Author Archives: Editor

January 2015

Farewells and New Beginnings

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. “ Jeremiah 29:11

Farewells are hard. We have all experienced them.  We shed tears, and our hearts break.  Recently I lost my Doberman pinscher, Jordan.  He was my “empty nest” baby.  His death brought home again all the losses I’ve experienced in life. 

During prayer one day it dawned on me that the Bible was full of farewells, beginning with Adam and Eve.  Genesis 3:23 reads “The Lord God sent him forth from the garden.” Imagine the pain, deep sadness, the sorrow in the hears of both God and His two errant children.  Then there’s Cain.  He was sent away after killing his brother.  One son fleeing the only home he knows; a father and mother left to mourn the death of a son and the loss of another.  No doubt these farewells caused heart-wrenching tears.

I thought of Noah.  Everything he knew was gone.  Then there are Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Esau, a family torn apart by deceit.  Joseph – jealousy separated him from his father and brothers.  Moses fled Egypt, fearing for his life.  Young Esther was wrenched from her home and placed in a pagan world.  Widows Ruth and Naomi sought a new life after loss, and Daniel, taken by force, had to serve a foreign king.

Saying goodbye to friends and loved ones is painful.  I could related to the pain found in these stories nut what I came to realize is that with each ending is a new beginning.  As I mourned the losses in my life I was not able to see new beginnings, but they were always there.

Even the New Testament is full of farewells, but the one found in Luke 24:52 had the biggest impact: “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”  Jesus told the disciples that although He was going away, He was preparing a place for them, and one day they would be together again (see John 14:2).  This is the promise and hope I cling to.  It has helped me to deal with the varied losses in my life.

The future spoken about here is for us to live forever, and the hope is the soon return of Jesus.  He will gather the heartbroken, the sad, the lonely, the depressed, the ill, and the waiting multitudes to Him.  He will wipe away our tears.  There will be no more goodbyes.  This new beginning will last forever!

Written by Kathleen Sowards for the Breathe Devotional

A Homerun Christmas Gift

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.  3 John 1:4 

The Christmas season is here! It is time to pull out the shopping list and find the perfect gifts for those special people in your life.

I remember one of the best Christmas days we ever had as a family. My wife, Debbie, loves gifts. It is one of her love languages. I don’t speak that language too well, so communication on that end has not been stellar over the years. But this one Christmas several years ago, I jacked it out of the park.

When Debbie’s mom died, Debbie was given all her jewelry. Debbie’s mom had redone her wedding ring some years earlier, taken the diamonds out of her original set and placed in another ring. Debbie never liked the new arrangement. She had mentioned a time or two about her desire to restore the original wedding set. So, as a surprise to Debbie, I had the original wedding ring redone. It looked GORGEOUS and had so much sentimental value to her. When she opened the box and saw that ring, she began crying big tears of joy. (Then I started crying, and the girls started crying, but they were good tears.) It was the perfect gift for Debbie. I was so thrilled that I blessed her heart with something so special.

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR JESUS

Wouldn’t it be awesome to give Jesus a gift this Christmas that would bring great joy to His heart? Did you know that special gift is out there? It is within reach of every single one of us.

John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). The thing that rejoices the great heart of God is not diamonds or gold (remember that He paves the streets of heaven with gold), but simple obedience to Him. Jesus said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21). Walking in the truth shows God you really love Him, and that brings Him great joy!

I believe the key to walking in the truth is to walk honestly and humbly before the Lord. God is not looking for sinless perfection from you or me. That is a good thing, since you and I cannot live a life of sinless perfection. What God is looking for is openness and honesty before Him. When we mess up, He wants us to fess up. God hates it when we cover up. He cannot work in a heart that is full of cover up. Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” 

This Christmas season make it your goal to give to God what He really wants – to see you walking in the truth. Take Him at His Word and start doing what He says. It is a home run gift for God this Christmas and every day following.

Written by Pastor Jeff Schreve, www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/christmas-devotionals

 

Holloways Youth Leads Ladywood AYS Programme

As part of Ladywood SDA Church Youth Emphasis Day on Sabbath 15th November 2014, the Holloway SDA Church Youth Department were invited to Birmingham to take their AYS programme. The programme, led by Holloway Youth Leader Annell Smith, took the form of a chat show entitled “Talk That Talk”. The team spent the Sabbath day with the Ladywood family and were made to feel welcome by brethren throughout. As the sermon was preached by Bro Troy Flood of Derby Bethal SDA Church, it became obvious that his sermon was divinely inspired, as it fit seamlessly with the AYS topics planned by the Holloway team. The sermon was about not conforming to the world and standing up for God’s truth no matter how unpopular it appears.

