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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Faithful Obedience

This morning I was wondering about people, people who are in the church yet have no visual spiritual growth. It worries me. My heart breaks for those that don't take to heart God's words and commands. I think of the verses,  Matthew 7:21-23

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

Who are these people that The Lord will turn away?
Apparently these people believed themselves to be "known" by God. They remind God of the works that they performed for Him.
Yet, He says that He never knew them.

If people think and believe themselves to be "right" with God how is anyone to reach them? Very often they become defensive and feel that they are being judged.
People say things like, "God understands." 

And honestly, I believe that He does understand. And He pardons. And He forgives. And another new day, new chance is given.
But there will come the day when we die and all new chances are done away with.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”
Hebrews 9:27 NASB

Now what? 
Now a person is judged and will be held accountable for every word of God. We will each be held up against the measuring rod of His word and whether or not He "understands" that you believe your circumstances will exempt you, they will not. 

‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Are words that I never want to hear.

If you want to be in The Kingdom, you must obey the King.
A life of faithful obedience no matter what we go through is required by God.

Discussion:
What does faithful obedience look like?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Spur On

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

If you look up the word Encourage in the Greek language it means, Strengthen or be alongside.

I looked this word up because I have recently had someone tell me that I needed to be more encouraging and less "preachy."

I won't apologize for trying earnestly to keep those I care about on the straight and narrow road. If I care about you and recognize potential in you, then I will push you to do your best.

You must understand to strengthen may not always be a pleasant experience. Imagine a body builder in strength training. It is hard. They are pushed beyond what they feel is comfortable.
In the same way, be alongside, make me think of staking up a tall, spindly tree. We pound a stake into the ground and tie the tree to it to help it grow correctly. We train it to go against what seems natural.

To strengthen or be alongside is not pumping sunshine into someone. It's not sugar coating your words or tickling ears. To be encouraging is to push those you care for into being their best selves.

And in the above verse we are to spur one another on. Is that a comfortable term? No.
Horse riders use spurs to get the most from their beloved horse. It is not punishment or meanness. It is to encourage full potential.

I expect my friends to help keep me on the straight and narrow. And I will be spurring you and encouraging you.
Love you always.
Rhonda

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Epaphras



The apostle Paul speaks very highly of Epahras.
A. He says that Epaphras is a SERVANT of Christ.
B. Epaphras struggles in his prayers while praying for the Colossians Christians.
C. Epaphras prays for them to be mature Christians.
D. He prays that the Colossians Christians will have assurance in the will of God.

That is a good prayer. 
When is the last time you actually struggled while praying for someone else?
We do need to pray for others to become mature in Christ. We need to be always growing as well.
Do you feel assured that you are living out your purpose of God? Do you pray for others to live out God's will for their lives?

Let's pray on behalf of others.

DIVORCE



After you hear the word, once you've come to believe the truth of God, when you are not ashamed to proclaim that Jesus is the son of God, and have had all your sin washed away and have risen from your dead self into a new life by re-enacting the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through the act of baptism, then comes the hard part. It is the part with which we all need encouraged: Living a life of faithfulness to God and His work.
How would you define faithfulness?

In your marriage if you spoke to your spouse for a minute each day, is that faithfulness.
If you only brought yourself to the presence of your spouse for 1 hour a week, would that be faithfulness?
If you spoke great praise of your spouse in his presence, but lived like a single person the rest of the time, is that faithfulness?
If you dislike being near other people that your spouse dearly loves, how can you say you love him?
Do you feel obligated to take care of your husbands house, his belongings and hate doing the things necessary for upkeep of his household?

Ladies, if we had marriages like that we would not call that faithfulness, we would want out and fast.
Yet that is how so many treat their relationship with God and his family.

I encourage you today to step it up and be faithful if you truly love Him before he gives you an eternal divorce.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Army


Have you ever noticed how contagious a bad mood can be?
Someone in the house is grumpy and then it begins to spread. And if Mom catches it, look out, because she can outdo anyone else. 😬
Really any kind of negativity can bring down those around you. 
Ever hear of a "wet blanket" or a "stick in the mud?" 
A wet blanket refers to putting a wet blanket on a fire to smolder it. It acts as a damper to the flame. 
A stick in the mud originated from animals and wagons getting bogged down or mired in clay. 
Can you see why these phrases might be used to describe a discouraging person?
People don't want to be around that in the same way we don't want to be too near a contagiously ill person. We might catch it. 
God even gave laws considering a discouraged soldier. 

The officials will continue to address the troops, stating: "Is there anyone here who is afraid and discouraged? He can leave and go back to his house; otherwise, his comrades might lose courage just as he has."
Deuteronomy 20:8 CEB

Can you imagine if discouragement spreads throughout the army?
As a child we sang, I'm in the Lord's Army. 
As adults we sing, Onward Christian Soldiers. 

