Friday, March 31, 2017

Roy Behling   


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." - Psalm 19:1
Frequently, I walk a mile in the early morning. I love feeling the early morning air, seeing the dew on the grass and hearing the birds singing, all in the quiet of the morning. I sometimes pause to take in the glorious view of the sun coming up over the horizon. How awesome that God creates views like this!

Often we are too busy to notice the creative work of God. We are so caught up in our daily routines, with the hustle and bustle of our lives, that we do not stop for even a moment to take in what God has created - the heavens and the earth. When we slow down enough to observe God's handiwork, we will be filled with praise and be ready to live each day with a sense of awe at the glory of our God.

Dear Lord, thank You for creating the beautiful and majestic heavens and earth to help me know You more deeply. Help me never forget to give the glory to You. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Susanne Udvari         


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thessalonians 5:16-18.

I have been thinking about prayer and what importance God places on this communication with Him. God tells us to pray without ceasing. In a recent study I was involved in, it came to my attention that our prayers are a sweet aroma to God. What a wonderful image! In Revelation 5:8, it talks about the golden bowls of incense which are filled with the prayers of the saints. Amazing that they are so precious to Him that he stores them.

In Psalm 141 David says, "Let my prayers be counted as incense before you." So all our prayers, assuming they are heartfelt, authentic and faith filled, are such a pleasing aroma to our Lord.
In Old Testament times, the priests were the intermediaries between God and His people. They were the ones to make the fragrant offerings. But now the privilege of coming right to God is open to each of us. What a gift we have been given because of the blood of Jesus. May each of us thank Him for the privilege of direct communication with Him.

Prayer:  Lord, make me aware each day of the blessing I have of being able to talk with you directly and listen for the answer in your perfect timing. Help me to always be aware of your constant presence and unbounding, radical love for me. Amen

Wednesday, March 29, 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 develop 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. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mark Mizer


Being Presbyterian does not mean I don't have a grand appreciation for Christian Architecture, especially the architecture of the grand cathedrals found in Europe.  When she was a sophomore at Allegheny College, our daughter, Sarah had the opportunity to spend a semester in Cologne, Germany. I was vaguely aware of a 'big church' there, but, it wasn't until Ann and I went to Cologne to see Sarah that I found a grand cathedral whose enormity, engineering and history overwhelmed me.  Called the 'High Cathedral of Saint Peter' or 'der Kolner Dom', construction was started in 1248. 
Essentially, it is still being constructed and restored. Its spires are higher than the total length of the structure, reaching almost two footballs fields laid end to end into the sky. 

For me, it is an incredibly awe inspiring edifice. I see God in its Gothic construction.

Cologne was almost totally obliterated during World War II. But, der Dom, although hit fourteen times by bombs was left mostly intact. Being the highest structure in all of Europe at that time, U.S. and British bombers used it as a navigational aid to find their targets.

For me, der Kolner Dom serves as a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of our Christian belief.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes to all the grandeur of Your creations, even the ones done by the hands of men and women. Amen.

Monday, March 27, 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, March 25, 2017

Mark Mizer   


One of my favorite books in the New Testament is Acts. Although not used often as a reading in worship it has special meaning to me.

At one time it was thought Acts was written by the Apostle Paul. However, I think more likely it was written by several authors. We find in Acts both Disciples and Apostles, those, such as Peter who struggled with forming a church of our Christ, and Paul, who never met Christ in the flesh but had quite an encounter and conversion on the road to Damascus, when he served as a Pharisee persecuting Christ's followers.

For me, Acts serves as a linchpin between the Gospels and the Epistles; the Gospels serving as the stories of Jesus Christ in the flesh as a human, witnessing his death and Resurrection, and the Epistles of Paul who became the ultimate Evangelist, spreading the Word of Christ through much of the then civilized world. Without Paul, it is possible we Gentiles would have never known about Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the Disciples and the Apostles who gave their lives in your service to bring your words of light and life to us all. Amen.

