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The sky is always blue beyond the clouds. There is always hope and encouragement here.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Good News

The Good News

Those who DO NOT OBEY the gospel will be dealt eternal destruction.

"when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,”
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 NASB

What is the gospel?

The word gospel means good news. It is knowing and believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
We obey the gospel by following God's command to be like Christ. And to be in Christ.

“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,” Romans 6:3-5 NASB

But many argue that baptism is not necessary. They believe that it is just an act carried out after they are saved simply by their belief. They say that salvation is a free gift and we can not "work" for it. They consider baptism a "work" on the part of the believer.
However, baptism is actually a work of God on our behalf as evidenced in Colossians 2:11-13

“and in Him you were also circumcised with a CIRCUMCISION MADE WITHOUT HANDS, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him THROUGH FAITH, IN THE WORKING OF GOD, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,”

Can you see just how very important baptism is?
We cannot just hear a sermon, believe it, ask Jesus into our heart and think we are saved. If that were true, why then did the people after hearing and believing Peter's first sermon about Jesus ask, "What MUST we DO?" They knew there was more then belief.

“Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37-38 NASB

God's plan for our salvation is easy to see and follow:
Hear the gospel, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, confess publicly that Jesus is the Son of God, obey the gospel in baptism by dying to your old self, being buried under the water where God's hand will circumcise you of your sin and indwell you with the Holy Spirit, then raise you up a new creation in the likeness of Christ. 
Then you must continue to be transformed. Your mind must be renewed and expanded as you learn, study and grow. And you must remain steadfast and stand firm daily as your faith is tested over and over by Satan, who is always trying to snatch you from God's hand.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 NASB

It is my hope and prayer that you have obeyed the gospel and that you are producing fruit by sharing this good news to this lost world.
I love you all, but God loves you more.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Blocks

My 7 year old granddaughter plays with my wooden building blocks every time she visits. She stacks them on top of each other trying to get higher each time. Her record so far is 19 high before toppling over.
However recently she discovered that if she makes the stacks bigger at the bottom and then builds upward she can go higher.
It reminded me of these verses from 2 Peter. You see, FAITH is our base. And we need to be diligent as we build on the faith. Keep in mind that as we build we may have to go back and reinforce our faith at the base, just like Eastyn does with the blocks.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
 in your FAITH supply moral excellence, 
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
 and in your knowledge, self-control, 
and in your self-control, perseverance, 
and in your perseverance, godliness, 
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, 
and in your brotherly kindness, love. 
For if these qualities are yours and ARE INCREASING, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems simple and it stands to reason that we are to be growing in all of these things. Yet every once in a while we need to be reminded, myself included.

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,”
2 Peter 1:5-8, 12-13 NASB

He's coming

At the end of my work day as a truck dispatcher, I was sitting at my desk talking to several of the drivers about their day. My phone rang and I could see by caller ID that it was my "big boss" from Washington, DC. My first thought was, "Ugh, what does he want?"
I answered the phone and he greets me by saying, "Hey," He then proceeds to tell me that he will be coming up tomorrow, we need to go over some things. Again, "Ugh!"
So hanging up the phone, I go back to talking to my drivers. They guessed by my end of the conversation who I had been talking to. 
One of them told me that he was calling in sick tomorrow. And he began to fake coughing.
The other one was like me, "What's he coming for? I hate when he comes. Something always changes."
Yes, he was right, something does usually change, and it never seems to benefit me or the drivers.
Great, now we all dreaded coming in to work tomorrow.

It's a fact. I am one person that doesn't really like things to change. I like routine, which is already in short supply in the trucking business.
But some of my job duties are pretty routine, the data entry is one example. It is done the same way all the time.
So now, I speculate on what new, bright ideas might be in store. I know that sleep will be difficult as I imagine every scenario. Goodness, is that the same as worry?
Lord, help me.

But there is one Man that will be coming and He will bring incredible change. This is one man and one change that I long for and anticipate. 
When Jesus returns, we will be changed, we will be like Him.
There is no dread in that.


