"He Who Has Faith In The Son Has Eternal Life"
Sundays:  9:45AM CLASS .......... 10:45AM SERVICE

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Join us for worship:

Sunday Morning:
11:00am  Worship Assembly

Life Groups Meet on Tuesday and Wednesday Evenings.
Various studies  occur throughout the week.
See our 
calendar for topics and times.
  

960 East Oak Valley Parkway

Beaumont, California

92223

1.951.845.1404

Resources

BIBLE  TALK 

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BIBLE - In the New Testament the Church is called:

- The Temple Of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- The bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-32)
- The body of Christ (Colossians 1:18, 24 & Ephesians 1:22-23)
- The Kingdom of God's Son (Colossians 1:13)
- The House of God (1 Timothy 3:15)
- The Church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
- The Church of the first Born (Hebrews 12:23)
- The Church of the Lord (Acts 20:28)
- The Churches of Christ (Romans 16:16)




BIBLE - You should know that the Church is:

- Built by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:13-18)
- Purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28)
- Built on Jesus Christ as the only foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11)
- Not built on Peter, Paul, or any other man (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)




BIBLE - The Lord Jesus Christ:

- Loved the Church ( Ephesians 5:25 )
- Adds saved people to the Church ( Acts 2:47 )
- Is the Head of the Church ( Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23 )
- Will save the Church ( Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23 )
- Is coming for those who love Him ( 1 Corinthians 16: 22-23 )




BIBLE - The Faithful Church will:

- Worship in Spirit and in Truth ( John 4: 23-24 )
- Give their bodies a living sacrifice in worship ( Romans 12: 1-2 )
- Offer to God a sacrifice of praise ( Hebrew 13: 15 )
- Meet on the first day of the week ( Acts 20: 7; Hebrews 10: 25 )
- Pray ( Acts 2: 42; 1 Timothy 2: 1 - 2; 1 Thessalonians 5: 17 )
- Sing, making melody with one's heart ( Ephesians 5: 19; Colossians 3: 16 )
- Eat the Lord's supper on the first day of the week ( Acts 20: 7; Matthew 26: 26 - 30; 1 Corinthians 11: 20 - 32 )
- Give, liberally and cheerfully ( 1 Corinthians 16: 1 - 2; 2 Corinthians 8: 1 - 5. 19: 6 - 8 )
- Walk in newness of life ( Romans 6: 3 - 6 )




BIBLE - To enter the Church, you must:

- Believe in Jesus Christ, our savior ( Hebrews 11: 6; Acts 16: 31 )
- Repent of your sins ( Luke 13: 3; Acts 2: 38; 3: 19; 17: 30 )
- Confess faith in Christ ( Matthew 10: 32; Acts 8: 37; Romans 10: 9-10 )
- Be baptized ( Matthew 28:19; Mark 16: 16; Acts 2: 38; 10: 48; 22:16 )




BIBLE - Know that Baptism requires:

- The answer of a good conscience towards God ( 1 Peter 3: 21 )
- Much water ( Acts 10: 47 )
- Going down into the water ( Acts 8: 36 - 38 )
- A burial in water ( Romans 6: 3 - 4; Colossians 2: 12 )
- A new birth ( Romans 6: 4; Colossians 2: 12 )
- A washing ( Acts 22: 16; Hebrews 10: 22 )




BIBLE - By Baptism:

- Sins are washed away by the blood of Christ ( Acts 22: 16; Hebrews 9: 22; 10: 22; 1 Peter 3:21 )
- You put on Christ and become a child of God ( Galatians 3: 26 - 27 )
- You are a new creature ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 )
- You obey Christ ( Mark 16:15 - 16; Acts 10:48; 2 Thessalonians 1:7 - 9 )




BIBLE - In the New Testament times there was:

- One family of God ( Ephesians 3:15; 1 Timothy 3:15 )
- One kingdom of Christ ( Matthew 16:18 - 19 )
- One body of Christ ( Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22 - 23; 4:4 )
- One bride of Christ ( Romans 7:1 - 7; Ephesians 5:22 - 32 )
- One church of Christ ( Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22 - 23; 4:4 - 6 )




BIBLE - The same Church today:

- Is guided by the same word ( 1 Peter 1:22 - 25; 2 Timothy 3:16 - 17 )
- Contends for the one Faith ( Jude 3; Ephesians 4:5 )
- Pleads for unity of all believers ( Ephesians 4:4 - 6 )
- Is not a denomination ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 - 13; Ephesians 4:1 - 6 )
- Is faithful to Christ ( Luke 6:46; Revelations 2:10; Mark 8:38 )
- Wears the name of Christ ( Romans 16:16 Acts 11:26 1 Peter 4:16 )




