Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DEATH AND DANCING 

Judy Lentz

David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore, God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.       II Samuel 6:5-7

In January, the Dr. Rev. Chris Leonard of Rock Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, S.C. preached a sermon titled “Death and Dancing”. The scripture lesson for this sermon was the story of Uzzah as written in the scripture lesson above. At face value, to me, it seemed confusing.
Why would God kill Uzzah? After all, wasn’t he a Priest and didn’t he take care of the Ark of the Covenant for years? Why, then, did God get so upset with him for trying to prevent the ark from falling to the ground resulting in God striking Uzzah down due to this irreverent act?

Historians tell us the Covenant scrolls were intended to be carried on the shoulders of two men who could then assure the Covenant itself was never touched by human hands or could be desecrated by falling on the ground. When Uzzah was commanded to bring the Covenant to God, Uzzah in his controlling way, chose to bring it on a cart pulled by oxen rather than be carried by men on their shoulders.

When the oxen stumbled, the Covenant shifted. Uzzah feared it was going to fall on the ground so he reached out to grab it. Seems like he was doing the right thing, right? After all, he was seeking to prevent it from falling on the ground.

What was expected of him by God? Uzzah’s irreverent act was ignoring God’s expectations of how to carry the arc and taking control of that decision himself. Then when it almost fell to the ground, Uzzah reached out to prevent that thereby touching the sacred Covenant. Uzzah’s independence in taking control over the way to carry the arc was inconsistent with God’s wishes and therefore irreverent.

 Uzzah’s controlling nature was not new to God. Due to this incident, Uzzah was struck down. After Uzzah’s death, we read further in II Samuel and see that David danced and Michal, daughter of Saul, despised him for doing so. David chose to dance in celebration of God and His Covenant.
There are two diametrically opposing behaviors here – control versus celebrate and death versus dance. God is in charge: then, now and in the future. We are expected to celebrate and dance not to control and thereby risk being struck down.

Sharon is celebrating in 2017 – dancing in gratitude to God for 200 years of worship and service to the glory of our Lord. We celebrate this year but have we always been celebratory? Will we continue celebrating even after this anniversary year has ended? God has a plan for us – all we need to do is listen and respond.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we often forget who is in charge. We try to control how we live our lives, the decisions we make, the places we go, the things we do instead of turning to you for guidance before making these decisions. Forgive us for our selfish ways. We know you have a plan for us. Teach us to trust in that plan, and to follow you every day as we dance and celebrate your faithfulness in us. Eradicate any desires to control and guide us to celebrate and dance always in gratitude to you and for your glory. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.


Monday, October 30, 2017

WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD - 

Ann Mizer

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Oh it sounds so simple, be just, have mercy and walk humbly with God.  We all have good intentions, but we also have the human frailties of acting without thinking.  I believe I have an idea of what being humble means, but I know that words can come out without thought; my focus may be misaligned or self-centered.

Words are like toothpaste, once out you can’t squeeze them back into the tube.  Gratefully, God shows us mercy and we should try to do the same to our fellow men and women.  Sometimes things happen and we don’t even realize that we have offended or mistreated someone.  Keeping this verse in my mind I hope will help to make me more thoughtful and humble.


Prayer:  God teach me to walk humbly with you, remind me to have mercy and to be just in my actions and words and decisions.  Amen.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

COURAGE

Dan Peters

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1: 9

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth – Matthew 5:5

God calls us to be courageous and not dismayed for he is always with us.  Jesus exalts the status of those who are meek.  Is there a contradiction here?  In our daily lives we meet people who display courage and we meet people who are meek; but rarely, if ever, are these attributes displayed by the same person at the same time. Perhaps Jesus calls us to be meek before God as we acknowledge our humanity, our sinfulness, and our shortcomings.  God calls us to be courageous human beings as we strive to live Christian lives, tell the good news of salvation, and demonstrate our faith through service to others.


PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, I am mindful of my sin and my shortcomings as I come before you. Make me also mindful of your power to provide me with the courage to do the things you call me to do.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Lesson in Faith

Debbie Williams

My mother passed away on November 19, 2016 from cancer.   The whole experience was to say the least, difficult.   But she left me with a fresh outlook at faith. 

She had beaten the odds several times - a bout with melanoma, breast cancer, a severe respiration infection.  But not this time. The melanoma came back. It started with her just being a bit more tired than usual. Then in a matter of days it spread to her throat and her brain. Her tongue was swollen, so she could not eat much and she could talk, but just a little slower and harder to understand.