During the chat show, various cases (scenarios) were discussed to highlight the temptations and difficulties faced by Christian youths on a daily bases. To open the AY programme, 1Corinthians 10:13 was read to set the scene. The chat show presented three relevant day-to-day scenarios for discussion;

  • Working on the Sabbath
  • Dressing provocatively in search of attention & acceptance
  • Reactions to news of a family member questioning their sexuality.

Each scenario was followed by a “Reflective Break”, led by Holloway’s Youth Pastor, Alec Gage. Each reflective break opened the floor for some lively, frank and engaging discussions with the audience, along with reference to Bible verses as a means of encouragement for those who could relate to the scenarios. As the programme neared completion, the congregation were treated to a counsellor-type review of each scenario, taken by Bro Kirk Sobers, with poignant Biblical references given to emphasis that God will bring us through any situation or dilemma as long as we seek Him first.

The program ended with an alter call led by Pastor Gage and a reminder that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

The day was thoroughly enjoyed and was a blessing to all who attended as the Holloway youth team were thanked for presenting topics of great importance to both youth and adults alike.

November 2014

Prayer: A God-given Purpose

Prayer is the opportunity God gives His children to become intimately acquainted with Him. As a conversation with God, prayer enables the believer to build a personal relationship with The Lord. Prayer is an expression of a believer’s dependence on God and, at the same time, an affirmation of God’s promise to the redeemed for spiritual power.

The primary purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will (1 John 5:14). Jesus in His model prayer told His disciples to ask according to the will of God (Matthew 6:10). When a believer talks to the Father, each request for help and every desire for guidance should be asked in the name of Jesus. All of the conditions related to prayer are bound up in this phrase – “according to His will”.

Prayer provides an opportunity for adoration, praise, thanksgiving, confession of sin, and requests for self and others. Numerous formats for prayer are possible – in fact, prayer is as unique as each person- but all prayer has a central purpose the opportunity to express yourself fully and honestly to the Lord, to listen for His reply (very often in the form of insight, assurance, and joy), and to participate in the “mystery” of seeing God’s purposes on this earth accomplished.

Prayer also offers an opportunity for Christian fellowship and guidance for the church. Prayer is not intended as a means of impressing others or manipulating God (Matthew 6:5,6) but as a way of genuinely seeking God’s strength and direction.

Further Reading – Daniel 2:23, 1John 1(Confession), Psalm 95 (Gratitude), Psalm 149 (Praise), Jeremiah 33, Hebrews 4, 3 John (Prayer)

Extract from the Study Bible

Holloway Launches First Youth Church in History

The result of weeks of prayer, planning and preparation were about to descend upon Holloway SDA Church on 13 September 2014. The youth hall had been cleared and the chairs carefully arranged to receive an unprecedented number of young people for the first youth church of its kind in Holloway’s history.

As the clock approached 11am, the queue had started forming outside. The pianist stroked the keys with the chords of a familiar hymn; the Praise Team hummed gently as they made final adjustments to the mikes Pastor Alec sat poised behind the preaching stand, as groups of teenagers and young adults stepped through the swinging double doors to take their seats in the worship circle. 

No one expected Youth Church to be filled to the capacity that it was that Sabbath. By 11.30am the hall was filled with over 80 young people of all ages and backgrounds, ready to fully engage in the worship service, which they all did. 

“You are making history today” Pastor Alec said as he addressed the crowd of happy faces. It was clear that many had invited friends, family and their children to share the historical experience with them. But this is not to become a one time event, Holloway Youth Church is about creating an environment where young people who have or have not professed a faith in Jesus can bring their prayers, questions, testimonies, praise and offerings to God without inhibition. It’s meant to be a safe environment where people feel comfortable sharing their weakness and challenges without fear of judgement or ridicule. 

There was no holding back the youth when it came to giving testimonies that day; hearts were uplifted and encouraged as countless people shared breakthroughs with their health, families, finances, work and studies. How many of these testimonies would have gone amiss without an environment where the youth could feel comfortable sharing with their peers what God had brought them through that week? 