Friday, March 24, 2017

(By Lorine Woody) submitted by Kathy Hamsher received at the food pantry

 I was walking down life's highway a long time ago,
One day I saw a sign that read Heaven's Grocery Store.
As I got a little closer, the door came open wide,
And when I came to myself, I was standing inside.
I saw a host of angels; they were standing everywhere.
And one angel said, "My child shop with care."
Everything a Christian needed was in that grocery store.
And all you couldn't carry you could come back the next day for more.
First I got some patience, love was in the same row.
Further down was understanding, you need that everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of wisdom, a bag or two of faith.
I just couldn't miss the Holy Ghost for He was all over the place.
I stopped to get some strength and courage to help me run the race.
By then my basket was getting full, but I remembered I needed some grace.
I didn't forget salvation, for salvation that was free.
So, I tried to get enough of that to save you and me.
Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill.
For I thought I had everything to do my Master's will.
As I went up the aisle, I saw prayer and just had to put that in.
For I knew when I stepped outside, I would run right into sin.
Peace and joy were plentiful, they were on the last shelf.
Song and praises were hanging near so I just helped myself.
Then, I said now how much do I owe?
He just smiled and said, Just take them everywhere you go.
How much do I really owe?

He smiled and said, My child, Jesus paid your bill a long time ago. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gladys Johnston       

"Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up." Psalm 71:20 (NIV)

I enjoy gardening. I have flowers planted all around the outside of my home and I change them seasonally. Last spring, I added four large planters which straddle the railings on my deck and are visible from my kitchen window. From the window, I noticed during a severe thunderstorm that the delicate flowers were beaten down by the raindrops and the weight of the water, however the sturdy leaves were shedding the water without being affected. After the storm, the sun came out and its warmth began evaporating the moisture. The delicate flowers responded by perking up, were restored and were more beautiful than ever.

All of us experience the storm's of life. Sometimes we are strong in the face of such trials; other times we feel weak under the weight of life's lessons. God always knows when we are unsteady and in need of Divine strength. He cares for us and restores us. In turn, we can show care to others. Though we don't always know the extent of others' trials, we can always offer encouragement and prayer. we can offer our loving support and help others to stand after the storm.

Dear God, help me comfort others with the strength You give me. In Jesus name, Amen

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Roy Behling   


Jesus said: "Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves Me." - John 12:26 (NIV)

Having been a Presbyterian elder for 49 years and having served perhaps half of those years as an active ruling elder on Session, I have had numerous occasions when I was asked to share my faith journey and /or statement of faith and my experience of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. I have also heard the faith journey of hundreds of applicants for church membership or ordination. Many of these talked about dramatic experiences in their personal journeys; tears, laughter, strong renewal of faith, hope for the future and above all an immediate transformation in their lives.

I can honestly say that my experience was not as vivid or dramatic. I grew up in the church. My parents were very active in the church. From the time I was a toddler to this very day, I loved going to Sunday School, Youth Fellowship and church. From the time I sang "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" it was a process of growing in the faith and feeling God's call in my life. He continues to call and I continue to serve. I feel blessed to obey God's call. May you have a similar experience.

Dear Lord, I am grateful for the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life and the many blessings You bestow on me as I follow You. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.
Jeanne Sergi

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. NRSV
Matthew 25:36b and 40  I was sick and you looked after me…the King will reply, “I  tell the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” NIV Study Bible

Feeling a lump behind what I had previously thought was a bruise, a sense of disbelief and dread came over me.

Almost immediately God laid these words on my heart: “I will take care of you.”  This was so clear and powerful that there was no doubt in my mind that God was speaking to me.

As He promised, He guided me through tests, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation working through excellent, compassionate professionals.  God worked through many friends who visited, called, sent cards, gave helpful gifts, brought food and gave advice and comfort from personal experiences.  He worked through a friend who facilitated the purchase of a new home and through friends who helped with the move.  A dear friend acting as dula advised, visited, brought gifts and food and took over some of my responsibilities. The committee I was responsible for carried on beautifully.  God worked through my awesome husband who took over household duties and saw to my every need, quite cheerfully, I might add.

Sometimes God gives us little glimpses of His love, compassion and mighty power.  This was one of those times for me.  All those who took care of me in so many ways did God’s work remembering His words,…”whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”  Surely God will bless you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being there for me through so many acting in your name.  Help me to remember your words and do likewise.  Amen
Susanne Udvari     


"For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'" Isaiah 41:13.
In a recent children's message, one of the little ones mentioned that Jesus lives in our heart. I also like to think that he is walking beside me and holding tightly onto my hand. When something in my daily circumstances is upsetting, I try to visualize God's hand in mine--what a comforting thought!
God also tells us in scripture that He wants to be part of everything we do.
 How many times I begin marching down uncertain paths, determined to do it on my own. As it says in Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." I am sure many of you feel like I do--I need to stop, hold only God's hand and let him lead my way.
My path will be much more peaceful and joyful. I heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him what you have planned for the day!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your daily presence and the multitude of blessings you shower on me each day. Help me to follow your lead and hold your hand tightly. Forgive me when I do not turn to you. Help me to know what you want for me, not what I want for me. Amen.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

There is a book by Group titled God Sightings, a companion guide to The One Year Bible that I recently ran across and it struck me that striving to notice God at work around us in our daily lives would be an excellent Lenten exercise.   “God Sightings”, learning to experience God every day, is a concept I was first introduced to during Vacation Bible School a couple of years ago.

