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Center of Hope Devotion April 2nd

Dear Friends,

READ 1 SAMUEL 4:1 THROUGH 7:17

So today we are looking at the question: "Why would a merciful God punish His people"?

So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:3).

God is merciful, but He is also just and allows people to experience consequences for their actions. In turning from God, the Israelites rejected the grace and power that had protected their nation. God did not use punishment to cut His people off, but rather to bring them back to obedience. After their defeat, the Israelites realized their need for God and rededicated themselves to serving Him. Once they turned to God for help, He extended grace and brought them victory.

Although not everything that goes wrong in life is a punishment from God, He may punish you or allow suffering at times to bring you closer to Him. When you have distanced yourself from God, He is faithful to offer forgiveness and mercy if you turn to Him.

Thought for Today: God’s discipline is an act of love that helps His people grow in holiness.

Pastor & Cheryl

Center of Hope Daily Devotion

Christian greetings,

READ GENESIS 26:26–31

Today’s devotion shares an illustration, Biblical insight and a challenge for us today.

“He’s got to be kidding!” muttered Carl aloud, then quickly looked up from his bus seat to see if anyone had noticed. He continued the conversation in his mind as he checked his phone. After treating me like that, this guy actually sent me a friend request on Facebook?

Carl is not alone. When others mistreat, misuse, or misjudge us, our first reaction is one of mistrust. It is good to be cautious of those who have hurt us before. A little initial skepticism is natural, as was the case with Isaac when some previously not-so-friendly neighbors came asking to be friends again.

Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” (Genesis 26:27).

Isaac and these men were able to formally reestablish their relationship. As difficult as this might have been for Isaac, it was more important for him to be a part of his community than to go it alone. Good relationships with your coworkers, neighbors, or family members may require you to give up your natural mistrust.

Challenge for Today: Work toward rebuilding a relationship by extending grace to a difficult person. With our current isolation mandates this could be done through a phone call, text, email, or even letter.

Anchored in Hope,

Pastor Phil & Cheryl Johnson

Center of Hope

Good morning church family.

"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:1-2,5-8

Soul Restoration

Psalms 23:3 “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

The Psalmist boldly states that the Lord is the restorer of souls.

The word soul refers to the inner life of man, the seat of his emotions, and the center of human personality. The first use of the word soul in the Old Testament expresses this meaning: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul)" (Genesis 2:7). This means more than being given physical life; the biblical writer declares that man became a "living soul," or a person, a human being, one distinct from all other animals.

Life can bring challenges that can damage the soul, can challenge one’s beliefs, can make a person question their existence. When these time arise we have a Shepherd who is in the soul restoration business.

The pathway to restoration includes learning to walk in righteousness, but not our own righteousness. True restoration of the soul is accomplished as we learn to walk in the righteousness that comes from Jesus. There is a time of healing of our brokenness and then a time of learning which includes hearing and obeying.

Philippians 3:9 “and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Anchored by Hope,

Pastor Phil Johnson

Enjoy a Peaceful Life

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalms 23:2

Today in the midst of all the rain, I reflected on the beauty of where I now live. This verse captures the areas surrounding my community. What a joy to be reminded that our God leads us to a place of rest and peace. Only as we walk in step with Him and obey His words can we truly enjoy the peaceful life. Don’t miss the simple truth, it is the Shepherds duty to lead us to these places. Our duty is to follow where He leads and enjoy the peaceful life.

Pastor Phil

What Do You Lack?

Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The psalmist begins this famous text with an illustration from his life. David was a shepherd and so he understood about the role of the shepherd and the sheep. Our independence causes us to miss the importance of this opening verse. The responsibility of the shepherd is to make sure the sheep can live without a care in the world. Everything about their existence is dependent on the shepherd, food, shelter, protection.

Into this example, David announces that since the Lord is the shepherd, he can live his life without a care in the world. According to David, his relationship with the Lord allows him to not be lacking, to fail, or to live a diminished life. This is the joy of being one of the Lord’s sheep, we can live without feeling less about ourselves. David doesn’t mean he won’t fail in life, struggle with the human condition, or struggle with self-esteem issues. An examination of David’s life shows that his life had difficulties, that he wasn’t perfect, and that he failed his people and family. So how can David make this claim when his life does not appear to align with the statement? Maybe there is a deeper truth, a larger point that David is trying to present.

How can one live in this life with all of the challenges, difficulties and chaos and still have a confidence in the Lord? Simple, it is a choice. One must choose to believe in power of the Shepherd. Either Jesus is our Shepherd and provider of what we need or else we are in charge and do not need a shepherd. I choose to be one of the sheep and confess that I am entirely dependent on the shepherd for all that I need in life and because of that I recognize that even when the storms and trails come, I can rest in God’s unfailing hand.

Psalms 34:9-10 “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The psalmist begins this famous text with an illustration from his life. David was a shepherd and so he understood about the role of the shepherd and the sheep. Our independence causes us to miss the importance of this opening verse. The responsibility of the shepherd is to make sure the sheep can live without a care in the world. Everything about their existence is dependent on the shepherd, food, shelter, protection.

Into this example, David announces that since the Lord is the shepherd, he can live his life without a care in the world. According to David, his relationship with the Lord allows him to not be lacking, to fail, or to live a diminished life. This is the joy of being one of the Lord’s sheep, we can live without feeling less about ourselves. David doesn’t mean he won’t fail in life, struggle with the human condition, or struggle with self-esteem issues. An examination of David’s life shows that his life had difficulties, that he wasn’t perfect, and that he failed his people and family. So how can David make this claim when his life does not appear to align with the statement? Maybe there is a deeper truth, a larger point that David is trying to present.

How can one live in this life with all of the challenges, difficulties and chaos and still have a confidence in the Lord? Simple, it is a choice. One must choose to believe in power of the Shepherd. Either Jesus is our Shepherd and provider of what we need or else we are in charge and do not need a shepherd. I choose to be one of the sheep and confess that I am entirely dependent on the shepherd for all that I need in life and because of that I recognize that even when the storms and trails come, I can rest in God’s unfailing hand.

Psalms 34:9-10 “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

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