August 18, 2017

Great Joy

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.  For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).  And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: You will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

Luke 2:8-14

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Do you recall the anticipation you felt before your child(ren) were born? Or before the birth of a niece or nephew?  I remember well.  I was concerned and expectant all at once!  I wondered if I would be a good mom, would I make the right choices as a new mom, am I ready to have some little person that I am responsible for.  Then I remembered…God has given me a gift.  Someone He is entrusting to me and my husband to rear in the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord can also lead to great joy.  Just as Mary submitted to God’s will for her life to have His Son, we can submit to His authority for His will in our life.  Angels live among us today.  There are many examples of situations where people were suddenly moved away from a possible accident, or have been miraculously healed of a disease.  I have heard of these in my own church and from friends. God is alive and very active in our lives! (We just have to be willing to see.)

When my son passed his driving test and received his license to drive, he felt great joy.  When he graduated from college he was relieved he had completed this part of his journey.  I pray he will be able to find that mate God has reserved for him. A mate to help him be more complete, a mate who will encourage him to do his best and he do the  same for her. I want my son to experience the joy of being a parent. To not feel the burden, but to see the child(ren) as gifts from his heavenly Father to nurture and grow in the ways of God.  Just as Mary and Joseph did.

Despite the whispers, looks, and misunderstandings, Mary and Joseph knew whose this Child was. They knew they had done nothing wrong and had obeyed God in all of the laws. These poor parents gave their all for God’s Child.  Yet their joy was in receiving from God the huge responsibility in raising His Son.  Joseph received more instruction from God in order to keep His son safe from Herod (Matthew 2:13-14; 19-23).  Then when called to return from Egypt, Mary and Joseph chose Nazareth to raise their family there.  Not too far from the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus would perform many of His miracles.

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Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to such humble beginnings. When we reflect on Jesus’ life and upbringing, we see You in every area.  You were there and You are present now, through your Holy Spirit, to guide and watch over us in ways we cannot begin to imagine. You are the great organizer of our lives.  I pray asking for Your favor and blessing upon our nation and our people.  I ask for a revival to begin in us as we help spread Your love to others.  In Jesus’ name, I praise You and thank You, amen!

Through Him

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In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
all things were made through Him,
and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

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If you have children you may know this song, “In the beginning, God created …”  It is sung by a character, Miss Patty Cake. Toddlers love her! She has an amazing ability to keep the children motivated and moving. She also shares her love of God with them.  She retells the stories of the Bible in ways they understand and come to know who God is to them, even at their young ages.  Our children need to be secure in knowing God loves them completely. They need to see it modeled in how we react to life and how we approach God.

Even when we get it wrong the children understand and they know. We can rest on the assurance of God for His forgiveness when we let life get in the way and speak harshly to our spouse or to our children. We are to repent and ask God to help take away our pain and show us how to turn away from our wrongs. God is faithful to do what is right.

When we do this, the children learn forgiveness. They know that it is acceptable to forgive and to love unconditionally. When we let God’s light shine in and through us, our children learn.

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Father, I thank You for Your gift of our children and grandchildren. You have entrusted their lives to us and we do not take the responsibility lightly. Help us to forgive the wrong done to us by those in authority.  Help us to demonstrate the right way to live, love, and to be a light to our children and grandchildren. Help us let Your light shine through, no matter what the situation is. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Your Presence

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All of my life I search for You Lord, You call me to Your side
With all of my heart I’m desperate for more, Your Presence is my light
The cry of my heart is to be where You are

I love Your presence, I love Your presence
Father, where You are is where I want to be
Hidden in Your courts is ev’rything I need

You are my strength You are my shield, surround me with Your song
All that my soul will know is Your peace, hide me in Your love
The cry of my heart is to be where You are

I love Your presence I love Your presence,
I can hear You call, I run into Your arms, Jesus
You are all my heart is longing for

Father,  You are my heart’s desire,
Overwhelmed I will worship You
I will dance to the dance of heaven
All my heart be enthralled by You

Our Actions

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For this is how God loved the world: He gave his uniquely existing Son so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.  Because God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s uniquely existing Son.  And this is the basis for judgment: the Light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the Light because their actions were evil.  Everyone who practices wickedness hates the Light and does not come to the Light, so that his actions may not be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the Light, so that it may become evident that his actions have God’s approval.

John 3:16-21

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Our children are our world.  Our lives revolve around them.  We nurture them, discipline them, love on them, and want to see them succeed in life.  If we do this, how much more will God our Father do this for His children?  As I walk through life, I am amazed at the wasted opportunities I have had to share God’s love with others.  Then when I do try, it seems to fall flat, like it is not believable.  I know God has a plan and a purpose.  I also know I should not listen to the negative self-talk I hear which tries to tell me I am a sinner and no one will believe what I have to say.  (Anyone feel this way?)

