Cornerstone Devotional Journal

The Cornerstone Campaign is gaining momentum throughout Searcy 1st. Thank you for praying the campaign prayer, "Lord, what do You want to do through me?", a prayer we would do well to pray every day for the rest of our lives. 

 
Beginning April 15th, our church family will share a 21-day devotional series as part of Cornerstone. This devotional series is not busy-work. This is a devotional series that will speak to your life and will bring grace to you. 
 
Watch for a daily email from the church, beginning this Sunday, containing a Cornerstone daily devotion. You may also go to our church website (searcyfumc.com) and read the devotion. We have printed copies for those who do not have email or internet access. Printed copies will be available on Sunday's in church, or any day in the office. 
 
Our Cornerstone campaign is about our church being faithful to the call of God upon our congregation. Join your Searcy 1st family in this inspiring devotional series.
 
Grace to you,
 
Brother David
 
Day One
They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.
Numbers 13:27-28

We’re doing what? Haven’t you read the headlines? Haven’t you seen the news? How can we even think about having a stewardship campaign in this kind of an economy? You must be nuts. It doesn’t
require a great deal of imagination to think that some of the same comments were being made to Moses after the return of the spies from their visit to the Promised Land. Even without headlines screaming
disaster and 24 hour news trumpeting crisis after crisis; one can almost imagine the people of Israel saying some of the very same things. You want us to do what? You expect us to go into that land with those giants
and those walls and forts. You’re crazy!

Then, as well as now, the issue is the same: Faith or Fear. There is the voice of the great tempter shouting to us words of fear; you can’t, you mustn’t, what if. But that is not the only voice. If we take the time to
be quiet, to turn off the news, to put down the newspaper we will hear another voice, the voice of One who owns all of the cattle on the hillside; the voice of One who is the great I Am, not the small and insignificant
what if.
 
The question, of course, becomes, which voice will we listen to? One wise pastor said that every church has two basic committees; a Back to Egypt committee ruled by fear and anxiety and an Into the Promised
Land committee ruled by faith and hope. Which committee will you serve? Remember, God isn’t asking for a decision about giving today. He is only asking you to listen to His voice.
 
Questions to Consider
1. When have I listened to the voice of fear over faith? What were the results?
2. When have I listened to the voice of faith over fear? What were the results?

Prayer
Thank You, God, for Your calming voice of faith and hope in the midst of a world filled with fear and anxiety. Help me in the days that lie ahead to take time and listen for Your voice. Give me the courage to stand on the
side of faith and hope rather than fear and doubt, Amen.
 
Day Two
Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and see this great sight and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said,
“Here I am.”
Exodus 3:3-4

A murderer, a runaway, a shepherd, yet called by God to be one of history’s greatest leaders. As this stewardship adventure begins there may have been no burning bush or voice from God, unless you count the call from your pastor, one of the directors, or an invitation to a campaign event. And yet make no mistake, no matter your background; you have been called by God to be part of this exciting adventure of faith. Just as God chose Moses, you have been chosen. Can you imagine that possibility? Can you begin to even consider that your participation in this adventure is not simply random chance, not simply a last gasp attempt to raise money? Can you believe God chose you; God called you?

Her name was Brenda. She was not the first choice of anyone for her particular position on the campaign leadership team. By all accounts, except God’s, Brenda was a “last resort.” As the campaign developed Brenda became a driving force, not due to influence or power but simply due to her quiet willingness to listen to the voice of God. As Brenda listened and opened her heart to God she became a powerful witness to God’s love and mercy. And, out of a profound sense of gratitude, Brenda made one of the lead gifts to her church’s capital campaign.

Questions to Consider
1. Do I believe that God has called me to be part of this adventure?
2. Will I take the time to listen to the voice of God in the midst of this adventure?
3. Will I be willing to say yes to the call of God?

Prayer
Thank You, Lord, for calling me to be a part of this adventure in faith. Help me to be open to Your voice, to listen to Your call and to finally discern Your will for my life. “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee.” I now pray for the rest of my church family, help us to be open to Your voice, to listen to Your call, to discern Your will for our lives. I pray in the name of Christ, Amen.
 
Day Three
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
Exodus 4:10

Even though called by God, even hearing the voice of God from the midst of a burning bush, Moses was filled with doubts and questions. In chapters three and four of Exodus, Moses offers to God no fewer than four questions or doubts: Who am I to go; who shall I say has sent me; what if they don’t believe me; and finally, his slowness of speech. In each case, each question, each doubt, God provided the way. God provided the answer.
 
This same dynamic applies to our call to give. Everyone has a multitude of reasons to not give. There is no good time for a stewardship campaign. There is always something else, a new car, a re-modeled house, braces for the kids, college to save for, and retirement to worry about. And yet as God calls us to give, as God asks us to be generous, if we listen, if we are open, God also provides the way. Terry wept at the possibility that she might not be able to give what she thought would be a generous gift. She was faced with braces, college and a cut in her husband’s pay. As she prayed about how to respond to her church’s campaign, she became aware of ways in which she could give with generosity and joy. Terry began with all the reasons she couldn’t give but, through prayer, discovered the joy of generosity. She responded out of a sense of gratitude for God’s generosity rather than her fear of scarcity. When God calls, God also provides.

