Caught By Surprise

Do you ever slow down and just drink in the beauty of what is around you?  Do you stop to breathe in the fresh air and admire the majestic trees and the gorgeous flowers? What about the birds and the happy songs they sing? Have you ever walked in the woods and the only sound is the rustling of the leaves and some small creature scurrying through the underbrush?

As we feel the nip in the air as summer fades to fall, we once again get to see the leaves on our majestic trees begin to turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. A favorite pastor used to say that God takes out his mighty paintbrush and paints a beautiful portrait for us to enjoy.  As the seasons change, I am reminded of the majesty and splendor of God that we see in His beautiful creation.

Andrew Peterson has a wonderful ballad, Nothing to Say that describes how driving through Arizona caught him by surprise.

“And the mountains sing your glory Hallelujah, The canyons echo sweet amazing grace.”

monument-valley-392749_1280My husband and I were able to experience the beauty a few years ago as friends drove us from the flat, cactus covered desert of Phoenix up through the mesas to the beautiful painted deserts of Sedona. As if it couldn’t get any better, we continued north and began to drive through breath-taking mountain ranges and beautiful canyons all the way into Flagstaff where there was snow on the ground. All in one day! Our creator definitely caught us by surprise that day and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears and worship my wonderful Creator as we listened to the song that day.

flower-2659902_1280We can see the greatness of our creator even in the smallest of things. I remember tiny purple flowers, no bigger than a pencil eraser that I used to pick as a little girl.  I love to watch the beautifully painted butterflies landing here and there in the yard on flowers. And honey bees gathering the nectar and pollen so that we can have honey.  Sweet baby calves as they play about with one another in the pasture by my house.

milky-way-1801996_1280.jpgOne of my favorite memories with my older children is when we lay on blankets in the back yard on a cold winter night and watched the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the sky proclaim his handiwork (Psalm 19:1). We watched meteor after meteor shoot across the star filled sky that night. My heart still rejoices in those moments of worshipping our creator as we watched that show and the verse resonated in my mind.

God of Wonders by Third Day is a powerful song that calls us to worship this Holy, Lord of heaven and earth. Our wonderfully creative creator who put together every detail. This creator who spoke the whole world into existence. He gives us glimpses of himself in this creation.

Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God has made himself evident to us in his creation. We see Him. In this crazy busy life you live, take a moment and see where God is showing himself to you. Remind yourself of the beautiful places that he has allowed you to see in this world. All around He is showing Himself to us and, in our beautiful state of Alabama, you don’t have to go very far to see Him.

A New Arrival

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Ephesians 3:14-18  “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The sweetest gift arrived for our family a few weeks ago in the form of a sweet baby boy.  My first grandchild. Firstborn of my firstborn.  What a joy, and how excited our family is to welcome him. He is loved more than he will ever comprehend.

I heard his paternal grandmother say that day that there is “so much love” for our grandson. He is so dearly loved by his mommy and daddy and all the rest, but nothing can compare to the love that our heavenly father has for him. “For God so loved the world… .” Enough to send his only son to die for us and to sacrifice his blood as the atonement for our sins. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (I John 3:1)

I am reminded afresh and anew of how much my heavenly father loves me and delights in me, His child.

  • He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • He cares for me (Matthew 10:30-31)
  • He protects me (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • He is concerned for me (1 Peter 5:7)
  • I am written on his palm (Isaiah 49:16)

IMG_0282 (1)How God must delight in weaving his little masterpieces together in the womb. He says he knows us before we are formed. In all of his wonderful creativity, he knits together the most precious gifts to give to us as newborn babies. Master craftsman, if you will, when you think of all the splendor of creation.

I wanted to jump up and down with excitement when we knew our little one had arrived and I must confess (with video to prove) that it was too much when I found out that his hair was red. I jumped!

It is amazing to think about how blue eyes and red hair can be formed on one child and because of DNA and lots of other scientific things that I don’t understand, another can have brown eyes and black hair. Or blonde and blue or whatever that precious masterpiece happens to have. And that soft, velvety skin of different shades that the creator adds to the mix. Tiny fingers and toes and legs and arms and button noses. All the little internal organs that work together. Oh my!

