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Devotions

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART II

Linda Chontos

Legacy - a gift by will especially of money or other personal property; something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past

We don’t have to be wealthy to leave a legacy. Regardless of economic or social status, we will all leave some sort of inheritance to those closest to us when we die. Our lives, the every-day ordinary moments, will determine what sort of legacy it will be. 

As a young girl I joined a club in our church called Christian Girls in Training - CGIT for short - and remained a part of it until I was well into my teens. I loved every part of it - the songs, games, crafts, outings, lessons and even the memory work challenges. 

I believe all of it helped to shape my faith - but none more than the elderly leader, Aunt Ethel.  I can still picture her small upright stature and silver curls. She had a certain “presence,” and we all, from the youngest to the oldest, knew she would brook no nonsense. I dreaded those rare occasions when she felt it necessary to sit us all down and give us a talking to. We all loved her and felt sad when we knew we had disappointed her in some way. 

On the other hand, she had a beautiful smile and a great sense of humor. In spite of her age, she seemed never to tire, and we had to hustle to keep up with her.

Her love for the Lord and devotion to “her girls” was reflected in everything she did and said. To this day, all these many years later, I remember the things she taught us. I see her still, teaching, singing, laughing, holding hands with us in a circle at the end of our meetings as we prayed and sang:

“Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh

 Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.

 When the morning wakens, then may I arise

 Pure and fresh and sinless, in Thy holy eyes.” *

She didn’t do anything outstanding by the world’s standards. She simply, humbly, lived a life of service one ordinary day at a time. But this little girl was watching, and she left me a legacy of faith, strength, grace, wisdom and a life well lived. 

As Pastor Doug said, “The way we live our lives will have lasting effects long after we’re gone - good or bad.” 

* ”Now the Day Is Over” Sabine Baring-Gould

BONES OF THE BIBLE: PART I

Linda Chontos

In his message this past Sunday, Pastor Doug used the story of Samson found in Judges 15: 9-20 to teach us about areas we need to be aware of in dealing with the enemy. 

He also pointed out strategies that won’t work when we are trying to defeat the enemy of our souls. During this period in the history of Israel they were confronted by the powerful Philistine army. Although they vastly outnumbered their enemy they so feared them that instead of trying to defeat them, they tried to live with them. 

Samson knew that tolerance would result in an eventual deterioration. He chose instead, to confront the enemy. In faith he used the unlikely weapon God provided (the jaw bone of a donkey) and single-handedly dealt the Philistines a deadly blow.

We too face a seemingly overwhelming enemy - one who seeks to destroy us. He is very subtle in his attack, slowly infiltrating the fabric of our society. It began when prayer was taken out of our public schools and has escalated until it is difficult to recognize our own country. One of his most effective weapons is called tolerance, and he skillfully uses it to help advance his agenda. 

When the people of God take a stand, they are accused of being unloving and intolerant. The barbs sting, but God has called us to take a stand. Like Samson he calls us to faith and equips us to fight the battle. 

This quote from Josh McDowell sums it up well: 

"Tolerance says, “You must approve of what I do.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will love you, even when your behavior offends me.”

Tolerance says, “You must agree with me.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced ‘the truth will set you free.’ ”

Tolerance says, “You must allow me to have my way.”

Love responds, “I must do something harder; I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk.”

Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything."

CELEBRATE AMERICA

Linda Chontos

It has been said the Kingdom of God is an upside/down kingdom. In this kingdom:

  • The first will be last

  • We become rich by giving our money away

  • We lose our life to gain it

  • God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong

Another apparent contradiction concerning this kingdom is  the one Pastor Doug spoke about this past Sunday: 

  • true freedom comes when we surrender our lives to God.


The desire to be free is common to all of us. We push against anything that tries to limit or restrain us, but it is those very things we see as freeing that can eventually enslave us. 

God has given us a free will. We get to choose what we will do with our lives. The danger comes when those choices, often made in the name of freedom, end up ruining our lives.

The story of the prodigal son illustrates just how devastating our choices can be. This young man thought freedom lay in “doing his own thing.” Instead, he found himself enslaved by the very things he thought would bring him happiness. It wasn’t until he made the choice to return home and submit to his father that he found true freedom.

