“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
During this busy Christmas season, let us be reminded of our purpose. Let’s enjoy it with peace and thanksgiving instead of stress and overcommitting. May we be challenged this holiday season to seek God first in the things we commit ourselves to and to keep our eyes on Him.
Kirby King, a local author and Life In Abundance workshop facilitator, shares her personal experience with saying “yes” to rest and “no” to busyness. Click here to read more.
By Mandy Bentley
Olive shells are my favorite seashell. I have collected many through the years and every time I find one I get so excited. Sometimes they are nice sized shells, but most of the time they are small. Either way, I get just as excited no matter the size.
Chosen was my word for 2019, as anyone who know me can tell you. Try as I might to move on to another word for 2020, God has other plans. That word creeps up in practically every facet of my life. My best friend even made me a mug with the word “chosen” printed on it and the scripture 1 Peter 2:9. I have clung to that verse for well over a year now. I could go on forever about how impactful this word and scripture has been in my life.
One day, my son and I were walking on the beach, and as always, I was scoping the sand for one of my treasures. We had been walking a while with no luck. Just as we were nearing the path off the beach, I looked down and saw a tiny white-bleached Olive shell. I just about cried. Seriously. My son was almost as excited as I was. He said, “Mom we never find shells in this part of the sand.” My response was that God wants to please us and He knew how much I wanted to find one of those shells.
The following morning during my sunrise beach walk and talk with the Lord, it was heavy on my heart about that shell. I knew there was something more God was trying to tell me. I asked Him to show me. As I headed back up to the path, I looked down and saw ANOTHER even bigger Olive shell than the one I had found the afternoon before! I cried sweet tears because I knew that was only God showing me how much HE loves me.
Immediately, I was reminded of a scene in a movie where the character says if you don’t want to say “I love you,” you can mouth “Olive Juice” and it looks like you are saying “I love you.” Now I am unhinged. God was telling me I love you using my favorite shell, and He wanted me to know that He wants to give me the things I desire in my heart, both the big and the small ones. He died so He could do just that. He wants the same for you. Pay attention and see if you don’t see him mouthing “Olive Juice” to you right where you are.
“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
By Mandy Bentley
I spent many years as a carriage tour guide in Charleston, SC. There was one house on the tour route called the Earthquake-proof house. The foundation of the house was built on a bed of palmetto logs.
Palmetto trees are spongy and porous, which is why they can withstand hurricanes. They can bend with the wind and are rarely uprooted under extreme pressure from the forces of nature surrounding it.
The reasoning behind building a home’s foundation on a bed of palmetto logs was that if there was an earthquake, the shock of the quake would be absorbed in the log and prevent extensive damage to the home. It worked for Fort Moultrie during the Revolutionary War. The palmetto logs absorbed the cannonballs and prevented damage to the fort. This is why the Palmetto Tree is South Carolina’s state tree.
When an earthquake occurs, it starts from deep within the core of the earth. There is an unsettling and then a shifting which forces shock waves to the surface of the earth. These shock waves first reach the foundation of a building. Then, that shock moves up to shake the entire building.
If the foundation is strong it can withstand the shock. If it isn’t strong, then the shock causes the building to crumble, or at the very least, to be severely damaged. Before there is even a chance to stabilize the building after an initial earthquake, there is usually an aftershock. At times these aftershocks can be known to last for days.
Today on my morning beach walk there was a Palmetto log that had washed ashore. It reminded me of the Earthquake-proof house and how mighty and strong those trees are. Able to absorb the massive shock of an earthquake and save the structure it supports. We should be like these trees in regards to our faith…“but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.
To stand firm means to remain steadfast in conviction despite attack or efforts to persuade. No matter what rocks our foundation, we stand firm in our faith because we are rooted in Him. Those “shocks” are going to come, whether it be one big one or many smaller ones. Standing firm means that in every attack we do not waver. God’s Word says that if we can do that, the end will be sweet for us. I choose to stand firm, earthquake-proof.
Photo by Andrew Martin from Pixabay.
By Pastor Ben Hill (reproduced with permisison)
During my high school years, I attended a Boarding School. I remember one particular day when I was walking in the hallway during class. I was with a young lady that I wanted to impress, so of course I was acting cool. We were singing made-up lyrics to a popular song about our school president, Mr. Hubert Smothers and other office personnel.
I was heartily singing this made up song, “Ms. Scarlett don’t dance, and Hubert don’t rock-n-roll…” As I rounded a corner, I walked headlong into, you guessed it, Mr. Smothers!
I’ll never forget him saying, “Benjie! What do you think you are doing young man?!?” It was certainly a rhetorical question. As a high school student, it seemed as if Hubert Smothers was omnipresent; he had a habit of just “showing up”!
What’s the point? Coram Deo is a Latin term for something that takes place in the presence of God or before the face of God. When we begin to understand the omnipresence of God, it is to recognize that no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, God is ALWAYS with us. There is nowhere we can go to escape His presence.
As it says in Psalm 139:8, “If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”
Come to think of it, why would we ever want to escape His presence? Why not embrace it and learn to live “Coram Deo” – IN His presence?!
Take the time to read the 15th Chapter of John. To “abide” in Him is to be at home there, to be relaxed and comfortable there. It’s when we can make that a natural part of our daily life that we will genuinely experience the full blessing of His presence. To live Coram Deo is to live our entire existence in the presence of, under the authority of, and in the glory of God! There is no better way to live!
Photo by Daniel Reche from Pixabay.
Next month, we are offering a group called Abiding in Christ. Group leader Kirby King agrees that abiding can look like many different things. Click here to read her in her own words What Abiding is NOT.
By Karen Baloy
Dr. Caroline Leaf’s ‘Brain Detox Program’ is designed to help you rid your mind of toxic thinking patterns and replace them with healthy thinking patterns. Dr. Leaf explains that the most important thing is to be honest about how you are feeling. Unfortunately, Christians sometimes feel guilty about being honest about negative feelings.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul encourages us to take everything to God in prayer — including complaints, petitions, thanksgiving and praise. In the Psalms, David does all of this.
One of my favorite things about David is his candor with God. He was considered to be a man after God’s heart and was so expressive with his language. I had spent years burying my feelings. It wasn’t until after reading several Psalms and learning about David that I finally felt the freedom to explore all of my personal feelings with God.
Psalm 64 starts with David petitioning, “O God, listen to my complaint. Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.” Most of us can relate to David’s pain of having nasty things said about him. You can hear the fear in his voice when he pleads in verse two, “Hide me from the plots of this evil mob, from this gang of wrongdoers.” That is raw honesty. God encourages us to be honest. (It isn’t as if He doesn’t know our situation anyway.) In fact, He loves honesty. God wants to be engaged in our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly. What freedom!
The other major lesson we can learn by reading about David’s life is he understands the importance of handing his problems over to God. David allows God to handle the situation in Psalm 64 as evidenced in verse seven, “But God himself will shoot them with his arrows, suddenly striking them down.” Lastly and most importantly, David closes most of his psalms by encouraging everyone to praise God.
I’m now trying to apply David’s strategy to my daily life. I do it by acknowledging my feelings, discussing them with God, handing over what I cannot control to Him, and praising Him for His faithfulness. King David is such a great example of how we should engage God!
Photo by Jackson David from Pixabay.