Dear Lord, help us to not be afraid. Help us to be bold and courageous. Keep our faith strong in you. We don't want to be put out of Your Army, Lord.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tied Together

This morning at church we sang the song, Bind us together. And my imagination wheels started turning.
I wondered how the young ones I had just finished teaching would act if I tied them altogether and left them that way throughout the lesson time. I believe it wouldn't be a good idea.
What if we, the adults would literally be bound together? 
I wonder.
Do we really want to be bound together with anyone?
Married couples don't even stay bound together for very long.
Church members aren't much better either. Very often we forsake unity. We forget to daily deny ourselves. We don't look a whole different than the world. In fact, all too often we look just like the world.
Don't believe me? Put your imagination hats on. Can you imagine being united, bound, tied up with, the members of your congregation? For how long? A few minutes maybe. It might even be funny. But within an hour some would want loose. Some would begin to lose their sense of humor. After a few hours we would be squirming our way away from each other. After a whole day, I don't think we would want anything to do with each other.
But the song, Bind us Together, is not talking literally being tied together. It is a unity of our hearts, beliefs, goals, and spirits. We are to be one. We are all to seek God's purpose and direction.  We are to bear one another's burdens. We are all part of one body. Our arm would not drop off because it didn't feel good. Our nose would pop off because it was mad at the big toe. We are one body.
What are you willing to do to keep unity in the church body? 

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB

BIND US TOGETHER, Lord, Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.

There is only one God,
There is only one King;
There is only one Body,
That is why we sing

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Prayer request

This morning early, I received a nice message telling me that a friend was wondering how I was feeling. She knew I had been under the weather. 😷
She added, "I have been praying for you." 
And that touched me. 
How nice that someone thinks of you when they talk to God. It's like they are in their own personal converter station with the greatest Listener of All and they stop and say, "Oh yeah, and I have this friend that means a lot to me, let me tell you about them."
Isn't that great?
How nice it is to be thought of my someone. It's better yet when they check on you and better still when they talk to God about you. 
Lord, help me to be better in this area of lifting people up to you. What a blessing it is for them and for me. 

PS: thank you, Dear Friend

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,”
Ephesians 1:16 ESV

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Giraffe Gazing


Everyone seems to be obsessed with giraffe watching. They are tuning their phones, computers, IPads, etc into baby surveillance as that wait for labor to begin. 
It's crazy the stuff we entangle ourselves with. 
Are we so bored that this is what we do? And we watch eagerly in anticipation. 
We did the same things with the eagle eggs awhile back. 
I wonder, do we watch for Jesus to return as eagerly? Do you have anticipation while you wait and watch? 
My hope is that the Lord finds us alert and ready. 

“"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-13 ESV
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Psalms 27:14 ESV


Wednesday, February 22, 2017




 Ugh! There are donuts in the break room today. And not just any donuts, but Krispy Kreme!!😱😬😣
Can you imagine what that does to someone like me that struggles so hard with food temptations?
With me it is not just a matter of will power. I have shared my issues with all of you. I have been enslaved by food. It has been and continues to be a great temptation for me. 
Lucky for me I don't have to go into the break room. I can eat my lunch at my desk. 
So if I go in there, it is because I choose to. 
Today I choose not to. 
Today I will avoid the break room. 
I will eat at my desk. 
It is hard to go past there to the restroom or kitchen without lifting the box lid. But if I lift the lid then what? 
I have to fight off every temptation. I cannot "flirt" with the donut box. 
Being tempted is not sin because even Jesus was tempted. 
God does not do the tempting but He allows the tempting. 
But God does provide a way out of temptation. Always. And He will give you the strength to fight off any temptation. 
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

High hopes

Discouragement is a huge factor in why so many of us lose our hope. A small seed of discouragement can sprout into doubt and then doubts can grow buds of fear, worry, wants. Before you know it you are living in the shadow of hopelessness. 
People become discouraged when their trying and their efforts don't match up to their own or someone else's expectations. 
Often instead of hearing encouraging words, people hear discouragement. And very often it comes from members of their own families or people they care about. (Remember Job?) "Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Job 2:9-10 ESV

A lot of times we get a mindset that it would just be easier to throw in the towel than to keep on fighting for something. We tend to give up or give in rather than face the struggles. 
We will take the easiest way out of problems even if the easiest way isn't what's best for us. 
Satan loves discouragement. He will plant those seeds by any means he can. He will bring them to sprout and grow. Because discouragement takes our eye off the prize. 
We need to hang on to hope. Look to the only One that gives us hope. We need to talk down those that discourage us even if they think "it is for our own good."
Have you ever heard, "Don't get your hopes up?"
Well what good are low hopes?
Why shouldn't we get our hopes up? My hope is in the Lord. How much higher can they get?
Be an encourager. Lift each other up. Build up someone's hope. 
Why not?


