by Charity Purdy
I can still see my sixteen-year-old self, surrounded by people my age, and yet feeling completely alone. I timidly tried to befriend one girl. Although she was very kind, I could tell I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was friendless in a room full of friends.
I decided to pray about it. A friend wasn’t too much to ask for, was it? It wasn’t a bad request. Days went by, then weeks. Then months. No friend. My prayers became more demanding. Why wasn’t God filling the need He Himself gave me?
by Johnathan Arnold
In Isaiah chapters 13-23, the prophet foretells God’s judgment on nations such as Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Syria, Egypt, and Edom. In chapter 22, we read about Israel — specifically, Jerusalem — and, not surprisingly, their spiritual condition is similar to the rest of the world. Isaiah condemns them for partying jubilantly and eating and drinking when they should be weeping and mourning over their sins. The prophetic words are harrowing: “For the Lord God of hosts has a day.”
Notwithstanding, the harshest judgment is reserved until verses 15-25, and it is not against national Israel; it is against an obscure figure named Shebna. Isaiah declares, “Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land” (vv.17-18, ESV). The imagery is amusing: like a ball on a string, God will swing the “strong man” Shebna in circles, then pitch him into a desolate land.
Devotional by Jeremy Fuller
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 2:1-8
Key Verse: Nehemiah 2:4
Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So, I prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 2:4)
Nehemiah was a man of prayer. The first chapter of the Old Testament book that bears his name is eleven verses long. Seven of those eleven verses are an earnest prayer for his backslidden nation. A careful study of that prayer will show that he was a deeply spiritual man well versed in the theology of the Jewish religion.
His prayer in chapter two is a different kind of prayer – it was an inaudible prayer. It was a prayer that likely lasted no more than 5 or 10 seconds. And yet it was nonetheless a worthwhile prayer in the eyes and ears of Almighty God. It was an Arrow of Prayer!
Dec. 27-30: Administrative Work (Sermon prep for Sunday and Haiti Ministerial. Helped Rhoda with ministerial mailing, etc.).
Dec. 31: Shamokin: We enjoyed the New Year’s Eve service. Rev. McKenzie let each person pick a verse to a Christmas chorus and read a Christmas story. We then transitioned by preaching a message about taking Christmas with us into the New Year.
Because of Christ, we have a message of Hope, Help and Healing.
by Shari Stratton
Why is vulnerability so difficult? I recently found myself in conversation with someone about homeschooling and parenting; she offered encouragement and advice, but I quickly became aware of areas in my parenting where I needed to improve. I felt vulnerable. I wanted to ask her to pray that God would help me to be a better mom and that God would give me the strength and wisdom to correct my mistakes. The words were on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I just nodded and acted as though I had it all together.
Sermon on Matthew 6:25-34 by Johnathan Arnold
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” Matthew 6:33, is one of the most famous verses in the Sermon on the Mount, which spans from chapter five to chapter seven. Its context, Matthew 6:25-34, reveals much about the nature of the verse:
by Johnathan Arnold
As a wounded and broken public school teenager, perfectionism was a coping response. When especially stressed, I would wander around the house aimlessly straitening things and aligning nick-nacks into tidy right angles. This attraction to symmetry was so consuming that I would rewrite entire paragraphs so that they did not end with the letter “y.” I hated the asymmetry. My perfectionistic tendencies have subsided by God’s grace, as you can see from the previous sentence.
For many, however, perfectionism does not easily go away; for some, it “is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast and enduring track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. The need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A" (Psychology Today).
by Stefan Paulus
What is faith? Faith is the basis of Christianity. We are saved by grace through faith. We are entirely sanctified by grace through faith. We live by faith. We hope for Heaven by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith. We call Hebrews 11 the faith chapter and hold it up as the example or the definition of faith, but really it speaks of faith in action. Sometimes we pit faith against works, as if the two are unrelated or possibly even opposites. There is no such problem in Scripture. Hebrews 11 is not the typical place people go to talk of faith and works, but the writer of Hebrews uses “acts” to describe great faith.
by Johnathan Arnold
Oswald Chambers famously wrote, “We are not destined to happiness…but to holiness.” But is this true? Does God not destine us for happiness? Is happiness something that should be separated from holiness? Is it possible to be holy and not happy?
