FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Kathy Horn

 

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1

 

A careful reading of the parable shows us how we can effectively pray.

In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, "Grant me justice against my adversary."  For some time, he refused. But finally, he said to himself, "Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!"

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:6-8b

 

First, we can see from this parable that we should pray BOLDLY.  The widow had little social standing and yet she boldly approached the judge.  We boldly approach God because we do have standing—we are His beloved children.

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Eph. 3:12

 

Second, we should pray PERSISTENTLY.  The widow repeatedly kept coming to the judge with her plea. She had no other options.  We truly don’t, either.  

Apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5b

If we do not boldly persist in prayer then we “are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all we need in life.  We’ll always be a little too tired, a little too busy to pray.  But if, like Jesus, we realize we can’t do life on our own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired, we will find the time to pray.”  (A Praying Life by Paul Miller)

 

Finally, we should pray TRUSTINGLY.  The widow boldly persisted in pleading with an unjust judge in whom she had no reason to trust.  Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sacrificed His own Son to death on a cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins. His sacrifice gave us the opportunity to be in relationship with God when we trust Him for our salvation.  We can now trust Him to hear our prayers and to answer.

 

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7

As we pray for the needs in our community, may we not give up. Let us pray boldly, persistently, and trustingly.

 

Dear God, our Heavenly Father, only You are able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us. Please move in our hearts and give us an even deeper love for our community.  Give us Your wisdom as we expand our ministries.  Give us courage to not only meet physical and emotional needs, but spiritual needs as well.  May this be the year that we each obey your command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Ann Jackson

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Matthew 26:41

Jesus has just finished what we commonly call the Last Supper with His apostles. They have walked to the Garden of Gethsemane. He is about to be betrayed by one of His own. His flesh and blood life is soon to be over. He is going to suffer an agonizing physical death and a more agonizing spiritual torture: bearing every vile, disgusting, violent sin that ever was and will ever be committed by mankind. And He is well aware of it. His disciples have just pledged their undying loyalty to Him. So, when He says He’s overwhelmed with sorrow and asks them to stay with Him while He prays, what do they do? They fall asleep.  Only a few hours later Peter will deny Him, and the rest will scatter and hide.

It’s so easy for us as humans to do the same thing. We accept Jesus. We want to serve and be good disciples. We know we should read the Bible, help others with our time and treasure. But when it’s time to do any of these things, how often our weak flesh betrays us. We set the alarm a half-hour early to read Scripture, then when it goes off we roll over and go back to sleep. We know we should tithe, but maybe we’d rather buy those new pants or go to that concert. We need to visit that sick friend or parent in the nursing home, but it’s been a long day, and we just don’t feel like it. I know I’ve done all those things and more.

Discipleship doesn’t happen just when it’s convenient or when we feel like it. Easy was never a promise Jesus made when He asked us to follow Him. But He gave us tools to help us overcome our weak flesh. It’s in the first part of the passage, “Watch and pray.” We can watch for opportunities for serving God. We can pray not to give in to our weaknesses. He will always give us strength when called to do His will.

Prayer— Father, I know I am weak, but I desire to carry out Your will as Your disciple.  Please give me the strength to _______________________ . Nothing is too hard when You are leading me.  I pray in Jesus’ name. 

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Alva, Amanda, and Jocelynn Catt

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God tells us in these verses to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. He doesn’t say give thanks when things go our way. He tells us to give thanks in ALL things. It isn’t always easy to be thankful in the hard times or depressing times, but those are the times that we need to remember & meditate on His Word even more. Our faith doesn’t take our problems away, it gives us the capabilities to manage our problems.

When we take all three of these and put them together, it is praising the Lord. We should praise in all seasons of our lives. We’ve had a season in our life when it was extremely hard to praise Him in all circumstances. After our motorcycle accident we lost a lot; our house, our jobs, our lives as we knew them. We couldn’t care for ourselves let alone a 3 year-old. What was God doing, how could we praise Him in this time, when we didn’t even know how we were going to live?

We are here to tell you it is not easy, but it is possible. We found many ways to praise Him. We are still alive for our child, we were blessed with so many family & friends, we were blessed with wonderful doctors who knew just how to care for us. There are so many things we were thankful for, we could go on forever. 

But, one major thing was the fact that we had lost our jobs. We couldn’t work, how were we going to live with NO income? Boy, were we ever put in our place by the Lord. We weren’t the ones taking care of it, the Lord was. He had family and loved ones there for us. As family (church family included), they were there to pray for us and care for us. God always had a plan. Just when I thought there was no way this was going to work out, or that bill wasn’t going to get paid, He took care of it. We rejoiced in our times of trouble for what we did have. Our loved ones prayed with us CONTINUALLY. We all also gave thanks for the blessings He gave us.

