Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mark Mizer       


‘Thy Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and thy Dominion endures throughout all generations.’ (Psalm 145, vs. 13)

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.

Friday, September 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, September 28, 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, September 27, 2017

Mark Mizer       

Notes from Florence

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." 1st Samuel 16, vs. 11-12

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.

There is more to come from Italy.

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, September 26, 2017

Jan Weber        

Jerusalem Visit

Matthew 28: 1-10 NRSV

While in Jerusalem, we visited two sites where the death and resurrection of Jesus could have occurred, and found out that there are at least four others with evidence to support that they could be the place. The most widely known traditional site is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchure which is currently within the walls of Jerusalem, but wasn't in the first century. It was difficult to imagine this as a site because the church is built over top of anything that was previously there.

We climbed a staircase and could have stood in line to reach under an altar behind a curtain and feel the rock which is considered to be the top of Golgotha. Downstairs it was an hour wait to go inside a small shrine, the size of a walk-in closet, which is directly underneath the dome of the large cathedral, to see a place where the tomb is traditionally supposed to be. It was very beautiful and ornate, but was crowded and hard for me to relate to.

Another site we visited was just outside the walls of the city. They showed us a rocky hill that appears to have the face of the skull, although the pictures they have of the same hillside 100 years ago, before a bus station was put in at the bottom and a Muslim cemetery built on the top, made the skull easier to see.

We toured a beautiful garden site around the base of the hill, that is meticulously cared for, including small areas to conduct worship and communion, one of which we used for that purpose. Then we were taken to an area in the garden where a tomb dating back to the time of Christ's death and resurrection was found. We were able to go inside and see the tomb. Although this site was much easier to relate to as a possible place of the crucifixion and resurrection it was very spiritually moving. It was enough to know that at either place I was near where Jesus carried the cross and died for the sins of the world, but most importantly rose from the grave for the promise of eternal life for us all.

In the words of our Swedish guide at the Garden Tomb, Bertel, who admits that as Scandinavian he is not an emotional person, but sometimes gets so excited he almost thinks Alleluia, "He who was on the cross, and in the tomb, is now on the throne."

Prayer:  Father, Thank you seems like such a small word when we think of all that you have done for us. Your love for us is amazing. Help us to feel your love in our hearts and spread the Good News to your beloved children. He is Risen!'  Amen.

Monday, September 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, September 23, 2017

Tanya Marshall      

Pilgrimage Reflections: On the Sea of Galilee

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  (Matthew 14:28-30)

During our pilgrimage in Israel, I tried to picture Jesus in the locations we visited.  Early in the trip we went on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, where the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water took place.  We heard the Scripture, and were then asked, “If you had been there, what would you have done, or which character would you have been like in the story?  Would you have quickly stepped out of the boat, like Peter, but then start sinking when you took your eyes off of Jesus?  Or would you have sat back in the boat, like the other disciples, and just watched to see what might happen?  Or would you have done something different than these options?”

As I imagined Jesus and Peter in this scene, I realized that I’d have probably sat and watched from the relative safety of the boat.  I wish I were a bold disciple, but I know I often wait to see what others (seemingly “stronger” Christians) will do.  I depend on the faith of others.  I wish I wouldn’t doubt so much.  I wish I could be the one taking that step into the water, trusting Jesus without waiting for a sure result. 

Prayer:  O Lord Jesus, thank you for asking us to trust you.  Thank you for accepting us where we are, with our particular personality.  But continue to challenge us to a stronger, bolder faith.  Amen.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sara Kobak   

An Angel Helped Me

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 thecar.  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, September 21, 2017

Doug Marshall  

Jesus Remembers Our Name

John 20:16  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 

When Mary went to the tomb on that first Easter morning it was empty.  She was heart-broken.  Her friend and leader had been killed, and now his body had been stolen.  She saw Jesus, but didn’t recognize him.  It was only when he spoke her name, “Mary!” that she recognized him and her sorrow was turned to joy.

On our pilgrimage, we stayed at one of the same hotels I stayed at last year, the Manger Square Hotel.  For breakfast and dinner, we ate in the hotel’s dining room.  They had a large buffet with many different types of food. They also had a team of waiters/busboys who kept the tables clean and helped serve us.

Last year I had a wonderful conversation with one of the waiters, Luay.  He was college educated (accounting) but this was the only job available to him.  Luay was there again this year, and I recognized him the moment I walked in to the dining room.  He also remembered me, and even remembered my name!  When he said my name my heart was filled with joy

What a joy it is to know that Jesus, our risen Savior, knows us.  He knows our names, our fears, our hurts, and all the things that fill our hearts with shame.  And he still loves us!  Imagine yourself standing outside the tomb, seeing him, and hearing him call out your name.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you that you remember our names.  Help us to live in the joy that comes from realizing that you know us and love us.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 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, September 19, 2017

Grace Peters

"I am the Church, You are the Church, We are the Church Together; All follow Jesus all around the world; Yes, we're the Church together!" Song by Richard K. Avery and Donald S.Marsh. Word,c 1972 Hope Publishing, 1972

One of my favorite memories is that of my children coming home from First Sunday School joyfully singing this song. This simple song makes it quite clear about who is responsible and accountable for the support of the Church-meaning the MISSION of the Church - all follow Jesus all around the world, ah, there it is the Great Commission.

