Encouraging Notes

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I think most of us use our GPS apps on our phones when we want to find  places we don’t normally go. I was driving, just exploring, and using my GPS on this one dirt road. Unfortunately, it ended up being blocked and I couldn’t go any further, although my GPS showed the road went further on. Maybe, it was because I was going East.

     As we see in Genesis 3:24, when God pushed Adam and Eve out of the garden, they went East. 

When Cain was removed from God’s presence for killing his brother, he went East. (4:16) 

“East” represents a journey away from God. So when we see the people of Israel gather at a valley in the land of Shinar, in the East, the author is telling us that the next scene will move humanity further away from God (Genesis 11:2). Declaring their independence, not from another country, but from God Himself.

     I think some people going “East” are being misguided. Let Jesus guide us in the way we should go. It’s time to draw closer to Him. So, I say “Go West, young man!”

Mike Diehl

June 19, 2020

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Founded in God’s Favor

In Hebrews 13:9 it says, “ ... For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace ...” (KJV)

 

It may seem strange at first that the writer of Hebrews tells us that it is “a good thing that the heart be established with grace.” When we think of a well-established building or structure, we think of it being set upon rock or concrete. May I suggest that grace is an even more solid foundation?

 

A view of grace as a timid, weak or passive attribute is a worldly view. A Biblical view confirms that the grace upon which your heart should be settled is the boldest, strongest and most secure foundation in the universe. The first half of this verse tells us that a heart set up any other way is subject to being carried away by strange and different beliefs.

 

Grace by definition is undeserved, unearned favor from God. Grace is undeserved. Think of this in the reverse, and you will quickly see the unmatched strength of grace. What did we deserve? The scripture is clear that without Christ, we deserve the wrath of God. Grace stepped in as Jesus pleased the Father by living His life to fulfill every requirement of perfection and giving His life to pay for every imperfection. Jesus deserved God’s favor. Jesus gives us grace as a gift, and the Father now sees the Son in the children. Grace sets us securely within God’s favor.

 

Grace is unearned. You cannot work for it, you cannot do good to receive it and you cannot buy it. Upon what more level ground could all people come to meet with God? Other religions and relationships require us to earn love, fellowship and friendship. This is not so with God. When you think about this there is no more solid a foundation in the world than one which is completely dependent upon the One who made all things in the first place. Man can make nothing more solid because there is nothing more solid. God as your source of righteousness and worth is indeed the best place for your heart to be grounded. 

 

After all, what else can you establish your heart on? Money, friends, possessions, personal righteousness or beliefs in something that requires you to always earn or be deserving of favor. In things like this your friendships, status, righteousness and worth are as unsettled as shifting sand. Therefore, it truly is a “good thing” that your heart be unshakably rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ.

Andy Gilmer

June 18, 2020

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God knows

 

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways, submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.”

Psalm 112:7

 

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:24


 

Each day, there is a way paved for us that God has specifically designed for us to walk, and carry out our purpose to bring honor and glory to His name.  We are uniquely and wonderfully made to love and encourage each other.  

 

In this season of waiting and walking through the unknowns, there is no greater truth than to remind ourselves, those around us and those who God brings into our lives that God is with us, God is for us, God sees us, God hears us and GOD KNOWS!

 

In the midst of trials, change, sickness and loss, we need the Truth of the Word to settle into our souls so that we can stand firm on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.  

 

The scriptures above have been popping up everywhere over the past few months as precious reminders that we are going to make it.  God has a plan, and when we hold tightly to His promises, He will not fail us.  

 

No matter what we are going through, He is there!  As we go throughout our days, let’s be aware of how we are thinking and feeling, and also paying attention to those around us.  God knows exactly what we need to get through our days, and He will provide!

Amy Walter

June 17, 2020

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Remember when you were a kid and there was that toy you wanted so badly? Can you picture it? You saw a friend with one. You saw one on TV or at the store. Wherever you saw it, you wanted it. And to be honest, this probably happened far more often than we even remember. Now, fast forward to your own kids. It's probably much easier to think of all the times they've wanted something. So, we get it as a birthday or Christmas gift. Then comes the long-awaited moment when they open it. What happens? After being overjoyed with their new gift - within days - they decide they are bored with it and want the next thing. 

As adults, do we not have the same struggle? As we look around (and, often, within), we see so much discontentment. In our culture, we are inundated with “excess.” We are constantly pressured to acquire more “things,” newer “things,”  more expensive “things.” Don't misunderstand - it isn't wrong to have something nice - but Scripture reminds us quite often that the things of the world will never bring us contentment. If we are looking to our possessions for fulfillment, we'll always be disappointed. If we find ourselves in a state of discontentment, it's possible that we have been spending time seeking to write our story apart from it's Author. 

   I pray that the following scriptures reveal to us where we’re seeking contentment and how much value we’re placing in the things of this world. Because, as the old saying goes, we can't take it with us anyway…

  • Philippians 4:11-13 

  • 1 Timothy 6:6-12

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

  • Romans 12:2

Steve Click

June 16, 2020

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Just Out Of Sight

Sitting in the living room recently, our family of six filled the space, continuing a conversation from earlier around the dinner table.  One of our girls asked Brian a question, and as he began to answer, he realized that she seemed nowhere in sight.  Quizzically he questioned, “Anna?  Where are you?”  Quickly she scooted around the corner and said, “Sorry, Dad, I was just out of sight. I’m right here.”  As I sat and listened to their exchange, it struck me that I can often feel the same way with God, in particular when chaos, crisis and uncertainty seem to reign. God? Are you there? Can you hear me? Maybe you have been there as well.  Wondering where God seems to have gone when He’s needed more than ever? And yet, I would counter that He is still very present if we will just ask Him to show us where.  Too often I search for Him with human eyes, wishing that He would easily appear like the clouds in the sky or the early morning sun piercing the horizon. Yet, when I search for Him with eyes of faith, I realize that He’s never left. This week, my prayer for you my friends, is that you will see Him in even the smallest of ways and be deeply reassured that He is present with you.  And that as you call out to Him, you will hear His voice saying “I am right here!”
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Victoria Mininger

June 15, 2020

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Just Out Of Sight

Sitting in the living room recently, our family of six filled the space, continuing a conversation from earlier around the dinner table.  One of our girls asked Brian a question, and as he began to answer, he realized that she seemed nowhere in sight.  Quizzically he questioned, “Anna?  Where are you?”  Quickly she scooted around the corner and said, “Sorry, Dad, I was just out of sight. I’m right here.”  As I sat and listened to their exchange, it struck me that I can often feel the same way with God, in particular when chaos, crisis and uncertainty seem to reign. God? Are you there? Can you hear me? Maybe you have been there as well.  Wondering where God seems to have gone when He’s needed more than ever? And yet, I would counter that He is still very present if we will just ask Him to show us where.  Too often I search for Him with human eyes, wishing that He would easily appear like the clouds in the sky or the early morning sun piercing the horizon. Yet, when I search for Him with eyes of faith, I realize that He’s never left. This week, my prayer for you my friends, is that you will see Him in even the smallest of ways and be deeply reassured that He is present with you.  And that as you call out to Him, you will hear His voice saying “I am right here!”
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Victoria Mininger

June 15, 2020

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A Rooftop in Joppa

Do you have a special place where you go when you want to hear from God? A place where the Bible seems clearer and more personal? Wherever it is, go there often; don’t forget your Bible and go with an open heart to hear all that the Lord desires to tell you.

 

For Peter, it seems that the seaside is where he hears most clearly his calling to follow Christ. In Acts 10, Peter is at Simon the tanner’s house. It is here that this devout Jewish fisher of men will be challenged to cast the gospel net into Gentile waters. I would suggest that God chose the very city where Jonah ran so that Peter wouldn’t. From a rooftop in Joppa, he would remember the story that I am sure every Jewish fisherman knew well.

 

I can see Peter as a young man climbing into the boat with James and John after a hard day of fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Zebedee takes advantage of the moment to bring Jewish history to life. He stands with his feet spread wide. The boys hold on for dear life. Zebedee begins to rock the boat violently to imitate the storm. Just as the boys grin at one another a loud handclap of simulated thunder recaptures their attention.

 

“Call to your gods!” Zebedee shouts as the teenagers cringe in the vessel.

 

The lots are cast. The Hebrew confesses and is reluctantly thrown overboard. An eerie calm blankets the surface as Peter, James and John stare into the dark water. A reverent fear for God is planted in their hearts. 

 

Now it is years later, and Peter stares out across the very waters where the story took place. He bows his head to pray before returning into the house for lunch. Before he can speak to God, God speaks to him. His eyes close on earthly things as heaven opens in a vision. A sheet full of animals unrolls in the sky. Peter’s stomach growls as he gazes at the unclean menu.

 

“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” A voice calls from heaven.

 

“Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean,” Peter says each time.

 

And each time the Lord responds, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.”

 

The sheet is taken up. Peter awakens from the trance.

 

I can see him step to the edge of the rooftop. No doubt from this seaside rooftop one could see the port of Joppa. In the distance, a ship sets sail with cargo for far away lands. Perhaps for a moment, like Jonah, he thinks, “If only I could just sail away from it all.” As quickly as it comes the thought is gone. A tear glides down his cheek like a tiny splash of seawater. He remembers the day that Jesus declared that he would no longer be Simon Barjona (son of Jonah).

 

The Spirit of God calls to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

 

Peter goes. Will you?

 

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.

Andy Gilmer

June 11, 2020

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Every morning at 5am, my alarm goes off to wake me up. I have it set for that time so I can get up and get ready for work. Nowadays, I just sleepily reach over and turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. I’m still waiting until I have the okay to go back to work.

      I think God is sounding the alarm in this season we are going through.  2 Chronicles 15:3 says, “For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him, and He was found by them. In those days, it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the land were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

     If you turn on the news today, you hear conflicting reports, people blaming other people. That just puts a smile on the devil’s face, for he is the author of confusion. 

     But we can take heart, God is still on the throne. 

Lamentations 3:21-26 says, “Yet this I call in mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord is good for those who hope is in Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

     Let's put our hope in the Lord, for this too will pass.

Mike Diehl

June 10, 2020

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Thoughts from John Chapter 5 

Jesus encounters a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. The first thing Jesus says to him is, "Do you want to get well?"  Why would He ask that? Why wouldn't He ask how He can help, or what the man needs? Well, first of all, look at the world around us. Look at the brokenness and all the hurt we cause ourselves and others. Since when do we as selfish humans really know what we need? 