“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NASB
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
1 John 3:2 NASB

Intimacy

I stopped by the store on January 2 to pick up a few things and the first things I noticed were baked goods from the store's bakery just inside the door. These items were of a certain theme, Valentine's Day. 
Now I may not be the brightest red crayon in the box, but I do know that Valentines Day is SIX WEEKS AWAY!!!
Does anyone really buy these things now and save them that long?
However, it wasn't just baked goods, the flower section carried the theme, the stationary section had their VD cards on the end caps, even the healthy food section was highlighting their "heart" healthy grub.
I realize that this is how the marketing world works. It's always on to the next thing.

Then I thought, well just maybe it takes some people 6 weeks to get the hint to do something nice for their partner.
Really?!? Well, maybe. 

Does getting an item on THAT DAY really prove someone's love of you?

What is love? For years, centuries and eons, people have been trying to define it. Love is:

Most people think of love as intimacy. And true, it is. This one word probably best defines love. But what is intimacy?

I heard a preacher once say, "Remember, intimacy is In to me see." It is really looking INTO another person, really having an understanding of everything about them. Knowing what hurts, what heals, what they need without saying, what they feel without sharing. It means hearing their heart with your heart.

And intimacy isn't just for two people in love. Yes, they definitely must have it, but intimacy is the lifeblood of a true and honest relationship. 
We are to have intimacy with God. We are to have intimacy with Jesus. We are required intimacy with the Spirit that lives in us. And we are to have intimacy one with another.

When we have intimacy with others we have:
1. Anticipation- Are you anxious to be with them, see them, hear from them?
2. We long to be one- Do you want to be as much like the other person as you can?
3. Everlasting love-Do you have love that doesn't fade or shrink away from tough times?
4. Longing- Do you have a deep need to be near that person?
5. Abiding love- Does your love have staying power?
6. Complete love- Do you love with all of yourself, beyond emotions?
7. Joyful praise- Do you sing to Or about the one you love?

It is my prayer that each of us know this love. I hope you love God intimately. I hope you love His Son intimately. I am praying that the Spirit and yourself share this bond. 
I also hope that you now or at one time, have known or will know the intimacy with a loving, caring, kind man. 
But My biggest prayer is to have a friendship that is biblically intimate. A woman to share my deepest self with, one that will love me enough to share her deepest self with me. 
A sister-friend is my desire. And I pray that you all have one too.

God loves us very much and He desires intimacy with us.
Isaiah 65:24- anticipation- “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
John 17:22-23- being one- “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
Jeremiah 31:3- Everlasting love-  "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
Psalm 42:1-2- longing- “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”
John 15:4-6- Abide together- “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
Deuteronomy 6:5- love completely- “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Zephaniah 3:17- Sing over you- “ He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

 

Struggle is real

It sometimes feels like no matter how much I try I can never stop doing some of the bad things I do. Or do the good that I want to do. 
I was talking to a friend the other day and she confessed to me that she lacked discipline in her life. She said that she was having trouble getting motivated to do the things that she knows she should be doing.
I began to think about myself. There are some not so nice behaviors that I participate in sometimes that make me mad because I can't seem to stop doing them. 
And then, too, like my friend, there are some things that I should do more often that I don't do.
Everyday is a constant struggle to battle the sinful human nature inside. 
Even Paul knew this struggle.
He writes this:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”
Romans 7:15, 18-19 NASB
My goodness, if Paul faced this challenge and had such a hard time, is there any hope at all for me? 
Jesus warns:
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."”
Matthew 26:41 NASB
I don't want to do bad things. I want to do good. Yet I mess up....often.
 Like Paul, I don't understand it. Sometimes, I just wonder why. Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why do I act this way? When will I do the right thing?
Most often I know immediately that I made the wrong choice. Within seconds, I realize the decision should have been different. Why do I not seem to know before the action? Surely I am not deliberately choosing bad behaviors, am I? What is wrong with me? Would it be, could it be that I am not "watching and praying?"
How can I be more alert and sober in my actions? 