Monday, February 20, 2017

God calling




If the President of the United States called you and ask you for some of your time, just to come spend some time and hang out, would you go? 
How would you act? How would you dress? What would you want to talk about?
Would you be excited? 

God is calling you to fellowship. He desires your company. He longs for your presence. He wants you to meet His Son and have a relationship, no better than that, an heirship with the Son. Will you come?
What do you want to talk to Him about? How do you act? Are you excited?
Just come. Say yes to the invitation of fellowship time with the Father and Son. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Go and Do

It is so easy to wake up and begin your day and before you know it you are swamped with everydayness. 
Did I pray?
Did I thank God for another chance?
Did I even think about God?

At the evening meal we bow our heads, (I hope we remember) so we rattle off a short sweet thank you for the food. 

At night as we snuggle into our beds, we may say another thank You, Lord, if we don't fall asleep first.

Was I a blessing to anyone today?
Did I read any of God's word today? Did I, Do I ever, dig deep into His words to me?

Is my life all about making it through one day after another? Is that what life is?
I found out this morning that a beloved man of God has passed on. He is now celebrating in the arms of Jesus. 
He was over 90 years old, so he has lived over 33,000 days.
He walked hunched over, but no more!
He was truly an inspiration and encourager to many.
He faced many struggles, but always had a smile and nice word for everyone else. 
He prayed always for God to take care of his sick wife. He always said, Help Evelyn to come home. I'm sure that will remain his prayer even more so now.
You see, he is now part of that great cloud of witnesses that the Hebrew writer wrote about that cheers each of us on through our race to the end.

I need to be in conversation with God. I need to be deep in His word. 
There is more to life than just getting by day to day. I need to be helping others to get by. I need others to help me get by. We do this by meeting together, by studying together, by praying together, by loving each other together.

Lord, help me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Job well done

The Bible says, "Whatever you do..." do ALL to the glory of God. 
Make your beds
Do your dishes
Mail your letters
Pick up the kids
Wipe their noses
Do your job
Do someone else's job
Clean the church
Shovel out your neighbor
Help fix something for someone
Do what you hate
Do what you love 
Do what you don't want to

Do it All and do it as if you are doing it for God. 
Not always an easy task. In fact, I seldom do things (chores) while even thinking how God would want it done. 
What kind of attitude, during work, would bring God glory?
What kind of talk, while working, will honor God?
Is "good enough" good enough for God?
Lord, I want to please You. Help me. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Encouragement

This morning at church a woman hugged me said, "I am so glad you're here. You are such a good person. You inspire me and we really need you here."
I hugged her back and said, "Thank you but I'm not good. I have my struggles too and need your encouragement too."
She hugged me again and said, "You encourage me."

It sure was a pick-me-up because what she didn't know was:
When my alarm went off I was grumpy because I hadn't rested well.
I began to think, This is my only day off. I sure would like to stay in bed.
I have to get up and shower because yesterday was so busy that I was too tired to shower last night.
I didn't feel like being pleasant.
I have so much stuff to do around the house. When am I ever going to get it done?
I tried on 3 outfits before I settled on one. Why am I so fat? I am trying so hard to lose weight and I'm not and I'm disgusted so I might as well eat French toast and sausage.
I wondered about my kids and grandkids. Will any of them get up and go to church today? Probably only one of them. Why don't they go? What did I do wrong when I was trying to teach them to love God because He loves them?
Because my mood was so foul, I snapped at the dogs and Bill and now they were feeling bad. What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling so out of sorts?
Ugh! Lord, help me! Save me from myself! Oh Lord, I love You and will be very grateful for the chance to worship You alongside others even when, no, especially when, I least feel like it. Because then it truly is a "sacrifice of praise." Maybe someone there will be an encouragement to me today.
So thank you, lovely lady, for saying such nice things to me. By doing so, you encouraged me.

“Do not forsake your own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:25 NASB

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Inner Beauty


Have you ever seen a beautiful woman? I'm sure you have. We all have. And each of us probably would name a different name if asked who the world's most beautiful woman is. 
Have you ever seen a child that is so beautiful that it almost knocks the wind out of you? 
How about a baby that is so precious you just want to pick it up and hug it tight?
Is there a seventy or eighty year old woman that, in your eyes, is a stunningly lovely woman?
What makes a woman beautiful?
Is it her clothes? Then what happens when she undresses?
Is it her jewelry? So it's just glittery things that attract you?
Is it her hair? Then why are hairless babies so gorgeous?
Is it her skin, eyes, smile?
God says that it is our "inner beauty" that is precious to Him. A gentle and quiet spirit is what makes a woman in God's eyes. 
If this is what pleases God, then this is what should please godly men. 

