Wednesday, February 28, 2018

MARCH PRAYERS: How can we pray? Due Friday!

We’re compiling the

March Prayer List?

How can we pray for

you? your friends and family?

our community? our world?


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lent - Feb 28 - Daniel 9:3

B a r b a r a   M c I n t y r e

Daniel 9:3

Then I turned my face

to the Lord God, seeking

him by prayer and pleas

for mercy with fasting and

sackcloth and ashes.


In his youth, Daniel studied Jeremiah the Prophet’s warnings and teachings.


It was foretold that God would banish the people of Jerusalem from their beloved holy city and exile them to Babylon an unholy city for a period of seventy years. “Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him in prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”  


Daniel’s time in Babylon was drawing to a close. He knew his people had not been faithful to God.  They willingly and openly worship man-made idols, kings and other false gods. Reflectively, Daniel was compelled to seek God and pray for mercy.


In this, Daniel left us with a model for intentional prayer.


We all pray. I consider myself a prayer warrior. I strive to be in constant prayer.


I pray for my personal wants and needs (truth be known generally more wants than needs)

I often pray for my family.

I pray for sick babies and I pray for loved ones with cancer.

I pray with my Tuesday Night Ladies Bible Study Group.

I pray alone while driving down the road. You get the idea.


During this Lenten season, I intend to pause and reflect on Daniels example for prayer.


My goal is to turn from life in Babylon with all the chaos by “Turning my face” to a more focused life in Christ through prayer.  Daniel 9:3 encourages me to press beyond my normal, ordinary prayer life and to seek God in a more earnest and intentional way.




Daniel set aside a specific and distinct time to seek God and Pray.  


The idea is to be alone with God, “one on one” or more clearly to be “face to face” with no distractions. To accomplish this, I must know God. And to know God I must spend time with Him in conversation, reading and meditating on His word.


Daniel also pleaded with God for answers and mercy by fasting (and donning) sackcloth and ashes)


Daniel used fasting as an inward commitment to his prayer life.


Luckily for me, fasting does not necessarily mean food. 


My commitment should include those distractions that are keeping me from “Face-Timing with God.


I can immediately identify: Facebook, Twitter, anything on my phone and even mindless hours of television. Each of these personal vises is fodder for negativity, falsehoods, divisiveness and the like. I enjoy them but they do “eat-up” a great deal of my idle time that could intentionally be spent seeking God.


How can I use “Sackcloth and Ashes.” in the year 2018 to seek God?


The biblical concept of covering oneself with sackcloth was used as an outward expression of total humility and absolute willingness to submit to God’s will.


In Daniels time, the reason people wore sackcloth and ashes because they were mourning; A sign of their broken heartedness.  Daniel’s heart was breaking for his countrymen, their unfaithfulness to God and for their need of great mercy from our God.


You should know, I don’t intent to dress in sackcloth and powder my head with ashes for my next trip to the Harris Teeter. But I can use this principle to identify any life circumstance that is truly breaking my heart and thus in mourning for an answer as a plea before God.


My Lenten challenge for all of us:

1. Be intentional with your time to seek God.

2. Commit to one or two items from our endless prayer lists. (What are you heartbroken about?)

3. Expect an answer: “Not because of our righteousness, but because of God’s great mercy” Daniel 9:18


May God’s great love

and mercy light your path,

Barbara McIntyre

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lent Feb 27 - Mark 1:15

J o h n   L e r c h

Tuesday, February 27

Mark 1:15     

And saying,

“The time is fulfilled,

and the kingdom of God

is at hand; repent and

believe in the gospel.”


These are the first of Jesus’s words recorded in the book of Mark. Jesus chose to say these words after John the Baptist was arrested by Herod. These words announced a significant change was about to take place in the world and Jesus was the one who would bring the change about. 


What struck me about this passage is that Jesus chose to announce this world wide change after a significant emotional event - the arrest of John the Baptist. I had a boss once who liked to say “to create true change, you have to have a significant emotional event”. There have been times in my life where God helped me take advantage of a difficult emotional event to begin a good change in my life. I stopped smoking cigars after being fired from a job. Lynne and I came back from a very long absence from church after her father died. When I think about these things and other similar examples  in my life I can truly see where God has taken something difficult in my life and helped me use it for good.


I pray that during my next difficult season, God will help me look for opportunities to create good changes in my life.


John Lerch

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lent - Feb 26 - Ephesians 2:8-9

N a n c i   E r k e r t

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have

been saved through faith.

And this is not your own doing;

it is the gift of God,

not a result of works,

so that no one may boast.


