30 May

Change of Focus Required

“And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.” (II Chronicles 17:8 – 9)

As king of Judah, Jehoshaphat instituted many changes. Among these was the sending of the religious leaders to the cities to teach the Word of the Lord. He knew that the way to lead those he was responsible for was to point them to the unfailing Word of God.

The only way to effective change in the life of any people is to be focused on the Lord. You will not have the government send preachers and teachers to give you the Word of the Lord. However, the Lord Himself has given you the complete Word of the Lord, the Bible. If that is read daily along with regular attendance and participation in your local church, your spiritual life will be strengthened and your service for the Lord will increased.

30 May

Free Indeed

Here in Brazil we frequently have “sound trucks” that drive through the neighborhood with propaganda of various sorts. Recently I heard one trying to convince the listeners that what they were offering was FREE! I thought…NOTHING is free! Some way or another they are going to get our money, and what they are advertising as free will be nothing more than a freebie of little value.

But I DO know of ONE thing that is absolutely free—salvation in Jesus Christ! And it’s only free for us because Somebody already paid the price.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

We run after freebies and promotions and try to get something for nothing. But how many of us give any thought to that which is most precious and most necessary…a true relationship with God? This time of quarantine has given most of us more “free time” than we normally have. Have we used it wisely to nurture our relationship with the Lord? He freely gives us all things, but too often we don’t even know what He offers, much less how to appropriate that into our lives. May we use our time to get a better perspective on the “free” salvation that cost Jesus everything, and that offers everything to us!

27 May

The Lord Knows

As Christians, we find ourselves saying phrases like “The Lord knows” in times of trouble or uncertainty. We truly have the blessing of knowing that Our Heavenly Father is Omniscient ( All Knowing ). How wonderful it is to be able to rest in the thought that our trials and uncertainties are no surprise to Our Heavenly Father. He knows what we will face today and tomorrow and as Christians He will temper each thing that comes our way with His tender loving care.

Job 23:10
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

26 May

Life’s Wages

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty score.

For Life is a just employer;
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.

-Jessie B. Rittenhouse

When some material item is sold for a price less than it is worth, that brings joy to the buyer, but for the seller it is a loss. Sadly, the Bible gives several examples of individuals who bargained precious, priceless things for a worthless exchange. Beginning in Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve bargained paradise for the taste of a forbidden fruit because, “It was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to . . . make one wise” (Gen 3:6). The wage for this disobedience was the fall of all mankind. What a price!

Also, Sampson bargained his great strength for the lust of a woman. His loss of strength and his death were a poor wage for what he could have achieved for God.

Judas bargained the high calling of being Christ’s disciple for thirty pieces of silver. His wage was a lasting reputation of a traitor who took his own life.

We cannot put a value on life; it is too precious. It is a gift of God. Giving a life to God for His use is far better than bargaining a life for worthless things.

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
-C.T. Studd

20 May

Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
(James 1:2-5)

In the book of James we are admonished to “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials (1:2). We who have lived our entire life in the most prosperous and free Republic have never witnessed such a thing as COVID 19. Many of us just don’t know what we should do. On May 17 Faith Baptist Church opened its doors to the public for congregational services; and I was delighted to know my brothers and sisters could once again worship together. I and many other members could not participate physically at church. What should my attitude be? Should I walk around with my head down like a student in school who was denied recess privileges? Should I be jealous of our young and healthy brethren who were privileged to attend in person for services? James says count it all joy (1:2).

On the subject of when we can attend, James says if we lack wisdom ask of God (1:5). Sometimes we need to be reminded to “speak not evil one of another” (4:11) God says if we speak evil (criticize) we are guilty of judging our brethren (5:9). Those of us who feel we cannot at this time attend services should be thrilled for those who have the liberty to attend. Likewise those of us who have the liberty to attend need to be careful of our criticism of those who do not have that liberty.

I’m sure all of us long for the day when this will be nothing but a memory. In the meantime brethren let us be patient, count it all joy, and continue to ask God for wisdom, and Lord Willing I’ll see you soon!

16 May

A Unique Identity

Through the centuries, the Christian has made a positive difference in the world.  Before Christ ascended back to heaven, He gave His disciples an important responsibility to fulfill: that is to be the light of the world.  Light was one of the early creations of God.  In Genesis 1: 3, “God said let there be light, and there was light.”  Light is a symbol of holiness and purity.  John Wesley said that “God is not only the author of light, but also the fountain of it.”  Darkness is the opposite of light, symbolizing sin and guilt.

