Tag Archives: Lord

Eternal Life

John 3 (ESV)

You Must Be Born Again

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you  do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Eternal life.  Can it be imagined? With the difficulties on this earth it seems at times unhealthy to consider eternal life.   Who wants to continue living with such sorrows and desperate situations.  Who would want to live an eternity?

Well, with the Lord Jesus Christ we have in Him the desire to want more.  More than this life on earth.  There is a desire to live a life serving a most holy God.  The eternity Christ is talking about is not like that which we observe today, it’s quite the opposite.

Revelation 21 (ESV)

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place  of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,  and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”…….

Revelation 22 (ESV)

The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever……

We get a glimpse of what is yet to come in Revelation.  Just a tad bit of info to wet the soul of his saints, to cling to his Word, wanting more, wanting that eternal life with Him.  Very different than that which we have today.  Something more.  Something not yet seen.

Dear friends, it pains me to know that so many do not yet call upon His name.   Please know that there is so much more.  So much more to this world.  Knowing God and seeing his providential care over your life gathers strength to get through the sorrows and the difficulties.  Without Him beside us, we wither away into a depressive state of wandering.  Wandering through the thicket of a forest which encapsulates it’s visitor, not allowing for an exit.  Only through He that gives life does one find a way out.  Only through time studying His word does one find hope.

It is with great prayer that this finds you well with your soul. If not, I pray that you may be inspired to learn more about the almighty who gave you life and who offers so much more.

Sufficiency of God

God’s care for his people is sufficient!  There can be no doubt.  Joy comes from knowing who He is, what He has done for us, what he has provided for us, and what we have to look forward to in serving Him.    I sat in amazement the other night in church as the teaching was on Approaching God from Psalm 131.  It was a very nice follow up to what I had previously that morning posted on my blog.  It wrapped up my thoughts and was like a gift handed back.  I just had to share it here with you.  Hope you will take the time to listen.

What Really Matters?

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For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.        2 Corinthians 2:15-17

Watching the news can be traumatizing these days.  It seems the world is falling apart and no one has control over anything.  There is conflict everywhere.  War overseas, tensions amongst Americans, divorce between parents, millennials not knowing when adulthood begins, sexual confusion tearing at the seams of the fabric of creation, growing numbers of cases of disease and outright moral conflict between right and wrong.  Where in the world do we find peace and hope?  Is there any?

If you haven’t noticed, I have been out of the loop lately.  My blogging has been a bit sparse.  I blame it on quite a number of things, from loss, to health, to not knowing what to say in times of constant turmoil.  I mean, what I want to say and what I should say are not in conjunction with one another and finding the right words were not coming as easily as they normally do.  That is however, until today.  Well, that’s only partially true…I started stirring with “blogger” thoughts last week, today is the first day I’ve had time to sit down and put them on the board.

A friend and I began doing a book study together.  Something that we both were excited to start for a few months.  We finally began and I have to say, I am thrilled.  Anything that can bring me closer to the Lord in study is a joy.  It gets me out of the “what is happening in this world” mentality, and takes me to the “thank you Lord for saving me out of this world” mentality.  Those little reminders to thank the Lord for life, grace, and eternal salvation bring a smile to my face, hope in my thoughts, stamina to continue on and keep me grounded in purpose.

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13

I often wonder what people think of when they consider their lives.  I mean, do they look at their lives and thank the Lord for what they have and for their future?  Or do they look at their lives and say, “I’m just not rich enough, happy enough, or wise enough so I need to make changes… so look out world here I come.  I don’t care who is in my way or who I destroy in the  mean time.  After all, my life is my life and I need to be happy and have it all.”  Crazy as that may sound, in my eyes, that is what I see in people when I look around.  I see it in relationships, in groups, in family, on TV and in movies.  I have wept, prayed, prayed some more and at times come close to shutting down, wanting to turn off all social media, electronics and lock the door from the world.   Right or wrong, it saddens me that the world is so brutal to human emotion.  That being said, as I write this it’s noticed that what was just said has one considering “I” and “me”.  This life isn’t about “me”, it’s about something greater than that.

The sadness I have felt over these issues however, has been overshadowed with joy in the last few weeks.  Why?  Well, its due to the simple fact that I am reminded,

For by grace you have been saved through faith.   And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.   Ephesians 2:8-10

In our study  we are reading about our purpose in this life.  Why were we created to be saved?  The answers are always present and sometimes it takes the nudge of the Lord during these times of distress to remind us of His plan for us and how we should be living.  Remembering this, takes the “me” out of living.