What a mighty God he is! My momma has questioned many times how someone could look at a little innocent baby and doubt our God.  I guess many do who don’t know him. But God does allow us to see himself in his creation. (Romans 1:20) Nothing is more tangible than holding our little bundle of God’s creation in my arms and kissing his sweet cheeks and nuzzling his little neck and snuggling him close.

maxresdefaultGod sent the sweetness of Heaven in the form of a baby, His Son, to ultimately be our savior. “God incarnate in the form of helpless babe.” He sends the sweetness of heaven in the form of babies – our own children, our grandbabies, and nieces and nephews. Sweet little babies.

How it pleases our heavenly father when we are birthed back into his kingdom! There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10) We rejoiced over our precious grandson’s birth just a few days ago, but we are already praying and anticipating the day that he will be born again. We will rejoice with our heavenly father over another who has repented. Oh what a day that will be!

We laughed and shed tears of joy and hugged and grinned and oohed and aahed. And talked about who he looked like that day of his birth.  We most want our grandson to resemble his savior one day. But right now his is a perfect mix of both mama and daddy. And we just love him.

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Stay In It!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

We have heard it said so many times that, as believers, we are in a race. It’s a race that has many twists and turns. The terrain is sometimes rough and the road is long. We all face challenges as we are going through life. There are losses and there are gains. Jesus endured these same things to be the example for us as we are on this race that is set before us. We must look to Him, the founder and perfecter of our faith to get through the race. One version says that He is the author and finisher of our faith. If He is the author and finisher, that means He is writing the story. He is aware of where we are in the race at all times.

We have runners in our family. They love to run. My husband ran a marathon a few years ago. My daughter ran cross-country in high school. They have done sprint triathlons and 5k races. There are also others in our extended family who participate in these different types of races. They run for exercise. They love it. Depending on the type of race that they are preparing for determines the type of training that they participate in.  Intense, daily, endurance-type cross-training such as swimming or biking for the longer races. For the shorter races, running and conditioning several times a week. Regardless of the race, they have to stay in focus and keep their eyes on the finish that they want to accomplish.

running-runner-long-distance-fitness-40751The race that is set before you right now may be parenting a house full of children, or caring for an aging parent. It may be a major illness or the grieving process in losing a loved one. A wayward child. An unfaithful spouse.

Many factors can determine the outcome of a physical race and whether you complete it or not: being prepared, proper shoes, stretching, lightweight clothing, proper hydration and food.

We need to condition ourselves in our journey as believers:

  • Study God’s word. He says that we show ourselves approved by studying. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15
  • Pray earnestly, without ceasing. (I Thess. 5:17)
  • Don’t give up. Build endurance (Heb 12:1)
  • Be intentional in your spiritual life. Every. Day.
  • Trust God. Exercising your faith. It will strengthen you.
  • Look to Jesus. He is our kind and loving savior who is with us every single step of the way. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

I love that before mentioning the race that is set before us, scripture refers to the great cloud of witnesses that are surrounding us as we are on this journey through life. It reminds us that we are not alone in this race. Many have gone before us and have just finished before us. Real people, with human strengths and weaknesses just like us that have left their examples to the value and blessing of living by faith. Read about these inspiring saints in Hebrews 11.

Honest confession. I don’t like to run. Period. My feelings are that the only good thing about running is that it is faster than walking.  I did do a 5k several years ago, but nothing else. I have stood on the sidelines and cheered them all on for years and wanted to participate, but I’ve never managed to stay in training long enough to do it again.  I’ve made excuses and let other things hinder me from participating in a race.

pexels-photoBut…I’m done with being a spectator. In a few weeks, I will be a participator in the race.  I am scared and intimidated and frankly, I want to go the opposite direction from where everyone else is going. But guess what! My family will be cheering me on at the finish line. They have encouraged me and have run with me and even pushed me at times when I thought about giving up. I have trained, probably not enough, but I am getting into that race with these guys. I’m getting stronger and more sure of myself. It has not and will not be easy, but I’m going to do it. My goal is to cross the finish line!

