False gods fail, God never does


Written by Fiona Monaghan Can we trust God to handle all the details in life? In the story of Micah (Judges 17&18) we see a man who trusted idols and things of this world to guide him. It is a common theme in the Old Testament.

God asks to be trusted and though the Israelites believed in the Almighty God, they still felt the need to have the local shrines and gods at their disposal for the everyday care of things.

Do we do the same in our world on a different level? We put bank accounts, education, people’s expectations of us etc., ahead of God and these things can become “little gods” to us.

False gods fail. That is their only truth. – Pastor Rex Hamilton

WE have created an idol when we let family, spouse, our busy schedules, or work become more important to us than God. God wants to be everything to us.

PrioritiesHe doesn’t want to be an afterthought- turned to only when everything else has failed. He wants to be first and foremost in our lives. He wants to be Provider, Savior, Best Friend…all of it. When He is truly in that place then we have the ability to prioritize all others in life correctly.

Putting God first allows you to be a better parent because you recognize it doesn’t all depend on you. Be a better friend and allow God’s leading to show you how to treat friends and be supportive and not enabling.

If we live from the place of seeking God, then all others in our life will be taken care of appropriately. This was all God wanted from His people. He wanted them to seek Him with all heart, body, soul and mind and not depend on the ‘household gods’ for the everyday needs of life.

When God is made first in all things it is both crucial and profitable. How easily we slip into the mode of thinking that it is expected of us to do this by ourselves and only rely on Him for the ‘big stuff’.

Our part is to be obedient to His directions for our life. Patience and wisdom come with seeking Him, and knowing His ways through reading His Guidebook. This week, when you first open your eyes in the morning ask God to direct your steps today and together accomplish all that is set before you. Don’t just say it, mean it and watch God work in your week.


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Samuel: Last Man Up


Written by Fiona Monaghan

Samuel is an example of ‘never being too young to follow God.’ Dedicated as a baby he grew up serving God in the temple and he continued to serve God throughout his entire life.

Samuel was born to Hannah and Elkanah after waiting many years for a child. Hannah desperately wanted a child and she prayed a beautiful prayer (found in 1 Sam 1:10-11) promising that if God gave her a son she would dedicate his life to serving him. True to her word she sent him, when still young, to live as an apprentice to the priest Eli in the temple.

One night, when Samuel was still a young boy, he is called by the Lord in the night and he responds, “Speak for your servant listens…”

1sam310The Lord tells Samuel that a time of discipline is coming for the house of Eli. Many times God had warned Eli about the actions of his sons (known for being scoundrels and not respecting God or their duties as priests) yet they had persisted in their wayward actions. He had been patient, but now the consequences would follow.

This was the beginning of Samuel deliverying hard to hear words from God. He continued to work through Samuel, speaking to his people through him.

During this time, the Philistines were a force to be reckoned with. In one of the battles between the Philistines and the Israelites the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and tens of thousands of Israelites were killed (including Eli’s sons). Soon the Philistines discovered God’s power, he destroyed their idol, Dagon, and whatever town the Ark resided in people became sick with tumors. Out of fear of the Israelite’s God they returned Ark to Israel- even sending gifts with it in hopes of appease the God of Israel.

Once the Ark had been restored to Israel, they took it and hid it in a hillside home where it stayed for twenty years. The people mourned that God had abandoned them and they continued to turn to other gods. During this time Samuel had grown into a young man, seeing the actions of his people, he challenged the Israelites to change their ways,

“If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue form the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 7:3 (NLT)

The Israelites listen and destroy the idols they had made. Samuel called his people together and led them in prayer and worship in the city of Mizpah. Here Samuel becomes the last Judge of Israel and the people of Israel recommit themselves to God.

The Philistines, seeing all the Israelites gathered, mobilize their armies to Mizpah. Samuel prays to God to help Israel and the Lord answers! He shows Himself ‘with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven’ and the Philistines were in such confusion that they were easy prey for the Israelites to overcome them.

Israel enjoyed twenty years of peace, as the Philistines were subdued. The land that had been taken was restored back to Israel. The people put their Jehovah back in the center of their lives and all was well.

Samuel proved to be a good and effective Judge, he continued to share God’s word and challenge His people for the rest of his life.