You and I,WE, are responsible for the continued growth of this Sharon church with a small "c"and Christ's larger Church with a capital "C". We EACH have individual ownership and the responsibility that comes with ownership. Church staff comes and goes but the congregation remains to carry on God's work. This ownership also has rewards - the Holy Spirit works wonders when we dedicate back to God a generous portion of what we have been given.

Second Corinthians vs. 10-15 tells us that God rewards us with increased righteousness, it promises that "you will be made rich in every way so you can be even more generous and thankful to God." God promises his Grace to those who are generous in supporting his Mission; he promises the gift of eternal life!! Do we have any other investments that promise so much?

Prayer:   Dear God, we thank you that you have called us to own your mission at SCPC for 200 years. We are grateful that your Spirit has been constant among us in both good and bad times. Your grace and love have enabled us to do your mission in this church and in the larger Church. Please, keep us faithful and generous as we "Dream the Future" and move forward into the next 100 years. Amen

Monday, September 18, 2017

Judy Lentz  

Fear of God

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, September 16, 2017

Mark Gulden & Treva Rousseau

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. – Isaiah 43:1

Starbucks has a great marketing technique requiring the baristas to ask for the customers’ names. Between the personalized cup, the friendly call of one’s name in a busy store, and (if one is as regular a customer as I am) the automatic knowledge of one’s name, the customer feels important, known, and beloved, even. Which makes the customer come back for more, of course! I recall the first time a barista automatically wrote my name on the cup without asking. When I received my order, my heart nearly skipped a beat. Yes, the effect was that powerful, even if only for a moment. I felt welcomed and befriended. I became a customer for life.

God calls us by name, because He knows us. Not superficially, but deeply and intimately. Those feelings of importance, acceptance, and welcome one feels when a cashier calls out one’s name are not only magnified when we listen for God’s voice, but prove themselves to be true – not just clever marketing techniques. God does hold us as important, He does accept us as we are, and loves us for it. We belong to Him, and He wants us to come back for more and more. I invite you to read the scripture above, and, if you are thirsty for more, to continue reading all of Isaiah 43. Then listen. Do you hear Him calling you?

Pray with me: God, I am listening…. (then just sit back and listen!)

Friday, September 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, September 14, 2017

Sara Kobak   (I was inspired to write this after reading a recent Upper Room entry.)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.  I Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)

Just before Christmas my 19 month old great-niece contracted a bacterial infection.  My brother sent me an email asking for prayers for her.  I sent out a request to the thirty members of Sharon's prayer chain.  We became a part of an army of prayer warriors.

During the three days in which Cameron's body fought the terrible invader, I was amazed by the response from across the country on her mother's Facebook page .  Friends, family, and many strangers posted prayers and words of comfort for this young family.

Even though I was miles away, I felt a part of the body of Christ as never before.  Something I had only felt within my own church family.

Sadly, Cameron could not defeat the infection.  But the overwhelming support from the body of believers helped then and continues to lift my nephew and his wife.

They will welcome a new child in March, who, too, will become a part of the body of Christ.
[Note: A healthy baby joined the family.]

Dear Heavenly Father,  You are always there to support us in times of trouble.  Please help us to be the body of Christ: to listen to and comfort those who are hurting.  Amen

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ann Mizer   -

Think Beyond Fairness

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, September 12, 2017

Judy Lentz  

Acronyms Can Help

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.   Philippians 2:3-5

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit was leading you in a certain direction only then to begin to question whether your plans are from your own heart instead of from God? How do we know when the motivation for the direction we are taking is truly God led rather than for our own desires for power and recognition?

There are a couple of acronyms that might help you answer your question.
 One acronym is WWJD? What would Jesus do? Are you looking at your own interests or the interests of others? If Jesus was sitting with you and you shared your plans with him, would he smile or frown?

The other acronym is WIIFM? What’s in it for me? Are your plans being driven by your personal desire rather than the desires of God? As the scripture says, your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Can you ever think of a time that Jesus was looking for a WIIFM?

When we put ourselves last and others first, we know we have an attitude the same as that of Christ Jesus. Putting ourselves before others, our efforts are lost in selfish ambition. Listen for guidance from the Holy Spirit and follow up with the two acronyms: WWJD and WIIFM.

Prayer: Our heavenly Father – open my ears to hear your plans for what you want me to do. Forgive my selfishness when I make plans without your blessing. Redirect my thoughts and guide my attitude to do what Jesus would do. I want Jesus to always be my role model. Correct me when I put myself first instead of last as Jesus would do. Know that my heart wants to do whatever is pleasing to you. Amen

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tanya Marshall   

Be Still My Soul

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, September 9, 2017

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.

