Final Benediction

by Caroline Speas

I’ve been camped out in Hebrews for a while, now - reading many chapters several times. When I read the last chapter, I thought it was a beautiful way to conclude a month that has been completely dedicated to fasting, praying, and seeking God.

Let us remember that during this coming year, we have a faithful God who will never leave us. As we make big decisions, as we deal with overwhelming hardships, as we rejoice in great blessings and victories, as we go through everyday, “mundane” life… whatever we do, the God of peace is always with us. He will always give us what we need to live to for Him. So, let us always trust Him, obey Him, and worship Him.

God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,equip you witheverything good for doing his willand may he work in us what is pleasing to him,through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Switching Priorities

by Veronne Carter

Hardly anyone carries cash anymore. I recall ringing up a transaction at the store the other day and the customer’s purchase balance after discounts was $.58. The customer paid with a card. When I worked at a thrift store in PA, our bric-a-brac department loved sorting through old wall pictures, because the older generation would occasionally hide (and we’d find) large amounts of cash in the back. I was at a local thrift store recently and I purchased an item that cost $7 and change. I didn’t have enough in my pocket, so I paid with a debit card. The difference – cash is handy, I can see what I have. A card means money was transferred into a bank somewhere and it’s held there for use.
I’m sure it’s not an exact analogous comparison, but there are a lot of ways that we choose what we prefer. Do we keep cash, or leave our money in a bank and pay with a debit card? Do we spend time watching TV or do we put some extra time in reading the holy Scripture? Do we attend church on Sunday or do we stay home and watch news and sports? Do we spend all that we have on ourselves, or do we sacrifice whatever the Lord tells us to in order to reap the benefit of His kingdom?
This young man has a dilemma. He wants to inherit the blessings of God that He notices in Jesus, so he seeks out what to do. Jesus lays out several ‘to-do’s’ found in the law of Moses (10 commandments). ‘Check. Check. Check,’ thinks the man. ‘Ok, Jesus, what ELSE do I have to do to secure this deal?’
AHA! And this is where we all face the larger challenge. Jesus tells him: ‘Adjust your priorities, young man!’ Yes. Change the things that are important to you. Sell your stuff (because you lean heavily on your stuff), give the money you make to those who need it most, and then come empty-handed, and follow “me” (Jesus). That decision would change everything. The man’s lifestyle, the man’s comfort, and the man’s dependence. ‘No! I can’t do that.’ Jesus tells him in Mark 10:21, ‘If you do that, you will have treasures in heaven.’  Still, the man’s answer is no, and he walks away disappointed.
Sometimes that’s us, isn’t it? Sometimes the thing that’s keeping us from experiencing the joys and value of God’s kingdom is our hand (and heart) on our stuff or our time. The disciples ask a great question: if we, as humans, can’t separate ourselves from our stuff, then how can anyone be saved? 
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
This month of fasting, what has God been leaning on in your life? What ‘what else’ has he put His finger on? What treasures have you kept here on earth which need to be shifted to treasures in heaven? Ask the Lord to give you the strength and discipline to surrender all to Him so that He can bless in ways that have eternal value.

Dusty Bones and the Power of God

by William Lehman

2 Kings 13:20-21 - Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

This scene in scripture with Elisha after he is dead and buried captivated me this week. People are visiting the same tomb to bury a family member or friend who had recently died. Raiders are spotted and the people burying this guy quickly throw the body into the same tomb so they can escape. The body somehow touches the bones of the deceased prophet and instead what happens is that he begins to live again.

Often when I am reading the Bible, I like to imagine myself in the situation and the emotions and feelings the first-hand witnesses to the event might have felt.

Sadness over losing a friend or family is suddenly overtaken by fear of invasion. Then surprise, fear and confusion as the man stands up and has been brought back to life. Then happiness and joy as they realize what has happened.

The narrative of scripture doesn't tell us any more of the story with these raiders, but I like to think the raiders found them. Instead of fleeing scared people, they found people overwhelmed with the glory of God. A God who could raise the dead and a worship service beside a grave. These raiders came to steal to kill and destroy but instead they found people excited about God, sharing the good news with them.

The word of God in our lives brings power. It may seem like dusty old bones at times to those who don't understand or even to us in those grief stricken times but as Paul says in Romains 1, "For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" As we are finishing our formal time of fasting and prayer as a church family, I encourage you to keep going. It's easy to get distracted by the things that would steal our joy, but proximity to God in the midst of whatever we are going through has the potential to bring revival instead.

