Friday, September 14, 2018

Devotional 9-14-18

Help yourself with God !!

James 4:7-8 (Common English Bible (CEB))
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Back in the 70’s there was a TV show called “Laugh In” and during the show a phase was often used “the devil made me do it !! ”.  Well this phrase caught on and it seemed as everyone would use it at some time.  We all thought it was funny to use and blame everything that we did on the devil and depending on how it was used, we would laugh.
There are times though that the devil does try to disrupt our lives.  It is those times that we need to come closer to God.  Pray for God’s almighty hand to guide us and strengthen us to make right decisions.  To help us reject the what the devil is placing in front of us.

When a person in the United Methodist Church; joins the church, is confirmed into the church, is baptized for the first time or even wishes to reaffirm their faith.  A Litany from the UMC Book of Worship is used.
Below is a portion of the Litany that is asked of the individual.
“On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you:
    Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
      reject the evil powers of this world,
      and repent of your sin?

    Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
      to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
      in whatever forms they present themselves?

    Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,
      put your whole trust in his grace,
      and promise to serve him as your Lord,
      in union with the Church which Christ has opened
      to people of all ages, nations, and races?”
Reference UMC Book of Worship

When we reject evil (devil) forces of this world, call upon God to help us and for us to accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we can be a powerful force !!!!  Our life and the life of others can be made whole.

God, I call upon you to help me through my troubles and decisions.  Guide me away from whatever the evil is placed in front of me, so that my life will be as full as it can be.  Then God, help me become the disciple that Jesus wants me to be to all I encounter, so that they too will have the joy I have through you and Christ Jesus.


If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior or you are in need of guidance, please seek the guidance of a pastor at our church or one close to you.

May the peace of God be with you.

Fred Herr

Friday, September 7, 2018

Devotional 9-7-18

Summer vacation has come to a close, so three weeks ago, my husband and I picked up 4 of our grandchildren after the first day of school in our van. You cannot believe the excitement that day.  The noise level was unbelievably loud.  All four of them wanted to tell us about their first day back to school at the same time.  They had so much to tell us and they all wanted to be the first to tell us because they were so excited and so energetic.  Each one tried to talk over the others, so they had to be the loudest, so we could hear them first.  Whew!!! It was crazy in that van!!

But isn’t this commonplace today, when we want to share a story with someone.  Whether we are in an office or a restaurant or at home, we find ourselves getting louder so we can be heard over everyone else and everything else that is going on around us.  We just want to be heard, so we can tell our important story.

In James 3:1-12, we hear about “taming the tongue”. “The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.”  You see, it really is difficult to control our tongue.  We have something important to say and we do not want to wait. Our tongue can get us into so much trouble so quickly.  So often it controls us, not us controlling it.

The author of James explains that with God’s help we can slow down and think first, so we can control what we are about to say. The words we speak can harm and hurt or they can encourage.  The words we speak can destroy or build up.  If we love God, we must love all of God’s children as well.  What are we going to tell others and what tone are we going to use to tell them?

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that “the tongue has the power of life and death.” What a responsibility for us to carry every minute of every day. Can you, with God’s help, stop before you speak? How will you use your tongue today?

Rev. Suzanne Ellis

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Devotional 9-1-18

How Are WE?

Not counting mowing our own lawn and that of my grandparents as a 12-13 year old I have worked…at something since I was 15. I helped a contractor build a house before I had a driver’s license and had to wait at the end of our street (this was a summer job by the way) for the contractor or a worker to pick me up. The list of jobs reads like the “what to expect when you arrive” page for an upcoming job fair: construction worker, prep cook (I made 600 – from scratch – buttermilk biscuits every shift), short order cook, telephone installer, real estate appraiser…and so on. Twice on this list you would you encounter the job title of table waiter. At either time I can’t say that I was ever taught or trained how to wait on tables…just a lot of common sense and a longer list of DON’T’S (like spill the food on the customers, stick your fingers in their food, NEVER NEVER NEVER put a glass glass into the ice machine…you get it).  Because of our schedules we tend to eat out a lot. From the moment we walk in, the greeting seems to be standard – almost as if it is in the 2018 training video, the host or hostess says, “How are WE?” WE? You mean ME? The same WE conversation continues at the table, “Are WE ready to order?” Have WE decided on a drink?” “Do WE want dessert?” WE WE WE! It would appear that in an attempt to connect with the customer and IRRITATES me! All of this group hug good feeling is going to fade to gone when the check comes. At that point the paper is passed and WE are not paying…I am paying.

