He will see that true riches are found in investing in eternity, in laying up "treasures in Heaven" (Matthew 6:20).
How insightful C.S. Lewis was when he wrote, "He who has God and everything has no more that he who has God alone."

Jesus told us that he came "that [we] may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). Let us not settle for the cheap counterfeit the world offers but embrace wholeheartedly the treasure of Jesus and his good gifts.

Prayer:Lord, you are the provider of all things. Help me to put my trust and faith in you rather than in material things. I thank you for your incomprehensible love demonstrated in the gift of your Son, Jesus, who gave his life that I might have true riches: the forgiveness of sins and life eternal in Heaven. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kathy Smith

Deuteronomy 31:8  Don’t be afraid, for the Lord will go before you and will be with you; he will not fail nor forsake you.

My mother needed to downsize to a smaller apartment and several of the boxes were stored at my home.  I started going through the boxes and found the Bible my dad carried with him every day during WWII.  I remember hearing about this Bible but never saw it.  The size is small, three inches by four and a half inches.  It states on the inside cover “A Bible for Victory-Heart-Covered    Pocket size New Testament with gold plated Steel Cover.”  There is no “Hollywood Movie” about the Bible’s gold-plated steel cover that saved his life from an enemy bullet.  But, there is the faith, hope and trust in Jesus my dad had every day of the war from reading this small Bible and keeping it close to his heart.

Dear Lord, please be with the all our troops as they protect our country.  Bring them home safely to their families.  Bless our country as we celebrate them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tanya Marshall 

Pilgrimage Reflection The Garden Tomb

He is not here; he has risen! (John 20:16)

On the last day of our pilgrimage in Israel, we visited the Garden Tomb, which is one of severalpossible sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial in a nearby tomb. This location lies outside Jerusalem’s old city walls, which fits with the custom of the time of not doing burials within the city limits.

A wonderful guide there told us the arguments for this possibly being the site, which included showing us an outcropping of rock right there which resembles a skull. Mark 15:22says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).

Then the guide led us into the tomb itself. He spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, rightly emphasizing that it doesn’t matter so much where it happened, but that it did happen.
Doug then led our group in a worship service and final communion in one of the small outdoor worship alcoves near the tomb. As Doug was speaking about the women coming to the tomb on Easter morning, I had a fleeting vision of Jesus standing next to him, with a grin on his face, saying, “Yes, I’m not in that tomb over there. I’m here with you, with the living. It is good that you are here. Now go, spread the word.”

Prayer: God, there are many who don’t know that you’re alive and present with us every day. Help us to tell others this great news, and to share the difference you’ve made in our lives.  Amen.