Intimacy with God

by Marlin Hotle

“In that day – this is the Lord’s declaration – you will call me ‘my husband,’ and no longer call me, ‘my Baal.” – Hosea 4:16 (CEV)

In the book of Hosea, God is calling His people out of idolatry and back into a sincere relationship with Him. In chapter 4:1-2, He describes the dismal state of affairs among the Israelites. They were unfaithful in every way: lying, stealing, murder, committing adultery, etc…

But in verse 16 the Lord expresses His desire to treat those who would turn back to Him as a loving husband would treat a wife.

God promises those who return will call Him “my husband” and no longer “my Baal.” Because the word Baal is often used to represent the heathen gods, we can easily miss the beautiful message here. The word “Baal” usually means “master” and conveys the element of ownership. On the other hand, the word here translated as husband (isi) literally means “my man” conveying the type of loving possession we find in an intimate relationship, such as marriage. Do you see the beauty of it? God says His people will call Him “my man” (husband) and not “my master” (Baal).

You see, Christianity is about more than serving God. It is about intimacy, about loving Him and being loved by Him. Yes, God desires us as His’ possession. But He does not want to possess us as a man possesses a house or a car. He wants to intimately possess us as a man clings to and possesses the wife that he loves.

He wants us to be His by choice and He longs to provide for and protect us. Too often we live beneath our privileges. We begrudgingly serve Him as our master and miss the joy and benefits that come with lovingly serving Him as our spouse.

Shadow of Death

by Pastor David Speas

Psalm 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Whenever I hear Psalm 23, I'm usually attending or preaching a funeral.  It's sort of the go-to passage for preachers at graveside services.  But David didn't originally write this passage to be used as a funeral dirge.

Originally, this text was written as a statement of faith in God!

In David's day, travel was rough.  Without the aid of cars, trains, or airplanes, travel had to be done on foot.  To add to the difficulty, there weren't well kept roads with police officers stationed every couple of miles (think Anderson County ;).  Highway robbery was a constant problem-especially in certain valleys that offered more natural cover.  In these places, highwaymen could lay in wait for unsuspecting travelers until they were right above them.  By the time the travelers realized they were about to be attacked, it was too late.  The robbers would beat, rape, and kill their victims.  Imagine the fear those travelers must have experienced whenever they traversed those notorious roads!

Perhaps this is what King David was referring to when he spoke of the "valley of the shadow of death."  He was using an illustration everyone could relate to.  In essence, he was saying, "Even when I go through those places of deepest fear and anxiety, I don't have to fear."  Why?  "Thou are with me."

What a beautiful thought!  There are no circumstances that this life can throw at us that need to cause worry or fear!  If God can help us traverse the most dangerous of roads, He can protect and provide for us as we walk through the roads of life.  He is with us.

Imagine what a difference it would make if those travelers entered those valleys surrounded by an army of soldiers.  I imagine they wouldn't feel the least bit afraid!  We have something better!  We have the very presence of God accompanying us on our journey!  Be encouraged knowing that God is with you-even in the tough places!

One Thing Will Not Be Taken Away

by Veronne Carter

Luke 10:38-42 - “Martha, Martha…you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” - Jesus (NKJV)

I will admit right now. Oftentimes, I am Martha. Not that I’m ‘worried’ or ‘troubled’ (pastors don’t get worried or troubled…do they?). But…

The original Greek word translated worriedis “merimnaȯ” or to be anxious about or, troubled with cares. The original word translated totroubledin English is “tarassȯ” in Greek. It means to stir up, to agitate, to disturb, to put in motion what needs to remain still or at ease. OUCH!

Maybe you don’t fit into this box at all, but I admit I am guilty as charged. There are times when my mind is set on cares, and I feel that I must do something about it all. With enough effort, skill, and invested time, I can solve all problems. And I likely end up stirring up activity, agitating and disturbing peace, and setting into motions things that need to remain still. All in the name of doing a good thing.

So, Jesus essentially says to Martha, ‘You know, you’re doing a lot of serving and cleaning, and working – and it’s not that the things that you’re doing are bad. They’re good. Thank you. However, you seem to be troubled with cares about everything else for me, that you haven’t focused on me. Ultimately it’s causing you to put things into motion that could actually stand to be dormant for a while as you take time and simply focus on worshiping and honoring me.’

