Sunday, November 27, 2011

Elevation Church: Found Favor (Part 2)

Read Nehemiah 1:11, 2:4-6, 18; 1 Samuel 2:26
These are just a few stories of where God's people find favor with Him - even at a young age!

God's hand is on us in a special way, even before we know it!

Just like Esther found favor and saved a great nation, you too can affect everybody around you by finding favor with God.

Jesus is the ultimate example of God's favor for us.
Luke 2:52 - "Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people."

Pastor Steven Furtick's (Pastor of Elevation Church) definition of favor:
The favor of God is the guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through your life.

When you've found favor with God, you have the confidence that God is with you and for you to accomplish everything He's called you to do. You have the divine ability to seize opportunity and overcome opposition, because Jesus is fighting for you.

Unfortunately often when people ask for the favor of God, they expect favors from God. We can't  pay Him back. Favor isn't fair. Fairness ended when Jesus died on the Cross and took our sins on His back. You don't want to play the favor game according to fairness. Favor isn't fair and you don't want it to be.

Favor is God deciding to be good to you just because He wants to be good to you and He wants to show the world who He is through your life.

God is fighting for you and the devil doesn't stand a chance against a child of God! :)

With God's favor your life WILL get harder - how else would God show His power over your circumstances if your life wasn't hard? God doesn't give you His favor for your convenience. He gives you His favor for His purpose to accomplish it through your life. God shows us favor not to make our lives easier, but to make His presence in our lives even bigger and more real so His purpose can be fulfilled.

Jesus found favor with God and it led Him to the Cross. With favor we learn to endure, trust, and have faith in God.

When we seek God's favor we will find it. You don't have to feel God's favor in order to find it.

"God's not going to give you the kind of help you're asking for because He wants to give you more help than any human can give. He Himself wants to be your source." - Holly Furtick, wife of Pastor Steven Furtick

Elevation Church: Found Favor (Part 1)

Exodus 33:12-13
Moses talking to God: "...I have found favor with you... don't forget that this nation is Your very own people."

We should do this too - give to God what is His; Our families are His to do with what He wants, similarly are our lives, ministries, careers, etc.

When we show dependency to God as Moses did here, we will find His favor.
vs.14-16 We see Moses saying/admitting He can't take a single step without God - DEPENDENCE!

God's favor on His people distinguishes us from everyone else (see vs. 16).

**God's favor gives you an opportunity, but your response and obedience determines whether or not you will seize it.**

The Bible is an anthology - the story of who God is.

Favor is not a formula. It doesn't always work "like this" or "like that." God cannot be contained to a formula. If someone is struggling, that does not mean they don't have God's blessing or favor. (See the Book of Job) In Job, God trusted Job enough that Job would stay faithful to Him even in great struggle.

Here are a few Pastor's opinions of what favor means:
"Favor is God doing for you what you can't do yourself."
"Favor is God's goodness displayed in an individual's life in such a way that only He can get the credit."
"Favor is a relationship with God of great confidence where no matter what you know that with God you're going to come out on top."
"Favor is the acceptance, approval, and assistance of God awarded to us through the finished work of Jesus."
"Favor is God graciously working to optimize your life and your circumstances for your good and His glory."

Whoever God used in the Bible found favor with Him before He even used them.
Examples: Genesis 6:8 Noah
12 - Abraham: God blessed Abraham so that he, in return, could be a blessing to others
18 - Abraham prayed that he would find favor in the sight of God

God's favor is not limited to any circumstance of situation. God's favor can find you wherever you are and bless you even in the hardest times of your life.

Read Ruth 2:10
Similarly to Ruth, people who find favor with God can't even believe they are where they are and they know it's the Lord that got them there.

When you find God's favor it doesn't make you arrogant; it makes you humble. When people say they have God's favor, they're acknowledging their dependence on Him and saying it's Him who got them where they are. It's arrogant not to say this.

When you find favor with God, it's about realizing you're already blessed and that He wants to bless you even more! :) Sermon Notes - Because of You

The local church is the hope of the world.

