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December 5, 2017, 10:45 AM

December 6, 2017

“I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  John 10:11

                Jesus spent a great deal of His time making sure His listeners understood what He meant when He said, “I am the Good Shepherd”.  The people understood the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep.  We all know that sheep are defenseless, wandering animals that must have someone to watch over them.  Throughout the old testament, the prophets routinely delivered God’s message that the shepherds (the leaders) were not looking after the sheep (people).  The leaders were allowing the people to go astray and thereby putting them in grave danger of moving away from God.  To a shepherd, looking after the sheep was not a job but a way of life.

                For sheep, dangers can come from some of the most innocent looking places.  It’s easy for them to wander away from the rest of the sheep because they quickly become curious about distractions around them.  Why would a shepherd even care about or seek a stubborn sheep?  Why would the shepherd not just give up and let the wandering sheep go its own way?  Its really nothing more than a deep, heartfelt love for the sheep.

                It is hard for sheep to find rest.  It’s the little things (distractions) that constantly interrupt a sheep’s rest.  Some of the greatest enemies of sheep are actually quite small.  You see, it’s the flies, ticks, and mosquitoes that swarm around the sheep that distracts them and causes them to become restless and agitated.  Shepherds of old would use small amounts of oil spread around the eyes, ears, and head of the sheep to help keep the annoying insects away.  The sheep, knowing the care of the shepherd, would come and literally place their heads in the shepherd’s hands!

                Jesus knew that because we are so much like sheep we need the Good Shepherd.  How easy do the subtle things (distractions) in life threaten our peace and joy?  Sometimes we tend to run from the Shepherd rather than laying our heads in His hands.  Jesus came that we could have a full and joyous life.  He was born amongst the shepherds because He was one of them.  Is He the shepherd of your life?  Have you surrendered to Him or are you, like sheep, wandering away from Him?  May this Christmas season be more exciting than ever because you know the Good Shepherd and are staying close to Him!

 

Some thoughts this week were taken from Why a Shepherd by Bodie and Brock Thoene.




November 28, 2017, 12:37 PM

november 29, 2017

“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” 2 Timothy 2:4
 
     There are times we must take a serious look at our lives to determine how well we are following God's plan.  We live in times of constant distraction, oftentimes put in place by our adversary.  As Christians in America, we are constantly bombarded by situations determined to entangle us.  Could our “Christmas Season” actually be a diversion tactic brought about by the enemy to cause us to lose focus on the urgency of the times?  Could our endless appetite of everything “end times” be a way the enemy uses to divert our attention away from spreading the Gospel?  If anything, concentrating on “end times” should make us more aware of our calling.
     God has all kinds of ways to bring us into a reality check.  As I receive emails and letters from missionary friends, it burdens me to realize how distracted we've all become.  In reading a newsletter of prayer requests from a friend in India, his requests were much different than ours.  His prayer requests were for things like: the publication and distribution of a daily devotional book written in the Hindi language, a boldness for Christians and churches in India facing various persecutions, for home-churches and prayer-cell groups to be effective and instrumental in bringing many people to Christ while praising God for six Christians who have been released from jail after being charged with trying to convert tribal people.
     Then, what if we compare that with the things we celebrate during this season.  We find ourselves concerned with shopping, gifts, parties, and of course special “Christmas” programs to make sure we cover all the bases.  What has happened to us?  It seems much the same thing that happened to Israel.  We find ourselves worshiping the blessings rather than the One who provides them.  Is it any wonder we see families, morality and values crumbling all around us?  We must wake up!  The spiritual battle is raging more than ever and the enemy's plan is to keep us entangled by the “civilian” affairs so that we are unable to please God.  May we all be awakened to the urgency to keep our eyes, minds, hearts and actions focused on Jesus throughout this season and always!
 
                                                                                                                                                                 We love you,
                                                                                                                                                                 Brad and Virginia



November 21, 2017, 10:58 AM

November 23, 2016

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”  Ephesians 1:18-19

What’s missing?  We so often find ourselves on the “fast track” only to realize we are steadily slipping away from the things that really matter.  We fill our lives with the “must haves” of this world only to find they are not really fulfilling.  We still feel something is missing.  We may be in worship and Bible study every week but still experience an empty space in our life.  However, feeling as though something is missing is actually a good start toward opening our eyes to the truth.  As we seek to grasp what is really missing, we must ask ourselves an important question.  Am I truly experiencing fellowship with God?

