Encouragement for Thursday

As I was reading Daniel this week, a possibly strange association came to mind. In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar gives Daniel the account of his second mysterious dream. It involves a great tree that eventually becomes barren and desolate. The purpose of the dream is to make the declaration in verse 17:

“The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

The rest of the chapter presents Daniel’s interpretation for the king, and its ultimate fulfillment in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. After his experience in being humbled and restored he presents a grand conclusion in verse 37:

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

The association that this account brought to my mind was the story of Ruth. She was a Moabite who was married to a man from the tribe of Judah. Moabites as a general rule worshiped a god called Chemosh. They were looked down on by Israelites. When Ruth’s husband died she faithfully remained with her husband’s mother, Naomi, in order to care for her. Naomi urged her to return to her own people and gods. Ruth’s response:

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more” (Ruth 1:16-18).

Ruth eventually met Boaz, who became her kinsman redeemer and married her. He recognized her loyalty to God, and loved her despite the fact that she was a Moabite.

“But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:11-12).

What further fulfillment of God’s love and appreciation for Ruth can we find? She and Boaz had a son, Obed. Obed had a son, Jesse. Jesse had a son, David, who became king of Israel and was a man after God’s own heart. It is interesting to me to remember that in the heritage of the man after God’s own heart was the genetic material of Ruth from Moab.

Nebuchadnezzar and Ruth were both outside of God’s chosen people Israel at the time, yet used their lives to demonstrate the greatness of God. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case it took periods of tough experience and learning to drive home the praise that he later proclaimed. In Ruth’s case her faithfulness to God, despite the fact that she wasn’t from His originally chosen people, brought her a life of blessing and a legacy that would carry on to the Son of David, Jesus Christ.

While God did use Israel to deliver His Son to our world, these two examples remind us that God has always valued and rewarded faith in Him. When Jesus came to earth the first time it was to establish God’s plan for faith in Him to bring salvation for all who would accept Him. It became clear that for each of us that it is our faith, not our physical ancestry that will determine our ultimate relationship and eternal salvation. When He returns the second time our faith and acceptance of Him will be realized, and we will live with Him forever!

Take heart and be encouraged!


October 24, 2021 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, October 24, 2021 at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for October 24

Online giving is available here


CALL TO WORSHIP  — Revelation 4:11, 5:11-13
Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!

Holy, Holy, Holy

Revelation Song

GRACE & ASSURANCE — Psalm 145:17-19

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.

Ancient of Days

Speak O, Lord  verse 2


“When God is Quietly in Control” – Daniel 1:1-21

Step By Step


Encouragement for Today

Like many of you I am sure, I get very discouraged about a lot of the unfortunate things that occur in our country. Even more distressing is the fact that our federal government seems to be causing, or at least aiding and abetting them. It is easy to see a parallel in direction with the Russia of about 100 years ago. I take the news and events in small doses because I don’t want to become depressed by them. Recently I read a news story that gave me a slightly different outlook that gives me hope. I thought I would share it with you today. Here is the link:


The article is a discussion with Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma. A lot of people seem to think that because things are becoming so bad, God has given up on our country. He relates that people sometimes feel like he has gone to work in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah in Washington D.C.. His response:

“And I’ll typically smile at them and go, ‘Yeah, I can see some similar characteristics. But at the end in Sodom and Gomorrah, God was pulling all the Believers out. He’s still sending Believers in [to D.C.].’”

This honestly shed a different light on the situation for me. As we begin a study of Daniel, we remember that God placed Israel in captivity in Babylon for a 70 year period. Daniel also prophesies about difficulties that will befall Israel at a time in the future. Those prophecies come to pass in what is generally known as the Maccabean period, from the late 2nd century b.c into the early 1st century b.c. . Israel suffered a lot of pain and difficulty during these several hundred years. Yet it was after this difficult period that God chose to bring His Son into the world, to fulfill His plan for conquering sin forever.