Does this read like a story for today? Maybe not with the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant, but don’t we often find that we turn away or forget God when things are going well and life is good?

Samuel was dedicated to doing God’s will and listening for His voice and while the Israelites did the same - life was good. If we follow Samuel’s example, saying to God ‘speak for your servant listens’ and then really do it in every area of our lives. We won’t be disappointed.

God has put you here in your situation for a reason.  Samuel was an amazingly gifted man, but even more important than that was his character. He stayed close to God no matter what and changed the world forever.  It's our character that determines whether we will be a solution to the problems in our world” - Pastor Ben McCary


If Only


Written by Pastor Tim White Live-Boldly Statisticians say that the average 80 year has said “if only” an average of 24.7 times a day their lifetime. That’s a lot of wasted time.   A famous statistician once said, that it is proven that 87.8% of all statistics quoted are made up on the spot.

Ba dum dum tisk!

That would be my way of telling a joke. The point is that when we study Samson’s life in Judges 13-16, you can’t help but think ‘wow he had so much potential but he kept making the same stupid mistakes over and over again.’ His whole life was an “if only.”

But there was another judge in Scripture that pastor Ben McCary is preaching on this week. His name is Samuel and he lived his entire life with integrity. At the end of his life he stood before the nation and asked, “Does anyone have anything they can say negatively about me?” The people, many of whom Samuel had rebuked for their actions, had to admit that there was nothing in his life where he had stepped out of integrity.

But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit.    Jude 1:20 (NLT)

Just by looking at these two Judges of Israel for many centuries ago we see the importance of moving from think “If only” to challenging ourselves with “Next Time, Boldly”. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes and being caught in the quick sand of the poison of our sinfulness, let God lift us to next time boldly.

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Samson: A man of much strength... and weakness

Written by Fiona Monaghan What an interesting man. Anger, strength and arrogance reign in him…but he still is God’s chosen one as a Judge for Israel.

Samson is one of those heroes in the Bible that for every strength he had, there was an equal and opposite weakness. He is seen doing a good thing and then making a terrible decision in the next action. Moving from one catastrophe to the next- leaving chaos and heartbreak in their wake. Why would he do this? He should have known better. He was raised with good morals and a dedicated family. Why this immaturity housed in a physically daunting body. Samson’s life truly reads like a bad movie…

He chooses to be with a Philistine woman. This choice leads to a dramatic storyline in which he ends up slaughtering 30 men for their clothes to pay back a debt! A debt he incurred because the Philistine woman was forced to tell a bunch of Philistine men the answer to a riddle Samson arrogantly posed to them. He then finds out that his “to be” father-in-law married the woman off to Samson’s best man. Samson is so angry he lashes out in revenge. He catches 300 foxes, ties their tails together, sets them on fire and lets them go into the Philistine fields. In retaliation, those men burn the house of Samson’s not quite father-in-law and ex- bride to be. Again, responding with wrath, Samson finds the men responsible and massacres them.

Now it’s the Philistines turn. They come into Judah and want to wreak havoc on those people because of what Samson has done. They demand the Israelites turn Samson over… Samson acquiesces; he is tied up and handed over to the Philistines. However, as they approach, the ropes fall away and he takes the jawbone of a donkey and kills all the Philistines. A similar cycle continues throughout Samson’s life.Samson_Series_-_Art_Preview_587x327

What comes through loud and clear after reading all of the ups and downs of this man’s life is that even in all that he did wrong and his questionable motives, God still chose him to be his champion against the Philistines. His anger and arrogance is funneled into that of Protector and Judge for the Israelites at this time in history, and he fulfilled the role of Judge for 20 years. God had set Samson apart to be used and God knew what strengths and weaknesses Samson would have and he chose to use him regardless.

So remember when you lose your temper, make bad judgment calls, fall back to old ways when you should know better, that nothing is irredeemable when God is in the mix. He can use us no matter our disposition and character. He will take those traits we have, both good and bad, and engineer circumstances so that when we seek Him we will reach those higher goals. We all have failings and strengths and the story of Samson shows us that even in these God can use us.

Take time today to pray about your weaknesses, the chinks in your armor. Ask God to take them and use them for his will. It is hard to know the wonders God will work through us when we seek his will. So don’t be discouraged by your failings but look to him in all aspects of your life- He has a mighty plan for you.

