Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Resurrection Day, friend!

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 
 -1 Corinthians 15:3-6

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.  The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 6:9-11

...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.  God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice... - Romans 8:24-25

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 
- 1 John 2:2


 ... now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.  This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.- Colossians 1:22-23

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that is was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
- Romans 8:1-4

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. - John 1:17

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30

May the God of peace, Who through the blood of the covenant brought back form the dead our Lord Jesus,  that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
-Hebrew 13:20-21

My friends, I wish you every happiness and the peace of our Lord as we remember His resurrection.
May He bless you and keep you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Defining Moment

What an incredible time it's been since I last wrote!  
Last Wednesday I traveled from my home in southern California to my son and daughter-in-law's home here in Nevada.  She was just about due to give birth to their son and was showing signs of going into labor.  I was so afraid I wouldn't make it in time to be there to support them and be there for the birth!  I had originally planned to go in a few days but now I was in a race against time.
For all my worries, it turned out to be a false alarm and I'm very proud to announce the birth of my grandson BentLee.  He was born at 3:19 Sunday afternoon, weighing 7 lb. and 10 oz.  He may quite possibly be the most beautiful baby ever born, but we all think that, don't we.  Gazing at his perfect little face I am reminded just how magnificent our Creator is; such careful design our Father puts into designing each one of us.  Though my grandson looks just like his father did 26 years ago, he will be his own unique self as each of us are.

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You 
when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with You. - Psalm 139:13-18

Like the Psalmist, I too marvel at the vastness of our God's thoughts.  I am amazed at His intricate planning of each and every one of us, giving us different gifts and putting within us the ability to have a relationship with Him.  I can't imagine the intelligence it would take to create the universe, every law of physics, every star in the sky, every plant, every animal, all working together in ecological harmony.  This is the God that listens to me in the dark of the night, walks with me in the sunshine, and makes His presence known to me through the peace I feel in my heart that is unlike anything I've ever felt before.  The reason I emphasize me in this context is because next to Him, I am so small.  Yet He loves me and calls me His daughter.

And this of course how much He loves you as well.  

So what does He want from us?  A teacher of the law tested Jesus by asking Him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"  Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."- Matthew 22:36-40  At this time the people had 613 commandments to keep!
I love this verse, too:  ...And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk  humbly with your God.- Micah: 6:8

So humbly I walk next to my Father, Creator of all, and hope that you do as well.  I know many of you who come here are already walking with him but I try to remain mindful of those who don't.  If you don't know Him, He does know you and wants to have a loving relationship with you.  On the side of the blog where it lists several pages, check out the one titled Salvation.

Our lives have special moments that define us.  The birth of each child and grandchild are certainly one of them.  But the most significant one is choosing to follow God, for then we are able to pass that knowledge on to our children and grandchildren.
This week we remember the greatest events of our faith.  Our Messiah was crucified for our salvation and rose again three days later...but that's of course another post.

Until then, wishing you all blessings.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weapons for God's Warriors

Lately I've noticed that a lot of things that are beyond my control have been going wrong.  I don't think I'll list them since my mom tends to read this and I'd rather not give her a heart attack.  I've been wondering why, since I know my heart is right with God and I've been growing quite a bit lately.  I tend to be a shy sort of person and lately I've been pushing out of my comfort zone, getting more involved in several different ministries.

Well...that's most likely my answer.  We have an enemy, and he doesn't like us reaching others for Christ.
He'd much rather I keep my faith to myself.
Too bad!
Our God is stronger, and He is faithful to His children. Through His power, not our own, we can get through any trial the enemy throws at us.  He has lots of sly strategies that he uses against us, but for each God has given us a weapon.  We've been warned:  Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.-1 Peter 5:8-9  So when it feels like we are having fiery darts hurled at us, we most likely are!  But we have weapons that our enemy cannot stand against.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
For 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.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.-Ephesians 6:10-13
 I wrote the following from Ephesians 6:10-20. Anything not italicized is my interpretation based verses 14-20.

Weapon:  The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The sword is what we fight with, cutting the enemy off.  When Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days and nights and the devil began to tempt him Jesus responded with scripture.  The devil cannot stand against the word of God.                  
We usually come under attack in several ways. Guilt: "God could never forgive me this time..." But we can fight this with God's Word:
Romans 3:23- 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.

Take that! The opposite of guilt is forgiveness.

What about fear? I have struggled with that.  And what is the opposite of fear?   Faith.  Here's a promise:  Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.- Duet. 31:6
So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"-Hebrews 13:6

Weapon:   The shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.-Romans 5:1        
When guilt, doubt, discouragement, fear, etc. are thrown at us we can throw up our shield of faith, knowing that our God loves us and though our circumstances may be overwhelming at times, we live in a temporary world with temporary trials.  Even in our trials we can have peace knowing that God is with us.  We aren't alone in this life.  He is always there.              