Mission statement of LifeChurch: to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ

1 Thessalonians 3:7-9
"We have been greatly comforted...because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life, knowing you remain strong in the Lord. How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy in the presence of God."

When you walk in obedience to God, you're not surprised by the miracles of God.

It's impossible to please God without faith.

We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The Church does not exist for us. We are The Church and we exist for the world.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Love & Respect: Chapter 1 (Part 2)

Getting on the Crazy Cycle is all too easy. Recognizing that you're on the Crazy Cycle and learning how to keep it from spinning out of control is possible if husband and wife can learn how to meet each other's basic needs for love and respect.

Unfortunately, when a wife feels her husband is unloving, her usual approach is to complain and criticize in order to motivate her husband to become more loving. However, this usually proves about as successful as trying to sell brass knuckles to Mother Teresa.

Husbands are generally assured of their wives' love. Nevertheless, when wives show dislike, he interprets it as disrespect and even contempt. So the husband decides he will motivate his wife to become more respectful by acting in unloving ways. You see where this is going... it's a vicious cycle!

In regards to Ephesians 5:33, God commands wives to respect their husbands without conditions.
To say the least, doing something when you don't really feel you want to do it is counterintuitive. Therefore, this passage must be acted out in faith. God has ordained that wives respect their husbands as a method to win husbands to Himself. As a husband opens his spirit to God, he reopens his spirit to his wife. No husband feels affection toward a wife who appears to have contempt for who he is as a human being. The key to creating fond feelings of love in a husband toward his wife is through showing him unconditional respect.

Wives want their husbands to appreciate how much she loves him, and she yearns to feel more love from him. The best way to love a husband is to show him respect in ways that are meaningful to him. Such respect lets him feel his wife's love for him and ignites in him feelings of love for his wife.

End note: Keep things light - this releases tension.

Love & Respect: Chapter 1 (Part 1)

Part 1: The Crazy Cycle
Without Love - She Reacts - Without Respect - He Reacts

Chapter 1 - The Simple Secret to a Better Marriage
"Those who marry will face many troubles in this life..." (1 Corinthians 7:28)
This is why communication is so important!

You can be right but wrong at the top of your voice.

Tension has a way of tearing down your self-image.

"Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." - Ephesians 5:33

The Love & Respect Connection is the key to any problem in a marriage.
How the need for love and the need for respect play off one another in a marriage has everything to do with the kind of marriage you will have.

A husband is to obey the command to love even if his wife does not obey this command to respect, and a wife is to obey the command to respect even if the husband does not obey the command to love. A husband is even called to love a disrespectful wife, and a wife is called to respect an unloving husband. There is no justification for a husband to say, "I will love my wife after she respects me," nor a wife to say, "I will respect my husband after he loves me."

When a husband feels disrespected, it is especially hard to love his wife. When a wife feels unloved, it is especially hard to respect her husband. When a husband feels disrespected, he has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel unloving to his wife. Similarly, when a wife feels unloved, she has a natural tendency to react in ways that feel disrespectful to her husband.

If husband and wives do not learn how to control this "Crazy Cycle," it will just go round and round and where it stops nobody knows.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Love & Respect

I recently ran across a book that I read and studied a couple years ago. After flipping through the pages and re-living all the truth that I learned from this book, I thought it would be great to share some of these lessons with others. So here goes to the start of many posts on the book Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs!

Introduction: Love Alone Is Not Enough
What we often miss is the husband's need for respect. In addition, wives can fulfill their need to be loved by giving their husbands what he needs - respect.

In this book, one wife gave a testimony of when she started showing her husband respect, even when it was undeserved. "I watched his demeanor change right before my very eyes."

When we speak our spouse's love language (whatever that may be), they are more likely to respond in a loving manner.

Unfortunately, a wife's deepest need - to feel loved - is undermined by her disrespect to her husband. Similarly, a husband's deepest need - to feel respected - is undermined by his lack of love to his wife.