When we went to the doctor's office and he told her...well he was telling me the diagnosis...she promptly informed him. “Talk to  me Dr. Sherry, not my daughter. It's ok. Just tell me.” So the doctor told her she had maybe 12 weeks to live.

She went home and called a few friends. A few minutes later her phone was ringing off the hook. Friends told other friends. So her calendar filled with meetings. Pastor Doug, all of her friends, family, the neighbors...they're were all scheduled to visit.  And she's was excited. She's THANKFUL to have these people in her life that want to see her. She's GREATFUL to God to have the time to say goodbye. Because most don't get that luxury.

She didn’t have any regrets. She was not afraid to die because she's spent her whole life being faithful to God.

After receiving the news of 4 to 6 weeks to live she sat me down and “dictated” to me her wishes for memorial service, songs, bible verses, funeral arrangements and met with Pastor Doug to tell him.
She dealt with the entire passage with grace, dignity and acceptance.  This was all due to her deep abiding faith in God.   I thank God and her for making this experience a little easier to accept.


One of her dear friends was leaving after a visit and on her way out she said “See you on the other side Betty.”   It was a true statement of faith.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I WALKED WHERE JESUS WALKED 

Judy Lentz

Having just returned 5 days earlier from the most wonderful trip to the Holy Land, Bob and I attended a Wednesday service that is a part of the Lenten Pilgrimage provided by the Greater Greenwood United Ministries. Each week the service is at a different church. Attendees are from all churches in Greenwood, SC (our winter home). The service was especially well attended.

The solo was provided by an older gentleman with a beautiful bass voice. When he started singing, tears began running down my cheeks. Doug had told all of us on the Sharon Pilgrimage to the Holy Land that we would experience the liturgical year very differently than ever before. I was not prepared for the depth of my reaction. The song being sung that elicited such an emotional response from me was “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked”. The lyrics are so profound – it was almost as if Christ was reminding me of the wonders of our recent trip and the impact it would have – my life has been changed forever.

I walked today where Jesus walked,
In days of long ago.
I wandered down each path He knew,
With reverent step and slow.
Those little lanes, they have not changed,
A sweet peace fills the air,
I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt His presence there.

My pathways led through Bethlehem,
A memory’s ever sweet.
The little hills of Galilee,
That knew those childish feet,
The Mount of Olives, hallowed scenes,
That Jesus knew before.
I saw the mighty Jordan row,
As in the days of yore.

I knelt today where Jesus knelt,
Where all alone He prayed.
The garden of Gethsemane,
My heart felt unafraid.
I picked my heavy burdens up.
And with Him by my side.
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
Where on the Cross He died.

I knelt today where Jesus knelt,
And felt Him close to me


Prayer:   Dear Lord – thank you for the blessing of being able to walk where Jesus walked. Just as the lyrics of this song touched my heart, so do the words of many songs touch the hearts of those who love Him. We thank you for sacrificing your son for our salvation. Amen.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pat Bricklemyer 

THINK ABOUT YOUR BLESSINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

THE GLORY OF THE LORD 

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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mark Mizer 

PIETA

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Roy Behling

TRUSTING GOD

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

In my early engineering career, I was given the assignment to check the designs of others. While this carried huge responsibility, was considered a promotion and a reward for excellence in design, I didn't like the job and was frustrated. It meant sitting alone in a corner office of the engineering department where designs were submitted. I checked them for accuracy and functionality, corrected them as necessary and returned them to the sender. It was lonely and boring. I wanted to be creating designs and interfacing with my peers.

As a result of this experience, I thought God might have been testing my faith to see if I would stand firm. At times it is difficult to understand what God is doing in our lives. We may ask "Why is this happening to me?" Or alternatively we can say "I don't know why this is happening, but I know I can trust God to give me what is best." This is what I chose to do.

Now as I look back and think about how my life has turned out, I see God's hand in the situation and realize that God has been with me and guided me throughout my life, including that undesirable but necessary step in building my career.

Such experiences are not pleasant, but God can use them to build our faith and make us stronger. Although we may not understand what God is doing in our lives, God is always faithful and wants what is best for us.


Dear God, Thank You for always being faithful. Help me to build my faith and my trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gladys Johnston  

NURTURING

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)

At the end of the summer, I planted my fall flowers. As I look down with satisfaction at the new plants, it occurs to me that new believers need to be nurtured in a way similar to these young plants. We as Christians can do this by accepting new believers where they are on their Christian faith journey. We can encourage them through Bible study and support them with loving actions.

