Blessing our Enemies

Posted April 22nd, 2014 by David Miller

Scripture

I Samuel 26 (entire chapter).

Observation

In today's passage, we see a powerful story of forgiveness. David, having faithfully served King Saul, is now being hunted down by King Saul and his men. What once had been a great relationship has slowly but surely deteriorated as King Saul increasingly succumbed to jealousy and insecurity over David's leadership abilities. Now, in the middle of the night, David comes upon King Saul sound asleep. Rather than take the life of the one trying to kill him, David makes a different choice - to spare Saul's life. Instead of death, David chose blessing.

Application

As Christians, God commands us to forgive those who hurt us. Like David, we all experience times when someone seeks to destroy us for no legitimate reason. In the eyes of the world, there is no reason not to retaliate and take back what is ours from those who attack us in this way. However, God wants us to make a different choice. He has forgiven us of our sins, and so we must choose to forgive and bless those who have sinned against us. It is not an easy choice, but it is the right choice.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I come before you today to bless ______ . I choose to forgive them for what they have done to hurt me. You have forgiven me of all my sins, so I choose to forgive others of their sins. I ask instead that Your blessing and mercy be upon them today. In Jesus name, amen.

Underdog? Not with God on your side!!

Posted April 15th, 2014 by David DeGarmo

Scripture

! Samuel 17:32-37
32 David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and [r]attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”

Observation

Traditionally, we refer to the story of David and Goliath as the consummate underdog tale. It is mentioned as an encouragement in the face of impossible odds. David, a young shepherd boy, goes into one-on-one hand to hand combat with Goliath, a nine foot tall seasoned warrior, armed with nothing but a sling and a few rocks. But if you look closely, you will find that Goliath never stood a chance of winning this battle, and neither does the Devil, if we understand that, with God, the victory is aways ours!

Application

Notice David's confidence in his conversation with King Saul in verses 36 and 37:
"36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

David was confident because he didn't look at the battle with the same eyes as everyone else. He knew that he did not have to come within the range of Goliath's weapons or battlefield effectiveness in order to defeat him. With years of experience with his sling, David was proficient from over 200 yards. Some experts in ancient military history say that he could have been deadly from as far as 440 yards, nearly a quarter of a mile! A ballistics expert from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a series of experiments to determine the ballistic nature of David's sling. He found that the stone that struck Goliath in the forehead, probably did so with the same force as a large caliber modern handgun.

Like King Saul and the rest of the army of Israel, we often look at the challenges we face from the wrong perspective. We get caught up in the details, sizing up circumstances and our adversary with the eyes of fear instead of faith. The army of israel saw Goliath's size as a formidable obstacle, but David saw it as an unmissable target!

When we live our lives in the presence of God we have the benefit of seeing from His perspective. With God, nothing is impossible, and if God is for us, who can be against us!

Prayer

Father, thank You for Your presence. Help me to live every moment of my life near You, with Your divine perspective, to see and understand that You are for me and with me, and with You I can do anything! With You nothing is impossible! You always lead me into victory, and cause me to triumph. For Your glory, amen!

What Does It Take?

Posted March 12th, 2014 by Jeremy Usry

Scripture

Galatians 2
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.

Observation

The book of Galatians is a letter from Paul the Apostle to a number of early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia. In this verse Paul is communicating some key ingredients of salvation. The first key ingredient of salvation is to remember that we did not and cannot earn salvation. We will never be good enough. The second key ingredient is HEARING the message. As Americans we have all heard the message of Christ at some point. The real question is have you received it AND believed it? This is the moment when it turns from falling on deaf ears to impacting your life.

Application

So the application today is this: Have you stopped trying to earn your salvation? Have you started receiving and believing the grace that is freely given?

Prayer

Father thank You that You have positioned our salvation in such a way that we could not obtain it by our works, but only by receiving the work on the cross. Thank You that my part today is simply believing Your message, and receiving what You have done already. I repent of my sin today, turn to You today and receive what You have done for me. In Jesus Name Amen.

A True Legacy

Posted March 7th, 2014 by Donald Roche

Scripture

Deut 6:4-9
4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Observation

Moses shares with the growing nation of Israel God’s plan for true family legacy. So children & grand-children will “enjoy long life” by keeping God’s commands. Verse 5 - in Mark 12:30, Jesus called this the first & greatest commandment.

Application

Creating a generational legacy of Jesus Christ as the center of our life. What does “on your hearts” & “impress them on your children” look like in 2014?
ALL aspects of our life:
When you sit at home: daily testimonies at family mealtime; regular family devotional time.
When you walk along the road: we drive now - a library of christian music; videos; audio bibles; uninterrupted observation & conversation.
When you lie down: bedtime prayers, singing, sharing can last into teen years.
When you get up: model & invite into morning bible study & devotional time.
Write them on your door frames & gates: Psalm 139:14 hangs above my son’s light switch in his room. Psalm 139:7-10 (Even there! - on a large map) is the last thing we see when exiting our home. Upbeat worship music is heard over breakfast.

A hundred years from now, our great-grandchildren will likely not even know our first name, nor will they care about our awards & accomplishments, money we made & spent.
Ask: So, what is the legacy I am establishing?

