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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Why we celebrate Christmas

I read a disturbing fact recently, a survey of 2,000 millennials revealed that nearly half of them had no idea who the baby in the manger was. They may have heard about Jesus, but they didn't realize that it was His birth that is celebrated at Christmas. I'm writing this blog to clear up any confusion about who was in the manger and why it's so important to celebrate His birth.

Christians around the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve. Although the exact date of His birth is unknown, we have set aside December 25th as the day we recognize and celebrate His coming to earth. The prophets in the Old Testament foretold His coming 700 years before His birth.

Isaiah prophesied from 739 to 681 BC and told of the virgin birth and the coming king.
"Then Isaiah said, 'Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God with us)'." (Isaiah 7:13-14) He also declared, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Micah prophesied from 733 to 701 BC and proclaimed that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)

As we read the account of His birth in the gospels, we are amazed at the accuracy of the prophets to predict His birth, but it's not just the prophesies that amaze us. The God who created the universe, loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to rescue us from our sins. He came as a helpless baby so that He could totally relate to us. He wasn't born in a palace, even though He is a king. His birth wasn't announced to the religious leaders of the day, but angels told lowly shepherds about His birth. (You can read the gospel accounts of His birth in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1:26-2:20)

All things are possible for God including a virgin birth. God's Holy Spirit impregnated Mary with God's own seed. Although it is mysterious to us, Jesus left His glorious home in heaven with the mission to save people from their sins. He became Immanuel, God with us, living on the earth that He created for us to fully know us.

When we give each other gifts, it is in remembrance of the wise men who followed a star, searched for and found the baby Jesus. They worshiped Him because they knew He was destined to be a king and they lavished their gifts on Him.

As you celebrate the birth of Christ this year, remember the words of the angels to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:10-12)

Friday, December 7, 2018

How can I be saved?

     Do you have questions about Jesus and wonder what you have to do to become His follower? You've come to right place because I'm going to explain it clearly.
     When God who created the universe and all that is in it created humans, He did so because He wanted someone to appreciate His glory and people with whom He could have a relationship. But humankind was deceived by Satan and sin entered the world separating us from the one who created us. The only way that God could reconcile the people of the world back to himself was to become one of us. He did just that when He opted to be born of a virgin and live among us in the person of Jesus Christ. The only way that He could redeem us was through the blood of a perfect sacrifice and He became that sacrifice when He died on the cross. His sinless blood took care of the sin problem and His resurrection from the dead secured a place in Heaven for all those who believe in Him.
     There are some passages in the New Testament book of Romans which confirm our need of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice.
     "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:22-23)
     "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
     "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
     "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved... for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-10, 13)
     It almost sounds to good to be true, but that's how much God loves each one of us. He truly wants us to spend eternity with Him and He has made a way for us to become His forever children.
     "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:16-17)
     "Jesus answered, 'I Am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'." (John 14:6)
     If you believe in Jesus and want to have His Spirit living in you, just repeat this prayer and you will be saved and become part of God's beloved family:
     Holy God, I accept Your gift of salvation and choose today to invite Jesus Christ into my heart. I am a sinner and I need a savior, forgive me for my sins and cleanse my heart. I invite Your Holy Spirit to take up residence in my heart and I choose to follow Your leading all the days of my life. Thank You Jesus for dying for my sins and for showing me the way to eternal life. Amen



Saturday, October 13, 2018

Truth...

We are living in a time when the truth is being skewed to the point that we don't even recognize it anymore. The news is fake, politicians are corrupt, people are confused about their own gender, even the food we eat is genetically modified to the point that the true grains are now fake. We can't believe anything that we see or hear because pictures and videos are altered, people are misquoted and lied about. There was a time, not that long ago, that we could believe and trust in those who reported the news. The facts were given and we could draw our own conclusions. It seems that the ability to choose our own truth is the only way to go these days. But the Truth can be found in the Word of God and that is where we need to look as the end of time as we know it draws near.

How do we know that the Word of God is truth? Look at these passages:
Psalm 119:160
All your words are true all your righteous laws are eternal.

Isaiah 45:19
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.


And what does the Word tell us about our responsibility to speak and seek the truth?

Zechariah 8:16
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts;

John 4:23
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.


The Apostle Paul was speaking to the Roman church to prove to them that God has revealed Himself to all people, but that not all people will accept His gift of salvation because that would mean that they would have to admit that they need a Savior. Hear what he tells them:

Romans 1:20-25
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.