I wonder if I could make a difference at work or at the grocery store or at church if I were to take on the WE position. Show up and ask, “How are WE?” and MEAN it. Your well-being is my well-being. I am the church, you are the church, WE are the church together. I do want to know how WE are. I want to be part of your life. I want to know what you like, what you don’t like, what troubles you, what makes you happy. And when it’s time to pay > with a compliment, with a prayer, with financial help, with physical tasks…I’m still here, and it will be WE paying the check.

James 2:17…So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Steve Matthews

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Devotional 8-25-18

Please read John 6:35 and 41-51. 

The scene for this scripture is the day after the miraculous feeding of the 5000 and after Jesus and, briefly, Peter, had walked on water. In spite of the fact the disciples had witnessed that miracle they are asking Jesus about the bread.

Jesus replies that “I am the bread of life.” What does Jesus mean by that bold claim. As I reflected on this, I learned some things about bread.

Bread is one of the one of the most basic foods in the world.  It has been an important part of human’s diet for thousands of years. In fact, scholars suggest that humans were baking bread at least 30,000 years ago.

The first breads were probably flatbreads like matzo, pita, naan and tortillas.  Leavening is what makes bread rise into a light and fluffy loaf. The first leavened bread was likely the result of an accident, probably from a neglected bowl of leftover porridge. Some passing yeast in the air made a home in it. When the yeast began eating the sugars present in grain, and produced bubbles that resulted in light, airy, dough.

I found something else interesting; the Arabic word for bread is the same as the word for life. And in English, while we have different words for bread and life, bread is so basic that the term “bread” is often used for food in general.
When we have a meal, we “break bread.”

In our culture, money is nearly as important as bread. What is a slang word for money? Bread!

Bread: our most basic human need. And Jesus said, "I am the bread of life."

Jesus' words, "I am the bread of life," fit into a larger story. Jesus had set a table on a hillside, where bread seemed scarce, and yet bread was abundant.

This miracle of abundance reminded the original audience and us of the manna in the wilderness, where the people were fed when they were wandering in the desert.

Jesus reminds his disciples that in the kingdom of God, bread is for everyone. In the kingdom of God, God is the source of abundance.

In God’s kingdom, there is bread for all.

In God’s kingdom, bread shall no longer be a tool of empire, a product of toil, the reminder of slavery and sin. Bread will be again as it was intended, the life of the world.

Another time, when Jesus taught us to pray, he taught us to pray for our daily bread. In that same prayer, he teaches us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.

As we live into God’s kingdom in this world, we need to do our part to see that all are fed. There’s more than enough to go around, yet some people don’t have bread. It’s not enough to give them pie in the sky. Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom of God is both not yet, and already.

This is the wisdom of God, the miracle of Jesus: that all will be fed, and that that the struggles of a world based on scarcity are passing. The time of abundance is not yet, and already.

Rev. Jeff Taylor

Friday, August 17, 2018

Devotional 8-17-18

...but Jesus said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. --Matthew 19:14

I recently read Kristin Hannah's latest book, The Great Alone.  The central character is a girl whose dysfunctional father and co-dependent mother move to Alaska to "live off the grid" in the 70's. They are totally unprepared for such an adventure and the girl is the "adult" in the family. I knew this was a work of fiction, yet could hardly sleep while reading it, worrying about this poor child. I'm aware enough to know that there are similar children, right under my nose, leading lives of quiet desperation. 

I asked a friend who works with the WV Children's Home Society what is one thing people can do to help children in our communities. She replied," The one thing that keeps coming to my mind is mentor.  We need mentors for these kids, and that can take many different forms, but so many of these kids and their families just need to know there are people out there who care."  Our church has a backpack program which sends weekend food home with needy children at a local elementary school. I believe most every church in town has a similar program. That's a start.

I know both of our local high schools have food pantries, and I believe the middle schools do as well. Perhaps you can help stock the shelves in those pantries. Food, clothing, school supplies, so much need. But the children also need LOVE. That often comes from a teacher, a volunteer, someone willing to reach out.

My friend emphasized reaching out not only to the children, but to their families. This dedicated social worker mentioned helping with exterminations costs (bed bugs on the rise), power bills, etc. 
As this school year is starting, please pray for the teachers, aides, counselors, bus drivers, cooks, janitors, and coaches, who interact with and may be the only positive role models in the lives of our children, and give them a pat on the back and offer them your support.

Anita Gardner Farrell

Dear God,
Grant our teachers an abundance of Your wisdom. Prepare their hearts to welcome and love our loved ones, and may we make sure to show them love and respect in return. Give them grace as they help students who aren’t thriving, courage to say what needs to be said, tools and knowledge on how and when to speak love, and strength when they feel weak. When they feel unseen, remind them that no moment goes unnoticed. They are shaping the future in one million small - yet incredibly important - ways every day. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of learning they share with our children. Bless them, Lord, and may they see even just a glimpse of how their faithfulness will forever impact generations to come.  Amen. Kaitlyn Bouchillon

Friday, August 10, 2018

Devotional 8-10-18

“Ask for the Best” 

Lectionary Readings:  1Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5: 15-20; & John 6: 51-58

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  Solomon answered:.…So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”  1 Kings 3: 5, 9.