At the same time, it is important to remember that our Christian formation is a lifelong journey and each person has his or her lessons to learn. The Bible is a great teacher and with God's help we can develop a strong and deep root system with sturdy stems to support the good fruit of faith.

Just as I care for and nurture my plants, we can be sensitive to the faith journeys of others, providing encouragement and support. We must be attentive to God who helps us grow and always act in love toward others.


Dear Lord, thank you for placing loving people in our lives to help us grow in faith. Amen

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Judy Lentz  

ANGELS FROM ALL ANGLES

 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,  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.


Prayer:  Dear Lord and Savior of us all รข€“ 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, October 18, 2017

Sara Kobak

THANK YOU, SETH

In a recent sermon Rev. John Free spoke about Seth, son of Adam and Eve.  He is mentioned only briefly in the Bible, but he is our spiritual father.  Rev. Free likened him to the unsung volunteers that hold any organization together.

In a previous devotional I wrote about having an attitude of gratitude and thanking those around us.  I would like to take this time to thank some of the many Seths of Sharon Church:
•             the thirty members of the Sharon Prayer Chain
•             the church receptionists who fold and stuff the bulletins and help to collate, staple, and sticker the Good News
•             the gardeners who tend the flower beds around the church
•             the counters who tabulate the offering each Sunday
•             the video crew that works the cameras and those who man the program that sends the service to the screens
•             the volunteer nursery staff
•             the Bicentennial Committee
•             those who arrange for liturgists, greeters, and memorial flowers
•             the usher crews

I did not use names but you know who you are and I thank you for your service to our church.  I am sure that there are more Seths that I missed, but know that God sees your work.  


Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the Seths of this world.  Bless each one of them.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jan Weber 

GOD IS ON THE MOVE

23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away?24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:23-24(NIV)

God Is on the Move
7eventh Time Down
Anytime a heart turns from darkness to light
Anytime temptation comes and someone stands to fight
Anytime somebody lives to serve and not be served
I know, I know, I know, I know
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today
Anytime in weakness someone falls upon their knees
Or dares to speak the truth that sets men free
Anytime the choice is made to stand upon the Word
I know, I know, I know, I know
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today
I see your generation standing on the truth
In each and everyday saying God is on the move
Anytime the Gospel stirs a searching soul
And someone says “send me, here I go”
I know, I know, I know, I know
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways
God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today

I listen to the radio station KLove whenever I am in the car. I love to sing along with the upbeat contemporary Christian music, LOUD! So for many months I have been singing “God is on the roof” to the chorus of the song above by 7eventh Time Down until I finally paid attention to the radio announcer when he named the title. I had a PNC meeting that night, and shared my mistake with the group, and we all had a good laugh. Another member of the committee said the song was one of her daughter’s favorites as well, and she wanted to share the joke with her when she got home. The next time I saw her, and asked if her daughter enjoyed the story, she laughed and said that her daughter thought the chorus was “God is on the moon”!


Prayer:  God, We thank you that you are everywhere; on the roof, on the moon, on the move, and especially in our hearts. You are always with us. Amen

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ann Mizer-    

Anxiety and Prayer

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 4:5-7

I imagine that all of us are anxious at times in our lives about various things – jobs, family, and decisions we have to make.  God knows this, and through Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi, assures us that we can and should give every situation to God.  I don’t know that we always do it with thanksgiving, in fact I know that there are many times it is the last effort to go to God in prayer, in desperation.  But there is comfort in this verse that assures us of peace.

This is one of those scriptures that periodically shows up for me.  This week I heard Max Lucado being interviewed about his recently published book and he quoted this scripture. I wrote down the chapter and verses and when I went to my stack of devotions – I had written this same passage down to consider writing about.  I think that God often comes to us when we repeatedly hear the same message from different people.


Heavenly Father, remind me to come to you in every situation, to petition to request, to give thanks and to find peace.  Amen

Saturday, October 14, 2017

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Roy Behling     

MAGNIFY THE LORD

'"O magnify the name of the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!" - Psalm 34:3 (NRSV)

As a teenager I regularly attended my church's Sunday night youth fellowship meeting. Each week during the sharing time the elderly man of our adult leadership couple would invariably stand to his feet and with a confident voice recite Psalm 34:3. (above). He did not  request prayer regarding his needs or problems; his focus was solely on God's magnificence.

Sometimes our problems can seem insurmountable, and they may be if we rely on our strength alone. But God who promises to sustain and deliver us is greater than the trials that beset us. When we stop focusing on our difficulties and view our present circumstances through the word of God, the magnitude of our problems will diminish and the magnificence of our God will become apparent.