Being the Light of the world requires using the resources that God has provided for this calling.  First, the Bible gives the “how.”  Psalm 119:130 reveals that “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”  Christians are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).  Obeying the word of God keeps us from sin and walking in darkness.  Christ is the source and power of light to which we must stay connected.  If we follow Christ, “We shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Also, the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer gives guidance.  The Spirit is our comforter, counselor, and advocate who teaches and guides us into all truths.  Only as we walk in the Spirit, do we really walk in light.

Not only do the Word and the Holy Spirit equip the Christian to be the light of the world, but also prayer is essential.  Prayer is a line of  communication between man and God, which creates a fellowship of personal contact.  In prayer, we may come for confession of sins over and over again.  A clean light shines much brighter.  Christ invites us to ask, and we shall receive.  How pleased God must be when we come in prayer just to praise Him and to give praise for blessings that cannot be numbered.  Luke18:1 reminds us “That man ought always to pray and not to faint.”

Having the gifts of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and prayer, we are equipped to be the light of the world if we choose to please our Father’s leading:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt.5:16). 

Every day, those who walk in darkness need a light.  Love cannot be hidden when it shines in action.  Shine forth!

14 May

Take Up Your Cross and Follow

It seems as though the Coronavirus, by and large is coming to a close, and life will soon be back to normal. However, the virus and everything that has come packaged with it has made me ask myself the question, “How serious of a Christian am I”? In Matthew 16:24 The Bible says,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

There has been a certain amount of denying ourselves certain pleasures during this time, mostly because we have been required to. We have all had a certain amount of suffering. None of what we have undergone recently is what the Bible is talking about in Matthew 16:24, but all of it has made me think, if this is a preview of coming attractions, will I be willing to stay true to God and my relationship with Jesus if things get much worse in the future with a second round of COVID19 or whatever the powers that be have in mind?

We should all allow this time to be a time of evaluation to see if we will be willing to voluntarily, even gladly, give up/deny ourselves what we are used to in order to follow Jesus. It is much better to have the attitude of letting go now, so it is easier when forced, and have a joyful attitude we are doing what Christ said in, “take up his cross, and follow me.”

13 May

Praise Be to God

I was reminded today about the Washington Monument that brought me much insight. The Washington Monument towers above our nation’s capital and that bears his name, serving as an awe-inspiring reminder of George Washington’s greatness. The monument, like the man, stands in no one’s shadow. It is my understanding that it is designed to capture the 1st rays of sun as it rises in the mornings. Inscribed on the aluminum cap, notable names and dates in the monument’s construction are recalled, and on the east face, facing the rising sun, the Latin words “Laus Deo,” which translate to, “Praise be to God.”

As a nation as well as personally, it is hard to remember to “Praise God” when we are amidst trials like many are facing during the COVID 19 pandemic. The word of God is filled will “Praises to God” while individuals were going through multiple trials.

The word “Praise” is mentioned about 261 times in our English Bible, as I read through these references just soaking up the truths my eyes stumbled on a verse that caught my attention…

Psalms 28:7: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”

Like the Washington Monument that absorbs the 1st rays of light reflecting “Praise be to God,” so may my life reflect Praises to the Lord most high that is worthy of all praise. As I praise the Lord the trials are easier to bear as my focus is on the one that is going to see me through the trial.

12 May

In His Time

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

This Chapter and verse has always been one of my favorites. I love all seasons and I used to love wintertime the most, when I was a youngster. Everything looked so clean and the air, when I filled my lungs, made me feel refreshed. I enjoyed playing in the snow with all my friends; making snowmen, having snowball fights as we crouched behind our snow forts, and, of course, sledding down the hills.

As I grew older and became an adult, married and had children of my own, I still took some walks in the snow, but the cold was not as pleasant to my body. It was fun watching our children play though and I especially liked it when the bare limbs of trees and shrubbery would be covered with ice. The sun would shine off them like fine glass sculptures; So “Beautiful!”

“And God saw every thing that he had made and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

God creates so much beauty for us. We are all going through a trying time now and at times, even though we are not to, we want to ask “why,” because it is difficult to accept the sickness and many deaths around us. I know my husband and I have been reading the Bible and praying more than we ever have and we have faith and trust that God has a plan for His people. We are not to be afraid or terrified, because we know (Deuteronomy 31:6) “He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

None of us can truly understand or know God’s plan, but we must not give up or give in. Have Faith in HIM, trust HIM to do what is best for HIS people. “Everything” will work out “in HIS time” so enjoy his works and creations even in this time of trouble.

