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Thoughts from a Middle-Aged Believer

Blogging thoughts about the Sermons each week.

A Blog about the Sunday Sermons at Centerpoint

Flavorful Fruit - January 11, 2022


One of the guilt-free pleasures of life is eating a beautiful piece of fruit. This can be true especially when you are instructed by your doctor, or your scales, that it is time to eat more natural, whole foods and less processed, rich treats. For example, think about a gorgeous shiny apple, fresh from the supermarket. But beware! It can be lovely to look at but mealy and flavorless on the inside. Blech! The apples have been in storage too long, shined up with wax to look good on the outside.


How appropriate for the Lord to use the analogy of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The fruit of His love is full of flavor and nourishes those around us.


Food is central to existence. It is the fuel that we need for our bodies to function. If what we consume has no nutritional value but is full of additives and flavor enhancers, our hunger may be satisfied, but only for a moment. Very soon we will be searching for the next snack or meal, and our bodies will eventually die from disease and malnutrition.


One of the benefits of living in this technological age is the simplicity to access the scriptures! So, after reading Galatians 5 in several different translations, Pastor Zack’s encouragement for us to inspect the fruit in our lives hit home. The following is from The Passion Translation:


“16 Let me emphasize this: As you yield to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life.[g] 17 When your self-life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit you hinder him from living free within you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your self-life from dominating you! So then, the two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self-life of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.[h]

18 But when you yield to the life of the Spirit,[i] you will no longer be living under the law, but soaring above it!”


It boils down to selfishness vs. agape love. Religious works vs. true relationship with Jesus. Let’s get honest about the flavor of our lives. We can’t do this in our own strength or on our timeline!



Growing nutritious food takes time and effort. Growing in Jesus takes time and intentionality. Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says:  

6 I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

May our lives be full of the flavor of God’s love in all of its expressions: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Your Sister in Jesus, 


 Liz

Momma's Healing - January 5, 2022


In times of trouble and extreme distress, humanity cries out to God. Some people will yell at the sky, shaking their fists saying, “How could you let this happen?” or “If you were real you would fix this!” Others crumple to the floor and weep in silence, hoping the God of the universe has a moment to lift their burden. Our reactions to hardship are as varied and different as we are.


This testimony affirms that God answers prayer in His way, not ours. 


The physical ailments that Mom carried with her were never fully diagnosed or treated. Her history was one of extreme depression and anxiety that she had self-medicated with alcohol. It had been recommended to her to have a drink in the evening to relax her. This was not uncommon in the 1970s. 


Years passed. My sister led my brothers and me to faith in Jesus. Now adults and living in the Carolinas, Sis and I got a call that Mom was in the ICU with pancreatitis. We prayed the whole way to New Jersey! There at Mom’s bedside, at the age of 50, Mom gave her heart to Jesus! She was set free from addiction to alcohol. She recovered! Her love for Jesus grew strong and our hearts rejoiced. 


There is so much more to this story, but I will summarize to say that her decision to follow Jesus cost Mom her marriage. Abandoned, she ended up living with my sister for many years, and eventually, she moved in with Sam, Jesse, and me.

  

Momma became increasingly frail as each year went by. Doctors ran tests and said that it was this or that. They prescribed so many pain medications that she spent much of her day in bed. Even as Mom’s independence was stripped away, her love for our Savior, prayer and the Word deepened.


One evening, after I returned home from work, Mom was in her den, crying because she was in so much pain. My heart broke. Holding her bone-thin hands and we asked the Great Physician for healing. We asked Him to reveal what was going on in Momma’s body so that the doctors could help.


At 4 am that next morning, I heard my name being called over the baby monitor that we had in her room. Running to the other end of our double-wide, Momma was screaming in pain. The bone in her thigh had snapped in two just below her hip when she turned in bed. It was horrifying.

The next six months included a cancer diagnosis and weeks in the hospital. God held us in a mighty way. She passed peacefully at home surrounded by her children and grandchildren in late February of 2010.


