August 24 – Missions Spotlight – Tom and Sue Peters

Read Isaiah 58:1-14

Ministry: Helping orphans and vulnerable children in Africa to live for God and to love others.

Missionaries: Tom & Sue Peters

We hear a lot these days about poverty around the world. Much of what we hear tends to try and make us feel guilty that, perhaps, we have more than many of those people. But really, we shouldn’t feel guilty unless, of course, we are doing nothing about it personally.

In Isaiah 58, it is clear that the people of Judah were going through the motions of being religious. For example, they were fasting, but they complained that it was as if God had “not seen it,” or that He had “not noticed” their efforts (v. 3).  So, God explains to them what He really wanted, summarized in verse 10: “ if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

So, what does that mean?

  1. Instead of fasting (or being religious) to try and gain favor with God, reach out and help those who are in need around you.
  2. It includes not only meeting some physical needs (“the hungry”), but also meeting needs of people who are “oppressed.”
  3. When we act in such a way, it says that our “light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” This is very similar to what Jesus said in Matt. 5:16, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

You may ask yourself, “What can I do to make a dent in such an overwhelming problem as poverty and hunger?”  In fact, many quote Scripture to say that poverty will never be eliminated.  That may be true, but look at what Deuteronomy 15:11 says: “There will always be poor in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards [the] poor and needy in your land.” Notice that the key is that we are not just to acknowledge a problem, but we are to respond.

We are grateful that Grace Church has partnered with us in the VisionTrust ministry in Africa to respond to the needs of the orphans and vulnerable children. Praise God that His light is being seen on that continent as you help us! Keep up the great work!

Pray: Please pray for God’s provision for the VisionTrust ministry so that we can help these kids to grow to live for God and love others around them!

Tom Peters

February 24 – Meet the Team – Mike Molter

Read Isaiah 41:10

Hello, my name is Mike Molter and I’ve been asked to do a brief bio on myself.

First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also been married to my wife, Denise, for over 31 years. We have three daughters- Kathi, Nicole and Leah – and three grandkids – Lincoln, Scarlet and Colton.

My job title is Network Engineer and I work for an organization called TCCSA which helps with technology needs in virtually all of the school districts in the area.

Growing up, my family didn’t go to church and I wasn’t all that interested. When I was still in high school, I joined a bike riding group because they did long rides and it sounded like a good challenge. It turned out they were a Christian group and I also found out they were a singing group which is a whole other story. I ended up being introduced to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Savior. I started to grow spiritually but didn’t get plugged into to a church and things didn’t go well for years after that.

Fast forward about 15 years and I married Denise. She felt we should look for a church home and she wanted to visit Grace. I have no idea why but I didn’t even want to visit Grace. To make a long story short, we visited, came back the next week and have been going ever since. I’m so glad God led us to Grace. There have been such great teaching and growth opportunities through the years. Opportunities like being involved in outreach ministries, leading classes and going on mission trips to New Orleans, Canada, the Czech Republic, Kyrgystan and Cambodia.

Another reason that I’m very glad I’ve been involved in a church and small group became apparent over the last few years when I’ve had some significant health issues. Had I not been part of these groups, I don’t know how I would have made it.

For many years I’ve been encouraged to read God’s word, spend time with Him and turn to Him in both the good and bad times. So, when the hard times came, I had already been filling my life with God’s truth and had relationships with people who cared about us and stuck with us during the hard times. I believe one of the very significant ways that God showed His love for us was through the people I just referred to.

A verse that has become very important to me and illustrates this well is Isaiah 41:10:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

God has helped us, strengthened us and lifted us up and He did much of this through those wonderful people we are very close to. So, I highly encourage you to get involved in a church and small group and build those important relationships with God and people.

God never intended for us to try to make it through life on our own. Start the process of joining a group by filling out this form here: https://gracechurch.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/25/responses/new

 Mike Molter

February 13 – Meet the Team – Bria Wasson

Read Psalm 139:23-24; Isaiah 3:1-3

God was about to peel away the rust and debris from His people. He was about to shake them down until all they had left was nothing but all that they needed – the one true God. Then He would rebuild and produce beautiful and abundant fruit from the very core of who He’d make them until all that could be said of it was how good His work is.