And then Jesus makes the dreaded comparison (for a sibling). “Look at your sister. I know you think she should be helping you with all of your activity, caring, and agitating, but in my view, she chose the better thing. She chose to just sit at my feet, focus on me, and hear what I have to say. If I were to compare the two, Martha, both are ok, but one is actually best. And out of the two things, only one of them is actually necessary: the sitting at my feet and hearing from me. And out of the two, it’s THAT which will not be taken away, because it is the only thing that has eternal value.”

Now, forgive me for putting words in the Lord’s mouth, but I hope to make a scriptural application that we can alllearn from using the simplicity of Jesus’ conversation in this Lukan encounter. If you’re anything like me, there are several things on your plate, or on your to-do list. How many times do you and I stir up things to do and care for in place of simply sitting at Jesus’ feet. Of all the things that we cando, there’s one thing that will not be taken away. Let’s commit to doing that!

Imitation: Go and Do the Same!

by Veronne Carter

1 Cor. 10:33-11:1 - “…just as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (NASB)
Jesus and a teacher of the Jewish law had a discussion on the Law of Moses. It clearly tells us all to love our neighbor. The teacher asks Jesus: ‘clarify for me who my neighbor is so that I can make sure I’m good to him.’ Jesus proceeds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. We all know it, right? (it’s even a VeggieTales episode). A guy gets beat up and left for dead, and his own people are too important or too busy to stop and help him. But a foreigner (and an enemy by ethnicity) sees him and compassionately stops to help him. Why? Because the man needs help. He even goes beyond and tends to the hurt man’s needs for a longer period of time – expending his own resources to ensure the man is well taken care of while he recovers.
It is obvious that this stranger who gave sacrificially was the hurt man’s neighbor. The teacher of the law also admits that. Wonderful story, Jesus. I get the point!
But then, Jesus does what Jesus usually does – He takes it from a story and places the burden on us. He tells the teacher of the law “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:37)  Go and do the same: Imitate. There is no better form of flattery than imitating someone. It says to them, ‘I see your life, and I admire how you live or how you do such and such so much that I want to do ___ like you do it.’
As you continue in prayer this week, who is it that God has placed in your life that you can look at their life, how they face circumstances, how they treat their family, how they follow Jesus, how they minister, and you can say, ‘I can use that as a model to imitate.’ 
That is biblical. Paul tells the Corinthian Christians “…Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:33-11:1). He tells the Church in Ephesus, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just a sChrist also loved you and gave Himself up for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).
Paul urges Titus to show himself “to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach…”(Titus 2:6-8); and he urges young Timothy to not let anyone look down on his “youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”(1 Tim. 4:12). Yes, even you young adults and teens can be an example.

  • So, who are youimitating? Whose life in Christ do you admire and watch and seek to imitate as you attempt to live a stronger Christian life? Be mindful to follow those who are following Jesus!

  • And…who is watching yourlife? Are you modeling a life in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Are you living in integrity? Are you seeking holiness and sanctification? 

Ephesians 5:15 reminds us: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”  (NIV)


by Cheri Floyd

Ephesians 6:18 - “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV)
How do you feel about praying in front of a congregation Sunday morning?  For many of us, it is like public speaking.  The heart pounds, the mouth feels dry and our brains shut down.  Maybe we listen to the pastor pray from the pulpit and think “I can’t do that.”
How do you picture a prayer warrior?  Perhaps your mental picture is a grandmother.  She’s retired and spends much time in her rocking chair, reading her Bible and praying for you.  Maybe you are a single parent with three kids who play after school sports and think “I can’t do that.” 
But Ephesians 6:18 is for ALL OF US who follow Jesus.  
We can pray on ALL OCCASIONS.  Before we eat.  At church. Before we go to bed.  When we get up.  Before a sporting event.  At the airport as friends leave.  While stuck in traffic.  Sometimes we pray after we’ve done everything else that we know to do.  But I want to pray as a first resort, not a last resort.  In 2019 I want to pray on ALL OCCASIONS.
Ephesians also says we should use ALL KINDS of prayer. I am a natural introvert.  Praying alone silently often suits me.  But it does me good to get with my brothers and sisters and be forced to pray aloud.  We support each other in a way that just doesn’t happen anywhere else.  On the other hand, you might currently do most of your praying at church with others.  Remember, even extroverts benefit from time alone with God in prayer. John Wesley said Ephesians 6:18 includes “All sorts of prayer- public, private, mental, vocal. Do not be diligent in one kind of prayer and negligent in others... let us use all.” 
In 2019 may ALL OF US experience of ALL KINDS of prayer, praying more often on ALL OCCASIONS.  Imagine what God will do!