We have to remember that even when we don’t see the end, He does. He has a much bigger plan that we could ever dream! It is important to remember that He doesn’t want us to be alone. We have others who are there for us to pray, to help, to love on us. We just have to allow them in.

Thank you, Lord for blessing us with the family You have put around us. May we see each other through Your eyes so that we can love deeper, respect more, and do so with unwavering mercy.

 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Taylor Plummer

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us and make us new from all past sins. It is important to notice that God is referred to as faithful and just, to remind us that we do not deserve to be forgiven and purified of our sins, but that He is willing to wipe our slate clean if we confess our sins. This is the essence of God’s love and grace. He willingly forgives us time after time, a favor we could never return.

As I reflect on my life, I can attest to the truth in this verse. When I was baptized a little over four years ago, I confessed my sins at the foot of the cross. I was then baptized and felt what it is like to be pure of all unrighteousness. When I was laid back in the water and lifted back up, it felt like the old me was still in the water and the new me was standing in my skin. This is what God yearns to give us through His forgiveness; He is eager to make us feel new, pure, and more like Him.

The truth within 1 John 1:9 has played pivotal roles in my walk with God, and today when I read it, I still feel a tug in my heart about things I need to confess. When I read this verse, I hear God speak every time. He points out little things that I keep hidden and calls them to the light, and once they are in the light, I do not have to hide them anymore. Confessing our sins and bringing the darkness we hide to light allows us to experience the purity God has to offer us. And the purity we can feel through confession is something we can achieve no other way.

Confession is only the first step to the purity God has to offer, though. Having a disciple walk alongside you after your time of confession keeps you accountable and ultimately makes it a lot easier for you to succeed. Through my journey, I have had one accountability partner and she has helped me stay pure day after day.  Although it is still a struggle, she offers encouraging words each and every day. Confession is not easy, but with a disciple by your side, it will be easier.

Pray that God would let you hear what you need through 1 John 1:9. Pray that He speaks to you about whatever sins you need to bring out of the darkness and into the light. Ask Him to forgive you for those sins and pray that He gives you the name of a disciple to help you along. And finally, thank Him for His faithfulness and grace. 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Jim Johnson

Do you ever find yourself sitting and staring, not at anything, but at everything? I’m blessed with this human dilemma! Life is a bunch of newsreels flashing in my mind sometimes. Whenever I have time to sit and reflect (sometimes in a worried state), contemplating what I need to pray for, who I need to pray for, how I need to pray for, when do I pray for, why do I pray for; well you get the gist of what I’m talking about.

It’s not always this way but sometimes we can’t help but get overwhelmed with thoughts of how many responsibilities we have just to provide for our family's needs let alone the needs of our community.

 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

 

In this passage the apostle Paul is talking to the believers in Christ, the ones who’ve been set free from the bondage of this world and all of its circumstances that would take our eyes off the true prize— the hope of our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He’s telling us point blank, "Don’t be discouraged when life gets hard! That’s when God does his best work through the Holy Spirit who abides in us. God is not confused!!"

 

And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  Romans 8:27

 

So as God examines our hearts with the intercession of the Holy Spirit on our behalf, He does it ACCORDING TO HIS WILL! You, the believer, should take great comfort in this truth!

All this said to ask you to prayerfully consider what God would have you do through the Community Outreach Ministry to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, those who don’t have the comfort that we enjoy.  Even when we don't know what to ask for, God does, and He helps us with His Holy Spirit, according to His will. 

Pray for our leaders, the pastors, the elders, the small groups, and the teams of volunteers to reveal the WHO! Who am I supposed to reach, who am I supposed to help, who do I know who needs to know the truth of the hope that is within us. How can we all be the hands and feet to the lost?

Dear Father God, help us, Lord! Reveal to us, Father, what it is or who it is that You’ve already made provision for. Use us, Lord, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the best of our abilities and please, please, please don’t let the world or circumstances, doubts and fears, the enemy, keep us from doing those things that you have called us, Your disciples, Your people, to do each and every day to spread Your Love, Your Hope, Your Grace, Your Mercy!

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Kris Baker

 

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.  John 15:7

 

There is a marked difference between knowing of Jesus and truly knowing Jesus.  To abide means to remain, to accept and to stay.  There are many ways one can stay close to Jesus to experience this abiding love, however; I believe it is impossible as a Christian to be His disciple, to be changed by Jesus, on mission with Jesus or in communion with Jesus if you are not living closely with Him.  

