Friday, June 30, 2017

Bearing Fruit For Jesus  WAITING ON THE LORD

 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." Psalm 40:1

...God knows the best time for everything. If we desire to walk with him, we will follow his instructions, even if it means waiting. What we want to do or desire to have may be acceptable to God, but God's timing could be different than ours. If he tells us to slow down and wait, he does this for our benefit. We need to trust him and wait for his direction. "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (Psalm 25:4-5).

With our limited insight and insistence on having things now, we are likely to question God's timing. God only wants what is good for us, and that may include waiting.

...God may want us to wait for one of several purposes. He knows that, at times, to give us something immediately could be harmful to us. We could be unprepared to receive that for which we prayed; we may have improper motives or need stronger faith. He may have a much better plan in mind. Jesus himself waited. He heard that his good friend Lazarus was dying, but didn't go to him immediately. He told his disciples that the reason for his delay was so that they might believe (John 11:1-44). God is in control, and we know that he will not grow tired or weary of providing for us.

Prayer:  Lord, you are so gracious to me. In your infinite wisdom, you give me what I need when I need it. Help me to use my life in ways that give you honor and glory. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, June 29, 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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rod Gartner

Spreading the Word;  Matthew 10:5-9, 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Joanne Hager

"My soul yearns for thee in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks thee. For when the judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." Isaiah 26:9

Nothing like watching world news or reading the paper to send me into prayer. I feel helpless sometimes when it all seems to be bad. But there's also a verse in Isaiah that fits that situation just as well, "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." Isaiah 26:4

Prayer:  Thank you Jesus for giving your life that we can live forever. Keep us safe from harm so that we can give back to the world that is so needy.

Monday, June 26, 2017


If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me", even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. - Psalm 139: 11-12  (NIV)

As the prayer elder that Sunday, it was a morning of mixed emotions as one family had fears of imminent death, while a young person had joy for being healed and so it went with concerns and praise. In the parking lot afterwards, I noticed fluffy white cumulus clouds in one part of the sky and brooding dark storm clouds on the horizon. Now both sets of clouds contained water droplets that would become blessings for the earth. However, the storm clouds held more droplets and thus greater blessings.

Both the joy and sadness mixed up in daily life may contain blessings. Sometimes the greater blessings can be found in the stormy moments. Living in Christ means all our life events are opportunities to experience His love. The more difficult ones may well bring us richer experiences of His grace. We may not always be aware of Christ's presence, and holding on to His promise to remain in us (see John 15:4)  may not take away our pain or answer our questions, but challenging times can lead us to God's greatest blessings.

Dear Lord, no matter what storm this day brings, give me Your assurance that You remain with me. Help me to receive Your blessings each day, even during life's challenges. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.
Tanya Marshall   -God’s will, not my will

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  (Isaiah 55:8)

 I heard a fairly new contemporary Christian song on the radio a few weeks ago.  It’s called “Even If” by the group, Mercy Me.  The main theme is expressed here:

I know You’re able, and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand.
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone.

I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word.
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone.

We often face huge trials, disappointments, serious illnesses, deaths, and crises in life.  We pray for healings and resolutions to big problems.  Here’s where the conflict between the two scriptures above becomes apparent.  We’re supposed to ask God for what we want and need, and the Matthew passage implies we’ll get it.  But these song lyrics express a mature faith of one who has chosen to hope in God, even if God doesn’t answer our prayers how we’d like.  A mature faith trusts God anyway, and acknowledges the idea in the Isaiah passage.

For some reason this song was a comfort to me.  I don’t understand God’s ways, but I am choosing to trust anyway.

Prayer:  God, help us remember you are with us through all the trials and difficulties of life, even when you don’t choose to heal or resolve or answer.  Help us keep going and keep our hope in you anyway.  Amen.
Judy Lentz-      GOD OF HOPE

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 

As I age, I find myself worrying more about what the world will be like for my children and my grandchildren.  The newspapers, the news channels and the internet tell us daily about one or more of these frightening events:  identity theft, scams, drug addictions, severe weather conditions like tornados or hurricanes, earthquakes, child abuse, terrorism and genocide, all of which might be far away or right here at home.   It frightens me.  I find myself praying fervently that our children and our grandchildren will not be faced by these scary situations.