If you will _____, Then I will ______ .

by Lottie Bridges

When I was growing up, we lived only a couple of blocks from “Downtown Clinton”.    We walked everywhere we went, including the half mile to the grocery store.  Sometimes when Mama would buy groceries, she would give us an option; if we three kids would help her carry the groceries instead of her getting a taxi, we could stop along the way and get an ice cream cone at Hoskins in the Flat.  The option involved was two-sided --- Mama would do something we liked, but we had to be willing to fulfill the contingency which she imposed.

Mama knew what our choice would be --- lug those bags of groceries so that we could have ice cream at the soda fountain counter.  Our Aunt  Eunice worked behind the counter and gave her nieces and nephew special treatment, packing each scoop tightly so that we got good value for our (Mama’s) money.   The memories of those special cones, dripping with sweetness, are reminders of IF promises made and THEN promises kept.

God’s Word is rich with many IF/THEN promises.   [Note: sometimes THEN is not written, but is implied.]

  • I John 1:9 - IF we confess our sins, (THEN) He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

  • Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: IF any man hear my voice, and open the door, (THEN) I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

  • Exodus 19:5 - Now IF you will obey me and keep my covenant, (THEN) you will be my own special treasure 

  • Leviticus 26:3, 9 - If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, …(THEN) I will look favorably upon you, …  And I will fulfill my covenant with you.”  

  • I Chronicles 7:14 - “IF My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from Heaven and ____.”

  • Psalm 91:14-16 - IF he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;  IF he trusts me, (THEN) I will protect him;  IF he calls to me, (THEN) I will answer him;   I will be with him in trouble;  I will rescue him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

I believe we all want to experience the sweetness which God, our loving Heavenly Father, has promised us in His Word.    IF we are willing to fulfill the contingencies which He imposes, THEN we can rest assured that He will always be faithful to fulfill His end and will pour out sweet blessings. 

Living by the Word

by Pastor David Speas

Matthew 4:4 - But he answered and said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Jesus had just fasted 40 days.  Let that sink in.  He hadn't eaten food in (pause) 40 (pause), DAYS!  No vitamins.  No protein shakes.  No fruit juice.  I almost laugh out loud every time I read verse 2.  "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry."  Ya think!?

And then satan comes to tempt Him.  By the way, isn't that how satan still works today?  Doesn't he still attack us when we're busy?  Tired?  Stressed?  Have low blood sugar?  Just finished arguing with our spouse?  Anyway, I digress.

So Jesus is hungry and satan tempts him to turn some stones into bread.  I find His response fascinating.  "Man shall not live by bread alone."  Don't miss this!  It's important!  Jesus is revealing a vital truth!

Physical food isn't the only nourishment we need.  In fact, it's not even the most important.  There is a nourishment of the soul.

Many people live their whole lives never sensing this hunger.  But Jesus felt it keenly.  It was an appetite that could only be satisfied with one thing-time in the Word.  It was an appetite that superseded His desire for physical food.

He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."  He was hungry for God's Word.

Do you have this same hunger in your life?  Do get weak when you miss your spiritual mealtimes?  Are you constantly going back for seconds?

I am convinced that we don't realize the importance of this spiritual food.  But my prayer is that we will.  Though fasting, I pray that God gives us a sense of our deeper hungering.  Through prayer, I pray that He gives us the refreshment we so desperately long for.  I believe He can do it.

Finding God in the Darkness

by Marlin Hotle

Exodus 20:20 & 21 - “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” 

When we think of meeting with God, we probably think of fire, light or maybe the burning bush. We just naturally associate God’s presence with majesty and glory. But I have discovered, like Moses, sometimes God is waiting to reveal Himself to me in the thick of darkness. 

Have you ever faced what one Church Father described as “the dark night of the soul?” A few years ago I experienced such a time. I never want to face such a period again. But I will tell you that God taught me some things in the darkness that I intend never to forget. During those trying days I found great help from one of Gordon McDonald’s books. He described how, during one of those times of darkness, he started keeping a journal of the lessons God taught him during that period. I decided to do the same, and it proved to be very helpful. I recently reread my journal and let those lessons speak to me again.