Our Heavenly Father, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, loves us unconditionally and knows what’s best for us. He withholds only those things that will bring us sorrow and pain and eventually hold us captive.

 Jesus came to set the captive free:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” Luke 4:18

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:34-36

As we celebrate freedom this week may we be mindful of the source of our true freedom. It came, just as our nation’s freedom, at great cost. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

KEEPING IT TOGETHER... WHEN IT'S ALL FALLING APART

Linda Chontos

Listening to Pastor Doug’s sermon, “Keeping It Together… When It’s All Falling Apart,” I couldn’t help but think about my almost three-year-old grandson. This sweet little one is in the process of learning one of life’s on-going lessons - things don’t always go the way we would like them to. 

Sooner or later we come smack up against the reality that difficult and unfair circumstances come to everyone - even Believers. When they do, we question why and then we react. 

Our grandson tends to do what most of us do when life gets tough. He cries. Nothing wrong with that. As Pastor Doug pointed out, even Jesus wept. 

The problem comes when we let our emotions take control. If the crying doesn’t get him what he wants, our grandson ratchets it up a bit throwing his whole little body into the effort to get his own way. 

This method isn’t any more successful for him than allowing our emotions to spiral out of control is for us. The need to get things to go our way often leads to bitterness and anger. We question why bad or unjust things are happening. Then we look for someone to blame. Often, that someone is the Lord. In our bitterness and anger we fail to realize that the only person we’re hurting is - us.  

We find restoration and hope by taking the focus off ourselves and our circumstances, forgiving those who may have hurt us and trusting in God’s promises and great love. Our circumstances may not change or be resolved in the way we had hoped, but we can trust in that love and know that our good God will do what is best. 

“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

THE GODLYFATHER

Linda Chontos

Billy Graham has said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” 

The truth of that is borne out by the heartbreaking statistics Pastor Doug shared with us this past Father’s Day. Thirty percent of children are raised in fatherless homes, and those thirty percent account for the highest percentage of suicides, runaways, rapists and high school drop outs - just to name a few. 

The role of a father can never be underestimated. Often he becomes the representation of God in the mind of his children. Their first understanding of a Heavenly Father is wrapped up in the image of their earthly father.

Fathers would do well to follow the example of Joshua. In his 110th year he gave this charge to the Children of Israel:

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24: 14-18

There is always a choice. A father who chooses to lead his family to know, love and serve the Lord gives them a priceless gift. His love for them will flow from his love for the Lord. He will lead by example, and his children will follow. 

As Pastor Doug said in his closing remarks: “Dads are in a war for the souls of our families.” 

That is especially true in the times in which we live, when even truth has somehow become relative. As fathers lead their children into the truth of God’s word, they will equip them to stand strong in the face of anything this world can throw at them. 

THE NO-HANDED DRIVER

Linda Chontos

"Do you want to go for a ride?" As a little girl, I loved going for a ride, especially with no particular destination in mind. We would all climb into the car, Dad in the driver's seat, Mom riding shotgun, my little sister and I in the back seat - the windows rolled down all the way. I don't think any of us tired of meandering down old country roads - with the happy possibility of a stop at the frozen custard stand.

Worry and fear had no part in those rides. I didn't wonder what would happen to us if the car broke down, or we got a flat tire, ran out of gas, or had an accident. Of course, when Dad announced "I think I know a short cut," we looked at each other with big eyes knowing we were in for a long ride.

I had complete trust in my Dad's ability to drive well and get us safely home. It freed me to look at the scenery - hair blowing wildly in the wind. I especially loved driving at dusk when darkness began to enclose us. I looked into the lighted windows of the homes we passed and in my imagination saw them - families, always happy and content.

God intends for us to live life just this way. He longs for us to know we can hop into the "back seat" and trust Him to take care of us. Far too often we worry about all the things that might go wrong. Instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride, we look ahead anticipating disaster at every turn or, even worse, we climb into the "driver's seat" and try to wrest control of the wheel out of His hands.

Incredibly, the Lord will allow us to drive - for as long as it takes for us to realize we really don't have control at all. All the worry and fear in the world will not keep us safe from the inevitable troubles that lay ahead of us. They will come, and when we loosen our tight-fisted grip on the wheel, the One who controls all things will take over. He will get us safely home.

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10