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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

Run To God - September 22, 2022


Today’s blog contains my thoughts from Pastor Doug Dodge’s sermon “Can a Believer Lose Their Salvation?” preached on 9/18/2022.


There are times of testing in our lives that bring us to the very end of ourselves. Our choices in the storms of life will show what we are really made of. (Matthew 7:24-27) 

Will we place our trust and hope in the Father’s hands? Or will we allow our trials to blind us to the goodness of God and His deep love for us? Are we aware that this world is full of trouble and that Jesus has already won the battle on our behalf? (John 16:33) Or do we blame Him for the difficult situation we find ourselves in and turn our backs on Him? (Hebrews 3:12-19)

Do we press into what God has for us each day? Or are we lulled by complacency into our former way of life?  

Look what the Apostle Paul said to the body of believers at Philippi:


Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,  but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.


It is time to ask the Holy Spirit to shine the light on our attitudes and reactions toward hardship and accept responsibility for them. Then we can humbly and prayerfully deal with it. We may see times when we harbored anger or disappointment against God and His people. These feelings can also arise from a root of shame from sins that were committed against us. When in a time of testing it is possible to lose our footing. We all have the potential to backslide. 


Here are a few possible symptoms of backsliding: 


• I.ack of interest in spending time alone with God

• Prayers are dry and seem to hit the ceiling

• No time to seek God’s answers in the Word

• The words we speak are harsh towards ourselves and others

• No longer desiring corporate worship

• Our lives no longer reflect God’s love and light


Does this behavior mean that we have lost our salvation?  No.


It means we have stepped away from Him and are now fair game for the enemy to beat us up.  

And our loving Father will allow that buffeting to discipline us until we return to Him or He takes us home.  


Hebrews 12:11 (HCB)

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.


And here in Proverbs 3:5-12 (Message)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

  don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

  he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

  Run to God! Run from evil!

Your body will glow with health,

  your very bones will vibrate with life!

Honor God with everything you own;

  give him the first and the best.

Your barns will burst,

  your wine vats will brim over.

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;

  don’t sulk under his loving correction.

It’s the child he loves that God corrects;

  a father’s delight is behind all this.


Let me say it again, clearly, we all go through life-altering trials! They are a part of living in this broken world. But our reaction to them says it all. We can let them draw us closer to God or we can rebel. And if we disobey by not doing what we know we should be doing, God will discipline us. As Pastor Doug said on Sunday, “Don’t run from God, run to God!”


The most miserable Christian on the face of the earth is one who is running from God. Ask me how I know. Personal experience, of course! And I also know that Romans 8:38 is real.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We are in this together, dear family! Pray, don’t judge. Love by choice and stop talking about someone who is in a fiery trial.  After all, you could be the one who needs a helping hand next.


Your Sister in Jesus, 

Liz


Instantly Forever - September 15, 2022


This blog is from Mark Reynold's sermon titled, "This Changes Everything" from September 11, 2022.


Have you invited Jesus into your heart & life? As believers, we know that in that one moment of true surrender, we became brand-new. Our once-dead spirit comes to life! "Born again" is the phrase that most Christian circles use. We become a part of God's family for eternity.


The one decision that changes everything. 


EVERYTHING!


But wait. Does it? 


We are made of spirit, soul, and body.


When we welcomed Jesus into our lives did we think that we would be transported out of our circumstances? Where is the relationship in that? Bit by bit, we work together with the Lord in a holy restoration of our souls. We surrender our will to God and He changes our hearts. We draw closer to Him and experience His love. This is the GOOD NEWS! As we continue to seek Him first, He brings His will to pass in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)

 

Humans are unique, and because we are, the baggage we bring into our relationship with God is personal. 


Don't compare yourself to others. 


Bad habits, thought processes or circumstances may change immediately for one person and not another. Some people will struggle for their whole earthly existence with a thorn in the flesh. Others appear to float above the fray, with no outward evidence of inner clutter in their lives. We all are a work in progress, whether we show it or not.


Our faithful and loving Father has given us the Holy Spirit, His Word, and the fellowship of believers to encourage and strengthen each other every day. But only God knows what each day holds and we need His wisdom, guidance, and covering. It is my prayer that He change me to be more and more like Him. If you are reading this, you probably feel the same way! Our prayer should be "not my will but Yours be done." 


That said, we change both in an instant and over a lifetime. Surrendering our will to God over, and over, and over again. The highest truth is that we need a deep and daily relationship with God. 


Many are frustrated for years not inviting the Holy Spirit to help us deal with the results of the sin committed by us or to us in our lives. 


To clarify, these circumstances may have been self-made, forced upon us by abuse, or just the result of poor choices. It's time to be real. We need His intervention at all costs.


For 38 years, he waited paralyzed and helpless. Would someone show him mercy and lower him into the healing waters when they were stirred? He was certain that God would heal him in that prescribed way. 


But Jesus! 


Unexpectedly, the man was healed with the words "pick up your mat and walk". Of course, the man had to trust enough to follow the directions that Jesus spoke to him. What if the invalid didn't obey Jesus' command? We probably wouldn't have his in John 5:1. 


Many people live for decades without inviting the Holy Spirit into their pain. Or they tell God how He should heal them. Let's allow God into EVERY area of our hearts and lives. He will confirm the steps we need to take. Then let's trust God to be God of the outcome. 