As Christians, we are told that the world will know us by our love. As ambassadors here on earth, we are to show God's love to everyone. But today, many who call themselves Christians are not reflections of God's love. They promote violence and hatred based on their own value system, they are confused about what is morally right and wrong and they are quick to condemn sins in others, but fail to admit their own sins. True Christians are called to speak the truth, but to speak it with a spirit of love.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

It really shouldn't come as a surprise to believers that the enemy is deceiving so many people. In fact, the Bible tells us that this will happen before the return of Christ.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  2 Thessalonians 2:5-10

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7


Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 2 Peter 2:2

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8


But those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior can have hope, even in these troubled times. Because we have God's Holy Spirit living within us. The things of God are spiritually discerned and cannot be understood unless we have His Spirit living in us.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." John 3:33

If we accept God's Word as the truth, then we also have to accept Jesus' because in John 14:6  He said, "I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Monday, September 3, 2018

God Loves You!


     As I worshipped in our congregation a few weeks ago, my focus was on God and His plans for my life. I want to serve Him and be an obedient child, so I was seeking His direction. Since I have been given the Spirit of God through my belief in Christ Jesus, I heard that still small voice within my Spirit give me a message. He simply said, "When you go out to eat or shop, tell those who wait on you that I love them. Tell them 'God loves you'." That was all He said to me, but it was a very clear direction. And since that day, when the sales clerk or waitress gives us the bill, that is the time that I tell them, "God loves you."

     The word of God speaks of this love over and over again. 
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him." The Message Translation John 3:16-18

"[ God Is Love ] My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since lovecomes from God. Everyone who loveis born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loveGod, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God." The Message Translation 1 John 4:8-10

     It amazes me that the God who created all things would care about each one of us, that He truly wants to have a personal relationship with us. Why would He love us so? The only explanation that I can give is that He is our creator. Have you ever created something? If so, then you know a little about His amazing love. I have two children who were created by my husband and myself and they are very dear to me. I care about them on a different level than I care about other children. We are all God's children, if you have life and you are breathing, then you have God to thank for your life. 
     
     Not everyone has a healthy or loving relationship with their parents or children and it may be difficult for you to grasp a loving relationship, but it is always based on trust. Children with loving parents learn that they can trust them to take care of their basic needs. The loving parent makes sure their children have food, clothing and shelter. They want their child to grow and learn, they want them to be healthy and strong, and even though they may have a child with a disability, they will continue to nurture that child and help them develop. The loving parent always seeks what is best for their child. God's love for us is the same. 

     As I said before, if you are living and breathing, then you are a child of Almighty God regardless of your life circumstances and you can trust in Him to take care of all your basic needs because you are His! But He wants you to acknowledge Him. A relationship is a two-way street, with both doing their part to grow the relationship. 

     A loving parent does all they can to provide for their children, but as the children grow so should their relationship. In a healthy parent-child relationship, the children learn to be obedient. Since the parent has the child's best interest in mind they want to protect them from harm. When they tell their young child not to cross the street alone, it's not because they don't want them to cross the street, but that they don't want them to get injured. The child learns to obey the parent because they trust them. God wants the same type of relationship with you, He wants you to trust in Him and be obedient. By reading His word you can know more about Him and His commandments. It is our way of finding out what God expects from us, His children.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." New International Version 2 Peter 3:9

     This scripture again shows us the love and patience of God for each one of us. He wants a relationship with us and He wants that relationship to grow. He wants to lavish us with good things, provide for us all that we need to mature us. Repentance is the first step to grow that relationship. It happens by accepting His offer of forgiveness of sins through a belief in Christ's atoning work on the cross and then turning from our old life to a life of obedience and trust. 

     There are times when it seems that God is withholding things from us that we desperately want. We ask Him for something and when we don't receive it quickly, we assume that He is being a "mean parent". But as His children, we just have to continue to trust Him. 

     On April 5, 2001, I wrote a prayer in my journal. I asked God to restore my hearing. It had been deteriorating for a number of years and I knew that at the rate it was going, I would be completely deaf soon. Over the next few years it declined more and more. I spent money on expensive hearing aids and was eventually told that there was nothing more that I could do. The most advanced hearing aids weren't helping anymore, but a visit to one more audiologist gave me hope. I was given the opportunity to have a cochlear implant and I jumped at the chance. On April 5, 2017, my implant was activated and I could once again hear the ticking of the clock, the singing of the birds, rain falling, people speaking. It took exactly 16 years for God to answer that prayer, but He answered it and in a miraculous way. He used technology, expert surgeons, audiologists and even my age to help me. (Medicare helped pay for the implant and I didn't have Medicare in 2001). God's timing was perfect and His love for each one of us is reliable. Trust in Him, He does indeed love you and He wants to answer your prayers.   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

We are clay in the Potter's hands

Jeremiah 18:1- 4
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

As I meditated on this scripture, it occurred to me that we are all like clay in the hand of the potter, God is our creator and He knows exactly how to form us into the people He created us to be. But I often forget a key element in the process of pottery making. Not only does the potter mold the pot into the desired shape for His usage, but once it is shaped, it must then be fired. The firing is where we become useful to our maker.

We may have to endure a lot of pain to become the perfect vessel for our Heavenly Father to use. He knows the exact amount of firing needed to strengthen us for the work ahead of us. The firing process may seem as though it will never end, and yet, at just the right time, our Maker will remove us from the fire. 


How will we be used by the potter? That part is left up to Him. Does He need someone to offer refreshment to others? Does He need healers, preachers or teachers? We can't pick and choose what we will become, but we can joyfully submit to Him and let Him have His way with us. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's time for Christians to pant for the living God

What is happening in the world today? It seems that every time we watch the news there is another terrorist attack or a hate group trying to convince everyone that it's their way or the highway. Is the entire world doomed? And, as Christians, what are we supposed to do with each new crisis? How can we possibly show the world the love of Christ when it refuses to listen to us. We are ambassadors here on this earth for such a time as this - God didn't make a mistake when He created each one of us and placed us here at this particular time in history.

I've been reading the Bible through again this year and have just finished reading some of the major prophets words. Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all faced similar situations, just like us. They were called to warn the Jewish people that God was about to unleash His anger toward them because they had turned their backs on Him and His commandments. Are the times we're living in so different? I don't think so. Maybe we don't bow down to idols in the same sense that the Jewish people did, but we have idols that we worship instead of the the living God. We bow down to political parties, we bow down to athletes and entertainers, we bow down to our children and pets, we bow down to our homes, our cars, our jobs, our employers, we bow down to physical fitness and endless pleasure. And we have made ourselves into gods by posting endless selfies - wanting others to see us as we see ourselves. Perfect specimens of human beings. But do we seek God every day? Do we, as Christians, pant for God?


"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?' These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."  Psalm 42:1-5

I think this is the answer to the world's problems. How many people who profess to be Christians are regularly attending a church? As I read this Psalm, it breaks my heart to think of all the people I know who have abandoned their faith because they are worshiping idols. They may not admit it openly, but they give their time and attention to other things besides the living God. Church attendance is at the bottom of their to-do lists and not the top. If Christians spent even a small part of their time in praise and worship of God, if they opened their Bibles each day to seek Him and His direction for their lives, the rest of the world would take notice. But as it is, Christians just blend into the world, we don't shine like beacons and the world is hurting as a result.

The only hope of the world is Jesus, are we, His followers, being Jesus to the people that are in our pathways? As we seek God and obey His directions, we will see the world change for the better. He will hear our prayers and respond to them. We have this promise from Him: "Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him, with long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

It's time to pray for revival

The body of Christ, His precious bride, His church is being attacked by the enemy constantly around the world as never before in church history. We know that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) Since we are in the midst of a spiritual battle, we need to invite God's Holy Spirit within us to help us fight this battle.

In 2 Chronicles 20:12-15 we discover that the nation of Israel is about to be attacked by their enemies and they realize that they do not have the physical power to face the vast army. They are in a precarious position, but under the leadership of King Jehoshaphat, they call upon God for His help and deliverance.
"All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord."
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel as he stood in the assembly and he spoke these words from the Lord, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's... You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you."

What exactly were their positions? How were they to fight a battle while standing firm? As I read more about what they did that day, I realized that they had faith in God to do what He said He would do and they just began to praise Him for "the splendor of His holiness." The king appointed a choir to go before the army just praising and thanking God for his enduring love. In the meantime, God was doing what He said He would do, the enemy destroyed itself. By the time the people of God arrived at the battle field, it was covered by the dead bodies of their enemies. God had told them that would not have to fight the battle, it was His battle and He took care of it.

We are in a battle similar as the Israelites today, there is a vast army seeking to destroy Christianity and it's time for us to assemble and cry out to God for deliverance. He is the same God today and capable of fighting the battle for us, but the Church needs to unite and take up our positions and stand firm. We need to sing His praises and thank Him for His enduring love. Jesus wants His bride to have faith in Him, to trust in Him to fight for us. He loves us so much that He willingly died for us to be with Him and He said He would never leave us nor forsake us.

Here are some scriptures we can be speaking to God as we wait for His deliverance and restoration:
"Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation." (Psalm 85:4-7)

"Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast Spirit within us. Do not cast us from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us." (Psalm 51:10-12)

May we "repent, then, and turn to God, so that our sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for us–even Jesus." (Acts 3:19-20)

"If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

This is what we have to look forward to: "Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 'Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.' (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)" (Revelation 19:6-8)

Holy God, Today we, Your people, come into Your presence and ask You to renew a steadfast Spirit within us. We repent of all our sins and ask You to erase them completely. We do seek Your face and ask You to revive us and purify us so that we are ready for our wedding to the Lamb. We also ask You to deliver us from the enemy and go before us to fight this battle on our behalf. As we wait for You, we will praise and worship You because we have put our trust in You alone. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus, our King. Amen