Keep on even in your race of faith, even if you don’t feel like it. There is a place where you get your second wind and push past the pain or the heat or the hard to breathe time. My husband says it’s there, but I haven’t gotten there yet in running. Some days life is very hard. Some days it’s easy and you wish it wouldn’t end. The struggle is real. But the reward of crossing that finish line and entering our eternal reward is real. I believe that those who have already completed the race that was before them are watching from heaven and cheering us on in our own race that is set before us. They will be meeting us at the finish line. As Rick and Bubba so famously say, “Stay in it!”

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The Recipe for Peace

by Dena Green

Philippians 4:4-9  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of PEACE will be with you.

Recipe books by our favorite television chef or cute little recipe cards neatly stacked in a dainty box on our kitchen counter somewhere are nice to have.  The ingredients on those recipes are listed there, but unless we make an effort and take the time to purchase the ingredients and actually prepare a meal, they are pretty much just sitting there gathering dust and are of little use to us.

God shows us clearly in his word a “recipe” and the “ingredients” that we can apply to our lives to have that supernatural peace that He provides. In our world that seems to be spinning completely out of control, we can experience the peace of God in our lives. He even says that it surpasses all imagination, this peace that He will provide. I don’t know of a single person that doesn’t desire peace in their life, but I can think of many who don’t have peace. Are you searching for peace? Read through the verses for yourself and see what ingredients are present in your life.

  • peace-recipe.jpgRejoice and rejoice some more! Always. Not in our circumstances, but in the Lord.
  • Be reasonable and get along with others. Broken relationships disrupt our peace.
  • Do not be anxious…Oh, how I struggle with this one sometimes. One of my wise teacher friends says that we have to command our soul to trust God just as David did in the midst of trouble. (Psalm 62 1-2) God commands us to be still and know that he is God. (Psalm 46:10)
  • Pray for yourself and for others. Let your requests be known to Him. He cares so much. I Peter 5:7 Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
  • Think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Dwelling on these will lift your spirit.

Are you missing some ingredients?

I love to cook. Sometimes, if I am missing an ingredient, I will use a substitute. For some dishes that I prepare, that is fine. But for others, a substitution can be disaster. It is clear in Philippians 4:4-9 how to have peace. God laid out the plan. We need to follow it. We can’t substitute what we think will work – people, possessions, having things our way, or any other thing you may be seeking. They don’t work in God’s recipe. In order for a recipe to turn out as you desire, you must follow the instructions and add the ingredients that are called for.  Notice that God’s word says you WILL have peace.  Follow His plan. You must be deliberate.  He says to practice these things. “Practice makes perfect” we’ve all heard, and in this case, it makes perfect peace.

Notice that these ingredients turn our eyes away from ourselves and our situation and turn our thoughts outward to God and others. Our circumstances may not change, but HIS peace that passes all understanding is deep-seated in our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ even in the saddest and darkest moments that we experience in this life.

One of my favorite parts of this whole passage in Philippians is the part that I have overlooked until just recently. “The Lord is at hand.” All of the other things that we notice in the scripture instruct us on what we should or should not do in order to have peace.  But the writer reminds us who is close by just waiting on us to realize He is there!  How wonderful is this reminder that our creator, the one true and living God is near us. His presence is close and what comfort and peace we can experience in knowing and believing.

What ingredients for peace do you need to add to your life?

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

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Carried Away

by Dena Green

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

pexels-photo-51022The water was enticing as we walked along the edge of the rain-swelled river and my dog, Scout, wanted to dive right in. She is a Golden Retriever and it is the nature of her breed to want to get in the water and play. Every chance Scout gets, she runs to our neighbor’s pond and takes a harmless dip. This day was different; if I hadn’t kept a tight hold on her leash, she would have been carried away by the rushing waters. She had no sense of the danger of going too far into the water or being swept away, but I was there to protect her and pull her back to safety.