The idea is that God is at work all around us but we neglect to see his presence in our daily lives.  Not because He isn’t there but because we fail to look.  When we actively look for how God is engaged in our lives we will be surprised by what we discover.  The exercise fosters faith and deepens relationships with God which is exactly what we are called to do during Lent.  

The premise for a Lenten exercise is simple; every day share your God sightings, the moments you recognized as special because God was involved at some level, while you sit around the dinner table with family members and discuss how God is shaping the world around us and the impact He has on our lives.   The companion guide book provides suggested Bible readings for each week and specific ways to look for God at work.  The following is a list of a few of the questions and suggestions provided in the book that seem particularly appropriate for examination during the six weeks of Lent.
Look around for commitment, total dedication, giving your entire self.  The athlete who goes the extra mile, the A+ student who does the bonus question too, the 50 year marriage etc.  That is the passionate response God is looking for from us as Christians.  Do you feel passionate about your faith?

Keep track of the services you provide for others and all the services you receive during the week.  Small acts of kindness, thoughtful actions to spare others, listening to someone; these things all matter because when you’re serving others you serve God as well.  How are you serving God?
What or who do you and the people in your life serve?   Celebrate the people whose lives reflect faith, hope and love as you observe them in action.  Pray for those that seem to be ruled by money, ego or fear.  Where are you in your relationship with God?   What rules your life?

Look around for temptations.  What tempts you or others?  Then invite God to strengthen you and forgive your weakness.  Accept God’s empowering mercy and grace. He wants us to depend on Him.
What is the best gift God has given you?  Do you feel content and satisfied?  Do you receive what you deserve for your efforts?  How often do you feel slighted?  The hard truth is we don’t really want what we deserve from God and maybe not from others either.  That we receive grace instead is the ultimate God Sighting.   We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and a positive outlook on life.
Look for situations where justice is being done….mercy is being shown……and how you and others are walking with God.  Where are these things happening?  Who is doing them and why?  Not all who serve mankind serve God….yet God can use them.  What is God calling you to do?

Prayer:  Father in Heaven help us to see you at work in the world around us so that we might experience a vibrant awakening in our faith and recommit ourselves to you this Lenten season.   We ask in Jesus name.  Amen

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mark Mizer

‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?’ (Isaiah 58, vs. 7a)

Today I was going shopping for groceries, and, as I was exiting the highway I saw a young girl of about 20 something holding a makeshift sign saying she was homeless and hungry. Since I was
stopped at a light I had time to examine this person, noticing that she had on good clothes, nice heavy boots and an expensive backpack.

Given this evidence I doubted that she really was homeless, much less hungry. Or, could I be wrong? How would I know what struggles this young person has faced. Maybe her parents  kicked her out of their home. Maybe she was a recovering drug addict or alcoholic or who knows what…

What I did was to create all of these excuses to not help her. Was I right in not helping? Should I help when my mind tells me this person will use my gift to purchase things other than food? How would I know? Do I need to know?

We have all seen these people at intersections, under bridges, Steeler games, Pirates games. Sadly, I have become desensitized as I suspect all of us have in seeing them, as opposed to feeling a twinge of guilt for being fortunate to have all the things I need and want in life. But, I think the fact is, many people do struggle with monstrous and debilitating demons. It troubles me that I do not have an adequate response to these people whose needs are great.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us when we neglect to help those around us who need a helping hand. Lead us to learn how to respond to those who are facing struggles we cannot adequately understand. Be with those whose lives are ones of sadness and pain. Amen

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Roy Behling  


"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." - Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

In this verse Jesus chooses Peter as the rock on which to build His church. But we also see throughout scripture that Peter had several weaknesses. He often spoke before he thought the situation through. He was impulsive, abrupt in his actions, and discourteous to those around him. Peter was the disciple that cut off the ear of the high priest's guard as Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Peter said he would die before disowning Jesus, but as Jesus predicted he would deny Jesus three times before the crucifixion. Jesus was aware of Peter's shortcomings and failures, yet He saw Peter's true heart. He knew Peter would go on to do great things for God's kingdom.

