Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Daily Word of God - Colossians 1:21-22

Colossians 1:21-22 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Mid-Week Message - Words of Kindness

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

Here is a little secret about me - I love pretty hairstyles.  Seriously!  I have stopped women in stores to tell them I love their hair.  Some ladies are able to do the most amazing things with braids.  Others have pretty curls or up do's that I can only admire in awe. My own does one thing.  I have worn it the same way for more years than I can remember.  When I look for a hairstylist, I look for someone who can duplicate the cut that I have because if they don't I won't have the slightest idea of how to make it look good.  I can remember as a child going with my mother to the beauty shop when she had her hair done.  Back then the popular style was to have it teased and sprayed to the point that it wouldn't move in a hurricane.  I had to draw a picture of my mother once and I drew her with hair that was almost as high as she was tall.  Ah, memories.

I wonder sometimes if people think I am strange for complimenting them on their hair.  I do get some odd looks.  But almost always I also get a smile.  And, at times, I see a very serious expression turn into surprise and then joy when the person realizes that the statement is sincere and that they are in possession of something that someone else appreciates.  I always hope they are able to carry that new expression throughout their day.

In short, whether it is for hair or other reasons, I love to make people smile.  For most of us just a little bit of kindness or encouragement goes a long way.  I was reading some statistics about depression and I discovered that 25 million Americans suffer from some type of major depressive episode each year.  What a staggering number!  I know there is far more involved in remedying depression than a momentary smile but what if that is the only time someone smiles during the day?  You never know what impact a small word of encouragement can make.  

With so many people hurting around us, every word that comes from our mouths should matter.  We may not know someone well enough to speak to their heart but we can always find something positive to say.  Whether it is complimenting them or giving a sincere "God Bless You!", there is always a way to use words to edify those near us.  

Let's make it a priority to show kindness in word and in deed.  Countless strangers cross our paths each day and we can't know what is going on in their lives.  If we can give them the gift of just one smile, that may be pure treasure to them.  Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances need the same.  We can all point to a time when someone unexpectedly made us feel good by something they said or did.  There is far too much negativity in this world.  May you feel treasured this week.  God bless you!

Daily Word of God - Psalm 86:5

Psalm 86:5 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
    so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Daily Word of God - Hebrews 10:12

Hebrews 10:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Daily Word of God - Matthew 20:26

Matthew 20:26-28 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Daily Word of God - Revelation 5:9

Revelation 5:9 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 And they sang a new song with these words:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Never Alone

Have you ever felt alone as you faced problems? You may have lost your job. You may have gotten bad news from the doctor. You may have even lost a loved one. Each one of those situations may cause you to feel completely and utterly alone. You feel that God has forsaken you. I, too, have been through some very rough and rocky times and have felt totally alone. I reached out to God and He seemed so far away from me and that He wasn't listening to me.

I had to refocus on the Lord and realize that God is always there and loves and listens to His children. By refocusing and exercising our faith, we will see that hope and help that God will provide. You cannot go it alone nor should you attempt to. You are a child of God and He will watch over you and protect you and give you peace.

In Hebrews 11:1, we see what faith really is. "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Faith gives us that hope and we know that God will act in response to our prayers. Like you, I sometimes forget this and try to work through my problems alone. But, I don't have to. I can go to the Lord and ask Him for strength and a path to guide my feet. You, too, can do the same. You don't have to just deal with things that are outside of your control. Let God be the center of your life.

Jesus, in John 14:18, told his disciples, "No, I will not abandon you as orphans--I will come to you." You, too, can rest assured that you are not alone. Just have faith and know that God is always there for you and will never, ever forsake you.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 118:24

Psalm 118:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Daily Word of God - Matthew 5:17-19

Matthew 5:17-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Miracle of an Illness

During the past two weeks, I have been in the hospital. I had so many people enter my room. Doctors, nurses, nurse technicians, lab technicians, housekeepers, food service and so many others came to visit me on a regular basis. Each brought more than just a task to perform. Each of them gave me a part of a miracle.

