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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy & Blessed Thanksgiving !


Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!





Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. --1 Thessalonians 5:18



He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.--Psalm 50:23


Special thanks to Barbara Rainey of Family Life Today  for her inspiring thoughts on a spirit of GRATITUDE!  (check out more on http://www.familylife.com/)

In God's Word, the Bible, we are told that God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years just for grumbling and complaining. 

--I think we'd all be on long journies if God choose to teach us in the same way today.

I'm embarrassed to say my bent toward complaining must annoy God in a mighty way.

In a way, perhaps my pursuit of "discontentment" causes me to wander a bit, like the Israelites.  Maybe I am missing the blessing of a spiritual "Promise Land" because of my selfish focus.

Hmmmmmm........
Perhaps we should all  choose gratitude long after the Thanksgiving turkey has been cleared away.  This grateful attitude may take PRACTICE.

Being grateful is a choice.  Barbara Rainey shares a historic example:

I like the contented way the Pilgrims approached life. They did not allow their feelings or circumstances to determine whether or not they would exercise gratitude and thanksgiving. They believed that God was in control--"providence," they called it. Following this belief to its logical conclusion, they responded to challenges with a perspective that said, "God has allowed this for our good." They chose to believe--rightly so--that their dependence on a holy, faithful God was well placed and that even though much was against them, there was always much more for which to be grateful.

We can choose to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances, gratefully acknowledging who God is and what He is doing.

A grateful heart pleases God.

If you'd like to see a prime example of this, check out this video of an awesome young woman named Lauren Scruggs: 


http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/lauren-scruggs/









Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pam Stencil: a woman of courage...and not a "mistake"


Pam Stencil is a dynamic speaker who delivers wonderful Purity Messages to teens. 

Her wonderful story of redemption in birth is inspiring...and worth checking out.

Click on the following and find out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhmyT6Tlkhk&feature=player_embedded

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I thank my God every time I remember you!

Have I got your attention now?  Doesn't our headline just make you want to read on? 

Paul was a wonderful communicator who spoke from the heart.   He wanted the folks in the Philippian Church to know he was pleased with them AND he wanted them to know God's plan.  He wrote a letter.

God inspired Paul's words and his message.

Can you imagine everyone gathered round to listen to the letter?  Wouldn't this early phrase just make you feel good? 

You'd probably move a little closer to the reader, saying,  "Wait a minute -- I want to listen close.  This guy REALLY LIKES ME!" 

We need to follow Paul's (and God's!) lead.  This brilliant teacher is ready to communicate a HUGE lesson about life.  He has captivated his listeners because he (and God!) sincerely loves them. 

Think about it.  Do we teach our children by telling them how much we love them?  Hmmmm.  My lessons usually start with a complaint.  Ooops....so much for communication! 

I want to read on in Philippians and hear what Paul is saying:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Phil 1: 3-6

--Another lesson from the great communicator:  Paul is enthusiastic about the future of his readers.  He trusts Christ to help them continue their great work!

That inspires me to keep on keepin on!  Thanks, Paul. 

There is no pessimism with Paul.  He knows Jesus can be counted on! 


 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. - Phil 1:7-8

-Ahhhh!  Paul holds his friends in his heart! Again -- relationships are important to Paul and he gains others' trust. Paul is actually under arrest when he writes this, but he says that does not matter.  The awesome power of God's love does not change with our circumstances!

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. - Phil 1: 9-11

Here Paul comes to the reasons he is writing: 

1.  So you will learn more about Christ
2.  So you will discern what is BEST
3.  So you may hold on to what is PURE
4.  So you may be filled with what is RIGHT
5.  So you will come to Jesus Christ and invite him into your life!
6.  So you will glorify God!

I can't wait to see what else Paul will be telling us in the rest of Chapter 1!

Read on, dear readers, cause:  "I thank God every time I remember you."



Monday, November 12, 2012

Just in time for Christmas! When you reach your last straw...lay it in the manger!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!   

