Time Is In His Hands

by Laura Enslen
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
 
The time I have been given in my life has taken new direction since August 22, 2018. Prior to that day and for the past 10 years, I’ve had at least one little child (often three) in need of my constant care and support. On that warm summer day though, I watched my baby boy bravely board a school bus for his first day of Kindergarten and my time shifted. I went home to a VERY quiet home and spent the next few weeks crying a bit (ok maybe daily for a week or so!), learning a new routine, and leaning on my heavenly Father for help in my new routine.
 
Sometimes our season shifts. Sometimes we make the shift (starting a new job or leaving one, a new home, marriage, starting a family, retirement) and sometimes the season is shifted for us (a loss of a loved one, an opportunity lost that we were counting on, a friendship strained, or babies growing up too fast). In these shifts, I believe our God is right there with us, and has so much for us to hear when we stop and listen. After all, he put this all into motion in the first place.
 
Genesis 1:14-15 “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times and days and years and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so.”
God spoke, and time was created. It marked days and years on earth from that point on. This time in my life was being marked, and I wanted to know what God had to say about it.
 
Surprisingly, though the only word I heard was “no.” “No”??? Lord, that can’t be right! “No.” Ok, I heard…now what does that mean for me? I shared with my best friend (luckily also my hubby), and he immediately agreed. Yes…I said immediately. What?!? I have MORE time on my hands now right? (ok yes I know all you mamas who have been through this before are now laughing at me! Three kids in school, work and everything you still always did? No…probably less time! Bless my sweet September heart. I’ve grown since then you will be pleased to know!) ​
 
“No.” And as Mike and I unpacked that a bit together, we felt him calling us to all the great “YESes” we had already given. Was the Lord really saying “no” because time for the “yeses” we were already doing was that important?
 
Well, I went to one of my most trusted mentors (lucky again…also my mama!) and she AGREED! Ok Lord, I’m listening…
 
“And age to age He stands. And time is in His hands. Beginning and the end. Beginning and the end.”
 
How Great is Our God. He created it, he ordained it and he controls time: our days, hours and minutes. And I will use it to worship Him. Not just on Sundays in song. This is every day worship to our creator. Giving Him the say in how I use my time.
 
“No.” This was going to be hard. Because even when I committed to working hard at the “yes” I’ve already committed to, and saying “no” when something new was offered for the coming school year, I hadn’t actually had to say “no” yet. So many things that I’m offered, invited to, or asked to do, I want to do! But each time now, I was placing it at His feet to give him the final decision.
So does this mean I’ll never say “yes” to anything new again? Nope, already have said some yeses. Has saying “no” to things I love been hard? Oh yes!
 
But God has honored it, and paved the way in those hard moments. In a day and age where distractions are abundant, this has taken discipline. I do not get it right even half of the time. I’m thankful for mercies that are new every morning. And I’m excited for the future, walking with Him, and laying my time at His feet.
 
Dear Lord, I pray you will help me to give you my time. Each minute, hour and day you have ordained, and I want to use it to honor you. Please give me clarity in each decision, fellow believers to help me along the way, and your words from scripture to direct me. Thank you for your grace, mercy, and love. Amen.

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Bag of Food

by Deb Leib
 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. (Matthew 25:35)
 
I’ve been going on mission trips to the Dominican Republic for fourteen years. Every night we give a devotion; God laid this on my heart. We do food distribution and my devotion was related to the food we hand out.
 
Bulk of Rice and Beans: This represents the Bible before it is opened. It is the Bulk of God’s Word. When it is opened, it serves people everywhere.
 
Sardines: Like fish in the sea, they swim in many directions. Our Bible says that there is only one way, and that’s through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
 
Spaghetti: When it gets soft, it’s not always straight. God did not promise us that there wouldn’t be hills to climb and valleys to go through, but He promised He would be there to help us through them.
 
Oil and Boullion cubes: These melt into liquid and absorb into the food, like God’s Word melts into our hearts, so we can learn more about Him.
 
Once we have gathered the food, we put each item into a bag and tie it shut. That is like taking God’s Word that we study and holding it dear in our hearts.
 
Once the bag is opened, when we hand them out, the food is like God’s Word, being passed out everywhere.

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Watching God Move

by Jess Slenker
This past year I have seen God move in a strong way at Awana! This year Awana leadership was expecting a low number of children. We had a lot of 6th graders move up to Pulse youth group and we couldn’t see where children would come from. In our Cubbies group (ages three and four), we were expecting only to have about four children, for Sparks (K-Grade two) we expected 12 and for T&Ts (Grades three-six) we expected about 24. God had something else in mind and was moving without us seeing. The four Cubbies we thought we would have turned into 14, the 12 Sparks turned into 30, and the 24 T&Ts turned into 46. That’s double the amount of children we expected!
 