As I think about it, the experience reminded me of an anthill. All the ants scurrying around with their task. All working together to do what was necessary. In my case, the healthcare team raced to save my life. I am indeed fortunate to have received their gift of a miracle.

Now I am in recovery, but that does not stop me from ministering to the needs of others. I have seen other people in the unit that I was in struggling for their lives. Each dealing with pain, loneliness and depression. Some asking the same questions I did, "Why me?"

That is a classic question for all of us. When something goes wrong, we all ask that one question, "Why me?" The one thing I learned is that sometimes we have to rephrase the question and look at it from a different angle. I have been in prayer and asking God to reveal the bigger picture to me. My question is, "What is my purpose in the Kingdom, Lord? What is it that You want me to do?"

Early this morning, I finally was able to change the question to something different and it profoundly impacted my heart and spirit. I asked, "Why not me?" God does everything for a reason and all things are in accordance to His will and His plan for our lives. I was reading in 1 Samuel 3 about the calling of Samuel by the Lord. The Lord called Samuel repeatedly and he thought it was the priest, Eli, calling him. Eli, each time, told Samuel that he didn't call him. After several times of this, Eli discerned that it was the Lord and instructed Samuel on how to respond when the call came again. Instead of jumping and running into Eli's room, Samuel responded, "Speak, LORD, your servant is listening."

That is the lesson that I learned while I was in the hospital. No matter what happens, the Lord will use my illness and all of the other things I face for His greater glory and will use me as the instrument to serve His children. By going through this, I have seen the love of people poured out on others. They have seen my love for them poured out as blessings on each of them. The nurses spending hours helping me and listening to me. This experience has had a deep and lasting effect on my life. 

In the past couple of days, I have had to face even more challenges. I will not go into the details of them, but I can tell you that we are experiencing financial problems. With the medical bills and other things, we are considering all of the options we have available to use. As a minister, I am not exempt from trials and troubles. No Christian is exempt. Sometimes, it seems we get more than our share of problems. But, the one thing I have to cling to is my faith in God and knowing that He loved me so much to send His son, Jesus, to die for my sins and to give me the gift of salvation. I am His child and He is my fortress and my refuge in a dark and weary land.

David, in Psalm 61, gives us his beautiful words that capture God and what He is able to do for us in times of trial and trouble. Starting with verse 2 and reading to verse 4 of the New Living Translation. Let these words soak into your soul. "2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!"

God is our sanctuary and grants us the peace and comfort we need when we face insurmountable problems. Do you have that peace and comfort? Do you worry all the time? I used to, but I realized that there is One who is greater than all the powers in the world. I serve a living, loving God who reigns from Heaven above and is my Father. 

As I close, I want you to read these words from Psalm 27:1 and let them minister to you. "The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?"

If you are afraid and tremble, I can tell you from my own experience that God is there for you. He sent His son for you so that you could have God as your light and salvation. You don't have to be afraid. With God there by your side, you can truly stand firm in His grace.

May God richly bless each of you!

Daily Word of God - Romans 2:5-9

Romans 2:5-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 16:11

Psalm 16:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Daily Word of God - 1 John 5:3

1 John 5:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

God in Time of Need

Everyone goes through situations that really try his or her faith. Whether it is financial, medical or spiritual, you struggle, cry or get angry and then you ask God for help. No matter what the situation is, God is there and you can go to His throne with confidence and ask Him for help.

Look at what Hebrews 4:16 has to say to God's children, "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."

That grace is freely given to you by our gracious God. His grace is completely sufficient for you and will sustain you through all of your problems and troubles. You must remain faithful even when times get tough. I know that it is difficult to do, but rest assured that God listens and provides for His children.