Why? Why did Mom’s story end like this? Why did she pass at 76, that’s young for today’s standards. She would ask me “why” quite often.


My answer was this: Think of all the people in the hospital and homecare that you were able to share the hope that Jesus gives you. They see the light and love in your eyes. You pray for each of them. Only God knows when our work on this side of heaven is done.


Dear family, be assured that he knows our pain. 

He knows our sickness. 

He knows the number of our days. 

He is trustworthy.

Life here on earth is just the beginning!


God uses our reaction to hardship in our lives for His glory. It reaches the lost like no evangelist ever could.


With humble gratitude, 

Liz

A Season of Quietude - December 31, 2021


Amid the noise and confusion of this modern age, God is calling us to, “Be, still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) It’s time to enter into a season of quietude.


This is not easily achievable. Our brains are addicted to stimulation and distraction. Marketing companies fight to capture our attention, even subliminally, so that we will want what their clients have to offer. On top of that, humans now have social media where we want to be heard, known, and validated by those who “follow” us.


Why do we resist stillness? Maybe we would be confronted with ourselves in the quiet? Perhaps we would realize that we have been running our own lives and not allowing God and His word to lead us?  


For a minute, let’s imagine a world without electronics, modern conveniences, and think about how quiet it would be. Wouldn’t such a setting be easier to manage our thoughts?


Maybe. 

Maybe not.

But we choose what goes into our brains and what we dwell on.


As believers, we should desire to be in God’s Presence. 

In the stillness of His Presence, we are less and He is more. We lay down the empty wineskins of our souls for Him to fill. In this sacred place, there is total surrender to our Creator and Lord. There we find “shalom”. Here is a definition:


“The ancient Hebrew concept of peace, rooted in the word "shalom," meant wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, and prosperity, carrying with it the implication of permanence.” - Susan Perlman, Jews for Jesus


Get ready to face inner opposition as we strive to enter into the shalom of God. It is against our human nature. But, dear family, it is possible! Jesus is the way.

With His help, we can control what goes into our brains and what we dwell on. 

Holding up the mirror of the Word of God, we examine ourselves and take responsibility for where we are. Then, through in God’s strength, we daily apply the Word to our minds and hearts. Accept His loving correction. Allow Him to hold and guide us through the process. There we will become “whole, complete, sound, healthy, safe, and prosperous”.


Let’s pray: 

Father God, I need You. 

Lead me to be still and know You are God. Quiet my soul. 

Help me to set aside the weight of care that I picked up through this busy season and spend time with You.

Teach me to pray, praise, and to be quiet in Your Presence.

Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. 

I love You, Jesus.


Amen

Comfort and Joy - December 19, 2021


Sunday’s Christmas pageant was beautiful, lightheart, and funny. It was just what we needed. Because, quite frankly, the last two years have been hard. This fiery trial that we are walking through has battled with us on all fronts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

There have been blessings, and I am very thankful for them, but the loudness of our circumstances screams at us like Banshees at our heels. 


But God!


He waits to cover us with His protection as we go with Him to the secret place, resting in the Shadow of the Almighty. Ready to fill us with His Holy Spirit, He waits to give us what our hearts are longing for, Himself.


A Christmas carol came to my heart while preparing to write this blog: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. I haven’t done a tremendous amount of research on it, but it has been around since the 15th century. It chants the good news of the Christmas story in its verses.

Look it up! And to all my sisters in Christ, don’t let the word “gentlemen” steal your blessing. It is for all of us. A musical gift wrapped in a soulful, minor key.


If you read the lyrics through to the last verse you will find this gem:


“Now to the Lord sing praises

All you within this place

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace

This holy tide of Christmas

All others doth deface

Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Comfort and joy

Oh tidings of comfort and joy”


There is strength and comfort in God’s Presence and in the community of believers. Lifting up praises to our Redeemer, with one heart, together! Oh, how we need Him and each other. Thousands of words swell up in my heart about both, but I will hold back and just ask you to think about this.

God wants us to love each other with His love. Pure love, unfiltered and free, healing to the soul. He desires to hold, protect, and commune with us personally and corporately. Are you ready to slow down, take a deep breath, and recognize God’s sovereign love for you and yours right now? 


I wish each and every one of you the comfort and joy that only Jesus can bring. 


Merry Christmas!





Liz

Tongues as a Prayer Language - December 12, 2021


There have been times in my life that the burden was so heavy I just couldn’t pray. 

Have you been there? Are you there now? Crumpled on the floor with a flood of emotion, tears, and crying out to Father God with groans that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:28 in the Amplified version says: “In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.”


Sighs and groans… 


You may not even have the strength to utter a word, just a sigh towards God. Let me assure you, He hears that sigh and CARES! Yes, He cares for us in all situations. 

• When we lose a loved one. 

• When it looks like we could never do enough to make ends meet. 

• When we failed Him by picking up that old, all-to-familiar sin. 

• When our heart is broken over our children. 

The Comforter is with us and praying on our behalf through us. 


Let’s think about it a bit more. When the Holy Spirit gives us tongues as a prayer language, He sends prayers through us that hit the mark. Bullseye! No wonder the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to pray in tongues. He wants us to believe that we are powerless and that our prayers are ineffective. It is a lie, dear family. When we pray in the Spirit, it builds up our inner man. We become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and are prepared to do the work that He has called us to do.


I confess, as someone who has the ability to pray in tongues, I am surprised at how little I do it. This is not to heap shame on myself, but a sober reminder that it is vital that we pray continuously, keeping God central in our hearts and minds throughout our waking moments.


If you have not yet received the baptism of the Holy Spirit keep pressing in! You belong to Him. He loves you and has promised to fill you! In His time and in His way, the beautiful overflow of His power and love will manifest.


Just as a reminder, those of us who pray in tongues are not better than other believers. As His children, we are equal, and we are to serve Him and each other in humility and love. 





Make someone's brighter - Smile :) 


Liz

Who Fills Your Bucket? - December 5, 2021


The plastic tub is full of water and a bright, yellow bucket floats on top. Pastor Zack rolls up his sleeve, inserts his hand in the pail, and begins pushing it down. The water touches the bucket on all sides but it is dry inside. The bucket is a tool to move water for Pastor Zack. He is the one who gently, or not so gently, pushes it under the water. Pressure has to be applied for it to be completely submerged. His illustration is complete when It is surrounded by and filled with water. 


Yes, we know, we were at service! We saw the illustration, why make such a big deal about it?


Because we need to be honest with ourselves and think deeply about it. We are “buckets” that choose to cooperate with or resist our Creator. Can we be brave enough to welcome the pressure it takes to submerge our lives in the Holy Spirit? 


Lord, fill us, empty us to water the seeds that have been sown around us and then fill us again!


Over the years I have lived both dried up and useless and filled to overflowing. I assure you, there is nothing more satisfying than being filled with the Spirit! Pouring out His love on those around us is what we are here for.


It takes inner strength and courage to recognize we are empty and need to be refilled. It doesn’t matter how long we have walked with Jesus, we get dry. But the good news is that the Holy Spirit desires to fill us!


Be encouraged! We belong to God and are His vessels. The moment we asked Jesus to become the Leader and the Master of our lives we became yoked to Him. It’s time to let go of our own expectations and renew our minds with God’s Word to see who we are in Him. We are no longer our own and nothing in our own strength will bring the peace, joy, and comfort He brings. We are designed by God to walk in fellowship with Him and He empowers us to live fruitful lives.


Jesus said in Luke 9:24 (The Voice)

“If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full.” (emphasis mine)

Is it risky to do God’s will and be filled with the Spirit? That depends on our point of view. It only seems risky if we love ourselves more than we love God. But if we love God more than ourselves and desire Him above everything, then it is no risk, but a delight! 

So, who fills our bucket? The Holy Spirit does with our permission. 





Make someone's brighter - Smile :) 


Liz

Who is Holy Spirit? - November 28, 2021


This last Sunday, Natasha gently and firmly shared with us who the Holy Spirit is and who He is not. For the last 40 years, I have had the honor of having the Holy Spirit in my life. That does not mean that I have obeyed and walked with Him over all those years, but I invited Him into my life to fill and guide me. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, allowing us to make our own choices whether they are aligned with Him or not. (Ephesians 4:30). 


So, this is a prayer that is from my heart to Him. Perhaps you will pray with me.


Here I am, Lord.

Thank You for Your love and great patience with me.

For many, many years I have been like a wounded child who pushes their parent away, 

Afraid of the pain that comes from cleaning wounds.

But You, Lord, know where each injury came from. 

You experienced and bore each one of them for me.

Help me to trust You without doubt.

Help me to surrender wholeheartedly to You.

Let Your light, peace, comfort, and love heal me.

Give me the courage to let go of my attempts to control my life and give it all to You.


Holy Spirit, forgive me for pushing You away.

I love You and want to walk in fellowship with You.


As I study Your Word, open my eyes and heart to know You more.

As I lift my hands let me abandon myself in You.

As I encounter all types of travelers on this road of life, may You shine through me.


Come help me remove the obstacles in my heart, life, and schedule so that we can grow closer together. 


It’s not my efforts that will change my difficulties or the challenges that I face. Only You can change me by Your transformative power. 


Thank You, there is still time! It’s not too late!

I am still breathing and available for You to fill me.


The worries of all that is required of me at this point in my life, I give to You.

You are able to give me the wisdom I need to navigate through each challenge.


I throw open the windows of my soul to You!

Blow out the dust and cobwebs I have allowed to gather there.

Let Your light, life, and love penetrate every dark corner.


Come, Holy Spirit! Fill me and let me live, move, and have my being in You!

In Jesus Name. Amen.


Make someone's brighter - Smile :) 


Liz

Peter and the Holy Spirit - November 23, 2021


This week, Pastor Zack brought a thought-provoking and inspiring sermon about Simon Peter. I have been spending time reviewing the scriptures and thinking about what it means to me. Perhaps it will bless you, I hope that the nuggets that I have found will strike a chord in your hearts.

Oh, Peter, I can relate to you so much. Especially before you were filled with the Holy Spirit. Here are a few characteristics that we share:

• You were a bit negative: Exhausted by your own efforts trying to provide, Jesus caught your attention when He miraculously provided your financial needs, then told you that you would be a fisher of souls.

• You were a risk-taker. If that’s you, Lord, call me and I will jump out of this boat and walk on the water with you. But, look away for a second and BLOOP, I sink. Thanks for catching me again and again.

• You thought you could correct Jesus. Spiritual pride, religiosity was negated with the gentle hands of the Master washing your feet. 

• You talked a big talk without really counting the cost. Sometimes we are more interested in our own safety and comfort than aligning ourselves publicly with Jesus. 

• You had great intentions but when it required you to listen, follow directions, and show self-discipline you fell short.


Yes, I can relate, and maybe you can too.

That must be why Jesus picked Peter. He is such a great example of humankind.

Jesus knew all of Peter’s shortcomings and also his potential.

When Peter and the rest of the 120 gathered in that upper room surrendered to God’s timing and plan, the Holy Spirit came and transformed them! 


All of this was part of Father God’s redemption plan. We were sinners and now we are God’s family. Jesus loves us in our humanity but wants so much more for us!

As we grow closer to Jesus, the light of His presence and the power of the Holy Spirit will reveal our weaknesses to us. He calls us to surrender all of ourselves, the good and the bad, so that He can comfort, strengthen, teach, and empower us through the Holy Spirit to live with Him and for Him now.


Are you as sick and tired of yourself as I am? We must be honest with God, willing to step out toward Him, and learn from our mistakes. Let’s open our hearts and cry out in prayer. Sit quietly with His word and let it sink in. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to come and teach us, change us, and prepare us to be who He has created us to be. 

His plans for us are good, certainly not easy, but SO GOOD. Our futures are secure in Him, whatever the future holds.


Make someone's brighter - Smile :) 


Liz