What is in store for our country? Only God knows. Something great, I hope. I appreciate Senator Lankford’s attitude:

“If we want to see a change, I really am convinced that Washington doesn’t change the country, the country changes Washington. And the country is changed by churches and by believers actually living their faith. I really do believe in the power of the gospel.” 

The article mentions that in the interview Lankford quoted from 1 Peter 2. I will share some of that scripture:

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:12-17).

To put it a more colloquial term that we hear from time to time, take the high road. A lot of people in our country believe that we are the bad guys. As Christians we need to be the example that others can watch and use as an example. I would like to share one more quote from Mr. Lankford from the article:

“[Peter] spends the rest of the book of First Peter saying, ‘Here’s some practical things you can do to demonstrate your faith into a culture that has no idea who God is.’ Guess what? Those churches put that into practice. They lived among the people that had no idea who God was. They lived those principles out and people came to know God and cultures got turned around. “You think maybe that would work the same now, as it did in the first century? I do. Absolutely. So that gives me hope.”

Take heart and be encouraged!

Kings Come and Go, But God’s Servants Remain

The last two Sundays we have walked through the entire book of Daniel (an overview) and walked through the first chapter of Daniel (an introduction). This Sunday we will be back in Daniel 1 looking at verses 1 through 21. I love the application we got from chapter one as we go back into chapter one: kings come and go, but God’s servants remain. Keep that in mind as we continue to go through Daniel, but most importantly, as we go through day to day in 2021 and beyond – God’s servants remain.


Mark down November 7. There are two important things for this date. First, we will be gathering for communion together. Following communion and the worship service, we will continue with a chili lunch. Look to sign up for the lunch this Sunday!

Teams are coming together! There is interest for both the team of men reaching men and the team reaching families!

Looking forward to being with you this Sunday!

October 17, 2021 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, October 17, 2021 at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for October 17

Online giving is available here


CALL TO WORSHIP  — Psalm 34:1-3, 1 Timothy 1:17
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God,
    be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Immortal Invisible

Ancient of Days

GRACE & ASSURANCE — Psalm 119:105-112

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.

I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.

I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.

Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.

Speak O, Lord  verse 1


“When God is Quietly in Control” – Daniel 1:1-21

 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus


Encouragement for Thursday

By Joel Barton

The past couple weeks have been one of our quarter end periods for work. I have been physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. Last week one day we got out early enough in the evening that I was able to go to a park in Olmsted Falls to walk for a while. As always I take a camera. It is nice just to be outside in nature. On this walk though, I had a pleasant surprise. I always try to keep my eyes open for interesting wildlife of any size. As I walked among some large rocks close to the river I noticed some tiny white fuzzy things moving around on some large tree roots. I recognized them as being woolly aphids. I had never seen these in the wild before, but I recognized them from seeing them on an episode of Wild Ohio (on the PBS Ohio Channel) a few years back. Certain species are localized to specific types of trees. The large tree roots that these were on belonged to an American Beech tree, and these were beech blight aphids. I tried to take pictures of them both singly and in groups, but I only had a general purpose zoom lens with me. Three factors resulted in my getting no good pictures: these aphids are very tiny (about ¼ inch long), they are constantly moving, and the location was in very subdued lighting. My pictures were blurred from the aphids’ movement, the aphids were too small to appear clearly, and it was too dark.

I made a return trip a couple nights later when I was off work in time to go out again. This time I brought a different camera, a good macro lens, and a flash. The picture that is attached is one of my favorites that I was able to take that night. As you can see, these aphids are elaborately designed. They have a body that fades from a bluish color to a reddish brown. Most noticeable is their white plume-like tail. It is supposedly a waxy substance of some type, but it looks like a feather. It does have a purpose. When these aphids feel threatened they bend their bodies to lift and wave their tails around. They did this as I got close to them to take pictures. I wondered how it really helped them though. Then I noticed a couple of yellow jackets nearby, scouting for a snack. One of them walked up to one of the aphids and the aphid began waving its tail around. The yellow jacket actually stepped back a couple steps, and eventually jumped back and flew away. What do you know, it actually worked!