Secondly, and more importantly, this question has so much depth to it - more than we often realize. When Jesus speaks to this man, He is asking him the same thing He asks us. When He says, "Do you want to get well?", He's not just asking if we'd like to walk; He's asking, "Do you want to be full of life? Do you want living water? Do you want to REALLY live?" It's an important question for every one of us, because sadly, for many, often the answer is no. We run to so many things for instant gratification rather than eternal joy. We seek the easy way out rather than ultimate peace. We choose what we want now over what we need the most. 

So, as you go through your Sunday and begin a new week, I'd encourage you to consider: where are you spiritually in this strange season? How are you doing? Really? Are you struggling? Do you need prayer? Do you have questions and doubts and fears? It's ok if you do. We would love to chat and pray with you. Jesus is asking the same question to you as He did to me, this man in John's gospel, and so many others for over 2000 years. Do you want to get well?

Steve Click

June 9, 2020

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Spread the Gospel not the Disease 

 

Coming back to America after living overseas, I have found myself a bit frustrated and overwhelmed by how “political” everything has become.  It seems that every news article and Facebook post is vying for my opinion and allegiance, and if I have an opinion about one thing then that seems to put me in a box related to many other issues.  I feel the push and the draw to “take sides” - the line has been drawn in the sand, and we must declare on which side we are standing.  It seems that even the COVID-19 crisis is bringing great confusion and division in our nation.  One day as I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by all of this, the Lord led me to the story of Joshua.  Just before he led the Israelites to take Jericho an angel came to him, but he didn’t know that it was an angel.  He asked,  “Are you for us or for our enemies?”  The angel’s reply was this: “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come” (Joshua 5:13-14).

 

I found this verse so comforting that as the church this is also our reply.  We don’t have to take sides, and we don’t have to align ourselves with anything except for the Word of God.  This frees us to cross boundary lines and minister to the hurting and broken on all sides of the political fences that are being drawn around our nation right now.  It frees us to love and accept people regardless of their opinion on various popular topics, and it leaves all judgement at the feet of Jesus which is where it belongs.  

 

One of the churches in my hometown has adopted this motto in the midst of COVID-19: “Spread the gospel, not the disease.”  I love this thought and feel like it is such a helpful screening tool which I will carry well past this COVID-19 crisis…are my words and actions going to bring life and lead people closer to Jesus or are they going to bring fear, confusion, and divisiveness?  How can we as the body of Christ spread the gospel and not the disease during this season and on into the next?

Stephanie Webster

June 5, 2020

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Honoring Your Children’s Mother

With Mother’s Day last month, I was reminded of two scripture passages that guide my life as a Christian husband. The first is Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  The second is Malachi 2:14-15, where I find that the Lord seeks from my Christian marriage a “godly seed” (KJV).  I have come to understand that these two principles are interwoven. The love and honor I give to my wife will build the foundation upon which our godly children are raised.

 

I do not doubt that most husbands would willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect their wives. Many of us would lay down our lives for our wives, but this is usually not what is needed on a day-to-day basis. What is needed is to be able, when confronted with a habit, attitude or activity that hurts the hearts of our wives, to put that part of ourselves to death. How? I have never been on a cross, but I have been crucified with Christ. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual things that stand in the way of my relationship with Him have been and are being put to death. This same process is needed as we relate daily to our wives.

 

We may feel at times that humbling ourselves before our wives goes against the grain of being the head of the household. But this is not so, and Scripture proves it. Jesus “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8b KJV).  Christ’s meekness made the love He has for us tangible. Pride and selfishness may give an appearance of control and power, but only Christ-like love can guide the hearts of a home.

 

Our relationship to our children must follow the same pattern of building and maintaining honor towards our wives. God’s commandment with promise to our children is that they honor us. His promise is that all will be well with them as they enjoy a long life. Our duty is to disciple them to walk so that they can receive this blessing. We teach them to honor their mother by honoring their mother. Our children will be shaped for their future relationships by the way we relate to our wives. If sons do not see love, honor and respect towards their mothers they will grow with an inability to respect their own wives. Likewise, daughters will tend to choose a husband who is unable to show them the love and honor they deserve.

 

We hopefully want a blessing of honor to flow through our children and grandchildren. This godly heritage begins with the honor we show their mother. There is no greater strength of character or stature in a man than to truthfully and selflessly love and honor the mother of his children. At times this requires great sacrifice, but let us remember that we model Christ’s love for the church in our love for our wives.

Andy Gilmer

June 4, 2020

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“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits - Who forgives all your sins  and heals all your  diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed…

The LORD is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love.  He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” - Psalm 103:1-12 (NIV) 

Twenty-five years ago, I found myself a single mother, lost and alone, drowning my tears and fears in alcohol. I had no direction, no hope, and literally wanted to die. My beliefs concerning God led me to think that because of my sins, I was condemned in God’s eyes, relegated to a life of sadness and misery in this life and condemned to hell in the next.

My sister lent me a book that introduced me to the Living Jesus.  One night while alone reading it, a voice spoke out to me, and I knew without a doubt that voice belonged to Jesus.  I can still hear Him telling me how much He loved me; that I was light and I had a future in Him. In shock that He would deign to speak to me, with a shaking hand, I wrote down the words He said as He was speaking.

Afterwards, I was filled with an indescribable sense of wonder and relief. It was true, there really was a reason to have hope; my past did not have to dictate my future. I had always craved unconditional love but never believed it really existed before Jesus.  I still wasn’t quite sure how to navigate life differently, but I knew I no longer wanted to die.

Very little of my life today resembles the life sentence I was living out 25 years ago. I have spent every moment since that metamorphic night dying to self so that I may be reborn in righteousness; devoting myself to the living truth as found in God’s Word. My greatest desire is to live in such a way that my family, and whoever else I can reach, may know what I never knew before–Living Hope, the Truth, the Life, and the Way. Jesus’s words literally saved my life.

Friends, I know how it feels to be hanging on by a thread.  None of us, especially in this current time, knows what tomorrow will bring.  But there is One Who knows how all this will play out.  If you simply call out His name and believe, He will answer you.  You are light.  You are loved.  You matter to Him. 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” -  Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

Sherril Stinnett

June 3, 2020

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In Mark 2:17, Jesus says, 

 

'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners'. 

 

As humans, we have a tendency to be a bit selfish at times (or a lot selfish a lot of the time). With that, it is easy to convince ourselves that we "have it all together," that we have figured out this thing called life and can do just fine on our own. We, of course, then end up worshipping something or someone other than our Creator and end up totally missing His calling in our lives. 

 

It is so important, though, to remember our need for help, our need for a Savior- our need for Jesus. When we try to convince ourselves of our own spiritual health- our own holiness- we're only fooling ourselves, but when we recognize our frailty, our weakness, and our brokenness, He will forgive and heal us (1 John 1:8).  

 

May we now and always be willing to come humbly, seek godly counsel and wisdom,  and seek Him, the only One who can heal our disease of self-centered sin. 

Steve Click

June 2, 2020

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Does anyone remember the family reunions from years past? I sure do. Those were some of the best times with family we hadn’t seen since the last reunion. Some of the best food too! I remember the excitement of seeing my cousins. I remember the excitement of my Granny Cauley seeing me! I can remember the sights, the sounds, the place and the smell of the food. What a wonderful time to remember!

Do you remember the last Sunday or Thursday at Bridge? Can you remember the sermon, who you sat next to? Can you remember the excitement to see your church family that day? I know we all miss that. I know I do. I know we talk about how great it will be when we can all worship together again…and it will be great! Just remember throughout the Bible, the people of God were separated only to be reunited again. Paul was separated from Timothy. We all miss each other. But we have hope to be together again soon. As Paul states in 2 Timothy 1:4, “Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so I may be filled with joy.” We certainly will weep with joy when we are together again. Oh, what a happy day that will be!
Micah 2:12 reminds us that He will bring us together again: “I will bring you together again like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture. Yes, your land will again be filled with noisy crowds!” We have the joy in knowing we will be together again, singing the praises to our Lord and Savior! 

Perry Weller

June 1, 2020

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I’m sitting on the boat watching Carter, my 15-year-old, switch to a different lure.  He casts several more times hoping the bass will bite. After several more casts with no bites, he switches lures again, hoping the fish will be tempted to bite something different.  In his tackle box, he has lures that are different colors, lengths, actions, depths and sounds. All designed to target fish in different conditions.

I had an Ah-Ha moment. Satan is a lot like a fisherman. (WHAT?!?!) 

Satan will do ANYTHING to lure us away from the truth, away from God. He knows our weaknesses and will try to tempt us in our greatest times of struggle. Satan also has many lures. He is deceptive and can make himself appear beautiful and alluring. He attempts to make sin look good and evil enticing.  He tempts us to rely on ourselves and our own strength to get us through. He plants seeds of worry and doubt. He has many disguises.  He wants to lead us away from the truth.  

It’s important that we know the enemy and recognize his bait.  During these times, pray for discernment and to not fall for Satan’s lures. Draw nearer to God.  James 4:7-8

StaceyMooneyham

May 29, 2020

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Hi, Bridge Family. Sometimes when the infirmities that plague our mortal bodies seem overwhelming, it can cause us to struggle with God’s design. I wrote a devotion years ago that helps explain why this mortality had to come before immortality and keep the fall from becoming a permanent condition. The scriptures are in KJV, but feel free to look them up in your favorite version. I hope you enjoy it. In Christ, Andy 

Dirt in Hand, First Man, Perfect Plan 

Did you ever wonder why God used dirt and not some grander stuff as the original building blocks for man? Why did He choose to put us in this clumsy clay while the angels were given glorious and eternal anatomy? Allow me the liberty to relay to you a story of how it might have been on the day that Jesus formed Adam from the dust of the ground. From the scripture references you will see that our Omniscient Redeemer had the final things in mind when at first He made man “a little lower than the angels.” 

It’s day six, and the sun is still climbing its way up from the horizon. Jesus gives a nod of approval as the last stripe is supernaturally sketched across the zebra’s back. The Creator surveys the landscape now abundantly covered with wildlife. 

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” He says, stooping down to grab a handful of dirt. 