That’s my story too. The time God peeled away the things I thought gave me support and security until all that was left was my dependence on Him.

“The Lord GOD of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and from Judah every kind of security…” (Is. 3:1)

It’s a scary thought, really, having everything I depend on for safety and comfort pulled right out from under me. I want to live like everything I truly need is only ever in God Himself. So when I read these words a few years ago, I knew I needed to take inventory. Then I asked God to search me because I recognized that, whatever I leaned on apart from Him, would only one day crumble.

Not long after that, He used a routine visit to the dentist to start answering that prayer. That led to a host of unknowns including lost teeth, several surgeries, and expenses beyond what we could pay.

Until that day, my teeth had let me smile big and broad and unencumbered. They’d helped build part of my identity and provided the kind of security I had asked God to remove from my life. The fake kind. And He knew that a full set of teeth was no match for the security He brings.

The day the oral surgeon pulled out so many of my teeth, God pulled out the support I found in the way I looked. He used that time to get rid of the things that would never provide what I really needed.

He also used the extensive expense to pull me out of full-time ministry. That’s when He showed me the shelter I’d found in my list of accomplishments. Sure, He’d used the work I’d done and the time I’d given, but somewhere along the way, I had built a wall of security out of the significance I felt from the things I wrote, the women I led, the people I taught.

Those two years proved among the hardest of my adult life. Still, I would ask God to do it again because my relationship with Him is the one security that will hold forever, no matter what.

Are you ready to take inventory? Are you leaning on anything that will not last? Anything other than your relationship with God?  Ask Him to search you and He will. He will prove Himself to be the one true source of solid security that will last forever and will never crumble.

 Bria Wasson

February 12 – Meet the Team – Kelly Lawson

Read Isaiah 26:3 and Colossians 1:16-18

To give a snapshot of who I am, I guess I should start with my upbringing.

I am the youngest of 5 children; I was raised in a Christian home. My father and mother were both followers of Jesus and were a part of many ministries. However, my father was unfaithful which prompted my parents’ choice to divorce. I was six years old when it became final. This played a part in my outlook on life and love.

I began at a very young age to see my worth in my appearance as someone close to me compared me to someone else. I began to fall into a pattern of self-mutilation at the age of 11. I began drinking at the age of 13 and I tried drugs for the first time at 15. Just after my 21st birthday, I remember reaching a point of hopelessness, a point in my life where I thought the only way I would find peace is if I ended it. So, I attempted to take my own life.

The morning of November 19th, 2009 is a miracle in and of itself. The Lord met me in a powerful way and I heard clearly, “Your life is worthy because of what my Son did. I’m not finished with you.”

I finished my semester, moved back home, and became a surrendered follower of Jesus. I began to lean on Colossians 1:16-18. It was and still is a verse I lean into, in order to stay the course and follow after Him.

You see, when our focus and perspective in our life is on ourselves, we begin to live a life that is self-centered. Yet, when we begin to focus on who Jesus is, what our purpose is in this life, we see the bigger picture. We begin to see life through our God-glasses. I challenge you to put on your God-glasses in today’s world, in what may be going on outside of your world, but also within it. I challenge you, instead of thinking in perspective of life now, have a kingdom perspective.

In August of 2014, I was going through a time of uncertainty of my future and a friend reminded me of Isaiah 26:3. It hit my heart and I began to live in it. I began to find comfort in the chaos because, in it, I had the peace that surpasses all understanding. I trusted the One who provides it. If you have ever been on the other side of hardship and wonder, “How did I get through that”, I guarantee it is because the Lord was able to give you a peace that surpasses this world’s understanding. With what is going on in our country and the decisions leaders are making, it can be very easy to fall into a pattern of worry, but I urge you to look to the Lord, trust in His authorship and soak yourself in the peace He provides.

