Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Hope Embraced

     I was in my first year semester at Florida Beacon Bible College in Largo, Fl. (Over 30 years ago) Christmas break was upon us and everyone was getting to go home except me.  But then one of my dorm mates was going home to Hershey, Pa. offered to let me ride with her and we could take a day to go see my family in NJ.  Now Julia came from a strong Mennonite family and they took me in just as one of their daughters… even gave me chores to do.
     On Christmas morning I was hit with the reality of being with this family and not home.  I just couldn't get out of the bed with the thought of intruding upon this family's Christmas. My friend Julia kept telling me to get up, but I stayed in bed.  Finally her father poked his head in and said; “Young lady get up now!”  I was up fast.
     The family sat together to read the Christmas story from the book of Luke and pray. Then their father reached under the tree to hand out gifts to whoever’s name was on the gift.  The gift was placed in front of them to wait until all the gifts were handed out so that each person could be focused on individually. I watched as each person started getting a pile in front of them. Suddenly, I heard “Cindy”… And I heard it several more times. I ended up with a pile as big as the others.

     An overwhelming feeling of love, acceptance & forgiveness from God and this family flooded my whole being! I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or run and hide. I was blessed & humbled beyond words. I didn’t have anything to give them but they gave me more than just material things. They gave me hope and began the healing process in my life!
     My birthday happens to be December 27 and they have a daughter whose birthday is December 29. She was having some of her young adult friends from college and church over for a birthday dinner.  Again they surprised with the birthday cake having both of our names on it, and not only the family but this girl's friends handed me birthday gifts. Again, what an overwhelming sense of love!

     God was using this family to teach me that He loves accepts and forgives me. From that day on I vowed to God that I would do whatever I could to show people His love acceptance and forgiveness. 
     It gets even better!  Little did I know that one day God would place me in a church family whose motto is “Come visit us at Longview Church of God where you will be greeted with unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness.” 
     This is just one story out of my testimony. Maybe someday I will share the whole story.  God has brought me a very long wait these past 30 years and He's still working on me. I'm so glad he doesn't give up on us! To God be the glory!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Integrity Matters

         Well this thought has been rolling around in my spirit for the past few days so I finally decided to share it. It’s about a particular word and it’s definition is often not fully understood. This word often became a a subject of strong discussion, especially in our Ministry or  Biblical Leadership classes. The word? INTEGRITY
     One question that kept surfacing was, “Why is that so many pastors, church & ministry leaders are lacking in this area?”  By the way, my former students agreed that integrity should be a strong character trait for any Christian, not just leaders.  Another question asked was, “Why do so many people not follow through with doing things they said they would do?” That leads to distrust.
     The dictionary definition of integrity is: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  SYNONYMS: honestyrectitudehonor, good character, principle(s), ethics,morals, righteousnessmoralityvirtuedecency, fairness, scrupulousness, sinceritytruthfulness, trustworthiness.  "I never doubted his integrity"
"He is known to be a man of integrity"

     Look at Proverbs 11:3 -  The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.

     Dr.Richard J. Krejcir says “The (character of integrity exhibits the obedience and practice of the moral code of ethics, morals, values, and precepts from God's Word. In practice, integrity will produce honor, truth, and reliability. It will allow one to keep his or her word and do the best even when no one else is aware. This is essential for deeper relationships, and of course for developing other people's confidence in you and Christianity.”

     I totally agree with that statement!  So, now that you know a little more about the word integrity.  Make sure you can follow through with the promises you make to others before speaking them out.

     This post is by no means a complete study on this subject, rather just a little something to chew on, especially during the Christmas season when so many promises are made and not kept.

     In closing, I am not sure if I will get another post on before Christmas, so if not… I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Comforted by the Lord

     Wow! The busy month of December has begun! But for some it’s a month of pain. Some have lost loved ones due to death. Some have been through the pain of separation and divorce, or having a child go wayward. This time of year often brings painful things to people. However, there is hope. God through his son Jesus wants to bring comfort to your life during this season. Once again let’s use an acronym to see how we can receive God’s comfort in our lives.
Cares “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
    We must cast all of our cares on the Lord. Despite what you may feel or what others have told you, God does care for you. But it requires faith and trust to believe that.
Omniscient – “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk...” Psalms 142:3
     The word “omniscient” means, “all knowing.” God knows everything from the beginning to the end. He knows the paths our lives will travel. As I have often heard preachers say, “Nothing comes to our lives that doesn’t first go through the hand of God.” His grace and his all knowing can be trusted to carry us through any situation.
Meditate - "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8
     One of the best things we can do to receive the comfort of the Lord is to daily read the bible. Did you know that the book of Psalms is the most read book of the bible? Why? Because David shows that he is human, which we can all relate to. Many of his psalms start off with a trial but he always end with giving praise to God for providing a way out of troubling situations. W can do the same. Things may look bleak, but if we will hide God’s word in our heart, the praises will begin to flow from our lips before all is said and done.
Faith“… if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
     Do you see that? Even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed it is enough to move mountains. So don’t accept the lie from the devil that your faith is too little to do receive strength and comfort from God. Put to use what you have and the Lord will multiply it
Omnipotent – “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; his understanding is infinite.”Psalms 147:5     Here we see another interesting word. Omnipotent means “all powerful.” God is more powerful than anything else in the world.  When you find yourself feeling weak and defeated ask God to show up in his power to remedy things as only he can do.
Rest "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28
     What an offer! Jesus was telling us in this verse that if we will give him all of our burdens, he would give us his rest. That’s a great promise to hold on to when the going gets tough.
Trust – “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
     This may be a familiar scripture but it is so true. If we lean on our understanding we will mess things up every time. No matter how difficult this season is, make an effort to trust the Lord. Trust him that he will help you with the pain, with the memories, with whatever it is that you need in your life right now.
     All of this takes me back another familiar scriptures found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
     Oh my friend, how the Lord wants to comfort you! He wants to comfort you so that you have peace and are comforted. But, he also wants to comfort you so that someday you will be able to share that same comfort with someone who crosses your path and is need of healing from the scars of life.

     In closing, I don’t negate the pain you’re experiencing. But, I want to encourage you that it’s the end. God wants you to move forward with your life. He wants to heal you of your pain so that you can be his instrument of comfort to someone else along the way in your journey. Be encouraged, the best is yet ahead!