Isn’t that the way with us sometimes? Our “sin” nature draws us into situations and, if we are not careful, the desires of the flesh can swallow us up before we even realize it. We have entered dangerous waters.  One lingering look or conversation with the opposite sex that leads to a broken vow; a drink with friends that leaves an insatiable appetite for alcohol; holding onto anger that turns to bitterness and more anger; gossip; an unequally yoked relationship;  any compromise of God’s principles.  The list is different for each of us. Fill in your blank- __________. But whatever your “blank” says, remember, you are not left alone to flounder in it! A careful study of Galatians 5 gives great insight into the desires of the flesh vesus the desires of the spirit.

As believers, we must be mindful of the Holy Spirit’s promptings.  He lives in each of us if we are believers and lovingly reminds us and calls us back when we are entering pexels-photo-24871dangerous waters. He is an abiding presence.  Unlike Scout, who had a leash around her neck and could be physically pulled back to safety because I was holding on tight, we are given free will. His gentle promptings remind us.  We must keep our spiritual ears attuned to him through prayer and reading the word.  We must maintain our relationship with the Lord, walking and abiding in Christ so that we may discern the promptings and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts.  We must OBEY his prompting in order to stay in the place of safety in our spiritual lives.

pexels-photo-374391Maybe you have jumped into the rough water and the currents of sin are carrying you further and further from the place you need to be in your relationship with the Lord. One compromise has led to another. REACH OUT! We have an anchor for our soul. A lifeline that is always waiting to rescue us and restore our relationship when we call out for help. Jesus, our blessed Savior and the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Our companion and help; the very presence of God who is always with us waiting to draw us back into the safety of an unbroken relationship with our savior.

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

“How to” Witness and Resources (Back to Basics Series)

by Dena Green

Acts 1:8  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

You can live your life in front of others in such a way that they know you are a believer, whether it be a work, school or in your community interaction.  There is definitely a place to let our actions to speak louder than our words.  But I recently heard one of my favorite preachers say that “it is the power of the gospel that saves someone”.  We can equip ourselves with a few simple tools and the Word of God to share the gospel. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God will do the work.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association breaks down how to share the gospel into 4 simple steps.

  1. Tell them about God’s plan—peace and life. God loves you and wants you to experience the peace and life He offers. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He has a plan for you.
  2. Share our problem—separation from God. Being at peace with God is not automatic. By nature, we are all separated from Him. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God is holy, but we are human and don’t measure up to His perfect standard. We are sinful, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
  3. Talk about God’s remedy—the cross. God’s love bridges the gap of separation between you and Him. When Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave, He paid the penalty for your sins. The Bible says, “‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed’” (1 Peter 2:24).
  4. Our response—receive Christ. You cross the bridge into God’s family when you accept Christ’s free gift of salvation. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

To receive Christ, a person needs to do 4 things:

  • Admit you’re a sinner.
  • Ask forgiveness and be willing to turn away from your sins.
  • Believe that Christ died for you on the cross.
  • Receive Christ into your heart and life.

Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Here’s a prayer you can pray to receive Christ:

pexels-photo-213316“Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will. In your name, amen.”

There is more insight on witnessing available on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association website.

Our pastor recently shared the 3 Circles: LIFE CONVERSATION GUIDE app that is available on your smart phone and it would be a great tool to illustrate the gospel presentation above. Another phone app that is available is SHARE JESUS WITHOUT FEAR which give you steps to walk through when sharing the gospel.

Shake the fear that is holding you back.  To be successful at most things in life, we must equip ourselves and practice and then do.  It is no different with sharing the gospel.  Prepare yourself spiritually.  Get a plan.  Follow the Spirit’s leadership.  SHARE!  The truth of the Gospel is never wasted on anyone.  It is God who gives the increase.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Romans 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation

Other resourses on witnessing:

3 Ways to Share the Gospel

3 Easy Ways to Share the Gospel

The Mathematics of Faith

by Dena Green

2 Peter 1:3-8 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

God has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.  He granted his precious and very great promises that we may be partakers of his divine nature.

With my financial work background, I think of a grant as money given to an organization to be used in a certain way whether for research or to provide a good or service.  It is set aside for a specific purpose and is to be used for only that purpose.  It is for the betterment of society and to benefit a specific need for some individuals or group of people. (food pantry, classroom need, school band, social program, medical testing and research to name a few)

As related to the verses above, all of our needs are granted through Jesus Christ in order for us to glorify HIM.  He granted us precious and very great promises so that we may partake of his divine nature.

  • God gave us faith and we are to grow in that faith.
  • We are to make use of our faith.
  • Our faith is precious and came at a high price to Christ Jesus.

We are to keep adding to our faith –

  • Virtue
  • Knowledge
  • Self-control
  • Steadfastness
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly affection
  • Love

Just like funds given to an organization are to be utilized, we must use our faith.  Our lives will be spiritually richer and better off and those around us will benefit as well when we share and grow in our faith. Unlike a financial grant, the great and precious promises that God has granted to us are eternal.

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. Philippians 1:29

Back to Basics: Witnessing

[I’ve got my mint green tea today. Dena has some precious truths and stories to tell. Grab your coffee and settle in to read with your journal and a pencil. ~ Editor]

by Dena Green

Philippians 1:3-5 “ I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Jesus’ last words to the disciples at the end of the book of Matthew were to go and make disciples. To share the gospel with others. Just like Paul and Peter and Barnabas and so many others we read about in scripture, we as believers are to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Paul called it a partnership in the gospel. These men lived in a much more hostile environment to the gospel than we do, and yet they boldly proclaimed the gospel.

pexels-photo-389401The thought of witnessing to others can be intimidating and scary to say the least. We can think of all kinds of excuses to not share with someone when we are not comfortable. I don’t really know what to say. I’m too shy. I’m just not comfortable doing that. I don’t want to offend them. What if they are ugly to me and reject me? What if they say no that they don’t want to be saved or they want to wait and think about it? What if I don’t say the right thing?

Let’s take the “I” and the “me” out of it. It is not about you or me when we share the gospel. It is about Jesus. A person is not rejecting you. They are rejecting Jesus, so we can’t take it personally.  Yes, rejection is very hard to take, but it is not our responsibility to decide who may or may not say no, only to share.

I Corinthians 1:4-6 says that we were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in us. This means we have been given everything we need in Christ, including the enablement to speak effectively for him. The enabling takes place the moment we accept Christ.

Often, we are not comfortable doing something unless, first, we try and then continue to practice it until we are comfortable doing it. Baby steps lead to bigger steps and more boldness. The same is true in witnessing and sharing the gospel. The very first time I sat down with someone to share the gospel, I was trembling with fear that I wouldn’t say the right thing or would leave something out. We must trust that Holy Spirit will go before us in everything we say. He is the one who does the work. We are the vessel that he uses. Follow his leading.

man-holiday-people-faceOne Sunday morning my sister followed the Holy Sprit’s prompting. Instead of attending church, she felt very strongly that she should go and talk to our daddy about his salvation. You see, he was dying with cancer. We had been praying for him for many, many years to come to Christ. He was harsh and hard to deal with and had rejected many attempts by others to share the gospel and the invitation to come to Christ.  But not that day. She was scared and anxious about what response she might get. But as she gently talked to him about his need for Jesus and about her concern for his eternity without Jesus, he said yes. Right there on the back porch swing, with her two little children beside her, she led him to Christ. My niece, who was very young at the time, said, “It’s easy Granddaddy, Mama will help you.” Just a little over three months later, my daddy stepped into eternity with Jesus.

There are so many people that we come in contact with every day that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. People who are going to step into eternity without Jesus. We do need to prepare our hearts and be equipped to share the gospel. We will talk about that later.  Know that God has “enriched” us. We’ve got what it takes through HIM. Come on partner, let’s do this!

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Do You KNOW?

Pastors will often ask the question “Do you know that you know that you are saved and that you will go to heaven when you die?”  I struggled with that question for many years.  “Am I really sure?” “Did I say all the right things when I prayed the sinner’s prayer?” “Did I leave anything out?”  I would sit in church services at invitation time and literally have a battle going on inside of me.

unashamedRecently, when our church had “Unashamed Sunday,” where people are invited to ask Jesus to be their savior and to be baptized that morning, I was reminded of those years of wondering and worrying and I rejoiced in the fact that I no longer toil over those questions. I DO know. YES! I have assurance of my salvation and I will go to heaven when I die. I no longer deal with those doubts.

I walked the church aisle when I was 13 years and I gave my heart to Jesus. I was baptized. I loved God’s word. I loved Bible study. I prayed. I wanted my life to reflect Christ. I lived my life as a Christ follower. But there was still that doubt that I couldn’t shake.

There came a point in life when I just needed to settle it. I didn’t want to say the sinner’s prayer again just to make sure. I wanted to KNOW. I began to look at what the Bible said about faith and salvation. I wrote scripture on cards and reminded myself what God’s word said. I kept the cards close and anytime doubt showed up I used the WORD of God to confirm my faith.

Romans 10:9-10 – Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Yes! I did that many years ago.

I familiarized myself with verses about faith and learned the definition of faith. Faith- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

I John 1:9- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 2:8- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Hebrews 11:1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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Salvation comes from Jesus Christ alone through accepting the free gift of his blood sacrifice for our sins. Confess, repent and believe.  We don’t have do the right things, or say the right prayer.  We don’t earn it because it’s not of works.  “We must personally and fully rely on the death of Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sins… The faith God requires of us for salvation is belief in what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He accomplished and fully trusting in Jesus for that salvation[1].” Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The word of God, when I took hold of it every time a doubt entered my mind, cleared up any question of my salvation. It CONFIRMED my salvation.

The enemy would have us to walk in fear and doubt regarding Jesus and salvation. He can rob us of peace and assurance if we allow him to. But Jesus comes that we may have LIFE. And have it abundantlyWhen we accept Jesus as our savior through faith, we are HIS!  We are sealed as His until that day that we get to see Him face to face. HE paid the price and we can’t add a thing to it.

For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Tim. 1:12

[1] https://gotquestions.org/definition-of-faith.html

Family “Get-together”

by Dena Green

You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Psalm 128:2

When we want to catch up with friends or family, what do we usually do?  We plan a dinner date or a cook-out or special meal at our home.  We celebrate holidays, birthdays, or special events with meals together.  When was the last time you invited the members of your household to a meal at your table?  TV off, cell phones and electronics put away, out of sight and hearing distance.

In the Bible,  many times we see Jesus having meals with people.  Meals with his disciples, his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  It is part of our Biblical heritage as meals together are mentioned all through the Bible.  God gave feasts for his people to observe “together” in remembrance of Him. Important things took place at meals.

Meals together are so important for a family. It is a time when we can teach our little ones table manners and how to act and behave at the table. They can see you pray as a family over a meal and realize the importance of giving thanks to the Lord for all he provides for us.  They learn concern and compassion for other as each person or only one shares something about their day, good or bad.  It is a place to connect as a family for a few minutes out of the day and for the kids to share with mom and dad about anything on their minds.

pexels-photo-48607Is meal time always pleasant?  Absolutely not!  Many times when our children were younger,  we came to the table and had tears and frustrated parents and moody teens.  Meltdowns occurred because they didn’t want to eat.   Big brother picked on little sisters and little sisters annoyed their teen siblings.  Some days, we wanted to throw in the towel and give up.  But many, many more times we came together and had belly laughs over something funny.  We laughed just because someone else was laughing and not really sure why.  We took time to pray for an upcoming test or a classmate going through a rough time. We prayed over family issues or a sick loved one.

Your meal time may not look the same as other families’, but find what works for yours.  Be deliberate and persistent. Don’t feel overwhelmed or guilty.  If you don’t feel you have time, start with just one meal and work toward it becoming a habit. This is an important investment in your family and the dividends will be well worth your efforts.  Even secular studies report the positive benefits for a family that connects during at least a couple of meals each week. Check out this Washington Post article.

As a mom, I fought against distractions and activities to have meals around our dinner table as a family, and we managed to get together at least a few times each week in spite of school events and other activities. Even now, with older and two married children, we try as often as we can to catch up with one another with a meal at our house.  We have the best times together! If you feed them, they will come!

Psalm 127:4-5  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 

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