As Pastor Alec highlighted in his sermon about the rich young ruler, many people still believe Christianity is something that you do, rather than something that you are. The rich young ruler met the real Jesus that day and realized that in fact the things that he thought he owned actually owned him! As the group pondered on these final words and the closing song was sung, the young people clearly wanted to linger a little longer in the atmosphere with their peers and with God, which is what Youth Church is all about.

Holloway Youth Church is a parallel service to the main church service held at Holloway SDA Church from 11:15am – 1pm, in the Youth Hall, the second Sabbath of every month.

 

 

October 2014

More Than Anything

Bible Texts: Matthew 19:26, John 6:40, 2 Peter 3:9

Jesus plainly stated that if we trust Him, He will grant us eternal life.  This promise is meant to give us hope and peace.  But I have to be honest and say that I find it difficult to feel the job He intended His words to provide.  Is it possible you can hear about something so many times that it ceases to have an effect on you?  I think about how many times I’ve heard my pastor extol the “blessed hope” of the resurrection, about how many times I’ve talked about it, sung about it, and read about it.  Still, at times the resurrection seems like a far-off hope that is only relevant to those who are near death.

Do you wonder if the promise to eternal life has any practical implications for the here and now? If so, I would answer this way:

Learn to love your neighbour Because there is a resurrection, your neighbour today might just be your neighbour forever.  Remember, the resurrection isn’t just for you and your friends.  God wants to save everyone (2 Peter 3:9).  In that “everyone” there’s bound to be some people you won’t like.  For example, the co-worker who tried to undermine you, the person at church who spreads rumours about you, the friend you disrespected and to whom you never apologised, or the person who is living an alternative lifestyle.  We won’t be able to agree to stay away from each other in the hereafter.

Find a specific reason to love your neighbour This is not an easy task, but if there were ever a situation where the promise of Matthew 19:26 applies, it is this.  Some people seem impossible to love, but Jesus said that “with God all things are possible”.

Forget about all the times people have wronged you Let God take care of these situations.  Ask Him to help you forgive these people.  Some of them just might be living near you in Heaven!

SDA Collegiate Lesson Study

 

September 2014

Woman on a Mission

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?'” John 4:28-29 (NIV)

When you leap into the arms of Jesus, you never know where He’ll carry you. As a new Christian, I was certain God called me to a distant mission field. Really distant: Indonesia.

True, I’d only been a believer six months, after a wild and wooly decade as a seriously Bad Girl. I also had no husband at the time, no COLLEGE DEGREE and little knowledge about Indonesia other than where it landed on a map. Still, I knew that Christians were called to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15, NIV). Shouldn’t I go too?

When I threw myself at a mission board, certain they’d be thrilled to take me, the director was very kind. He listened, nodded, took notes. And then he said the last thing I expected to hear: “I’m sorry, Liz. But … no.”

My heart sank. I thought if you offered to live in a hut and eat beetles, they’d say, “Great! Sign here.”

Then he explained why I wasn’t the best candidate for foreign missions: “Liz, you’re already well versed in a culture most Christians know little about.”

I knew where this was going. He meant my old life. My Bad Girl life.

His voice softened. “Do you know the story of the woman at the well? After she met Jesus, she went back to town, where everyone knew her sordid story, and she told them about Jesus. That’s what you need to do.”

“You mean the people I used to hang out with?” My cheeks grew hot even thinking about it. “The people I partied with? The men I slept with? Those people?”

I could feel Indonesia slipping away as I pictured the faces of friends I knew well — and who knew way too much about me. People as lost and confused as I’d once been. People who needed to know Jesus.

“Never fear,” the director said as he placed a gentle hand on my shoulder and escorted me to the door. “God will take care of Indonesia.”

So, I went back to Louisville and told my story. No hut, no beetles, yet a mission field for which I was already qualified, simply because I spoke their language. And because I loved them.

Soon one coworker came to know Jesus. Then another. Then a third. Who knew?

God knew. But He never forgot my heart for Indonesia.

Twenty years after my no-go with the mission board, I stood in my publisher’s booth at a Christian booksellers convention. The guy in charge of international rights pulled me aside and said, “Liz, please meet Yani with World Harvest.”

A tiny woman with thick, black hair looked up, her face radiant, “I am in the process of translating three of your books into my country’s language.”

“Wonderful!” I beamed at her. “What country might that be?”

She beamed back. “Indonesia.”

Oh my. To think that my words would travel there, even if I never did! Only God could manage such a thing.