He knows best. He really does. 


Your Sister in Jesus, 

Liz


Don't Serve Leftovers - September 8, 2022


This blog is based on Pastor Doug Dodge’s sermon, “ What Do You Bring to the King Who Has Everything?” preached on Sunday, September 4, 2022.


Silence isn’t always golden. In fact, when you know that you hurt someone that you love, silence can be such a painful experience it can tear your heart apart. Being ignored by an acquaintance is a little hurtful, but being ignored by a spouse or a close family member could be compared to being cut by shards of glass. 


We, as God’s people, hurt God by ignoring Him. We choose our own way over His time and time again. But He is patient! He knows our hearts. 


As parents of adult children, we can excuse their lack of communication with us. They are so busy! How joyful we are when they call, text, or visit us, sharing details of their situation and maybe even asking for advice! (One can hope.) But they are not so quick to sit down and talk when they have made decisions that are contrary to our leadership. And distance does not make the heart grow fonder. It can become a black hole, sucking the life out of relationships. 


After all, who wants to be in the presence of someone they know is right?

It magnifies the need for change. And what is to be done with all that shame? 


The 400-plus-year silence must have been so very difficult for God’s people between Malachi and Matthew. Especially for those who were doing their best to follow His law. The book of Malachi is both an encouragement and a rebuke. The priests were offering the leftovers on the altar. Here is Malachi 1:5-14 (The Living Bible).


(5) O Israel, lift your eyes to see what God is doing all around the world; then you will say, “Truly, the Lord’s great power goes far beyond our borders!”


(6) “A son honors his father, a servant honors his master. I am your Father and Master, yet you don’t honor me, O priests, but you despise my name.”


“Who? Us?” you say. “When did we ever despise your name?”


(7) “When you offer polluted sacrifices on my altar.”


“Polluted sacrifices? When have we ever done a thing like that?”


“Every time you say, ‘Don’t bother bringing anything very valuable to offer to God!’ (8) You tell the people, ‘Lame animals are all right to offer on the altar of the Lord—yes, even the sick and the blind ones.’ And you claim this isn’t evil? Try it on your governor sometime—give him gifts like that—and see how pleased he is!


(9) “‘God have mercy on us,’ you recite; ‘God be gracious to us!’ But when you bring that kind of gift, why should he show you any favor at all?


(10) “Oh, to find one priest among you who would shut the doors and refuse this kind of sacrifice! I have no pleasure in you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will not accept your offerings.


(11) “But my name will be honored by the Gentiles from morning till night. All around the world they will offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. (12) “But you dishonor it, saying that my altar is not important and encouraging people to bring cheap, sick animals to offer to me on it.


(13) “You say, ‘Oh, it’s too difficult to serve the Lord and do what he asks.’ And you turn up your noses at the rules he has given you to obey. Think of it! Stolen animals, lame and sick—as offerings to God! Should I accept such offerings as these?” asks the Lord. (14) “Cursed is that man who promises a fine ram from his flock and substitutes a sick one to sacrifice to God. For I am a Great King,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be mightily revered among the Gentiles.”


Before we start pointing the finger at others, Pastor Doug reminded us that we are a kingdom of priests and kings. Read 1 Peter, chapter 2. All of it. Read it in your favorite translation and then read it in a contemporary version like The Message or The Living Bible. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts where we fall short so we can repent. Here are a few nuggets:


• Verse 1: So get rid of your feelings of hatred. Don’t just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty and jealousy and talking about others behind their backs.  


• Verses 9-10: But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it.


• Verse 12: Be careful how you behave among your unsaved neighbors; for then, even if they are suspicious of you and talk against you, they will end up praising God for your good works when Christ returns.


• Verse 17: Show respect for everyone. Love Christians everywhere. Fear God and honor the government. 


Time for a heart check! How do we measure up? Are we loving with His love? Are we just loving others with our own natural love? What comes out of our mouths? What do we post online? Are we serving God with the leftovers of our lives? The Holy Spirit wants every area of our lives! He wants to enable us to burn brightly with His love. He wants to consume us so that we are burning brightly for Him. 


Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus thank You for Your Word. Help us to surrender our whole hearts to You! Thank You for your forgiveness and Your great love for us! Holy Spirit, we open ourselves up and ask you to change us. Put us where we belong in the Body of Christ. Build Your Church! Show us how to bring our very best to You. All for Your glory.


In Jesus’ Name! 


Amen

Where's the Fruit? - September 2, 2022


This blog reflects my thoughts based on the sermon, “Produce Fruit in Keeping WIth Repentence” preached Sunday, August, 28, 2022 by Pastor Doug Dodge.


Let’s look at Luke 13: 1-9, which begins with Jesus answering questions about a tragedies shrouded in speculation. The southwest tower of the wall in Jerusalem had collapsed and 18 people perished. And to top it off, the Roman Prefect Pilot was rumored to have mixed the blood of murdered Galileans in with sacrifices. The public was horrified and looking for assurance of their right standing with God. Jesus replied in verses 2-5. 


To this He replied, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed on them: Do you think that they were more sinful than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”


Repentance is not a popular word with mankind both then and now. We are assured that when we follow our own way and ignore God’s invitation to follow Him, destruction will follow. To further illustrate Jesus shares this parable in verses 6-9:


Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the keeper of the vineyard, ‘Look, for the past three years I have come to search for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Therefore cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’


‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone again this year, until I dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine. But if not, you can cut it down.’”