God will always provide you with a way. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Daily Word of God - Matthew 19:17-19

Matthew 19:17-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Daily Word of God - Romans 7:12-14

Romans 7:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

13 But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Daily Word of God - James 2:10-11

James 2:10-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 17:7-8

Psalm 17:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
    By your mighty power you rescue
    those who seek refuge from their enemies.
8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes.
    Hide me in the shadow of your wings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 13:8-10

Romans 13:8-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

Mid-Week Message - Pray for the Brokenhearted

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Last week we saw a horrific tragedy take place at a high school in Florida.  A former student returned to the campus with the intention of stealing the lives of innocent victims.  By the time he was finished, seventeen students and teachers were dead and many more injured.  Each of these individuals had plans for their day and for their lives.  When they left their homes that morning they had no idea it would be for the last time.

As a mother myself, my first thoughts were for the mothers of the young people who had senselessly lost their lives.  I cannot imagine losing my child to an accident or an illness but I certainly cannot comprehend having one murdered.  I know there are many people that have lost loved ones violently at the hands of another person.  I have to wonder how they are able to continue to live their lives after such an occurrence.  

I don't want to use my time this week talking about why there is such evil in the world.  It is enough to know that it is here and it will continue to grow worse until Jesus returns.  It will effect everyone's life at one time or another.  The enemy's plan is to ensnare as many as possible and steal all he can from our Lord and he will stop at nothing to do it.  

What I do want to use this post for is to remind every reader to be in prayer for the wounded and all of the families involved.  Days have passed and the story is no longer the headline in the news.  However, for these families, the world has changed forever and they will need support for a long time to come.  As they go through this season of grieving, please lift them up, even though you may not know any of them personally.  Ask the Lord to surround them with His loving arms and by people that love Him and will grieve with them.  He will comfort them.  He is faithful.  May God bless each of us with His protection this coming week.  

Rev Billy Graham has Passed Way

The world's best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has died. He was 99.

I remembered my family and I attending a Billy Graham ministry event when I was a lot younger. I remember his booming voice as he preached the Word of God and told of a Savior, Christ Jesus, who died for my sins. His voice and kind heart showed the way to Jesus and cross so that they could be saved.

Just as David was called "a man after God's own heart", I would be safe in saying, "Billy Graham was truly a man after God's own heart."

Please pray for the Graham family.

"Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Daily Word of God - John 1:18

John 1:18 New Living Translation (NLT)

18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 1:11

Ephesians 1:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

Daily Word of God - Colossians 1:17

Colossians 1:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 17:15

Psalm 17:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Because I am righteous, I will see you.
    When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

Daily Word of God - Hebrews 9:15

Hebrews 9:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 John 4:10

1 John 4:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Charity for All

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln did not sing the praises of the Union’s victory of the Civil War. Instead, he was humble and wanted to instill into the wounded and divided nation that there was the work ahead of binding the wounds and that healing would need to occur. In, what I consider to be his best words, Lincoln sums up the new mission of the nation in one simple sentence, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln called upon the nation and more specifically the people to finish that great work of binding the wounds of a nation that saw brother against brother and families divided. Each time I read his words, I am proud to say that I am an American and that we had a great president who led the nation through the bloodiest war in its history. I am sure that there are those who would debate my words and call into question my judgement regarding the greatness of Lincoln. However, I am not here to debate or defend the feelings that are inspired by his words and the clear vision of a divided nation to unite once again.

Although not said exactly the same, Paul in Romans tells us the same things. We are to live in harmony with one another and do what we can to preserve that peace. Let us look at Romans 12:18. Paul is quite clear about our actions when he says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” There are a few things to note when we examine this verse closely. The first is doing what you can to live in peace. The operative word is you.

We, as Christians, can only do so much when it comes to peace in the world. We are to live in harmony with those around us and demonstrate that daily to those around us. When we gossip, lie or cheat another, we are not living lives dedicated to peace and harmony. All we have done is provide the world with another reason to call Christians hypocrites. If we do not live our lives in accordance to the word and will of God, then what is the point of being a Christian?

Once again looking to Paul and his wisdom, we find in 2 Corinthians 6:17 why we are supposed to be different and what happens we are. “Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.” God will receive us, because we made the decision to separate ourselves from unbelievers and the sins of our old lives. Once we do this, we are transformed into the sons and daughters of God. We are truly different and we must act differently.

