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January 2, 2018, 3:20 PM

January 03, 2018


“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

     It is the beginning of a new year.  Most people tend to look back at the past year and remember the difficult times rather than thanking God for the blessings.  When we look at the past year do we see areas that need improvement?  The beginning of the year is a great time to ask ourselves some tough questions.  Consider the difficult times from the previous year.  Were there some bad decisions that led to the difficult times?  If so, how can those issues be corrected?  A very well-known quote says this: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”.  There are those who seem to repeat the same bad decisions over and over and continually suffer difficult circumstances.

     In our culture, we are usually taught that failure is always a bad thing.  However, failure can actually be a good friend to us.  It is through failure that we learn very important life lessons.  We are oftentimes able to learn much more from our failures than from our successes.  The new year is a great time to seek and examine God’s purpose for our life.  Ralph Waldo Emerson asked the question: “What is my job on the planet?  What is it that needs doing, that I know something about, that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?”  As a Christian, we must ask a similar question.  What is God’s job for me on this planet? 

     One of the most wasteful experiences would be to live without understanding our need for Jesus and without real purpose and direction in life.  Proverbs 29:18 says, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.  Too many today, especially Christians, are running for the sake of running with no clear, concise purpose or goal.  For most of us, the beginning of the year is a good time to slow down, spend more time with God and His Word, and seek to understand the purpose for which He has called us.  Living recklessly will move us away from God, away from the purpose He has for us, and into difficult times and places we do not need to experience.  There is a great reason for your place on this planet!  However, the only way to realize it and understand it is through a growing relationship with our Heavenly Father.  May this be the year that you understand God’s concise purpose for your life and continue the journey of obedience in fulfilling His plan.  Happy New Year!

                                                                                                                                                      We love you,

                                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia




December 19, 2017, 1:32 PM

December 20, 2017


“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
 
     The passage above is one of the seven “I AM” statements by Jesus recorded in the Gospel according to John.  We live in a dark world filled with evil, violence, and chaos.  We need peace in our world now more than ever.  The sad truth is that the world will choose the false peace of the Antichrist rather than the true peace of Jesus.  The solution to our struggles today can be seen plainly in God's Word, yet the enemy has blinded the eyes of so many people.  Look at the words of Jesus recorded in John 3:19. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil.” The true light of Jesus shines ever brighter daily but very few seem to recognize or accept it.  Isn't that what Jesus said?
     It was much the same as Jesus walked among mankind.  The Savior came to live in this world yet most never recognized Him.  People are still desperately searching to find meaning in this life.  In their search, however, there seems to be little or no room for Jesus.  Sound familiar?  The words of the Christmas story ring vividly clear: “because there was no room in the inn”.  Was this God's way of revealing the truth about His Son?  People would find no room for Him in their lives.  Yet, those who recognize Him (which is only made possible by the Holy Spirit), truly find the abundant life.
     The abundant life brings with it much responsibility.  Jesus said, “while I am in the world, I am the light of the world”.  What did He mean by that?  We get an insight into what He was saying in Matthew 5:14. “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”  The light in the world has now shifted to us (the Church).  Are we shining God's light in a dark world?  Are we living in such a way that others see the light of Jesus in us?  As we celebrate Christmas, may we recognize the true light has come, recognize Him as the One sent by God to redeem us and make room for Him above all else in our lives.  His name is Jesus!
                                                                                                                                                  We love you,
                                                                                                                                                  Brad and Virginia



December 12, 2017, 11:08 AM

December 13, 2017


“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’.”  Matthew 2: 20-21

How many times do we read in the Bible about those who found themselves in a dilemma between what God said and what makes sense?  How often have we ourselves been in a similar scenario?  Oftentimes, our prayer life is focused only on the things we can understand rather than God’s ultimate plan for our lives.  What happens when it just doesn’t make sense?  We tend to become easily frustrated when we cannot figure out the details.  One person that must have had a difficult time was Joseph in what we call the “Christmas Story”.

Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married.  This period of time was similar to engagement today but there were more stipulations and much greater consequences.  The Bible says, “before they came together, Mary was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit”.  Imagine all the scenarios that must have played over and over in Joseph’s mind.  The penalty for Mary in such a situation was very stiff, even stoning to death.  We know that Joseph had great love for Mary because he decided to put her away quietly.  Look carefully at the passage above.  God had a plan that was nowhere to be found on Joseph’s radar.  The angel’s proclamation was probably a very uncomfortable feeling for Joseph.

Consider the people who knew them: What would they say?  God doesn’t mind putting us in uneasy circumstances.  He doesn’t mind putting us in circumstances that test our faith.  The question is: what do we do when we cannot see past our understanding?  Do we become frustrated and miss the blessing or do we, like Joseph, accept what God says and see His miraculous ways?  As Max Lucado says, “God is still looking for Josephs today.  Men and women who believe that God is not finished with this world.  Common people who serve an uncommon God”.  We pray you are having a great week as you follow Joseph’s lead by serving God even when His direction doesn’t really seem to make sense.

                                                                                                                                                           We love you,

                                                                                                                                                           Brad and Virginia




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

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