Words

by Don Abbey
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12: 36-37)
 
We have all heard this childhood rant, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me.” As adults, we all know that this is not a truth. Most of us can recall past comments by others about us that have cut to the core of our soul. As Joanne Lowe (Living Connections Ministries) states, “Have you ever seen a balloon that has been punctured by a fingernail or other object? It only takes a little hole in the balloon to deflate it. It may take a while to completely deflate but eventually all the air goes out. You may try to patch it with something and it might help for a while but it doesn’t last.” That is what discouraging words and sarcastic remarks can do to each of our hearts. Our hearts can be slowly deflated and then patched but never quite restored. People can try to encourage us and tell us not to listen to those who put us down, but the hole is already there. Just remember, Jesus is the only one who can reach down and completely make our hearts new.
 
So what is it that we should know about words? Jesus spoke a lot about words and the effects that words can have on each of us. As the scripture above (Matthew 12: 36-37) proclaims, we will all be held accountable for our words on the Day of Judgment. We should make sure our words are encouraging and helpful for building each other up. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians states: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) It seems clear to me that God wants us to think very carefully before we use our words. He will judge us on what we have said to others. Read what the Bible has to say about words in Proverbs 15: 1-2, Proverbs 16: 24, Proverbs 17: 27-28, Proverbs 18: 20-21 and Proverbs 21: 23. The list can go on and on!
 
Another aspect of the use of words is our reaction to them, particularly words that wound our heart. What did Jesus have to say about these kinds of words? In Matthew 5: 11-12 Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Additionally in Luke 6: 27-28, He says: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” It is our job as Christians to pray for those who mistreat us and forgive those who have done us harm.
In other words, Jesus calls us to love. In Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he made it clear that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). So if we are truly born again Christians, we have the capacity to love. So how do we love? In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13: 4-13), Paul gives us a guideline for how to love. Go back and read it for yourself and put it into practice.
 
In conclusion, we need to practice the discipline of being impeccable with our words, making sure they are above reproach. We need to steer clear of words that tear down (gossip) and do not build up others. We need to love others as ourselves. Are we an encourager? We need to think about how we have used words in the past to hurt people. Did we ask for forgiveness? We need to think about how others have healed or wounded us by their words. What was our response to them? Remember our goal is the transformation of our lives to become more like Jesus! Amen.
 
Precious heavenly Father, I continue to celebrate your will in my life. I pray that the words that I speak daily would be pleasing to You. I pray that these words would build others up and not tear them down. Please guide me, Father, during each day to listen more than I speak. Allow my words to reflect Your light in this fallen world. Please encourage me to forgive others who have spoken untruths about me and not hold grudges. Please continue to transform me to be more like You each day. Allow my love for you and others to shine through in my daily walk. In Your precious, holy name I pray. Amen.

Read more...

Doing What’s Right

by Melissa Myers
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. (Romans 12:17)
 
As a young Christian, I had lots of questions and was frequently confused by the wording of certain scriptures. I prayed for spiritual direction, but it still took time for me gain proper perspective.
 
One evening my women’s study group leader challenged us to select a scripture that was difficult for us to interpret and then meditate on it until God revealed its whole meaning to us. It didn’t take long to find one.
 
Romans 12:17 not only confused me, but it made me a bit angry. The part about not returning evil for evil was easy to digest, but the rest of it made no sense. “Do what is right in the eyes of everyone,” seriously?! This was a time when I was getting a lot of advice from family and friends that did not know Christ. I was also getting advice from some fellow believers that didn’t fully understand my circumstances. They all certainly meant well, but the direction they gave was so clearly wrong that I couldn’t give credence to it. Yet here is this scripture, I thought, instructing me to do what these people are telling me to do. I prayed intently for understanding. I fussed over the concept for a few days. Finally, I went into prayer and boldly told God that I was not getting up from prayer until He gave me clarity on this scripture. It was then that He spoke to me in plain, elementary terms. I was compelled to repeat the scripture enunciating every word slowly. When I got to the word “eyes”, it all became clear. We are not called to do right in the thoughts or opinions of others, but to let others SEE us doing right. I felt like God and I had a good chuckle over my misunderstanding.
 
It is wise to consider the counsel of other believers and certainly to keep the peace with everyone as much as possible. However, God determines the right/wrong part, not us, not our friends, and not our families. As long as others witness us doing the right Godly thing, regardless of whether they agree or not, God can use that obedient example for the greater good.
 
Father God, help me to move in a right direction today, allowing that obedience to bear witness to your eternal goodness. Amen.

Read more...

Journey

by Joni Ray
I’m sure we all have a journey we can share. This journey is mine.
 
Our church has many members. In this story, I am talking about a family I feel is an inspiration to me. I have admired and watched them as they have gone through their journey. I then had the benefit of attending a support group started by them at our church. On the last Tuesday of the month at 1:30 here at CABC, we have a dementia support group with co-leaders Jen from Cross Keys and Barb from our congregation.
 
All of our lives are busy and, if you are like me, you sometimes think, “I don’t have time for one more meeting!” Or you are more introverted and walking into a group for the first time can be intimidating. You are nervous about the unexpected, or, even worse, of others seeing your world.
 
I had a father who lived next to us who was starting with dementia and a mother-in-law who moved in with us who was further in the process. I couldn’t understand how someone could ask the same questions so many times or why someone could be so confused. How do you keep from losing your patience with people?
 