Then, even during the trials of life, we can testify to God's goodness and faithfulness. 


Almighty God, help us to remember your power and love and to praise you in every situation. Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Judy  Lentz 

PERSONAL BEST

Luke 13:32     I will reach my goal.

Our granddaughter is a budding gymnast.  She works hard every week to get stronger, to perfect the gymnastic moves she has been taught and to do the best she can.  She loves being a gymnast doing cartwheels everywhere she can.  She looks forward to her weekly practice and comes home beaming (no pun intended!).  Following her first competitive meet, her father was talking to her about the scores she had achieved and referred to them as her personal best.

He encouraged her to seek improvement of her personal best rather than compete with the scores of others.  She looked at him quizzically asking “What is a personal best? He explained that rather than setting a high level goal and trying after our first attempt to achieve that high level goal, it would be more productive to see where we are at this moment which we call our personal best and then striving to do better than our personal best level each time until we reach the high level goal.

When Christ was talking to the Pharisees who had come to warn Him that Herod wanted to kill Jesus, He responded,  Go tell that fox, ˜I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal. And Jesus did just that.  He continued to drive out demons and healing people until on the third day, He arose from the dead to assure eternal life for all of us that was His goal!  So how does this relate to a personal best for us?  As we work to serve our Lord, we need to continually seek improvement of our personal best as we set our eyes on the final goal  to enter the church triumphant where we are blessed with eternal life.   


Prayer:  Dear Lord, we thank you for your unconditional love.  We are so grateful for the sacrifice Christ has made for us giving us the privilege of eternal life.  May we, in return, continually seek improvement of our personal best as we work to serve you until we reach our final goal of eternal life.  In the mighty name of Jesus.  Amen

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sara Kobak 

Partial or Total Eclipse?

We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods. Psalm 91:1

A recent Upper Room devotion had Psalm 91 as its related Bible entry.  When I read verse one, I thought about all the news about the total eclipse on August 21st.  Some areas of the United States were in total shadow and others like Moon Township only saw a partial eclipse. 

Where are we in relationship to God?  Are we totally in his shadow or are we partial where we only go to Him when we are in need?  It is important that we strive to walk fully with God.  If only we take time to look around us, we don't even need special glasses, we will see the way that God is working in our lives. 


Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for being there at all times for us.  May we see how you are a part of our daily lives and draw closer to you.  Amen

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bearing Fruit for Jesus! 

FAITHFUL IN ALL THINGS

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10

In the above verse, Jesus is saying that faithful stewards will handle God's gifts faithfully regardless of whether they have few or many gifts entrusted to them. What we do with what we have shows our faithfulness.

A faithful person will do the small things well.

Unfortunately, we Christians may incorrectly think that small things aren't important to God. We may have the attitude that God won't be concerned with the small amount of money or other gifts that we have been given.

In the Bible, God spoke mightily through the little that people had. God used the widow and her two mites to teach us a lesson about sacrificial giving. He used the small amount of flour and oil that the Widow of Zarephath had to demonstrate obedience. Jesus used the loaves and fish of a young boy to reveal how God can magnify a small gift. God did not overlook what faithful people did with small things.

Through God's Word, we understand that small things do count. Because we understand our need to be faithful with all things, we should ask ourselves how we are handling the seemingly small things in our lives. Are we handling small things well in our homes, jobs, and churches?  With God's help, we can be faithful with all that we've been given. Through our faithfulness, God will be glorified.


Prayer:  Dear Lord, all that I have comes from you. Help me to use all things to your glory. I ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son, my Lord. Amen. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mark Mizer 

Gospel  Luke

'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.' (Matthew 5: 4)

'Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.' (Luke 6: 25b)

I do not like the Gospel of Luke. I apologize to those of you that do. Yes, Luke has the Christmas narrative that is not in Matthew and certainly not Mark. (Some would say that reading the Gospel of Mark is like watching paint dry).

But, if Luke was the only Gospel in the Bible...well... I don't know if I could ever try to measure up to what being a Christian is. To me, Luke's Jesus is far from being warm and fuzzy.

In Luke's Beatitudes, the first four verses are comforting. However, in the final three of the seven Beatitudes, Jesus pronounces the 'woes'. (Luke 6: 24-26) The one that troubles me the most is verse 25: 'Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.' One can ask the questions; what does it mean to be full and what does it mean to laugh?