CALENDAR

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WEEKLY  SERVICES

These videos are recordings of our YouTube live streaming services on Sundays. They are in order with the newest one on top.
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Beaumont Church of Christ
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on November 21, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

Happy Thanksgiving this week. Myths and legends permeate our society regarding that time when the Mayflower pilgrims and the 90 or so natives gathered together and feasted for three days. For them it was an issue of life. For us it is indulgence and family time but it is far from the life and death of the original. For them it was true thankfulness to God because they had survived. It is difficult for us to comprehend their thankfulness. We have plenty of food. Perhaps a more real thankfulness is that we should be thankful for surviving Covid-19.

What happened those days was a true feasting of joy and thanks. It is the victory parade and celebration for the World Series Champs. It is the lonely widow’s gratitude for being invited to our dinner. It is the family’s response to, “He’s going to make it”.

The irony is that America has a day to commemorate an historic time where people expressed their deep thankfulness to God and yet thankfulness cannot be celebrated, duplicated, or imposed. It must be from within the person. It may result from environmental situations, but the environment is not thankful.

I volunteer for Carol’s Kitchen in Banning and Beaumont. I’ve seen very thankful people. I have seen people who are not thankful. They both received the same thing. They both come from similar situations. It is the person who decides to be thankful.

Decide to be thankful for all things and at all times.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Just Pondering









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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on November 14, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

Veterans Day was Thursday. To all of you who have served in the armed services – THANK YOU!!!

I did not serve. My dad did. During the Korean War he was assigned to a tank battalion. He never left the United States. Debbie asked me, “If you never see battle, are you still a veteran?” I told her yes. My dad has a tombstone indicating that he was a Veteran.

Often times in the service, you don’t have a choice as to where you are assigned or what you will do. It is all important and necessary, so each person who successfully completes his or her service is considered a Veteran. Those who find themselves in a hostile situation may receive additional commendations and recognition for their service which are not available to those who are not involved in hostile situations. Both are Veterans.

We are all in the Lord’s Army. Some Christians are in very hostile situations due to circumstances they did not chose. Some face death daily because of their faith. Last Sunday, November 7, was the International Day of Prayer for persecuted Christians. Did you miss it? Me too. However, we can all still pray daily for those in the Lord’s Army who are persecuted for being Christians.

God rewards all of us whether we have a desk job or are engaged in daily battle. But the tides of war often shift unexpectedly. So we, who have not engaged in fierce battle, must be ready to fight.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
- Ephesians 6:13

Prayer is one of your most important weapons. You can pray now. Pray for those who risk their lives to share the Gospel. Pray for those who are encompassed by sin. Pray for your family. Pray for your community.

This is not a suggestion. Stop and do it now!

Just Praying and Pondering








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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on October 10, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

It is official! Our granddaughter, Aurora, is now a toddler. She walked from her mother to her daddy on her own, a distance of about five feet. Then she came to our house and walked holding my hand and then back to Grandma. How quickly they grow. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Growth is natural. Children grow physically, emotionally, socially, mentally and spiritually. What is sad is a child that does not grow. They are considered special needs children if they stop growing physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. Our son, stopped growing emotionally at a young age. It has led to a multitude of problems in his ability to function in society.

Unfortunately, many people stop growing prematurely. Especially in areas of spiritual development. We stop reading our Bibles, praying and engaging in spiritual activities. In essence, we quench the Holy Spirit living in us as we acquiesce to the pressures of life, work and culture. We open time to “get things done” and shut down time to be who God created us to be.

Those who have decided to isolate rather than fellowship, I challenge you to seriously reflect on your dedication to Bible study and prayer. Spiritual growth is meant to develop in partnership with other Christians. Those who have decided to come to worship with fellow believers, I challenge you to seriously reflect on your spiritual development. Do you attend as a by-product of your daily worship, in need of encouragement and fellowship, or do you attend out of duty?

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14.

The key is verse 14. Constant use of our spiritual gifts to train us to distinguish good from evil. You must employ what you have been entrusted by God to give.

6 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 6:1-3
Aurora is toddling. She is growing. Are you?


Just Pondering










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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on October 3, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

King David was the greatest King of Israel. He is still highly revered. Great king, but a lousy parent. No wonder, David had at least eight wives that are mentioned in Scriptures.

II Samuel 5:13 says David had many unnamed wives and concubines. The same may be said about his children. II Samuel 5:13 just says more sons and daughters were born to him. Nineteen sons and one daughter are mentioned in scripture.

