Holidays

Your Freedom is Costly: Treasure It, Share It!

I enjoy gathering with family and friends for food, fellowship and fireworks on the 4th of July holiday, and I imagine you do too. As I participate in the festivities, I’m reminded that our founding fathers and their families paid a tremendous price in order for us to enjoy the freedoms we have in this great nation— like the freedom of religion and speech— that are in jeopardy today and that we all too often take for granted. Although they had security as far as the world measures it, each of the signers of the declaration valued liberty more than their belongings, even their lives. They pledged the following to one another:

“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Many people are unaware of the sacrifices they did in fact make. The British captured five of the signers during the war, including Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton, and George Walton was wounded as well as captured. Richard Stockton was captured and never recovered from his incarceration by British Loyalists and he died in 1781. John Adams received a letter from Thomas McKean who wrote that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." The British captured two of Abraham Clark’s sons during the war.

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The homes and property of eleven signers were destroyed. Francis Lewis's home was demolished and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, and they were never repaid. They were willing to sacrifice so much because they knew the liberties they were fighting for were their ‘unalienable rights’, given to them by their Creator God.

The reality is that freedom is never free.  There is always a cost. We who have enjoyed the freedoms for which our founding fathers sacrificed much need to be prepared to pay the cost to maintain those freedoms. We must be willing to exercise our freedom of religion and speech in our ‘politically correct’ culture that seeks to silence us who represent the Voice of God that calls people to turn away from sexual immorality, the killing of the unborn, violence, corruption and other evils that have become normative in today’s America, and to turn to God Who alone is the Source of all true freedom.

As much as I am grateful—and I truly am-- for the sacrifices of our founding fathers who were willing to give up their property, their safety and security, and even their lives to establish our nation, I am far more grateful to Jesus Who was willing to lay down His life to secure the greatest treasure I will ever have--freedom from the power and penalty of sin. And that was the costliest purchase ever made. My freedom—and yours—could only be bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. Our Heavenly Father had to be willing to sacrifice the life of His blameless, Beloved Son Jesus in order to redeem my life and yours. If you ever wonder how valuable you are, remember the great price that God was willing to pay for you and your freedom! You are treasured by Him! He was willing to exchange a perfect life for your sinful one in order that you could be set free from your sin.

So as you celebrate the our nation’s independence this year, I hope you will thank God for our founding fathers who valued liberty more than security so that you can have the liberties you enjoy in our country today.  I especially hope you will take the time to thank Jesus for being willing to give up all of the glories of heaven to come to earth to give His life in exchange for yours, so that you can be free from the power of sin in your life and able to spend eternity in paradise with God. Let us walk and rejoice in the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us! And let us use our freedom of speech to boldly and lovingly share with others in our nation that true and everlasting freedom can be their’s too— if they will put their trust in Jesus!

Please join with me in praying that our nation will once again seek after God and His counsel, return to Him, and in every way receive Him as Lord, knowing that God is Sovereign over all nations, the Source of a nation’s strength and blessings, and alone worthy of all honor, glory and praise!

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:10-22 ESV

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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12 Gifts You Have Because Jesus Died and Rose for You!

I remember as a young girl looking so forward to Easter and all it entailed—dipping hard-boiled eggs into cups filled with various pastel dyes; unwrapping and eating way too many foiled chocolate eggs; buying a new dress, hat, shoes and even white gloves to wear to church on Easter morning before heading over to my grandparent’s house for an outdoor Easter egg hunt with our cousins and a delicious dinner. I was blessed to know our celebration had to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Raised as a Lutheran, our family went to church every Wednesday during Lent, attended Maundy evening services where we celebrated the ‘Last Supper’, and spent most of Good Friday afternoon in church hearing the seven ‘words’ Jesus spoke from the Cross. I recall thinking it very strange that the day on which Jesus died was named ‘Good Friday’—what could be ‘good’ about His death?--and thought it should’ve been called ‘Bad Friday’ instead. I also confess that at the time it didn’t seem like such a big deal that one person would die so that the rest of the world could live. 