If you are experiencing a period of trial and brokenness, let me suggest that you listen for God in the darkness and see what He may want to teach you. I don’t have the time nor space to share all the lessons recorded in my journal, but let me leave you with a few of them.

  1. God’s strength can only be made perfect in weakness when we recognize and acknowledge our weakness.

  2. Partial obedience is disobedience.

  3. God is offended when we turn to Him as the last resort instead of as our first option.

  4. God’s love is unconditional but His promises and blessings are not.

  5. Loving God is not enough. You must love Him more than yourself and your sin.

  6. Even Job, when he faced all his troubles, wrongly assumed that God had sent them.

  7. God’s grace is measureless but His patience is not limitless.

  8. My aim is to let go of the past, live in the present, and look to the future.

It's Better to Give

by Pastor David Speas

I have found that, in life, I usually receive in proportion to my giving.  This truth was reinforced in a conversation I had earlier this week.  A person in our church was sharing how they'd been experiencing a newfound vibrancy in their walk with the Lord.  Of late, God's goodness has seemed more personal.  They have been experiencing more joy.  They are optimistic about the future.  They love their church...

I walked away from that conversation encouraged.  And then it hit me, "Wait!  They have been giving more lately!"  I don't think their joy was a coincidence!

Isn't this what Jesus predicted in scripture? Acts 20:35b says, "You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Guess what?  When we give little, we get little.  But when we give more, God makes up the difference with His blessing.  Just look at your own life!  What did God do for you personally when you started tithing?  Weren't you blown away by how God supplied?  I found I couldn't afford not to tithe.  I wanted to bless God and He blessed me!  What happened when you started having weekly devotions?  Didn't God become more personal and real?  Didn't the preacher start preaching better messages? ;)  Didn't you start to sense His grace more in day-to-day living?  We know God never changes.  The change was in you!  You were giving and God blessed you by giving back.  What has regular church attendance done for you?  It has stabilized me spiritually and given me a heart for God and others.  It has helped teach my family selflessness.  It has giving me wholesome friends.  And I could go on.  The point is:

Whenever we get serious about giving, God gets serious about blessing.

Too many people don't give b/c they've bought into the world's lie.  They think getting is the source of happiness.  So they don't give thinking, "If I give, there might not be enough for me!"  When, giving is the very thing that would bring them lasting happiness!

I want to make a challenge for you today.  Find a way to be generous this week!  Maybe it's as simple as a kind word or text (yes that counts as giving).  Maybe it's something bigger like taking someone out to eat or tithing your paycheck for the first time.  The point isn't the act.  The point is that you are taking the words of Christ and His example to heart when He said, "It's more blessed to give than to receive!"

Watch and see if you don't end up receiving the bigger blessing!

In It to Win It!

by Caroline Speas

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 

That word “disqualified” means “to be put on a shelf.” The Apostle Paul is one of the last people I would expect to be put on a shelf because his life was of little value! But we all need to stop and ask ourselves if our lives on earth are accomplishing God’s purposes. Imagine a race where there is a group of fit and athletic runners who are totally focused on being the best and doing their best, and then there is a group of out of shape runners who just want to participate in the race. Not win, not do their best. Just run around. That seems kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it? But if I’m not careful, I can be danger of running in the “race” of being a Christian, but only running with the purpose of being forgiven and getting to Heaven. Yes, forgiveness is an amazing gift that God has offered us. And Heaven is a wonderful place we can look forward to! But when we get to Heaven, our whole purpose is going to be to live for Him and not for ourselves. So we should probably prepare for that here on Earth. God doesn’t just want us to participate in Christianity. He wants us to do our absolute best – to be disciplined and determined, and to accomplish what He wants us to. I was convicted when I heard someone teach on this idea recently. She mentioned Paul’s warning that we will be held accountable for our efforts in the race.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

All Christians will be judged for our choices here on Earth – how we used the time He gave us, the bodies He gave us, the minds He gave us, the hands He gave us, and the hearts He gave us. If we are forgiven, we will not face condemnation for our sins, but God will examine how focused we were on the race. So, make it your goal to please Him in all you do. Don’t just run around life aimlessly. Be in it to win it.

How to Pray

By Ryan White

James 5:13-18 - Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Sometimes when we sit down or kneel to pray, we struggle with what to talk about. When we struggle with what to pray about, we lose faith in our prayer and have trouble seeing how powerful prayer can be and how it will ever produce results. This passage gives us 3 examplesof how to pray and what to pray for...