By now you are thinking, “Joel, we know you sometimes have an odd fascination with insects. Why did you share this episode with us?” There are a few reasons. First, I was feeling a bit tired and drained mentally and emotionally when I went out on that first walk. Seeing a fascinating, tiny bit of creation that I had seen only on T.V. before woke me up and turned my attention from my own tiredness to God’s greater world. I was also motivated to take advantage of one of my hobbies in photography, which reminded me of my blessings. Perhaps most importantly these woolly aphids reminded me that He planned for their survival and welfare and provided much more for me and all of His children.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:7-10).

Take heart and be encouraged!

October 10, 2021 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, October 10, 2021 at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for October 10

Online giving is available here


CALL TO WORSHIP  —  Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV84)
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

All Hail the Power

Ancient of Days

GRACE & ASSURANCE — Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.


“But There is a God in Heaven” – Daniel 2:28

O Great God


The Lord is My . . .

Our end-of-the-summer series in the Psalms has come to an end. We spent 10 Sundays in 10 psalms. Do you remember all 10? I hope that this series refreshed your soul.

Our next adventure will be through the book of Daniel. When it comes to Daniel, many people probably think of two things (maybe three): the fiery furnace; Daniel in the lions den; and maybe a diet program.

I would urge you to read Daniel this week, but do it in two parts. You will be tempted to not read it in two parts. Fight that temptation. Take one day and read Daniel chapters one through six, straight through. After reading, immediately write down one thought about what you just read. Then take another day and read Daniel chapters seven through twelve, straight through. After reading, immediately write down one thought about what you just read.


This Sunday, October 10, we will gather for communion. How might you be ready for communion together?

The following Sunday, October 17, we will gather to celebrate believer’s baptism. So far, two precious men will be sharing the testimony of what God has done in their lives!

The month of October there is something to do. We are to share the good news of Jesus with someone either in our homes or at a dinner table somewhere. Or, we are to encourage a fellow church member in our homes or at a dinner table somewhere.

October Community Bible Reading

Psalm 143:8
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love
for in You I trust;
Make me know the way I should go
for to You I lift up my soul.

It’s time for a Bible reading check-in! How are you doing? Only three months left in this year so the end of the plan is in sight. Stay faithful!

If you haven’t yet, you can download and print the Reading Guide here. If you haven’t been reading along with us, it’s not too late! Just jump in where we are.

The readings for October are:

October 3-9
□ John 4 // Psalm 79-80
□ John 5 // Psalm 81
□ John 6 // 82
□ John 7 // Psalm 83
□ John 8 // Psalm 84

October 10-16
□ John 9 // Psalm 85
□ John 10 // Psalm 86-87
□ John 11 // Psalm 88
□ John 12 // Psalm 89
□ John 13* // Psalm 90

October 17-23
□ John 14 // Psalm 91
□ John 15 // Psalm 92-93
□ John 16 // Psalm 94
□ John 17 // Psalm 95
□ John 18 // Psalm 96

October 24-30
□ John 19 // Psalm 97
□ John 20 // Psalm 98
□ John 21 // Psalm 99-100
□ James 1* // Psalm 101
□ James 2 // Psalm 102

* This year we are also encouraging you to watch the corresponding overview videos from Bible Project. Here are the videos for this month.

October 3, 2021 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, October 3, 2021 at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for October 3

Online giving is available here


CALL TO WORSHIP |  Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

This Is My Father’s World

Across the Lands

GRACE & ASSURANCE  |  Psalm 51:1

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

His Mercy Is More

QUIET MEDITATION  |  Isaiah 30:18
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.


 “The John 3:16 of the Old Testament” – Psalm 23

Good Shepherd of My Soul