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June 5, 2018, 10:46 AM

June 6, 2018


“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

 

Remember those verses from last week’s newsletter? Jesus shared those words after a discussion with Israel’s religious leaders. The leaders made things so difficult for the people because they had added rule after rule to the original commandments. The people (like us) could not keep the original commandments and certainly could not keep all the additional ones. However, following more rules became the leaders’ basis for a closer walk with God. Jesus reminded them and reminds us today that our relationship with the Father is through Him not through all kinds of rules and regulations. Jesus desires to make our lives easier not harder. Remember one of the lessons from Sunday’s sermon? The lesson about a dog who places his head in his master’s lap just to be close to him. Jesus desires the same for us every day!

It is so easy to get caught in the grind of daily life. When is the last time you really made the most of a day? Think back to your childhood days. What things do you remember about your childhood? We probably all have some very fond memories of childhood summers. Thinking about the long days of summer, my mind began to wander back to some of those carefree days. More than likely, most of us took for granted those early years. We weren’t concerned about taxes, utilities, mortgages or the economy. We got up on summer mornings ready to run, jump, swim, and laugh. We made every effort to squeeze all the fun we could from every day.

What happened? For some strange reason, we spend our childhood wanting to be adults and our adult lives longing for the carefree days of childhood. We still have the desire, as we did during our childhood, to make the most of each day. Yet, those “grown-up” things seem to always get in the way. We have schedules, appointments, and deadlines to meet and we never seem to have enough time to really enjoy life. We allow those “grown up” things to keep us from taking the time to place our head in the Master’s lap. We try to put all the pieces together on our own to find out later that God never intended that for us. If we take the time to look around us carefully, there are things every day that stand out as vivid reminders of God’s presence and care for us.

We often find ourselves far too busy to take note of God’s willingness to share with us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we rested in God and allowed Him to handle those things that so frequently bog us down? That’s what Jesus says for us to do in the passage for this week. We cannot go back and live our childhood over again, but we can remember that we are God’s children and He desires to take care of us. Do you put your trust in Him every day? Are you trying to handle every issue, detail and problem on your own? As His child, God desires to meet every need in our lives. Are we allowing Him to accomplish that?

As you move through another busy week, remember that God loves you and that He is willing to handle every area of life so that we have more opportunities to focus on Him. May God’s blessings be yours in abundance this week!

                                                                                 We love you,

                                                                                 Brad and Virginia




May 22, 2018, 12:38 PM

May 23, 2018


“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

We sometimes have a hard time remembering. The older we get the more we remember things in the far past rather than the things that happened yesterday. What things do you remember the most? Usually, it is the things that have had a major impact in our lives. Sometimes, as strange as it seems, we remember the most insignificant things. We may remember an insignificant event from elementary school or a simple event from a typical day. We wonder why and how we still remember those things. The Bible is filled with events that God wanted His people to remember. However, they often forgot the most important information He had revealed to them. Our lives become much the same.

Read the passage above again very carefully. Jesus uses the term remember to point out that there are things that affect our fellowship with Him, our prayer life, our relationship with others and our own joy. In this passage, Jesus is pointing us to the necessity of reconciliation. People today are living miserable lives because they will not be reconciled to another. God desires to free us from the bondage of unforgiveness. God, in His great mercy and grace, has forgiven us so that we can be reconciled into a relationship with Him. Not only has He forgiven us, but He continually strives to bring us into the likeness of Jesus.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be reconciled to others in a similar fashion? As members of the family of God we can do just that! Unforgiveness can wreak havoc in our lives. Obviously, in this passage, Jesus was referring to the negative impact it can have on our worship. Who does Jesus point out needs to be the initiator of the forgiveness? Me! Forgiveness begins with my effort for reconciliation. We should be the ones to make every effort toward forgiveness. Will that person forgive me? Maybe not. Yet, as we seek reconciliation, we have done what God requires of us.