In a letter to Rev. Dr. Middleton, John Wesley wrote that “Christianity is…holiness and happiness, the image of God impressed on a created spirit; a fountain of peace and love springing up into everlasting life.” After commending the love of God and one’s neighbor as oneself, he concludes elsewhere that “This is religion, and this is happiness; the happiness for which we were made” (emphasis added).
Happiness in God was central to Wesley’s thinking. He saw no dichotomy between happiness and holiness — and neither should we.
by Serena Sickler
The singing and writing of hymns is a precious part of the legacy that has been left by centuries of Christ-followers. While the church of today often enjoys singing more current styles of music, it is vital that we not neglect the rich heritage of hymns we possess.
Psalms 145:4 tells us, "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts." We can be a part of this generational praise by listening to the praise of past generations, learning from it, and joining in the praise with hearts overflowing with thankfulness.
While hymns are part of church tradition, they find their roots in the Bible. Several passages instruct Christians to sing praise to God, such as Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, while others give Christ's example of singing hymns in the time before his greatest trial on earth, such as Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26. Hymnody began in Biblical times and continued into early church history.
by Johnathan Arnold
In the Conservative Holiness Movement, we hear countless exhortations about worldliness — and rightly so. James 4:4 warns, “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” However, Romans 12:2 suggests that the fight against worldliness is just as much about how we think as it is about what we wear or how we entertain ourselves. When it comes to the question, “How do we view people who are single and celibate?” we may be much more worldly that we would like to admit.
Perhaps you have heard this kind of chatter in the vestibule of your church or on Facebook messenger:
“She’s still single? How old is she now?”
“At some point, he is going to have to stop being so picky.”
“I feel so bad for her. She is 30 and still hasn’t found anyone.”
“I’ll never understand why he didn’t marry. Poor guy — must be lonely.”
by Timothy Cooley, Sr.
Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to follow Him. If they accept the offer, Christ promises He will exert His transforming power to make them become “fishers of men.” Jesus does not ask them to lift themselves by their own bootstraps. Jesus, the Master Teacher and Molder of Men, proclaims, “I will make you....”
by Jeanie Fritz
When the pregnancy test was positive, I couldn’t believe it. I tried another test, and then another one. After years of infertility, I had used dozens of pregnancy tests, holding my breath while waiting for the results. Now the test was positive. I was finally pregnant.
For the next few weeks, my husband and I began dreaming and planning. I started collecting ideas for our nursery; we discussed names. I bought a little pair of shoes, planning to use them for our pregnancy announcement photo. We also started to tell close family and friends. We were elated.
Then, one Monday, I started to experience severe back pain. During my seventh week of pregnancy, I watched with growing sadness as my obstetrician showed me the empty ultrasound screen. My baby was gone. My womb was empty.
by Johnathan Arnold
Since 1984, January 22 has been recognized as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. Many churches observe Sanctity of Life Sunday on the third Sunday in January to help raise awareness about the horrors of abortion and champion for the rights of God's unborn image-bearers.
This is the perfect time to meditate on several precious Bible verses that affirm the sanctity of human life. Consider memorizing them or highlight them in your Bible as a reference. When talking to your pro-choice friends, these powerful verses may be a key element in convincing them to reconsider their destructive view.
by Johnathan Arnold
The Bible is more accessible than ever before in history. We have Bible reading plans, Bible reading tools, and Bible reading apps — all at our fingertips. We even have daily Bible reading reminders on our phones. But do people actually read the Bible?
In the digital age, Charles Spurgeon’s words still seem timely: “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.” Spurgeon’s words carry a certain weight: it is a great wrong to neglect the Word of God; however, fear is not a sufficient motivator for the kind of Bible reading that God wants us to enjoy. What will it take to make someone a Bible reader?
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