Questions to Consider
1. What are my reasons or doubts for not fully participating in this stewardship campaign?
2. How has God provided for me in the past, even when I have had doubts?
3. Can I be open to God and trust that as He calls He also provides?

Prayer
Oh God, You know the many reasons I have for not wanting to serve, for not wanting to be generous. Help me to know in my heart that You have brought me to this time and this place and You will provide what I need to accomplish Your task. Help me, Oh God, to have an open heart, open eyes and open hands. I pray through Christ, Amen.
 
Day Four
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” . . . And Abram said, “O Lord God what will you give me, for I continue childless. . .” He (God) brought him (Abram) outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord… Genesis 15:1, 3, 5, 6
 
As golden sunlight slowly fades into the grayness of twilight, so the promise made years ago seems faded and distant. Abram had believed, had given up his home and traveled to a distant, unknown land all
because of a promise. Excitement and enthusiasm have been replaced by questions and doubt. On this journey of faith there will be times when excitement and enthusiasm are long forgotten; times when faith seems overwhelmed by questions and doubt. How does God respond? What does He ask? “Go outside Abram, count the stars, remember the vision, remember the promise.” Just as we affirmed yesterday that this campaign is God’s campaign, so too, we affirm that the vision comes not as the result of a board vote but instead is rooted and grounded in the promise of God. In the midst of our doubts, in the midst of wondering, “Will this really happen?”, God invites us to count the stars, to remember the faces of the children, young people, families and elderly that will be touched because of what we are doing. Remember what this campaign is about; not buildings or bricks, dollars and cents; we are fulfilling God’s promise and vision for ministry and mission. Remember, count the stars!
 
Questions to Consider
1. Have I lost any of my original enthusiasm?
2. Do I believe in the vision?
3. What does God truly want from my church, this campaign and my life?
 
Prayer
Dear God, I admit that sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get so caught up in the work that I forget the promise and the vision. Help me, Lord, to take the time to remember and like Abram to once again believe. In the name of Christ, Amen.
 
Day Five
Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
Joshua 3:5

Finally, they were nearly there. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, after being so close and then being told they weren’t ready, after so many false starts, and so many disappointments, they were on the verge of their heart’s desire -- the Promised Land. And yet, even as they stood on the banks of the Jordan, gazing into the Promised Land, their hearts were undoubtedly filled with a mixture of joy, fear, excitement and anxiety. After all, the leader who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness; the leader who brought them God’s word, the leader who time after time interceded with God on their behalf, their leader, Moses, was now dead. How could they do it? How would they manage? “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Perhaps some of the initial excitement of being a part of the campaign has evaporated. Perhaps, like the people of Israel, we wonder, “How can we do it? How will we manage?” Or perhaps the question is more personal, “How can I do my task? How can I give a generous and sacrificial gift?” God’s response is the same. “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders.” To sanctify simply means to set apart for a holy purpose. We are called to set our lives, our church, this campaign and ourselves apart for God’s use and God’s purpose. Can we begin to set apart: our lives, our homes, our families, and our income, to be used by God and for God? If we can, then truly, “tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
 
Questions to Consider
1. Am I beginning to experience any doubts or questions about our church, our campaign or my involvement?
2. Are there parts of my life that I am holding back from giving to God?
3. How can I intentionally set my life apart to be used by God?

Prayer
Oh Lord, give me the courage and the faith to give my life and all I have, to be used by You. Show me ways, Oh Lord, that I can set myself and my life apart for You, Amen.
 
Day Six
Thus says the Lord to you: “Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s... This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still and see the victory of the Lord...
2 Chronicles 20:15, 17

Come on, Lord, get serious: Surrounded by enemies, threatened with destruction and you want us to stand still. Let’s be honest, there is something about this story that just doesn’t feel comfortable. Many of us would really prefer to “take the bull by the horns.” More often than not we are encouraged to be a people of action. Yet this story from 2 Chronicles stands as a powerful reminder that there are occasions when the best thing we can do is stand still and wait upon God. Over the course of the next month there will be considerable action in and around the church. Many will be feverishly working to accomplish all of the tasks for this stewardship campaign. And in the midst of all of your hard work there will actually be those who will complain about the campaign, about the process, about the project itself and who knows what else. You may be tempted, at times, to leap into battle, to answer all of the complaints, to convert the unconverted. Remember, this is ultimately God’s project, God’s campaign, and God’s battle. No matter what we do or how we do it, there will be opposition. We will do everything we can to answer questions and deal with criticism, but in the end it is God who will make us successful. In the midst of all the business and activities of the next few months, remember to take the time to stand still.
 
Questions to Consider
1. How do I respond to criticism and complaints?
2. Do I feel a pressing need to make everything right?
3. What might be some ways that I can stand still and trust God?
 