Just like Peter, we have many shortcomings and frequently fail at our endeavors. However, when this happens we must never think that God can't use us. Through God's strength and power, we can achieve all that we are called to do.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that I can rely on Your strength to accomplish what You call me to do. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Walt Gorr


"After He dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray." Matthew 14:23
Is our society afraid of the sound of silence? Do we need music in elevators, doctors' offices, car radios, department stores?

Does our society think that we are failures if our calendars are not crammed with appointments, committee meetings, car pools, etc.? Does our TV have to be blaring all day long?

Maybe what we should hear each day is the sound of silence... A time to step away from life's distractions and spend quiet time with God... A time to praise and thank Him... A time to listen for His still, small voice.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to slow down and take time to be with You. Help us to realize that Business is not Godliness. Amen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Judy Lentz

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.  I John 5:13

As a child, I remember studying about Ponce de Leon – who sought to find the “fountain of youth” in hopes of discovering the secret to a long life on earth.  Supposedly, that is a myth but it is certainly engrained in my memory.   Recently I heard the modern day adage to achieving a long physical life and it goes something like this:

Eat half; walk double; laugh triple, love always

What is it that we seek?  Do we seek a long physical life on earth or to be blessed with a long spiritual life – an eternal life in Heaven with our Lord and Savior?  For me, it is a blend of both – to live a long physical life on earth where I can serve my Lord in every way possible followed by being welcomed into the Church Triumphant with eternal life.  As the scripture says in John, our faith in Jesus Christ is what assures us a place in Heaven.  He died for us, and through His death on the cross, if we profess our faith in Him, we will be saved.  Thereby, we are promised life eternal - so we might say the message for eternal life is:

Live faithfully, love eternally, and believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior

Prayer:  Our Heavenly Father – we thank You for the many blessings You have given us, especially for the love of Your son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross so that we might be saved.  Forgive us for all our wrongdoings and know that through our faith, we seek to live with You forever.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Roy Behling      


"You do not have, because you do not ask God." - James 4:2 (NIV)

Prayer is one way we have of serving God. It is not our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but a means of getting God's will done on earth. As we pray, God helps us find solutions to the numerous puzzling and painful situations in our lives. When we do not know what the will of God is, prayer will help us discern it.

The verse above reminds us that we must ask in order to receive. If the Syrophoenician woman had not approached Jesus her daughter would not have been cured (see Mark 7:24-30). If the blind man from Jericho had not called out to Jesus, he would have remained blind (see Luke 18:35-43).

Just as we do not know who will respond to a message of Jesus until we share it, we may never see the results of a prayer that was not prayed.

Dear Lord, teach me how to pray as I should and according to Your will. May You be glorified in my life because I come always to You in prayer. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen

Saturday, March 11, 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.”

Prayer :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, March 10, 2017

Gladys Johnston   


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

I was on my way to Anthony's in Coraopolis with my family. We parked in the municipal parking lot and had to cross 5th Avenue to get to the restaurant. In front of us was a lady with two small children, who had run ahead of her. She immediately called out to them "don't cross the street until I get there". 

However, they ignored her instruction and charged out onto the street. Fortunately, no cars were coming. She turned to me and said "I guess my children think my instructions are optional".

It occurred to me that we often treat God's word in the same way. Rather than listening to and living in God's word, we charge ahead, confident that we can make it on our own. When we run into difficulties, we realize we need to follow God's word and instructions to help us cope with the dangers and pitfalls of life.

Fortunately for us, God loves us, forgives our lapses and cares for us, even when we forget and treat God's word as optional.

Dear God, remind us to study your word, follow your instructions and walk in your ways throughout our lives. In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Judy Lentz   

Angels from all Angles  

Scripture: Luke 4:10 For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully…”

 The Associate Pastor of the church where we are affiliate members in Greenwood, SC has always offered “travel mercies” for anyone taking a trip. With travel mercies she describes your car, train or airplane being surrounded by angels – she will say, “may there be angels before you, angels behind you, angels beside you, angels on top of you and angels under you”. It is such a comforting feeling to be encased by angels as we drive north to Moon or fly somewhere to see our grandchildren. No matter how or when we travel, I envision this image.

I have taken this same image and thought about it in terms of our health. What if we were to envision the encasement of angels for anyone we know facing serious illnesses. We could call them ‘health mercies’. How powerful would this be? To be surrounded by the love of Christ in angels from all angles. Such comfort that image offers!! Try it. Imagine angels surrounding your friend or loved one as they traverse the journey of serious illness. What a powerful prayer this would be for all that you know would benefit.