 That was until I became an adult and knew without a doubt that I had sinned against God in thought, word, and deed. God graciously revealed to me that Jesus went to the cross for my sin. He didn’t just die the death that others deserved; he died the death that I deserved to die for my rebellion against Him, a holy God. As I studied His Word for myself, I realized more and more why ‘Good Friday’ is truly GOOD!!! 

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 On my own, there was no way for me to ever be set free of my sin, my guilt and shame…but there was and is a Way, but only ONE Way! Only Jesus, the ‘unblemished Lamb’, the sinless ‘Son of God’ who chose to become the ‘Son of Man’ could atone for my sin. No one else could pay the debt I owed to God for my sin of rebellion against Him. Not Mohammed, not Buddha, not Confucius, nor any other person who has ever lived, because everyone besides Jesus has sinned against God, and everyone else has or will die. ONLY Jesus came from the Father, is ‘one with God the Father’, rose from the grave-- and by doing so overcame death-- then ascended into Heaven where He is seated at the right hand of His Father, living to intercede for those who put their trust in Him. (John 6:38; 10:30; 16:28; Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:19; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 7:23; 12:2-3) 

 Jesus alone could do what you and I and no one else could ever do; pay the debt that we owed because of our sin against God. And there was only one price that could be paid in order to pay our debt, and Jesus was willing to pay it. The cost was His very own blood. And, by paying that debt, Jesus freed us from the death penalty that we deserved, which included hell and damnation. Only Jesus’ blood could deliver us from death and hell and restore us to a right relationship with God the Father. (Romans 6:23; John 1:12; John 3:16) His death and resurrection made it possible for you and I to receive total and complete forgiveness for our sin—to have the debt we owed due to our rebellion against God cancelled once and for all time. His death alone could bring reconciliation between you and me—sinners— and a holy God who hates and will judge sin. What a life-changing passage is found below in Romans 5:6-11 (verse 8 is bolded): 

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ESV

 Jesus didn’t wait for us to get cleaned up before dying for us; He dies for us ‘while we were yet sinners’! Don’t listen to Satan’s lies when He tells you that Jesus couldn’t love you because your particular sin is too big. Jesus knew every sin you would ever commit when He went to the cross on your behalf, and He died and paid the debt for every one of them! Your sin is not greater than the power of Jesus’ blood that was shed to wash away your sin! God’s love for you is so much bigger than your sin! How great is His love for you? Consider His outstretched arms on the cross as He hung there dying for you. His love led Him to take your place on the cross and to make it possible for you to spend eternity with Him and the Father in Heaven.

 Not only did Jesus’ death pay our debt and thereby set us free from the penalty of sin, which is death, but His triumphant resurrection from the grave made it possible for you and me to be set free from the power of sin in our lives as well! We now have the power to resist our own self-will and the lies of the enemy and we can choose not to sin! By the work of the Holy Spirit-- Who is alive in all who put their faith in Jesus’ atoning death-- we have the power to choose not to sin. Did you realize that? Do you truly understand the power that is available to you if you have received the gift of salvation that Jesus purchased for you on the cross? You don’t have to sin anymore! At the cross we not only leave behind our sin—our dirty rags-- we are also able to exchange our filthy rags for Jesus’ garment of righteousness! (Isaiah 64:6; Philippians 3:9) We go from being powerless against sin, to being able to live righteously and victoriously through the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work in all who put their trust in Jesus! (Galatians 5:16) It took a long time for me to grasp all that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for me—and I’m sure I won’t have full understanding until I am joined with Him in Heaven. Below are some of the incredibly wonderful gifts I have because Jesus chose to die in my place, overcame death and the grave, and ascended into Heaven. All of them are also available to you if you are already a follower of Jesus, or, they can be if you choose to humble yourself, ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and choose to give Him your life and follow Him.

·    I am forgiven and set free from the guilt and shame of my sin! (Psalm 32:5; Acts 10:43-44; 1st John 1:9)

·    I have salvation in Christ! (Romans 10:10)

·    I have a new life! I am truly a ‘new creation’ because I have been ‘born again’ and Christ now lives in me! (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:19-20)

·    I am able to obey God, bear fruit that lasts, and live a life that is pleasing to Him! (John 15:1-17; Colossians 1:9-14; Galatians 5:16)

 ·    I have an advocate with the Father who lives to intercede for me, whose Name is Jesus! (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1)

·    I have the Holy Spirit who dwells within me and leads me into all truth, teaches me, helps and comforts me! (John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16: 7,8,13; 1 Corinthians 2:10)

·    I am set free from worry, anxiety, and fear and able to experience the peace that surpasses all human understanding! (Isaiah 26:3; John 8:36; Philippians 4:6-8; 1 John 4:8)

·    I have power and strength and can do all things through Him! (Philippians 4:13)

·    I am able to abide in Christ, obey His Word, and thereby bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (John 15:4-10; Galatians 5:16; 22) 

·    I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am now set free to be a slave to righteousness. I know the Truth that sets me free from the lies of Satan; I am no longer ignorant of his schemes and deceitful ways and I can resist him and not succumb to his lies! (John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Romans 6:18; James 4:7)

·    I have a new family that is comprised of other believers from throughout history, and from throughout the world, from every tongue and tribe and nation! (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Revelation 5:9; 7:9)

·    I am a child of God, and as a child, an heir, and my inheritance is abundant life on earth and spending eternity with God, and with others who put their trust in His atoning work on their behalf, in Heaven! (John 3:16; 10:10; 28-29; 1 Peter 1:4

What about you? Do you realize all that is available to you because Jesus loved you so much that He died, rose from the dead, and now lives in you and intercedes for you? If you know you have been set free, are you walking in the freedom that Jesus purchased for you…that He gave His very life for you to have? Are you faithfully ‘going and telling’ others that they too can be set free from the shame and guilt of their sin? That they can have the power to live righteously before God because of the power of the Holy Spirit Who will reside in them if they choose to put their trust in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross on their behalf? Have you thanked Jesus today for choosing to go to the cross for you? And have you thanked the Father for His amazing love and His willingness to sacrifice His Beloved Son on your behalf?

*If you have not already committed your life to Christ, you can. He is longing to be in fellowship with you and for you to receive the love He has always had for you. He just asks you to ‘come to Him’. Simply humble yourself and tell Him that you are a sinner who needs a Savior. Acknowledge that He died the death you deserved to die when He took your place on the cross. Ask Him to come into your life and to live in you so that you can live a life that is pleasing to your Heavenly Father.  Please feel free to reach out and contact us at the link below if you would like some more information on how you can grow in your relationship as a follower of Jesus. https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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How Does God Make His Plans for Your Life Known? Tips From the Christmas Story

Recently when talking with a friend who has a big decision to make regarding where her son will attend school, she asked me “How do you know what God’s plan is?  How can you hear God speak?”  

I like to use the acronym P.E.W.S. to remember the most common ways that God speaks to us.  God can speak to us in any way He chooses, He is God, but below are some of the most common ways God speaks to us as revealed in Scripture:

P - Through other PEOPLE

E - Through EVENTS

W - Through His WORD

S - Through His SPIRIT living in us

Using part of the Christmas story I would like to show examples of these methods in action:

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God first chose to speak to Mary through His angel Gabriel, and this EVENT began a new chapter in Mary’s life.  He clearly told Mary what was going to happen, answered questions she had and provided additional information regarding Elizabeth’s pregnancy as well. 

EVENT: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:26-38 ESV

God then confirms what had been told to Mary in secret by another PERSON, her relative Elizabeth who had no knowledge of Mary’s revelation until she saw her and was given insight from the Holy Spirit.

PEOPLE: In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would beg a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45 ESV

Other people that brought confirmation that all was as the angel Gabriel proclaimed were the shepherds that came to see Jesus in the manger after they were visited by the angels. Luke 2:8-21 ESV

God’s WORD also confirmed these events.  God will never ask us to do something that goes against His written Word to us, for example God wouldn’t tell you to steal something when His Word tells us to not steal.  In Mary’s situation, God’s Word also confirmed what she was told by the angel and was happening:  These prophesies were given hundreds of years before Mary was visited by an angel.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2 

Born of a virgin: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

God’s SPIRIT lives in each of us that believe in His Son Jesus and can guide, direct and teach us many things.  We see God’s Spirit at work in Elizabeth when she sees Mary and proclaims truth that she would not have otherwise known.  Today in our lives, the Spirit of God can warn us, or speak to our Spirits to help us discern God’s plan for our lives of the lives of our children.  

While Mary was being prepared to bring the Savior of mankind into the world, and God made His plans for her clear.  God also has a plan for you and I.  God promises us that He does not have favorites, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever…God still speaks and makes His plan known to His children.  This Christmas it is my prayer that you would thank God for the gift of purpose in your life, and always be willing to respond to the plan God has for you by using the words Mary spoke, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


Written by Jamie

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What Was Necessary for Jesus to Dwell on Earth Is Also Necessary for Him to Dwell in You!

 God has many wonderful character attributes for which we should be thankful, and which we should seek to emulate. But the Lord has laid on my heart one attribute that was vital in order for Him to leave the glories of Heaven; to come to earth where He took on the form and restrictions of man and knowingly subjected Himself to suffer humiliation, rejection, and tremendous physical suffering at the hands of mankind; and temporary abandonment from God His Father because He took upon Himself the sin of the world. It is also the character quality that we must possess if we are to receive Him as our Savior and the King of our heart. That quality-- which is greatly undervalued in our culture but of inestimable value in God’s eye-- is humility. 

Have you ever considered where you’d be if God, the One Who created the universe and sustains it by the power of His Word, had not chosen to humble Himself and become ‘flesh and blood’? You—and I—would forever be condemned to death, hell and damnation due to our sin that only Jesus, a sinless, righteous man could remove from us.

 Human reason would say that if God were to humble Himself and choose to come to earth that He at least should have been born into the family of earthly royalty and lived in a palace-- or at least born to wealthy, influential parents. Instead, God chose to humble Himself even further by being born in an obscure town to a young virgin and her betrothed who were of lowly status and of no repute in the world’s eyes. He chose to humble Himself and be born to an ordinary couple in an ordinary city so that all people would know that He is approachable, those who are ‘down and out’ as well as those who are ‘rich and famous’ by the world’s standards. He is the only Living God Who came to save ALL people who choose to believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Out of all of the character attributes that Jesus could have chosen to describe Himself when He walked on earth, He emphasized His humility:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NIV

It is when we are willing to humble ourselves that we will find not only the rest that our souls desire, but we will also discover the joy of our life’s purpose, which is found in humbling ourselves, living in submission to His Word and His will, and having a relationship with Jesus at the center of our lives— worshipping Him and making His name known.

As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth, have you ever considered that each of the focal characters in the Christmas story were willing to humble themselves; they were willing to risk being considered fools by others; and that in doing so they lived out the very purpose for which they were created? It takes humility to believe in and submit to the word of someone else when that ‘word’ seems to defy our logic, reasoning, and understanding, and when believing that word and acting upon it will likely result in others thinking we are foolish.

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 Mary, a virgin, had to be willing to humble herself and surrender her ‘understanding’ in order to believe the angel Gabriel’s word to her that she would bear a child who would be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She had to be willing to suffer the consequences of telling her family and Joseph about her pregnancy, as well as the humiliation of having the local gossips’ tongues wagging about her becoming pregnant during her betrothal period. Joseph also had to be willing to submit to the word of the angel Gabriel, and to risk having his family and the community think he was guilty of sexual sin, or just plain foolish to go ahead and marry Mary since she was pregnant by someone other than him. (Luke 1:26-55; Matthew 1:18-25) How different their lives would have been and what they would have missed out on if they had refused to humble themselves and obey God, His word, and His instructions to them!

 The shepherds who were in their fields tending to their sheep when all of a sudden they heard an angel joined by a heavenly host declare that a Savior had been born in a manger in Bethlehem had to humble themselves in order to believe the angel’s ‘far-fetched’ declaration. They had to humble themselves, risk rejection and being considered delusional as they left their flocks and went into Bethlehem to find the newborn King, along the way sharing with others the news they’d been told by a host of angels who had appeared to them, mere shepherds who weren’t considered to be a respectable profession. (Luke 2:8-20)

 The magi, highly revered in their eastern country, also had to be willing to humble themselves and subject themselves to criticism as many people in their country and along the way likely considered them foolish for choosing to travel such a great distance in pursuit of a shining star they believed was the sign of a newborn king.  And, especially given their worldly status, once they found Jesus they had to be willing to humble themselves to bow down before an worship a mere baby who was born to lowly parents. (Matthew 2:1-12)

 The devout and righteous Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) also had to be willing to humble themselves as they acknowledged that Jesus, although a mere infant born to a couple lowly in status, was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Simeon may have wondered if Mary and Joseph would think he was crazy, but instead of focusing upon himself, he humbled himself before God and obeyed Him by speaking the very prophetic words about Jesus that God gave him to share with Mary and Joseph. Anna was willing to risk others’ rejection of her as she went about sharing her joy of seeing Jesus, whom she claimed to be the Messiah. 

 Do you think that those mentioned above who are such an integral part of the Christmas story had some fears about what others might think of them? I would imagine that it at least crossed their minds that others might think they were fabricating a tale and would not be believed…HOWEVER… they were ALL willing to humble themselves and risk being considered ‘fools’ for Jesus’ sake! How did they overcome their fear of what others would think of them—a fear that is always rooted in pride? By humbling themselves and getting their focus off of themselves and instead fixing their eyes and thoughts upon pleasing God! The very God Who had humbled Himself for their sakes to come to earth in human form so that He could give His life as a ransom for them so that they could be reconciled to their holy, Heavenly Father! 

Jesus had to be willing to humble Himself to come to earth to be born a man, and we have to be willing to humble ourselves if we are to come to Jesus. The ONLY way that we can receive Jesus as our Savior is if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that we need a Savior. We must be willing to humble ourselves and admit our need, and also to humble ourselves and believe what others may consider a ‘foolish word’—that God so loved the world that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to take on human flesh so that whoever would believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior would have eternal life and become children of God. (John 3:16; John 1:12) 

 Jesus’ focus on earth was never on Himself and doing His own will. He was always focused on doing the will of His Heavenly Father. He trusted that whatever His Father asked Him to do was always for His good and out of love for His Son.  Jesus has left us an example of humility and obedient submission for us to follow. (Philippians 2:1-11) When we humble ourselves, put our faith and trust in God, and walk in obedience to Him--like Jesus and those who were part of the ‘first Christmas’ did—we will receive the blessing of playing an integral role in God’s great plan of drawing people to Himself to save them. And like them, we will realize that the value of our life is not to be found in doing our own will, but in walking in humility before God and even being considered a ‘fool’ by others so that the King of Kings will be magnified and made known to others. We will also have the privilege of sharing in the glory that God has prepared for all who love Him and demonstrate that love by humbly submitting to His will— and His will is that we believe in Him, receive Him as our Savior, and obey His commands that He gave to us for our good (2 Thessalonians 2:14; John 6:29; John 14: 15). Like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, we will realize that the value and joy of our life is found in centering it upon Jesus, the One Who is the center of all of history—better known as ‘His story’— because Jesus willingly humbled Himself for our sakes, so that we might be reconciled to God, have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and be glorified with Jesus, the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, Who alone is worthy of all praise, honor and glory! 

 

What about you? How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very humble and 10 being very prideful? How do you think those who know you best would rate you? Is your life focused upon making a name for yourself, or upon making Jesus’ name known? Is pride standing in your way of coming to Jesus and acknowledging that you need a Savior? I encourage you to ask Jesus to give you a heart like His that is humble and gentle, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He longs to have you come to Him, and He will never turn you away!  

Lord, help me to get my focus off of myself and help me to fix my thoughts, emotions, and actions upon living for You and your glory. Give me a humble heart that is always obedient to the will of my Heavenly Father. And may I be willing to risk being humiliated, rejected, and abandoned by others as I go forth and share with them the good news of Who You are, why you chose to come to the earth to take on the form of a man, and that salvation is found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone! In your Name I pray. Amen.  

Written by Julie

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Happy Thanksgiving! Plus, Two Thanksgiving Traditions

I love everything about Thanksgiving! I love going to church in the morning, the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven all day, eating it along with the stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, vegetables, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream! Most of all, I love gathering around the dinner table with my family to give thanks to God for His immeasurable blessings. After we’ve enjoyed our Thanksgiving feast, we have a family tradition of going around the table from the youngest member to the oldest, and each person shares three things for which they are thankful. We encourage everyone to do their best to come up with something different to thank Him for than what was stated by the person-- or people--who preceded them. You may wish to do this or something similar to this for your family.

Another idea is a twist on that one. It is this: To go around the table and focus upon different aspects of God’s character for which you are thankful. This would be acknowledging God and being thankful to Him for Who He is, not just thanking Him for the gifts He has given to you. A great way to do that might be to go down the alphabet and start by sharing an attribute of God that starts with A, then B, then C, and all of the way down through the whole alphabet. The following is just a sample list of His attributes that you could share.  I encourage you to be creative and come up with as many other attributes on your own as you can. Or, you may just wish to incorporate all or a portion of the list below in your Thanksgiving prayer to God. The main goal is to make sure that we as His children keep our focus upon God this Thanksgiving, the One from whom ‘all blessings flow’!

Thanksgiving Meal

 

A= Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End)

B= Beautiful beyond description

C= Compassionate

D= Deliverer

E= Everlasting 

F= Faithful

G= Gracious

H= Holy

I= Infinite

J=Just

K=‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’

L=Love (Loving)

M=Merciful

N= Name above all Names

O= Omnipotent, omniscient

P=Prince of Peace

Q=Quiets our soul

R=Redeemer

S=Sovereign

T=Truth

U=Unchanging

V=Victorious

W=Wise (Wisdom)

X= He “x’s” out—or crosses out all of my sin

Y=Yahweh (‘I Am”)

We would love to hear from you whether you use this way of thanking God to celebrate this Thanksgiving (or even during your Christmas celebration), as well as to hear about any other Thanksgiving or Christmas traditions you have that you’d like to share.

We are incredibly thankful for the gift of you in our lives, and we thank you for supporting our ministry with your prayers and financial support. May your Thanksgiving be extra blessed as you keep your eyes, mind, and heart fixed upon God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)—Who gave us the greatest gift of all—His beloved son Jesus!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and love in Him Who makes us one,

 Julie and Jamie

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3 Reasons Why You May Be Feeling 'Weighed Down and What to do About It

Below are a couple verses that are found in 2 Peter which are found in a section talking about how God is able to save the righteous while simultaneously destroying the wicked.  These verses give insight on a few things that can 'weigh us down' or oppress us.

2 Peter 2:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
"and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked  (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—

Oppressed: to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc…)   To weigh down, as weariness does.  To put down; subdue or suppress, to press upon or against; crush.  dictionary.com

The Amplified Bible says it like this:
2 Peter 2:7-8 Amplified Bible (AMP)
"and if He rescued righteous Lot, who was tormented by the immoral conduct of unprincipled and ungodly men 8 (for that just man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by what he saw and heard of their lawless acts),


1- Who is around you?  Are you keeping good company? 
1 Corinthians 15:33 (AMP)
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
We can be oppressed by others’ actions as Lot was due to the people that were around him.  Have you stopped attending church regularly?  Do you seek out Godly friends?  Hebrews 10:24-25 (AMP)
“and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.”

Hebrews 10:25

2- What do you see?  Are you watching movies, sitcoms, talk shows or more that speak of and do things that are immoral.  Lot’s soul was tormented by what he saw & heard.  What are you allowing your eyes to see? “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].” Philippians 4:8 AMP

3- What do you hear?  Are you are listening to gossip, ungodly music, other people that are filled with unwholesome talk?  Ephesians 5:4 AMP "Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God].” What are you allowing yourself to hear?  

The things we see and hear can oppress our souls, they bring about a heaviness that tries to crush us.  Are you feeling a heavy burden? Are you tired?  This Memorial Day check these 3 areas of your life to see if there is a part of your life that you may need to adjust to put yourself in a place of encouragement and not oppression. 

Written by Jamie Shaver

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Happy Mother's Day & 6 Things to do if it's not 'Happy'

Happy Mother’s Day: 6 things to do when your Mother’s Day is not ‘happy’

For many women Mother’s Day is a time of joy and celebration, but for some, Mother’s Day can be painful.  Perhaps your mother was not loving or kind.  Maybe like my friend, your mother disowned you and the two of you do not talk anymore.  For others, Mother’s Day is a reminder that your mother is no longer here and you still have a deep longing for just one more phone call or lunch with her.  I know my own mother struggled with Mother’s Day because my brother (only 2.5 yrs. old) died just a few days before and that memory every year made Mother’s Day hard.  To my many friends who have had miscarriages, struggled with infertility, or simply have not married yet and are wondering if you will ever be a mom, Mother’s Day can be challenging.  Lastly, Mother’s Day may be a day of unfulfilled expectations as some mothers expect that somehow their family is going to fulfill something deep within our hearts that only Jesus can truly fulfill.  Maybe your family did not do something in the way in which you expected.

mothers-day-2018-0.jpg

 

If Mother’s Day is challenging for you, here are several things you can do:

Serve: Focus on serving someone else.  Write a card, deliver flowers, cook a meal for a single mom with young kids, or someone that is going through a rough situation. Whenever we take our pain and use it to help others we are blessed.  “In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.’”  Acts 20:35 AMP

Write: Write a journal entry about the things that you learned from your mother and how they are living-on in your life, so future generations can know your mother’s legacy and how she impacted you.

Pray: Spend time in prayer asking the Lord to search your heart and help you to have gratitude for all that He is in your life.  “For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you.”  Mark 11:24 AMP

Share the Gospel: If you have never had children or are finding that pursuit to be unfruitful at the moment, praise God that you are able to bring forth life in other ways by sharing the gospel and knowing that you can be sharing the truth which ultimately brings forth everlasting life to others!  “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 AMP

Praise God:  When we worship God for all He has done and IS doing for us everyday we will find that through our praise we find joy.  [ Come to Me ] At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth [I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose].  Matthew 11:25 AMP

Show Gratitude: Thank God for your children and find ways to show your children what            you are thankful for about each one of them.  I’m writing each of my children a short letter letting them know the positive character traits that I see and appreciate in each of themand that I’m thankful to be their mom.  Let there be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse [obscene or vulgar] joking, because such things are not appropriate [for believers]; but instead speak of your thankfulness [to God].  Ephesians 5:4 AMP

This year I’m choosing to celebrate motherhood differently.  I want to be intentional and be grateful for all the work it entails and that I am capable of doing it.  To my friends that are hurting on Mother’s Day, you are in my prayers and I’m praying that God meets your every need in a way that only He can.

With Love,

Jamie Shaver

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