Am I speaking about you?  Do you have the hope needed to continue on in this life?  Consider it.  Consider where you are.  Consider how you are living.  Consider what could be holy vs. worldly.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought  life and immortality to light through the gospel…  2 Timothy 8-11

Does suffering for the gospel mean that we are unhappy?  No.  We don’t have the need for the fancy car, the perfect spouse, the perfect house, perfect job, perfect health, etc. etc.  Looking at the fact that God called his people out of a life of sin brings joy to believers, and a peace that nothing can compare to.  Just as I said above, we may get sad over the thought of the destruction of this world that was created so beautifully by God, yet we have joy knowing that there is so much more.

Prayerfully, my thoughts will continue to swell with blog worthy writing and a sweeping message of hope will be captured for others to embrace.   Have a blessed week/weekend and enjoy the sun this summer day.

Rich or Poor?

God’s word is such an amazing gift.  Never failing to assure me of His presence, His written word sustains my soul.   It’s not easy to be reminded of my former self prior to my knowing the truth of the gospel, nor is it easy at times to keep myself standing firm.  The worldly obstacles that pop up like gophers in the Whack the Gopher arcade games come when I least expect them.  Yet, the Lord’s grace falls upon my quiet time and brings me closer to Him reminding me who I am now and the promise of what is yet to come.

In yesterdays quiet time study, I was reading Spurgeon’s morning devotional and it was from Galations 2:10,  ‘Remember the poor’.  As it started out asking the question of ‘Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor?’ my first answer prior to continuing on was “So that he can fill their hearts with Him and with treasurers of the written word.”  I had stopped reading after the first question to contemplate the gifts that are offered to us from a God who has already given more than any of us on earth can give.  He offers these gifts to those who he calls by name.

(John 10:3 – To him the gatekeeper opens.  The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  John 10:7-9 “Truly truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved an will go in and out and find pasture.)

I did end up reading the rest of Spurgeons morning devotional and he took the study in a different direction, reminding that the Lord has all the control in the world to give his children all their wants and riches, yet he holds back, ‘allowing them to suffer want’.  The reason for this is explained by Spurgeon that God wants to ‘give us, who are favored with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus’.  Through prayer, song and ministering of the truth to the poor in spirit,  we have the opportunity to show God’s love through the caring of the poor.  Leading with a loving heart toward the riches of salvation and an eternity with an everlasting loving Shepherd.

As I continued on to the study I have been working on in Psalm 119.  I read Psalm 119: 9-16 and was overwhelmed at the words before me and their correlation to the devotional…

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.  10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11  I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!  13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.  14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.  15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.  16 I will delight indoor statutes; I will not forget your word. 

I read Calvins’ commentary and then Mathew Henrys’.  Although I gleaned a greater understanding of the Psalm passage  through both authors, I was particularly struck by Henry it’s relationship to my morning reading by Spurgeon.  Here are some of my take aways:

v. 9 – Making the word of God the rule, following it, studying it, and making it a priority in youth and in life protects and guards, cleansing oneself more than any other form

charting ones own course only end up steering self into a course of destruction; lost; empty;

comfort comes from following the course set out by the Lord;  through the trust and faith of His word, and all that He sets before us;  our path may be winding and narrow, yet He is our guide;  the written word should not be taken lightly and without ponder

v. 10 – pleasure comes from the keeping of God’s commandments;  we will wander less off the path if we stay focused on preserving what is before us in the written word

v. 11 – (this one particularly struck me and kept me thinking all day…)  Hiding the word in our heart; knowing it, preserving it’s truth and living it out;  by hiding it in the heart it cannot be stolen, lost;  ‘It’s a treasure worth laying up.’ (Henry’s words)  (A treasure…hidden in one self; so that even if the mind fails, it’s held within the heart and kept safe.)

(again, Henrys’ words)  Good men are afraid of sin, and are in care to prevent it; the most effectual way to prevent is to hide God’s word in our hearts that we may answer every temptation, as ourMaster did, with, It is written.

v. 12 – continually pray that the Lord will teach and provide; praise Him for His continued blessings

v. 13-16 – the filling of the word in the heart allows for the sharing of the word; (Henrys’ wordsThose whose hearts are fed with the bread of life should with their lips feed many. ; obedience brings rejoicing; truth in the gospel brings ‘riches in Christ’.

