Relevant—Part 4 [Devotional]

 

Going Deeper with the Message:

Salt + Light
by: Andrew Archer

I believe people today are more close-minded than ever before. Especially in our cultural context in America. Even when engaging in reasonable discourse, which is a rarity in and of itself, most of us don’t want to listen—we only want to be heard. Think about social media. No one is ever listening to anyone else, and that almost certainly includes me and you. Everyone is just shouting whatever they feel strongly about and no one is ever listening, except those who already agree.

When it comes to making an impact on our target audience, whoever that may be, oftentimes our words fall short. Sometimes that is because the person we are speaking to doesn’t want to listen but it also can be due to the way in which we are communicating our message. Regardless of the reason it’s ineffective the point remains, oftentimes our words fall short.

As Christians we have an opportunity to impact the world for the better. We should care about people—the imago dei—and our society. We should want them to thrive and we know that things will go better if we all do things God’s way. But the question is how do we influence our culture in a positive way?

On Sunday Tim shared a portion from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus gives us a great picture of how we are to primarily impact the world in which we live. He says this in Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Jesus shows us how we can make the greatest positive impact on the world and it’s primarily by being salt and light. It’s not with our words, remember, we live in a society that is not keen on listening.

If we want to know who is truly making an impact in this world, it’s really easy to tell; it’s not the person screaming the loudest, but rather the person shining the brightest. And the way in which we shine the brightest is by living out of who God says that we are—salt and light of the earth.

So, this week let’s not be people that shout—on social media, in person, or anywhere else—but rather people who shine the light of Christ’s love to a dark and hopeless world. Don’t let anything diminish your impact by tainting what you are—the salt and light of the earth.

 

 

Relevant—Part 3 [Devotional]

 

Going Deeper with the Message:

Who can you purposely love for God?
by: Barbara Barnhart

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. and love your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 2:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27)

I have been taught if you see something in scripture that is repeated over and over it must be very important. The scripture Pastor Tim referred to on Sunday must be very important. It is repeated in both the Old and New Testaments. As we continue to discuss the Relevance of the Church today, we know that we have a message that can change the world one life at a time, we need to be the church we want the church to be and we need to receive the invitation “inside” so we can love those “outside.” Loving God and loving others is a process.

One of my darling 4 year olds one Sunday asked me “I have never seen God, have you?” In explanation, I pointed to God’s creation, to praying, to the Bible, only to have the little girl look more and more perplexed. Her being perplexed brought about my insecurities which brought about my go-to defense mechanism—sarcasm. I know, I know, 4 year olds and sarcasm don’t mix. I told her I had times when I wished I could just call God and talk to Him. She immediately asked me, “What’s His number?” Most anyone else would just let it go, but no, I make my lovingly sarcastic response “1-800-HEAVEN.” Immediately, I made sure that it couldn’t be a real phone number (not enough numbers) and then felt shame and remorse for not understanding how to explain trust to her.

One of my favorite scriptures is Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.” We need to realize that Jesus “grew up” to love His heavenly Father with all His heart, soul, mind and strength. The question we must ask ourselves is why would we think that we can automatically love God and others with such fervor?

Growing in our love for God and others is a
process—not something that happens overnight.

Our ability to Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength began in us because God loved us first. He is the One who helps us to grow and mature in our relationship with Him. This growing relationship with God enables us to love others as we are called to.

A Facebook memory from 2010 popped up today that reminded me of the process:

“Life is made up of moments that we choose to either touch a life with the love of Christ or ignore the needs of that life. Help me Heavenly Father to focus on living out my relationship with you—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—moment by moment!”

This week, look for opportunities to grow in your relationship with God and ways to live that out by loving your neighbor as yourself.

 

 

Relevant—Part 2 [Devotional]

 

Going Deeper with the Message:

You Are a Superhero
by: Michelle Lemley

Our society values independence. We see it as a mark of pride, a badge of honor if we do everything ourselves and people say, “How does she do it all?” I like to think that I’m juggling life well, but sometimes when I try to do it all, I just fail at a whole bunch of things.

My family is used to coming to me for everything, and I love being their go-to. I cherish that my kids think of me as a superhero with the power to kiss away their hurts and find any missing toy. But sometimes it’s too much for even Super Mom. And this is when it’s time to assemble my Parenting Pros, the team of elite guardians who can answer any question, solve any math problem, or diagnose any mysterious ailments. Sometimes this team is just there for a text or phone call, or sometimes they’re there to do it all when mom and dad need some time away. Big or small, I am learning to rely on my circle of friends and family to make sure I’m doing the best things to raise these boys up to be the men God intends them to be.