Am I alone in being so frightened by all of these possibilities?  I doubt it.  But what I do know is that I can choose to focus on these negative situations or I can choose to focus on the beauty of God’s world, His mercies shown daily, the joy of a newborn baby, the peace of a healed loved one and so many more wonderful events in our lives.  God has blessed me with the presence of the Holy Spirit and I choose to allow him to give me the power of peace because I trust him to watch over me and my loved ones.

 I know he is there no matter what happens.

This knowledge alone allows me to be filled with joy and peace and encourages me to trust in him by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Join me in that knowledge.  My favorite benediction is the one taken from Genesis 31: 49 paraphrased that says:  Go in peace and may the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.

Prayer:  Dear Lord – you are the Lord of the kingdom, you are the power and the glory and through the power of the Holy Spirit, you fill me with hope, joy and peace.  Remind me, when I doubt or when my fears overcome my joy, that you are there to guide me through whatever difficulties I am experiencing showing me that trusting you will give me the hope, joy and peace I seek.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.
Ann Mizer -Instead of “I have to, I get to”.

After a meal, satisfied, bless God, your God, for the good land he has given you.  Deuteronomy 8:10.

I was inspired by a Guidepost devotion to write this one – I need to change my verbs.  Instead of “have to”  I am going to try to say “get to”.    I don’t have to cook dinner, I get to cook dinner with the food that I have, the stove that I have.   I don’t have to do laundry, but I get to do laundry because I have fresh water, a washing machine and a dryer plus extra clothes to wash.  I don’t have to go to church, I get to go to church, because of the freedom in this country and the blessings of our forbearers who formed Sharon Community Presbyterian Church 200 years ago, and all the faithful members  who have continued to spread God’s word to the next generation and to our neighbors.

Prayer:  Lord thank you for the good land that you have given me, the opportunities you have given me to “get to” do so many things.  May I appreciate and recognize them.  Amen.
Susanne Udvari                                      WALK THIS WAY

And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”  Isaiah 30:21

When I was in an airport several years ago, I had been praying that God would show me a direction for several issues in my life.  I was considering stepping into a new commitment which would take more of my time.  I stepped onto one of the moving walkways, and as I looked down I saw two words – the left side said WALK and the right side said STAND.  It was if God were saying to me – Don't you see – I want you to walk forward with me - you have been standing – don't be stagnant,  but just keep moving in the direction I choose.

 These two words just smacked me in the face with a very clear message!  Yes, I had been doing more standing than moving forward, not keeping in step with what God wanted me to do.  Our God is a God of surprises!  In the strangest ways and places he speaks to us.  It is our job to be open to these nudges from God.  We have all had years in our lives when we were not walking forward, when we were not serving Him with the gifts he has given us.

 It is easy to stand still, be complacent and comfortable.  But we are called to serve and let our light shine.  Walking in God's way does not always guarantee a comfortable life, but we have limited time on this earth to take the path of service to God.

So the next time you are in an airport, and see those words WALK and STAND on the moving walkways, ask yourself – am I walking forward with God or am I stuck in one place, not moving forward in service.  He might just speak to you as He did to me!!

Prayer:  Almighty God, help me to always listen to you and to be open to your voice.  Help me to follow as it states in Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord: Trust him and he will act.”  Give me the wisdom to know when you are nudging me.  Amen
Bearing Fruit - S.H. Payer  LIVE EACH DAY TO THE FULLEST

"I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter. Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 (Good News Bible)

Live each day to the fullest. Get the most from each hour, day, and each age of your life. Then you can look forward with confidence, and back without regrets.

Be yourself - but be your best self. Dare to be different and to follow your own star.
And don't be afraid to be happy. Enjoy what is beautiful. Love with all your heart and soul. Believe that those you love, love you.

Forget what you have done for your friends, and remember what they have done for you. Disregard what the world owes you, and concentrate on what you owe the world.

When you are faced with a decision, make that decision as wisely as possible - then forget it. The moment of absolute certainty never arrives.

And above all, remember that God helps those who help themselves. Act as if everything depended upon you, and pray as if everything depended upon God.