The journey to a Godly, satisfying marriage is never over. God will work in remarkable ways when we, men and women alike, submit ourselves wholeheartedly to this Biblical design for marriage (Love & Respect).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

God is Love

“God is love.” – 1 John 4:16
“Love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

Christ gave His love when it was not deserved to people who did not deserve it. That’s a principle to practice! Love is the one ingredient of which our world never tires and of which there is never an over abundance. The world will never outgrow its need for love. God created us in His own image, which means we were created to function on the fuel of love. The world cries out for genuine love, love that heals, love that unites, love that forgives, love that encourages.

Love is essential to our emotional, physical, mental, and social well-being. Our lives are shaped by those who love us and by those who refuse to love us. If you give love away, it will be renewed each day and become stronger and purer.

Love in your heart is not put there to stay;
Love is not love until you give it away.

We enrich the world by what we give.
You have the gift of love to give it away every day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nehemiah 9

Lately I have been going through the Old Testament and reading some awesome stories about the people in Jesus' time. As you can tell by my title, I read Nehemiah 9 today. God really touched my heart through this chapter (and book in general). In Nehemiah, I read about how the people would be heart-broken and sorrowful before the Lord whenever they disobeyed God.
"...for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God." - Nehemiah 9:3
Even in Ezra, the book of the Bible right before Nehemiah, we see the people devastated by their sins before the Lord.
"When I heard this, I tore my clothing, pulled my hair from my head and beard, and sat down utterly shocked." - Ezra 9:3

How often do we ignore, minimize, and make excuses for our sin? And even if we admit and confess our sin, we half-heartedly try to make amends with God. I know I am guilty of this. At times I find myself not really thinking about the wrong I have done or the degree to which I have dishonored our Heavenly Father.
After reading these passages, I was hit with another humbling lesson. I began to see a pattern as I was studying Nehemiah 9. Once the Isrealites confessed their sins for more than 3 hours, they proceeded to praise God for all He has done for them AND their ancestors.

In verses 6 through 31 the leaders of the Levites make much of God by remembering God's forgiveness, goodness, and mercy. Here is a brief snapshot of what their prayer looked like:

"You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars." (vs.6)
"And You have done what You promised, for You are always true to Your word." (vs. 8)
"You heard their cries from beside the Red Sea." (vs. 9)
"But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them..." (vs.17)
"You sustained them..." (vs.21)
And the list goes on...

I wanted to write this devotional today to encourage and challenge us all to humbly come before God and admit our wrongdoings. To not push our sins aside and pretend we have never turned our backs on the Lord. And when we do turn from our sin and turn to Him, know that He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

I know I needed this message tonight to convict me of my stubborn heart lately so I want to thank you all for reading this and letting me share it with you. I pray the Lord will use His Word to do a work in your heart as He did mine.

With love and prayers,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Risking It All for God

            A few months ago I felt led by God to give my 2-week notice at my job.  Since I did not have a job lined up to replace this job and other job opportunities were not panning out, I hesitated.  I began to doubt and question this leading, saying that it was not a wise decision and it just did not make sense that God would call me to do this. (I was not thinking of the Bible passage Proverbs 3:5, 6 where it tells us not to lean on our own understanding.)  As I continued to work at my job, this urging from God became clearer and more constant in my life.  I began to pray about it and read God’s Word, secretly hoping I could find a way out so I would not have to take this giant leap of faith. (I am known for playing it safe.)  Yet time and time again God presented me with evidence that He, in fact, had this planned for me to give my 2-weeks and trust Him with the results.  He reassured me with sermons, Bible verses, books on taking leaps of faith and trusting in His power, as well as words of encouragement from a few close believers.
            In regards to my job decision, the first Bible story that God brought me to was in Matthew 14:22-33.  This passage talks about how Peter was called by God to make a giant leap of faith by stepping out of his boat onto the water to follow Him.  If Peter had based his decision solely on his senses and his own understanding of the situation, he would have never stepped out of the boat and trusted God.  As a result, Peter would not have been able to be blessed from his obedience.  But most importantly, he would have missed an opportunity to witness God’s amazing power and continued faithfulness.  Just like Peter, if I had focused on the obstacles that were clearly evident rather than viewing my circumstance with eyes of faith, I would have missed out on the job that God had in store for me in which I hold as of this past Monday! :)
            The thing that convicted me most was the thought that I am a hypocrite if I say I have faith but don’t take steps of faith with confidence that He will provide.  I wrote this devotional in hopes that it encourages us all to take big risks for God.  Let us make a change and dare to fail for once.  Stop playing it safe.  The bigger the prayer, the greater the results!  Joshua 10 is a great example of this where he prays to God that He would make the sun stand still – and God did just that!  I pray this message gives you the confidence to pray bold prayers like Joshua and trust that when we obey God, He will not disappoint us.