A dog sitting next to the Lord tilts its head curiously as it watches the clay take shape. More animals gather around as the finishing touches flow from the Creator’s fingertips. The serpent moves in to get a closer look. Jesus stands and studies the motionless soil sculpture. A smile widens across His face. The Creator kneels over the figure of dust and draws in a deep breath. He pauses. The smile momentarily leaves His face as His infinite mind races forward through the pages of His Word to view the events that will be. 

Gen. 2:16-17 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” 

Jude 6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” 

Gen. 3:4 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” 

Gen. 3:6b “...she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” 

Gen. 3:19 “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” 

Gen. 3:22b, 23 “...and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” 

John 11:25 “... I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” 

Luke 20:36 “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” 

I Cor. 15:45 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” 

The image of Adam’s disobedience corrupting the entire creation with sin is quickly replaced as the first things pass away and all things become new. The picture of our flimsy flesh plagued with infirmities is erased as Christ steps out of eternity to experience every pain with us. Jesus watches as the death of every believer is dimmed in the light of His own death on the cross. Then, in the twinkling of an eye, He observes as the power of His own resurrection raises us to eternal life, and “...Death is swallowed up in victory.” The final pages of history’s future open in His mind’s eye as His grace once again opens the way to the Tree of Life. He sees us eternally forgiven and not eternally fallen because we were first made from the earth to be reborn in His Spirit. 

The smile returns to Jesus’ face as He leans over the face of Adam and breathes into him the breath of life. 

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version copyright © 1988 by the B. B. Kirkbride Bible Company, Inc.

Andy Gilmer

May 28, 2020

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“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 ESV

 

My youngest son is at a place in his life where all he can think about is how he wished his life was, who he wished he was with, what he would like to do but can’t (everything else his older brothers are allowed to do;) and what he wished he owned. He asked for a bear and received one for Easter, but he wanted a bigger one...on and on every day until he ends his day screaming and crying out of frustration and unmet expectations. 

 

Once he calms down, we talk about how it’s his choice, he can choose to ruminate on everything and everyone he doesn’t have, or he could choose to appreciate what and who he has now and the hope he has for his future in Jesus. On the days he actually does this - stays in the moment with an appreciative mind frame - he truly enjoys his day and has so much fun! How many more good days could we have, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we kept our minds trained on this moment and the joy we have in Jesus and in each other?

 

I know I as well need to be reminded to look for the blessings tucked away in the quiet, still moments this time of slowing down has created. Has anyone else noticed just how bountiful and bright the blossoms on the trees are this spring? Soon enough we’ll all be living life again at warp speed. I invite us to continue slowing down as we are able and start handing over to Christ the discontent we notice in our souls and ask Him to replace it with gratitude for those He has placed in our lives and for the still small blessings we notice when we take time to lean into the moment and literally smell the roses. 

Sherril Stinnett

May 27, 2020

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I help out with the weekly Tuesday nights prayer call to be an encouragement to others. It never fails that by the end of prayer time, I am the one encouraged. God uses the body of Christ to encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24 says: “And let us consider how we spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

     So we want to find encouragement in the house of the Lord. But sometimes you have to watch out who you're listening to. If you're about to get a divorce, don't hang out with someone who has had a divorce, you want to hang out with someone who was just about to get a divorce and found God, and He changed that situation. The church may not be able to counsel you out of your problem, but they will point you to God so that you're not drowned by what you're going through.

     It's like this wife that took her husband to the psychiatrist and said to the psychiatrist, "My husband is acting like a chicken, he walks like a chicken and clucks like a chicken." The psychiatrist said, “Why don't you tell him,  ‘You're not a chicken’?" The lady said, "Because I need the eggs!" Two nuts hanging out aren't good for each other.

     I think sometimes we are looking for God to do something, when He is waiting for us to do something. In James 5:16 it says, “Therefore confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

     So, I encourage you to attend Bridge’s weekly Tuesday night prayer call to be an encouragement to others. There may be that one time where someone is on the prayer call, and God uses you to help them with an encouraging word at the right time.

Mike Diehl

May 26, 2020

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In doing a devotion on the Bible App entitled “Consider the Lilies”, the author Shari Rigby referred to Luke 12:25-28.  

25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

In her devotion, she was talking about how we can be “toiling and spinning” because we are not taking root where God planted us.  During this COVID season, oh how we have toiled and spun.  Some days more than others.  

This devotion got me to thinking.  She used the lily for her analogy and the Bible version I used said wildflowers.  Here is my spin on this.

I have several beds of lilies that I must dig up and thin out.  When I do, I usually throw them in the woods.  No planting, no digging, just a toss.  You know what?  Those roots find the life-giving soil and root right there!!  The verses above speak of wildflowers.  The other week at work, we all got goody baskets and inside were wildflower seeds.  The directions said to toss and watch the beauty grow.  As I was reading the passage above, it talks about the wildflowers growing among the grass.  All of this made me think about how I can try to get life perfect and set so it is orderly and easy.  This showed me if lilies and wildflower seeds can flourish when they are just tossed into less than perfect places, what more perfect way of realizing Christ can toss us into less than desirable places for Jesus to shine in us, OR for US TO SHINE JESUS.  Even amongst the ugly in our homes, work, families, churches, or wherever you are feeling tossed and spinning, by continuing to keep our roots in Christ, we too can be a beauty among the browns of the forested floor, or color in the fields of grasses.

Donna Andrews

May 25, 2020

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Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

 

By now, we've all heard "hand washing is the key."  The First Lady encouraged parents to "Find a song that children can sing for 20 seconds while washing their hands."   My children are older now. They don't need me to teach them a song, but I had another idea of something I could do.

 

Beside each sink (tape it to the mirror, make a tent card or stick a Post-It on the soap):  

>> Write affirmations for family members to read (promises from the Lord). 

>> Make a list of names to read and uplift their names to God.

>> Make a list of praises to read out loud as sweet reminders of God's goodness.

>> Write your favorite song lyrics to sing.

>> Write a Bible verse that you've been wanting to memorize to read and rehearse.

 

Today, I encourage you to utilize the time you are washing your hands to give you moments of replenishment, strengthen your faith and let our Heavenly Father overwhelm you with His grace.  May you experience a personal revival that will forever not only mark the way you walk with God but bless the time you wash your hands.

 

Key Verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Stacey Mooneyham

May 22, 2020

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During this time of pandemic restrictions, I've become so desperate for sports that I've found myself watching reruns of old football games on YouTube. My wife thinks I'm a little crazy. The benefit of watching games in this way is that you don't get too upset when your favorite team falls behind or commits a turnover midway through the game. No matter what trials the team faces along the way you know they will overcome in the end.

 

We may be tempted to become fearful, frustrated, or even grumpy during this time. But we can take heart, even have peace, during this trial of Coronavirus lockdown. Jesus once told his followers, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace IN ME. On Earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

 

No matter what trials or setbacks we face here midway through the game we know that Jesus has overcome the world and we can find peace knowing that our hope does not rest in this world alone. Our hope rests in a better city and home being prepared for us by Jesus himself.

Tim Cole

May 21, 2020

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Even if ...

 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

He enables me to tread on the heights.

 

As I’ve been praying through these last few days, Habakkuk 3:17-19 came to mind.  When I apply this scripture to the events of recent weeks, it could go something like this:

 

Even if your favorite food choice is sold out and even if the toilet paper disappears,

Even if you are not in school or work or church or eating out or gathered together in a building,

Even if you can’t go about your daily routine and all of your appointments are cancelled,

Even if you look around and life is changing and evolving into a great unknown,

We can rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior.

 

Our Lord is Sovereign and strong, and He will provide all that we need through this time of change and stillness.

 

My greatest moments in life with the Lord have been preceded by being still and waiting patiently on Him.  He longs to be with us, love us, allow us to rest in Him and fill us to fulfill our purpose for kingdom building here on this earth.

Amy Walter

May 20, 2020

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Is God your steering wheel, or your spare tire? Is He just another magnet on the fridge, or is He the fridge? Is He 'just another thing we have to do', or is He the center of our life? Do we see the Bible as a giant rule book, or a living and active love letter that God uses to radically transform us?   

 

It's vital to our eternity that we pause and consider the difference in 'religion' and a relationship with God through Jesus. 

What does 'religion' really mean? We could discuss varying definitions, but the bottom line is that it is an attempt to 'do enough good things' and 'avoid enough bad things' to hopefully earn God's approval. Right? 

 So what does that look like? Show up to church more regularly? Put more money in the baskets? Say an extra prayer each day? 

  

While these are all great things, God doesn't just desire 'more items on our to-do list'. He doesn't want to be 'just another thing we have to do.'  He desires that we be made brand new- from the inside out. This means more than just a few "religious" actions during the week. It means complete surrender in all areas of our life. Think about it- if we could earn salvation on our own then Jesus died for nothing (Galatians 2:21). But the reality is... we can't. We're broken. We need a Savior. 

 

So, the first thing we need to do is to ask, "Have I met and surrendered to the resurrected Jesus, or am I trying to be 'good enough' on my own?

 

If you haven't done so, please contact the church staff, your small group leader, etc. to begin a conversation of what surrendering to Jesus looks like. 

 

Once you've surrendered, you'll begin an indescribable journey with the God of the universe. Our words and actions will no longer have to be an attempt to earn favor (of God or people); rather, our actions will begin to be an outward expression of what God is doing in our hearts (Matthew 12:34). As we continue to spend time with Jesus (in prayer, in His word, in worship), as well as spending time with other believers, we'll continue to put our hearts in a position to experience more and more of Him- His grace, His truth, His love. As that happens, we'll be more and more transformed. We'll see the world less through sin-scarred eyes, and more through grace-healed eyes. 

 We'll begin to see life and others the way He sees them. And as that happens, it's amazing how that continues to change us. 

 

So, ask yourself : Do I see Jesus as the leader of a religion, or as Savior and King who not only sets me free, but who has plans for my life far greater than what I could ever script for myself? Your heart's answer makes all the difference. 

Steve Click

May 19, 2020

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In 2 Kings 6, the army of Aram is trying to get close enough to the Israelite army to attack, but Israel is somehow avoiding the Aramearns at every turn.  God is simply telling His prophet Elisha where Aram is going to camp.  So naturally the king of Aram sends his troops after the man of God to stop this.  One morning, Elisha’s servant goes out and sees that the entire city is surrounded by the Aramean army.  In a panic, he runs to Elisha, who is calm as always, asking what they are to do now!