This stirred up many questions in my mind. Why was there a fig tree in the vineyard? Why was it not bearing fruit? After a bit of research I found out some interesting facts that would have made sense to Jesus’ audience. 

Fig trees were often planted in vineyards. Micah 4:4 says:


And each man will sit under his own vine

and under his own fig tree,

with no one to frighten him.

For the mouth of the LORD of Hosts has spoken.


While our focus is not to delve into the symbiotic relationship figs and grapes or agricultural methods, here are a few facts that help us learn about the parable Jesus spoke:


• Figs produce fruit twice a year, drawing birds away from grapes and providing additional provision to the farmer

• Fig trees can flourish in poor soil. Their root systems are vast and they can grow up to three times beyond the tree’s canopy

• They take 3-4 years of cultivation before they bear fruit


When the owner of the vineyard in the parable didn’t see fruit for three years, the keeper pleaded for one more year to cultivate that tree before ripping it out. He knows the nature of the tree and what nutrients the soil will need at the root. He saw the trees dormant potential to bear fruit!


Why should we care about this? Remember this parable is about repentance.


God knows what it will take for us to produce fruit for Him. He is our Vinedresser.

Stubbornness, pride, and rebellion will put us in a non-fruit bearing mode. Child of God, be prepared to be fertilized. There is a stench in this process. It is unpleasant. Then, the lifegiving rain of the Holy Spirit will soften the soil as our Loving God turns it over and over as the nurients speed the root system. 


 We all have dry seasons in our lives that can make us hard, We all make choices that are not good for us. Each day we have the freedom to choose whether of not to pick up our crosses and follow Him. If we continually choose our own way and turn a deaf ear to God, we will not bear fruit.


 If we do not bear fruit we will eventually be removed from the vineyard.


God is the only One who knows the wider repercussions of our actions. He also sees the ripple effect we cause in our circle of influence. A sober respect and desire to please God should help us to stay on the narrow path. We should have a deep longing to hear Him to say to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” 


Remember Romans 12:1-2 (MSG):

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Repentance. The not-so-popular word in today’s culture really means for us to turn away from our own way of doing things and our love of this world’s culture and turn towards our loving Maker who wants what’s best for us, He wants to hold our hand as we walk though this life and bring out the best in us. As we surrender to Him, we will bear abundant fruit and glorify Him!


One final word to all of us who think that we know what’s best for other people. 


We don’t.


When there is a burden for someone on your heart, pray for them without ceasing. God will work in ways that we cannot see. Only He knows our hearts and He loves us with an everlasting love! 


Your Sister In Jesus, 

Liz 

Seeing Jesus - August 25, 2022


From the message “What Keeps You From Seeing Jesus” brought by Pastor Doug Dodge on July 21, 2022. 


Sunday’s message was taken from the gospel of Luke, chapters 18:35-43 and 19:1-26. If you haven’t read them since the service, take a fresh look at them now. Now, try reading them in different versions. YouVersion, Bible Hub, and Bible Gateway offer free websites/apps that make it easy!

Reading several versions of the same passage brings me clarity and a deeper understanding.  


In this section of Luke, we see that Jesus, His disciples, and the crowds are heading to Jerusalem for the Passover before Jesus’ crucifiction. As they walk with the crowd, Jesus is laying a foundation for events that were about to happen.


Just before they met the blind beggar, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 1-7:

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected men. And there was a widow in that town who kept appealing to him, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’


For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect men, yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice. Then she will stop wearing me out with her perpetual requests.’ ”


And the Lord said, “Listen to the words of the unjust judge. Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He continue to defer their help? I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”


The blind beggar was a real-life example of the persistent faith of the widow in the parable.

There are two words for “cry out” with the blind man showing the intensifying degree of despair. The first one is boaó: to call out. The second one is krazó: to scream, cry out. Boaó is the same word that Jesus used in referring to the elect crying out to God for justice. This word shows intensity and despair. It is an “urgent distress call,” “break in case of emergency” type of call. When the crowd was urging Jesus to keep going, the blind man took it up a notch and began to scream. Jesus stopped, answered, and brought healing to this blind man. 


We have all been or will be, in that position at one time or another in our lives. Screaming for God to help us, or our loved ones. It’s the last resort, an honest cry coming from our gut. 

Let’s reread the passage:

Luke 18:35-42(BSB)


As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting beside the road, begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.

“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him.

So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way admonished him to be silent, but he cried out all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and directed that the man be brought to Him. When he had been 

brought near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

“Lord,” he said, “let me see again.”

“Receive your sight!” Jesus replied. “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he 

received his sight and followed Jesus, glorifying God. And all the people who saw this gave praise to God.


But that is not all! Another example is the tax collector, Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10:


Then Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who was very wealthy. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but could not see over the crowd because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Him, since Jesus was about to pass that way.

When Jesus came to that place, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down, for I must stay at your house today.”

So Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Him joyfully. And all who saw this began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinful man!”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.”

 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


The natural obstacle of his size did not hold back Zacchaeus. He exerted effort, by climbing a tree, in order to see Jesus. Then he was open to Jesus’ call, came and laid at his feet. Why else would Zaccheaus have to stand up before he proclaimed a vow that he would make pay back ill-gotten gain? He humbled himself before the Lord and was saved!