Eleven years later, I have moved to Ohio, gotten married to the man who is literally God’s best for me, and had a son, Mattie. Life has not been boring. Quite different, at every turn, it keeps us on our toes.

I’ve had to lean on both verses time and time again. Through every ministry I get to be a part of at Grace, through every job I have had, for every day that I have been a wife and mother, through it all, the Lord is constantly teaching me that it is BY Him and FOR Him and He will keep those in peace, who trust in Him.

May we remember, it all belongs to God and He is our peace that changes everything!

Kelly Lawson

February 5 – Faithfulness – He Died for Sinners

Read Romans 5:6-11, Isaiah 53:4-5 & 1 John 1:9

I can’t keep promises. I don’t think I’m known as an irresponsible person but I do let people down. I let myself down. I don’t follow through. I get lazy. Forgetful. Defiant.

I can’t be 100 percent anything. God, on the other hand, is 100 percent faithful, 100 percent pure, 100 percent good, 100 percent forgiving.

Do you trust that? It took me a long time.

I spent years confessing the same sin over and over. I was wearing it. Remembering it. Under it. Until God opened my eyes to my unbelief. If you would have asked me if I thought I was forgiven, I would have said, ‘yes’. If you would have asked me if there’s any sin Jesus couldn’t forgive, I would have said, ‘There isn’t.’

But saying and living are two different things. In my head, I was guilty. There was weight in my steps. I wasn’t free.

I was a slave.

Until, I let go of it and believed that what God said was true.

As I loosened my grip on any power I thought I had in deserving His love and admitted my pride, I was unhooked from the how-could-I-have-been-so-stupid train of thought for the last time. I clung to my Savior of compassion that has always known all of the missteps I would and still will take. He died for them. He’s not surprised by them.

And He is faithful and just to forgive them as I confess them.

Once you were alienated from Christ and enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now, He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death and resurrection to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Col. 1:21-22) I knelt down that day blinded by accusations. But belief raised me to see the invitation to take Jesus at His word. I was free to rest in His righteousness and surrender my memories. As I did, He reminded me they were also leaving His memory, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103).

Earlier, I mentioned that I’m not 100 percent anything. However, through faith in the Faithful One, I’m 100 percent forgiven. Will you confess the sin you’re carrying and step into the freedom Jesus has secured for you?

Shelly Eberly

February 3 – Faithfulness – He Heals Us : One Person’s Story

Read Psalm 34:17-19, Isaiah 41:10 and 1 Peter 5:10

In February of 2016 I was diagnosed with MDS, sometimes referred to as pre-leukemia. Let’s just call it cancer. In 2003 my sister, my only sibling, died of cancer and, after a few months of watching cell levels go lower and lower, I have to say I was afraid. I was confident that, when I died, I would be in Heaven with Jesus but I was afraid of the process of dying. I just plain didn’t want to die.

A good friend heard about my situation and came over to encourage me. He took my Bible and marked Psalm 34:17 – 19. This meant so much to me because I was “crushed in spirit”. This caused me to start writing and reading encouraging verses every day, memorizing many of them. This, in conjunction with so many people praying for me, started making a positive difference.

I needed a bone marrow transplant but the doctors couldn’t find an appropriate donor. They finally decided to use my youngest daughter and set a transplant date.

I had been battling depression through this process and knew I needed to hand it all over to Jesus, trusting Him completely. November of 2017, 3 months before the transplant, I was listening to a message on fully trusting Jesus. He said the first step was to have a pure heart. This caused me to literally get on my knees and start taking responsibility for things in my past, confessing and asking for forgiveness in a way I had never done before. It was literally as though a tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders. I was no longer so down and I had much more hope. I since have prayed hundreds of times that He would lift me up and He always does (Isaiah 41:10).

This is really just the beginning of the story. I would love to spend hours giving much more detail of God’s faithfulness during my healing but here is the abbreviated version.