 

Elisha’s response in 2 Kings 6:16 is simply, “Don’t be afraid.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Now I can imagine the servant being a little confused and giving Elisha a face that says “I don’t think you’re counting right.”  Verse 17 continues the story, “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  Talk about something to instill confidence in the face of seemingly insurmountable and overwhelming circumstances.  

 

This story is one of the scriptures behind the song “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by Michael W. Smith.  In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic and so many unknowns, this song has been one of my go-to reminders that God is bigger than what we are facing.  With the entire world facing this in some form, it seems we are surrounded on all sides by something out of our control, which in reality we are.  But God knew this was coming.  He has not changed because of it.  He has this surrounded.

 

The rest of the story from 2 Kings 6 (I encourage you to read it this week) concludes with Elisha asking God to blind the Aramean Army.  With the confidence that comes with knowing God has him surrounded, he then leads the blind army to the king of Israel, where instead of killing the enemy, their sight is returned and the two armies feast together.  The Arameans depart and no longer try to attack Israel.  

 

Today, God is still working and has already won the war - even when we can’t see it.  Trust me, I have had days during this quarantine where I am 100% like Elisha’s servant.  I can’t see beyond what’s in front of me and let the anxiety creep in and steal my confidence.  But I am finding that as I daily seek time with God, I am reminded that He has me surrounded, and my confidence returns and makes the days better (not necessarily easier) and more peaceful.  God has this coronavirus thing surrounded, but He also has your sleepless nights surrounded, your major career decision surrounded, your spouse, kids and family surrounded, your medical diagnosis surrounded, your finances surrounded, your anxiety surrounded, your future surrounded, your everything surrounded.  He is with you today no matter what.

Stephanie Marshall

May 18, 2020

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I have hesitated  in posting this but last night I laid in bed thinking of all that was going on around our world. It was then that I looked over at the inside of my wrist and saw the tattoo  I got about 3 weeks ago. I have been wanting one for several years. I wanted  something  that represented  my love for India and that represented my favorite Bible verse. I saw the lotus flower, and while I knew that was what I wanted because it was simple (and those who know me know I love simple).... I also wanted to learn more about what the symbolism would mean to me. Upon my research on what the lotus flower represented, I was moved to tears and knew this art would be a testimony of how God has been so faithful to me, even in some of the darkest days. As my eyes were drawn to this permanent reminder, I decided I would share a little of its story.

 

1. The lotus flower represents new beginnings every morning: My favorite verse is Lamentations  3:23, “God's grace and mercy are new every morning...great is His Faithfulness.”  This verse has popped in my head, my devotions, in songs so much these past few weeks that I know it is a whispered reminder from my Savior that all will be okay.  That He loves me even in my failures and grace is extended daily! Thank goodness! 

 

2. Often in Indian culture the lotus flower is "tattooed" in henna art..dots and other designs are added to create a masterpiece. The three dots represent the three children here on Earth that God blessed me with...these three children were a gift God knew I needed and His timing was perfect. I am so beyond honored and often don't feel worthy to have the privilege of being called their mom but I'm thankful everyday for each one of them. They have brought immeasurable  joy into my life.

 

3. The lotus flower is the national flower of India. About 5 years ago, I was asked to go on a mission trip to India. My heart and love for this country is too big to even explain. I have traveled there a total of four times. Every time I gain new friendships and leave a little piece of my heart there as well.

 

4. Now this is the part that moved me to tears and it's the part that I accidentally found while researching the lotus flower. The lotus flower is mentioned in the book of Job...not a book we often turn to for uplifting encouragement.

 

I came across an article on one man's view regarding the representation of the lotus flower in Job, and this is what made me know last night that, without a doubt, God is so much bigger than any virus. Even in these scary and fearful times, He is constantly sending me what I have started to call “God Whispers.”

 

Here is what it said: “Like the beautiful lotus plant and like Job, we have the opportunity to grow into more vital Christians when we encounter unfavorable and difficult situations. When we encounter these situations, the way to become a more alive Christian is not to ‘curse God and die’ (Job 2: 9), but to cling even tighter to the giver and sustainer of our lives. When we experience desolation and despair, we need to spend time in prayer and read God’s Word. Just like God judged the attitude of Job’s heart and spoke directly to Job’s situation, so does the Bible speak directly to Christians. God tells us in Hebrews 4: 12 – 13: The word of the Lord is living and active. The word of the Lord judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight (NIV). If we open our hearts to God through prayer and Bible reading, God gives us insight into our circumstances that we can use to live and grow. God provides clear perception that we can use to move beyond our present situation to a new vitality.”

 

I pray for health and comfort in  our nation, for our world and I pray that maybe this VERY LONG post will bring healing and comfort to someone that needed to hear it today.

Sherri Burkholder

May 15, 2020

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I pray that those who read this may benefit in some small way from this devotion today as I did in preparing it.

Our world today is not the same world that I grew up in or that my children were raised. Many today have commented about the condition of our world, but few offer any real solutions. I believe that God has the answer in John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

 

Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 - “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus said the greatest commandment was for us to love God and our neighbor.  But sometimes I think our version of love is much different than God's version. In our world, we have forgotten what real love means. We have substituted a warm fuzzy feeling, a physical attraction or even lust for love. In His Word, God gives an excellent description of love.

Corinthians 13:1‭-‬13 MSG - If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Everytime I read this scripture, I find myself lacking in one way or another. I look around as I travel about and this kind of love is hard to find in our world today. If we would apply this kind of love to our friends, neighbors, spouses, children and even those we may not like very well, we would be living in a much different world.

John 13:34‭-‬35 NIV - “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What is new about this commandment? This love is to be a different love, a love that the world has never seen until Jesus arrived in our midst. Love as I have loved you. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves by asking, “Just how much does He love us?”

John 15:13 KJV - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

1 John 3:18‭-‬20 MSG - My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

1 John 3:18 - Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Steve Saufley

May 14, 2020

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“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

 

There is a song I love by Christian artist Zach Williams entitled “Fear Is A Liar.” The lyrics of this song resonate with me, because they give voice to the many different thoughts and emotions I find I experience, especially in our current times. 

 

It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is these days. Stay at home but stimulate the economy, enjoy the fresh air but don’t do it too close to others, go to work if you’re essential and take your kids to daycare but don’t go in if someone you know is sick...

 

These confusing and sometimes conflicting demands can cause us to wonder if we’re smart or strong or brave enough to keep our families safe while trying to provide for them and help others. Quite frankly, some days it’s easier to just stay home in my comfy pajamas and choose not to deal with it at all. 

 

When fear prevents me from doing what my family and neighbors need, when lies in my head say I’m not strong enough or good enough or smart enough to proceed, God reminds me in His  word that fear is indeed lying to me. 

 

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” On our own we are not strong or smart or savvy enough to know what to do but the great thing is that’s okay. God has given us His Spirit to speak His truth to us when the father of lies urges us to live in fear. All we need do is recognize at that moment that fear is indeed a liar and ask God to supply His wisdom and strength.  We’ll never be strong enough on our own to navigate these turbulent times but we can “do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Sherril Stinnett

May 13, 2020

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Hi, Bridge family. I just wanted to encourage you with a quick note and devotion. One thing that has stood out to me about this virus is that it began with one person on the other side of our world but has touched us all. In some, that might create fear, but it should inspire hope. We can see just how closely connected we really are. Think about this: If something bad, that will soon pass away, can spread from one to so many, then how much more will the good news and love of Jesus, that will never pass away, spread from each of us to so many more. I hope you enjoy this devotion. In Christ, Andy 

A Nobler Walk 

It doesn’t take long while studying God’s Word to find that God desires for us to study His Word. The Bible is full of verses that encourage us to do just that and to do it on a daily basis. God has made a promise to us of blessing and abundant life. God’s promise is kept through His Word. Just as we think of the phrase “giving one’s word” when we make a promise, God has given us His Word to keep His promise. This is the very reason that daily Bible study is so critical to the Christian walk. God has revealed who He is and who we are in Him within the pages of scripture. He has allowed paper and ink to hold the living answers to life’s most important questions so that we could hold them in our hands. 

When I think of the fact that I am a child of the Eternal King, I am drawn to one of my favorite passages on Bible study. This short story about an apostolic stopover in Berea has fueled my love for Bible study from the first time I read it. In Acts chapter 17, the scripture tells us that the Berean believers were “more noble” than the Thessalonians. Why? Because they “received the word with all readiness of mind” (KJV), and they “searched the scriptures daily” (KJV) to make sure that the things they were hearing were true. 

The book of Acts is overflowing with the unmistakable ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles. Beyond a shadow of a doubt we can know that these mission trips to spread the gospel to the world were orchestrated from the throne-room of heaven. Throughout this book miracles and great signs validate the truth of the message. Yet in the midst of this supernatural outpouring God declares that the nobler ones simply studied their Bibles and believed. 

This is what sets Christianity apart from other religions that have risen from the beginning of time. We have not believed some new idea that contradicts what God has already established. We have and continue to witness in the pages of the scripture the fulfillment of all that was and all that will be. In light of this truth, our faith will only be strengthened as we commit to searching the scriptures daily. Being in the Word daily helps us map life’s journeys by God’s standards. The Bible is our litmus to test the waters of ever changing ideals and morality. It is the truth that we find within the pages of the Bible that is and always will be the foundation of what we believe and understand about our relationship to the King of Kings. 

Do you sometimes feel less than a prince or a princess? Do you have questions that make doubt come easier than faith? Do you feel that the God who saved you is too distant to be known as a friend? Here is a simple remedy. Claim your birthright in Jesus Christ and affirm your nobility by searching the scriptures every day to see that these things are true. 

Andy Gilmer

May 12, 2020

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“Life is amazing.  And then it’s awful.  And then it’s amazing again.  And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine.  Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary.   That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life.  And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”  L.R. Knost

This came to my attention a couple of years ago, and it made me stop.   What TRUTH!  I have been in the awful, extraordinary and ordinary.  What does each of these places teach us about our Savior and how we allow Him to work in our lives.  

The AMAZING!  Think back to an amazing part of your life.  Did you feel as if nothing could ever get any better?  It can be euphoric, exciting, overwhelming, life-changing, and the list can go on and on.  God loves to celebrate with us.  I believe He gives us these wonderful times to remind us of HIS goodness, not the goodness of our circumstances.  When I looked up verses for rejoice, because that is what we do when our life is amazing, I found Matthew 2:10: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  Let’s remember to rejoice in great amazing times.  