Are we willing to let the love and light of Jesus humble us? 

Or are we the observers in the crowd grumbling and scoffing at the sinner who “thinks” he can have a relationship with Jesus? God forbid if we shake our heads and complain. We all need to humble ourselves and lay our lives before Him. This is real life. This is the Good News in action


Are we making an effort to seek God’s face? Crying out in our prayer closets for our lives to be transformed? For our loved ones to be rescued from the snares of the enemy? For the Body of Christ to become one in His love and have unity? Are we willing to climb above the clamor of our lives and lock eyes with our Savior? 


Let’s remember the question Jesus left hanging in the air, “ Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”


Lord, have Your way in us! Open our eyes, change our hearts, and fill our lives with Your love!

In Jesus’ Name. 

Amen!


Your sister in Jesus, 

Liz

The 99 Were Once the One - August 17, 2022


This blog originates from a sermon titled, “The 99 Were Once the One”, preached by Pastor Doug Dodge on Sunday, August 14, 2022.


Rahab the prostitute, the demoniac of Gerasenes, and we all have something in common. 

The Living God rescued us!


 Let’s read Ephesians 2:1-6 (The Message)


It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.


As Pastor Doug shared the story of Rahab’s rescue in Joshua 2 & 6 and Jesus healing the demoniac in Luke 8:26-39, I was reminded of how Jesus came to me in my despair and saved me. If you are reading this blog, the odds are that He has rescued you too! Hallelujah!


But there are others that are close to our hearts that have not been freed from the traps of despair and hopelessness yet. They are surrounded by danger and darkness so deep that we can tangibly feel the heaviness of it. We pray and intercede to Father God that they would come to know Him and the life of freedom Jesus has for them. We love them and do our very best to shine Jesus.


Why does it take so long? Can’t He do it now?  


From personal experience, we know He can bring lost sheep back into the fold. He heals the broken and gives them His divine purpose. Jesus frees isolated, tormented souls and places them into fellowship with Him and His family. 


He, our Mighty God, has a plan that we cannot comprehend. We, His people, are to put our faith and trust in Him!


We are His sheep who are waiting for the one lost sheep are not to worry. Our Good Shepherd has led us to this green pasture. It is a nourishing, safe, and restful place where He feeds us. And in His greatness, He is waiting for the lost sheep to bleat that alarm cry to be rescued. Then and only then will Jesus go to fetch that lost and broken sheep.  


He will bring them back to the safety of the fold!! 


Jesus always does what He sets out to do. Our frail sheep hearts must expect Him to return with the lost, wild sheep who have been caught in the briars of life. It is so difficult to wait for that day. But the celebration that we will share in when He enters the sheep gate with that broken soul across His shoulders!


So, what is it that we do when we wait for that reunion day? 


1. We trust Jesus with our loved ones!

2. We keep thanking Him for their rescue even if we don’t see circumstances changing.

3. We place our focus on Jesus and obey His lead in our personal lives.

4. We receive with joy those broken and hurting souls He places in our fellowship.


Finally, let’s do what the Apostle Paul states in Romans 12:12-21 (Amplified)


 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor; never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Be encouraged while we wait! It will happen.


Your Sister in Jesus, 


Liz

Disguises - August 11, 2022


This week’s thoughts are from Pastor Doug’s sermon titled “Two in Disguise: One Dies, One Abides”. The anchoring scriptures are 1 Samuel chapters 26-30 where David spares Saul’s life but becomes so exhausted that he leans on his own understanding. Please take a few minutes to read these chapters again even if you were in the service on Sunday. 



The two disguised individuals are Saul and David. Let’s look at Saul first:


As the pastor said, “Saul wants the kingship more than he wants God.”


Power was Saul’s god. The sin of stubborn rebellion blocked him from hearing from the One True God. He had let the responsibility and power of kingship corrupt him. This downward spiral does not stop! Israel’s enemies are at their door. Instead of taking responsibility for his sin and repenting, Saul disguises himself and visits the last medium in the area. He is seeking advice from the recently deceased prophet Samuel. The message Samuel gives him is a grim one. He and his sons will die in the battle. 



As for David, he has been running from Saul for years! Looking at the timeline (historically approximate numbers) for the life of David, he was born in 1,035 BC, Samuel anoints him as king in 1,025 BC, two years later he serves as a musician in Saul’s court, 1,020 BC he kills Goliath, 1,010 BC he becomes the commander of Saul’s army, 1,008 BC David is threatened and goes into hiding, 1,005 BC the first time he spares Saul’s life, and year 1,000 BC Samuel dies and we find ourselves here at the portion of scripture we are considering. That would make 25 years of living in the promise of kingship and 8 years of living in caves, roaming the countryside, and living in the guise of an outlaw according to Saul. 



These two disguises really are the same one: rebellion. Another definition of rebellion would be when we decide to lead our lives independent of God. But the hearts of Saul and David were completely different. Saul was proud and was chosen by the people for his appearance while God chose David for his purity of heart.



Eight years of running from death by the hand of Saul. Twenty-five years of waiting to enter the promised anointing of kingship. David’s impatience and exhaustion screamed at him to put on the mask and choose his own way. But yet, even in his rebellion, he did not entirely turn his heart away from God.



Ecclesiastes 1:9:


What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.