The first gift that God gives us is life – but not just any old body and soul. He creates each of us uniquely in his image, with the potential to bear many of his characteristics and to represent himself - The Most Awesome God - to the world. Think of this as a shiny silver statue, new and unblemished.


However, there is sin. New parents are often startled to learn how early sin manifests in their perfect little baby. We learn quickly that taking things into our own hands sometimes gets us what we want faster and more surely than waiting patiently on the Lord. And every time that we do, that shiny statue acquires a little more tarnish. Some of us become so encrusted with dirt and crud that the beautiful image of God no longer shows at all. Instead of moving with freedom and joy through the world, those people are powerless against the sin that encases them.


But God offers another astonishing gift: he distributes to each of us a measure of faith in himself [Romans 12:3], allowing his grace to flood freely into our lives. This does not instantly remove the layers of tarnish and guck we have accumulated (think of the guck as the consequences of every bad choice you have ever made), but it makes it possible for us to stop the accumulation. In addition, the Holy Spirit begins the work of gently scraping away at the layers, allowing more and more of God’s image to shine through.


If you are like me, you believe all of this and would never boast blatantly of your good works. But that pesky sin nature continues to prod us to take credit for what God has done, however subtly. Recently a friend and I were talking about our favorite podcasts. Suddenly it occurred to me that I had not mentioned any Christian podcasts, so I hastily threw in a few that I listen to occasionally (but don’t love half as much as my go-to knitting podcasts.) It was my subtle way of saying, “See my good choices? - aka of boasting in my good works. I could almost feel the crud forming.


Lord, thank you that our faith, our salvation, and our capacity to represent you to the world are free gifts that we can’t earn even if we try. Forgive us when we try to steal some of the glory that belongs to you alone.


Nanci Erkert

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lent - Feb 23 - Genesis 9:16

M I K E   C O G A R

Genesis 9:16

Whenever the rainbow

appears in the clouds,

I will see it and remember

the everlasting covenant

between God and

all living creatures of

every kind on the earth.”


Sometimes our lives seem to be filled with struggles!


Heartache, lost love, relationships, kids, job loss, illness and death, it can be overwhelming! Any one of these can bring a storm into your life, but it never seems to be just one.


My life has lately felt like a Tsunami has rolled in churning me up, down and side to side. Yes I admit, I’ve been struggling. Maybe you too!


When we’re in the storm, life’s skies are seemingly all dark and gray. This is the time when Satan knows as Christians we are the most vulnerable. He whispers lies to your ears, confuses your mind and tries to steal your faith. He is good at what he does and leaves you to struggle like a ship in a storm with no rudder. Like many of you I questioned why is this happening, asking why God?


Yesterday I received my morning devotion and the author said we should not be asking “why God?” when we are struggling, but ask “Where in all this is God being glorified?” A tough question when you are in the storm! To be quite honest I don’t know. Praying, listening and praying more God put this on my heart “ Place your trust in Me!” He has always been there reaching for me through my dark skies, wanting to lift me up. I had been blinded by doubt, guilt, remorse and shackled by feelings of inadequacy. The whispers that Satan used to try and drive that wedge between God and I. God reached out, He said you are my child and you are worthy of my love. I will never leave you, I will lift you up!


There is God’s glory in all this! He reached out to find His lost sheep. He can lift you up too! The skies in life will become gray and storms will come, but God will always be there as He promised loving and reaching to lift us up. I hope and pray that during your life struggles you will be like me searching the gray skies and finding the rainbow!


God loves you and so do I.

Mike Cogar


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lent Feb 22 - Romans 3:23

J a n e l l e   B u r k e

Thursday, February 22


Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and

fall short of the glory of God


This verse makes a perfectionist like myself cringe. There it is, sin. Perfectionism is trying to be good enough all on your own, never failing. When a perfectionist crumbles and fails it feels as if you are tail-spinning out of control and, you are.


We live in a Facebook kind of world where the expectation is perfection and the lack of it gets a person publicly shamed. If you stare at the highlight reel of others all the day long, one might just think everyone has this perfect life and wonder...why am I so strange? Why do I struggle? 


If you look at the 2nd chapter of Romans the word tells us that we will be judged by a righteous God and "repaid" for our works, Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul talks about how "the whole world is guilty." Ok, that sounds super scary. What if I make a mistake? Does this not require me to work hard to be perfect? 


"For (ALL) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." No one can live a life in such a way as to be perfect. At first glance this verse just means failure, but if you keep reading there is hope. In verse 24 the word says, "They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." 