Prayer:   Lord, knowing that you are my shield and protector, may I welcome each day with anticipation and joy in the unknown that lies ahead. Give me understanding of what I am to do, and gratitude for all your blessings. Amen.
Deb Williams –Thought for the Day

By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another".  John 13-35
We're celebrating our anniversary at Sharon Church this year. It's a time for me to reflect on the years I've spent as part of that local body of believers. I remember a lot of good times here. Granted, there were times when I sat back and left others to do the main jobs of the church. I prefer to work in the background, and can say I've been doing that to some extent all along.

Still, it's complicated being a Christian. The church building is not a utopia. As I've seen some upsets that have happened over the years, it makes me realize I may well be a part of the troubles without even realizing it. Have not welcomed someone new, just because I'm shy with strangers? Have 
not looked at someone and thought their clothes not appropriate for church? Have I paid little attention to the sermons at times? Or put off attending Sunday School as an adult? Yes, have to admit I'm at fault and need to be ashamed of myself. I've come to the conclusion that a church Is meant to LOVE. It looks good on cards, works on t-shirts, but unless we give ourselves completely To God and his will, Love is just a word. think this is what Jesus meant when he admonished the
Disciples to love one another. Stick together, even if you disagree. Let your common ground be Him.
Do what you can to love your neighbors, friends, and even your enemies. God does!

Dear God, I love you and adore you, so now bow before you in praise and adoration. You alone are all I need, no matter what bumps and bruises this world has to offer. I know you are with me 24/7 and love me as one of your children. Please help me in my loving and helping others. Amen

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Bearing Fruit

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23 (NRSV)

It seems that, as we grow older, we can better understand what James was saying in chapter four, verse 14: "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Time does go by quickly, especially as we age. James is telling us that, in the span of eternity, our time on earth is rather insignificant. We are a mere dot on the calendar of time.

In reading God's Word, it is clear, however, that God is more interested in what we do with our time than the length of time that he gives us. As God's children, our focus shouldn't be on asking God for longer lives, but, rather, we should be more interested in asking Him and ourselves the question: "What can I do with my time that will please him and give him the glory that he deserves?" First and foremost, God wants us to spend our time with him in prayer and worship and the study of his Word so that we are then empowered to serve and glorify him. We can give God glory by dedicating our daily tasks to him. Our hands and feet can be doing routine and mundane things, but our heart and minds can be focused on the Lord. ...We demonstrate God's grace at work within us as we do his will by serving him through serving others. By wisely using our time to the glory and honor of God, we can live this life abundantly.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to put you first when planning my daily schedule. Grant me wisdom so that I use my time in ways that give you glory. In Jesus' holy name I pray. Amen.

Friday, June 16, 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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Megan Hamsher 


“I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Have any of you ever made a quilt, or know someone who has made one?  What pops into your head when you hear of quilts?  Unique, special, made with love?  Have you ever heard of the phrase, ”When Life Throws You Scraps…Make a Quilt”

Our lives are like quilt- pieces put together.   Each thing that happens to us in that certain material that is included in our life quilt.  The pattern forms itself and God has stitched each one of us with love!

In the original Hebrew text, the word ‘fearfully’ means: with great reverence, heart-felt interest, and respect.  The word ‘wonderfully’ means: unique, set apart, uniquely marvelous.   According to this Scripture, every single one of us is .... truly a Master Piece!   He takes time with love and leads each of us down a path (that we might not have chosen) to form a life quilt.   Each piece is put together to tell our own story.

What kind of “life-quilt” do you think you are creating?

Prayer:  God, Thank you for reminding us that, like a quilt, that each of us was made with great reverence, heart-felt interest, and respect; each one of us unique, set apart, uniquely marvelous... that You see each of us as a Masterpiece.   Thank you for reminding us that even without world riches and the worst times strike, You are always there.  Help us to create our “masterpiece quilt” with You included.   Amen.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Barbara Cain

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NRSV)

God gives me the strength and courage. He provides for all my needs. I can walk with Him in glory and I feel all my efforts will succeed. God gives me all the light and wisdom, and He guides me through every day. My decisions are all destined by His will, I pray I do not stray. God does give me encouragement to move ahead with reverence. I pray I do not fail; my faith, hope and confidence are restored by God. God gives me His love and mercy. He give me strength when I need it most. Such a calmness comes over me, through my sorrow and pain. I feel cradled in His arms. And with His words, "now rest, my child," my heart and soul are warmed.