The AWFUL.  Most of us have endured the awful.  Death, debt, brokenness, despair, depression, disappointment and this list can also go on and on.  What do you learn in the awful?   Well, for me, I always know that God is in the situation.  I may fight against it and be totally broken, but I have the words in my soul that He has given us, and I believe those words.  Even when I feel depressed, forsaken, unable to begin the journey of healing, I know deep in my spirit God is right there with me.  Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The MUNDANE.  This one is where I find myself most unappreciative.  Who likes mundane, so so, same ole, same ole?  Well, guess what.  I would love the mundane right now during all the changes to our daily lives.  I would love to have days that nothing new is happening and life is predictable.    

This is my verse for the mundane times.  Philippians 4:8 “Finally, guys and gals, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy—think about such things.  Then we can change the mundane into something Amazing!!

Donna Andrews

May 11, 2020

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I love the story of Esther with all the visions of beautiful women and their colorful clothing swirling around them in the setting of a royal palace. It is a story of a young Jewish girl chosen as the Queen due not only to her amazing beauty, but her pleasing personality. “Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her” (Esther 2:15). 

 

However, we also know that Esther was held captive to the whims of King Xerxes who was known for his arrogance and power throughout Persia. He could have a person killed or an entire community annihilated at the tilt of his scepter. In the story, Haman, one of Xerxes henchmen, plotted to have God’s chosen people, the Jews, put to death. He was angry because Mordecai, Esther’s Jewish uncle who also served King Xerxes, would not bow down to him. Haman wanted glory for himself but God had other plans. 

 

Mordecai implored Esther to use her influence to sway Xerxes against this plot. Esther knew if she approached Xerxes throne without his prior permission that he could have her killed.  How could God possibly use someone like Esther who was in a powerless position to influence someone of such power? Yet, God had a plan even during this frightening time - a plan to save his people and to bring glory to his kingdom.

 

My favorite part of the story is when Mordecai says to Esther,  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).  Mordecai knew that Esther had a unique opportunity to serve her people if she would only have confidence to approach the throne and ask for mercy. With a courageous heart, Esther approached Xerxes and again won his favor. Through God’s plan, the Jews were saved from destruction. The Bible provides each of us the same promise in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

During this time of uncertainty in our community, state, and nation, where has God uniquely placed you to serve him? Satan’s plan is always for chaos and disruption in this world but look around - God is at work everywhere. He is in the schools providing food. He is in the churches preparing worship and praise opportunities for His people. He is in each community where neighbors are offering a helping hand to each other. He is in the hospitals and doctor’s offices where people in the healthcare industry are providing tireless care.

 

God invites us to join Him where He is already working to accomplish greater things. Where has God placed you for “such a time as this”?

Judy Musick

May 8, 2020

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Lost

Have you ever been lost? I have.  I was hunting on a property that I was pretty familiar with. It had become dark, and I was heading back to the truck. I thought I was heading to the parking area, but the brush kept getting thicker and thicker. I knew I was close, but I just couldn’t find it. I started to panic; how could I be lost? I’m so close, why can’t I find the road? I had to humble myself, and call my brother-in-law to come find me.  I was embarrassed. I was merely yards away from where I needed to be when he found me.

How often do we become “lost”?  “I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalm 119:176)  Because of our pride we often become lost, but yet still close to God.  We are just out of reach of His glory, but we refuse to call out to Him. It’s okay to call out for help. “In a panic I cried out, ‘I am cut off from the Lord!’ But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.” (Psalm 31:22)  We are in this together, continue to seek God. He is waiting for your cry. “The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.” (Psalm 69:32)

Perry Weller

May 7, 2020

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Peace like you have never known

 

Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, this is what the Lord says --

He who created you Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

 

There was a time in my life where I faced a health challenge that truly turned my world upside down.  I had a choice to make when faced with this adversity, and my choice was to cling to God and seek Him for guidance, rest and renewal.  As I turned to the scriptures for a deeper understanding of what God was showing me through this time, I came across a devotion with Isaiah 43:1-3 as its main scripture reference.  In His gentle way, the Lord said, “If you will take my hand and walk through these rough waters with Me, I will lead you to a peace like you have never known before.”  And He did.

 

Taking the leap of faith, trusting in the unseen and walking with Him will always lead to a PEACE like you have never known.

Amy Walter

May 6, 2020

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"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." ( Romans 12:2 NLT) 

 

You've heard that our walk with God is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, it will take time, but it will also take being intentional. How do we let God change the way we think? The short answer, of course, is to spend more time in prayer, in His Word, and with other believers. But let's dig a little deeper and give ourselves something to wrestle with this week... 

   

In Mo Isom's book Wreck My Life, we read: “I began to realize how much, in regard to relationships, my mind and heart had been crafted by the world rather than by the Word.”  

 

Read that second part again. 

 

Whether we realize it or not, this profound statement holds true for most of us in many areas of life. As we continue to surrender to Jesus, may we consider how, for years, we've been “crafted by the world rather than by the Word.”  A few examples may be:

 

As Mo mentioned, where do many of our relational ideas come from? For the most fortunate among us, we may have had great role models, but for many, what we've learned about relationships may have come from music. Movies. Porn. Poor examples from adults in our past.  Looking at our relationships, what beliefs do we have that have been shaped by the world? What practical steps can we take to allow God to redeem and transform those beliefs?

 

What about finances and possessions? Are we hungry for more and more of the next new thing, or is our heart being challenged to give of what God has given us? 

 

Daily interactions: Are we out for ourselves, or are we seeing people as children of God that need Him as much as we do? 

 

This idea applies to every area of life. As we continue to seek Him and grow, may we allow God to show us how we can surrender to Him- how we can exchange how the world has molded us for how He wants to transform us... What does that look like in your life this week? 

Steve Click

May 5, 2020

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“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT)

 

During a tough time a few years ago, a dear friend shared this scripture with me as a reminder that no matter how parched I felt, my relationship with God ran deep. The picture here is of bleakness and hardship all around, oppressive heat, drought, and death. But in the midst of that is a tree…. tall, strong, healthy, and bearing fruit. During this time you may find yourself on the front lines working tirelessly, endlessly, and sacrificially. Or you might find yourself at home, feeling lost, helpless, and scared. No matter where this crisis has placed you, let this verse remind you that your hope, confidence, health, and even your productivity all come from God. May we, the Church, stand tall in the midst of the chaos and provide the shade and strength that this parched world so desperately needs.

Katie Campbell

May 4, 2020

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Our Hope & Future

Maybe like me, you have heard this familiar passage a few times - Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” And indeed, I love the hope of this passage.  However, when Jeremiah proclaimed this encouragement from God to the Jewish exiles, it was during a time of great turmoil. All they owned would be taken from them, and they had no idea if they would ever be free to return to their homes. It was not an easy time, and this promise that Jeremiah shared with the people was sent to encourage their hearts during a very discouraging time—a time when there seemed to be no hope for any kind of future.
 

I’ve been through my share of hopeless seasons, as I am sure you have too. And during a time in history where no one really knows how life will play out in the weeks and months ahead, what I am certain of is this: That just as in the days of the Isralietes, when life held uncertainty, God’s promise of hope still holds true. He is our hope and holds our future, and He will see us through! 

Victoria Mininger

May 1, 2020

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Have you ever woken in the middle of the night gripped by fear?  And when the morning finally comes and you see the light of day, everything seems so much less scary?  This happened to me last night, so that feeling is fresh this morning.  

 

I really believe we were meant to be in the light. There are so many verses in the Bible that speak about light - His Light. In John 1, Jesus is described as the “light.”  Verse 5 states, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

 

Take heart, my friends, when you wake in the middle of the night, and you are lying in darkness and fear, it is the light of Jesus that will get you through. The darkness has not overcome His  Light.  

 

Psalm 119:105 states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”   When I wake in the night, over and over the Lord  reminds me to repeat scripture in order to allow His light to penetrate the darkness.  Eventually I fall asleep again, and when I am greeted by the morning light, I am so grateful for Him - His light, His guidance, His word, His peace, His promises, His safety, and His security.

 

I don’t know what scares you today.  Maybe your fear is COVID-19 or maybe you were afraid  long before this world knew of COVID-19.  Let us invite Jesus into the dark places of our life so that we can experience His light.  The life we are meant for is a life where His Word lights our path and guides our feet.  He is our hope and light, especially in times of darkness.  

Candi Kincaid

April 30, 2020

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I was so encouraged in my quiet time recently because I had one of those "a-ha" moments.  I try to memorize and review sets of verses weekly and I was a day or two into the new set of verses when I realized there was a common theme - God's Word.  Let me share some of them with you:
 
Isaiah 55:10-11 - As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
 
Jeremiah 15:16 - When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.
 
Jeremiah 20:9 - But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
 
Jeremiah 23:29 -  “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
 
Revelation 21:5 - He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
 
Luke 1:37 - For no word from God will ever fail.
 
I don't think it's a coincidence that all these verses ended up in my verse pack together that first week of social-distancing.  I think God wanted me to remember that what He says is good, trustworthy, true, powerful, and should be my guide in any season of life.   And that I should cherish His Word and want to share it with others. So today, I want to encourage you to be in the Word; you never know what He will show you and how He'll encourage you. 

Liz Click

April 29, 2020

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I recently read a quote by Robert Murray M'Cheyne. Robert was a young preacher that by all measures was destined to be listed with those rare people that really "did forsake all" for the hope of the gospel. I was really amazed by his desire to both grow in Christ and his deep love for people. The hard thing to figure is that this brilliant young follower of Jesus was stricken with illness on and off for most of his life and died when he was only 29 years old. In his short ministry he had an enormous impact on the people he touched. There were an estimated 7,000 people at his funeral. There is one quote in his book that stood out as a significant reason for his impact. I wish I could more effectively adopt his mindset as he shared with others. He describes his approach to conversation with this simple prayer, "Lord, teach me to be always speaking as dying to dying." I am praying that I could do a better job speaking genuinely to people that I feel led to speak, and saying those things I genuinely want to say. I'm afraid that I have too often saved my truest words for the death bed, or even the eulogy. Those same words spoken in our prime could yield deep unbreakable relationships both now and beyond.  

Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Stacey Burkholder

April 28, 2020

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"How Jordan's Story Gave Me Strength"

 

As I sat at my friend's house, I was confessing to her how anxiety-ridden I was feeling with everything happening in our world right now.  It seemed like overnight, everything had changed. And everything was changing so fast.  I felt like I was caught up in a whirlwind of uneasiness and I couldn't get my footing. She said "You know, this is how Jordan feels every day."  