(Hmmmmmm....This is a greeting we'll all be using pretty soon.) 

The words "Happy Holidays" evoke visions of unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, eating huge meals,  laughing together at family gatherings and other holiday pleasures.

Everyone wants to be happy. We make chasing this elusive ideal our main focus sometimes, especially when we're planning our holidays.  The problem is, we can't ever create the perfect experience.

Something is bound to go wrong.  Plans change.  Loved ones struggle. Money gets short.  Disappointment comes. 

Oh, dear! "Happy Holidays" can sometimes become a struggle! 

The problem with "Happiness" and "Happy Holidays" is they depend on what happens to us...which is often out of our control.

Enter: JOY.  JOY depends on Jesus.  When we give our lives to HIM, we possess JOY no matter what happens!

Philippians is Paul's JOY letter.  He wrote this letter to a special church in Philippi.  The pages of the Book of Philippians radiate a positive message. 

The concept of rejoicing or joy appears sixteen times in four chapters in this Bible Book.  One would think Paul, the writer of the letter was in his "happy place" when he wrote to his friends.

Wrong.  Paul wrote the letter of Philippians from a prison cell.  As a matter of fact, in a life dedicated to serving Christ, Paul had faced imprisonment, excruciating poverty, beatings, abuse, and other hardships.  Paul had learned, however, whatever his circumstances, to be content.  How? Paul had learned to focus on Jesus.

In this crazy, stressful day and age, I would really like to learn from Paul! -- Want to join me? 
Let's study Paul's letter in the Book of Philippians! 

Along the way, let's talk about great ways to keep our holidays focused on Jesus, too!

Your Assignment:  1. Pray for God's guidance.  2. Read the whole book of Philippians.  3. Think about what you have read.  4.  Think about how the concepts apply to your life.  5.  Pray for God to help you remember to apply Philippians to your life!   



Friday, November 9, 2012

Post Election Blues? Look in the BIBLE!

Elections can be tremendously unsettling.  The frustration of watching manipulative ads, negative messages and disrespectful commentary can weigh on our hearts.

When the person you support loses, the weight may seem heavier.  If we are not careful, anxiety over the future can take over our lives.

BUT -- TAKE HEART and take a look in the BIBLE! 

The Bible gives us the stories of REAL people who survived under a variety of governments.  Most of the rulers did NOT believe what God's people believed. 

Throughout the Bible, you find stories of believers living under slavery, servitude and even  extreme oppression that threatened their lives daily. These people survived and often thrived in spite of rulers who persecuted them.  How could they do this?

ENTER: AN ETERNAL GOD.

The God of the Bible led His people through oppression hundreds of years ago.  That SAME GOD is our God!  God led His people in Bible times.  He will lead us. 

REMEMBER:  God cannot lead a people who are not moving.  We MUST keep moving forward!

Now is not the time to be discouraged and hide in our churches (or homes)!  NOW is the time to build relationships, tell our stories of how God saved us, and share the message of Jesus love for EACH individual.

                       BOTTOM LINE:  It's not a political leader who changes hearts. 
                                   It is the ONE TRUE GOD - OUR SAVIOR!

If anything, the election should show us we have more to do.  We should continue to move forward, even in the wake of persecution, and respond in love and kindness.

The Bible says you are BLESSED when you are persecuted:

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." 

                                                                               -- Matt 5:11


The Bible says to PRAY for those who persecute you:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," -- Matt 5:43-48


How do we start when we feel so overwhelmed?  Here is a list of steps to take to move forward in the midst of disappointment:

Stepping Out with Jesus
.... Moving forward in the midst of disappointment:

1.  Start by taking care of YOUR relationship with GOD.  Read God's Word.  Faith Family Resource Center will be studying the Book of Philippians in the upcoming weeks.  Read the Book.  Think about it.  Pray.  Make time to be alone with God.  Communicate with your Father. Talk to God continually.  Thank Him for EVERYTHING.  Ask His advice about EVERYTHING.  Keep the flow of info going between you and God.  Make sure this is second nature in your life. 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” -- Psalm 46:10
(probably written by David when he was being hunted down by King Saul)