(Henrys’ words)  Good thoughts produce good works and good intentions in them ; mediation on God’s word provides a safety net without fear or danger in forgetting.

The Riches in Christ are from the study, perseverance and preservation of God’s word.  The promises are complete, unwavering and secure for those He calls by name.  What a blessing that no matter how poor we are in status on this earth or how poor we are in spirit, we have a guide and a guidebook that can walk us through every step of the way.  As the sheep who are called to follow, and as those who are already rich with the truth overflowing, and preserved in the security of our hearts, we can share the riches of Christ and the sustaining truth with others who do not know the comfort and peace otherwise.

To God be the glory in all things.  Be blessed sweet reader as you go forth in this troubling world and know that there is peace if it is sought, held tight and hidden away in the heart.

The Valley of Vision

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A few years ago I was blessed with spending a great deal of time with a friend who was losing her husband to an illness that he had battled for a number of years.  Through out our time together I had thought that I was being used to help her get through her difficult time, however, over the years I have realized that I was the one that was blessed and she unknowingly helped prepare me for my own future heartache.  Through those lengthy talks, prayers, and cherished moments together I learned and am able to use today the wisdom of waiting on the Lord and how to live with loss.

I thought I knew what it meant to wait upon the Lord, however, nothing in my past has prepared me for what our family has been dealing with more recently.  In the last several years I have had to accept loss of family, loss of friends, loss of health and currently loss that comes with economic changes.  Loss comes in all shapes and sizes and in all sorts of ways.  Some are permanent and some are temporary.  Looking through the loss and looking for the clearing on the other side of the fog can be difficult if you are not given the eyes to see it through.  Waiting upon the Lord gives clarity.

I have found that staying in prayer and surrounding myself with others of like mindedness in faith always carry me through.  The Lord continues to peel back the layers of scales that grow upon my eyes.  Each layer giving me new perspective and helping me to grow closer to Him.

My friend, during our time together, introduced me to a wonderful book that I quite often find solace in.  As my morning in worship came to a close, I learned of a situation which I have no control over and I felt lost.  I so wanted to be “in the know” and a part of a solution for a loved one that I lost sight of my own boundaries.  Caring with only your heart and not your head will stretch any boundary and although some of us have hearts full of  love for others, it’s the head that needs to remind self of the purpose.  If I was wanted, I would have been “in the know”, if I was needed then I would have been called.  Everyone makes decisions that are best for them and I need to respect that.  My heart may be breaking and my mind may feel the sorrow, however this was one more example of how the valley is what feeds the soul, not the mountain.  I’ve said it for years in numerous bible studies that as children of a Holy God, we are not fed at the top of the mountain, (where we typically seek to find Him) we are fed in the valley’s (where we always hear Him).  So, in this little book sweetly and ironically called The Valley of Vision I once again find clarity in my valley and once again I thank my friend for the blessing of a little book of wisdom.

The Valley of Vision

LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,                                                                   Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,                                                                                where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;                                                         hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,                                                     that to be low is to be high,                                                                                                         that the broken heart is the healed heart,                                                                                   that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,                                                                          that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,                                                                           that to have nothing is to possess all,                                                                                          that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,                                                                               that to give is to receive,                                                                                                              that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,                                                      and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;                                

Let me find thy light in my darkness,                                                                                         thy life in my death,                                                                                                                       thy joy in my sorrow,                                                                                                                     thy grace in my sin,                                                                                                                         thy riches in my poverty                                                                                                                thy glory in my valley.

Friends, in your valley, I pray that you not just seek but that you hear the Word of God that feeds your soul.  That you find solace in your times of sorrow and strength in times of weakness.  On this Sunday, I pray for continued wisdom and for accountability when it comes to my own sinfulness.

A Little Perspective

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2Corinthians 1:3-4

In studying JOB, I have come to understand more clearly the value of trusting God, His Word, and His mercies that are offered to His flock.  Calling out to him over the last year, whether my day was filled with pain or exhaustion, I admittedly had moments where I complained over my circumstances, yet I also knew and had faith that God had a plan.  I was comforted in knowing that He would utilize my situation to His glory and that nothing I go through in this world is too great when I have Him by my side.