The chorus in our mind begins to shout, “but it wasn’t my fault”. Looking back at the passage, Jesus did not mention anything about fault. He said we should be reconciled … period. Reconciliation is a huge part of the maturing Christian’s life and is the only way to accomplish the purpose for which we have been called. If you know that a brother or sister has something against you, go to that person and be reconciled to them. You will be amazed at what God will do and the freedom that follows. God gives us the ability to remember an astonishing number of things. Some of what He allows us to remember are the things that negatively affect our fellowship with Him. When He allows us to remember them, let us be quick to bring about the correction He desires. May you have a blessed week as you faithfully serve God through loving others!

                                                                                                                                              We love you,

                                                                                                                                              Brad and Virginia




May 8, 2018, 4:51 PM

May 9, 2018


“I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1: 27-28

Mothers have an extraordinary responsibility. A huge part of that responsibility is training their children to follow Christ. Training them has a much deeper meaning than teaching them. Hannah is a great example of the way God desires for all of us to be willing to “die to self”. As you remember, Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah. She was barren while Elkanah’s other wife was able to have children. As Hannah prayed that God would give her a child, she promised to dedicate her child to the Lord’s service. God answered her prayer and she gave birth to a son, Samuel. Hannah fulfilled her promise and dedicated Samuel to the Lord’s work under Eli the priest.

God calls each of us to be willing to forsake all to follow Him. In Hannah’s case, it meant dedicating Samuel and leaving him at the temple to study, learn and serve God. In Matthew 10:37 we read; “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me”. Jesus makes it very clear that we must put Him before everyone else in our lives including family members. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we are reminded and thankful for the way God uses mothers to help shape our lives. It gives us the opportunity to understand our responsibility to our mothers and the responsibility of mothers to their children.

Children are a gift from God and they are to be dedicated to His service. Does this mean that you will not see them often as was the case for Hannah? Not necessarily but it could. There are many moms today that do not get to see their children very often for a variety of reasons. Some are serving as missionaries and are not able to get home. Others may be serving in the military and are not able to make it home. Others have obligations that take them far away from their immediate family. Regardless of how often you see your children, it is comforting to know that they have been trained and dedicated to following God’s ways. When that is the case, it doesn’t matter where they are because you know that God loves them (even more than you do) and He desires to use them to further His Kingdom. Moms, thanks so much for all that you do for your family. May you have a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day!

                                                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia




May 2, 2018, 10:05 AM

May 2, 2018


“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 Peter 3:1

Can you believe it is May already? Sometimes we just need some reminders in our life because the days seem to quickly slip away. We get so busy doing our everyday chores that sometimes we forget those things that are most valuable to us. Our focus becomes more about us and less about God. So, this week I would like to take this opportunity to encourage us to intentionally think about the significance of our lives in Christ. Why are we here? Do we spend enough time with people to have an impression on them? Do we see the beauty of God’s creation and spend time admiring what He has done? Do we spend time with our Father to know Him more, to see the big picture of the Kingdom and to keep our focus on Him? This week is a good time to be reminded of several areas of our lives.

We must begin by being reminded of God’s love for us. He loves us so much more than anyone else. He loves us despite the many blemishes and spots that cover us. In fact, He loves us more than any family member or friend ever could. The greatest example of His love was shown at the cross. God, in His great love and mercy toward us, was willing for Jesus to die so that we could live.

We need to be reminded that God, our Father, wants us to know Him. Think about that statement. His desire is not that we know many things about Him but that we come to know Him more personally each day. How can we do that? By spending more time with Him and stop allowing interruptions to dampen our quiet time.

We also need to be reminded of the importance of spending time with those who mean so much to us. You know, we are all guilty of neglecting quality time with those we love. Every day is different and we must make the most of every opportunity given to us today. must keep in mind that things can change very rapidly in our lives. must make time for those closest to us and for those who need encouraging words. must never take for granted that we can do something tomorrow.

A fourth reminder this week is to allow God to speak to you through His glorious creation. The flowers, birds and other animals are just a small part of the way God reveals Himself to us. We are so blessed if we are able to get out in nature to see and hear the beautiful sights and sounds. We all need to slow down a bit, make the most of every opportunity to share Jesus and be refueled as we allow God to speak to us each day. May God’s blessings be yours in abundance this week as we are reminded of the things that lead to wholesome thoughts.

                                                                                                                               We love you,

                                                                                                                                                          Brad and Virginia




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


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