  • Pray in all Circumstances

Or rather, pray in every circumstance. Hardships? Pray about it. Is everything going good? Pray! Give God praise! How many times do we say, “Boy that was lucky!” or “Man I did a good job on that and here I am.” But everything good in our life ultimately comes from Him.  He's the one that's been good to us. How about sickness? Pray! Call in people who know how to get ahold of God and pray about it! If God wills to heal you, and people pray about it, it will happen. What about sins? Pray! If we have an issue with a sin, it would make more sense to pray and be forgiven than to wallow in pity and guilt. So in every circumstance and situation, prayer is applicable. 

  • Pray for all People

How often do we pray for ourselves and our situations and leave out others altogether?Probably a lot. I also think confession has a lot to do with it. I'm not talking about gossip.  But if we are struggling we need to mature Christians we can tell ask for prayer. If others come to us, we need to return the favor. There is healing and forgiveness in confessing our sins.


  • Pray for God’s Will

This is the most important part of this passage. The other points don’t mean much without this. The passage references Elijah, and how he prayed it would not rain. Guess what? It didn’t rain. But when he prayed it would rain, it did. The point is not that we can pray on a whim for God to alter climate conditions but that it was God's will and purpose that Elijah pray these things. God used it to teach an evil ruler a lesson. You might be thinking, “Of course when Elijah prayed something happened...he was some sort of super human...” We think that way a lot. But the passage says he was as human as we are.

Ordinary people, when prompted by God are capable of whatever God calls them to do. 

I don’t think God will necessarily prompt us to pray that the weather changes...but if we would seek His will for our circumstances and His will for His will for our life HE WILL ANSWER! We can believe that the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and do produce results.

Have faith! Pray! Trust God and seek His will! 

Where is your trust found?

by Pastor David Speas

Psalm 20:7 - Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

In David's day, chariots were a big deal. You've got to remember that they didn't have tanks, guns, and grenade launchers.  The tanks of their daywerechariots.  And typically, whoever had the most won the battle.

Imagine Israel's fear when powerful armies assembled against them. They must have trembled as they stared into the eyes of crazed war-horses.  It must have been disheartening to look down and see their our inferior weapons...dull swords, wooden spears, makeshift shields...

But then I imagine King David riding in front of his troops atop a horse of his own.  At first you can't make out what he's saying; he's too far down the line.  But then his shout grows as he approaches your unit.  He's repeating the same mantra over and over.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses...but we will trust in the name of the Lord!"

What a thought!  The enemy was placing their trust in military might.  But Israel had the biggest weapon of all to trust in--God Himself!

We may never go to battle or stare down the barrel of a howitzer. But each of us still has a choice to make.  "Will I trust in God or will I place my trust in other things?"  For many people, "things" are easier to trust in.  We can see our retirement account.  We can see our political leaders.  We can hold a gun.  God is invisible.

But God is greater than all those things.  And we have to choose, as Christians, to place our trust in Him.  Are you trusting God or are you looking to the things of this world for security?  I suggest you look to God.

Learning to Rest

By Pastor David Speas

I'll be honest, rest isn't something I do well.  It's not that I can't sleep or that I don't know how to have fun.  I already do both those things.  It's just that, if I rely on them, they always leave me feeling empty.  Eventually the movie ends.  Before I know it, the dawn breaks.  And then what?  My "rest" is over.

Something God has been teaching me recently is how to find rest in Him.  At it's core, rest isn't the absence of stressful activity, but a byproduct of our relationship with Christ.

When I spend time in God's presence, He gives me rest.  When I take a walk in nature and experience His creativity, it brings rest to my soul.  When I find myself humming my favorite childhood hymn, peace floods my heart. 

I definitely haven't arrived.  But I'm learning to focus on Him and allow Him to give me the rest my heart so desperately longs for.

Matthew 11:28-30-Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Going to the Wood Shed

By Pastor David Speas

Hebrews 12:6-7 - For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

From an early age, I was taught the need for a holy heart.  I knew from both experience and teaching that salvation didn't take away my unChristlike attitudes and desire (just as my family).  Oh, I had a desire to please God.  But I still had a tension in my heart.  Even after salvation, I wanted to talk back to my parents.  Even after salvation, I wanted to fight with my younger brother.  Even after salvation, I wanted to blame my sister for things I'd done.  God had forgiven my sins; but He hadn't completely changed my heart.