John 15:7 is an “if, then” verse.  The first portion of this scripture is the “if” portion; “if you abide in Me and My words abide in you.”  Can you imagine that the God of the universe wants to not only guide you, be with you, and love you, but He wants to abide IN you? I have found that there are key things I must do as a follower of Christ to experience this closeness, this abiding love of Jesus. 

A key component to remaining in Christ is through prayer, First Thessalonians 5:17 says, ”never stop praying.”  Talk to your Savior daily, all through the day making conversation with Him habitual.  Another key to closeness with Christ is by reading His word and applying it to our lives.  The Bible opens our hearts and minds to His desire, His will and His guidance in all circumstances and situations. Another and often more difficult way to experience this abiding love is to love others as Christ loved us, which includes sharing His gospel so that others can know of His love and the gift of eternal salvation.

If we abide in Christ and He abides in us, then His promises abide in us, His truth abides in us, His commandments abide in us and most of all, His love abides in us.  That abiding love leads to the “then” condition of John 15:7  - “ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.”  Our greatest desire as followers of Jesus should be to bear fruit as stated in a previous verse— John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit." 

My greatest desire as a Christian, as a disciple should be to bear fruit; to see others come to know the grace, mercy and love of Jesus.  

 

Lord, thank You that You allow me Your abiding love and presence. Lord, thank You for Your Word that guides me towards Your truth and will for my life.  May I glorify You by remaining close to You through prayer, reading Your word and sharing Your love with others.  Open my heart and mind to those that do not know of this abiding love and give me Your courage and words as I share Your gospel.  May the joy of my life be found in You and sharing You with others.  

Thank You for SCC, where Your word is active and Your love is evident.  May we as a church and as individual members lead others to Christ, making disciples so that we may have generation after generation of Christian believers.

 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Jeff and Tammy Achenbach

 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of Him.  1 John 5:14-15

 

John is speaking to fellow Christians and tells them they can be confident in God hearing their prayers. Knowing and praying God’s will produces the results we hope for and accomplishes His plan. A wonderful example of this is when the 2017 Christmas offering far exceeded our need!  It is God’s will for SCC to reach our surrounding community and the prayers of many were answered in true God-like form.

The health of our state, county, and ultimately our world begins with community. Praying God's will for our community and for SCC’s role in achieving it, as stated in 1 John, will produce miraculous results. We can all be confident in that.

 

Prayer:  Holy Father, we are thankful for the confidence You have given us in what we pray for. So now we come boldly before You asking these things for SCC and our relationship with our Community. We ask You to use us to do Your will! Let us see people the way You see people.  When our Community looks at us may they see You.

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Grace Dile

 

"Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."  Jeremiah 33:3

 

“Call to me…” — God starts out by openly telling Jeremiah to call to Him.  In other words, God wants him to talk and pray to Him.  As God spoke these words, Jeremiah sat in prison feeling hopeless as the city was under attack. God wants to hear from you on a regular basis.  He wants you to call to Him no matter what season of life you may be in.  If that’s the case, why do we so easily run to the people in our lives for guidance and advice but when it comes to praying to our Almighty God, we often times avoid talking to Him?  When you “call to God” you’re saying, "I trust You and I know that it is not me who is in control, but You." 

It’s not always easy for us to humble ourselves like that and to allow God into the depths of our innermost thoughts.  Even though He is already well aware of our feelings within, He wants us to tell Him about it as if He’s hearing it for the very first time.  Why would he do that?  Because He wants a relationship with you and with me. 

The God of the universe specifically wants each of us to talk to Him.  Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

“…and I will answer you…” — As patient as God is waiting on us to call upon Him, we too should wait on Him, trusting and believing that He will answer us.  

His timing is far beyond what we can understand.  Waiting on your answer could take a couple hours or it could be revealed to you years later in your life.  Notice that God tells us He will answer us — not that He will give us the answer we want.  Sometimes what we think we want for our lives isn’t God’s will.  We only see what is right in front of us whereas God sees our lives from beginning to end.  Regardless of whether or not the answer to your prayers is a “yes," “no," or a “not right now," He will give you an answer when you ask Him.

“…and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” — Those great and unsearchable things we do not know go far deeper than the basic earthly facts of our lives like where we will live, what our jobs will be, or if we’ll get married.  Through prayer God will show you the greatness of His love for you, His unending faithfulness, His unwavering mercy and grace, the truth of His ways, and how dear you are to Him.  Through prayer and a relationship, God refines us into His disciples!