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Nehemiah - the Prayer Warrior

Written by Fiona Monaghan One of the things that we are encouraged to do when there seems to be nothing else to do is pray. It sounds like a less than auspicious thing to do. We say, so glibly, “I will pray for you.” However, if we could catch the power and authority behind it; if we could really see what happens in the heavens when we pray I think we would be amazed the power it holds.

NehemiahWe find Nehemiah in exile from his homeland, Judah (possibly being of the tribe of Judah,) and working for the Persian king, Artaxerxes. His served the king as a cupbearer which would have been quite a high position allowing him access to communicate directly with the king.

Nehemiah’s brother comes to him and tells him of the suffering of those living in Jerusalem under foreign rule. The city itself is in ruins and provides no protection for the people. Nehemiah decides it’s time to re-establish Jerusalem back to the great city it had been. Rebuild the walls that had been brought down. Re-construct the gates had been burned. Return the people back to worshipping their One True God-Jehovah. No small task.

He must have made a good impression on King Artaxerxes because when he asked the king if he could be allowed to return and rebuild the walls he was given permission. Not only that, he made Nehemiah provincial governor and gave him letters for safe passage. He even provided the means to procure timber for the rebuilding.

However, before he was given all these amazing provisions, Nehemiah did one thing. He prayed. He wept, mourned and fasted before God. In his prayer he brought up all the things he and the people had done wrong before God. He accounted the many times God had intervened on their behalf and then how the people would return to their old ways. He held nothing back.

Nehemiah 1:5-11

5I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; 6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. 7We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. 8Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; 9but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.” 10They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. 11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!’

God is all powerful, He can do anything he wants. He is the Supreme Ruler and Creator. This world does not exist without his permission. So I think what happens when we pray is that we get aligned with God’s purpose and plan. We are willing to lay everything out before him, we hold nothing back. We recognize He is Number One. We confess anything that gets between us and His plan for us. Clear the decks. For His part, He is able to move and shift circumstances when we are willing to be part of his plan.

Nehemiah had a heart for Jerusalem and really, really, really, wanted to rebuild it and restore the Israelites. I think he had connected to God’s heart in this too. He had time and time again rescued the Israelites from their oppressors and hardships. Despite their wandering attention and seemingly fickle love, He loved them and did not want them to suffer.

So prayer is seeking God’s heart and perspective in the situation we are praying about and then coming alongside Him to make it happen. Sometimes it will be in physical work like rebuilding walls, sometimes it will be emotional work like rebuilding trust and relationships. Remember, God is all about rebuilding. It is on every page of the Bible - Reconciliation and Rebuilding. Clear out all the old stuff, confess any sin and shortcoming. Make a fresh start in your heart and mind and move on from there.

Are there areas in your life that need rebuilding: a relationship that is in need of attention? Finances needed to pay off debt, healing for a sick body? Align your desires with God’s will so that you are in agreement. Ask for clarity of mind to see what needs to be done. Like Nehemiah, the way will open up and the means will be provided.

The Rest of the Story... Gideon: “Oh mighty warrior of God”


Written by Fiona Monaghan I love the humanness of Gideon in his dialogue with God’s Angel and being directed to ‘man up’ and take on the Midianites.

USDA-stalk-kernels2Judges begins Gideon’s story with him threshing wheat in a winepress – why would Gideon be separating the edible grain from the inedible chaff in a place used to make wine? Threshing wheat in a winepress conveys the idea of someone hiding and doing something in a place unexpected because usually threshing wheat would be done out in the open. Well, during this time the Israelites were being hounded by the Midianites (because once again they had turned from the Lord) who would rampage through the area, steal their food, their livestock and terrorizing everyone. So Gideon was hiding his crop from the Midianites hoping that it would be spared from pillaging.

Gideon’s life is completely changing when Angel of God comes to him saying, God is with you, O mighty warrior!” Can’t you just hear Gideon saying, ‘What! Who me? I am just the runt of the litter of the weakest of the tribes of Israel.’’ He responds by questioning that God even cares about the Israelites that He has let them be taken over by the Midianites.

Gideon knew the history of his people coming out of Egypt with Moses; of being in the desert and being rescued and all the miracles God had performed for the people of Israel. However, he seemed to forget was that over and over again the Israelites had been told by prophets to “shape up and follow their One and Only God” and time and time again they had turned to worship the local gods of their neighbors.