Our actions should be done out of love rather than malice or arrogance. We should love all and not seek vengeance. Vengeance belongs to the Almighty and it is His to dispense as He wills. Our responsibility is to show the world that we are different and that we can make a difference by being a Christ-like example to all those around us.

Last year I gave a sermon series on what it meant to be Christ-like, chief among the traits is humility. As Christians, we should not be conceited or act as if we are better than those around us. Our lives should be dedicated to serving and loving one another and never repaying evil with evil.

As we demonstrate this to the world, we show that being a Christian is more than just going to church on the Sabbath. It means that we live our lives in service to God and to each other and that we are to show no malice to others, but, rather, give charity for all. Lincoln’s beautiful words once again sum up the same things that Paul tells us to do in our lives. Once we do what we are to do and seek out righteousness in our actions, it is truly the moment when we have taken up the yoke of the master.

If you really think about what we are to do as Christians which is very easy when we follow what Jesus has outlined in his response to the Pharisees when asked about the most important of all laws, we are to love God totally and completely and to love our neighbors. As Jesus put it so eloquently, the rest of the laws hang on these two laws.

When we sow, we shall reap. When we feed others, we shall be fed. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in one of the Beatitudes, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” When we seek peace and harmony for ourselves and others, we can truly stand firm in His grace.

God bless and keep each of you always. May His grace shine down upon you.

Daily Word of God - Revelation 13:8

Revelation 13:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Daily Word of God - Nahum 1:7

Nahum 1:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 The Lord is good,
    a strong refuge when trouble comes.
    He is close to those who trust in him.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 18:1-2

Psalm 18:1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:

1 I love you, Lord;
    you are my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
    my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
    and my place of safety.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Daily Word of God - Malachi 3:16

Malachi 3:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

Daily Word of God - Luke 10:19

Luke 10:19 New Living Translation (NLT)

19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Daily Word of God - Matthew 25:23

Matthew 25:23 New Living Translation (NLT)

23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Daily Word of God - Colossians 3:12-14

Colossians 3:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 8:31

Romans 8:31 New Living Translation (NLT)

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Mid-Week Message - Valentines Day

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

I used to love Valentines Day in school.  Each year we got to craft a "mailbox" for students to put our Valentines in. I would dig through my mother's sewing box and dig out pieces of fabric, lace and ruffles to glue on mine.  Then I would cut hearts out of construction paper, doilies and foil.  Each year I thought my box would be the most elaborate and the prettiest one in the classroom.  There was no award for the nicest box but it was important to me that mine stood out.  I guess somewhere deep down I thought the prettiest box would get the most cards.  

Fast forward to adult life.  When I was single I used to look longingly at the flowers that were delivered at work to the ladies with boyfriends and husbands.  Not all of them received them, but many did.  I thought it would be the most romantic thing ever to have flowers delivered to me at work.  The first Valentines Day of my married life, the flowers never came.  However, when I got home, my husband met me with a dozen roses and a glass slipper.  I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realized that it didn't matter if the flowers were delivered to my job or not.  It didn't even matter that I received flowers and a gift or not.  What mattered was the demonstration of the love my husband had for me.  

We all crave affection, and not just one day of the year.  Holidays have become opportunities for financial gain for companies that cater to them.  Cards, candy, jewelry, and flowers are big sellers this week.  Florists are working overtime trying to deliver all the orders.  But flowers die, candy gets eaten, cards eventually get either thrown away or shoved in a drawer.  What lingers is the satisfaction that comes from the love that was shown.  That is what matters because we each have a basic need for love.  

Romans 12:10 intrigues me.  What would happen if we actually followed its instruction to "outdo one another in showing honor?"  If each of us made it our mission to be the most loving to our families, neighbors, acquaintances and everyone else around us, what would change?  If we met that basic need for love in one another, if we all made that our mission, can you imagine the joy that would ensue?  I was elated to be met with flowers and a glass slipper one time.  It has continued over the last twenty six years to impact my life.  That is how important a display of affection can be.  