There are seasons when we have worn a disguise and rebelled against the call of God or the direction He is leading us in. I could write a book about my rebellion and what I learned from it. 



We cannot escape troubles by thinking we know better than God! Jesus, our Good Shepherd, our Saviour says:


John 16:33 (AMP)


I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]



When the trials of life don’t stop and you are exhausted, choose Jesus.


When the promises of the Word take longer than you think they should choose Jesus. 


When the temptation comes for you to use your own wisdom to overcome the trials of life: choose Jesus.



Press into the pain of the situation and bring it to Jesus. Then follow Him! He is faithful!!



Pastor Doug said Sunday, “Faith in God says He will do it. You line up your life to the Word and the God who spoke it!”



Your sister in Jesus, 


Liz 

Yoked With Jesus - July 28, 2022


Have you ever had a garment tailored for you? 


Momma Raye was an expert seamstress. She would measure me, more than once, and make dresses that fit perfectly. Even the seams on the inside were neatly stitched so they wouldn’t fray! Her signature was quality. It was a way that she showed her love for us. She would do the same with knitting us sweaters, hats, and mittens. Her uniquely patterned sweaters offer us warmth long after her passing. When something is made for you by someone who loves you, it is special.


What about the yoke that Jesus lovingly made for each of us? 


Sunday, July 24th, 2022, Pastor Doug opened up the scriptures to Matthew 11: 28-30. Let’s look at it in a few different translations:


The Message: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


Amplified: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”


New Living Translation: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”


The Voice: Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.


Thank you for reading all these different versions! Now, look at the Strong’s Concordance for the word yoke:

ζυγόν (zygon)

Noun - Accusative Masculine Singular

Strong's Greek 2218: From the root of zeugnumi; a coupling, i.e. servitude; also the beam of the balance.


As followers of Jesus, we are coupled with Him! 


It might appear heavy at first, but is perfectly fitted to your curves. Walking with Jesus in the light of His Word we find perfect purpose, fufillment, peace and joy! Learning directly from Him, the great Teacher, He will help us to become co-laborers with Him. We walk in His light!


John 8:12 (NIV) 

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 1:14 (NIV)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.


What if we lay aside the yoke? 


We were reminded with the parables of Jesus in Matthew 25 that we need to keep our lamps full of oil and carry a flask to refill it so it doesn’t go out. The parable of the talents teaches us to use the resources and natural abilities that God has given us for His work. These tasks are unachievable in and by ourselves! We need to be yoked with Jesus and walking in step with Him and His Word in order to become more and more like Him. This holy fellowship is personal and very real. And Jesus is lovingly calling us to spend more and more time with Him so that we can really KNOW Him. 


It should be our desire to hear the Master say as in Matthew 25:21 (The Message):


 “His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’”


Be assured that partnering with God, His Word, and walking in the Light of Jesus will change you. The Apostle Pauls says in Philippians 2:14-16 (TLV):


Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.


Dear brothers and sisters, receive and embrace the yoke of Jesus! He is calling us to know Him and walk side-by-side with Him.


Be encouraged!

Liz 

Don't Live Off Yesterday's Manna - July 20, 2022


Have you ever been on a long hike and run out of food? Or driving cross-country and unable to find a restaurant or convenience store? There is a myriad of instances where we can become susceptible to a condition called being "hangry". This "hangriness" can also come on when we don't have the foods we are craving. Growling stomachs, screaming "FEED ME!"


Imagine leading a couple million "hangry" people. 


I can't fathom what it must have been like for Moses, leading God's people in Exodus chapters 15-17. Look at Exodus 16:2-3 (HCSB)


The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger! ” 


They had just experienced the deliverance of God, walking through the Red Sea, and they let their stomachs dictate their attitude. As we continue to read these chapters in Exodus, we find that our ever gracious God provided nourishment and water for His people.

That nourishment, manna, had to be gathered early in the morning. There were specific instructions for the people to follow. 


When they did what God told them to do, they were fed.


When they didn't, they were hungry.


God still provides manna today, His Word. The way to avoid becoming "hangry" Christians is to rise early in the morning and eat from the Word. Study. Pray. Reflect. 

Then we are prepared to face the day. 


We can compare time with God in His Word to preparing our daily spiritual food. The Holy Spirit will lead us as to what we will need. Then we have it with us throughout the day, meditating on scripture and singing praises in our hearts to God even while we work, play, or rest.


There are times when we may feel like a few more minutes (or hours) in bed is a better decision. But dear ones, there is nothing better than beginning our day with one-on-one time with Abba God, filling up on the living, powerful, life-changing, heart-liberating Word. Savor that time with God. Protect it! For this personal time with Jesus, the Living Word, provides everything that we need to make it through these difficult times.


Here is some scripture that you can chew on:

John 6:35-58

Matthew 5:6

1 Peter 2:2-3

Deuteronomy 8:3

Isaiah 55

Psalm 34:8


Your sister in Jesus, 

Liz

A Prayer of Desperation - July 12, 2022


Heavenly Father we have been living in our own strength.


Forgive us.


Without Your Hand guiding us and Your Spirit illuminating the way, we are lost.


Even as Your children, when we try to fix problems with our limited human wisdom, all we do is interfere with Your work.


May Your will be done.


Help us to let go of our small, "bright ideas" and surrender to Your loving wisdom.

It is not earthly wisdom. 