Weapon:    The helmet of salvation...Have you ever taken a bad blow to the head? It can knock you senseless.  But when you have a helmet on, it protects you from what could be a devastating injury.  The worst attack is to cause us to question our salvation, isn't it?  But keep your helmet on- we have this promise:
for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'- Romans 10:13  There are so many verses that assure us of our salvation! The most quoted must be John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Take that!  We can be sure of our salvation.

Weapon:   The belt of truth, buckled around your waist...  You know what part of our bodies is very vulnerable? Our ribs protect our heart and lungs, our skull protects our brain, but our belly has virtually no protection.  So in our battle, we protect one of our most vulnerable parts with truth.
This goes back to knowing the word of God, because that's where we find the truth of all things spiritual.

Take that!  When we know the truth we can't be deceived.
Weapon:   The breastplate of righteousness... The breastplate puts a protective layer of steel over the heart.  Christ's sacrifice cleanses our hearts and makes them righteous.  In order to keep this protective covering when we see we're going wrong we should take it to our Father and confess it right away, so that we can remain pure.

Weapon :  Feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  Sometimes it's better to have feet that are ready to run!  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.-Romans 9:25

Paul ends this chapter by saying, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray for me also, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."- Ephesians 6:19-20

So let's put on our armor, keep fighting the good fight, and keep drawing closer to the Father who loves us!.
As my Pastor said this morning, it is in the trials that we grow, and in the trials that we find Him.
Wishing you blessings in our Lord and Savior.

No other name by which we are saved but the Name of the Lord
Oh that the world will know Your Name... 
That the nations will call on the Name of the Lord
The Name of Yeshua (Jesus)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Christian Pastors Murdered in Tanzania- Please pray for Pastor Peter, our Missionary to Tanzania, who has been placed on Kill List

Yesterday we had a special visitor to my church.  His name is Peter and he's a missionary to Tanzania.  
He requested prayer for safety, as he has been placed on a kill list by extremist Muslims.  Two pastors have already been killed in that country; on Sunday, 2-27-13 gunmen shot and killed a Catholic priest as he arrived at church to say Mass and on 2-2-13, Assembly of God Pastor Mathayo Kachiti was beheaded while trying to settle an argument about the butchering of meat.  Traditionally and by government decree, Muslims in this country are given the right to be butchers, but Christians are only allowed to butcher animals for their private consumption.  A Christian was preparing meat for a funeral, and this sparked the riot that lead to Pastor Mathayo's death.  In December, a Catholic priest was shot in the back cheek and as he arrived at church.  He is still recovering from his wounds in the hospital.

Additionally, a text message was received by bishops and priests in Tanzania after the death of Father Mushi that stated, "We thank our young men, trained in Somalia, for killing an infidel.  Many more will die.  We will burn homes and churches.  We have not finished: at Easter, be prepared for disaster." It was signed "Muslim Renewal".  The text was reported on by the Vatican's Fides news agency.  Bishop Shao said, "We have given the warnings we have received to security" authorities in Zanzibar.  He said that he was skeptical but hopes that the perpetrators will be apprehended and justice done.

Pastor Peter asked for just one thing: daily prayer.   It takes incredible courage to continue to preach the Word of God when you are marked for death. I have committed to pray for him and the Christians living in Tanzania, and hope that you will also.  When our pastor asked him what message he'd like to leave us with he replied that we must continue to do what God calls us to do no matter the circumstances.  He said that some of his friends had counseled him to lay low for awhile, but he said he must continue to do as God has called him to.  This advice, coming from a man who is willing to publicly preach when he has been targeted to be killed, is truly inspiring.

The first video below gives greater detail about the situation in Tanzania, while the second describes persecution worldwide.  Several believers give their own testimonies about violence they have suffered.
Please view  the second video at your discretion.  It contains some graphic images of injuries and scars.
On Saturday afternoon I had begun to research Christian persecution for my next post, not knowing that we'd have a missionary speak on the same topic Sunday.  I think that confirms that this is something God wants to bring to our attention, so I'll do more posts on this.

Persecution against us has been going on since Jesus traveled and preached His radical message.
He warned us in Matthew 10:17-22, "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.  On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be your speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."  He goes on to say in verse 28: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."-John 16:33

Father, I pray for the Christians who are under persecution for loving and serving you.  Please strengthen them with Your power so that they may endure.  Send Your angels to surround them and protect them.  Let them feel Your loving arms around them that they may be comforted in their suffering.  I pray that any evil spirits that come against them will be powerless; bind them in the name of Jesus and send them away from Your children.  Let them feel the joy of Your Spirit even as they face their trials, and let them feel lifted up by the prayers we send up.  And Father, I pray for those who do the persecuting.  Soften their hearts and let them feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that they may come to believe in Your son and receive eternal life.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Wishing you many blessings :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

If only life had a delete button!

 Like I shared in my post "What would your sign say?" God has been putting it on my heart lately to share with you more of my personal story.  If you read my blog, you know I'm a Christian, but what was I like before?  Well...not too good.  If you can imagine it, it's happened to me, or I've done it.  I'm not sure I'm ready to share the details, but any way you fill in the blanks, you'd probably be right.  The video does a good job of explaining what I felt like.