Wherever you find yourself today, please know that at least one person loves you - me.  If it was in my power to deliver hugs or other displays of that love, I would do it eagerly.  Please reach out to those around you and honor them.  Don't wait for a special day or occasion.  There may not be another.  God bless you.

Daily Word of God - Psalms 118:24

Psalm 118:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 5:3-5

Ephesians 5:3-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 105:1

Psalm 105:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
    Let the whole world know what he has done.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Daily Word of God - Galatians 5:14

Galatians 5:14 New Living Translation (NLT)

14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:114

Psalm 119:114 New Living Translation (NLT)

114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    your word is my source of hope.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 18:10

Proverbs 18:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
    the godly run to him and are safe.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Truly Amazing Grace

As many of you know, I have been struggling with illness since the end of December. It has caused me to miss recording some of my messages and kept me from doing a lot more in our ministry. I can deal with the issues, but, when it comes to the ministry, I am heartbroken over the fact I cannot do more in the Kingdom. When I begin to feel that way, I remember the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12. I have used this passage a lot because it means a lot to me right now. Starting with verse 8 and concluding in verse 10. Paul had this to say about his plight in life, "8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Yes, I need to find strength in my weakness and learn that the only way for me to have true victory in Jesus is to humble myself and allow him to work in my life. It is difficult to do when there are so many things going on at the same time. My illness is only one issue. My wife and I are facing more problems like financial problems due to the crushing weight of hospital bills. We have medical insurance, but it only covers so much. The doctors tell me that my recovery will be lengthy to say the least. Although I can work, I am still facing more appointments and visits, more medicine and more medical bills. 

Like a good provider for my family, I am concerned and very worried. I often find myself in my hospital room just worrying about those bills and the crippling debt we may be facing. All of these things come to mind as I lie in a hospital bed waiting for my next visit from a nurse or doctor. I sometimes wonder why God has placed us in this situation. Until all of this happened, I was doing well and my family had its needs met. In just a quick moment at 2 AM on December 28th, things changed and started us along this new path.

I found myself questioning God's will in our lives as we struggled to get through this. There have been moments when things seemed to take a turn for the better and then rapidly changed. Those downturns have been the most troubling for me. It seemed like I had the carpet yanked out from under my feet. Just as I was feeling better, I received another kick in the stomach and down I would go. When I reflect on the last seventy-two hours of my life, I realize that things changed so very quickly and I was now in the process of dealing with financial burdens of medical care and the loss of income. Painful as it seems I am trying to desperately hold on to my faith and to allow God to work in my life even during these trying times.

As I did some reading yesterday, I ran across a story of single mother who had lost her job and was struggling to find something. Finally, in all of her job searching, she found a job and began to interview for it. Everything seemed perfect; however, after her last interview, she didn't get the job. Now, she is facing monstrous debts from using credit cards and has nothing left in savings. Her struggles are not new ones. I know that there are others reading this message and saying, "I know exactly how she feels." We all have our struggles or, as some would say, our crosses to bear. Difficulties seem to dog our steps at every turn and it may even seem that those difficulties stalk us like a ravenous pack of wolves ready to pounce on the weakened prey.

Think about the words of Peter when he tells us in 1 Peter 5, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." Our difficulties are exactly like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Lions do not attack the strong. They go after the weak and helpless. They look very closely at a herd of animals and pick out those that will just give up or are just too weak to struggle.

Peter gives us the keys to how to remain strong when all may seem lost. Let us look at verses 6 through 7 of that same chapter. Peter tells us, "6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you."

By humbling ourselves before the Lord and admitting our fears, uncertainties and doubts to Him, He will raise us up in honor and give us that victory over our difficulties at the right time. The other part is to give our cares to the Lord and know without any doubt
that He loves us dearly. No matter what we face, we can always depend on the Lord. The Lord will provide all that we need. One of His holy names is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord is our provider. He provides all that we need. 