God Bless!
<3 Shannon

“Ready Now” – Desperation Band

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Reality of God's Word

Each day that we get to live on this earth is another chance to seek God's wisdom even further.  I am so thankful for every opportunity God places in front of me.  One opportunity that God placed in my life recently was pursuing school for ministry.  Going through one of my classes I heard a funny story that I want to share with all of you.

 It was a sunny morning as 14 year old John Smith walked into his into his classroom and sat at his desk.  As he sat down in his chair he noticed a note sitting right in front of his hands.  Quickly he looked up to see if any of his classmates were looking at him, but to his surprise everyone in the classroom was busy with their own conversations with each other.  As he opened the note and read the first two words he froze up.   The words read, "Dearest Johnny."  John could not stop thinking of those two words.  John was thinking, “I wonder what tone, what type of context the writer was using while writing those two words.  I wonder if the writer was so passionate about me and wanted to express to me how deeply they had felt about me."  As he continued through the note his eyes grew bigger and bigger with each word that passed by.  It took John 25 minutes to read a half page letter.  He dug into each word of the note as he read it over 3 times.

I tell you this story for many reasons.  One is that a lot of us we can relate.  Have you ever had a secret admirer? Or were you the one writing the letter?  Either way, this is story is an example of how we need to read the Bible. 

As Christians, we view the Bible as God’s Word.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We need to view the Bible just as John read his note.  We need to read it carefully.  We need to realize that the stories in the Bible are real history, with real people, and real situations.  We need to understand the culture and why the people did what they did in their own particular situation.  There are several situations that I have run into where people don’t view the Bible the way God intended for us.

Every so often I hear churches say that they are going through the entire Bible in “X” amount of time.  In this situation I do find it hard to hear.  Each word, sentence, paragraph are so important in the Bible.  Have you ever heard of someone say that the Bible is contradicting?  How about someone telling you they just don’t understand the Bible?  I want you to realize that the Bible is not meant to be contradicting or confusing.  God wants to reveal His word to His children.

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

I pray that you read the Bible like my example with John. There is meaning in each word, sentence, and paragraph of the Bible. Please don’t overlook what God has in store for you. I want to encourage you in faith! Just as in Matthew 10:16 – “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”

God bless you all!

Bobby C.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Seeking Godly Guidance from All of You