 

Later when I got home, my friend's words really hit me.  

 

Jordan is my 21 year old daughter.  On the outside, she is strong, confident and lives life to the fullest. Her smile is a shining light to everyone around her. Butch calls her "his little song bird" because she is always singing or humming a song.  She works two part-time jobs while attending college full-time. She sees the good in others and is a friend to all. She loves children and she aspires to be an elementary teacher.  You would never know it by looking at her, but I know life is not easy for her.  My daughter was diagnosed with anxiety in the 6th grade. Behind her tough exterior, I know Jordan gives every worry to God because it's too much for her to handle on her own. She learned at a very young age there is nothing that she doesn't give to God.

 

That same day, as I was speaking the devil out of my life and asking God to bring me a peace beyond my own understanding, God reminded me to "practice what you preach."  

 

One of the Bible verses we've recited with Jordan as she's been plagued with anxiety through the years is Philippians 4:6-7.  Through the years, I've texted these verses to her when she was away at college, read it to her and wrote it in cards when she went to camp. We've bought keychains and laminated cards for our wallets.  My mom bought each one in my family leather bookmarks at Christmas with this verse inscribed on them.  Ya'll, I cannot even tell you how many times we've recited these words.  We even bought the cute little sign to hang in the house "Don't be anxious about anything but instead pray about everything."  You get the point?  These words from Paul to the Philippians are special to us. 

 

Was I a living testimony to all of the times I've recited these words? Was I taking EVERYTHING to God in prayer? Was anxiety crippling me so much that I was no longer feeling God's peace?

 

And there hidden in the verse was the one thing I wasn't doing.  I wasn't living with the joy (thankfulness) God intended for me to experience while I was living with anxiety and crippled with fear.

 

Today, I want to encourage you, during these times of uncertainty, let Paul's words in Philippians 4:6-7 bring you comfort.  Take everything to your Heavenly Father in prayer. (Yes, He means EVERYTHING.)  There is no area of your life that does not concern Him. Call to Him to help, express your needs and concerns. Give thanks to God.  What do you have to be thankful for?  Thank God for the things He has done in your past, the things He is currently doing in your life and trust Him to meet your future needs. And may you experience peace that only comes from Him, "that surpasses all understanding."

 

Will you pray this with me?

 

Lord, help me to be anxious for nothing. Let my mind be renewed. Forgive me when I am so blinded by fear and anxiety that thankfulness is not an automatic response to my current situation. Lord, I thank you in the midst of this crisis for all that you are doing. May your peace rule my heart.  Thank you Father for never leaving my side. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Stacey Mooneyham

April 27, 2020

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When I was a school-aged kid I would get very anxious on test-taking days at school.  I had to work hard for my grades - memorization was difficult for me.  And it didn’t help that I had a younger brother with a photographic memory who hardly had to study at all. 

 

When I shared my anxiety with my dad, he suggested I come up with three words that would help me relax before I took my tests.  I chose these three words - calm, confident, secure.  I would repeat these words to myself whenever I felt anxious. “Calm” helped me focus away from the feelings of anxiety.  “Confident” was a reminder that I had prepared and was ready to be tested.  And “secure” was a word I chose because I knew no matter how I did on the test my dad was still going to love me.  

 

Several years ago, after being baptized, I added these words to my phrase - “in Christ.”  What a profound shift.  Calm, confident, secure - IN CHRIST.  Adding “in Christ” made the phrase take on a deeper significance, a firmer foundation in truth, a spiritual and scriptural focus and grounding in God.  

 

What three words could you choose today to help you in your times of anxiety or concern?  What happens when you add “in Christ” to complete your chosen words of encouragement.  I’m praying for each of you and that you would be encouraged.  I’d love to know your three words - if you want to share - lara@bridgechristian.church.  May the Lord grant you peace that transcends understanding as you seek Him in prayer and through His living word.

Lara Hoke

April 24, 2020

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Don’t be Afraid

I don’t know about you, but I get scared sometimes. As a firefighter, I have faced many scary situations, but I made it through. One particular time stands out.  Another firefighter and I entered a house fire. As I crawled across the living room to extinguish the fire, the floor gave out. Fire erupted around me, and if it wasn’t for the firefighter behind grabbing my air pack, I would have plummeted into a basement full of fire. That firefighter saved my life.

Our everyday life is similar. We fight spiritual fires each and every day. Who saves us? Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)  My training and my faith in my fellow firefighters help me face the dangers of my job. Our training in faith and our fellow Christians can help us face the fears and dangers of this sinful world. “…teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (Proverbs 9:9) One of my favorite verses reminds me that I should never be afraid, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Don’t be afraid, He is with us, ALWAYS!

Perry Weller

April 23, 2020

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BE EMPOWERED BY YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES (Part III)

 

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil 4:8)

 

“He shall call upon ME, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”  (Psalm 91:15)

 

Look at the world around you through eyes of gratitude; thank THE LORD for the many good things you can see (there is always good even in what looks bad).  Bring your problems as well as your praises, and watch THE LORD transform trouble into something praiseworthy.

(Sarah Young, “Jesus Lives”)

 

GOD is with us and for us.  We can’t allow circumstances to throw us into darkness and the “what ifs” of the future.  Choose to live in this day, and be thankful for each moment.  Each day is a precious gift from God.  As we unwrap it tenderly and dive into its depths, cling to the promises of God.  Savor the gift of each moment because that is where we will find God!!!

 

Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of salvation and Your eternal unchanging love.  May Your presence surround me, and may I never take for granted the gift of Your Son, and His death on the cross that covers my sins and sets me free.  May I always be reminded to keep my mind on the things of heaven and not on the things of this world...

Amy Walter

April 22, 2020

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In Mo Isom's book "Wreck My Life," we read, “I realized that what my soul desperately needed was uninterrupted one-on-one time. A voluntary season with Jesus. To voluntarily wreck my dependence on the things I thought I needed to be happy…”

 

We are living in the midst of an unprecedented situation, something most of us have likely never experienced. And, while there are certainly many questions we could ask (and probably are), perhaps the most important one is, “God, what is your plan for me in this season?” 

 

While God's specific answers to certain people may vary, Scripture tells us that He wants us to "Ask, seek, and knock" (Matthew 7:7). 

 

Perhaps we should view this as a season of refreshment. A season of re-focus. A time to allow God to search our hearts and see if we've allowed ourselves to be misled (Psalm 139:23-24). Is it possible that we've allowed things of this world to distract us from the source of life? From our true purpose? Or, to a further extreme, maybe we've been using the things of this world to try and fill the void in our hearts that can only truly be filled by Him... 

 

But during this season of quarantine and social distancing, may we remember that, as Mo Isom states, :”This necessary loneliness tends to be the greatest challenge for those yearning to surrender, as well as the greatest way to recognize the idols that own us…”

Steve Click

April 21, 2020

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TRUSTING GOD IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Psalm 62:8 says: “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge.”

Trusting God in all circumstances isn't easy. When we feel discouraged, let’s remind ourselves that God is in control. It’s hard to leave everything in His hands. We often want to control our lives. He can take care of our every  concern. Let’s give Him our cares, and let Him take care of them.  


Romans 14:19  “So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” Positive and encouraging words…we all need to hear them. There may be someone in your life who really needs to hear them right now. We are in uncharted territory at the moment. They may need your words more than ever. Sharing encouraging words with them may help them feel like they are not alone. Some days I may feel discouraged; I’m only human, but I remind myself that God’s in control. He will ALWAYS be there for me. Whatever happens, I’m NEVER alone. Most of us know that, but it is still tough to remember when the enemy tries so hard to discourage us.

Debbie Thomas

April 20, 2020

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When We Ask Why

In times like this I find myself asking God, “Why did you allow this?” On and on questions come and linger in the recesses of my heart, reverberating in the space around me as they look for a place to land. So many questions for the trials we experience, and along with the questions, a barrage of emotions.  I’ve even wondered at times “Is it worth following God anymore?” I know all the right answers. I know what I “should” be saying and what I “should” be feeling. But the “shoulds” of this life never really fix anything. And so I search. And in my searching, I come back to a verse I know well – John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” As I read these words, I know I need to allow them to penetrate my heart and not just my head.  I need to still the questions and listen. And as I listen I hear this, “Victoria, there will always be trials in life whether you walk with me or not, but even if you walk away from me, I will never walk away from you.  I will pursue you, because I love you, and you are mine.” And I realize once again that I would much rather walk through this life WITH God then WITHOUT Him. This life will always have its troubles and I will not always understand why.  But each day I can choose to trust that God is in control and what He allows into my life He will see me through. And He will see you through too! I am confident of this! 

Victoria Mininger

April 17, 2020

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“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching a Sunday School class here at Bridge based on Laura Story’s book When God Doesn’t Fix It.  In that class, we were able to look in depth at Biblical truths that are very pertinent to the situation we find ourselves in today. One truth that became very clear to me while teaching that class is this: If we will be still and allow God to be God, we will find that He is very good at it.  At the end of her book, Laura has a list of myths verses truths. I have included those here. I pray that they will bless you as they have blessed me. Also, here is a link where you can listen to Laura’s song “Blessings”. https://youtu.be/Cd6J6Wgnv4M    Love you, Don James.

Myths vs Truths:

MYTH: TRIALS ARE A CURSE. 

TRUTH: TRIALS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY

 

MYTH: GOD’S PRIMARY DESIRE IS TO FIX BROKEN THINGS. 

TRUTH: GOD’S PRIMARY DESIRE IS TO FIX MY BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.

 

MYTH: SALVATION IS GAINED BY THE THINGS I DO. 

TRUTH: SALVATION IS GAINED BY WHAT JESUS DID FOR ME.

 

MYTH: WHEN THINGS LOOK DARK, GOD IS GONE.

 TRUTH: WHEN THINGS LOOK DARK, GOD’S LIGHT SHINES THE BRIGHTEST.

 

MYTH: THE PLAN I HAVE FOR MY LIFE IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE PLACE WHERE GOD HAS ME RIGHT NOW.

TRUTH: WHERE GOD HAS ME RIGHT NOW IS THE BEST PLACE FOR ME.

 

MYTH: THE CHURCH IS A BUILDING WITH SERVICES. 

TRUTH: THE CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE OF GOD AS THEY SERVE ONE ANOTHER.

