Bulletin – November 24, 2013

Blessings:  The Good and The Bad

The story of the rebellious prophet Jonah shows us how God desires to use both blessings and trials to challenge us and change us for the better.  Five times in the book of Jonah it says that the Lord prepared circumstances for him—both good and bad.

In Jonah 1:4 we read that the Lord sent a storm.  It says He “sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea.”  After the mariners discovered that Jonah was the reason for this storm, they threw him overboard (1:15).  Then God “prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah” to save him from drowning (1:17)

Later in the book we read the “the Lord God prepared a plant” to shade Jonah (4:6).  Then we see that God prepared a worm to kill the vine as well as a scorching wind and sun to beat down upon him (4:7-9).  These circumstances were used to reveal Jonah’s rebellious attitude.  Only after that revelation could God directly confront Jonah’s heart problem.

As we face different situations, we should remember that God is sovereign over both the blessings and the troubles that come our way.  He desires to use everything to build our character (James 1:1-5).  He uses both good and bad to transform us and guide us on our journey.

The Maker of the universe

Knows every need of man,

And made provision for that need

According to His plan.  –Crane

The Lord gives and takes away.  Blessed be the Lord.

Article by Dennis Fisher, Our Daily Bread, Copyright 2013 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights  reserved. Further distribution is prohibited without written permission from RBC Ministries

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2013Nov24

Bulletin – September 15, 2013

Fire And Rain

In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth . . .  judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness. —Isaiah 16:5

When a wildfire raged through the beautiful canyons near Colorado Springs, Colorado, it destroyed the habitat of all kinds of wildlife and hundreds of homes. People across the nation cried out to God, pleading with Him to send rain to douse the flames, put an end to the destruction, and give firefighters relief. Some people’s prayers had an interesting condition attached to them. They asked God to show mercy and send rain without lightning, which they feared would start even more fires.

This reminds me of how we live in tension between things that save us and kill us. With fire, we cook our food and keep warm, but in it we can be consumed. With water, we keep our bodies hydrated and our planet cooled, but in it we also can drown. Too much or too little of either is life-threatening.

We see the same principle at work spiritually. To thrive, civilizations need the seemingly opposite qualities of mercy and justice (Zech. 7:9). Jesus scolded the Pharisees for being sticklers about the law but neglecting these “weightier matters” (Matt. 23:23).

We may lean toward justice or mercy, but Jesus keeps them in perfect balance (Isa. 16:5; 42:1-4). His death satisfies God’s need for justice and our need for mercy.

Father, for personal reasons I sometimes lean toward
showing mercy, and sometimes I just want justice now.
Teach me the balance as I look at Your character and
give me the wisdom I need in specific situations.

God’s justice and mercy met at the cross.

Article by Julie Ackerman Link, Our Daily Bread, Copyright 2013 by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights  reserved. Further distribution is prohibited without written permission from RBC Ministries

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2013Sep15

Bulletin – October 7, 2012

My Life Preserver

In the state of California, where I live, there is a town by the name of San Juan Capistrano. There is something  very amazing that takes place at the very same time every year here.

On March 19, not a day earlier or a day later, the swallows (little, tiny birds) arrive here flying 6,000 miles from across the ocean from Argentina. Then, every October they make the return trip.   For years bird watchers have wondered how these tiny, little birds, that cannot swim, can fly such a long distance non-stop over the ocean. That is, until they discovered their secret. They noticed that every time the swallows begin their long flight, each one picks up a tiny twig that they carry with them over their ocean voyage.

A tiny twig is a very heavy burden for such a small bird! But they do not see it as a burden. The twig is their most necessary item, for it becomes their life preserver.

When they become weary and can go no farther, they place their twig on the surface of the water in the vast sea. As it floats, they rest upon it, as it becomes a life-saving device. When they have regained their strength to continue their journey, each swallow picks up its twig and continues its flight until it reaches its destination safely.

What a resting place we, as children of God, have in Jesus Christ. This is a place in Him where He BECOMES your life – not just a part of it. There is a secret place in Him that will keep you afloat when the sea of life get too vast, too big, or too overwhelming for you to handle alone. HE is a secret place, a hiding place, and a resting place.

David was no stranger to this secret when he penned, “when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me” (Psalm. 61:2, 3 King James version of the Holy Bible).

The more you take time to be alone with God, the more you will learn to lean upon Him. Learn to be still. Then, you will find your refuge in the midst of the never-ending sea because in a quiet, still place He will strengthen you, change you, and give you a new heart that beats closer to His. Then you will have the strength to continue on.    

By Kim Haney from More to Life Today Studies

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Bulletin – September 30, 2012

Legacy of Worship

One of the first places we see the word Worship is in Genesis 22:5 “And Abraham said to his servants, Settle down and stay here with the donkey, and I and the young man will go yonder and worship and (a)come again to you.” (AMP)

Abraham, the “Friend of God”, is being called to approach worship in a place of supreme sacrifice. Responding with reverent obedience, he turned toward the high place of devotion. After telling the servants to stay behind, he and Isaac went up to worship.

Abraham left the security of fellowship and beast, which may have made the climb easier. Why?  It was a voyage of God’s divine choosing; how could the servants possibly understand what he was about to do? The donkey may have slowed his pace or perhaps he just needed to feel the weight of the burden himself. Comforts forgotten, he completed the journey and the covenant promise met the covenant maker.

Can we grasp the importance of Abraham including Isaac in the difficult task? By placing the wood upon Isaac’s shoulders, he taught the covenant promise to bear the burden of worship. Lifting the fire pot and knife, father and son made the climb together.

The word worship evokes memories of great church.  While prayer sets the atmosphere, the praise team leads us in a concert of praise making it is easy to respond in a form of worship. However; we shouldn’t forget, the summons to true worship is frequently met with a demand to ascend alone.

I continually witnessed my parents answering the summons  to their place of worship. The climbs were difficult, often met with loss; yet, with divine purpose. Each time, I discovered  great faith infused with heartfelt worship in the face of suffering. They simply released the covenant promise into the presence of the covenant keeper. What a powerful Legacy of Worship!

By Donna Ten Eyck, (Mississippi’s Daughters of Zion Director and Promotions Director for the District Ladies Ministries Committe)

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2012Sep30