When we fully embrace all of Peter's and Paul's words, we know that we do not have to worry about a thing in our lives. God will provide the way out of every situation. He will give us the grace to endure and the strength to carry on even when all may seem lost. Worrying does not solve problems. It makes them worse. We are just adding to the problems and no amount of worrying is going to solve the problems we face or lessen their burdens in our lives. 

Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew, sums up what we should do when we begin to worry about things. Starting with verse 31 of chapter 6, Jesus tells us, "31 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

God already knows what we each need our lives. We just have to have faith in God and not worry about things. God will provide for our needs. When it comes to tomorrow, God knows exactly what we need for that day as well. Once we can learn to humble ourselves, seek His will in our lives, live righteously, confess our weaknesses and know that God is truly Jehovah-Jireh, we can then stand firm in His grace, a grace that is completely and entirely sufficient for each of us.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 29:11

Psalm 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 40:29

Isaiah 40:29 New Living Translation (NLT)

29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 34:8

Psalm 34:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 3:16

Ephesians 3:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Daily Word of God - James 4:10

James 4:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 139:23-24

Psalm 139:23-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Daily Word of God - 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Daily Word of God - Galatians 6:1

Galatians 6:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

Mid-Week Message - God Is Not Surprised

"If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."  1 John 3:20 (NIV)

It was my privilege to spend a lot of time at my daughter's school throughout her education,  first as a volunteer then as an employee. It allowed me to take part in so many more activities with her than I would have been able to otherwise.  During the class Christmas party in her second grade year, the children were all sitting in the floor watching a movie with the lights off.  I had stayed in the room with them while the teacher stepped across the hallway.  A question arose that I needed to verify with her so I went to speak with her momentarily.  While walking back to my chair, one of the children moved her foot as I was stepping over it and I tripped.  I tried hard to catch myself but I fell and when I hit the floor, my left knee fell upon a small body.  Because of my excess weight, my only thought at the moment was, "I'm killing someone's baby!"   That part of the fall seemed to take hours, however, as I recovered and sat up I started asking who I had fallen on, truly terrified that I had severely injured one of these precious ones.  I soon heard, "Me, Mrs. Johns!  You fell on me. I'm okay!"  A little girl named Jennifer stood before me and I begged her forgiveness.  My tears were spilling out and she actually tried to console me.  She did seem to be just fine except for a slight rug burn on the side of her face.  Not long after the fall, Jennifer's mother arrived and I met her at the door, still in tears, told her what had happened, begged her forgiveness as well and asked her to take her daughter to a doctor to make sure she wasn't injured, assuring her that I would pay for the exam.  
Because I was so terribly upset, one of the teachers walked me upstairs to the school office where I was met by one of the high school teachers.  She took me into her office and said this to me, "What happened today was a surprise to you but it wasn't a surprise to God."  She urged to me to rest in that knowledge and to trust that He already had worked the situation out completely.  
So much in life takes us by surprise.   Some of these happenings or circumstances are pleasant, many are not.  We do not know what the next hour holds, let alone tomorrow.  However, we know the One that is never surprised because He has all knowledge and all wisdom.  If we follow Him closely, nothing will be able to shake us beyond what we can handle with His help.  As the song says, "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand.  But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand. "  God bless you.

Daily Word of God - John 7:38

John 7:38 New Living Translation (NLT)

38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Daily Word of God - James 1:5

James 1:5 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Daily Word of God - 1 Corinthians 2:9

1 Corinthians 2:9 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 46:1

Psalm 46:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.

Daily Word of God - Malachi 3:10

Malachi 3:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Audio Recording - Inseparable

Daily Word of God - 2 Peter 1:4

2 Peter 1:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Inseparable

As I read and listen to the news, I see a world fraught with danger. Murders, rapes, household robberies and so many other horrific things going on in the world. We all wish things were different, but we cower in our homes. We try to pull blankets over our heads in order to keep the bad news from seeping into our lives. We feel alone. There is no one to turn to in this time of trouble. The trouble doesn’t even need to be any of the items I mentioned earlier. The trouble could also be physical, financial or spiritual. We face the dangers that are not only outside our homes but also inside our homes. It seems like there is danger and trouble all around us and nothing can stop it. We feel separated from everything.

