Encouragement for Thursday

A few weeks ago I shared a hymn that was written as a prayer- “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” For some reason I have had musical prayers coming to mind lately. Another one stopped to visit today. Many years ago when I was young one of the Christian groups that I heard a great deal of music from was Petra. The style of their songs was varied, with some being mellow and beautiful, while others were more of a driving rock style. The style of their music would not be considered as hymn or worship music. Regardless, some of their songs carried some of the strongest personal messages about Scripture and your personal journey of faith that I have heard. If you want to listen to songs that will really make you look inwardly, listen to their songs “Judas’ Kiss,” or “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows.” Others like “Road to Zion” are calming and reassuring. The Petra song about prayer that came to mind is appropriately and simply titled “Prayer.” The song was based on teachings from 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, Ephesians 6:18-19, and Matthew 6:9-13. Following are a couple of the verses:

First, I want to thank You, Lord

For being who You are

For coming to the rescue

Of a man who’s drifted far

For calling me to be Your son

And calling me to serve

Lord, the way You’ve blessed my life

Is more than I deserve

Keep the ones I love so dearly

Fill their emptiness while I am gone

And fill the loneliness in me, in me

Let me be the evidence

Of what Your grace can do

To a generation struggling

To find themselves in You

May they come to know the love of God

May their eyes be made to see

Give me the opportunity to share

The truth that sets them free

And may unity in all things

Be the banner of Your church

And let revival’s fire begin to burn

Begin to burn

These, another verse, and the chorus of the song are all the types of prayers that I would like to make– honest reflection of where I once was, where I am, and how God can use me. I am glad there are different types of music to reach me, and all of us. I think we all learn when we hear Scriptural truth and Godly reflection coming from unexpected places. I know I am spiritually richer for it. Please watch and listen to Petra sing “Prayer.”

Take heart and be encouraged! 


April 23, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, April 23, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for April 23, 2023

Online giving is available here


PRAYER & CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 47:1-2, 6-7
Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
    a great king over all the earth.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm!

Come Thou Almighty King

Ancient of Days

GRACE & ASSURANCE  —  Romans 8:37-39
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His Forever

Jesus What A Friend


“Stay Rooted” – Psalm 1

Step By Step


Encouragement for Thursday

The day before Easter I was able to visit Lake View Cemetery to see Daffodil Hill in bloom. I have known about it and seen pictures and video of the scene for many years, but never remembered to visit when the daffodils were in bloom. I was not the only one who visited that day. There were many people walking around it and taking pictures of family and friends among the flowers. Besides the beauty of the flowers, I noticed that the scene and the atmosphere really seemed to put people into a good mood. They were happy to see the outward signs of spring and warmer, brighter weather.

Daffodils and early spring blossoming bulbs have always been seen as harbingers of awakening and new life. Hope and growth rises from what previously looked to be cold, desolate ground. This image has been common for thousands of years. As Isaiah describes:

“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.

The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.

Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers

and singing and joy!

The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,

as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.

There the Lord will display his glory,

the splendor of our God.”

(Isaiah 35:1-2, NLT)

The word translated as “crocus” in verse 1 is translated in other versions as “narcissus,” “lily” or even “rose.” The type of flower isn’t clear, but the image of them signaling rebirth and renewal is clear. It might seem like you have been living in a desert wasteland, but that will change. “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

Although Isaiah was dealing with God’s people at a difficult point in history it is clear that his message reached far ahead to a future time.

“And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind

and unplug the ears of the deaf.

The lame will leap like a deer,

and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!”

(Isaiah 35:5-6)

When Jesus was approached by disciples of John the Baptist in Galilee and was asked if He was the Messiah that John spoke of, “Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’“ (Matthew 11:4-6)

It sounds like He had Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 35 in mind, doesn’t it? I believe He did, even though it isn’t a full direct quote. The remainder of Matthew 11 presents a strong parallel theme to Isaiah 34 and 35. The unrepentant, those against God, will end up facing destruction. “Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” (Isaiah 35:10). As believers we have been ransomed by the Lord through His payment of Jesus for our sins. May we all take Jesus’ message in Matthew 11:28-30 to heart: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Take heart and be encouraged!