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you for your presence in happy times and in trying times. Your love is always patient and kind. Amen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ann Mizer

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you.  John 14:2 (NIV)

I asked to have this verse read at both my father and at my mother’s funerals because it gave me comfort that I know that Jesus has a place for them.  I struggled with my concern that my parent’s faith was not apparent to me and did not seem strong.  This verse doesn’t qualify what you need to be in God’s house – it says that there are many rooms, that Jesus has prepared a place.

Being in real estate, I see the insides of many houses and I listen to what people’s comments are about houses.  I know that some people find comfort in certain parts of a house – the kitchen may be a gathering place, there are “man caves”, or there has to be a fireplace in the family room, and so on.  There is not one design that will meet everyone’s expectation and needs, but I also find that there is a house for everyone.  I imagine that God sees similar things with each of us and he has told us that there will be a place prepared for you.

Dear Lord, Thank you for your promises, your patience and your love that pours out to each and every one of us.  Amen.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Judy Lentz 


One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.  When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples”. Luke 11:1 

How, when and where we pray are personal choices.  As I have aged, I have found myself in prayer more and more each day.  I pray in the shower, in the car, at my computer, while I am doing my daily meditations, mealtime, at night as I fall asleep, in the morning as I wake-up.    My prayer activity has become a quiet discussion with Jesus about everything --- concerns for those who are sick, concerns for those less fortunate, for my family members, for those who are struggling, for those who are suffering in many different ways.

I pray for help and guidance in knowing what to do, what to say, how to help.   God answers in so many ways  not always immediately but often times soon thereafter reassuring me and giving me the confidence that He has heard my prayer.  Am I always listening?  Do life’s activities occupy my mind making it harder to hear?    I do my best to remind myself that Jesus is with me, that God is trying to talk to me through the Holy Spirit and that I need to slow down long enough to hear what is being said.  Maybe that’s the reason for occasional sleepless nights -- a gentle nudging to open my heart, hear the Holy Spirit and focus my mind through prayer.

Prayer:   Dear Heavenly Father,  thank you for the times that you gently nudge me to slow down, to pray, and to hear you speaking in so many different ways.  Please know how much I love you and need you in my life.  If I need more than a gentle nudging, have at it!!  And know I am a sinner who appreciates being reminded how important you are in my life.  In the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

BECOMING RICH –Bearing Fruit
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 NRSV
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.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Judy Yeck

Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace.  All of you are part of the same body. (Contemporary English Version) Eph 4:2-4A

This translation is a beautiful thought for living in God's peace with each other. How often we become angry with those who don't think as we do. Others don't always have the same understanding of scripture, some of us are liberals, others conservative. Some parents believe in spanking, others do not.

The differences are everywhere, but we are told to be 'humble and gentle' patiently putting up with each other and loving each other. I like this thought of putting up with each other. We don't always have to be right in our thoughts and ideas, it's okay to think out side of the box, but don't pout because you don't always get your way. We need only to keep our hearts together in our faith in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to understand others, not to change their minds and thoughts, not to insist that all think as we do. Thank You that we are all created in Your love, may we see the Christ in them, and be able to truly love each other in Your perfect love.  In Jesus' Name. Amen

Thursday, June 8, 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.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).

Today our lives seem to be burdened with fears and uncertainties. Each day there is something that could set off an alarm of doubts and cause anxieties to muddle our lives. The economy, international crises, family issues, health concerns--the list is never-ending. God's word is and can always be a comfort. I can't say when the Word became clear to me, but I'm thankful for the revelation. Faith and trust in the Lord is our BEST comforter. I'm blessed to know that the Lord listens, even if I'm repetitive with my prayer concerns. He listens to us all and He likes a little praise now and then, too.
The lyrics of an old hymn come to mind whenever I feel overwhelmed with worries and stuff. I find myself repeating the refrain, a lot, and I know I'm in good hands, God's hands. The refrain is: "God will take care of you, thro' every day, O'er all the way. He will take care of you; God will take care of you." [Civilla D. Martin, 1904.] May this remind us of our ever-present Lord and that He will indeed take care of us.

Prayer:  Gracious Father, we only need to remember your words and know that you are always near to hear our prayers. May we always trust your love and caring for us because you will take care of us. Amen. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pat Bricklemyer -Choose Life

 “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”  Deuteronomy 30: 15 NIV
I was reading in the Old Testament the other day and came across Deuteronomy Chapter 30.  This is one of the final speeches Moses gives to the children of Israel before he dies and they proceed to go into the Holy Land.  The chapter is truly worth a read!  The Lord has told the people what will happen if they turn to other nations’ gods (and we know they do) and what will happen if they follow His laws.  He gives them the offer of Life or Death. God called the people to keep his commands, while reminding them that his laws were not hidden from them or beyond their reach.

  In the same way, we have been given the same offer, only our choices are even more visible, since we have the Word, Jesus Christ, to follow—all we have to do is to accept Christ as our Savior and live as he would have us live. The hardest part is simply deciding to start now.  When you look back at the passage in Deuteronomy you see that the choice is truly important, life or death, blessings or curses.

 Moses chllenged Israel to choose life, to obey God and therefore experience his blessings.  God doesn’t force his will on anyone.  He lets us decide whether to follow or reject him.  This decision however is a life-or-death matter. God wants us to realize this, for he would like us all to choose life.  Daily, in each new situation, we must affirm and reinforce this commitment.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, please help me each day to wake with thoughts of you and choose life with you!  In Jesus' Name—Amen

Monday, June 5, 2017

Roy Behling- THAT'S FISHING!

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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Favorite Scripture -Melissa Bigelow
Psalm 139: 1-18 NIV

1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.3 You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue LORD, you, know it completely.5 You hem me in behind and before,and you lay your hand upon me.6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.

When I reflect on my favorite scripture passage, I’m blessed to know that God speaks to us in so many ways, if we are only willing to listen.  For me, it was through the words of a song that I heard as a teenager.  The song was simply titled, “Psalm 139” by Rebecca St. James. 

From the moment I heard the song, I felt like it was written just for me.  It became my private praise song, my private prayer.  When I’m feeling down.  When I’m feeling unsure about something.  When I have doubts about a decision that I’ve made. I remember this song, and I remember this scripture, and I allow it to fill me up.  It comforts me in dark times, and fills me with hope and joy to know that God is there in those moments with me.  My faith is strengthened to know there is nothing I can do and nowhere I can go to separate me from God’s love.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that you are ever present in our lives.  Thank you for loving us despite our faults.  Thank you for being with us in times of sorrow and hurt.  Thank you for being with us in times of joy.  We are comforted in knowing that you have a plan for us together as your church body and as individuals, and there is nothing that can separate us from your love and mercy.  Amen.

Friday, June 2, 2017

What is God’s Purpose for Us

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians: 1: 17-19 

I am sure early in your life you were asked ‘what do you want to be?’  When you are seeking education after high school, again guidance counselors will ask ‘what do you want to be?’  Maybe you struggled with the answer to this question.  Maybe you thought you wanted to go one way only to discover that way was not for you.  Maybe you accepted a job in the direction you had chosen only to find you were very unhappy.  Maybe your career choice has left you miserable.

Have you ever considered the possibility that God had already determined His purpose for you and His purpose did not match the direction you were taking or had taken?  We won’t be satisfied with what we are doing until we have gone the direction God had called us to go.  I Corinthians 2: 9-10 says “However, as it is written:  ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his spirit.”   We need to seek God rather than seek a career.  If we seek to know and love God, we will not miss our calling.  It will be revealed by His spirit.

Prayer:  Dear Gracious and loving Father:  reveal to me through your spirit the directions you are calling me to go.  I love you because you first loved me and want only to serve the purpose you have intended for me.  In the name of Christ Jesus.  Amen  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Joanne Hager

"And he said to the people. When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, staightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is." Luke 12:54

I can't tell you how many people have told me, "I don't know how you do it!" frequently followed by "I couldn't if I were in your situation." But you would, because what else is there to do? We all have hurdles to jump over in our lives, some large and some small but all give us cause to be thankful for what we do have.

I feel like Longfellow was paraphrasing the bible when he wrote, "For after all, the BEST THING one can do when it is raining - is to LET IT rain."