I have a picture with a beautiful poem about the Lord carrying us in our times of trouble and the picture has one set of footprints walking in the sand.  Although I enjoy the concept of Him carrying us through this life, I think I would rather consider Him as a partner walking beside me like a seeing eye “friend”.  Pointing out obstacles, directing my footsteps, guiding me down the path of life leading to His narrow gate.  Nurturing me along the journey so that in the end He will be glorified.

One of our questions in our study asked whether we have ever encountered God in a way that transformed our understanding of or attitude toward Him?  We were then asked to share the experience and tell how our view of God was changed.

My answer was yes and I went on to explain.  Our move to our current location was not an easy transition.  We moved to a state that we had never stepped into, knowing absolutely no one, and to top it off it was in the winter.  We lived in a two bedroom apartment for two months while we sought out our current home.  The kids had school and were making friends, my husband had work and new relationships to nurture while I had a realtor once a week.  My days were very lonely.

I had left behind a volunteer position at the kids school that kept me working every day as the school librarian, room mom for one class, a bible study that I had been a part of for 10 years, childhood friends, college friends, family and ladies that I had befriended after our third move.  My involvement with our church included VBS, women’s ministry, fundraisers and the meal delivery service for our brothers and sisters within the church that I was in charge of.   I  was running with kids to Karate classes two days a week, baseball three days a week, dance classes 3 days a week, boy scouts  and brownies every other week and our weekends were spent at a cottage.   To say that I was busy is an understatement.  In fact, one of my friends gave me a mug for my birthday that said, “Note to self:  Stop volunteering for stuff”.

In my loneliness, I found that going to the Lord was giving me encouragement.  In my times of human weakness, however, I sought out to find purpose for myself in our new town.  I thought I needed to be a part of something, other than just looking for a house for the family.  So after a month of spending one day a week cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping and doing laundry, another day going out with the realtor, and the rest of my week spent sitting alone reading the word of God, I went in to our new church and requested a list of activities and groups that our family could be a part of.  I distinctly remember breaking down in tears in front of the secretaries.  Not sure what else to do, they presented me with a list of people to call and activities that may interest us.

One by one we reached out, seeking out purpose, more for myself than the rest of the family.  After all, they were meeting people and making friends.  I was the one who was trying to find my niche.  Each time we reached out, we hit a dead end.  Either the groups were full or after receiving information we decided that the group was not what we were interested in.  Once again, I remember finding myself in tears.  As our second month approached, we had found our house and we were waiting for it to be completed as it had been a new construction.  One more day would be added to my loneliness as I no longer had my day with the realtor.  Another moment of tears.  I remember asking God why and I also remember complaining.

One day, as I was reading His word, I was struck by the time I had to be with Him.  I’m not sure exactly what took place, however, I felt this peace that I had not known since our move.  I came to the realization that prior to our move, my time with Lord was when I could fit Him in, between projects and activities.   I scheduled my time with Him based on what worked for me.  In the two months of being in the apartment I realized that all I had was time to spend with Him.  He had become my best friend, my caretaker, and my encourager.  He was walking beside me and was giving me comfort in my times of loneliness.  I was not alone, I just didn’t have perspective.

I remember thanking Him for all that He was doing for me and my family.  For giving us all that we needed.  Even though we were in a two bedroom apartment and ate dinners at a table in the living room by the couch.  We all have said that they were the best two months we’ve ever had as a family.   As a family, we grew closer, enjoying our time together since we didn’t have any extra curricular activities vying for our time.

I would say that during that time I encountered God as I had not known him before.  The focus in my years prior to our move were spent trying to do all the good in the world, doing all that I could for my family and for others.  I spent time with him when He fit into my schedule, praying while I was driving and in my quiet time upon waking and before bed.   After our move, I had refocused my attention, turning my daily schedule into a time of continued worship of Him.  To my pleasant surprise, my Heavenly Father was there waiting for me and He met with me giving me peace, understanding and perspective.  He didn’t ask me to wait until He had time in His schedule, He was ready and willing to offer mercy, grace, and love when I needed it the most.

Rather than seeing Him as a Holy God who was too busy to notice whether or not I took time out for Him, I realized He was a Holy God who is a jealous God that needed me to take that next step in knowing Him.  I was transformed!  I don’t mean that I became a christian at that point, I knew I was a christian and had been for many years.  I was however, growing in my knowledge of Him and who He truly was.  Humbled by His time with me and my recognition of His Almighty character, I prayed that He would lead me and open doors when He was ready for me to once again serve outside of the home.  I said that prayer in church one night and at the end of the service a woman approached me asking me to be a part of a prayer group.  Timing was everything.  Once again, I thanked Him, knowing that all He wanted me to trust in Him and His plan for my life.   Each experience I have endured since the Lord called me by name has helped me to grow closer to Him and has given me new perspective.

In watching Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer recently with my daughter, I am reminded that sometimes we need to be in a different place, focusing on something other than ourselves to gain perspective.  Not unlike what God did with JOB.  JOB had his own thoughts and considerations in defending himself pridefully with his friends, yet it took God’s audience with JOB to show him a new perspective that included who he was in comparison to who God was.   Isn’t that so like the life of a christian?  When we stray from the herd, our shepherd uses His staff to to gently remind us of our place in the flock.

I challenge you reader to look at your current affliction and look for opportunities to give you a new perspective.  Preferably, allowing God to be a part of that process.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  2Corinthians 4:7-11

 

Joy Through Affliction

 

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Can I somehow relay to anyone through my words how much rejoicing has been going on in my heart the last few months and especially yesterday?  I mean, even though my Lyme symptoms have returned, my joy in Him has not subsided.

Psalm 4:7   You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

Psalm 71:23  My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

My husband and I have been married for 21 years next month.  During that time we have had many trials, heart aches, and afflictions overwhelm our relationship.  Through every timely attack, we have managed to cling to one another.  Oh, it’s not always been easy, and for the first 12 years it was especially tough in our home.  I remember my early walk with the Lord, knowing and understanding fully who He was, as being a lonely venture.  Lonely in that God’s timing for my husband was not in sync with His timing with me.  I prayed for those twelve years that God would change my husbands heart, that He would show my husband His Word and Grace so that we could grow together.  At times, God likely heard my prayers to be more like begging.  Pleading for the release of my husbands hardened heart so that he would hear God’s calling and crave to know the truth as I was learning it.  Let’s just clearly say, it was a long 12 years and the support from others to continue on was at times quite at odds with scripture and felt more like worldly advice  attacks.

At the bible study I attended weekly during that time, an older, wiser Titus 2 woman who was in our leaders group reminded all of us through a devotional that sometimes we need to release our wants and desires and give it up to the Lord, for as we know all things are in His timing.  That our will was not always His will and that we needed to trust Him.

Wow!  Wait… hold the presses… I knew that!  Yet my daily prayer for 12 consistent years had been pleading my will upon the Lord’s heartstrings.  I was begging for something rather than trusting and praying for God’s will to be done in my husbands life.  Why had I not asked God for my own patience?  Why had I not prayed for acceptance of where God had my husband at that time?  I remember beating myself up about my own prayers and how selfish they were.  I wasn’t trusting God to just do as He needed.  It was that day that I went home and got on my knees and asked for God’s forgiveness in not trusting Him.  I repented for my lack of patience and asked God to give me strength to wait upon Him and His timing for my husband…. If that is what the Lord intended.  I did not know if my husband would ever accept Christ nor if God would ever even call upon my husband to be one of His flock.  I just knew that I needed to trust the plan God had for us and to stay true to Him and all that He is.

Two weeks from the day of that prayer, my husband was asked by a personal friend who he respected, if he wanted to begin a bible study with him.  My husband accepted the invitation.  We went to the store and bought him a study bible and he began studying God’s word.  I kid you not, I stood in amazement.  I have to say that for a period of time, God allowed my husband to continue serving the prince of the earth while also learning about God’s truth.  There was a true battle of good vs. evil at work.  At the final turning point,  the crushing lowest point of my husbands life, he began to see that he could not be of both worlds and the Lord began to strengthen my husbands desire for truth and soften his once hardened heart.  He admittedly prayed about hypocracy and that he no longer wanted the sinful part of his life.  He asked God for help in getting rid of the sins and continued temptations that were trying to overtake him.

John 3:5-8  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is born of the spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

God did not turn a blind eye.  He helped my husband see the errors of his ways, and gave him the nourishment of truth that he so desired.  The ever present Holy Spirit walked with him giving him an unknown desire for learning the scriptures.  As time went forth, the fruit of God’s work in his life was being seen and his life was reflective of a life being lived out to serve our heavenly creator.