Sometimes I wish that there were an "delete" button for parts of my life.  Do you ever feel like that?  There are so many things I wish I wouldn't have done, and sometimes guilt and shame gnaw at my soul.  I especially regret all the years I wasted by choosing to do things that I knew were wrong, totally out of communication with the God I had known.  But wandering off the path is subtle; it only takes a few missteps  sometimes to completely lose one's way.   I think of those times as wandering the desert, dying of thirst, while God would have quenched my thirst if only I had turned to Him.

It was about five years ago when I got down on my knees and surrendered once and for all.  I told God that my life would be His and I would do whatever He called on me to do.  I cried out to Him for forgiveness and I know that He did and does, but I found that it's harder to forgive myself.

God's Word has been a healing balm for my soul.  He says in Romans 8:1-2: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

The price has been paid; it has been nailed to the cross.  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.-Romans 5:1-2

If my great and holy God has mercy and forgiveness for me, then I must make amends where I can and accept the grace He freely offers.   Our enemy would love for us to keep seeing ourselves as the people we were before, because it takes away the joy of our salvation.  But we don't have to listen to him.  God says:

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son-ship.  And by him we cry, "Abba, Father.  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. - Romans 8:15-16

And Psalm 103:12:. far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Father, I thank You for Your love and forgiveness.  Only You can truly transform us in the new creations that we are when we turn our lives over to You.  I pray that You will touch each one reading this with Your love; that You would wrap Your arms around them and fill them with Your peace.
In Jesus name, Amen.

As always, I wish you blessings :)

Palestinians riot on Temple Mount | The Times of Israel

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Can you imagine what it would be like to win hundreds of millions in the lottery?  I'm sure any one of us would be overwhelmed at our good fortune.  What would you do first?  I don't know about you, but I'd tell everyone I know about this amazing, life changing event.  Then I'd use the money to help my family, friends, church, and charities.  It would be so exciting I wouldn't be able to hide my happiness.

Friends, we have been given a gift much more valuable than all the money on earth.  For those of us who believe, we have eternal life and will spend it with our glorious Father in heaven who loves us beyond measure.  And here on earth, in the midst of our most difficult trials, He comforts us and gives us a peace that passes understanding.  That's worth more than all the riches on earth!  But sometimes it's hard for people to share their faith.  We don't have to do anything in our own strength; rather, we let the Holy Spirit work through us, giving us the words He would have us say.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God - 2 Timothy 1:7-8

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, the for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."- Romans 1:16-17

When we surrender our lives to the Lord, we come alive spiritually and our lives are changed in amazing ways.  We are no longer alone.  He loves us beyond measure and is our strength and our comfort.
Thus says the LORD, who created you: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you."- Isaiah 43:1-2

Let's take as many as we can with us!  Let the Holy Spirit guide you, living a life that reflects God's love.
We live in a dark and weary world that desperately needs a Savior.

I'm so thankful that He has redeemed me, given me hope and a purpose.  His priceless gifts are beyond compare.  Having Him in my life is far better than winning the lottery!

Wishing you all blessings :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What would your sign say?

As I watched this video and saw the different people holding up signs that described how they felt: "I don't matter," "regrets," "betrayed," my heart just broke for them.  What would your sign say?
This world beats us up, and in turn some of us beat ourselves up as well.  When we are told negative things we tend to believe them and view ourselves differently.
This is a matter very close to my heart because of the way I grew up.  If you can imagine it, it happened to me.  One of the reasons I haven't blogged this month is because God keeps telling me to share what He's done for me, but my story is a hard one to tell.
If I were holding a sign (as a child) it would say "stupid." Or "worthless."  "Never good enough."
As a teenager and young adult it would say "addict."  And "unlovable." "Lower than dirt." And most of all, "guilty." Ah....and "lonely."
It's true, I did some awful things.  In fact, I felt that I didn't deserve to be loved.  I physically hurt myself and even tried to end my life, several times.

BUT-  Then I met my Savior.

And like in the video, He calls me His beloved.  All the ugliness is gone; through the grace of Christ I am made clean.
-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 3:23-24
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!-2 Corinthians 5:17
It is a wonderful thing to be made new.  Through His love, I have found a way to heal, though it is an ongoing process.  Just think; all those awful things that no one knows....all the secrets...He knows and loves us anyway.  So who am I to question Him and not learn to love myself?  Our God and Father loves us immeasurably!  But we have an enemy who wants to steal us away through shame and doubt.  The best weapon is the Word and prayer.   Throughout the Bible we are reassured, and here are a just a few examples:

Jesus said in Matthew 10:30- And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18 (Paul is quoting from 2 Samuel.)
To all those who believe, God Himself is our Father! And He is a good, loving Father, for He is perfect and holy.  He created us, and He hears our cries.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.- Psalm 139:13-16

I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.- Psalm 34:4-5

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; 
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord:
"O Lord save me!"
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted; 
when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
Psalm 116:1-9

So today, what sign would I hold up?  Several!
Daughter of God
I hope that these will be your signs as well.
Wishing you all blessings in Christ!