Your ways are higher than our ways, Your thoughts higher than ours.

Your Way is everlasting and leads directly to You, where You speak to us with Your whole Word and fill us with Your brilliance!


What a mess we make when we move forward without You.

Rescue us from our pride and humble us, so that we can become the men and women You have created us to be. 


Help us to spend unhindered time in Your Presence where we will blossom and bear fruit!

Fill us with Your love, peace, and joy in Your Presence!


Let us learn from Your Word as we sit expectantly at Your feet, like our sister Mary at the feet of Jesus. 

Help us to stop running around trying to do what we think needs to be done.


Even as we rest in Your Presence, like Samuel, may we recognize Your Voice and answer without reservation, "Here I am!"


We are desperate for Your Spirit. 


Remove the distractions that are blinding us.


Repair the damage we have done to ourselves and those around us.


Only You can heal, restore, and revive us.


We pray, knowing that You will answer us in surprising ways.


Thank You, Lord!


Reign in our hearts


Reign in our homes


Reign in Your church


Draw us closer still


In Jesus' Name, 


Amen

Changed in His presence - July 6, 2022


Summer is classically known as the growing season. And here in Maine, we have a very short, productive growing season. The heat of the sun and the frequent New England rain makes our gardens, lawns, and forests lush and green. Even on the hottest and most humid of days, we have tremendous growth happening. This is in direct contrast to the deep winter where the earth's green, living things are lying dormant under snow cover. 


Another aspect that summer brings is business. We care for our gardens, do house maintenance, go up to camp, enjoy visits from friends and family, and have our children home from school. So many blessed moments to enjoy! The long days are filled with things to do from beginning to end.


Let's not forget to intentionally schedule time with God and His word. The first thing in your day is the best time, whatever that looks like.


How lovely that God has welcomed us into His holy place where we can sit in His Presence and blossom, just like Aaron's staff. Soaking in the Living Word of God induces our spiritual growth and prepares us for each day. Our Creator longs for alone time with us. He wants to walk with us in fellowship in the cool of the day before we have to glance at our watches and move to the next scheduled task. And in His Presence, we are changed to be more like Him! 


The world needs us to reflect His love, peace, and joy!


This change cannot be manufactured. It comes directly from Him. True life-change is impossible without Him.


Here are a few scriptures for us to think about:



Lamentations 3:22-26 (BSB)

(22) Because of the loving devotion of the Lord we are not consumed,

for His mercies never fail.

(23) They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness!

(24) “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in Him.”

(25) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

to the soul who seeks Him.

(26) It is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.


Psalm 119:147-148 (NIV)

(147) I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I have put my hope in your word.

(148) My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,

that I may meditate on your promises.


Mark 1:35 (NIV)

(35)Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, 

left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 

Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, 

whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome,  

        whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; 

if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, 

think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in 

your heart].

Psalm 5:3 (AMP)

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare 

[a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

May you be blessed by God's tremendous love for you. 


Your sister in Jesus, 

Liz

Ahab, Selfishness, & the Old Man - June 29, 2022


On Sunday, Pastor Doug read from 1 Kings 20, where we find a story of one of the most wicked kings in the Old Testament, King Ahab. Israel, surrounded by enemies, is about to be invaded. The neighboring kingdoms are unified against them. Ahab, who is not a follower of God, is looking only to protect himself and his wealth. By the end of the chapter, Ahab cozies up to the enemy, calling him his "brother". Despite Ahab's disobedience and idolatry, God faithfully protects and defends His people. 


The focus Pastor brought out was how addiction and sin destroy everything around it, even ourselves. Thank you, Pastor, for the illustration of sin being like a grenade. Our sinful choices wreak havoc and pain into the lives of those around us. This leads us to a pointed question we must wrestle with:


Are we still friends with our old, sinful selves? 


It is time to put to death our fleshly, ungodly nature.


Colossians 3:1-10 (Contemporary English Version)


(1) You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side. (2) Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth. (3) You died, which means that your life is hidden with Christ, who sits beside God. (4) Christ gives meaning to your life, and when he appears, you will also appear with him in glory.


(5) Don't be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don't be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don't be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols. (6) God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things. (7) And this is exactly what you did, when you lived among people who behaved in this way. (8) But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. (9) And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.


(10) Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator, and you will understand him better. 

 

The Contemporary English version gives a clear list, starting with "Don't be controlled by your body."


It is time for a self-audit. Our obsessions and addictions are quickly available, putting our old nature on life-support. Instead, we should be denying those old, all-too-familiar impulses. Who were we before we asked Jesus to rescue us from the path of destruction that we were on? That, dear brothers and sisters, is our old man, or old sin nature.


Who or what do we align ourselves with? 

Who or what consumes our thoughts?

What do we plan our day around?


We are in a spiritual battle that exists to utterly destroy us and all who are around us! 


Ephesians 6:12 (AMP):


(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.


We can no longer embrace our old nature with a chuckle and a wink, "That's just a part of my personality" or "It's only hurting me". 


God desires for us to walk in fellowship and peace with Him and each other. This can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. But first, we need to long to be closer to God. Our deepest desire should be to follow Jesus, our Good Shepherd, here and now.


Let us pray:


Father God, I desire to put You first in my life.

Help me through the power of the Holy Spirit to put to death

the thoughts, habitual sin, and anything that does not reflect

the new life I have found in You. 