And He wasn’t finished. When I shared my experience at an evangelism conference, one of the guest speakers approached me. “Liz, would you like to speak in Indonesia?”

My heart skipped a beat. Would I?! I could barely get out the words. “W-who would my audience be?”

“Women,” she assured me, then smiled. “Missionaries.”

Lord, the tenderness of Your mercy overwhelms me. You miss nothing. You care about everything. You answer our deepest longings, according to Your perfect will and perfect timing. You know our mission fields, Lord, far better than we do. Help us serve You, wherever You send us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 2:8b, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:20-21, “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)

© 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

 

Faith

Faith

I came across this short film and thought it was very inspirational. This film is directed by Eugene X Ramos and written by Ehren Tacdiran. 

This video is to encourage all of us that though we may be very down and have nearly given up on God, we should stay strong and believe that He will make a way for us. We need to have faith and spend time with Him reading His word and communicating with Him.

 

August 2014

Simple, Believing Prayer

And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. —MATTHEW 6:7

We must develop confidence in simple, believing prayer. We need the confidence that even if we simply say, “God, help me,” He hears and will answer. We can depend on God to be faithful to do what we have asked Him to do, as long as our request is in accordance with His will. Too often we get caught up in our own works concerning prayer.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that prayer is simply conversation with God. The length or volume or eloquence of our prayer is not the issue, it is the sincerity of our heart and the confidence we have that God hears and will answer us that is important.

Sometimes we try to sound so devout and elegant that we get lost. If we could ever get delivered from trying to impress God, we would be a lot better off.

Several years ago God caused me to realize that when I had occasion to pray out loud in front of other people, I really was not talking to Him at all. I was actually trying to impress those listening with my eloquent, spiritual-sounding prayer. Simple, believing prayer comes straight out of the heart of the one praying and goes straight to the heart of God.

First Thessalonians 5:17 says, Be unceasing in prayer [praying persever-ingly] or as the King James Version puts it, Pray without ceasing. If we don’t understand simple, believing prayer, that instruction can come down upon us like a very heavy burden. We may feel that we are doing well to pray thirty minutes a day, so how can we possibly pray without ever stopping? We need to have such confidence about our prayer life that prayer becomes just like breathing, an effortless thing that we do every moment we are alive.

We don’t work and struggle at breathing, unless we have a lung disorder, and neither should we work and struggle at praying. I don’t believe we will struggle in this area if we really understand the power of simple, believing prayer. We should remember that prayer is made powerful by the sincerity of it and the faith behind it.

By Joyce Meyer – from her website, hosted August 01, 2014 http://www.joycemeyer.org/Articles/Devotional.aspx

July 2014

Nature’s Free Gym

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.  Proverbs 18:16, NIV

My doctor advised me to exercise a lot to reduce my blood pressure and cholesterol.  I wanted to join a gym, but I couldn’t afford it, so I prayed about it and waited for an answer in God’s good time.  Some weeks later I decided to send a gift to my friend Rosa’s children.  When I got to the post office, I learned that mailing it would cost double the amount of money I had with me.  As I was determined to post the gift, I had to walk all the way back home to get the extra money.  I walked more than four miles that day, and though I was tired and weary, I was happy I had sent the parcel.

Later, when checking my e-mail, an advertisement popped up that helped to calculate number of calories burned.  After doing the calculations, I realised that I had burned 500 calories during the four mile walk.  No? Yes!

See how God works? I was worried about gym fees, and He led me to His natural free gym.  I realised that every day I could walk in a big park, listen to the birds sing, and watch the butterflies dip and float while bees busily went from one beautiful flower to another.  I could watch squirrels chasing each other up and down the tall, shady trees and enjoy the cool wind and the warmth of the bright sun – all for free, and burn as many as 250 calories an hour.

How awesome: no need of gym fees.  Two weeks after beginning a daily walk I went for my regular checkups, and my doctor was amazed.  

“Both your cholesterol and blood pressure have been reduced, and you have lost two pounds! What have you been doing?” He was delighted, and from then on I walked an hour every day.  Not only did it help me keep fit, but I enjoyed nature as well.

I knew that walking is good for us, but I never knew it could be so effective until the day I walked back home to get more money so I could send the gift.  Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 19:19)  He is right.  I did it to put a little smile on Rosa and her boys’ faces with that gift, and I ended up putting a big smile on my own.

My advice, gained from my own experience, is to do something to make someone happy and see how much happier you will become.

Mabel Kwei, Breath Devotional