“one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
James 4:17 NASB

Do any of you struggle like this? 


Tomorrow?



This weekend I have been sicker than I have been for over 30 years. I came down with the flu. Every single cell in my body seems to be crying in pain and I am not ashamed to confess, that this pain has actually literally made me cry.
However, I did not share that with anyone outside my family, until my husband requested prayer for me in several prayer groups.

Now with that being said I have noticed a few similarities to my morning scripture that I would like to share with you.

Even though I was extremely sick (no one knew) I was asked specifically by 3 different people to pray to God on their behalf for their loved ones. And I absolutely did that. I welcome the chance to pray for someone else.
In my reading this morning, from Exodus chapter 8, Pharaoh asked Moses to "Plead with The Lord" on his behalf.
“Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.””
Exodus 8:8 ESV
He recognized that Moses had "connections" to the Lord. And he asked for prayer. 
When someone asks you for prayer, they are saying that they recognize that you have "connections" with God and they seek access to Him through you.
So I was praying for others that also had the flu. I could definitely relate and knew how to pray for them specifically because I related to their pain and misery.
Later I received word from one of my friends that prayers indeed helped and her household was beginning to feel better.
So I prayed to God for myself. I asked Him that if it be His will to make me better I would appreciate if He could do it by tomorrow so I can go to work. I can't really afford to miss a day due to being sick.
I was willing to be sick on the weekend, just heal me tomorrow.
Wow.

Now back to my morning reading....

“Moses said to Pharaoh, "Have it your way. When should I pray for you and your officials and your people to remove the frogs from your houses, courtyards, and fields? They’ll stay only in the Nile." Pharaoh said, "Tomorrow!" Moses said, "Just as you say! That way you will know that there is no one like the LORD our God.”
Exodus 8:9-10 CEB
Pharaoh, who is in the midst of a PLAGUE (infestation) of frogs, frogs everywhere, when asked when he wanted them gone, said, "Tomorrow!!!"

Why did he say that? 
Why did I ask to be better by tomorrow instead of asking to be better now? 
Why do we say, "Tomorrow I'll diet," or "Tomorrow I'll start saving money." Or "Tomorrow I'll give up my sin." Or "Tomorrow..." whatever?
Why do we want one more night with the frogs?

God said in verse 1 of chapter 8 of Exodus:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me.”
You see, God knows His people. He could tell His people apart from the people under Pharaoh's rule. And even still, God knows His people. He wants His people set free from our bondage so that we can serve Him.
Whatever it is that is holding you, keeping you, entangling you, break free in Christ. Claim your victory and start saying, Today!
Because of Christ- Today I can. Today I will.

PS Pray for to be better- today. 🤗
And how can I pray for you?

Revival

You know that feeling of busy excitement that you have when your congregation is hosting a revival or seminar? It takes so much planning and preparing. Everyone works together to set the dates, works up the flyers, plan the speakers stay and meals, invite friends and family, clean the building, etc.
Then the event comes, busyness and excitement grows even more. The speaker visits your home, and lifts and encourages you and your family. Your revival fires are rekindled and you remember the joy of your salvation. Your busyness turns into earnest working for the Lord again. You begin to do more and more to build the Kingdom of God on earth.
It then becomes a mission for us to continue in that excitement. We continue lifting and encouraging each other, loving each other, and becoming more and more the image of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul was the ultimate evangelist. Can you imagine the joy and excitement that his visit could bring to your congregation? His love for God was never hidden. He was always about serving the Lord. As a matter of fact, Paul states, "If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."
I believe that this statement has two meanings: 
First, a person needs to not be idle. We need to work to earn our physical food.
And second, spiritually. Jesus is the Bread of Life. If we don't work in God's Kingdom, how can we think we can partake in The Bread of Life? 
The Psalmist, David, says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalms 51:12 ESV
We need to always remember the excitement and joy that we knew when we first became Christians. We need a revival fire inside us. Then we need to re-ignite the fire in others and fan the flame. Shouldn't everyone know Christ's love? 

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 
As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 
If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.”
2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 ESV