April 16, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, April 16, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for April 16, 2023

Online giving is available here


PRAYER & CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 29:1-2, 10-11
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Holy, Holy, Holy

Only A Holy God

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — Ephesians 3:17-19

May you be rooted and established in the love of Christ—
So that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Oh the Deep Deep Love


“Stay Rooted” Psalm 1

O Lord My Rock & My Redeemer


April 2, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for April 2, 2023

Online giving is available here


PRAYER & CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 118:19-27
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.

Lift Up Your Heads


Shine On Us

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — Philippians 2:5-11
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness,
and being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
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.

Man of Sorrows


“From Greetings to Grace” – Philippians 4:21-23

My Song is Love Unknown


Encouragement for Thursday

Yesterday I had an old hymn come to mind that I have not heard, or thought of, in a while: Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us. The words were believed to have been written by Dorothy Ann Thrupp, who made books of hymns for children. It appeared in her “Hymns for the Young,” published in 1836. The music was written by William Bradbury, who wrote the music (as well as lyrics) for many well-known songs and hymns, including Sweet Hour of Prayer, Jesus Loves Me, He Leadeth Me, The Solid Rock, and Just As I Am.

Although it first appeared in a hymnal for children, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us can possibly be appreciated even more by those more experienced in the faith. It is based on David’s thoughts in Psalm 23. Instead of David’s third person point of view statements about God in the psalm, the hymn takes a first person point of view. The entire hymn is a prayer to Jesus. Through the verses we recognize His leadership, ask for His sustenance, recognize His sacrifice, ask for protection from sin, acknowledge our sin and accept His freedom from it through His grace, and ask that His will and love fill our lives. I sang this hymn for many years without realizing what a powerful message it carries. When I realized it was a prayer it meant much more.

Saviour, like a shepherd lead us,

Much we need thy tender care.

In thy pleasant pastures feed us,

For our use thy fold prepare.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast bought us, thine we are.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast bought us, thine we are. 

We are thine, do thou befriend us,

Be the guardian of our way.

Keep thy flock from sin, defend us,

Seek us when we go astray.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Hear o hear us when we pray.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Hear o hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us

Poor and sinful though we be

Thou hast mercy to relieve us

Grace to cleanse and pow’r to free

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus

Early let us turn to thee

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus

Early let us turn to thee.

Early let us seek thy favour,

Early let us do thy will.

Blessed Lord and only Saviour,

With thy love our beings fill.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,

Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Please take a moment to listen to the beautiful rendition of this hymn in the video below. Sing along. I am sure Jesus would appreciate it.

Take heart and be encouraged!

March 26, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, March 26, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for March 26, 2023

Online giving is available here


PRAYER & CALL TO WORSHIP — Psalm 59:16-17
But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.

Praise My Soul The King of Heaven

Here I Am to Worship

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — James 1:2-4, Philippians 1:6
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Christ Is Mine Forevermore


“From Greetings to Grace” – Philippians 4:21-23

May The Peace (Benediction)


Encouragement for Thursday

In the early 1900’s Enterprise, Alabama was a small town built on cotton farming. The local farmers grew cotton and businesses were built on transporting and trading in cotton. When the crop was good people made a good living. When it wasn’t the whole area struggled. Around 1915 an enemy they previously only heard about reached their town– the boll weevil. They came in large waves looking to fill their stomachs with cotton seeds. They did fill them, and no cotton plants grew. The local cotton crop was devastated. The farmers, businesses, and people of Enterprise were in trouble.

Many farmers and people in other areas that had been hit by the boll weevils tried to find ways to stop them. Insecticides, barriers to protect the plants, and other insects to attack the weevils were the most common ways others tried to protect their livelihood. Enterprise figured differently. After research someone found that their area was ideal for growing peanuts, which were of no interest to the weevils. Farmers began to plant crops of peanuts rather than cotton. They found that peanuts thrived in the area, and ended up bringing them more money and a better living. By 1919 the area was doing so well that the people of Enterprise decided to do something to acknowledge their good fortune. They built a monument in the center of town–a woman holding a giant boll weevil above her head on a pedestal. The inscription on the plaque appreciates the contribution of the boll weevil to the wealth and prosperity of Enterprise. It is believed to be the only monument in appreciation of an insect pest in the world. Over the years the boll weevil became a sort of mascot or symbol for the town. There are decorative boll weevil statues in front of businesses and buildings throughout the city.

Enterprise’s experience demonstrates two important traits about its people: 1) They were open minded and creative about finding the best solution to a major problem, and 2) They kept a healthy perspective about the positive effects the major problem had on them. Instead of wringing their hands and commiserating about the awful shape they found themselves in they found a way to make the best of the situation. They hadn’t been peanut farmers, but why couldn’t they be? Then after working through their plan and solution they maintained a good-natured attitude of appreciation for the whole series of events.

Reading about Enterprise’s history with the boll weevil brought a possibly odd Scriptural parallel to my mind. I thought about Joseph. Like the people of Enterprise, Joseph found himself in a very bad situation not of his own doing. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Rather than complaining about God or trying to escape his predicament he worked with it. He took his imprisonment in stride and tried to serve his new masters in the best way he could. I am sure it was a situation he never imagined himself in when he was at home working with his father. As we know, his service rewarded him with responsibility and prosperity. God was able to use him to benefit Egypt and Israel. When he met his brothers after the passing of his father Jacob, it might have been tempting to look back with anger or vengeance upon how they treated him, but he did not.

“But Joseph said to them ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:19-21)

How do you face a difficult challenge? It can be hard to think clearly about how to best respond. When working through a solution it can be hard to keep going in order to reach a favorable conclusion. Then when looking back it might be easy to overlook God’s guidance and care. We know that God used Joseph to accomplish His plan in Egypt. I also believe God was helping the people of Enterprise in 1915 as they prayed for His help. The challenge for us is to keep a mind open enough to see and accept a solution that may not be what we first had in mind. God loves us!

Take heart and be encouraged!

March 19, 2023 Worship Service

This is our service order for Sunday, March 12, 2023, at Calvary Community Church.

Livestream at our website or the YouTube Channel.

Download: Worship Guide for March 19, 2023

Online giving is available here


PRAYER & CALL TO WORSHIP — from Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
Praise him, all his hosts!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For his name alone is exalted;
    His majesty is above the earth and heaven

All Creatures of My God and King

Psalm 62

GRACE & ASSURANCE  — Psalm 113:4-6
The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?

The Lord is My Salvation


“My God Will Supply Your Every Need” – Philippians 4:14-20

Lord I Need You


Encouragement for Thursday

Like most of you, hymns and worship songs mean a lot to me. At various times throughout the week, probably when I need their message, they pop into my mind. Sometimes other songs do too. I was reminded of a song this week that was one of those other songs from many years ago. I am sure in the past I have shared other songs by Keith Green. He was a popular Christian musician from a period about 40 years ago. He and his wife Melody wrote songs that seemed to dig to the heart of what believing in God, accepting Christ, and living for Him meant. Unfortunately he and two of his young children left their earthly lives in a plane crash when he was only 29. His wife carried on the ministry to the less fortunate that they had begun together.

The song that I would like to share speaks of the goal and attitude I would like to always bear in mind. I hope that it means the same for you. It also fits in precisely with the message of Philippians we have been studying. Please listen to “Make My Life a Prayer to You”:

Take heart and be encouraged!