It’s fantastic, but the number of kids is not what is important. It means nothing if they aren’t learning anything when they walk through the doors. God is too great and too big and too wonderful to let that happen. We start every Awana meeting with our theme song and prayer as well as pointing out the prizes/rewards they can earn. We follow this up by saying and asking, “the awards are good and fun, but they are not what is important. Why are we learning these verses? Why is it so important?” With a beaming smile and hand raised high in the air, Miss Finley Hess answers, “So we can hide God’s Word in our heart!” (I think this is her favorite time at Awana. She loves to share God!) The kids get it! They know God loves them and that it’s important to know His Word!
 
Before Christmas I taught a Candy Cane Lesson to go with our Candy Cane Theme Night. That simple lesson brought two Sparks to know Christ as their Savior. The following week, I taught the Christmas lesson and gave the opportunity again to accept Christ. This time four children prayed. I knew some had prayed before and I was concerned they didn’t understand salvation. I wanted to be sure they knew it could never be taken away from them. I prayed to God and talked with Pastor Todd. I came to realize that God took care of everything at the beginning of the Awana year! He is so good!
 
The next lesson series I was scheduled to teach was on the fruit of the spirit. I was able to go over teaching that salvation is prayed for one time, we never lose it, and after that God ripens the fruit inside us so we become more like Him. The examples the kids give and the understanding they have blows me away. You can see the love they have for God and the excitement. And it is showing not only in the way they talk but also in the way they learn their verses.
 
At the end of the Awana year, awards are handed out for finishing books (usually we have about 10 Sparks and 10 T&Ts) but this year we have record number of children finishing books. We have children knowing all 66 books of the Bible and so excited about God! We are seeing God move in the questions the kids ask, the answers they have, the love they have for one another, and the way they worship God.
 
God further confirmed that He is moving in Awana after I started writing this. Miss Devon, who leads the Cubbies, teaches her Clubbers to praise God through song and dance. They then share that worship one evening with the rest of Awana at our closing before dismissal. This year she picked “God is on the Move” by Seventh Time Down. She sent this after I titled this devotion “Watching God Move!” I just love God and how He works everything together. God you are truly amazing and I never cease to be in awe of how You move!

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Be Thou My Vision

by Joe Becker
Twenty-five years ago my congregation of choice met in a small, local chapel. Although it was quaint by most standards, it provided a suitable environment for our weekly Bible study. At that time, the Pastor (Shepherd) happened to be big in the topic of The Body of Christ, particularly as it is found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12.
 
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
 
The body analogy fits so well that the Apostle Paul referred to it some two dozen times in his various letters. One Sunday session I remember being stirred to share from a squeaky chestnut pew my own perspective of Paul’s insight—that the body needs an eye, and the eye needs a body. “I may be only a ‘big toe’ in this assembly,” I said, “but I am a part of this body.”
 
Sometime later I recalled thinking how any old toe is critically dependant on the eyes of the body in order to be kept safe and balanced and to see, as well as measure, steps without becoming a ‘stubbed toe’. I realized what a great responsibility it is for the eyes (leadership) of the Church Body to shepherd the flock, not forgetting the words of Christ the Head as in John 10, or His instruction to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
 
So when Pastor Ralph stepped down from the pulpit, I heard Pastor Todd with wife Lori say that they’ve always held to their favorite hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” Then I knew we could be joyfully assured that the Body (flock) of believers at CABC is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, the eyes of Todd, and the blessing of God.

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God’s Instruction Manual

by Laura Courtney
One morning about five years ago, almost one year after my husband and I were married, I was making the bed. To set the scene, we were living in a very small “cabin” his parents owned that was quite cramped. As I was shuffling along the side of the bed squished between the mattress and a large dresser, I jammed my foot very roughly into something much harder than my delicate toe. I proceeded to make a loud grunting noise and angrily looked to see what on earth was so obnoxiously in my way.
 
It was my Bible. My big, hard-covered, “obnoxiously in my way” Bible.
Sometimes that might be how we look at it. A big book, full of lots of rules, that gets in the way. But in this “obnoxious book”, we read
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
 
Everything in the Bible is given to us. To teach us, correct us, and make us better people. So that we may be wise and ready for anything that may come. You’ve heard people say they wish there was a manual for life… it sounds to me like that is just what God gave us.
 
Dear God, thank you for your Word. For the hope, peace, comfort, and promises it contains. Help us to not see it as a hindrance or something that gets in our way, but to see it for what it is… your guiding answers for all our questions.

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God Will Take Care of You

Savenit Polo (Administrator, Batey 35 School)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:26-32)
 
I live in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean country that proclaimed its independence in 1844, but which over the years has been struggling to eradicate the deficiencies that affect it.
 
Like the Dominican Republic, many countries suffer the scourge of poverty, malnutrition and social inequality. Despite the situation, it is normal to appreciate a smile on the faces of its inhabitants, so that is proof that God, the Creator, takes care of his children.
 
Matthew 6: 26-32 gives us encouragement and reminds us that we can trust that our Heavenly Father cares for each one in any part of the world. His Word also helps us understand that we should not worry too much in this world.
 
As humans, we try to discover how God is going to work on our behalf. We despair and even lose faith, believing that God has moved away from us. He gives us a promise in his word saying “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
 
Today I invite you to place your worries in the hands of God.
 
Dear Lord, help me depend on you at all times.

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