 

MYTH: THE STRENGTH OF MY FAITH IS BASED ON HOW STRONGLY I BELIEVE. 

TRUTH: THE STRENGTH OF MY FAITH IS BASED ON THE STRENGTH OF MY GOD.

 

MYTH: I GAIN BY HOLDING ON. 

TRUTH: I GAIN BY LETTING GO.

 

MYTH: CONTENTMENT BEGINS WITH UNDERSTANDING WHY. 

TRUTH: CONTENTMENT BEGINS WITH ASKING HOW GOD MIGHT USE THIS FOR HIS GLORY.

 

MYTH: I WORSHIP BECAUSE I FEEL GOOD.

TRUTH: I WORSHIP BECAUSE HE IS GOOD.

 

MYTH: GOD CAN ONLY USE MY STORY WHEN THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING. 

TRUTH: GOD CAN USE MY STORY WHEN I TRUST HIM IN THE JOURNEY.

 

MYTH: I AM DEFINED BY MY PAST.

 TRUTH: GOD REDEEMS MY PAST AND GIVES ME A FUTURE.

 

MYTH: MY STORY ISN’T WORTH MUCH.

TRUTH: MY STORY IS MY GREATEST OFFERING.

 

MYTH: GOD NEEDS MY HELP. 

TRUTH: GOD WANTS MY TRUST.

 

MYTH: I MUST WORK TO KEEP MY DREAMS ALIVE. 

TRUTH: I CAN REST WHEN I RELEASE MY DREAMS TO THE HANDS OF MY LOVING FATHER.

 

MYTH: GOD IS WITHHOLDING WHAT I WANT BECAUSE HE IS PUNISHING ME.

TRUTH: GOD IS WITHHOLDING WHAT I WANT BECAUSE HE HAS SOMETHING BETTER FOR ME.


 

MYTH: GOD IS INDIFFERENT TO THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART. 

TRUTH: GOD IS ABLE TO DO ABUNDANTLY MORE THAN WE ASK FOR OR IMAGINE!

 

MYTH: THINGS HAVE TO GET BETTER BEFORE I CAN GET BETTER.
TRUTH: MY SITUATION MAY NOT GET BETTER, BUT I CAN GET BETTER.

Don James

April 16, 2020

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The Power of Yet - One of the last few lessons that I taught my Kindergarten and 1st graders before we left school for our extended break was a lesson called “The Power of Yet.” In this lesson, we talked about the word yet and how it changes our sentences. To illustrate this point, I said to them, “I can’t speak another language” and I followed that sentence with “I can’t speak another language, yet.” Do you hear the difference? The word yet completely changes the tone of the sentence to a more positive outlook. It takes away the finality of the sentence and adds hope for change. We are in the middle of a time of unknowns and much of what we read is void of that little word, yet. But we can change that mindset by filtering what we hear through the lens of God’s Word. The power of yet is written all over the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Outwardly we are struggling to understand what is happening around us, yet inwardly the Lord has the power to renew our hearts and minds! Another beautiful promise comes from John 1:5 (CSB), “That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” Did you catch that? Things might be dark yet we have the light of Jesus living in us that the darkness cannot overcome. That is the power of hope! Things feel out of control, yet the Lord is still on the throne.

Christina Painter

April 15, 2020

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It’s in our nature to look out for our own well being. Sometimes I have to catch myself and ask, “What about others?” in order to get the focus off myself. We may be going through hard times right now, but I see that there is Someone who had every excuse to focus on Himself.

We just have to look at Jesus as He was bloodied and bruised on the cross and just about to die. He looked down at His mother and asked John to take care of her. Even as He hung on the cross, Jesus fulfilled His obligation to care for His widowed mother.  (John 19: 25-27)

Lord, I pray that we be sensitive to those around us in spite of what we may be going through. Put people on our hearts that need a touch from You. Amen

Mike Diehl

April 14, 2020

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Years ago, I had a dream that now keeps coming to mind in light of the times we face. In my dream, I was in a grocery store browsing the bakery section. It was a busy store filled with lots of people. As I was shopping, I suddenly realized there was a major gas leak and the store was going to go up in flames. I ran to the bakery attendant, thinking she could quickly make an announcement over the loud-speaker to alert the unassuming shoppers around us. But when I told her what was happening, she did the opposite. She started frantically grabbing for donuts and pastries. In a panic, she started trying to save all the bakery items while the people kept shopping, carrying on with life as normal. I remember waking up from that dream in a sweat...what about the shoppers?!! They didn’t know!!! How could the donuts have mattered more than the people?!! As believers in these days of uncertainty and trial, we are faced with decisions much the same. We have the choice to grab for the temporal or the eternal...“donuts” or souls. Only one matters to the Lord...may only one matter to us. It was not just the bakery attendant’s job to sound the warning, but mine. Just as it is ours to share the Hope we have in Christ with the lost and hurting world around us. May Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:16-17 become our prayer...Lord, help us to make the most of every opportunity, in these evil days. Let us not act thoughtlessly, but help us to understand what You want us to do.

Morgan Alexander

April 13, 2020

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I am a social creature and my friends know that I sure love to talk….and talk….and talk.  I have been working from home since the school where I work is closed for at least 4 weeks.  I am self-quarantined since I have medical issues that make me a high risk if I catch the virus.  How will I manage to cope with such isolation?

 

Isolation - that is the definition of quarantine.  Like most people, I enjoy having some personal quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of life.  But….intentionally sequestering myself for weeks on end out of necessity is not my cup of tea. How can I turn this situation into a positive experience?  Or better yet, how can God turn this into something good?

 

I began thinking about all of the times that Jesus withdrew to be alone.  He was often swarmed by crowds of people and longed to have some time to spend communicating with God.  There was one occurrence when Jesus was forced to self-quarantine. Jesus had just finished feeding 5,000 people.  They were amazed at this miracle and Jesus realized that they were going to try and force him to become their king.  John 6:15 says, “When Jesus saw they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” (NLT)

 

This situation wasn’t one where Jesus isolated himself because he wanted time alone, but rather, he slipped away so that God’s plan for him could unfold as he intended, and in his timing.  

 

So, how does this apply to me?  First of all, I am convicted to be thankful and show gratitude to God for placing me in a position to have more time to devote to him.  After all, just taking into account the hour I don’t have to spend commuting to and from work each day allows me to have additional opportunities to be in prayer or study the Bible.  Secondly, I am making an effort to step back from normal routines and open my eyes to what God is trying to teach me through being forced to slip away into the hills of quarantine.

 

My prayer for our church family is that we will take advantage of all of the good God wants to show us through the trial of this virus and make it a season of spiritual growth and revival the likes of which we have never before experienced.  I can’t wait to hear all of the stories of how God is working in each of you. May God continue to do in you far more than you could ask or imagine.

Cindy DeNome

April 10, 2020

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Mercy

What is mercy? It’s defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone to whom it’s within one's power to punish or harm. During these times it’s hard to remember God’s mercy. It’s hard to show mankind mercy to one another especially when everyone is on edge, uncertain of what tomorrow brings to us. But we are reminded of God’s love and His mercy on us, “…because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…”. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

We are reminded to be merciful to those around us, even when we feel they are undeserving. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) Now is the time to show the unchurched and those falling from grace how great His mercy is and we are servants and reciprocate His mercy and love, “Be merciful to those who doubt, save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy…” (Jude 1:22-23)

Continue to seek His mercy while showing mercy to others. During times of distress, He is still with us. Father, help us to stay focused on You, not ourselves. Thank you for your mercy!

Perry Weller

April 9, 2020

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BE EMPOWERED BY YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES (Part II)

 

“Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all PERSEVERANCE and supplication for all the saints.  (Ephesians 6:17-18)

 

“I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.”  (Isaiah 42:16)

 

We must not let our life rule us, but allow the Lord to be the Ruler of our life.

We can choose to look at our circumstances through the eyes of Jesus, and look around us with a biblical worldview (not a view of the world and the lies of this world). We seek the Truth, and our Truth is Jesus ... the Way, the Truth and the Life.  When we clothe ourselves in the full Armor of God, we prepare ourselves for whatever each day brings.

 

Dear Lord, I praise You that you open my eyes to see the wonders of your glory.  Great freedom and peace will come when I choose to follow You in all of my days. Thank you for your protection and provision as I persevere through the unknowns of this life.

Amy Walter

April 8, 2020

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In the morning before I start my day, I'll read a little bit of scripture. Sometimes, a passage, sometimes just a few verses. And I try to meditate for the day on what I've read- really allow the Holy Spirit to let that passage sink into my heart, mind, and life- to remind me of it's truth, power, and application as I go about my day. Recently 1 Corinthians 7:14 really intrigued me: "For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage." 

 

 My thoughts: "Do I? Do I bring holiness to my marriage? What does that even look like? What about those who aren't married?" 

 

For those who are married:  If the Bible is any indication (and it is), we are told what holiness looks like: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Am I bringing these into my marriage? Does my presence make my family feel loved, or something less? Does my demeanor bring peace, or chaos? Do I exhibit patience, or cause stress?

You get the idea...

 

For those who are not married ..... Along the same lines, consider how your thoughts, actions, and habits line up with holiness. Do you show kindness to your roommates? When your parents anger you, do you show self-control? 

 

For all of us: Are we allowing Jesus to transform us? Are we living a God-led and Spirit-filled life? Are we bringing holiness to our homes, schools, jobs, and communities? Or are we bringing something less?

Steve Click

April 7, 2020

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Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)  Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

 

During his very difficult trial Paul’s perspective and focus was on Jesus and glorifying His name. He believed in all the promises of God that he had written about in Romans 8. He saw his “light affliction”  as a means to spreading the gospel. His goal was to partner with the Holy Spirit to destroy the works of the enemy. He had no time to think about personal inconveniences because he was too busy loving people and Jesus.  He relied on the Holy Spirit to uphold him, refresh him and strengthen him. As a result of Paul’s obeying Jesus’ first and second greatest commandments other believers were set free from fear and began sharing their love of Jesus too. 

 

How about you? Do you believe in the promises and power of God like our brother Paul did?  We may struggle with fears, doubts, puny power and fickle love but we can boldly ask the Holy Spirit to help us to believe the way Paul did so that we can help those who act like they don’t!  

 

Now is the time for all Christians to come to the aid of those in darkness!  Just sayin’!

Wendy Fiero

April 6, 2020

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Anyone who does not love does not know God, because GOD is LOVE. 