And by the way, Moses said “Hear, O Israel”, not “Hear, O parents-only” - he includes everyone in the call. Where is your influence? Does it go beyond just your immediate family?

Prayer

Dear Jesus, you alone are worthy of our worship & devotion. A legacy centered in You is truly eternal. Thank You for those before me who listened and obeyed. Those who loved me enough to foster in me a relationship with You. I say “yes” to Your command. I pray that You would equip me to establish a rich legacy in my loved ones, that will last generations - until You return. I need You. I love You.

Spending Regular Time with God

Posted March 3rd, 2014 by David Miller

Scripture

Numbers 28-29

Observation

Numbers 28-29 provides instruction on how the Israelites were to offer regular offerings to God as a way to demonstrate their devotion to Him. Listed here are specific instructions on the requirements for daily offerings (28:3-8), weekly Sabbath offerings (28:9-10), monthly offerings (28:11-15), and special offerings made once per year on specific holy days (28:16-29:40). Particular emphasis is placed on the quality of offering presented to God. The Israelites were to offer the best of their fields and flocks, not that which was leftover or defective.

Application

Passages like this can be difficult to understand in a contemporary context. As Christians, we no longer observe the detailed requirements Moses laid out for the Israelites regarding regular sacrifices and offerings. However, if we look more closely at what God is saying here, we can find principles that still apply to us today.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites offered sacrifices to God as a way to atone for their sins, connect with God, and demonstrate their devotion to Him. When Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, He became the ultimate sacrifice for us and eliminated the need for regular offerings as was required of the Israelites. However, the reason behind these sacrifices - regular moments to connect with God and demonstrate devotion to Him - continues to be of the utmost importance to us today. Unfortunately, the cares and busyness of everyday life can cause all of us to forget about this, causing us to spend very little time with God. To combat this, we can use Numbers 28-29 as a model for how we can set aside time to spend with God in the following ways:

- Daily - every believer must have a daily time of personal reflection and prayer with God that includes reading the Bible
- Weekly - we must follow the Ten Commandments and have a weekly "Sabbath" - a day where we set aside our regular responsibilities and focus on God, family, and our own rest
- Special Occasions - we all need regular times of extended devotion and rest. This might involve a monthly day set aside for extended prayer, or an extended vacation that allows for rest, refreshing, and refocusing on God.

Setting aside regular time for God allows us to strengthen our relationship with Him. It also demonstrates our trust in Him as the one who is control of how we spend our time. In addition, it gives us much needed rest and allows us to be more productive and fruitful with the rest of our time.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You desire to have a close, personal relationship with us. Today, we commit to take steps to begin spending time with you on a regular basis. Forgive us where we have let the cares of the world distract us from connecting with You. Give us a specific strategy that we can use to spend more time with You. Thank You that time spent in Your Presence brings blessing, wisdom, and transformation. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Misfit to Missionary

Posted February 26th, 2014 by Dave Madden

Scripture

Mark 5:18-20
18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19 And He did not let him, but He *said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Observation

After Jesus cast the demons out of the man and into the pigs, the man who had been possessed and living in the tombs was set free and in his right mind and wanted to accompany Jesus who had set him free. Instead, Jesus gave him a specific assignment and told him to go home and tell what great things the Lord had done for him.

Application

Just like this man, we are also on assignment from God and called to be missionaries in our communities. Our privilege and responsibility is to tell our families, co-workers, neighbors, and classmates what great things the Lord has done for us. We don’t need a seminary degree to be used by God. We don’t even need to be spiritually mature to begin being used by God. This man went from being possessed to being a preacher, from being a misfit to a missionary after one encounter with Jesus. If you have ever had an encounter with Jesus (even if it was just yesterday) you are fully qualified to live your life on God’s mission.

Prayer

Father, thank You that You have sent us into our families and communities to make a spiritual impact. Help us today to make the most of every opportunity by sharing with others what You have done in our lives. I pray You would especially bless all of the incredible people who will be leading a small group during our God in the Mirror series starting next month. As they step out and minister please use them to bring people into a relationship with You and to grow closer to You and be set free. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Attitude-The Difference Maker

Posted February 24th, 2014 by Mike Cuccia

Scripture

Numbers 14: 24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.

Observation

The different spirit that describes Caleb in this verse refers to his attitude. Caleb was a man that feared God not man. Caleb obeyed God and His word regardless of the circumstance. Caleb was a man of faith that served God and loved Him with all his heart. Caleb was a man that did not worry about the size of his problem because he trusted in the greatness of His God. These qualities and Godly characteristics were byproducts of Caleb’s positive attitude that ultimately came from Caleb’s decision to believe and follow God fully!

Application

Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.
My attitude is influenced by my beliefs. What I believe, I become. As I meditate on God’s truths and believe what He says, I am growing in Christlikeness and developing an attitude that follows God fully.

Prayer

Lord, I want more of You and less of me in my life. I pray to stay focused on You and have the same mind as Christ in all that I do today. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit today as I serve in the place I have been called. In Jesus’ name, Amen!