Wow! What a mighty God! What a fantastic dream!  Despite the information that Solomon’s request took place in a dream, we are told a few verses later that God granted Solomon’s request.  In addition to a wise and discerning heart, God also granted Solomon many riches, honor, and a long life.  The only stipulation required was for Solomon to walk in God’s ways and obey his statutes and commands just as David had done before him.  God wanted the very best for Solomon and he wants the best for us as well.  However, we don’t always ask for God’s best gifts. Are we missing something in our daily prayers and conversations with God???

I realize that Solomon had recently become king and was probably feeling the responsibilities of leadership that I will (thankfully) never experience.  But I think it was an extremely smart move on Solomon’s part to request wisdom/discernment.  He asked for the character trait that would give him what he needed most to become a great leader.  Do we ask God to mold our character so that we might do his bidding more effectively? Have I asked for all that God is willing to bestow?

Solomon was not a perfect man or leader, but he accomplished a great deal during his reign including building the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem.  Also according to Bible scholars, Solomon is credited with many of the wise sayings of the Book of Proverbs.  He lived a long life and was recognized as a wise and compassionate ruler—perhaps wiser than all the other kings of the earth (1 Kings 10: 23).  He accomplished all that he did because he continued to obey God and to worship Him as he had been commanded.

I find myself feeling a little jealous of Solomon. What does he have that I don’t?  I know, I know…you don’t have to list the ways our situations are different.  But what might God grant me if I asked for wisdom or some other character trait that would allow me to be of greater service to others? Have I asked for God’s “Best Gift” for me??   First of all, I know I could at least spend more time in conversation with God.  I need to listen more to the messages God is sending me.  I need to be more intentional and regular about daily prayer time.  And most of all, I need to surrender to God’s will and guidance.  Perhaps God has a new plan for each of us if we would only ask for his “Best Gift” for each of us and for God’s will to be done in our lives.
           “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
 Great God of Wisdom and Might, assist us to pursue a renewed commitment to follow your guidance and direction.  Grant us insight into the ways in which we can serve you more effectively and lovingly.  We thank you for the example of Solomon and all of the teachings and gifts you have provided.  Forgive us when we fail to be obedient and faithful to your will. AMEN.
Chyrl Budd

Friday, August 3, 2018

Devotional 8-3-18

“Got no Rhythm” 

I cannot dance, I cannot sing, and I “Got no rhythm!” At Johnson Memorial, I love when we as a congregation sing the song “Shine, Jesus, Shine” because we clap in unison as we say these words.  It is very inspirational to me but very difficult.  No matter how hard I try, my hand clapping is never in unison.  In other words, my hands are out of tune! I have no rhythm. Therefore, I NEVER actually let my hands touch. I call it the “silent” clap.  I enjoy the music, it makes me happy but I cannot join in the clapping at the appropriate moment in the song.

I said one morning to my daughter, “I am embarrassed because I have no rhythm.”  She acknowledged this by saying, “But you have many other gifts.” She was kind in her comment because the whole family knew that I had no rhythm. That got me to thinking. Many times we feel that we cannot do something because we feel inadequate and do not try.  Surely there is something related to it that we can do. In Romans 12: 3-8 we learn about GIFTS.  We all have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. “If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance to your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

I have lived a long life and never really thought about talents or gifts.  But, we all have gifts that can be secular or spiritual.  Many of us do not take time to see the relationship, especially me.  I have been a teacher and counselor as a profession because I liked and enjoyed what I did. But over the years I have learned that the desire to help can be spiritual.  Being a friend to someone who seems lost can be a gift from God. I have a dear friend of many years who is dying from Leukemia.  I am called the “fixer” but this I cannot do.  I call her often and we talk about her plight, meeting with Hospice, and similar conversations.  She says it means so much to hear from me and that it helps. She has been able to talk with a minister.  She has one daughter as I do. Maybe this is my gift from God.  Being a Christian has always been a process for me.  I see the gift of teaching in my daughter as she grows in her faith to teach. Her spiritual growth is an inspiration to me.

We all have talents or gifts that we can use and use well.  God gave them to us but we must learn to recognize them.   We may choose poorly at first, but sweet spiritual success can make the difference. It does not matter if we “Have no rhythm,” we have other gifts!

Lord, hear our prayer,
Give us the desire to keep seeking to learn our spiritual gifts from you so that we can share the sweet spiritual success in working with others.
Carol L. Brown