Dear Lord and Savior of us all – we ask for your travel angels and health angels to surround all those who might benefit. The warmth, love and comfort created by this image will provide the peace that we all need in times of concern. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Judy Lentz   


Exodus 20:5-6 “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations, of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

As I was preparing a Bible Study to share with some Christian sisters, the lesson was on jealousy, one of the ugly sinful emotions in our world. Jealousy is the green-eyed monster, so says Shakespeare in Othello -- being envious of someone or something that one person has but another person doesn’t have.

It is a sin because it breeds envy, greed, covetousness, selfishness, or hostility because our heart isn’t satisfied with what we have. We want what someone else has -- the ‘better’ job, more pay, bigger house, bigger diamond, more of the material things in life, etc. I am sure you can name many other ‘things’ that we worship/covet. These are examples of sinful jealousy.

So how do we interpret the words of Exodus 20:5-6 – “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God”? Is the jealousy described here different than the jealousy that Shakespeare was talking about? The word ‘jealous’ in Exodus 5 is translated the same as the word ‘zealous’. God is zealous for His people –the love He has for us is zealous. He zealously desires us to be exclusive to Him in our devotion, study, worship, prayer.

Striving to change our sinful jealousy into the righteous jealousy of faithfulness to our Lord should be our focus.

Prayer: Dear Lord - May the jealousy that is our sin because we want something that is not ours be changed into God’s jealousy -- zeal for our Lord and love for Him as deep as the love he has for us. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Roy Behling   


"You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest"   Isaiah 62:6-7 (NIV)
How many times have we heard children begging and pleading with their parent, "Oh please Mommy! Please! Oh please!"? When they wanted her to say yes, they pestered her constantly. 

Constant pleading to a parent for something they want seems to be in the nature of children and it can be irritating to the parent.

As adults, when we are struggling with something of great concern, we may and should pray about it constantly. The question is, are we irritating God with our constant begging and pleading? He certainly has heard us the first time and is already considering our request and whether it fits with His will.

The answer can be found in the verse above and in the Parable of the Persistent Widow, found in Luke 18:1-7. God is not bothered by our constant prayers. How reassuring to know that God wants to hear our concerns over and over again! Thank the Lord for letting us voice our concerns in prayer over and over again.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your patience. Ease my burdens as I bring them to you in prayer. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rod Gartner  

Spreading the Word 

Matthew 10:5-9 (NIV)5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. 9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—

2 Corinthians 4:1-7 (NIV)  This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.  6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

How often have we listened to a sermon or a presentation encouraging us to tell others of our faith or to lead someone to be open to Christianity.  Or, how often have we listened to people deriding the Christian faith and tried to counter their arguments?  Being lost for words is too often the case.  Why can’t our talented Christian educators provide us with the means to respond? 

As told in Matthew 10, Jesus sent out his 12 disciples to work with the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  How could we today even come close to accomplishing what those 12 did?  Perhaps we are too hard on ourselves.  Maybe we have helped a few.  Have you ever been on a mission trip and worked with families who have had very little?  Many are very eager to learn, and we are challenged to dig out the right resources.

In the process, we have often been the ones to have gained the most.  But back to the main challenge; how can we even initiate the change process?  A minister friend of mine offered that we can be effective by just living a good Christian life in the best way we can.  This can become a copout.  We must continue to learn and be aware of any humble way by which we can help.

Prayer:  Help us Lord to not hold back, make us aware of situations where we might be of help, and then guide us in taking some action.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Roy Behling   


"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

In the verse above, Paul talks about being a "workman" for God and studying the Word to hone our skills. If we are to be workman we need some tools, so let's take a look in our toolbox and see what we have:

Safety goggles:    As Christians we need to have some safety measures in place for our eyes, such as what TV and movies we watch, what reading material we use and what type of places we allow ourselves to go.

Level:  A level helps us line things up with precision. That's how we need to approach life. The word of God should be our level so the things in our life line up with the Bible and what it teaches us.
Screwdriver: This common tool is used to put screws in by turning in the correct direction and back them out by turning the other direction. Do we turn the correct way that God wants us to, even if it's not the direction we want to go and would rather back out?

Nuts and Bolts: These amazing little things hold pieces together even under tremendous pressure. Do we count on Christ to hold us together so we can withstand the tremendous pressure of the world?
Adjustable Wrench: They have adjustable heads to accommodate various sizes of nuts and bolts. Are we flexible to situations that arise and adjust to unforeseen events in a Christian way?