On Sunday, Pastor Tim continued our series about the relevance of the modern church. He described the church as a spiritual family which enables us to support one another in 5 important ways:

1 — developing spiritual maturity
2 — meeting physical needs
3 — receiving unconditional love and forgiveness
4 — allowing us to make a unique contribution
5 — impacting the world for Christ

Just as my family extends outside of my home, the church family includes more than just the leaders or staff who prepare services. We all have a role to play in creating our spiritual family. All who have accepted Jesus become adopted into a communal kingdom which has the power to be the church we want the church to be. We need each other to lean on. Just as a forest of trees stands stronger than a tree on it’s own, when surrounded by supporters, we can hold each other up in turbulent times. And if that forest is rooted by the stream that provides everlasting life, we have the ultimate source of strength and resilience to spread to all those around us.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

God has designed us to work with each other and to help one another. And the third strand of that cord is the Lord himself, who strengthens our relationships and binds us more tightly to one another. It is through Him that we are able to connect with other members of our spiritual family and impact the world for Christ.

I encourage you today to become more invested in our spiritual family in one of the 5 ways that Pastor Tim outlined. Find a way to use your God-given gifts to be a Super Supporter of someone around you.

 

 

Relevant—Part 1 [Devotional]

 

Going Deeper with the Message:

Rescue Mission
by: Andrew Archer

On Sunday Pastor Tim kicked off a new series titled “Relevant.” In this series we are asking the question, “Is the church still relevant?” In other words, “Does the church have something to offer the world?” Throughout this series we will be making the case that the church is not only relevant, but essential. The first, and perhaps most important, way in which the church is relevant is that the church has a message that can change the world one life at a time.

The message that we have is that:

”[The Father] has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him” – Colossians 1:13-14

While we, the church, have this message and it’s our responsibility as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) to bring this message to the world; it can be hard to do.

In our current cultural climate, talking about faith can often be taboo. Many people respect what others believe, even if it’s different from what they believe; however, they don’t want anyone to talk about their beliefs to them. Not only does that create an obstacle for sharing the Gospel but I also think many people, including some of us in the church, misunderstand the Gospel as well and that perhaps presents an even bigger hurdle. When I talk with people about faith they often think that Christianity is all about following rules and getting in trouble when we don’t. When we view Christianity as such, it is natural to be reluctant about sharing that with someone else—what awful news that would be!

However, I believe that if we truly understand the Gospel message—how it is not one of condemnation but rather of great hope—then sharing it with the world should excite us! Jesus put it this way right after he spoke the most famous verse in the Bible:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” – John 3:17

Jesus’ mission wasn’t condemnation—it was rescue! Most people agree that we live in a broken world, it’s challenging to argue otherwise. We get the great privilege of sharing about the One who came to save us from our brokenness!

This week, make a list of three people that you want to share the Gospel with. Write their names on an index card, in the notes app on your phone, or somewhere else easily accessible. Pray for them every day. Pray that God would soften their hearts to receive the Gospel. Pray that God would give you opportunities to share the Gospel with them. And don’t simply share the Gospel with words, live it out as well. Love these people in the way that Christ loved us—by laying His life down for us.

 

 

Living out the Message:

Yet Will I Trust Him
By Barb Barnhart

This week, Andrew shared with us about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three men can be seen as the epitome of trust. No matter which way the results from being thrown into the fiery furnace went, they would still trust God. Their response to King Nebuchadnezzar was:

But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” –Daniel 3:1

Job was another person in scripture that demonstrated trust in the midst of adversity.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him” –Job 13:15 (KJV)

Two years ago, my brother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I got the call on Valentine’s Day of 2019. This was my fiery furnace! I watched my brother, who was physically fit, go from a strong 190 pounds down to a weak 130 pounds in less than five months. All the while, I prayed that God would heal him. His family needed him. I needed him. He was so very sick, unable to eat or do any of the things he had loved. Yet he trusted God. He knew that no matter what happened, He would be with Jesus one day.

This is part of my journey where the statement, “yet will I trust Him” became a question. Yet will I trust Him? My trust was very small and seemingly insignificant. Yet I will trust Him. When my brother passed away in July of 2019, my trust was at a very low point, hanging by a thread. I was angry and sad! My brother needed to be here to see his youngest son, who is on the Autism spectrum, go to Life College at Coastal Carolina University. He was supposed to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Right now, he should be holding his brand new baby granddaughter. Moment by moment I hold tightly to God’s promises, though I don’t understand. Yet will I trust Him!

This trust I have in my Savior is one that grows as I purposefully believe that He is at work in my life. I cry. I read His Word. I sing His songs of praise. I pray. 

I know that everyone has had or will have a fiery furnace time in their lives. We each must decide how to hold onto the trust we have in Jesus. It is a blessing to know that as we walk through the furnace of our despair, we are not alone. God is with us. Caring for us. Protecting us. Loving us. You can decide…

YET WILL I TRUST HIM!