Several seasons ago our life group finished the series “Who Needs God” by Andy Stanley. In Session 5, Andy was speaking about John and said something that had stuck with me for weeks. In summary, Andy said that John’s view of God was rearranged and turned upside down by Jesus. 

“Throughout his time, John went from where he believed –to not believing – back to he believed.  John saw more bloodshed, lost more friends as martyrs, he saw the temple burnt to the ground and yet when asked what is God like, John answered…. “GOD IS LOVE.”

The entire passage is found in 1 John 4:7-21 where John speaks of God’s loving nature.

Let’s put ourselves in God’s shoes for a moment. Many of us have children, could you fathom sacrificing up your child to save a world full of the people…..how about for a world of people who are sinners… does that change your opinion? 

Many non-Christians would say “If there is a God why didn’t He just forgive everyone, why did Jesus have to be sacrificed, why all the bloodshed?”

Because God wanted to enter into a relationship with mankind. You cannot have a relationship with someone if you do not make sacrifices for them. If God didn’t sacrifice for us, how would we know that He loved us?  This really does blow my mind to think of this magnitude of love our God has for us. And, I can openly admit with full honesty that I could not sacrifice one of my children. This has really broadened my perception and appreciation for God’s love. 

What I have learned is that love is not merely an attribute of God, it is His very nature.

God is not only loving, He is fundamentally LOVE. God alone loves in the completeness and perfection of love.

So, if God is love and we, His followers, are born of God, then we will also love. God loves us, so we must love one another. A true Christian, one saved by love and filled with God's love, must live in love toward God and others.

In the book of John, he records Jesus as our best picture and most reliable source to God. We learn that brotherly love is our response to God's love. God teaches believers how to show His love to others, to our friends, family, and even our enemies. God's love is unconditional; His love is very different from the human love we experience, because it is not based on feelings. He doesn't love us because we please Him. He loves us simply because He is LOVE.

Love is the true test of Christianity. The character of God is rooted in love. We receive God's love in our relationship with Him and we experience God's love in our relationships with others.

God's LOVE is a gift, it is a life-giving energizing force. 

Crystal Weller

April 3, 2020

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“Houston, we have a problem.”

 

Academy-award winning movie, Apollo 13, released in 1995, tells the dramatic story of a normal lunar mission being completely re-routed after an oxygen tank explodes aboard ship. Back on the ground the people at mission control quickly assess their thin options to bring our astronauts back home safely.

 

At one point the NASA Director quipped, “This could be the worst disaster we’ve ever experienced.” Undaunted, NASA Flight Director Gene Franz, portrayed by Ed Harris, defiantly interjected, “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour. “

 

Just a few days ago it seems like our church was cruising along on its mission to “Bridge our Community to Christ.” Now it feels like our whole reality has been rerouted after the explosion of the COVID-19 virus. As church leaders are actively huddling, assessing how to keep the mission on track, some may be feeling like this pandemic could be one of the worst disasters the church has ever faced.

 

Our church, nor any church, should fear these difficult times. Instead, through lenses of faith we should recognize the opportunity for the church to shine like it never has before.  This is going to be our finest hour!

Tim Cole

April 2, 2020

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About a month ago I spoke at Bridge’s Coffee & Friends event. I chose to speak on the topic of how God equips the unequipped. It was such a Spirit-filled morning of fellowship with beautiful ladies. I had hoped that morning to be an encouragement to them and as usual God allowed me to leave feeling like I was the one being encouraged. I find myself today being taught the same lesson that God had asked me to talk about to others. You see, getting a request to write something for the Church to be shared with others isn't something I feel equipped to do, I am not a writer. However, God is equipped to do this through me, I believe he has the same message for me to share today as he did for Coffee and Friends but in a new light. GOD DOES EQUIP THE UNEQUIPPED. Perhaps God is asking us all to step outside of our comfort zone by saying, “Reach people for me in ways you never thought of.” I don't know your individual gifts and talents, but I do believe that God has equipped you with them to use now in creative ways for his kingdom. Are you a teacher? Could you plan an online reading group? Are you an artist? Could you make something beautiful and send it to an elderly person who is shut in to brighten their day? Do you have the gift of encouragement? Can you send a sweet note, or text with prayer and scripture to those who are feeling scared and lonely. You see each of us is here to preach the word to the world and to show the love of Jesus, who equips us through his Holy Spirit. Be brave, be bold, be creative and stand strong in the faith that the God that created a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phillipians 1:6).  

 

Blessings church and thank you for letting me share my heart with you.

Kelly Butler

April 1, 2020

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2 Corinthians 1:10-12 (NIV) He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

At 70 years old, I’m told that I am in the “at risk” group. That sounds pretty bad, if you ask me and if I was to stay focused on that one statement, I could become paralyzed with fear. But I will tell you the truth, I have been here before. Obviously I’ve never dealt with this virus before, because none of us have. But, I have found myself in situations before where there were more things that we don’t know than things that we do know. At times like this, we need to focus on what we DO know! So, what DO we know? 

Before the virus showed up, God was God. As we work our way through this, God is God. After the virus has passed, God will be God.

We can take comfort in the fact that God is in control and He will be with us as we go through this together. I’ve seen before that it is in times of trouble that God does His best work in and through us.   

He will see us through this, He has done it before and He will do it again. There is a great worship song Do It Again by Elevation Worship and you can listen to it at https://youtu.be/0B_lnQIITxU

May God bless you and keep you and make His face smile upon you.

Don James

March 31, 2020

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Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’  declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” 


I am a planner.  I always have been.  I thrive in structure and routine, really depending on it quite a bit. I have learned over time it is one of my God-given strengths.  I am good at putting order and structure into things, professionally and personally. With so much uncertainty in our world and our community right now, I’ve really been struggling, both mentally and emotionally.  I have found I’ve been very irritable and just cranky!  I’ve spent time in prayer and talking to God, trying to understand the root of that angst.  Is it fear? Confusion?  Is it frustration? While it may be some of all of these, I think I am most bothered by the absence of my normal, my routine. I like knowing what to expect each day. Maybe you can relate?  I need to put some structure in place to make sense out of all the chaos that seems to be around me. I am using the talents and strengths God gave me to do that. I made a daily schedule for my children while they are at home.  I’ve used these talents at work by planning activities that families can do at home together, and provided resources that will enable children to continue learning at home. I make lists! List upon list of things I’d like to accomplish during this time of the unknown. I have to remember that God has a plan for all of this. His timing is always the best timing.  Let us take this time to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). We can only control what we can control. Using our unique gifts and God-given talents, let us serve one another, our families and our communities, relying heavily on His plan.

Abby Arey

March 30, 2020

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Luke 10:39 “Mary [...] sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. V. 42 “Martha, Martha” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one, Mary has chosen what is better.” 

 

This passage from Luke centers us in the beauty of simplicity, stillness and rest. Mary saw all the needs around her, in fact, she’d likely been efficiently meeting those needs all of her life. But she chose to stop at the opportunity to do what was better. 

 

We’ve also been asked to stop and to cease from many of our usual activities. Sometimes stillness can feel difficult because it’s been so long since we’ve done it; it’s hard to let go of control, worry, planning and productivity to simply rest. But we can also choose to take advantage of this forced Sabbath to do what is better - to be still in the presence of Jesus, to rest and play with our children, to soak in the soul-satisfying solitude of nature, and to pray for our country and the world.

Laura Gelser

March 27, 2020

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Just Like Me

Sometimes it can be hard to find a person in the Bible that connects with the struggles that we are living with. Most of us have not slayed a giant with a sling and a stone, built an ark that survived a worldwide flood, led a nation through the parted Red Sea, much less healed the sick, walked on water, or raised the dead! Where are the people like me, people that struggle to be the person God calls me to be, every day? One of my most relatable scriptures in the entire Bible is actually written by the Apostle Paul. The first time I read these simple verses, and really took it to heart, I connected with this biblical giant on an entirely new level. Romans 7:18 I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. If you have come to this same painful realization in your life at some point, then congratulations, you are at least as good as the Apostle Paul! Our response to this honest appraisal of our sinful hearts, is critical. Listen as Paul reveals the antidote of his hopeless condition. Romans 7:24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let’s not stop at recognizing that we are all broken and sinful, let’s also remember that there is an answer to our condition found in a daily, faith filled relationship with Jesus Christ. This can never be used as a license to sin, or an excuse for sin; God's expectation is holiness and our best life will be found in its pursuit. However, when you fail, and we all fail, God's grace is sufficient for you.

Stacey Burkholder

March 26, 2020

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BE EMPOWERED BY YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES (Part I)

 

“Consider it pure JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces PERSEVERANCE.  Let PERSEVERANCE finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

 

Between any trial and the blessing that comes from that trial, there is a pathway I must walk – that pathway is perseverance.  (Lysa Teurkeurst, “Made to Crave”)

 

We look at our circumstances, and we just don’t understand WHY we are going through a trial. But we must TRUST in the LORD, and KNOW that HE is in control.

 

Our job is to pray, and seek the LORD.  When we pray, and live a life that is obedient to HIS WORD, He fights our battles.  REMEMBER, WE ARE VICTORS not victims.

 

Dear Lord, thank you for this day.  Direct me in the choices I make, and EMPOWER me for the job YOU have set forth for me to accomplish. Lord, help me not to limit YOU or minimize YOUR greatness!!!

Amy Walter

March 25, 2020

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Spring has a way of ushering in natural changes and transitions, from graduations, to moves, to weddings, new jobs, and new seasons of life. This season, the coronavirus initiated a new kind of unknown, an indefinite suspension of our daily normal. One grounding strategy when you feel yourself spiraling in the unknowns of the next season is to distinguish between “What I’m waiting on” and “What I know.” Establish a practice of naming these, writing them down, and returning to them after a time has passed, using the margins to follow-up with how and when God answered those insecurities and confidences. Take comfort in what you know to be true for this season, and surrender the unknown to God. Ephesians 3:20 promises us, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV). Brooke Turner said it well on the “But Not All At Once” podcast, episode 47, “Don’t try to peer around the bend. Take it one day at a time. We are not called to figure out every way this could end.” God is in control.

Ashley Bartley

March 24, 2020

CONTACT US

1275Goose Creek Rd.

Fishersville, VA 22939

540-712-0770

info@bridgechristian.church

OFFICE HOURS

Monday-Thursday 7:30am-2pm

Friday 7:30am-1pm

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