Friday, September 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, September 7, 2017

Grace Peters 


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. …..Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46: 1 and 10 KJV
               As we celebrate the Bicentennial of SCPC, let us focus on the meaning of the bright red, empty cross that hangs on the back wall of the altar.  This cross symbolizes the sacrifice, death and resurrection of our Lord!
              Fifty years ago on September 4, 1967, my well controlled, well planned, gently protected, and faith filled life was shaken to its very core. I found my first born child, a beautiful, healthy, two months old baby girl, dead in her crib. At first the shock was numbing but then came the pain, the anger, the why’s.  I clung to my faith reflexively and almost like insurance because I knew that it was my only hope of being reunited with my child.  God and I had many anguished conversations and I would weep and cry out to God.
           I quietly cried through many church services, but I would always keep my eyes focused on that red cross which reminded me that through Christ’s death and resurrection, my child, Karen, would have eternal life.  Often, after times when I was most emotional, a sense of peace and comfort would come and God would give me peace and hope.  He would wrap me in His arms and gently let me +know that He was in control.

                Throughout these fifty years, there have been other occasions of sorrow and many joys.  In all of those times, both in joys and sorrows, I still focus my eyes on that red cross, the cross of the Risen Christ!

Prayer:  Thank you exalted God for the sacrifice that you made in the death of your son, Jesus.  A sacrifice made so that my child and all of your children may have eternal life. Help us to always cling to our faith and allow you to be in control because you are “our refuge and strength”!  Amen 

Wednesday, September 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.

Next, we travel to Rome.

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, September 5, 2017

Walt Gorr    


"And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20. NRSV

Is he like a plumber? You call on Him only when you have a plumbing problem? When the problem is fixed, you forget about Him.

Do you complain when you have a leaking faucet and can't find a plumber?

We are fortunate to have a Savior who says, "I'm here for you 24/7."

Recently I read the following:
"Walk Closer to God.
Jesus doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He is always available--even when we don't feel that he is. And when you practice his presence by faith, you'll find that feeling will follow.
Do you expect Jesus to go with you everywhere you go? Do you think about whether or not he'll be comfortable everywhere you take him?

Jesus is not someone who lives in a box that you can take out on Sundays and put in storage the rest of the week.

If you've invited him into your heart, he's there! He goes where you go! And that's something to think about."

Prayer:  Lord, we thank you for your constant presence in our lives. Help us to remember that we are never alone. We don't have to seek you. You are with us always. Amen.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sara Kobak

An Attitude of Gratitude

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, September 2, 2017

Judy Lentz  

Testing of your faith develops perseverance

James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. NRSV

Earlier today, as I drove through a country road near home, I noticed a church sign that read “Tests make good testimonials.” The sign caught my attention and quickly reminded me of a time when I faced trials as my faith was being tested and as a result the testing of my faith developed perseverance in me.

As a young girl, I belonged to the Methodist Church in Coraopolis. When I was in eighth grade, I had the opportunity to go to our church camp, Jumonville, for a week with other church friends. While there, I met Rev. Dippolitto – isn’t it strange how some names stick so firmly in our minds? His compassion and charisma helped me overcome my awkwardness when he encouraged individuals to come to the altar if you had a worry that he could help you pray about.

After accepting his invitation, I vividly remember telling him about my father’s alcoholism and how I had prayed and prayed and prayed that he would stop drinking. I said that God was not answering my prayers and I couldn’t understand why. Rev. Dippolitto helped me understand that God has a plan that will be revealed in time – not one that always matches our timeline so I should not be discouraged but instead remain faithful and continue to pray. In the meantime, our family continued to struggle with the many trials created by the disruption alcohol causes in the family dynamics.

Perseverance describes my behavior for another seven years. I faithfully prayed – day after day, year after year never giving up, remembering the wise counsel of Rev. Dippolitto. I didn’t know what God’s plan was but I trusted that it would be revealed in time. In the meantime, my father continued drinking caused him to lose all that was near and dear to him. He lost his family, his job, his health and finally his dignity - all due to the sin of alcohol.

At his lowest point, he was admitted to Sewickley Valley Hospital on the verge of death. Dr. Charles Clarke, who no doubt was part of God’s plan, was able to convince my father to quit drinking.
 For the first time in my life to that point, I met the sober man I had heard so many wonderful stories about. That’s when I came to recognize the pure joy of faith, perseverance and gratitude to God for revealing His plan and showing His faithfulness to me in answering my prayers. Yes, tests do make good testimonials, wouldn’t you agree?

Prayer:   Dear Heavenly Father – thank you for testing us and developing our perseverance so that we might be able to experience the pure joy that comes only from you. It is often hard to understand why we are being tested. Give us the strength and courage we need to persevere and trust that with patience, your plan will eventually be revealed to us. Amen.

Friday, September 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.