John 15:1-11  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that  does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you,  unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

All of those years since, I and others have seen a complete transformation.  Out of darkness came a blessing of light that has touched the lives of so many.   He has over that last 9 years, become the man I prayed for him to become.  He may live in this world yet he too is not of this world.  He was called, he heard, he acted.  He has not taken the gospel for granted.  He studies, he craves the word, and he longs for truth.  All in God’s timing!

John 15:16-17   You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 

Romans 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed  by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

You may ask what in the world this has to do with my joy.  Well, yesterday my beloved husband was blessed with the induction of becoming a deacon in our church.  This is not a role to be taken lightly.  For many months our family in Christ has been praying over those being called into this position, and we have been praying that “God’s Will Be Done”.

1 Timothy 3:8-13  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  Their wives must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.  Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their  own households well.  For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.  

I was asked by several people yesterday how I felt to be a deacons wife.  Honestly, I am not sure I should feel any different.  After all, my husband has been called to a role he is meant to serve in, and I am gladly sitting by supporting him, just as I have been supporting him our entire 21 years of marriage.

Romans 12:3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself  more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  

If I have to admit to any feeling, it would be joy.  Joy over the transformation  that has carried my husband out of death and into Life.

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God, is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am not overly joyful about titles, yet I am overjoyed at the knowledge I have of where we have been and where we are today.  I am also overjoyed at knowing that God’s timing is perfect, in every way and that my husbands serving heart embraces God’s will.

Romans 14:16-18    So do not let what you regard as good to be spoken of as evil.  For the kingdom of God  is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved  by men.

Since I know he reads my blogs, I want to add one more thing:

Honey, I love you and am pleased to be on this journey with you.  Together,  we can support one another through all that comes our way with the strength of  Jesus Christ.  I love you!

I know that I am not alone in saying congratulations.  🙂  

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Jim would be proud that you have been a willing servant for He who rescued you out of death to give you Life and that you continue to trust in His will over all that comes your way.  I knew when I saw you helping Jim with his final walk toward everlasting peace with the Lord, that your were meant to serve your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  With this last year being so tough, you never wavered taking care of me.  

Thank you My Love, and yes, I am pleased to say I am a deacons wife!   

 

 

Faith or Works

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“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” Galations 4:22-24

The question in our study asked to record and explain the two images Paul uses to illustrate how the Law functions. The two images were prison and guardian. How could it be both?

My answer to the how was to consider a plane in a holding pattern. Number 3 in a line of 6 sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off. As a patron in the plane, likely having sat on that plane for about 1/2 hour already at that time, one could feel as though they are in prison. Not able to get out of the seat, not able to use the phone, not able lay the seat back. It is a requirement that one follows the rules of the plane at this time. However, as the pilot, hearing and knowing that the holding pattern they are in is truly a protection from being hit by other planes and that waiting their turn is worth the safety of the crew and patrons on board.

How wonderful that the fulfillment of Christ’s death on the cross set us free from the imprisonment of the law. If ever you’ve read the law laid out for god’s people of the Old Testament you would realize that it’s quite complicated. One could easily feel imprisoned, especially since the Law did not give them freedom, it only gave them a recognition of their sins and their death to them. Only the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his death could provide life. I wonder how many people that call themselves Christians understand this? Being a homeschool mom, I have over the years met and observed many groups/people that practice much of the Old Testament Law. I often wonder if they truly know Christ and understand that there is nothing they can do obtain salvation. I wonder if they understand that the covenant made to Abraham in Genesis, came 430 years prior to the law.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Galations 12:1-3

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Galations 3:17-18

The understanding that we can do nothing to obtain salvation other than through the freedom in Christ is sometimes twisted by unbelievers so that they feel freedom in sinful behavior as long as they claim to believe in Christ. I’ve even heard it said that if someone is a good person and they do good works and have lived a clean life they are saved. Even if the person outwardly has claimed they don’t believe in God. I would argue and have argued that one is not saved through such criteria.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:29-31

So then what freedom does a person claiming to believe in Jesus have? Can he or she knowingly still freely sin? Are the 10 commandments null and void due to the coming of Christ?