Despite David’s skills as a warrior, he could not win the battle at home. He was too outnumbered. We applaud David for the way he handled the death of his son by the wife of Uriah in II Samuel 12:

21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way?
While the child was alive, you fasted and wept,
but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows?
The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’
23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?
Can I bring him back again?
I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

But we forget his non-response when his daughter was raped by his son, his son was murdered by another son or his son runs away to another kingdom (II Samuel 13). In regard to his family, David was a passive father and it nearly cost him his kingdom and his life.

Too often today we have passive parenting. The idea of allowing children to do what they want without parental support or guidance dominates too many families. Children need discipline. For that matter, so do we! Listen to the words of Hebrews 12:

7 Endure hardship as discipline;
God is treating you as his children.
For what children are not disciplined by their father?
8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.
How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits
and live!
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best;
but God disciplines us for our good,
in order that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness
and peace for those who have been trained by it.

We need to discipline and to be disciplined. “Discipline” is not a bad word. It comes from the same word as “disciple”. The root of “passive” is from the Latin passives meaning ”capable of feeling or suffering”. Thus, the crucifixion is called the “Passion of Christ”. Jesus suffered because of His discipline. Praise God for discipline!!

Just Pondering










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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on September 26, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder
Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Source unknown

Transformational Leadership was the theme of last weekend’s meeting with God is Able Ministries. During the powerful sessions, the guys and the gals were separated. The overarching theme seems to have been that we need to become more like Jesus.

Both the guys and the gals talked about the same six qualities needed in mentoring, leadership and life.
1. Be a relationship builder – love God and love people. That means you have to get out among people.
2. Be a person of strong moral character – Center on God in all situations.
3. Trustworthy – You are reliable.
4. Honest and truthful – The only mask you wear is for Covid.
5. Transparency – Sincere, approachable, open.
6. Integrity – Upright. The same on Monday as you are on Sunday.

Notice that when we change us, we will become a change agent in others. It takes work and concentrated effort on our part to renew our mind. Don’t underestimate prayer and Bible study. You cannot become more like Jesus if you don’t know Jesus. It doesn’t happen on its own. Look for someone to challenge you and then mentor someone else.

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

Just Pondering









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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on September 19, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

I just finished reading the books of Judges and Ruth. It is amazing to watch God’s power. The Judges killed thousands of warriors when they were outnumbered. Ruth goes from desperation (she changed her name to Mara, meaning bitter - cf Ruth 1:20) to ecstatic joy.

One thing that is very obvious is God is powerful and can work amazing things in entire nations to individuals. The other thing that is obvious is that God always uses His people to work his power.

Many times, in bulletins and in prayers, we will ask for increases in our numbers attending our congregations. It is almost as if we recognize God’s might so we expect Him to fulfill our prayers without our involvement other than prayer. In Judges, God hears the prayers, but it is always people acting in faith that brings the changes.

That is why I was so happy to have God Is Able Ministries with us at Palm Desert, to help us come out of our malaise and transform into warriors for God.

We have prayed for growth, now let us act in faith that God may bring the increase.

Just Pondering

Just a reminder: God is Able will be with us this Friday night, September 17 through Saturday morning. Join us if you can. Pray for our gathering.








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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on September 12, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

Sunday, September 12 is a very special day. Not only is it my Granddaughter’s 16th Birthday (Happy Birthday Rana), but it is also Grandparent’s Day (Where’s my gift Rana?). Does anyone recognize National Grandparent’s Day? I don’t think the greeting card companies even recognize it. Surprise your grandparents by sending them a greeting or at least calling them.

Sunday, September 12 is also “National Day of Encouragement”. It is like Thanksgiving, we are thankful all the time but Thanksgiving Day is a day of special thanks. So, we are encouragers all the time, but let us be especially mindful of spreading encouragement today.

Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, is one of my favorite Biblical people. He encouraged by giving, getting, going and grooming. Barnabas sold property and gave all the proceeds to the church. Barnabas is the one who got Paul when everyone else was afraid of him. Then Barnabas accompanied Paul on the first Missionary Journey. When Paul and Barnabas went different ways, Barnabas took John Mark with him and groomed him for better service. This is the same Mark who wrote the book of Mark and of whom Paul said, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.“ (II Timothy 4:11)

Be an encourager! Give. Get. Go. Groom. Give sacrificially from your great blessings. Get someone to Go with you to learn more about God. Groom children and friends to become better servants. Today, call, write and pray to encourage someone.

Other important things happening this week: Tuesday is election day. Get out and vote and encourage others to vote also. Friday and Saturday the “God Is Able” Ministries will be in Palm Desert to encourage us to transform into the likeness of Christ. