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January 10, 2017, 9:13 AM

January 11, 2017

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”  Ecclesiastes 2: 24-25

     The Bible is very clear about instructions for every area of our lives.  One of the major themes we see in God’s Word is satisfaction with His provisions.  It is very easy, in our culture, for the term satisfaction to become twisted.  The meaning found in Scripture moves us toward a sense of thankfulness and appreciation to God for His daily provisions.  In our society, the word satisfied is used to further the attitude that one cannot or should not do any better.  These are two fundamentally different understandings of the same word.

     Are you satisfied?  Do you enjoy your work, your home, your children and your lifestyle?  Have you ever noticed how television commercials focus on areas where people struggle with satisfaction?  If there is any feeling of discontentment, the commercials seem to steadily reinforce that feeling.  That is the tool companies use to make people try products they think will make them have more, look better, feel better and live better.  The truth is: it probably will not!  The apostle Paul used the words content and contentment to help us grasp a real understanding of satisfaction (Philippians 4:11).  It sounds as though Paul understood contentment and satisfaction to be an attitude based on our relationship with God.

     We can be sure that contentment and satisfaction will not be found by comparing ourselves to others.  In Philippians 4:12, we find that Paul had “learned the secret of being content”.  What was Paul’s secret?  The secret Paul learned consisted of one basic principle that we should know.  Paul learned to consistently and faithfully trust Christ to give him strength in every circumstance.  One of the biggest problems, even among Christians, is trying to compare our life, physically and spiritually, with everybody else.  That is a sure way to discouragement and dissatisfaction in your life.  You’ll never be like someone else, and God did not create you to be that way.

     People are looking for the real deal today.  They are not interested in phony, make believe people, especially among Christians.  They are looking around at those who are really satisfied even in the difficult times.  Solomon’s words are so true: “without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”  We must understand that our contentment is in direct proportion to our relationship with God.  May you have a blessed week filled with joy, contentment and satisfaction as you trust God in everything!

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

January 3, 2017, 12:37 PM

January 4, 2017

“When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?  When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong?  Try offering them to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you, says the Lord?”  Malachi 1:8

    This week, we begin our study in the book of Malachi.  The title of the study is: Complacency Exposed, A Study of the Book of Malachi.  As the title describes, we will be talking about complacency in our walk with God.  What is complacency?  One definition that comes to mind is, satisfaction without any need for improvement.  The dictionary defines it as: Self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual danger for deficiencies.  Israel, on numerous occasions, became very complacent in their relationship and worship.  Can the same be said of us today?

    Complacency usually happens over a period of time.  It sometimes even happens in ways that are very subtle and without us realizing the extent of the problem.  The Israelites, sadly led by the priests, had come to a very low point by failing to honor God, offering polluted bread on the altar and bringing lame and sick animals for sacrifice.  We can also become complacent in our worship, our prayer life and our witness.  We’ve heard the question many times before: Do we give God the best of our time, offerings and worship or does He get only the leftovers?  Far too often, God gets the smallest portion of our “busy” day.

    God has called us to a consistent and faithful relationship.  What are we giving Him?  Paul reminds us in Romans 12 that “you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service”.  As we have entered a new year, let us take inventory of our own lives.  Have we become complacent in our fellowship and service to God?  Are we truthfully giving God our absolute best in time, worship and witness?  If we gave our employers the same time and resources as we give God, would they be pleased?  In this new year, may we strive to serve God faithfully, excitedly and without hesitation as we take seriously our role as living sacrifices.  We pray that each of you experience a very blessed and prosperous 2017!

                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

December 20, 2016, 2:47 PM

December 21, 2016

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen, which were just as they had been told.”   Luke 2:20
    Do you ever wonder how the shepherds must have felt as the angel appeared to them?  The Bible says that “the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified”.  They received, in specific detail, the message of the Messiah.  What happened after they received the message?  They desired to go to Bethlehem to see the Baby which was heralded by the heavenly host.  After they saw Jesus, they began to spread the word about this child.  It sounds like the shepherds felt emotions ranging from being terrified to excited.  The term excited just doesn't exactly fit.  They became so overwhelmed and overjoyed that they began to spread the message. 
    There also came a time when the shepherds returned to their duties.  However, they were never the same again!  There comes a time when we must return too.  We get excited about the Christmas season, as we should, because it is the celebration of our Savior's birth.  During this time, we share meals together, exchange gifts and many are fortunate to have several days off from work.  Then, we return as the time comes to go back to work, take down the decorations and get back to the challenges of life.  What then?  The shepherds were excited when they returned.  Are we as excited about Jesus in January as we are in December?  Remember, the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God.  After all the celebration of Christmas, do we return the same way?  For Christians, it really should be Christmas every day.  The Gift should always be on our mind, the joy should always be in our hearts, and the testimony should always be on our lips! 
    It's time for us, as the Church of the living God, to become overwhelmed by God's Gift and tell the world the message of the Messiah.  Are others amazed because we are consistently glorifying and praising God as the shepherds did?  Our prayer is that we will all be joyously overwhelmed by what God is going to accomplish in and through our church this new year.  May each of you have a very blessed and joyous Christmas as we celebrate our wonderful hope given to us even before the foundation of the world.  Then, as we return, may we be found in continual rejoicing.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
                                                                                                                               We love you,
                                                                                                                               Brad and Virginia

December 13, 2016, 2:39 PM

December 14, 2016

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

    Many people are searching today.  The problem is a lack of understanding of their real needs.  They will diligently tear into gifts under the Christmas tree because, just maybe, the answer to their problems will be found there.  Most people today are looking for happiness.  They go out of their way grasping at all sorts of things hoping to find the elusive happy life.  However, their hearts are in a constant state of restlessness because they do not understand the source of happiness.  In all their searching, they really need Jesus.  He is the One who fills the longing for happiness, the comfort in sadness and peace in an otherwise chaotic world.

    Christmas is all about THE Savior and our need for Him.  There is only one Savior and His name is Jesus.  You see, the salvation of sinners is the reason that Jesus came to the Earth.  We are sinners and our greatest need is for our sins to be forgiven because that is the only way we can have a relationship with God.  A quote that summarizes our need for Jesus goes like this: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator.  If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist.  If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist.  If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer.  But our greatest need is forgiveness, so God sent us His Son, Jesus.”

    Christmas helps us remember that our only hope is in Christ.  We have all lost our chance at perfection so that means we have no possible way to enter Heaven on our own.  Yet, because of God’s gift of His Son, we all have the opportunity to be saved from God’s wrath and receive eternal life.  “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) This Christmas, remember that happiness is found in a person rather than in things.  The greatest Christmas gift of all is God’s gift of His Son.  Of all the gifts you may desire this Christmas, may the number one gift you seek be THE Savior of the world, Jesus!

                                                                                                                          We love and appreciate each of you,

                                                                                                                          Brad and Virginia

December 7, 2016, 11:47 AM

December 7, 2016

“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

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