Hi, my name is Shannon. I am a recent graduate at the University of Iowa where I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. It is my hope to further my education and/or training in Biblical/Christian Counseling so I may counsel/work in a church someday or be a Biblical/Christian Counselor for a private practice. This past year my boyfriend and I had felt God lay a desire on our hearts to start (or be a part of) a ministry for the homeless. To be more specific, we feel called to feed the hungry, provide clothing and shelter for the homeless, and to be a light in a dark world to those who are hurting. Below I have included our ideas for what God has put on our hearts for ministry ideas. It would be great to get any advice on how to further this ministry or if you know of any resources or organizations that could help us, we would greatly appreciate it. The last question I have is in regards to employment. My boyfriend, Bobby, and I have recently been struggling to find a job/career in which we feel a strong passion for and where we feel God has gifted us. Bobby is currently working as a Salesperson for U.S. Cellular and I am a Residential Counselor for an organization called Family Resources (it is more into the Social Work field, rather than counseling). As I said earlier, I would love to eventually be a Biblical Counselor or even work in a church. I am just not sure where to get my foot in the door so I can make this dream a reality. Do you have any idea how I could do this? Bobby is currently working towards his Bachelors in Criminal Justice. He has mentioned that he would like to be a police officer, but since becoming a Christian he also has a desire to serve in Full-Time ministry in the church as well. Do you have any advice for him? We are both at a phase in our lives where we feel God is calling us in a new direction (whether that is related to school/job/geography) – we are just not sure what direction that is. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I pray God blesses you and your church for being a blessing in my life.
In Christ,
It’s All About You Ministry
Purpose: reach out to those in need and share the Gospel with them; meet their needs
Vision: to see people’s lives changing through the Holy Spirit
Goal: to make a difference in people’s lives by showing God’s glory and unconditional love
Goals for Ministry:
·         Establish Bible studies (Men/Women)(Devotionals)
·         Provide food and clothing
·         Counseling: Substance Abuse, Mental Health, etc.????
·         Reaching out to those in need; being that helping hand (ex: helping people get off the streets and find a job)
·         Support Team – for comfort and guidance (always there when people walk in the door)
·          Build a team of volunteers/employees
·         Food drives
·         Donation drives
·         Grants
·         Community
·         Web site
·         Support letters
·         ???
Possible Partners????
·         King’s Harvest in Davenport, IA
·         Christian Center in Rock Island, IL
Steps we are/will be taking:
·         Getting advice and insight from friends and family, small group, etc.
·         Plugging into different ministries at Heritage (our home church)
·         Attending classes through Heritage
·         Get Bachelors/Masters in Ministry (Bobby) and/or Counseling (Shannon)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The World Needs You

Each week I wake up and do such things as: go to work, class, the gym, movies, the mall, and travel.  With my job and the rest of my life I talk to a lot of people......  I see this world as crumbling!  I see the world in need of help!  All over the world everyday babies are born, young adults are graduating high school/college, getting new jobs, finding new relationships, and finding new opportunities.  God made this world! He made the heavens above and below!  He made everything good, from the ground you walk on to the opportunities for new employment. People abuse this world that He created.  Everyone does have free will  and do have choices to make each and everyday.  I see people get new jobs only to get to the top, to be greedy only to benefit themselves.  I see people receive money only to waste it on the best products out there when the homeless rate increases.  Children,young adults, men, and woman are abused by their parents,spouses, and absolute strangers all over the world.
What happened? Why did this world become the way it is?  What is the solution?
Today I want you to open your Bible to Genesis.
Gen. 1:3-4  Then God said,” Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was Good.
Gen.1:12  The land produced vegetation all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit.  Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind.  And God saw this it was Good.
Gen. 1:16-18  God made two great lights-the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night.  He also made the stars.  God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness.  And God saw that is was Good.
Gen. 1:25  God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind.  And God saw that it was good.
God created Adam and gave him such responsibility and opportunity just as He gives you everyday.  I see this world at times just as the beginning.  I see people lie, cheat, sin.... then try to hide from God just as Adam and Eve did.  As much as you think you are hidden from God I will tell you that you are completely naked.  God knows!  We are born into sinful bodies.  
The solution is YOU! yes YOU!
Brothers and Sisters... you are believers... you have been chosen by God too live for him...  To live  to give all glory to him...
You are his children! His disciples, to show this broken world who He is... who his Son is!  You are the one to show the world without God opportunities wouldn’t be possible.
Brothers and Sisters of Christ I pray with all my heart you continue to spread the word of God.  I pray you can make a difference in every situation you are in.  If you feel you are not making a difference where you are at in life... pray to God about it... He is closer to you more then you know. Pray for what you would think is “the impossible” to happen. Whether it is someone you want to bring to Christ...... to why people are wasting money away while the homeless rate keeps on going up.
End Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you for this day..  I thank you for the opportunity to write this blog.. I thank you for everyone who writes all of these messages.  These are your children! your disciples.  Dear Lord I pray you continue shaping hearts all over the world.  I pray for everyone who reads my message with all my heart to continue to keep You number one of their lives and I pray all the glory in Jesus name
God Bless Everyone
Bobby C.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Prayer of Hope

A few months ago I wrote a poem to God as I was thinking about the sad divorce rate and many unhappy marriages. After reading it over tonight, I realized that in several ways this prayer can speak to many, if not all of us, including myself. It is my hope that this prayer encourages you and reminds you of the hope we have in the Lord when we put our trust in Him. (Note: This poem has been modified slightly since I initially was praying for married couples in general and not for our devotional group as a whole.)