God shows "restraint". He "passes over" our past sin. He makes us righteous. I can not be perfect, but He is. That is enough. If He loves me enough to forgive, maybe I could extend some grace to myself? Maybe I could rest in His perfection?


As a mom, I totally get it. I look at my kids and I do not expect them to be perfect. I know they are growing and learning. I know they will do wrong things. When they do, I take a teaching moment and then we "pass over" what happened, they learn the lesson and we move on, because I love them. No matter what, they can always come home. You see, that is exactly how it is with God. He loves a sinner like me, like you. You can always come home.


Janelle Burke


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lent - Feb 21 - Romans 6:23

M e l o d y   P a r k e r

Wednesday, February 21

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death,

but the free gift of God is

eternal life in Christ Jesus

our Lord.


I think we all agree that we are sinful.  Even the best of us was born with a sinful nature, related to original sin in the garden of Eden. Death is the inevitable consequences of sin; we deserve to die.


But God had a plan for our salvation.  John 3:16 tells us how much God loves us and how far he would go to save us.  Jesus took the punishment (death) that he did not deserve to give us what we did not deserve (redemption).  It is called Grace.








In other words, the price for our redemption was paid by the blood of God’s own son, Jesus Christ.  What can we possibly do to deserve such a gift?  If there were anything we could do to deserve it, it would not be Grace.


“Could my zeal no respite know,

Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone;

Thou must save and Thou alone”

(from the hymn, “Rock of Ages”)


It is a gift with your name on it.  Do you reject it?  Do you place it on a shelf to open later?


In Christ’s Love,

a gal who opens her gift

and Thanks God! 

Melody Parker

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lent - Feb 19 - 1 Corinthians 10:23

N a t h a n   D a v i s

Monday, February 19

1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful,” but

not all things are helpful.

“All things are lawful,” but

not all things build up.”


Like most Americans, I rarely ever practiced many of the spiritual disciplines. So, when I had the opportunity to partake in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine in high school, I was delighted. This was a time to practice a discipline Americans never face as a matter of course, while helping those in need. And I discovered fasting from food was more difficult for me than it is for others. I wanted my fast to be a spiritual time of coming closer to God and others.


It wasn’t. After 24 hours, I was eating in order to have the strength to continue doing the activities they had planned and not be “hangry” at others.


I felt defeated.


After that experience, this verse has played an important part in the consideration of fasting. While I have engaged in fasts for a variety of reasons since then, from food, from coffee, from electronics, I always remember that something that is good, like fasting, may not be profitable if I cannot do it in a manner that loves others and glorifies God.


As you consider this Lentin season, and partake of the discipline of fasting, consider what is edifying, consider what is profitable for those around you.


It is lawful to fast. It is lawful not to fast. All things are lawful.


Bring these questions to the Lord in prayer: Is it profitable and edifying for me to fast? To not fast?


And, in what manner can I practice Lent this year to edify others and bring glory To God?


All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.


Nathan Davis



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lent - Feb 16 - Isaiah 58:6

K a t h r y n   L a d d

Friday, February 16

Isaiah 58:6

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?”


How are your New Year Resolutions coming along?  For many of us, we look inward to the habits that we feel will improve our health and relationships with family and friends. The New Year is also a time to prepare for the reflection period of Lent.  For me, a more regular devotion time instead of the constant din of the 24 hour TV news is part of my plan. 


The fasting of Lent, which to some may feel like great sacrifice, is only one way to approach the time of preparation.  But what of the outward resolutions; mindful of reaching more?  Instead, find ways to lift up and help others to feel the relationship that comes with the family of God.  Many in our community feel the yoke that comes with the stress and worry of the loss of a job or sickness in the family.  For them, the loss of hope is the greatest sacrifice.  Their busy-ness has become the business of daily life and each of us can be the light of hope to help them break the bonds that hold them.  We can be a reflection of the love of God through our faith.  Simply making a conscious effort to have a positive attitude can have an impact on those that have not found reasons to smile enough lately.


Every day, you can find me in the midst of the greatest example of this – my Kindergarten class.  I have discovered that there is no way you can have a bad day in Kindergarten.  Of course, my students are coming into class from the same world with its troubles.   Blocks and playdough aside, the smiles are contagious and when anyone gets the giggles all the troubles from the world float away like bubbles.  Each child is greeted when they enter because our day would not be complete without them.  Best of all, it is spontaneous and perfectly grace-ful. 


Please give prayerful consideration to adding a gift to our community as part of your Lenten Devotion.  And “ ... do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”


Jesus Loves You and So Do I

Always Faithful

Kathryn Ladd


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lent - Feb 15 - Genesis 3:19

M o n i q u e   F a r b

Thursday, February 15

Genesis 3:19

By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust, and

to dust you shall return.