 

As a church family and within our own families how can we apply this verse to our prayer lives?  It starts when you call to God and begin praying for your family.  We are called to pray for those around us and why not start with your own household?  Get your family together and unite as one.  Pray for your kids, your parents, and your siblings with those same kids, parents, and siblings.  The Bible says that for where two or more are gathered, there God is also (Matthew 18:20).  God joins us when we gather together.  What better way to strengthen your prayer life than to gather with your loved ones and talk to the One who loves you the most!

I encourage you to start this prayer with me and finish it in your own heart to Him:

Dear Lord, I come before You now and ask that You show my family how to call upon You and……

 

 

 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Jeremy Kessler and Family

"I call on You, O God, for You will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." Psalm 17:6

David is chosen by God to rule over many people, to lead them to know God's will and love. During this time, he has many tests and hardships and he has only God to turn to. So throughout most of his story and writing, he is speaking directly to God.

"Call" as in he's speaking to Him; "will" because he knows God will answer him, he believes so much that God is there listening and giving His answer, that His will is being done; "give" because God is loving and charitable; and "ear to me and hear" because God not only hears our prayers, but has His ear on us in our hearts and minds always. God is always with us and within us.

Through so many of our hardships we knew God had a plan for it all. We knew that we only had to ask what lesson we were supposed to learn and He would reveal it to us when it was His will. We believed absolutely that He was with us, listening to our prayers, our heart, and mind so as to answer any doubts we could've had.

Knowing that God was and is with us through hardships, and that His will is what is best for us to grow, also gives us the knowledge and some understanding to share God's unquestionable love with others. We have a hope that it is God's plan that our testimony be shared with others so they may know us as an example of God's absolute and eternal love, and that He knows what is best.

We very much encourage others to pray for themselves and our church family, too— pray to be a disciple of God and our Savior Jesus Christ, because as great a feeling as it is knowing God, it is even greater to share that love with others, to help others, encourage others. And all of this is the duty and pride of a believer.  As a family of believers at SCC, we take this duty to heart, to hold each other accountable, and to love our community so that the Word can be shared with the world.

Lord, I pray for the honor of being a disciple. I pray to be a part of Your family in my church family, to use all that You gift us with to share Your love, to share everything we take for granted with those we come across. I pray…

 

 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Mark Farnsley

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”     Ephesians 6:18-20

Ephesians chapter 6 addresses our reality; as a community we exist in a war zone. The apostle spells out the essential equipment provided for our success as fully equipped, trained soldiers and then directs the soldiers to do what?  Pray.

Do you remember the first time you were with an adult around a piece of equipment like a lawnmower, a tractor, or a vehicle, and that person turned to you and said, “Here, you try it”? In that moment, you were struck with the moment of entrusting.  You got to put your own hands on the wheel and see the results.  The directive to pray is a non–stop reliving of that exciting moment from long-ago when He decided we were destined to rule. Not from our own wisdom, but from His— daily experiencing His over–the–top goodness that could literally turn a lost world upside down through the work of a community called the Church.

Pray. Take the wheel. Don’t be scared. You are part of a community where imperfect is ok.  Starting for the first time is ok.  

In his book Victory in Spiritual Warfare, Pastor Tony Evans writes,

            “Simply defined, prayer is earthly permission for heavenly interference.”

Does that surprise you? Good. Let go of what you thought prayer was. It isn’t the spare tire in your trunk for “just in case.” It is the essential steering wheel and you should grab onto it and hang on!

It’s true. God is waiting on us to choose, to set aside ourselves as the focus and serve with the excitement of children with their hands on the wheel for the first time. And since it’s God we’re talking about, think BIG!  Heaven is waiting for your directive, celebrating your coming joy and amazement as you decide you want one thing: His glory. With that mindset, prayer is the connection to the bewildering vastness of unthinkably great possibilities. We stay close to the Church, the body, and persevere, persistent in anticipation like anxious children knowing something great is about to happen for the lost around us. Pray. God trusts you to live out the love of His Son, Jesus. “Here, you try it!”

Prayer:  “Lord, help me get past dressing up for battle and not showing up for it. I need the pure joy of a child climbing down from your lap anxious to try out the life of prayer. I need you to set aside ____________ in me. Rule over my distractions!  Whatever they are, they aren’t lasting and can’t bring me joy.  Take my heart past all that to the real, compelling adventure of praying for the community around me.  Help me grip the wheel and not let go! Amen.”