In an interesting twist in the story when Gideon is questioning the angel, God himself speaks to Gideon and tells him that He can be depended upon. Not only that, but Gideon will be used to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites.

Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!"    Judges 6:14 (NLT)

Before Gideon is ready to take on the Midianites he is given a couple of projects to do first. Could this be to build his confidence or test his mettle? Remember, he sees himself as a runt.

Gideon_LightHe is directed to destroy the altar to Baal in his own father’s house and take down the Asherah fertility pole next to the altar. Then, make an offering of his dad’s prize bull on an altar with the wood from the fertility pole. He decides to do this at night with 10 servants to help. The next morning everyone in town is aghast! “Who did this thing?” They want his head on a stick. Funnily enough, his dad Joash steps up and states, “What is all the fuss about? What kind of god is Baal if he needs defending, let him fight his own battles!” Score 1 for Gideon!

In our lives, we don’t have ‘gods’ like Baal. But anything that makes us question our faith in God or in ourselves, or makes us feel weak and ineffective needs to be addressed. There are many verses in the Bible that tell us that God is for us!

He does not want us kowtowing to anything or anyone who makes us feel inferior and weak. He wants to be our Defender and Protector in anything that life throws at us. By us getting to know God personally, we then have the confidence to face those life situations that challenge us.

Each opportunity Gideon was presented with, allowed him to gain confidence and strength for the next one. This story shows we can ask God those questions when things don’t add up. Gideon asked for signs and he stated how he felt about things. In that, God showed Himself faithful and patient and could be depended upon in these smaller tasks, so that Gideon had no question in his mind where his success would come from in the bigger battle yet to come.

dear-GodWhat questions do you have for God?

What is pulling you away from Him? Take 15 minutes today and write down a prayer to God, ask him your questions, and identify what is pulling you away from God. Ask Him how you can tear those things down and replace them with actions/friends/places that will glorify Him.

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The Rest of the Story… Deborah, the prophetess and leader of the Israelites


Written by Fiona Monaghan What do we have in common with the Old Testament Israelites today? Probably not living in tents or measuring our wealth by the number of camels we own, but we do face a same choice as we go about our lives: Do we choose to obey or disobey a direction from God?

We-Must-Trust-And-ObeyOne of the stories that I have recently been studying is the story of Deborah in Judges. At the beginning of her story the Israelite people were following the familiar cycle in the Old Testament, falling into disobedience once again and had begun to worship local gods forsaking their allegiance to the one true God of Moses. As a result, they had been allowed by God to be oppressed under Caananite rule for the past 20 years.

Deborah was a Judge and Prophetess during this time. The people of Israelite would come to her and have their local and personal disputes settled. She would listen to the people and in turn listen to God. Using the wisdom given to her by God she would these issues. There was no written text to follow at this time; so what she spoke was purely that which she received from the Lord.

One day God told her it was time for an uprising on the part of Israel and that a man named Barak was the one to lead the revolt. However, Barak wasn’t too keen on the idea as Sisera, the general of the Canaanites, was much better equipped with 900 bronze chariots. Barak entreated Deborah to come with him. She complied but pointed out that it wouldn’t look very good if God delivered Sisera into the hands of woman and that he that needed to lead. Deborah knew that God had already planned out how the uprising would go, but He needed the people to believe and make it happen. He needed to use the arms, legs, and bodies of Israelites to do the work- to be obedient. They could say to God “go ahead and do what you need to do” but He works through people, using their arms and their legs, their hearts and their minds.

So what do we have in common with the Israelites? We have an opportunity to trust God and do great things. Do we trust God by being his hands and feet to make happen what He already has arranged OR do we continue in the years of bondage, frustration and unhealthy choices that are around us and within our families?

He already has a plan. He knows what it will take to bring it about. You need to choose whether you will fit into his plan and be the hands and feet in order to make it happen or go about life haphazard and wandering and wondering what happened. Make a decision what you are going to do.

Choose this day who you will serve. Make a difference in your life and in your family’s life. Get to know God personally and ask Him what he has for you to do. What it is that is needed to bring about change within yourself and those you care about? He will share His plan with you if you ask.

Did you miss Pastor Tim's sermon? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnpA90SllnE

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