Friday, 28 September 2012
Follow the Leader
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Luke 9:23
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

“Waiting Here For You” is a beautiful worship song that our Praise Team often sings. We practiced and worked on it for a while before singing it in service, and it is a song the congregation really likes. I like it, too, but it has given us singers fits. There is a bridge in the song that is kind of tricky and when we mess it up, it is painfully obvious. So we had to practice some more and figure out our mistakes.

Now when we sing that song, I start to get butterflies when that part of the song approaches. But I take a deep breath and I turn to watch our song leader. As long as I have my eyes on her and watch her hand signals, I know I will be able to follow her lead and sing the correct words and notes at the right time.

That may sound kind of simple, but most of life’s greatest lessons are. Most of our life seems to follow script – we get up, eat, go to school or work, participate in extracurricular activities, eat some more and go to bed. But along the way, we run into people and situations that we don’t know how to deal with. When we try to handle them on our own without any guidance or insight, we often mess up and it is painfully obvious.

Isaiah 55:4
Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, A leader and commander for the people.

Many years ago, we started hearing “WWJD?”, or “What Would Jesus Do?”  This is more than a catch phrase or a bumper sticker slogan. It is sound advice for those moments when life goes off script and you don’t know what to do. The way that Jesus handled conflict or difficult situations is very different from the way the world or our flesh would want to handle them. When someone comes against us, we’d like to pop them in the face. Jesus said to forgive our enemies and to turn the other cheek. When people do bad things to us, we’d like to do them back. Jesus said to treat people the way that we want to be treated and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When people are getting on our nerves because they complain and whine about things in their life, we just want to get away from them. Jesus demonstrated great compassion to those in need and told us that we should pray for one another.

John 8:13
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Sometimes in life you do hit the wrong note. Life does take practice, because none of us are perfect. It can be unsettling. But instead of focusing our eyes on the situation and problem we need to look to and follow the leader. If you are a Christian, then Jesus is that leader. We can ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” We can pray and ask Him what we should do. John 10:27 says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” I have learned over the years that I can do things my way – aka “the hard way” – or I can do things His way. I am sure you can guess which way had better results.

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Posted on 09/28/2012 6:12 AM by Susan Nelson
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Friday, 21 September 2012
No Greater
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The following was written by Pam Dunham on April 18, 2008. She shared it with the Spirit Life Fellowship Ladies Ministry at their September 2012 meeting as part of a devotional.

There is no greater love in the universe to find.
There is no greater peace known to mankind.
There is no greater comfort than lying on the breast of God.
There is no greater joy than living for Him.
There is no greater knowledge than knowing His grace is sufficient for me.
There is no greater truth than knowing God’s word.
There is no greater grace than receiving God’s mercy that took Jesus to the cross.

There is no greater Father than having your Dad known as Almighty God.
There is no greater Husband; He alone is gentle, loving, good and kind.
There is no greater high than getting one soul saved from the torments of hell.
There is no greater price that was paid for my life on Calvary’s hill.
There is no greater hunger that the Bread of Life cannot fulfill.
There is no greater thirst that the Living Water of Jesus Christ continually refills.
There is no greater promise than John 3:16.

There is no greater power than that of the Holy Ghost.
There is no greater miracle than salvation.
There is no greater hope than knowing because He lives I will live also.
There is no greater commandment than to love one another.
There is no greater expectation than receiving the Holy Spirit.
There is no greater revelation than knowing the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.
There is no greater life as knowing Jesus as brother, friend, husband and comfort.

There is no greater work than the work at the cross.
There is no greater plea than saying the sinner’s prayer to be saved.
There is no greater creation than man.
There is no greater victory than the risen Christ.
There is no greater purpose on earth than doing His will.
There is no greater song than singing His praise.
There is no greater cross, for it was there I was raised.

Praise God forever more.

Written by Pam Dunham, 2008

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Posted on 09/21/2012 8:23 AM by Susan Nelson
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Friday, 7 September 2012
Where I'm From
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John 1:45-46
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Where are you from? That question is a great conversation starter, whether you are welcoming a visitor to church or you are on vacation and start talking with other tourists. People love to talk about where they are from. Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home. But there is a difference between “where do you live currently” and “where are you from”.  For some people the answer is simple because they’ve lived in one place their whole lives. Then there are families like mine that moved every two years because of Dad’s job. My family, going back several generations, is from Eastern Kentucky, but I was born in Michigan and have lived there, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and multiple places in West Virginia. When I was growing up and people asked me where I was from, I was never sure what to say. Now I just say I am from West Virginia and leave it at that.

Where you are from says a lot about you. In the scripture from John we see that Nathanael made a snap judgment about Jesus when he heard what city Jesus came from. If where you are from wasn’t important, you wouldn’t have people fighting to send their kids to certain schools or striving to live within certain zip codes. As West Virginians, we definitely have become sensitive to how we are perceived by people outside the state. In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are people out there who think because we are from West Virginia that we are all barefoot and toothless inbreeds, but ignorance is unfortunately alive and well. We often have to overcome these types of stereotypes. Nathanael may not have had a very high opinion of Nazareth, but he certainly overcame that when he met Jesus and saw for himself who He was and not just where He was from.

What got me thinking about this was a homework assignment I had. (That’s right, I am 48 years old and I have homework. It almost sounds like I need a support group, huh?) I have to take a class for work, one night a week for four semesters, and I am in semester one. We have multiple homework assignments each week. For the first week, one of our assignments was to write a poem called “Where I’m From”, as a way for our teacher to get to know a little about each of us. The catch was that we weren’t to write about where we were from in terms of geographic location, but from a standpoint of what experiences we have had or what things we love to do.

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

At first, the assignment seemed a little silly, but when it came time to write I took a long look at my life and all the places I have been. I thought about the difficult times I have been through. I thought about the joyous times and happy memories of childhood. All the places I have been and all the experiences that I’ve had – good, bad or ugly – made me into the person I am today. When I think about some of the situations I put myself in and how differently they could have turned out, I am so grateful for the grace of God. He brought me through it all, and the things I learned along the way have shaped me and made me a better, stronger person.

James 1:2-4
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Some people can’t get past where they are from. They hold on to the pain, never forgiving themselves or others for mistakes. What they haven’t figured out is that where they are going is even more important than where they are from. Everyone is from some place, but they are also going to some place. Just like Nathanael had to “get over” Jesus being from Nazareth, we need to “get over” where we are from. When God forgives our sins, thanks to the saving grace of Christ, our past is gone. We are new creations in Christ. We are from Him and we are going to Him. Where you are from is a moment in time that came to pass, but you wouldn’t be you without it.

I won’t bore you with my whole poem, but here are the last several lines of my “Where I’m From” poem.

I am from a place of faith and grace,
Finding my Savior and seeking His face,
Fighting the good fight and running the race.
I am from knowing that He will make the way
For whatever the world brings today.

And so the places I am from
Have made me the person I have become,
Wife, mother, friend, aspiring writer/beach bum.
I am from a happy heart,
Thankful that each day brings a fresh start.

Where are you from? How have your experiences helped shape you? How can you use your experiences to help others or lead them into a relationship with Jesus? If all things truly work together, then no experience you’ve had was wasted. It can be used for some good. So if you are letting something from your past hold you back, it is time to get over it. Give it to God, and start moving toward where you are going.

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Posted on 09/07/2012 10:20 AM by Susan Nelson
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