Chisel: With a sharp edge at one end it is used to chip and carve into something solid such as wood or stone. Are we busy chipping out the things that are not necessary or Anti-Christian in our lives?

Hammer: As workmen we are going to have to use a hammer from time to time to put things in place. Do we have things hammered into place in our lives such as regular Bible reading, regular prayer and regular worship attendance?

Pliers: Used for grabbing hold of things we are working on, there are going to be some things in our Christian lives that we need to grab hold of and work on such as prayer life, witnessing or something else we are struggling with.

Tape Measure: When we are working on our Christian lives, we need to measure our progress from time to time. Are we doing more for His kingdom than we were a year ago? Are we growing in the faith?

Bible: Studying God's word is what hones our craft and helps us with our skills as a Christian. The Bible is our handbook and it is full of instructions to improve our Christian lives and our relationship with the Lord.

Dear Lord, May the Holy Spirit work in me so that I might better utilize the tools You provide to become a better workman that helps build and expand Your kingdom. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen 
Roy Behling   


Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets." - Luke 5:5 (NIV)

My son Gregg's family lives in Annapolis and he is an accomplished fisherman having won numerous Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay tournaments. However, I remember the day when we went fishing for Rockfish (also known as striped bass) with a friend he invited to join us. It is helpful to have a crew of at least three when you lower the outriggers on the  boat and have 14 lines in the water with someone on the fly bridge to steer while trolling. Well, we fished the bay all day and while we enjoyed the companionship, we caught nothing. Some days, even an experienced angler that is doing everything right may not catch any fish. Fishing requires persistence, a focus on good practices and a willingness to accept any result.

Our spiritual practices of prayer, scripture reading and worship, to name just a few, can often seem like that fishing trip. Even when we "do everything right" it sometimes feels like we come up empty. Like learning to fish, learning to be a disciple requires persistence, good practice and a sense of peace - whatever the outcome. We keep trying, with the faith that even when "we've
worked hard all night/day and caught nothing" Jesus is present with us, giving us a sense of purpose in His service.

Dear Lord, give me the patience to persist in discipleship even when I feel like I am coming up empty. Help me to be faithful, even as You are faithful. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.
Kathy Hamsher

Psalm 150 (NSRV)  Praise for God’s Surpassing Greatness
1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;  praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

I have participated in music in church, school, college and my adult life for as long as I can remember. I never had formal training in music other than what was taught in school, but I love to hear, sing and play good music. None of that loud rock and roll or heavy metal for me. I want to be able to understand the words and be soothed by the music. One of my favorite singing groups is Celtic Woman. Their singing is so pure and clear and enjoyable to both watch and listen to. Another group I have enjoyed is Home Free - an all male acapella group. That means no instrumental accompaniment at all - just pure voices. You might think you are hearing percussion in the background of their singing, but all the sounds are produced by voices.

Music is beauty, harmony and emotion all rolled into one. Certain tunes can evoke a beautiful picture of family or friends doing things together. Listening to groups singing in harmony can make you ask "How do they do that?" Singing an old hymn can bring back emotions and memories of family and growing up in your hometown church.

Good music is soothing to your senses and food for your soul. Listen to music and you will be refreshed. You don't have to be a good singer to sing hymns - just put your heart into the words of the hymns as you sing and you will be blessed by good feelings.

Dear Lord,   Thank You so much for creating music and for giving us the tools to sing or play our own music. There is music in nature in the rustling of leaves, the sound of waterfalls, and the songs of birds and the calls of insects. There is music in our hearts for our family and friends. Just hum or whistle a tune or sing out loud. Be surprised at what music can do for you.

In Christ's Name   Amen, Amen, Amen

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Judy Yeck

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. JV

I have used this scripture many times when faced with difficulties, physically, mentally or spiritually.
The one that stands out the most happened back in the 1970’s. The church purchased an old bus to transport everything from youth groups and bell choirs to adults. This was when they changed the law concerning driver’s licenses and John and I decided to take the larger vehicle weight class and John drove the bus regularly.

I decided that I should learn to drive it too. John thought it was a good idea because they always needed drivers. We had taken the youth to Camp Crestfield, and on the way back, John says, “Well get behind the wheel”, and he got out of the driver’s seat with the bus rolling. I got my first lesson on I-79! I drove many more trips, even into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver district. This scripture helped me out every time, even when a tire blew out!

 Prayer: Thank you Lord, You are always ready to help us in time of need. Forgive us when we try to do anything without asking Your help. Amen