          Our life has a way of quickly getting out of control and then we find ourselves on a path away from fellowship with our Father.  The enemy has a plan for our destruction and knows that steering us away from God is the quickest way to bring us down.  A sad fact in our society is that Christians are some of the most miserable and downtrodden people on the planet.  It is generally (not always) because we have ventured out on our own rather than steadily and obediently following God.  As a result, we can even lose the real meaning of our “worship” on Sundays.  How do we prepare for worship each week?  Do we come each Sunday with our hearts focused on God, yearning to praise and adore Him while seeking to be His obedient followers?

          We are entering what many call the “Christmas Season”.  However, as Christians we know that the “Christmas Season” is every day all year long.  Could I give you some heartfelt advice for this time of year?  Please do not try to fill what’s missing in your life with this world’s “must haves”.  You will only find yourself more miserable and probably in debt.  If there is something missing, it may very well be that God does not have the proper place in your life.  Something else may be missing too.  We may fail to show our gratitude for the things we already have.  God has richly blessed us all!  May we seek those things that truly bring happiness, fulfillment, and joy to our lives rather than the empty promises of a world in chaos.

                                                                                                                                                          We love you,

                                                                                                                                                          Brad and Virginia




November 14, 2017, 10:54 AM

November 14, 2017

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”  2 Corinthians 4:15            

How often do we miss Thanksgiving?  Sure, we get a day off, eat turkey, and watch ballgames but are we truly thankful?  Our culture has become obsessed with Halloween and then the focus becomes Christmas.  Of course, the celebration of Christmas has become so secularized that we miss the real meaning of the season (yes, Christians too).  However, that is a topic for another time.  Why celebrate Thanksgiving?  It’s just the real start date for Christmas shopping … right?  Although this year the advertising is already all about “black Friday” prices before “black Friday”.  That is sad.  We will never understand or celebrate Thanksgiving until we experience thanks-living and that comes from a life of contentment.

            Over the past few weeks I have been reading some very interesting articles about Thanksgiving.  This week I would like to share a few thoughts and quotes from some of the articles.

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when joy in the blessings given from above overflows into the blessings given all around.”

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when the thanks for His vertical, coming-down grace is expressed as a horizontal, reaching-out grace.”

            “Thanksgiving only becomes thanks-living when thanksgiving to God overflows into a joy of giving.”

            “The joy of giving thanks is ultimately expressed in the joy of giving.”

            “Grateful people search for the good while everyone else finds the bad.”

            “In the midst of the negative experiences of life, grateful people actively seek the positive, identify it, and recount it for others to hear.”

            “Life would be radically different if we lived in a constant state of gratitude.”

 

            As we approach Thanksgiving, let us not get carried away by the rush to Christmas.  Enjoy what Thanksgiving is all about.  Yes, we have entered the “season of giving” but shouldn’t that be the case throughout the year?  May we truly experience the joy of giving not because we are obligated to someone or feel the need to return a favor but because we desire to give to those who are neglected, lonely or hurting.  We probably all have more than we could possibly use so let’s share with others and experience a season of thanks-living!

 

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




November 7, 2017, 2:33 PM

November 8, 2017

“Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7
 
     Sunday morning we learned that our enemy does not like us, desires to draw us away from God and see that we live miserable lives.  Satan continually works his plan today just as he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The key element to his strategy is to get us away from worshiping God.  He does this by making sure there is a plethora of distractions to fill our life.  His distractions usually involve worry, money, and pleasures in some form.  What happens next?
 
     As Satan's plan progresses, thoughts begin to drift away from obedience to God toward fulfilling our own desires.  Do you remember how Sarah developed her own plan for Abraham to have children because she was convinced that she was too old?  Satan still works the very same way.  He provides just the right set of circumstances so that the temptation is huge.  The choice is all ours to make, but with all the other factors in place and the looming temptation, a correct decision becomes extremely difficult.
 
     We've all faced it!  You may be facing similar circumstances today and on the verge of a wrong, potentially devastating decision.  This is not where God would have you to be.  Recognize the warning signals of drifting away from God's plan.  Look carefully at the passage above.  Submit to God as you recognize that you cannot battle Satan all alone.  Call on God, worship Him, surround yourself with Christian friends and participate in corporate worship to help hold you accountable.  Resist the enemy's strategy realizing that he only desires to destroy your life.  Run to the Father because He is always eager to keep you safe.
 
                                                                                                                 We love you,
                                                                                                                 Brad and Virginia

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