“You, Lord, are all-powerful and can break down any walls we may have up and You can soften our hearts to hearing the Truth. Father, I pray that You would transform our lives. Right now we may be merely existing. I ask that You would heal any wounds we have from past hurts and get rid of any bitterness or resentment we may have toward one another. Lord, help us to forgive each other just as You forgive us time and time again. Help us to see our need for You so that we may turn to You for comfort and guidance on how to rebuild our lives and center them on You. I know that Your hands are on every situation even when the future appears hopeless. Thank You for handling situations that are too overwhelming for us to handle. You deserve all the glory and praise!
In Your Heavenly Name,

God Bless!
<3 Shannon

“Healer” – Kari Jobe

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

He Is poem

Hey everyone! Just wanted to share a neat poem with you that I recently read that I found very inspiring! May it encourage you and uplift your week :)

He Is…..

The First and the Last

The Beginning and the end

The keeper of creation

The creator of all

He’s the architect of the universe

And the manager of all time

He always was, always is and always will be.

Unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone

He was bruised but brought healing,

He was pierced but eased pain,

He was persecuted but brought freedom

He was dead and brings life

He is risen to bring power
And he reigns to bring peace
The world can’t understand Him

Armies can’t defeat Him

Schools can’t explain Him

And leaders they can’t ignore Him

Harod couldn’t kill Him

Nero couldn’t crush Him

The new age can not replace Him

And Oprah can not explain Him away

You remind yourself that
He IS Life,

HE IS Love,

HE IS Longevity and He IS The LORD

HE IS Goodness, kindness, faithfulness


HE IS holy and righteous

and powerful and pure

His ways are right,

His word eternal

His will unchanging

And His mind is on us

He is our savior, our guide,

Our peace, our joy, our comfort

Our Lord and He rules our lives,

I serve Him because His bond is love

His yoke is easy His burden is light

And His goal for us is abundant life.

I follow Him because,

He Is the wisdom of the wise

The power of the powerful

The ancient of days, the ruler of rulers,

The leader of all leaders,

His goal is a relationship with me

He will never leave you, never forsake you

Never mislead you, never forget you,

Never overlook you and

Never cancel your appointment is His appointment book.

When you fall He’ll lift you up,

When you fail He will forgive you.

When your weak He’s strong,

When your lost He’s your way

When your afraid He is your courage,

When you stumble He will steady you,

When your hurt He Is going to heal you,

When your broken He will mend you,

When your blind He will lead you,

When your hungry He will feed you,

When you face trials He Is with you,

When I face persecution He shields me,

When I face problems He will comfort me,

When I face loss He will provide for me,

And when we face death

He will carry us all home to meet Him.

He is everything for everybody,

everywhere ,every time,

And in every way.

He is your God

and that, dear friend, is who you belong to.

God Bless!
<3 Shannon

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No Perfect People Allowed: When Life Disappoints You

This past weekend I heard a great message at church! The pastor spoke of the story of Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.  The Scripture Pastor Jeff Manion used was Numbers 11.

Numbers 11 (verses 1-10)
"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of  the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food , and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!' The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. The cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down. Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled."

The first thing the pastor encouraged us to do was to try to put ourselves in the place of the people in the Bible. It is easy for us to judge the Israelites response to their trials and say we would not react the same way. But if we were really honest with ourselves, wouldn’t we have responded similarly? I’m pretty sure I would be complaining along with the others if I had to eat manna for almost 2 years!

Next, the pastor raised some key thoughts. He reminded us that the “land between” (when we are in the middle of a trial) is fertile ground for complaint. But he then encouraged us with the thought that the “land between” is also the place to be transformed. Trials often cause us to push ourselves and thus, strengthen our faith as a result if we turn to God and allow Him to change us.

The key issue in this story is TRUST.
Trust is the glue that holds any relationship together.