Fill me with Your Spirit!

Let my life overflow with Your love, peace, joy, and holiness.

In Jesus' Name.

We will deal with our sinful nature until we see Him face-to-face in glory. But, dear family, let us not become weary. There is more than enough strength and power to overcome all of our old nature and MORE in Jesus. We can do it because He has DONE IT! 


Your sister in Christ, 

Liz

The Church Family - June 23, 2022


Why do we leave the comfort of our homes and go to a building that we call our church? Why is it called a church home? Are we really a family? 


Yes, we are.


Every believer in Jesus is a part of the family of God. Brothers and sisters living for Jesus and walking in His love. The goal is that the Holy Spirit will unify us in such a complete way that the world will see the pure love we have for each other. Then we will be able to give the reason for the hope that we have in this hopeless world. 


But we are not there yet! 


Sunday's message comes from the perspective of being part of the family of God, believers who have put their faith and hope in Christ. This faith and hope are not only for salvation. We are born again into this family, born of the Spirit and knit into the local church. This local group of believers is not perfect. As Pastor Doug stated, "We are a church family and family is messy". Messy, indeed. 


We are all so different! And God intends to smooth our rough edges. He will fit us together like a puzzle that we do not know what the end product looks like. Each of us has a part in the grand picture. Have you ever tried to force a puzzle piece into a spot just because it looks like it belongs there? 


Let's think of it another way. Say that we are all cells in the Body of Christ. Each of these cells belongs to a system or organ in that body. The toe doesn't look like the nose. The liver doesn't function like the lung. In order for the body to be whole, healthy, and working as it was intended to, it must receive the signals from the brain (the Head who is Jesus). If part of your knee is split, you will not run. If your heart has only part of a valve, it will not function properly.


Are we ready for God to heal us and put us where we need to be in the local church to function as He created us to? Are we willing to trust Him? 


We really find out who we are and what we believe when the trials of church life come.  

Every local body of believers has experienced dysfunction and division in one way or another.

The Scriptures highlighted this Sunday gives us a glimpse into the Corinthian church. If you were not able to take notes of Pastor Doug's message, here are they are:

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

1 Corinthians 4:3-7

1 Corinthians 4: 14-15


Consider that each of us is loved by God and valuable to Him! That alone puts a bullseye on your back. The enemy wants to take us down! Discredit the big "C" church. Look at any form of media today and see Christianity being mocked, ridiculed, and discredited. Let me suggest that we give the enemy a lot of material. God forgive us.


If we go back to the human body as an example, each part is distinct in its function. Despite this, we all have the same DNA. A group of misplaced cells in the body becomes a growth that could be cancerous. Don't go rogue. Pride and attention-seeking will only bring harm! Let's read James 3:13-18 in the Amplified Bible:


(13)Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his [good] deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant, and [as a result] be in defiance of the truth. (15) This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic. (16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice. (17) But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. (18) And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].


So what are we to do??

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)

(23)Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (24) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (25) not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


Let's pray with an open heart that God will put us where we need to be in the body of Christ, and then obey Him.


Let's encourage and pray for one another.


Let's fix our attention on Jesus and His Word.


Let's choose to mend divisions and sow peace.


Let's take responsibility for our sin and repent.


Let's allow God to grow us into who He wants us to be.


Let's watch God build His church!


To God be all the glory, honor, and praise!


In Jesus' Name, 


Amen

The Cloud, The Boy, and The Honest Prayer - June 16, 2022


Pastor Doug opened the Word to Mark 9:1-29 where we looked at two scenes of the life of Jesus. In the first, we see Jesus pull Peter, James, and John away from the other disciples to climb a high mountain. This was no big hill. It most probably was Mount Hermon in Northern Israel, an elevation of 9,232'. To put this in perspective, Mount Katahdin is at an elevation of 5,269'. Jesus was spending quality time with his inner circle. What do you think was racing through the minds of Peter, James, and John while they climbed the mountain with Jesus? Was there friendly banter and lively discussions of the events that they had just experienced? Or did they climb this mountain in silence, anticipating what their Teacher was going to show them? Little did they know what was about to happen. 


There, at the top, Jesus transformed and shone in His glory! The brilliant, white radiance that the disciples could not put into words. Simultaneously, Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus. This was so terrifying to the disciples, they were out of their wits. We know from the scripture that Peter, oh Peter how we relate to your humanity, he had to say something. "Why not build three tabernacles? One for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah?"  


Next, we read verse 7: 


"Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"


Jesus revealed to His inner circle that they were not to share this experience until He was raised from the dead. 


How do we envision the walk down the mountain? After that experience, they probably didn't want to go back to town and the crowds of people. How much would we have wanted to stay in this intimate time with Jesus? How difficult was it not to answer the probing questions that inevitably would come to them, "What happened up there?"


But they climbed down the mountain, forever changed by their experience. And when they got back to town, they were rushed by a crowd that included the rest of the disciples, scribes, and a father in crisis. 


This father had gone to the disciples looking for freedom for his young son, who had been in the grip of a demon for years. The seizures threw him into fire and water trying to kill him. How many years did this family suffer? For when a child suffers, no matter what their age, the whole family is wounded. Jesus was their last hope. And the father didn't even know if Jesus could help. Despair and trauma drain hope out of us. 


Jesus talked with him:


(21) And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. (22)"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" (23) And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." (24) Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief."


