Weekly Devotionals

Written and shared by the membership of our church

Doubt

John 20:24-29  24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” 
 
It’s such a simple command, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.” That’s it. Just believe. But we struggle with that sometimes don’t we? I’ll speak for myself here and say, so many times, even in my absolute wanting to believe His promises, there are times I’m doubting in the same breath as I’m claiming. Yikes! Pure, raw honesty there. It’s as if I’m grabbing hold of the bottle of water that’s right in front of my face to drink because I’m thirsty but then I drop it and instead of picking it right back up to chug a lug, I just start hoping someone or something will come along and pour it down my throat for me OR, even worse, my hope goes away and I begin to accept the thirst, the dry throat and I fall into a trap of accepting untruth. “I’ll just always be thirsty, I will probably die of thirst.” That is dangerous friends! Because when we find ourselves accepting untruth and thinking things will never change due to our unbelief/doubt then we can know we are being gripped by the powers of darkness and that’s when we need to believe and be honest with God more than ever. I’ve found that when I share that doubt with God instead of pretending it’s not there and real, (because come on, we all know He knows it whether we share it with Him or not), I grow closer to Him, even in my doubting, because I’m choosing to be open with Him about it. He can handle it by the way, so if you are feeling doubtful about a situation or circumstance and are unsure of how to move past that, just tell Him. Go ahead, tell Him. Right now…that thing that popped into your mind as you are reading this, “God, I am having trouble believing you will…” By doing that, there’s a sense of deep acceptance and trust that comes immediately when you can release that to Him. Don’t live in the shame that comes from religion, but walk in the freedom that comes from relationship. He knows we have doubts and He knows what they are. And guess what? He still loves us anyway! It’s ground for growth when we confess it to Him. No fancy words, just an honest and open heart. When we doubt and then allow our integrity to put it on the table before Him, He uses that. Look at how He handled Thomas in his doubt. Jesus allowed him to see for himself. He didn’t get upset or mad and disown him, but instead he said, “See? Touch.” Now, maybe God won’t always afford us the opportunity to see with our eyes like he did Thomas, but next time you have doubt or unbelief, ask God to help you with it, and then step out in faith and remember what He said, “blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet still believe.” YES!! Win! That’s me most of the time, that’s YOU most of the time (or is it? Be honest with yourself and God). So don’t let the onesies or twosies derail your faith, but instead use it to propel you into exploring even more of what God has to show you about His vast greatness. Simply reminding yourself of that in the midst of doubt and unbelief will spur you on. Watch your faith grow as you step out in faith and honesty with the Lord despite your uncertainty and remember, NONE of us have arrived yet. We are all still works on the wheel. Keep spinning friend!
Leah Parkin


Keep On

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10
 
I have always been encouraged by this verse. This week, I’ve used it as a prayer for those affected in Texas by the hurricane. It instantly makes me think of all the displaced families, all the helpers and emergency personnel, the strangers who came from all over to lend a hand in such a tragic time for our brothers and sisters in the south. The outpouring of love that we’ve heard about and seen through pictures and videos has been so encouraging. Humans uniting despite their skin color or political stance. To have something filling our feeds besides politics and crime, has been refreshing to say the least. These poor, dear souls are dealing with extreme conditions that are certain to bring about fatigue and a sense of wanting to just throw in the towel. But they don’t. There have been so many stories and certainly many more to come that tell of the goodness of God in the midst of turmoil and despair. Humans are grabbing at every opportunity to help others every chance they get. It’s a beautiful sight to see that outweighs the sadness. That’s how He works!! What about you though? Maybe you are going through your own personal hurricane that has shaken things up and you are beginning to feel like giving up on fighting the good fight. Don’t you do it! Don’t get weary, tap into your source of strength, Jesus. Remind yourself and your heart that if you just keep sowing, your season of reaping will come. Your “hurricane” may not have you displaced from the comforts of home or wading through waist high waters, but maybe it has you exhausted from caring for a loved one, feeling forgotten, or maybe even invisible. You do and do for others and wonder, “when will it be my time?” Do you believe the Lord when he tells you that if you do not get weary in well doing that your time will come if you just keep pressing forward? Family may not notice your extra care for them, your boss may not recognize the extra time you put in on that project, your spouse may not thank you for doing that tedious chore so they didn’t have too, but just remember, God does see! He sees it all, every little and big effort. He’s the only one that matters and will truly reward you in due season as you continue doing well. Your time is coming, you just keep on keeping on.
Leah Parkin, Sep 2, 2017


1 Corinthians 2:14

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:14.
 