This class was and is so very important to us. It is educational, emotional, caring, and loving, with leaders and students who care and help you understand this horrible disease. Barb and Jen get answers for you and give many ways to help get you through this process.
I want to thank Jen for choosing a career in which she exceeds, above and beyond most professionals. I thank Barb for loving her husband as much as she does and for being a sponge, educating herself so she can educate us. I thank Our Lord and CABC for giving us a facility in which to meet, filled with the presence and love of our Lord.

Read more...

Peace and Rest

by Vicki Becker
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
 
I babysit my granddaughters on a regular basis. When the four-year-old is up to something, she often says to me, “Don’t worry Grammie, I got this.” That usually means, “althought what I’m doing may look dangerous to you Grammie, have faith in me. I have this under control.”
 
It makes me think of all the times I let worry take over my life, and God is saying to me, “Don’t worry, Vicki, I got this. Just give it to me.”
You cannot add one day to your life by worrying, so why not give it over to the One that can give you rest? He does not want you to carry this or any burden alone.
 
Perhaps the answer may come through sharing with a fellow follower, my Home group, the prayer chain­—or maybe via a daily devotional.
 
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
 

Read more...

By My Side

by Barb DeCello
Our Lord has risen!
 
What beautiful words, what an exceptional God, and what an overwhelming love!
 
During this Lenten season, I look back over the previous two years. Did I lean on the Lord for everything? Did I? Was there a time that I forgot? I don’t think so, yet when life gets rolling through the months, it is very possible. Did I remember to Praise our Lord? That I trust I did; I am a secret car singer at times to my own type of praise and prayer, an off-tune, ear-piercing worship. Ahh…but did I leave God when my brother was diagnosed with Renal Cancer or when my husband was diagnosed with LBD? God clearly states in Deuternonomy 31:16, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Wow, I could have turned my back in frustration, yet He still walks with me.
 
Trials come in many sizes, not one more important to God than another. Always listening and watching is a God that has led me through many rough years, the cancer that took my brother Doug in 2017 and my husband’s declining health. I can say, “okay, enough is enough, God,” but is it? Christ died on the cross for me—for you. Could we really get mad and pull away from that kind of love? Don’t pull away, because it states in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Faithful He is, gently guiding me through the rough patches and hitting me square in the heart with His blessings.
 
Frank’s illness, Dementia with Parkinson’s, created a syndrome, Capgras, a rather cruel syndrome where Frank begins to look at me as an imposter in his life; he feels that I am someone who at times is trying to deceive him into thinking I am his wife. Still, Frank recognizes everyone else in his life. That is the cruelty and reality of Capgras. However, God uses all to His good. On New Year’s Eve Frank went to the ER with pneumonia and an UTI. On January 2 we went to the Brethren Home at Cross Keys Rehab. Frank spent 21 days and I spent every day for six hours alongside Frank, leaving at the end of the day.
As many of you may have experienced in these situations, it was difficult, especially when God revealed to me His great gift and lesson for me. Frank recognized me the entire time during his stay at the rehab and yet here at home, how long will this last? Obviously, I wish forever more, but honestly it does not matter. Our Gracious Father reminded me that my husband still loves me, and his heart recognizes me. God says in Joshua 1:19, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.”
 
I think there is a lesson in that which we can all learn. For me, it is that God will forever be by my side guiding me, loving me and setting me straight when I walk in anger and frustration. God also taught me the biggest lesson at this time in my life. I am loved by Frank, my husband of 29 indescribable years; he knows me in his heart even when disease tries to push me out.
 
I pray for all of us that during and after this Glorious time of year where Our Saviour, our King, our God is risen, our hearts will rise as well to the possibilities that God has so much more planned for us. Life may get tough­­— that’s a given— but if I had turned away I would never have tied the gift of recognition back to God. And that would be a shame. Praise God in all ways.

Read more...

ABC’s of Bible Memorization

by Barb Schumacher
Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee. (Psalm 119:11)
 
In 2016 a little four-year-old boy from Tyler, Texas became a YouTube video star when his father posted a video of him. What was little Tanner Hemness doing in the video? Well, he was reciting Scripture verses from A to Z. Yes, within six months Taylor Hemness taught his son, Tanner, (yes, from Tyler, Texas…lots of “Ts” here!) 26 Scripture verses—one for each letter of the alphabet!
 
My friend, Bonnie Fuhrman, urged our Ladies’ Bible study group to do the same—memorize! UGH! While I was totally impressed with little Tanner, I knew that I would not be so successful at this memorization thing. And at this writing, I am nowhere near my goal…..but I am trying. And I would like to encourage you to do the same. And what better season to “hide God’s Word in our hearts” than Lent.
When I first started this exercise, I was planning to write just one verse for each letter. This project has now grown to at least one and many times three or four for each letter. But I must tell you that the greater blessing that has come from all of this Scripture reading, writing and memorizing is the blessing, the joy, the peace, the gratefulness and the change in me that comes from my devotion time as I read these ancient words.
 
I pray that you, too, take up the challenge to “hide God’s Word in your heart” and to be blessed during this Holy Lenten season.
Dear Lord, help me to delight in your Word, to meditate on your precepts and your truths and hide your Word away in my heart, so that I will not sin against you. Help me to share these truths from your Word with others, as I strive to be Your light in a dark world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
 
 
To view little Tanner and his scripture memorization go to: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2017/01/4-year-old-recites-abcs-using-bible-verses/ At the bottom of the article, you will see the listing of the verses that he has recited and the Scripture references.

Read more...