Your adornment, let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”
1 Peter 3:4 NASB

Monday, January 16, 2017

Promises promises

A man was late for a job interview because he couldn't find any place to park. As he circled the block one more time, he cried out, "Please God, this interview is so important. If you will provide a parking place, I'll be in church every Sunday morning."
Just as he spoke the words a space opened up, right in front of him. "Oh never mind," he said. "I found one. " 

This makes me wonder how many rash promises God has heard. Maybe I have even done it before. Maybe you have too. 
Be careful of foolishness toward God. His wisdom cannot be outdone. 
It is evil to offer Him this kind of sacrifice. 

“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil.”
Ecclesiastes 5:1 NASB

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Walk the walk

I have a habit of looking down when I walk. I really don't know why I do. But sometimes it is good. I see tripping hazards before most people do. I find a lot of interesting small things. I can see if In about to step into mud or walk on a patch of ice. 

Have you ever heard, If you're going to talk the talk make sure you walk the walk?
This means that if we are encouraging or training or teaching others verbally, we need to be mimicking that through our behaviors. 
Have you ever seen a person claim to be a Christian then participate in activities that seem to suggest otherwise? 
We will reach more people for Christ by looking like Christ. 
Lord help me to walk in Your ways. 

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Friday, January 6, 2017

Love the bride



Bill and I had a really good friend once. He's still a friend, just not as close. 
This man spent so much time at our house and with our family. In fact he was with us so often that when we were invited to family events it was a given that John would be invited too. 
When I was pregnant with my youngest child our car broke down about the time the baby was due. John came everyday and spent the whole day from sunup to sundown in case I went into labor and needed a ride. Fortunately we got our car running before our son was born. 
John was a very devoted friend. 
But then one day he found himself in a relationship. And the woman he chose was not one that we would've ever thought he would go for. She was bossy and took for granted his kind spirit. 
Eventually she became his bride. And slowly but surely our friendship dwindled to occasional visits and phone conversations. 
But I must add, John has been married to her now for many many years. He is committed to his bride. He may see her faults, but his love for her overshadows everything else. 
And I know that despite everything, she loves him. 
It is a devoted, committed relationship between a man and his bride even if we can see some faults with her. 
It reminds me of the church and its members. We, the people, ARE the church. Are you devoted and committed to it. Do you love the church even if you see the faults? Does your love of the church overshadow all else? Christ loves the church so much that she is His bride. He would die for her. He did die for her. 
Don't take the Lord's church lightly. Don't just be a part of it. Don't just be involved with it. 
Would you want a marriage where your partner was just a part or just involved? 
No! Be devoted to the church. Be committed to the church. Give yourself to the church. Live, cherish and hold dear the church. 
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”
Ephesians 5:25 ESV

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Time

I just looked at my watch and was amazed to see how my morning is flying by so quickly. Yesterday time seemed to drag on forever, each moment lasting a long time. 
That's the funny thing about a "moment," they aren't a real specific time frame. 
To a child with no concept of time, a short time seems like a really long time. This is why car trips with children are usually dreaded. 
To an older person with dementia time also is a mystery. They lose whole days, asking, "What day is today?" And their "yesterdays" seem to be like, well, yesterday. When in fact their yesterdays were really years ago.
When we pass from this life into eternity time will never matter to us again. Our time will be like God's time. 

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
2 Peter 3:8 ESV

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

No Light

On Saturday we had ice and heavy winds. Our electricity flickered a few times then went off. 
I hunted for matches to light the candles but couldn't find any. (Remember when businesses gave away free matches?)
My lighter (Zippo) is not there because I just sent it back to the company to be repaired. 
I searched my whole house in the semi darkness for matches or a stray lighter. 
Do you understand the fear of rooting through a junk drawer with your bare hands in the dark? I have razor blades in there for my box cutters. I have needles and pins in there. I have...... well, every thing in there. Everything but a lighter. Or matches.
I finally found a book of matches in my jewelry box of all places. It was an old book and had only 2 matches. Haha
Then the Power flickered. It came on. Then it went out again. Then it came back on and stayed on. 
I have learned two lessons.  
1. Obtain a reliable source of having light, always!
2. Clean up the junk.

God is my Light. With Him there will never truly be darkness. 
His light illuminates all the junk in me and helps me to see what I need to be rid of. 
Then because of Jesus' saving grace, I am clean and now I reflect light for others to see. 
Thank You, Lord

"For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”
Psalms 18:28 ESV