I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled for a long time with trying to understand why some people do or don’t do the things they do or don’t do. I have allowed myself to get so upset by being completely baffled by the lack of concern or care some have for certain things in life. I’ve allowed unhealthy anger to consume me over it, repeating the phrase “What is wrong with people?” Shamefully, I admit that I’ve judged them, forgetting that in this world there are those who have understanding and discernment and those that don’t.
 
Recently, God has been molding this judgment and anger out of me through repeated interactions with these people. People who have a direct influence and impact on our family, to the extent that we will allow, but do not have the discernment of the Spirit. Instead of becoming frustrated and judgmental and making myself crazy over why they do or don’t do things, I’ve been reminded to consider the fact that it’s because they lack the capability to understand. I can’t blame them. But what I can do is continue to walk in the Spirit and love them. Removing any expectations I may have that they would understand why our family does or doesn’t do things a certain way. Focusing on pleasing my Father in Heaven, not those who think our ways are foolish.
 
Sometimes for example, I believe our parenting looks foreign to those who don’t have the Spirit. It’s been a tremendous struggle over the years to parent Christian boys in a secular world. I’m always encouraged to hear we aren’t the only family setting boundaries in a world where they are basically nonexistent or very flimsy to say the least. In a world where the norm and popular way is not HIS way, we may tend to become discouraged or feel defeated. Remember though, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world and He who is in us has OVERCOME!! Which means so have we!!
I pray that if we as Christians stick with it and keep fighting the good fight, eventually we will look beside us and see that the narrow path has become quite crowded because of the influence and example we leave along the way. Onward Christian soldiers!
 
Leah Parkin – Aug 27, 2017


Forgivness

“If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14.
 
It’s the beginning of a new week. If you did a self inventory today, would you find that you are spiritually sick? Are you holding grudges? Maybe living angry? Is there an unhealthiness hidden deep inside that you’ve pushed so far down because whatever it is or was happened so long ago that you’ve just decided to move on and let things be? Remembering might be too painful so instead of addressing it, you decide to look right past it because if you’ve went this long what’s the point now? If you looked at your walk with God, would He say to you “go and forgive”? Do you feel as if you are walking in freedom or hiding from it? Maybe it’s a case of you needing to ask forgiveness from someone.
I’d like to encourage you to step out in faith today and examine your spiritual life. It takes faith to do that sometimes because it’s not always easy if we know something may be uncovered that isn’t pretty. When we take time to consider handing our hurt or sin over to God, then we are opening doors to spiritual freedom in our lives that can propel us right onto the path He has laid out for us. However, that path may be collecting cob webs while it’s waiting for us to take the step in that direction. If you hold anything against anyone this morning I encourage you to take some time in prayer with your Heavenly Father and ask Him to give you strength and opportunity to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness, which ever it may be. Both make the soul sick and hold us in captivity.
Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Have you ever considered that your hang ups of past mistakes are keeping you in the quicksand of life? The more you wrestle with yourself, the harder it grips you, the deeper you sink into darkness. Grab the hand that’s extending out today and allow yourself to be pulled to freedom so you can make strides towards walking in His destiny for you. Make an intentional choice to choose healing. You are too precious to let that go to waste. Time is not our friend. Don’t pass up another opportunity to forgive, we never know when it might be our last one. Blessings for a fruitful week.
 
Leah Parkin 8-21-17


Many Mansions

2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3.
 
This past weekend we did a lot of driving, we needed to stop one night to get a room because we just couldn’t drive any longer. We quickly scoped out something online that was a good rate (under $100 for the night, while hoping for no roaches) and called to make our reservation because though it was hard to tell, the pictures looked decent on the website. Upon arrival and seeing the place, we quickly questioned if the rate the lady gave us over the phone was correct. “It couldn’t be”, we said to one another. “It just couldn’t be!!” We parked and walked in, taking in the beauty of the grounds. A gorgeous golf course was being watered by a fountain sprinkler and the most beautiful, lush, flowering bushes of all colors laid the backdrop. White columns and brick stairs led to the front entrance that opened up to the shiniest white marble floors you’ve ever seen, doors adorned with decorative, golden door knobs, dangling, sparkling chandeliers, wood work that must have been crafted by a very skilled hand lined the very long, carpeted hallways and embellished the high ceilings, a vase of the deepest red roses we’d ever seen stood three feet tall on a round marble topped table that sat in front of an elegant fireplace that held a mantle with flowers in vases that probably cost more than our car, the clearest windows draped with satin floor length curtains framed the green fairway that was skirted by the most shapely trees and perfectly positioned was a gazebo that you’d see as a stage for a princess for her wedding. Our jaws dropped with each step we took. “No way! Maybe we misunderstood her over the phone about how much it will cost.” But, we didn’t so our excitement grew. She proceeded to tell us upon check in about the complimentary driving range access and complimentary breakfast. The next morning we gleefully discovered that it wasn’t just boxed cereal for little people with carton orange juice. No, it was a full spread with eggs and bacon, sausage and hashbrowns in silver warming trays along with a buffet of other yummy stuff. Silverware that was heavier than the full plate, cloth napkins and several different gourmet coffee flavors to choose from. The dining room was stunning with cherry carved woodwork, marble floors and copper tin topped tables next to a grand piano overlooking the immaculate landscaping. Iron tables and chairs with sturdy umbrellas to block the sun dawned a stone patio etched with character. An indoor pool that was built for Olympic swimmers had wicker furniture with cushions that lined the deck along with palm trees that added to the beach like ambiance. Ok, I think you get the point by now. It was NICE and we couldn’t believe it was for us.
 