I'm thankful that one day I did surrender every part of myself to His Lordship and He did give me victory over these areas of my life.  But somewhere along the way, I picked up the notion that messed me up for several years.

I thought that sanctification (being purified by God's Holy Spirit) meant I would never mess up again.

Imagine my confusion when, from time to time, I slipped up.  Guilt would flood my heart as I realized my sin.  I would immediately repent.  But the remorse always lingered.  I would feel like a failure knowing I had let down God.  Then one day God revealed this truth:

God only disciplined people He loves.

If God didn't care about me, He would just let me go on in my sin.  That guilt that I hated so much was actually a sign of His love.  Think of it!  God loves us so much that He disciplines us--because change and victory are possible.  He disciplines us b/c He has a richer, fuller, free-er life that He wants us to experience.

What had been a discouragement turned into a blessing!

Don't get me wrong, I still don't like being disciplined.  But now I know He does it from a heart of love.  Allow God to discipline you when necessary and don't fight it.  Instead, realize, it's coming from a heart of love!

Leave it All Behind

Genesis 12:1-2 - The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.

You all don’t even know the things Fletcher sometimes tries to take to church with him. Just yesterday, he had a box full of random things that he called his “preaching stuff.” He told me he was going to preach on “the stand” (the pulpit), so he needed his “preaching stuff.” I told him to leave it at the house, and he had trouble with my suggestion. I just pictured trying to get him to the church while he’s trying to hold on to all of his stuff. And then I imagined him taking it into the nursery and causing problems with all of his stuff. And then I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be a challenge to get him back to the house with all of his stuff. Basically, all of that stuff was going to be a hassle and a hindrance. I just felt like the best way to avoid all of those problems would be for him to leave his stuff behind.

In one of the sessions at the Wesleyan Gathering that Pastor David and I attended, one of the speakers spoke about needing to leave some things in order to truly be a blessing. She pointed out that that is what God said to Abram in Genesis 12. God promised to use Abram greatly and make him a blessing. But he told him he had to leave some stuff. His country, his relatives, his father’s family. He had to no longer hold those things dear. He had to go in obedience. And going in obedience meant leaving.

Maybe there are some things this year you feel God leading you to leave. Maybe it’s a sin you’re hiding and hoping no one finds out about. Confess it and leave it! (Confessing it and finding accountability will help you leave that sin more effectively.) Maybe there are habits that aren’t necessarily sinful, but you feel God is leading you to leave them. Leave them. Maybe it is worry about what people think. Maybe it is something on your schedule you have realized is not the best use of your time. Maybe it’s excuses. Maybe it’s a lack of discipline. Maybe it’s an attitude. Maybe it’s an assumption or idea you keep in your mind about someone. Maybe it’s multiple things. I’m pretty sure God is leading most of us to leave something this year in order to make us the people he wants us to be. He changed Abram into Abraham, but it required some leaving.

Hebrews 11:8-10 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

We can be sure of this – if God calls us to leave something, where He is leading us is far greater than what we leave behind.

Remember the Focus

by Veronne Carter

Genesis 1:1-3 (et al.) [NKJV] - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. And God saw that it was good…”

I’ve never been a track runner, but I’ve run races. I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but I’ve played several sports. I remember my very first driving lesson at age 19 – my instructor gave me the most valuable piece of advice…which I still use today.
Focus. Where is my focus. Your focus. Our focus? In a race, the runner is looking down the track to the finish line. In a sport, although the player is aware of his/her surroundings, their eye is always on the goal or the basket. In driving, I was told not to look at the hood of the car, but to look at where, on the road, I’d like to go. 
Right at the beginning of the scripture we build our lives upon, there are foundational truths established. (1) In the beginning God. (2) In the beginning God created. (3) And God said…and there was… Somehow through life’s many occurrences, the fast and constant pace that many of us keep, the constant barrage of information thrown at us (through people interaction, gossip, social media posts, news and television pundits, and even our entertainment outlets), our focus begins to slowly waiver. We put our focus and contentment on things other than God. We look at our jobs and forget to focus on the true source of provision. We listen to opinions which begin to sway us, and we forget to focus on the real source of truth. We even look at certain trends or viral posts and forget to grant time to the one who holds our very hours in the palm of His hand.
When we fast, we re-focus. We say to our bodies and our souls that we know where our focus belongs. It gives us a moment to look at the road, or the goal, or the track, instead of the many things that compete for our attention. If we deeply believe and remember that God is just as much God today as He was in the beginning, and that He created all things – and that what He says goes, then we will realize that there is no other thing in our world that is more worthy of our focus than the God of all creation!
Take time this month (and every day, for that matter)to make sure your focus is where it belongs. On God! Give up those things that have stolen your focus; and set your mind (and your heart) on those things which are above, where Christ is seated (Colossians 3:1-3).