But, we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions. Are we truly alone as Christians? Have we been separated from God and our savior, Jesus, by these trials and troubles? The answer is easy. No, we are not alone and nothing can separate us from God and Jesus. The answer is truly easy, but it is difficult to remember while things are falling apart all around us. In my own life, I face a tremendous number of problems. I have issues that I must try to deal with and there are times when I do feel alone. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that my life is a rose garden. I, too, have things that are going on right now that test my faith in God. But, I come back to my faith and also think about the life of Paul.

If you recall from your scripture reading, you know that Paul, after he repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord, faced a lot of problems. He was arrested, beaten and ultimately died for his faith. While writing letters to the churches, Paul reminded them of what he and other Christians faced daily for their faith. Even today, there are Christians around the world who are jailed, murdered, tortured and persecuted for their faith. In the United States, some are harassed and ridiculed for their faith.

However, we need to remember the words of Paul as he wrote to the church in Rome. Let us look at Romans 8 verses 35-39 as I read from the New Living Translation. “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we face really big problems in our lives, it is very easy for us to slip into the trap of thinking that we have been abandoned and that God has forsaken us. There have been times in my own life when I truly felt alone; however, I was never alone. God never left my side and Jesus never gave up on me. It is difficult to remember that when you are up to your eyeballs in trouble. You just want to give up or have God just rescue you. I have prayed those prayers as well. “God, just get me out of this. Amen.” This short and to the point prayer is all of the faith we can muster at the moment.

But, what does Paul tell us in Romans 8? He reminds us of what the scripture tells us. Despite everything that is going on in our lives, we have victory in Jesus as our Savior and Lord and that there is nothing in heaven or earth that can separate us from our Heavenly Father. Paul uses the phrase “nothing in all creation”. He is absolutely right. There is nothing on this planet or in this universe that can get between God and ourselves. Not even the powers of hell can even come close to separating us. We truly are His children and He is truly our Father. 

There is one other thought that comes to mind when I begin to feel alone. I remember the last stanza of the poem, “Footprints”. We all know the poem, but sometimes we forget the lesson of the last few words. Let me give them to you and I ask that you let the words minister to you. “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.”

Isn’t that comforting to know? I know when I read or say those words, I feel the love of Jesus all around me and through me. I know that he is there with his hand out to take my hand. He will lead you through the fires in your life and see you to safety. We have the victory of salvation in our lives and there is nothing that can take that away from us. What a comforting thought! What a truly wonderful promise from our Heavenly Father through His son, Christ Jesus.

If you do not have that wonderful promise and relationship with the Lord in your life, you face defeat every day. You face everything alone. You do not have anyone to turn to. Try as you may, all of your actions and plans do not get you to a peace in your heart and soul. If you want that peace and you want victory in your life, there is just one thing to do. You need to ask Jesus to come into your life and be your guide and the way to the Father. Once you do that, you begin your daily walk. Life doesn’t get easier. Christians still have problems, but the way you face life does get easier. You can go to the Father in prayer. Jesus died so that you could have that direct line to God. Through Jesus, we have that way to the throne of God. God loves you so very much and loved you from the beginning of time.

Once you have Jesus in your life, he will lead you from your sinful ways and into God’s loving arms. God will never leave nor forsake you. When you have that victory, you can rest assured that you can stand firm in His grace.

Daily Word of God - Lamentations 3:22–23

Lamentations 3:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Daily Word of God - Matthew 5:43-44

Matthew 5:43-44 New Living Translation (NLT)

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!"

Daily Word of God - Psalm 15:1-3

Psalm 15:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip
    or harm their neighbors
    or speak evil of their friends.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Daily Word of God - Galatians 6:7-8

Galatians 6:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Daily Word of God - James 1:6

James 1:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Daily Word of God - Matthew 7:12

Matthew 7:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Daily Word of God - Romans 4:7

Romans 4:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 “Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sins are put out of sight.
8 Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”