It had me Kingdom thinking again, because honestly, that’s where my brain goes with just about every earthly encounter. If this earthly, temporal building can be so nice, I can’t imagine how Heaven will have me in awe. Jesus tells us that he has gone to prepare a room for us in His mansion. When we arrive we will probably not be able to believe that it’s actually something we can afford to stay in, or even something we are worthy of. But upon checking in, Jesus will tell us that the price has already been paid, no security deposit and the most exciting part…no checking out…EVER! He will also tell us that not only are you worthy to stay here but I made it with you specifically in mind. Isn’t that exciting to think about? Our imaginations can not even fathom how beautiful it will be. Beautiful won’t even be enough of an adjective to describe it. How amazing He is that He’s already got a place for us. A place beyond our wildest imaginations and we don’t even have to call ahead to make reservations, He’s already put our name on the list and is anxiously awaiting the day He can say, “welcome home child, welcome home.”
Leah Parkin
August 13, 2017


Forevers Gonna Start Tonight!!!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15.
 
August 21st of this year something pretty awesome is going to take place. Have you heard or read about it? It’s a total eclipse of the heart, oh, I mean the sun. Well, for some parts of the U.S. anyway. Up here in the north country we will have a partial eclipse if we are lucky enough to have cloud free skies. Public safety announcement: don’t forget your eye protection.
With the upcoming eclipse and all the excitement about it, I’ve been reading a lot about the light and dark and how for just a very short time the animals will think it’s nighttime and become confused and start acting as if they are about to be in darkness for the next eight hours or so. Aside from that, if I’m being totally honest I can’t help but occasionally break out singing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. You’re welcome, you will now have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day won’t you? Come on, sing a few words with me…”once upon a time there was light in my life, now there’s only love in the dark…forever’s gonna start tonight, forever’s gonna start tonight.” Can you even get through this without having to finish your hairbrush karaoke? I’m struggling to. Hahaha!
I’ve even recently read an “eclipse day preparation” article telling people to shop for food and gas early, check on the elderly, don’t drive on the highways if you can help it bc people will be stopping to watch and it could be dangerous. When considering all the scientific facts and preparations of this event I can’t help but put a Kingdom perspective on the light and dark that will touch America in a few short weeks. What would it look like if we prepped for eternity like we do for the temporary things of this world?
Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world, we are to follow suit and be a city on a hill, a lamp that lights the whole house. We cannot be covered up. He has overcome the darkness. With this upcoming “total” eclipse, does it mean that the sun is being turned off? No! Is darkness coming to stay? No! In fact, the sun will still be visible as it shines around the edges of the moon. It can’t be hidden. Though the animals may be confused, we will not be. We know that even if forever was to start tonight, those of us who have the light living in us will never be in total darkness. We may have seasons of darkness, but it will never consume us. Just as the moon will on the 21st, that season of darkness too shall pass and once it does, those that get to witness our testimony of coming through that darkness better have some eye protection because the light will be radiating off of us so immensely that no doubt others will be affected. May we all be reminded that no matter what or who tries to dim our light, the Son cannot be in total darkness, which means neither can we if He’s living within us. Let your light shine beautiful people, forever could start tonight.
Leah Parkin
August 2017


