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April 24, 2018, 10:17 AM

April 25, 2018


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

 

     Who are you?  Sounds like a strange way to begin an article, doesn’t it?  Actually, that was the name of a song recorded by The Who back in 1977 and came out on an album by the same title in 1978.  That was during my high school days which were seemingly so carefree.  However, the question today is much different than a song title back then.  What does our life mean in the context of the big picture?  We are so caught up in the world’s way that we easily conform to its patterns.  If we are not careful, the world becomes a trap that fully manipulates and determines our life.  The apostle Paul even saw this in his day and said, “do not be conformed to the pattern of this world”.  We struggle with our identity because we listen so closely to many around us who find themselves in similar situations.

     How many are living a life of unhappiness and even misery because they are trying to be someone else?  How many get up everyday ill and angry because they must go to a job they literally hate?  At some point in their lives, someone told them they needed to do a certain type of work because they would be good at it, or worse, that they would make a lot of money doing it.  Sound familiar?  Most people settle for an average life rather than the victorious life that Jesus offers.  Our natural tendency is to move in certain directions because we have been programmed by our teaching and learning experiences.  It is sad that so many young people are steered away from things they really enjoy because they are told they will not make much money or have the “fun stuff” as though that is what determines true success and fulfillment.

     Look carefully again at the passage above.  Paul says to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.  For the believer, any identity outside of who we are in Christ is false and eventually leads to unhappiness.  God wired us in a unique way.  We are different from anyone who has ever lived or will ever live in the future.  God has a purpose and plan for each life He creates.  Some choose to follow Him and have a better understanding of their general purpose.  Others choose to follow Him and grow closer to Him each day thereby gaining a much clearer view of purpose and identity.  Who are you?  Do you know your true identity because of who you are in Christ?  Are you still trying to conform to the pattern of this world?  Jesus came to set us free from the trap of this world.  Yet, the only way to experience that freedom is by living the exchanged life which means to be totally and completely transformed in Christ.  Our prayer is that you are living the exchanged life which brings joy even in the midst of a world filled with chaos!

 

                                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




April 17, 2018, 2:09 PM

April 18, 2018


“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7

 

We are frequently reminded that God is in control of events around us.  One event in particular is the weather.  The cold weather a few mornings this week vividly reminds us that the weather is certainly beyond our control.  To some people, the weather this week has not been a concern at all.  In fact, many people enjoy the cold weather and wish it would stay longer.  However, for gardeners and flower lovers, weather like this becomes a real challenge.  Many were probably busy this week trying to cover plants to keep them from possible frost damage.  Maybe you were one of them.

 

Situations like this simply remind us that life is filled with unexpected events.  We do not really know from one day to the next the events that may drastically change the course of our lives.  However, though it may surprise us, God is never taken by surprise!  We may not be prepared when events come but we trust in the One who can handle every circumstance.  God uses events in our lives for several reasons and He is constantly molding us into the vessel He desires.  He directs our paths by whatever means to accomplish the plans He has for us and for those around us.   It is so wonderful to serve the One who loves us so much!

 

You know, we can spend a lot of time tending our garden plants.  We water them, feed them, and do our best to protect them from unexpected weather.  However, do we spend the time necessary to help people through unexpected events in their lives?  God allows certain events in our lives so that we can be a blessing to others.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”.  As we serve the Lord this week, let us be aware of those affected by unexpected events and strive to comfort, nurture, and help them as we have the opportunity. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                           We love you,

                                                                                                                                                                           Brad and Virginia




April 10, 2018, 1:33 PM

April 11, 2018


“How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide Your face from me?” Psalm 13:1

We often struggle to understand God’s divine purpose in our life.  It is hard for us to realize and accept that God uses difficult times in our life to bring praise, glory, and honor to Him.  In the Psalm quoted above, obviously David was struggling.  He was tempted to believe God had forgotten him and that God was failing to hear his prayer.  We sometimes have that same feeling when faced with pressing circumstances.

We must always remember that God loves us and is always with us.  Jesus reminded His disciples of that very clearly several times.  Events around us are often out of our control.  Yet, God is always fully aware of our situation, He has the perfect solution, and He will accomplish His purpose at the perfect time.  David, like us, felt times of being at a distance from God.  However, this same David who wrote Psalm 13 also wrote Psalm 30.  Read carefully some of the verses from Psalm 30:

           “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.”