Pastor Manion went on to say that we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose our response – which is a choice of the heart. When we pass through a season of difficulty, we have choices. However, often we have been choosing the same choice for so long that it no longer feels like a choice.

During difficult times, the Bible instructs us to choose joy.

James 1:2-4
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Lastly, he left us with a great piece of insight: Your trial is a greenhouse for your spiritual growth – the space you learn to pray.

So let us choose joy in the middle of our trials and invite God to transform our hearts. May we believe that God can redeem our situation, while trusting in His sovereignty, His desire to produce fruit in our lives, and know that He will fulfill His promises.

God Bless!
<3 Shannon

“Closer” – Shawn McDonald

Friday, January 7, 2011

Stand Up and Speak Out

I want to ask everyone a handful of questions.  Are there people in your life that you don’t share the Good News with?  Would you share the Good News with a complete stranger?  Would you go into bars, or into neighborhoods where you have never been before and share the Good News?
Where did Jesus spend a lot of his time on this earth?  That is right.. with sinners.
Today I want you to open your Bible to Ezekiel 2:1-9
“Stand up, son of man,” said the voice,” I want to speak with you.”  The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet.  I listened carefully to his words.  “Son of man,”he said,”I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation the has rebelled against me.  They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day.  They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them,”This is what the Sovereign Lord says!  And whether they listen or refuse to listen-for remember, they are rebels- at least they will know they have had a prophet among them. Son of man, do not fear them or their words.  Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions.  Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls,even though they are rebels.  You must give them my messages whether they listen or not.  But they won’t listen for they are completely rebellious!  Son of man, listen to what I say to you.  Do not join them in their rebellion.  Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.  Then I looked and saw a hand reaching  out to me.  It held a scroll, which he unrolled. And I saw that both sides were covered with funeral songs, words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom.
Ezekiel was the son of Buzi, a Zadokite priest.  He was a ordinary person just like me and you.  He saw visions of God and felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him.  Ezekiel was to go to a completely new nation and bring news from God to sinners... unbelievers.  He was a stranger to that area.
Brothers and Sisters of Christ... Travel north,east,south,and west.  You are going to meet a lot of people who do not believe in what you believe in, but It is truly you who have to bring God to them.  No matter how hard it is... God will always be with you.  No matter what the people say or do... God will be with you, and  no matter how far you travel....God will be with you!
--- Be the light-----
God Bless 
Bobby C.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday/ new year!  I just wanted to thank everyone who reads our devotionals.  I am beyond blessed to share my faith with all of you!  Please continue to leave comments, extra thoughts.  We put  up a couple local ministry websites around our area, but please tell us a couple ministries going on in your area?  We would love to post them on our blog to expand help as much as possible.
On that note I wanna jump into my devotional...
A student fresh out of college going into his/her first interview.....  A first date  between a man and a women... or just meeting someone new..  When someone is at the beginning point of any of these situations how does it usually start out?  Introduction? Defining who you are? 
 Do any of these ring a bell?
The point is that we live in a world of definition.  When we introduce each other or write about ourselves to others we say our name then usually what we do for a living in some sort of a way.  Is that what matters to this world?  Is job description what really describes who you really are?  God’s Word tells differently.
Go through the different books of the Bible(Romans,Corinthians,Philippians, Colossians, etc.)  Yes, there is introduction of who is writing, but it doesn’t just end there:  (Titus)  This letter is from Paul a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ... (2 Timothy)  This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.  The list goes on and on.  The apostles had  jobs other then Christ followers, but they didn’t have there job define who they really were.  They humbled themselves before the Lord.
I want you to open your Bibles up to Romans 1:5-6.  Let these words sink into your hearts.
“Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.  And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
Dear brothers and sisters of Christ are you willing to step out of what defines you and start being defined as a slave of Jesus Christ?  Are you willing to live as the Apostles did and pour your whole entire life out for your creator?  I pray your answer is yes.  If your answer is no, I ask why?  You... yes you are called by God to be like the Apostles and to tell everyone the Good News... To define yourself living for the Lord instead of living for yourself.
God Bless
Bobby C.