If you open your window and listen closely you will hear the wonderful sounds of the birds, such a happy sound. And the air, especially after a rain, still smells fresh and “beautiful.”

Keep HIS love in your heart and trust HIM to do what is best for all of us…”In HIS time….” Our life on earth is but a short time and it is rather difficult to comprehend eternity, but I trust my Heavenly Father and Jesus and I know HE is the Alpha and Omega. The Holy Spirit is always with me and I am so grateful to be one of HIS children.

11 May

Grace and Peace are Ours

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

For the past few months it has been my pleasure to hear our young people learn the first few verses of Romans chapter 5. Romans 5 is one chapter that gloriously hinges on two words in verse 8 “But God”.

Before we even get too far into the chapter we must first define some terms necessary to the understanding of the chapter, so as our science teachers always forced us to do (thanks Mrs. Hrinda) let’s define terms.

1. Justified– This one is often misapplied and misunderstood. We can often talk about someone who is guilty justifying their actions to get out of the consequences. How often as a child did you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar and what did you say? “Mom I am hungry!” You tried to make right what you knew was wrong, but this is certainly not what Scripture is speaking of. Or we may rightly hear a Bible scholar tell us this is to remind us of our advocate Jesus Christ pleading our case before the cosmic court of heaven which case is being heard by the Righteous Judge of Heaven . This picture is totally accurate according to the semantics and wording in this passage however our current understanding of lawyers and judges misleads us in our understanding. Justification is our righteous standing before a holy God based upon the completed transaction at the cross of Calvary. My debt to the Kingdom of Heaven has been paid in full by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and whose payment has been accepted by FAITH!

2. Grace – This word always reminds me of a piano teacher that my older brother and sister had. Her name happened to be Grace. It is not just her name that rekindles me but the way she taught and prepared her piano students for a recital. She spoke to the about “stage presence” which is a kind way to tell children that is not appropriate to run up steps into or off of a platform, or where flip flops on hard floors, and to remember to bow or curtsy when your audience clapped for your performance. Maybe even you have remarked about some performer or public speaker handling a certain situation with grace.

That is not exactly the grace we are speaking of here. An oversimplified understanding is that of getting what you do not deserve. When possibly your parents bought you ice cream when you should have been in trouble, when you were kind to the difficult co-worker, or perhaps we could speak of getting a stimulus check from the government when you have not rendered any services worthy of receiving such remuneration. However when we speak of the grace of God we are not speaking of any one act alone but rather an all encompassing state of being that must be acknowledged by any individual who would seek to be at peace with God. One might ask, what has God done for me? I understand that money are dealing with hardship even death in their family, loss of , health, loss of a loved one, but where did life come from? Where did your ability and understanding come from that allows you to perceive joy and pain? Who grants healing? Who provides for even the sparrows? Who can offer beauty for ashes?

Grace is more than anything else my own capability to one day tell God himself to open the gates of heaven for me and not just to peak over the fence into heaven, and not just to be able to pitch a tent on the lawn of heaven but to walk the golden streets of Glory straight to my Mansion that Christ has prepared for me, not because I have earned it, not because I bought it, not because I lived well but because “God so loved the World that he gave His only begotten Son!” That is Grace! Grace is that here on this sin cursed earth there are a lot of folks in the bondage of anger, in the bondage of substance abuse, in the bondage of bitterness, but by God’s Grace I can be more than conquerors and when I need help I come boldly His throne! And do you know what his throne is called? It’s the throne of Grace! I am living on his resources when I accept Christ as my Savior. He is my Lord and my Almighty(God)!

Alright consider these verses again. By the blood of Christ I am justified by faith and I find in so doing I am no longer at war with God from within or without. I am at peace! It doesn’t matter what happens out here in the world if I have been justified, I have made peace with my Creator. That is God’s mercy. I will never see His wrath.

Not only do I have his mercy, but also I have His bank account. I have His resources. I have access into His grace, and his grace is overwhelming. I will never forget trying to keep up with a farmer who was picking some corn in his field for my family. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time and in the middle of his field of corn that towered well over 6 feet high as that man darted in and out of rows all the rows in every direction looked the same to me and I remember being overwhelmed and frightened. If you are a child of God you have accepted Christ’s blood payment for your sins by faith, God is willing and wants you to understand that you now are not fending for yourself, he is opening up his great corn field of Grace so that when you look up in all directions all you see is the Grace of God! May you look to Him today and trust He has His best in store for you today!

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