In an attempt to become encouraged, I listen to various speakers through podcasts who give encouraging talks about listening to the voice of God…being still…praying…and, ultimately, having the courage to be transparent with your life before others.  These all are good, and give many thought-provoking ways for me to rethink some of my wrong thinking.  The speakers are great in sharing their stories or allowing others to share, then I think, when is my opportunity to share?  And then, the Holy Spirit tells me ‘you need to practice telling your story.  You need to know your heavenly Father loves you completely, wholly, and purely.  You are worthy, you are a light, you have a purpose in MY plan for your life.  Pray and confess, confide in or with another believer so you can feel renewed, seeking wise counsel from those with more knowledge than you and you will be able to share your faith, your belief with others.’

I encourage you to practice your story with others.  Begin by writing it out. Be truthful. You may need to write several different versions, depending on your audience…and then practice. Become comfortable and confident in what the Holy Spirit leads you to share. You will be amazed at the outcome.

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Father, thank You for Your word.  Thank You for speakers who encourage and tell others of their walk through pain and trials.  Let us be a light for others and know You are in control.  All we have to do is allow Your might to be at the head of all that we do.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

His Light

luke1.78-79adventlightBecause of the tender mercy of our God,
His Light from on high has visited us,
to shine on those who sit in darkness and in death’s shadow,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79

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His Light. God loved us enough to send us His only begotten Son to guide, teach, and lead us into a life of eternal happiness.  God had never intended for us to suffer and be in agony from our self-imposed guilt and shame.  Faith and trust in Him and in His Word is where our strength lies.

From the beginning of time God was very meticulous in creating our world. He took such care to speak the world into existence just so.  He created the animals, the trees, flowers, the fish, the grass, and the moon and stars.  Every little detail He thought of.  Imagine trying to create a world and thinking of everything—the oxygen, the gravity, the way things stay and grow in the ground.

How can we not be in awe of someone who is as thoughtful as our God?  He created the first man from the dirt of the earth and formed every little thing about him.  I mean, who thinks about the fact you need to blink in order that your eye would not dry out.  I am not sure I would have been so detailed.

If He can be that thoughtful, we should aspire to be there for our friends and family.  Forgiving as we go through life and not waiting for the right time, or until someone else apologizes first.  During this time of year, (and not just now but always), we should be the first to forgive and share the light God has created inside of us.  God knows our heart, He created us, He knew us when we were growing inside of our mothers.

When we were born, we came into the light. We were born into this world for a relationship with God and to tell others about Jesus, His Son, and how God wants us to live forever with Him.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14

Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to teach us about Your love and the good You wish to do for us.  Give us the courage to speak when we need to and be silent when we need to.  We want to share Your love with others…putting ourselves aside and loving those close to us with an unconditional love.  Thank You for Your blessings.  In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Trust and Thank God

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Do not be anxious or worried about anything,
but in everything [every circumstance and situation]
by prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.
Philippians 4:6 AMP 

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What is worry? What are we saying to God when we choose to worry and fret over a situation? Are we saying we do not trust Him to care? Are we saying this situation is too small for You to handle, I do not want to bother you with it? Yes, my friend we are. Just as you would go to a friend, or mentor, or mom, and tell them what is going one, God wants us to go to Him and cast our problems and lay them down at His feet. We are to ask for wisdom, grace, and the ability to know when we should act or wait.

God loves us with a pure, holy heart. He knows our lives. He knows what makes us go, He knows what will break us, He knows what will make our heart soar! But do we, with all the clutter we allow in and do not push out? We only have to give it all to Jesus and God will shows us the way.

This is my prayer through song for you, please enjoy.  Give me Jesus!

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Jesus
Give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Jesus

written by Jeremy Camp

 

Aware Of Being Thankful

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 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalms 136:1-3

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Two weeks ago, one of the ladies I volunteer with on Thursday nights came in asking for prayer for her husband. He has leukemia and has received a bone marrow transplant. He is now in remission but is having  infections from his compromised immune system. In his most recent emergency room visit, they discovered nodules on his liver. He was to have a test the next day to determine if the cancer had spread. We all gathered around her and one of the young women prayed such a powerful prayer filled with God’s authority to take this disease captive and acknowledging that our bodies are not made to be diseased.  We all declared his body would be healed and that no cancer would be present.  How inspiring that was!  The following Saturday, I received a text from the wife saying the test was negative!  She gave praise to her heavenly Father for His faithfulness as did all on the text!
Think about this: If we are praising God with our mouth, can we speak words of criticism of others without a check in our spirit?  I think not. Everyday, every morning, before our feet touch the ground, we should give thanks to God for a new day, a new opportunity to praise and serve Him.  As we do this, our hearts will change, we will grow stronger in our faith walk. We will develop the courage to speak and declare God’s words over any and all situations.
With reference to Psalms 136:1-3, Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “Whom we must give thanks to him that we receive all good from, to the Lord, Jehovah, Israel’s God (v. 1), the God of gods, the God whom angels adore, from whom magistrates derive their power, and by whom all pretended deities are and shall be conquered (v. 2), to the Lord of lords, the Sovereign of all sovereigns, the stay and supporter of all supports; (v. 3). In all our adorations we must have an eye to God’s excellency as transcendent, and to his power and dominion as incontestably and uncontrollably supreme.”
God is in control. When things do not seem to go the way we want, we need to stop and ask God if we are going our way, or His. Have we asked God what He wants us to accomplish for Him? It may not be easy. We may have to make sacrifices to achieve His way, but I imagine the rewards will be far better than anything else we could ever have imagined on our own.
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Father, we give You all the praise, honor and glory!  You are the reason we are here.  You have the ultimate authority in our lives.  You, Who put rulers in place, and can remove them.  Father, lead us, let Your Holy Spirit direct our paths when we seek Your will for our lives. Forgive us when we are prideful and forget to ask You.  Teach us to wait, be still, and listen for Your guidance.  Father, we forgive those who have wronged us; and, in so doing, we receive the blessings You have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen!!!