2.  Take time to influence your FAMILY.  Be sure to raise your children in God's Word.  LIVE as an example to them.  Pattern reliance on God.  Pray in front of them.  Read the Bible in front of them.  Take them to a Bible-based Church.  Take a stand for what is right and explain to them how to deal with the culture without giving in to it.  Be involved in their lives.  Talk about media messages, movies, music and television.  Even if they reject you and your beliefs, stand firm in love.  They will think about you and will KNOW the TRUTH.

Teach these Words to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. -- Deut 6:7 (written for the Israelites when they were roaming the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt.)

3. Be involved in your Bible-Based Church.  Now is the time to evaluate your church.  Does it stand on the Word of God as TRUTH?  Does your church adapt to the culture or stand in contrast to the culture? BE INVOLVED!  Help them with outreach.  Teach children or support those who teach.  GO to Church.  We must not forsake gathering together! 

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -- Hebrews 10:25 (written by Paul while he was in prison in Rome.  He wanted to warn the Hebrews not to go back to old rituals just to escape persecution for being believers in Christ)

4. God is at work in our nation.  Watch and be ready to join God in what He is already doing.  Opportunities will come to speak out, to make friends, to support people who are doing God's work.  WATCH for opportunities to engage people and THEN tell them WHY:  Because God loves you and changed your life -- You want to share that love with others.   You want to join God in his work.


In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”-- John 5:17-18
(spoken by Jesus when he was confronted by leaders who wanted to kill him)

5.  PRAY.  Pray daily for our President and leaders.  Pray that their hearts will be turned to God.  Pray that they will make wise decisions.  Ask God to heal our land. 

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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -- 2 Chronicles 7:13-15(Probably written after the rebuilding of the temple by Solomon with a foreshadowing of its future destruction by the invading forces)

6. PRAY.  Pray for the people who influence the media.  Pray for Hollywood, New York and other centers of media.  Pray for Christians who work in the Media - that they will have strength to take a stand for GOD. Pray and get involved in the media.  Encourage your children to choose careers that will impact the world and then PRAY for strength for THEM!  Check out the website:  http://hollywoodprayernetwork.com/new/welcome

7.  STAND FIRM.  Do not be led to compromise your own beliefs to keep the peace.  You can take a stand without being mean -- even if you are met with hatred.  Stand firm with love and ask God to give you strength to do the right thing.

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." -- Joshua 24:15

(The Israelites have been travelling for 40 years.  They are standing on the brink of the Promised Land.  BUT - they must make a choice.  Will they continue to worship the God that brought them out of slavery in Egypt or will they compromise to worship other "gods" when life gets easy and they are mixing with other people?)

Let's not be discouraged!  Even though the election is over, our job is not done!  NOTHING has changed in the plan God has for us!

--Isn't it wonderful to know that NOTHING ever changes with GOD?!!! 

God is not caught "off guard" by the movement of our nation.  HE knows what is going on. 

God is  STILL in control.

Let's hold on to our Father and move forward with confidence!  Eternity awaits so let's glorify God in our walk along the way! 



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bible Verses Worth Sharing!

No matter who is president...Jesus is still KING. 

May we continue to pray for our leaders

and look to our KING for guidance! 


We are involved in a WONDERFUL ministry called Kids Community Bible Study (KCBS) which meets with children after school every Tuesday.  Seventy children meet for Bible Study, music, crafts and FUN after school in Freeburg, with hundreds of others meeting at 23 other sites in other communitees.
If you want to know more about this program, check out www.KidsForChristKCBS.com.

Anyway, yesterday I was going through our Bible verses for this session.   WOOOOO - did they hit home with me! 

-Wanted to share these verses and let you know....God is in control.   

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10



Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7




And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19




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.
John 3:16