Prayer
Teach me, Oh Lord, to stand still and wait for You. Help me to pause and remember that ultimately our success is in Your hands. Teach me to trust, Amen.
 
Day Seven
Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.
Ephesians 3:20
 
How many times do we limit God? How often do we fail to recognize the wonderful power that God gives us through Jesus Christ. Look again at the words used by Paul, “abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” Often we find ourselves saying “yes, but…” There are always reasons why something can’t happen. We’re too small; we could never do that. We’re too poor; we could never afford that. During the course of a stewardship campaign, churches often do more than they ever imagined. Individuals, by God’s grace, end up being able to give more and do more than they had ever dared dream. Her name was Sally. She was devoted to her church, to their project and to their campaign. There was only one problem; her husband. He controlled the finances, never attended church and seemed not to care at all about the church’s need. Sally worried and worried about her pledge, convinced she would be forced to give a token pledge at best. Sally was encouraged to pray. Finally, the night arrived when the leadership would fill out their pledges. Lo and behold, Sally’s husband came with her. As the time arrived to fill out the cards and return them, Sally and her husband were the last ones to turn in their card. As they came forward Sally was smiling from ear to ear even as tears coursed down her cheek. Her husband had filled out the card and had placed an amount higher than even Sally had dared hope or pray for. Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.
 
Questions to Consider
1. Are there ways in which I am limiting God’s impact in my life?
2. Are there ways in which we are limiting God’s impact in our church?
3. Am I limiting God as I consider my gift?
 
 
Prayer
Abundant God, forgive me for the times that my lack of faith has limited what You can do. Help me to believe that together we can truly accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine. Help me to dream with faith and trust. In the name of Christ, Amen.
 
Day Eight
I pray that according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
Ephesians 3:16-17
 
Evelyn Underhill in The Spiritual Life puts it this way: “For a spiritual life is simply a life in which all we do comes from the center, where we are anchored in God…” Consider the power and awe inspired by watching the mighty Mississippi River. The sound and flow of the river fills us with a sense of peace and joy. Amidst the peace and joy, however, exists a powerful current that must be taken seriously. Imagine being on the river and losing an oar -- and then having an engine that won’t start! Looking around, you discover you are without an anchor -- drifting rapidly downstream with the current. In Ephesians 3, Paul speaks of being rooted and grounded; Evelyn Underhill speaks of being anchored in God. True stewardship begins with the realization that we are called to live our lives being rooted, grounded and anchored in the love of God. How many of us spend most of our lives being swept away by the currents of life, the demands of our jobs, family, education and even church responsibilities? We search in vain for a rope and anchor. We think if only: if only I could make more money, if only I could save more money, if only we had a bigger home, a better car or a faster computer. And still we find ourselves swept downstream. True stewardship begins with a life that is rooted, grounded and anchored in God’s love.
 
Questions to Consider
1. Do I have an anchor in my life?
2. Do I find myself being swept away by the demands of society and culture?
3. What are some practical ways I can begin to be grounded, rooted and anchored in Christ?
 
Prayer
Oh Lord, I confess that I often find myself being swept along by the currents of life. I put my faith and hope in power, people, and possessions. Forgive me. Help me to turn to You during this campaign that my life would be rooted, grounded and anchored in You and Your wonderful love. In the name of Christ, Amen.
 
Day Nine
For God so loved the world that He gave… John 3:16
 
The candles cast a beautiful glow about the sanctuary; the choir raised their voices in a magnificent song of praise to honor the birth of the Savior. Yet, in the midst of such beauty and pageantry, tears slowly rolled down his cheeks. David had just returned from his third mission trip to Russia and all he could imagine was the children he had visited in the orphanages; children who would not hear the story of the babe lying in a manger, children who would receive no gifts, no candy, and no Christmas meal. For God so loved the world that He gave… The greatest gift the world has ever received was given for one reason and one reason alone -- love. It was a love so strong and powerful that He gave His only son. Our stewardship emphasis is not about bricks, buildings or budgets. Ultimately, we are about love; a love that desires to reach out and bring people into the family of God. A love so strong, so powerful that we want to give and give and give some more; not from obligation or guilt but from heartfelt desire that people would come to know the wonderful and saving love of God through Christ. For God so loved the world that He gave… We don’t need to travel to rural Russia to find those in need. How many children and young people in your own community will not hear the Good News, will never grow up knowing the joy that comes from being a part of God’s family? How many families in your own congregation desperately need to hear the good news of God’s love in the midst of divorce, death, sickness or unemployment? How many elderly people need to know God still loves them? Think for a moment of co-workers, family members and friends who desperately need what the church has to offer -- love. For God so loved the world that He gave…Will you?
 
Questions to Consider
1. Why do I give?
2. Does my gift adequately reflect God’s love for me and others?
3. Who do I personally know who needs to know the love of God through Christ?
 
Prayer
Loving and Giving God, thank You for loving the world so much that You gave up Your only son that I might live. Help me, Oh God, to give like You. Help me to give with a generous and loving heart. Open my eyes to a world that stands in desperate need of Your wondrous love in Christ. I pray in His name, Amen.