NO!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37

Can someone just say he or she believes in Christ and they are saved? How do we know it’s genuine? What about alter calls? I have to be honest in saying that I myself find it hard to judge the heart of another. Just as one of the two thieves on the cross deserved death, he was not baptized, he did not follow the law, yet he believed in Christ, genuinely, and Christ understood his heart. He was welcomed by the Lord unconditionally other than his proclamation of faith. Consider however, he did not have a life further to live. He was dying alongside our Lord. For healthy humans who say they believe, if they are genuine in their faith there is a change of heart and their lives begin to reflect that change.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for this soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels int he glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:24-27

And again in Mark 8:34-36 the above is again repeated. Ending with: “For what can a man give in return for his soul? for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in his adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:37-38

Keeping God’s commandments, and doing good works are all a result of saving faith. The requirement of the Law of the Old Testament as atonement for sins is no longer required since Christ died on the cross. Good works by those who love Him however, still exist as a result of one’s faith in Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothes and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

But someone will say to you, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God , and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:18-26

Why has this subject been swarming in my mind this past week? I’m not sure other than to say it is God’s providence that I have a blog to share with others. To write about my understanding of His words and to share what I know with those who may not understand. For we know not the way the Lord may touch the human soul. Through a song, a friend, a family member, a loss, a tragedy, or maybe through a blog.

I hope you find your week to be blessed and that you can see Him. May your hearts be stirred to know him more completely through His Word.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 (The commentary on this verse claims it is addressing a deep spiritual longing to seek the Lord while he may be found. The word Come is all one needs to do in order to find mercy in God. ESV Study Bible Commentary)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Faith or Works

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“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”         Galations 4:22-24

The question in our study asked to record and explain the two images Paul uses to illustrate how the Law functions.   The two images were prison and guardian.  How could it be both?

My answer to the how was to consider a plane in a holding pattern.  Number 3 in a line of 6 sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off.  As a patron in the plane, likely having sat on that plane for about 1/2 hour already at that time, one could feel as though they are in prison. Not able to get out of the seat, not able to use the phone, not able lay the seat back.  It is a requirement that one follows the rules of the plane at this time.  However, as the pilot, hearing and knowing that the holding pattern they are in is truly a protection from being hit by other planes and that waiting their turn is worth the safety of the crew and patrons on board.

How wonderful that the fulfillment of Christ’s death on the cross set us free from the imprisonment of the law.  If ever you’ve read the law laid out for god’s people of the Old Testament you would realize that it’s quit complicated.  One could easily feel imprisoned, especially since the Law did not give them freedom, it only gave them a recognition of their sins and their death to them.  Only the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his death could provide life.   I wonder how many people that call themselves Christians understand this?  Being a homeschool mom, I have over the years met and observed many groups/people that practice much of the Old Testament Law.  I often wonder if they truly know Christ and understand that there is nothing they can do obtain salvation.  I wonder if they understand that the covenant made to Abraham in Genesis, came 430 years prior to the law.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Galations 12:1-3

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.  Galations 3:17-18

The understanding that we can do nothing to obtain salvation other than through the freedom in Christ is sometimes twisted by unbelievers so that they feel freedom in sinful behavior as long as they claim to believe in Christ.  I’ve even heard it said that if someone is a good person and they do good works and have lived a clean life they are saved.  Even if the person outwardly has claimed they don’t believe in  God.  I would argue and have argued that one is not saved through such criteria.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:29-31

So then what freedom does a person claiming to believe in Jesus have?  Can he or she knowingly still freely sin?  Are the 10 commandments null and void due to the coming of Christ?

NO!  

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

I am praying for them.  I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  John 17:9

“Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:14

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  John 6:37

Can someone just say he or she believes in Christ and they are saved?  How do we know it’s genuine?  What about alter calls?  I have to be honest in saying that I myself find it hard to judge the heart of another.  Just as one of the two thieves on the cross deserved death, he was not baptized, he did not follow the law, yet he believed in Christ, genuinely, and Christ understood his heart.  He was welcomed by the Lord unconditionally other than his proclamation of faith.  Consider however, he did not have a life further to live.  He was dying alongside our Lord.  For healthy humans who say they believe, if they are genuine in their faith there is a change of heart and their lives begin to reflect that change.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:3-8

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what shall a man give in return for this soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels int he glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”  Matthew 16:24-27

And again in Mark 8:34-36 the above is again repeated.  Ending with:  “For what can a man give in return for his soul?  for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in his adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:37-38

Keeping God’s commandments, and doing good works are all a result of saving faith.  The requirement of the Law of the Old Testament as atonement for sins is no longer required since Christ died on the cross.  Good works by those who love Him however, still exist as a result of one’s faith in Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothes and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  James 2:14-17

But someone will say to you, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe – and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God , and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  James 2:18-26

Why has this subject been swarming in my mind this past week?  I’m not sure other than to say it is God’s providence that I have a blog to share with others.  To write about my understanding of His words and to share what I know with those who may not understand.  For we know not the way the Lord may touch the human soul.  Through a song, a friend, a family member, a loss, a tragedy, or maybe through a blog.

I hope you find your week to be blessed and that you can see Him.  May your hearts be stirred to know him more completely through His Word.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Isaiah 55:1       (The commentary on this verse claims it is  addressing a deep spiritual longing to seek the Lord while he may be found.  The word Come is all one needs to do in order to find mercy in God.  ESV Study Bible Commentary)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Past vs. Present

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I admit it, I’m a bible thumper.  I enjoy being in church and when we travel I miss fellowship with those who are dear to my heart, my church family.  I enjoy learning about the history of the gospel, the truth of God’s Word and the approach of which we should all be living out our lives if we are truly sheep of His flock.  I am continually held accountable through conviction of my own sins and am blessed by the knowledge that I will never be perfected in Christ until my redemption through death.

I remember the day I sought out His will for my life and that of my unborn child.  The day I wept in prayer seeking forgiveness for a life spent looking for happiness and “fun”.  Oh, it has been a journey and sanctification can be long and sometimes difficult.  Attending a world wide bible study with over 17 denominations, yes there are many, I learned about reading the bible and how to study scripture.  I learned about how to be a wife and a mother as God intends, a friend, a servant and a daughter to an almighty sovereign Father.  I learned about forgiveness and the blessings that follow and learned about the toll bitterness can take on one who does not seek it.   I have been encouraged in times of trouble, I have been comforted in times of darkness, and I have listened hearing words spoken that I had not before understood.  I remember feeling as Saul must have felt when the scales were removed from his eyes and he became a servant.  I felt as if I had been blind and was finally seeing colors and shapes as they had never been seen.  Things have over the years become clearer and the journey has not been easy.  Taking me from being a nominal christian in the worship of several different denominational churches where my stirring heart to hear truth in a way I could not explain was not satisfied, to the community of which I call home.  A community of like minded believers that see things as I see them.  Where truth comes from God’s most holy word, through teaching that is scripturally sound and thoroughly studied.  Christ has led this sinful mind, body and soul to a place of humbling grace surrounded with unconditional love and forgiveness.  I praise God that I have been led out of darkness and into the light.  I praise Him for His continued watchful eye over my family, grabbing hold the hearts of my husband and children so that generations will share in His kingdoms glory, serving Him together for an eternity.

As we sat in church this morning, I once again felt that society needs to hear truth.   Truth spoken from a pulpit that does not focus on “bringing in the numbers” by pleasing the people, yet a pulpit that seeks to honor the Father on His day with truth from His own book.  Do people really understand why we have the family platform we have?  Do they understand that it was not a man made concept that just took off in tradition?  How many people understand that the bible is the most widely read book in the world?  What is taught on Sundays and any other day of the week for God’s faithful should not just be left at the door step of the building as they leave, it should be carried through out their week and taken seriously.  Hell is real.  Heaven is real!  (And no, I do not watch movies that try to tell me it is, I know it because I read it in God’s spoken word in the scriptures and I feel it in my heart.)  We live in a corrupt world of deception that tries to destroy families and what they stand for.  We as believers in truth and followers of Christ need to stand up for what we believe in and teach our children to be strong in their faith, protecting the Word as God would have us.  He will overcome!

Therefore, I am posting today’s message spoken from the pulpit.  This is a subject dear to my heart as I teach my children about marriage, expectations in relationships and the honor and glory commitment is to our almighty sovereign God.  To Him be the glory!

I pray that you are blessed by the message and that you will be given the ears to hear it as God intends.  If you are a sinner seeking forgiveness, I pray that this gives you hope.  If you are a parent, I pray that it gives you a clearer vision into the scriptures to teach your children.

Please read these first and then listen to the audio.   (If you do not own a bible, please google the verses in ESV.)

Psalm 30:2-3,  Proverbs 5:1-14,  Ephesians 5:22-33 and Exodus 20:14

http://crbc.us/media_events/976-The-Seventh-Commandment

(Courtesy of CRBC.us, and with permission to post.)