February 2018, I had the transplant, which requires a lengthy recovery period and a lot of faith as they wipe out your immune system and your body’s ability to produce blood cells. God brought me through the transplant and recovery amazingly well with few side effects. I was able to start working some about the middle of May.

All was well until early July when I contracted pneumonia and spent several weeks in the hospital. I found out later that all of the doctors but one had given up on me when I was in the ICU. But God healed me so quickly that they were amazed and couldn’t explain it. We knew it was God.

Another bout of pneumonia came in Jan of 2020 that had me back on quite a bit of oxygen. I left the hospital and came home, still needing oxygen. God did it again and I’ve experienced a complete 180 over the past year in spite of COVID. Praise God!

So, my advice, when you’re in trouble, is to turn to our Heavenly Father and trust Him completely. You may have to turn to Him every hour of every day but that’s OK. He will never leave you or forsake you (1 Peter 5:10).

I don’t know God’s timing on this for you, maybe not even in this life. But, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I know He will fulfill this promise for you!

Mike Molter

December 22 – Word Became Flesh – Foretold Birth

Read Isaiah 7:14

I will never forget the moment I learned I was going to be an aunt! Every day leading up to the birth of my first niece, I was preparing myself to be the greatest aunt that has ever lived. I started purchasing baby clothes, baby socks, baby bibs, baby shoes, baby toys, and I even made a baby blanket (keep in mind, I am by no means a seamstress). There was so much excitement and anticipation that I literally could’ve burst at any moment. But nothing, absolutely nothing, beat the joy I had when we got the phone call that she was here and we could come meet her! My life changed the moment I held her in my arms and looked into those big, blue eyes.

Isn’t it amazing how someone’s life, no matter how long we’ve known them, can make such a significant difference in our lives? As we approach the day to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I can’t help but imagine how thrilling it must have been for those who knew the power and life change that would come with that unexpected, yet highly anticipated, baby boy.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” 

Whoa! This simple verse that we read every Christmas season is jam packed with incredible promise…there was promise that the Lord himself would send a sign, that a miracle would occur through a virgin birth, and that this baby would be called Immanuel. As if the buildup wasn’t enough, the verse ends with a name that would transform mankind for all eternity:

Immanuel.

Immanuel means “God with us”. The many years prior to this moment, people had heard from God and experienced Him in supernatural ways, but in this verse, Isaiah tells us that the same God that the Israelites had known all those years before would soon come in the flesh. God Almighty would be genuinely with us, choosing to experience life on earth as fully man and still fully God. Seriously, what an unbelievably exciting time to watch God lay out His intricate plan of salvation for every person!

Today, we are living in that reality of having confidence in our salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection. So, as we inch closer to Christmas day, take a moment to thank God for His plan to send Jesus and for how Jesus’ life has changed yours!

Becca Harbaugh

December 17 – Importance of the Old Testament – Introduced to the Messiah

Read Isaiah 52:13—53:12

On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke of the value of Old Testament words like those in today’s reading. He was traveling along with two disappointed men headed to Emmaus. The men were leaving Jerusalem, disenchanted because Jesus had been crucified and it was the third day since His death. Christ’s identity was somehow veiled from their recognition, so their raw discouragement shines through. In response, we read what Jesus did: “…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

As we continue to explore the many reasons why the Old Testament is important, we discover, then, incredible value in the fact that it introduces us to the Messiah.

In today’s reading alone, we read prophecies pointing us to such realities as Christ’s brutal death (52:14), His unassuming appearance (53:2), His rejection and opposition (53:3), His substitutionary death (53:4-6), His sinless nature (53:9), the nature of His grave (53:9), and His death satisfying the eternal plan and wrath of God (53:10-12).