The Open Secret

By Pastor David Speas

One of my favorite authors is a man by the name of A. W. Tozer.  Tozer was a prolific writer, speaker, and preacher/prophet who lived in the early and mid-1900's.  Tozer passionate confronted the evils or his day as well as lovingly articulated right doctrine and holy living.  Although not from our specific theological background, most of his messages could be preached in a holiness pulpit.  Arguably his greatest work is a book titled, "The Knowledge of the Holy."  Todays devotional is an excerpt from that book.  I hope you both enjoy and benefit from this reading as much I.    - Pastor

When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is for each of us a personal one. Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.

What can we plain Christians do to bring back the departed glory? Is there some secret we may learn? Is there a formula for personal revival we can apply to the present situation, to our own situation? The answer to these questions is yes.

Yet the answer may easily disappoint some persons, for it is anything but profound. I bring no esoteric cryptogram, no mystic code to be painfully deciphered. I appeal to no hidden law of the unconscious, no occult knowledge meant only for the few. The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.

But the God we must see is not the utilitarian God who is having such a run of popularity today, whose chief claim to men’s attention is His ability to bring them success in their various undertakings and who for that reason is being cajoled and flattered by everyone who wants a favor. The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God, our Saviour. He it is that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, who stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in, who bringeth out His starry host by number and calleth them all by name through the greatness of His power, who seeth the works of man as vanity, who putteth no confidence in princes and asks no counsel of kings.

Knowledge of such a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom the natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it.But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.

Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:

First, we must forsake our sins. The belief that a holy God cannot be known by men of confirmed evil lives is not new to the Christian religion. The Hebrew book, The Wisdom of Solomon, which antedates Christianity by many years, has the following passage: “Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek him. For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and showeth himself unto such as do not distrust him. For froward thoughts separate from God and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise. For unto a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject to sin. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.” This same thought is found in various sayings throughout the inspired Scriptures, the best known probably being the words of Christ, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith. This is what it means to “believe in Christ.” It involves a volitional and emotional attachment to Him accompanied by a firm purpose to obey Him in all things. This requires that we keep His commandments, carry our cross, and love God and our fellow men.

Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit. Then we must practice whatever self-discipline is required to walk in the Spirit, and trample under our feet the lusts of the flesh.

Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust.

Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God. This will take some effort, for the concept of majesty has all but disappeared from the human race. The focal point of man’s interest is now himself. Humanism in its various forms has displaced theology as the key to the understanding of life. When the nineteenth-century poet Swinburne wrote, “Glory to Man in the highest! for man is the master of things,” he gave to the modern world its new Te Deum. All this must be reversed by a deliberate act of the will and kept so by a patient effort of the mind.

God is a Person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimate acquaintance as we prepare our hearts for the wonder. It may be necessary for us to alter our former beliefs about God as the glory that gilds the Sacred Scriptures dawns over our interior lives. We may also need to break quietly and graciously with the lifeless textualism that prevails among the gospel churches, and to protest the frivolous character of much that passes for Christianity among us. By this we may for the time lose friends and gain a passing reputation for being holier-than-thou; but no man who permits the expectation of unpleasant consequences to influence him in a matter like this is fit for the kingdom of God.

Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly. The more perfectly we know God the more we will feel the desire to translate the new-found knowledge into deeds of mercy toward suffering humanity. The God who gave all to us will continue to give all through us as we come to know Him better.

Thus far we have considered the individual’s personal relation to God, but like the ointment of a man’s right hand, which by its fragrance “betrayeth itself”, any intensified knowledge of God will soon begin to affect those around us in the Christian community. And we must seek purposefully to share our increasing light with the fellow members of the household of God.

This we can best do by keeping the majesty of God in full focus in all our public services. Not only our private prayers should be filled with God, by our witnessing, our singing, our preaching, our writing should center around the Person of our holy, holy Lord and extol continually the greatness of His dignity and power. There is a glorified Man on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven faithfully representing us there. We are left for a season among men; let us faithfully represent Him here.