And different people will give different explanations of each. But, for a person who is not a Biblical scholar it can be very troubling. I am neither hungry nor am I mournful, so, does this mean I will have to suffer in eternal torture? If I take Luke at face value the answer would be yes. And, why is Matthew so comforting and uplifting while Luke is rather depressing to me?

I think the answer(s) would be found in continued study, prayer and contemplation. And, is my personal relationship to Jesus solid? I hope so. In Jesus there is no hunger and no sadness, and Luke can't irritate me.


Prayer: Holy God, you gave us minds to examine and question your Word. Above all things, you gave us our Christ, Jesus, who loves us in spite of our doubts. Alleluia, Amen.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ann Mizer

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ”Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? Then said I “Here am I, send me”?    Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

Hymns are so often inspirational and meaningful.  One of my favorite (recent- 1981) hymns is “Here I Am, Lord” by Daniel Schutte.  The refrain says: “Here I am, Lord.  Is it I Lord?  I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me.  I will hold Your people in my heart."  I have thought a lot about callings.  The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is charged with calling a pastor and there is a pastor out their waiting to hear our call.  I have to keep in mind that there is the part about You (God) leading me when called.  I am afraid that I don’t always listen or follow when called, but surely it is a worthy goal to have.


Prayer:  Lord, guide me to hear when you call and to go where you might lead me.  Amen

Friday, October 6, 2017

Judy Lentz

Here’s The Church

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

Do you remember reciting the ‘ditty’ with hand gestures titled “Here’s the Church”?
Here’s the Church
Here’s the Steeple
Open the Doors
And see all the people

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

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

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


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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Jan Bernard

Do not be afraid-for I am with you!   Isaiah 43:5 (Today's English Version)

Every time I go to work I must travel on an airplane. This requires a lot of trust in a lot of people from the fueler of the plane to the pilots. I have no trouble believing they will do their jobs and I will arrive safely.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever had doubts that God would always be with me. I have come to believe that God is with me on each flight and find myself sitting in the jump seat during turbulence with a calm feeling knowing God is with me. After many years of flying, I have learned that I am not in control of the airplane or my daily life.

I have learned to listen to God with a much more open heart and know he is with me no matter what happens.

Prayer:  God, help us to remember you are with us always.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sara Kobak  

Clapping

 Let the waves clap their hands in glee. Psalm 98:6

The Gulf of Mexico is a ten minute walk from our condo in Florida.  I try to get there as often as possible.  Each time I stop as I approach and wonder at the glory that the Lord has made:  All varieties of seabirds stand on the shore or loft above the water.  Thousands of shells line the shore.  The sky is a blue blanket above.

But it's the water that most amazes me.  The constant in and out of the tide laps the sand.  The waves can be gentle or pounding.  The sound of the waves is what I love most.  And now that I have discovered Psalm 98: 8 I will always imagine that they are clapping for the magnificence that the Lord has made.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the world that you have created.  May we stop and appreciate what you have given us.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tanya Marshall  

Pilgrimage Reflection:  The Pit and the Ancient Steps

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.  (Matthew 26:57)

During our pilgrimage in Israel, we saw many sites where different Biblical stories may have occurred.  Often churches were built at these places, commemorating the event.  Sometimes in and around these churches we were shown ruins of ancient buildings, thought to be from the time of Christ or earlier.

One such site was the supposed location of the high priest, Caiaphas’ home, where Peter denied Jesus three times.  There are caves and rooms deep underneath that were probably servants’ quarters, and dungeons used to hold prisoners.  It is speculated Jesus would likely have been held down there overnight in this story of his questioning by Caiaphas and the elders prior to the crucifixion.  Jesus may have been in this very “pit” that we saw.

Just outside it, we were shown ancient steps going up a hill, grass growing in and around them.  We were told Jesus was most likely led or dragged up or down those very steps.  Though we were not allowed to walk on them, I saw a stray cat walking up the steps.  I’m not sure why the cat touched my heart, but it did.  Anyway, these spots – the pit and these steps – are images I’ll not forget.  They remind me of the pain and agony Jesus endured in his last few days, all for our sake, to offer us forgiveness and eternal life.

Prayer:  “For me, dear Jesus, was your incarnation,
              Your mortal sorrow, and your life’s oblation,
              Your death of anguish and your bitter passion,
              For my salvation.
              Therefore, dear Jesus, since I cannot pay you,
              I do adore you, and will ever praise you,
            Think on your pity and your love unswerving,
              Not my deserving.”

        (From hymn, Ah, Holy Jesus)    Amen.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Toni Sample    

God's Eye 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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