Our current world might tell us we are victims, but what are we victims of?  We have all been tempted, hurt, rejected, guilty; but when we don’t take ownership of our “dust” and sweep it clean, or hire someone to clean for us, is it really gone?


Adam and Eve were tempted and ate the forbidden fruit.  They carried guilt for disobeying God, but they did not take ownership and instead passed the blame and God knew this.


We spend our daily lives trying to live clean, eat clean, look clean, but it is “the dust” that continues to creep back in no matter what our efforts.  It is our daily reminder, our own sins, and the choices we make.  This dust is a reminder that we belong to God and Jesus paid for our sins. So when we confess our sins and take responsibility, suddenly we feel peace because God takes responsibility for us as well, and suddenly our “dust” is okay.


“I made my sins known to you,

and I did not cover up my guilt.

I decided to confess them to you, O’Lord.

Then you forgave all my sins.”

 Psalm 32:5


As we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, that cross of ash placed on our foreheads reminds us of  the need to cleanse and purify our lives.


God uses our sins to sanctify us and surround us with Godly people that we need to help grow our faith. I know my faith is growing by leaps and bounds by all the love and prayer I have received, especially during this time of trial.


Every morning I start my day by thanking God for another day, another breath, another day to be with my husband and to help me be a better wife, parent, friend and to make me a better person than I was the day before, and to guide be to do his good works.


In Peace,

A woman who wants to live clean

and free of guilt.

Monique Morris-Farb

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ash Wed - Feb 14 - Joel 2:13

G a r y   T h i e m a n n

Ash Wednesday, February 14

Joel 2:13

Rend your heart

and not your garments.

Return to the LORD your God,

for He is gracious and

compassionate, slow to anger

and abounding in love, and

He relents from sending calamity.


Here Joel pleads with the people of Israel to repent and turn from wickedness and evil before God sends the massive and powerful Assyrian Army (compared to a swarm of locusts larger than any in the world to date in prior verses) to destroy them and devour their land.  This is is a common theme throughout the Old Testament.  It reflects the inability of the Israelites to live in alignment with God’s will given through Moses and the commandments in a consistent manner.  


This reminds me of my walk of faith with the Lord.  Earlier in life I didn’t always consider what God might be telling me. In fact, I remember actively deciding I was going to do what I wanted knowing that it may not please God but thinking I would get back in touch with Him when I was ready.  This led to me pursuing the selfish pleasures of life which did nothing to truly satisfy my soul.  I’m convinced that what allowed me to drift from God was a missing heart/love connection with Him. 


Joel says ‘Rend your heart and not your garments.’  We are not to go through the motion of a ritual of repentance without truly being convicted of our sin.  If we have a heart-felt loving relationship with God, our souls will seek reconciliation with Him through promptings of Holy Spirit and we will rend our hearts.  ‘Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, ’


Father, give us a heart for you and your ways through your Word and your promptings.  In Jesus name.


Your Brother in Christ,

Gary Thiemann


Monday, February 12, 2018

Feb 13 - Acts 20:24

I consider my life

worth nothing to me,

if only I may finish the race

and complete the task

the Lord Jesus has given me

-- the task of testifying to

the gospel of God's grace.

Acts 20:24


What is your task to complete?


What race is God calling you to finish?


To give you a lens for thinking of this, let's think about this verse, Paul's final address to the Christians in Ephesus ...


To borrow a line from Dickens, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." At this late stage in Paul's ministry, the church was growing! On the one hand, this is an incredibly exciting time. But on the other hand, forces are beginning to align against the church and the first of the apostles are now being executed for their faith.


As Paul is speaking, he senses his time is short. So he testifies to the people (and I'll break this down so you can see Paul's mission):


"I consider my life worth nothing to me" - He'll imply it in a moment (and say it clearly in his letters), but what Paul considers worthy and of ultimate value (and, thus, his true mission) is the Gospel. He declares his "task" as "of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" as trumping every other goal ... including his own life.


Paul looks at his life like a firefighter. He'll rush into harms way, risking his own life, to save even one. He says it this way: "If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." Paul is saying, "The world is burning. Hell is real and only Jesus is life. Therefore, I have to fight the fire, complete the task, finish the race."


That's Paul's mission. His purpose. What's yours? What are you willing to run into the fire for? to race beyond exhaustion for? to forsake earthly priorities for, in order that you may complete your task?


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is called

to be a teacher

which is why I do this