Give, Give, Give…

Give, give, give. We all know this is the season for giving but for some, just hearing those words might make a person cringe, feel badly, or be anxious as there may not even be enough funds left to toss a few coins into the oft seen large red kettles. Maybe we could start thinking beyond our normal idea of material things when we consider the area of giving. I didn’t look up the actual definition of the word, but to “give” makes me think of relinquishing something I have within my ability or possession for the sole benefit of the receiver. With that in mind, there are endless possibilities for us to give. Beyond the obvious financial giving, we might think of giving our time, although during this busy season even that may be hard to come by. The really good news is that gift giving can come in many different forms…we can come bearing gifts in many other ways that would greatly benefit others. Gifts like kindness and thoughtfulness are priceless treasures. In one casual conversation, we can extend encouragement to another person simply with our words. We can offer someone patience who seems frazzled and harried even when we bear the brunt of their behavior. Helping someone even when it is inconvenient is really such a great blessing. We can give someone who looks forlorn a smile or a hug. We could hand out gift bags filled with forgiveness or grace or mercy to people who we might feel are undeserving of it. All of these little gift packages can be given over and over, they can be regifted, and they can be given to anyone at any time. Although there is most often some amount of sacrifice in true giving (especially when we don’t really “feel” like doing it), the bottom line is it won’t cost us a penny, but the rewards will be great and farther reaching than we will probably ever know. God intends for us all to be generous givers, in more ways than one. May we keep our eyes open to the opportunities ever before us and our hearts sensitive to what ways His Spirit may be leading us to “give”. So here’s to the season of giving, in ways we all can afford!
Peggy Lago 12/20/16


A Gift Like No Other

“A Gift Like No Other…”

One of my all time favorite scripture references is the account of creation; not because of the controversy between creation & evolution, although I will freely admit my bias as a biblical creationist, but because of the process of creation itself. Everything we know, see, smell, and touch is the result of God’s desire to spend time with us. Mortals, with free will to love our creator, or not; to listen to and learn from a being that can speak the very fabric of time into existence with a single word. I think for the most part humanity itself has little, or no, understanding of the scope and value in creation. In many ways our desire to be in control of all that is around us, to find a reasonable explanation for everything and anything, as long as it does not involve God, clouds our appreciation for the immeasurable complexity of even the simplest thing.

Within this brief history of humanities beginning is a line that is almost always looked over, or just plain ignored, is the differences in the creation of man and woman. I’m not going to be exhaustive here, but I would like to point out a few things and leave you to find the appropriate level of appreciation for you.

Let’s start with Genesis 2:7, “7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being.”(NABS)

Mankind, in our limited existence, is a three part being: Body, Spirit, Soul. Our bodies, like all of creation, were formed from dirt, sustained by dirt, and in the end will return to dirt. So when God was forming the body of man, He was shaping the vessel that would connect us with the rest of creation. Then He breathed into us the breath of life, and we became a living being. This part is important because it highlights two things. First, that the life given to us is different from all the rest of creation. The rest of life on earth is relegated merely to biology. The life given to us goes beyond biology and into eternity. It is the living breath of God, a tiny piece of His eternal existence. A type of life that is incomprehensible on this side of eternity. Secondly, the life given to man at this moment was the life that was taken in the fall. Death was promised to Adam if he ate from the forbidden trees. We know they ate, and we know that God is not a liar. So, what happened, what died? In John 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus that we must be “reborn” of the spirit in order to see the kingdom of heaven. Looking at both sides of this coin it should be easy to see that we must regain what was lost. The life we gain in Christ is due to the atonement of our sin, the renewal of the connection between man and God, between creation and creator. In the next few verses we see God extend His heart toward man in a truly amazing way.

“18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”(NASB)

This verse really has little to do with what I am talking about here, but I find it very funny. It’s as if God is looking down from heaven and all He has created, then He looks at the man and says to Himself, “I cannot leave this guy unsupervised.” Now, if that bothers any male egos out there I would like to apologize… I’m not going to, but you should at least know that the thought crossed my mind. The reason I am not going to is not because we are all a bunch of mindless cavemen, but because of what God does next, and guys you really need to pay attention to this part in Genesis 2:21-22, “21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.
22 The Lord God fashioned the woman from the rib which He had taken from the man, and then brought her to the man.”(NASB)

Here is the line that we all to often overlook: “The Lord fashioned the woman from the rib…” Did you see it, or are you scratching your head wondering what I’m all worked up for? Let me point it out in another way. Where did all the rest of life come from… DIRT!!! Where did woman come from… Life!!! Of all the life on the planet, women are the only ones not made from dirt. Guys, God did not want us to be alone so He gave us a gift unlike anything else on the planet, unique in every way. The translation of “formed” when it comes to woman means sculpted, compared to the formation of men which is basically translated “pressed.” For generations, women have been given second place in the life of the church because a man decided that, “women submit yourselves to your own husband” should apply to all women and all men, married or not, and society has gone along with it. The truth is that God created us to be equals in life, but with defined roles in family. I think that if we, and by that I mean men, want to really appreciate the incomprehensible complexity of our mortality just a little bit better than we do now, then we need to stop trying to control everything around us and appreciate, in the highest way possible,the gift of Woman. You might just find out that God knew what He was doing. More on this later.

Pastor George, 3-1-16