This honest prayer was answered immediately with Jesus casting out the demon and restoring the boy to health and peace. 


Why couldn't the disciples have the same result? Jesus said, 


(29) And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer."


How can we apply this word? Can we consider that we need to be completely honest with God and wait for His answer? His answer always comes at the right time and in the right way. It will always bring Him glory. It isn't easy to climb a mountain, but at the top in His Presence, we are changed. We will be prepared for all the problems and trials of life if we focus on Jesus. 


Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) We must be honest with Him. He knows what we are thinking anyway. Let's pour out our disappointments, our fears, our heartache, and our frustration to Him. He always has the answer. But oftentimes He will need to change our hearts first before we are ready for His solution to our problems. 


Are we open to letting go of our ideas and making room for His?


Let's not give up, family. Victory is just around the bend!


Your Sister in Jesus, 


Liz

Weapons Against Worry - June 8, 2022


Being human means that we are vulnerable to anxiety and worry. The moment we wake this duo presents themselves to us in a myriad of ways: Our physical bodies need food, shelter, and a sense of purpose. We desire good things for our family and friends. If we turn on our television or look at our phones, the first thing we see are circumstances that challenge our basic needs. When we visit the grocery store or the gas pump, the opportunity to worry welcomes us with open arms saying, "Come, let me crush you and drain the hope out of you."


This is not a new problem! There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9). So, why are we surprised when faced with seemingly insurmountable circumstances?


In Pastor Doug's sermon, "Weapons Against Worry", we are reminded and instructed by the Word of God in Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-34, 1 Kings 17:1-6, and Philippians 4:4-9. 


Let's take a few steps backward and look at the context of these passages.


In Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus is addressing the crowd in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. Here is Matthew 6:24 in "The Voice": 


Jesus: 24 No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second,

    or vice versa. 

    People try to serve both God and money—but you can’t. You must choose one or the other

Then our Lord speaks about not worrying. Where are our hearts? What do we treasure? 


The parallel scripture in Luke 12 reveals the same scene with the added conversation between Jesus and the man who wanted his brother's inheritance. To which Jesus replied in verses 14-21 addressing greed.


Our takeaway from this? We cannot serve God and money. We are not number one.


Then in the scriptures that follow, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, soothes us with words of light and love. He points us to turn our focus on Him. He will meet our needs.


What does this have to do with worry? 


When our focus is on our needs and the circumstances we are prone to worry, strive, and try to meet the need in our own strength. This position allows our minds and hearts to fill with anxiety and angst. In that position, there is no rest, no peace, and little hope. It is best to turn our hearts and focus on God! He is waiting for us to ask for His leadership and wisdom in everything. This is a prayer He will answer in His time and way. He is with us! He is our Defender, Provider, and Victory!


As Pastor Doug encouraged us, we need to use these weapons against worry: 

• Set our focus on God, Worship Him!

• Read the Word of God and get to know Him intimately, hide it in our hearts.

• Pray at all times and look for God's will.

• Lay your desires at God's feet and trust Him.

• Humbly accept God's provision.

• Live one day at a time in service to others

• Rejoice in the Lord

Remember: Hardships are opportunities to move closer to Him.


On a personal note, worry and anxiety are things that I have struggled with my whole life. Countless times I have put myself in extreme circumstances. I have tried to fix problems (and even people) in my own fleshly wisdom and strength. Our loving Father helped me through each difficulty. It hurt and I learned valuable lessons. The consequences of my stubborn, prideful sin were not removed, but when I humbly asked for God's strength, wisdom, and forgiveness, He amply provided. And I know that I can do nothing without Him that is of lasting value. 


God our Father is FAITHFUL and He is with us. 


Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of our faith!


Your Sister,  

Liz

Where Can I Go? - June 2, 2022


This past Sunday, Pastor Doug opened Psalm 139 to help us focus on a different portion of the beloved scripture.


(7)Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

(8) If I ascend to heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.

(9) If I take the wings of the dawn,

If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

(10) 

Even there Your hand will lead me,

And Your right hand will take hold of me.


Then Pastor lead us to Luke 15 where Jesus told three parables:

• The lost sheep

• The lost coin

• The prodigal son

Take a moment and read Luke 15.


Can you relate to any or all of these scenarios? We all can. In my 40 years as a believer, I have been in all three of these situations. How is that? 


• Like a lost sheep, I was looking to graze in a field that the Shepherd didn't lead me to and wandered far from Him. Jesus rescued me!

• Like the lost coin, my life was so surrounded by the clutter of daily life that I had lost my joy. The Holy Spirit fills me each day to overflowing if I ask Him to!

• As a prodigal, I chose my own way over God's way, forgetting that I was His child. When I returned, I was broken, ashamed, and stripped of everything. He restored me, and now I can do His work with joy and confidence!

Isn't it comforting to know that we belong to God? That there is no place where He is not? That He will rescue us with His right hand? Jesus paid the ultimate price to lay us on His shoulders and return us to the fold. The Holy Spirit wants to remove the clutter of our souls and place the treasure of His Word where it belongs so that we will be able to joyfully serve others. Father God loves us and wants us to do His work with His love, purpose, and authority.


Don't lose sight of Him and stray. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith. He will finish what He has started. We are wonderfully and beautifully made. We are the delight of His heart.


Your Sister in Jesus, 

Liz

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