Timeline—Part 10 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

Compromising With Kids
by: Michelle Lemley

This Sunday, Andrew shared a powerful message about Daniel, and how he trusted that God was in control. He shared one particular quote by D. A. Carson that really spoke to me. It reads:

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, per se, but let’s just say I’ve been known to throw internal temper tantrums when things don’t go the way I want them to. I guess that’s where my kids get it. Recently, we’ve been butting heads about bedtime. With school starting next week, we’ve been more conscious of their bedtimes and trying to get them to sleep earlier. We’ve always started getting ready for bed at 7pm, but somehow over the summer we’ve slipped into the habit of starting later and later. It started with a night out when we got home late and they went to bed at 7:30pm. Then they wanted just one more snack, so it was 7:35pm. And so here we are, prepping for school to start, and they’re used to going upstairs at 8pm. What a rude awakening, and what a fight. 

My oldest son is especially frustrated with this turn of events. He’s 10, and wants so badly to be in control of his own schedule. We have had more than one conversation about why mommy and daddy are in charge of keeping him safe and healthy. And bedtime isn’t exactly the easiest time of day for rational discourse. 

And so the line from Carson’s quote, “We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance” has hit especially hard (not that he was pulling any punches with the rest of it). I have found myself drifting toward compromise, telling myself that a little change won’t hurt here and there. But there are some times in my parenting where I need to stand my ground and recognize that, while none of us may like it at the moment, in the long run it’s the right choice. 

Just as these moments are difficult in my house, similar choices can be difficult in my relationship with the Lord. Just as my kids need healthy and firm boundaries to know that they are safe in my care, I also need the reassurance of knowing that my Heavenly Father is in control and that I can trust Him to always be with me through it all. 

And that’s not a place where He will ever compromise.

 

Living out the Message:

Yet Will I Trust Him
By Barb Barnhart

This week, Andrew shared with us about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three men can be seen as the epitome of trust. No matter which way the results from being thrown into the fiery furnace went, they would still trust God. Their response to King Nebuchadnezzar was:

But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” –Daniel 3:1

Job was another person in scripture that demonstrated trust in the midst of adversity.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him” –Job 13:15 (KJV)

Two years ago, my brother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I got the call on Valentine’s Day of 2019. This was my fiery furnace! I watched my brother, who was physically fit, go from a strong 190 pounds down to a weak 130 pounds in less than five months. All the while, I prayed that God would heal him. His family needed him. I needed him. He was so very sick, unable to eat or do any of the things he had loved. Yet he trusted God. He knew that no matter what happened, He would be with Jesus one day.

This is part of my journey where the statement, “yet will I trust Him” became a question. Yet will I trust Him? My trust was very small and seemingly insignificant. Yet I will trust Him. When my brother passed away in July of 2019, my trust was at a very low point, hanging by a thread. I was angry and sad! My brother needed to be here to see his youngest son, who is on the Autism spectrum, go to Life College at Coastal Carolina University. He was supposed to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Right now, he should be holding his brand new baby granddaughter. Moment by moment I hold tightly to God’s promises, though I don’t understand. Yet will I trust Him!

This trust I have in my Savior is one that grows as I purposefully believe that He is at work in my life. I cry. I read His Word. I sing His songs of praise. I pray. 

I know that everyone has had or will have a fiery furnace time in their lives. We each must decide how to hold onto the trust we have in Jesus. It is a blessing to know that as we walk through the furnace of our despair, we are not alone. God is with us. Caring for us. Protecting us. Loving us. You can decide…

YET WILL I TRUST HIM!

Timeline—Part 9 [Devotional]

Going Deeper with the Message:

The Soft Whisper
by: Barb Barnhart

Life is fair! NOT!

This has never been a true statement. Life is not fair. We live in a sinful world that is out of bounds and in chaos. We may even say that it mirrors the time of Elijah. On Sunday, Andrew shared with us that during the time when Elijah was the prophet of God, the people were “shouting at nothing.” The Kingdom of Israel was far from God, worshiping Baal. 

Elijah’s job was to bring God’s message to the people in order to get their attention and bring them back to Him. These were not messages of “rainbows and butterflies.” They were filled with truth from a broken-hearted God to His beloved people, who chose to turn away from Him. Elijah had a huge responsibility on his shoulders.

Like us, holding tightly to God’s message and going against the norms of society, Elijah got discouraged. God’s Word is not sugar-coated. We are given glimpses of both the successes and the failures of those who served the Lord. Though God had faithfully taken care of Elijah there were still times of discouragement.  

Elijah’s obedience to God brought the anger of Queen Jezebel. She proceeded to threaten Elijah’s life. He became afraid! He ran! Does this sound familiar? How often do we run from the problem? I have found that running often leads me to a place of despair. Despair overcame Elijah and he sought to give up completely.  

God had other plans! He provided for Elijah then sent him on a journey to hope. Hope was found in a solitary, quiet place.  In 1 Kings 19:10-18, we find God reaching out to Elijah.

“At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””

In the midst of your life do you allow God the time and place to speak to you? God will come to you. Listen! He is in a soft whisper with the plan for your life, to bring hope!