“For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a life time; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

The enemy would love for us to believe that God has abandoned us and no longer cares about our circumstances.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  We are His children and He cares deeply for us.  We live in a broken world and face the consequences of being here.  However, it will not always be this way.  Paul explained our difficulty in understanding when he said in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “for now we see through a glass darkly”.  We do not fully understand right now but one day we will be made aware of how all the pieces fit together.  We will see that all things were working for our good and to glorify our Father.  When it is all said and done, we can say along with David, “I will sing the Lord’s praises, for He has been good to me”.  To Him be glory, praise, and honor forever! 

                                                                                                                                We Love You,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




April 3, 2018, 12:49 PM

April 4, 2018


“Our days may come to seventy years or eighty, if our strength endures; for they quickly pass, and we fly away.  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90: 10,12

     We have heard it said over and over that we all have the same number of hours in each day.  So often the best part of our day is spent wrestling with the struggles and troubles that come our way.  We get frustrated and ill then take that frustration out on the ones we love the most.  What are the really important things in your life?  How much of your life is filled taking care of those things?  We often neglect the important things for the temporary things of this world.  I read a great devotion from Dr. Robert Jeffress the other day that I would like to share this week.  We’ve heard the story many times, but do we apply the meaning?

Stephen Covey tells about a time-management seminar in which the instructor had a gallon jar and a platter of large rocks.  He put the rocks in one by one until he had filled up the jar.  He said, `Do you think the jar is full’?  Then he picked up a bucket of gravel.  He poured the gravel into the jar, and it filled up all the places left by the rocks.  He said, `Is the jar full’?  Then he picked up a bucket of sand and poured it into the jar.  The sand filled in the spots left by the rocks and the gravel.  He said, `Is the jar full’?  He pulled out a quart of water.  He poured the water into the jar, and it filled up the empty spaces. Then the instructor said, `The lesson I am teaching you is this:  had I not put the big rocks in first, I never would have been able to fit them in later’.

     The question for us is this:  Do we recognize the big rocks in our life and are we making time for them?  Most people get to the end of their life and realize that they never made time for the big rocks.  We allow our schedule to be filled with the gravel, sand and water of life yet are never able to fit the big rocks in place.  What are the big rocks in your life?  Dr. Jeffress asks the following question: “If you could accomplish three things before you die, what would those things be?  Your answer to that question will give you a very good idea of what the big rocks are in your life”.  The passage above tells us to number our days.  It seems to tell us that making the most of each day is accomplished by prioritizing our schedule to make room for the big rocks.  Then, our heart will be filled with wisdom knowing we have taken care of our big rocks.  May God’s blessings be yours in abundance as you tend to the big rocks this week.

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

 




March 27, 2018, 2:04 PM

March 28, 2018


“In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; He is risen!”  Luke 24:5

     We call the day Good Friday.  Good Friday is the worst good day in all of history.  When we think of that day our minds naturally focus on the cross.  As Christians, there are numerous observations we make as we look to the cross.  We see the cross as a choice that Jesus made.  There were many times Jesus slipped away from the crowd and He could have done the same at this point.  However, the plan of God was for Jesus to die upon the cross.  He made the choice to follow His Father and give His life as an atoning sacrifice for ours.  Jesus’ death on the cross was an intentional choice as our only means of salvation.

     We also see the price that Jesus paid.  Jesus was totally and completely sinless.  He was the only One who could satisfy the demands of a holy and righteous God.  The physical pain and torture that Jesus faced is almost too much for us to fathom.  The beatings, the crown of thorns, the humiliation of being spat upon and His beard pulled out, carrying His cross (really ours) when He could hardly walk, the nails in His hands and feet and the spear in His side.  Scripture says He could have called thousands of angels, but He didn’t.  He paid the price that we owe due to our sinful lives.  Even more than the physical pain, think of the emotional pain of rejection by His own people.

     Then, we must notice the love He displayed.  Consider the burden Jesus felt as the sins of the world; past, present, and future were cast upon Him.  The One who had never known sin became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God.  In Romans 5:8, the Scriptures plainly share with us the ultimate plan of God.  The Bible says, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.   Consider for a moment everything Jesus did for us so that we could be saved from God’s impending wrath upon this world.  How does it make you feel when you hear people say, “there are many ways to God”?  The fact is, Jesus is the only way for salvation!

     After all of this, we are privileged to celebrate the greatest day in all of history.  We call it Resurrection Day or Easter!  Jesus truly is who He says He is.  He is victorious over sin, death, the grave and satan.  We serve a risen Savior who loves us and desires a relationship with each one of us.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Our prayer is that you know Him, that you have surrendered your life to Him, and that you serve Him faithfully every day.  If you do not know Him, reach out to Him today because His arms are open wide to receive you regardless of your condition.  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!                                                                        

                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia


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