Nearer, My God, To Thee

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Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee

Nearer, my God, to Thee
Nearer to Thee

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee

 Sharon Singers of the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute
Written by Sarah F. Adams

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Closer, God, to You.”  What does this look like to you?  For me it is not listening to the self-talk, which says I am not good enough…I am not worthy to sing His praises…I am not worthy to pray over someone who is hurting. {Ever feel this way?}

When we are subject to God’s will in our lives, we are blessed beyond measure.  When we come to Him, asking and laying down all of our requests before the Throne of grace, God is just and true to guide us.  His grace is sufficient to cover all of our sins.  His forgiveness knows no boundaries. If you or anyone continues to sin but asks with a penitent heart, God will hear our cry and toss our sinfulness into the sea.  Know and trust this.  Forgive yourself (and others).  Give your cares to Him Who is more than able to carry the burden.  Jesus has already paid the price at  Calvary for us.

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Father, thank You for loving us unconditionally.  Help us to forgive those who have wronged us.  Let us find a way to give thanks in everything and praise You, especially during this holiday season.  Help us to live up to Your standards, not ours.  In Jesus’ name, amen!

God’s Peace

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Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Colossians 3:15-17 MSG

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Ever felt so rushed, you snapped at everyone?  You felt no peace about what you were doing, but were anxious; then only to have the Holy Spirit cause you to check yourself?  I have.  Trying to do a task by myself, not giving myself time to complete it early so I could review it and submit it correctly the first time. I know my personality is to complete it correctly the first time, as it should be.  But circumstances can get in the way and, at times, I forget to slow down and double check my work.

I like how Jesus always paced himself.  Taking the time to pray…being intentional about it.  He demonstrated to His disciples how to pray, when to pray, and how to be still and wait on His Father to answer.  Jesus always had a peace about Him.  Remember how Jesus was on the boat in the terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee? The disciples became very anxious but Jesus slept right through it.

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep;
and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake,
and they began to be swamped and to be in danger.
They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”
And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves,
and they stopped, and it became calm.
And He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another,
“Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”
Luke 8:23-25
All authority is given to Jesus.  This is not what the disciples could see in the moment.  But you and I have the benefit of reading the miracles of Jesus and His disciples. We can begin to give thanks to God for His written word to instruct us, guide us, and set us on the correct path for our lives.
This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for all we have.  Does not matter if what we have is new, used up, worn out, not the right brand, or maybe you do not live in the ‘right’ neighborhood.  Remember God has you where you need to be to further His Kingdom.  We are to be willing to submit to God’s Will for our lives.
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Dear God, thank You for Your lovingkindness.  We ask for healing and a desire to return to You and Your teachings for our nation.  Send the Helper to those who ask, for He will only come when asked. Show us how to be a light for You in every area of our lives and give us the courage to speak out when we feel Your nudging.  Forgive us for our stubbornness in not following after You in all things.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Thanks and Praise

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Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; 
His love endures forever.
Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

Psalms 118:1-2

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Sunday night at church our pastor was speaking on the Book of Acts. During the sermon, Pastor Allen said “God spoke everything into existence, except man.  Man, He breathed life into.”

and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:6-8

Think about that…God cared enough about us that He actually created the first man—every limb, each eye, the nose, all of the insides—God’s hands created, molded, refined, designed.  And then He breathed His spirit into the man…His Holy Spirit…the life-giving breath.

If God cared enough about the details of forming and making man, then how much more will He care about you and me?  During this holiday season, we tend to think of things we are thankful for, such as our homes, jobs, and children. We should, but we should also pause and meditate on how God has watched His creation grow and evolve over the centuries.

We are created to tell others about His great love for you and me. How He created the world; created a man and a woman to start the human race; gave them a job to do; gave them boundaries and consequences of not following His direction.  Sound like us? (It sounds like me.)  Our carnal (sin) nature, tells us we don’t have to follow God’s rules anymore.  Because when Jesus came to earth He fulfilled the Law and we do not have to abide by it.  Except, the only thing is, if we don’t know what the Law says, then how are we going to know what we need to do to get the blessing and not receive the curse?

As we go through the holiday season, remember to thank God for all that we have.  We are nothing without Him and His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  God loves each of us without reservation. We are the ones who put ourselves on the fence and, at times, choose not to believe how much He loves us, so completely and totally.

The LORD is my Strength and my Shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 28:7

I will praise the name of God with song,
And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30