This is but one of many passages that offer us a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah. Elsewhere, Old Testament readers like us can learn that Jesus would

  • Be victorious over Satan (Gen 3:15)
  • Be a descendant of Eve (Gen. 3:15), from the line of Judah (Gen 49:10), and the family of David (2 Sam 7:16).
  • Be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  • Be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • Spend time in Egypt (Hos 11:1)
  • Speak in parables (Ps 78:2–4)
  • Be a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4)

These are but a sampling of the many things we can learn about Jesus from the Old Testament. Jesus, you see, was not an afterthought in the mind of God. Our Father had planned and prophesied His coming. He faithfully keeps His promises.

Steve Kern

December 4 – The Songs We Sing – “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

Read Isaiah 26:3

 Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

I love this song for its simple message. Look at Jesus. Go on, just look at Him! You’ll soon find that the things that arrested your attention and focus just seem to fade in importance.

So many things arrest our attention. In good seasons, we can be lulled into excess and pleasure, entwining our heart with what makes us happy. That’s idolatry. And it’s far less than the best God desires for you.

In difficult seasons, fear and anxiety can obstruct our view of God. We lose faith and hope dwindles because we’ve turned our eyes on our troubles.

How thrilling, then, that all this can melt away as we turn our eyes to look at Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 puts it best: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Perfect peace is ours if we turn our eyes to Jesus and trust Him. So how do you do that?

  1. Get to know what He’s like.

 Read the gospels. Read what Jesus said, how He lived and acted. Be curious about the middle eastern man who came to our earth to love and save us.

  1. Make it personal.

 The gospels are history books. But the main character is still alive. He’s with you. If He changed Peter’s life, then, today, He can change yours. If He embraced Mary in the midst of her mess, He’ll embrace you, too. If He raised Lazarus to life, He can resurrect what’s dead in your life, too.

So, look at Him full in the face today. Perhaps, take a quiet moment to ask the Lord to sanctify your imagination (or as Ephesians 1:18 says “enlighten the eyes of your heart”) and help you picture the face of Jesus that you know from the scriptures. Imagine looking into His eyes. What are His eyes telling you today?

I’ve looked into those eyes a lot this past year during the hardest times. They’ve told me: “You’re loved. You’re cherished. To me, you were worth the price.”

Ben Framstad

November 28 – The Songs We Sing – “It Is Well with My Soul!”

Read Isaiah 26:3-4 and Colossians 2:14

I like when things go well… like the project I’m working on goes according to plan, the people in my family are healthy and my friends are in a good place.  Sometimes, God allows trials in our life. You are probably familiar with the song “It is Well with My Soul.” The song was originally a poem penned by Horatio Spafford back in 1876.

The story behind the poem was that Horatio’s wife and 4 daughters were traveling across the Atlantic Ocean when their ship collided with another vessel and sank.  In the accident, all 4 of Horatio’s daughters died.

In the aftermath of the accident, instead of bitterness and anger, there was peace as Horatio knew his children were with Jesus.  Over the next few years he penned the lyrics to the song we sing in difficult times.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “it is well, it is well with my soul.”

What I love about this song is that each verse tells a story.  Verse one reminds me of God’s perfect peace we read about in Isaiah 26:3,4. (This would be a great time to read Isaiah 26:3,4 and thank Jesus for the perfect peace He offers).

Verse three is my favorite…

“My sin O the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part but the whole.  Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul.”

In these words, Horatio refers to Colossians 2:14 where Paul writes that God has cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, He took it all away, nailing it to the cross.  This is the very reason Horatio could have that perfect peace.  I love this! I love the idea that I don’t have to shoulder my sins but God has gathered them up, placed them on the very body of the sacrificial lamb – Jesus Christ – and has taken them as far as the east is from the west!  Unbelievable!  (This is a great moment to stop and thank Jesus for His sacrifice for us.)

The last verse is wrapped up in triumph.

“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul”

One day, those who call Jesus their Savior and Lord will have their faith rewarded as we will be standing in the presence of our King. I Peter 1:9 says it so well: “For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (This would be a great time to give Jesus praise for His power and for the place that He is preparing.)

So, the next time you are facing an impossible situation, remember we serve a God who provides perfect peace through His blood shed for us and promises an incredible eternity in His presence.

Randy Moomaw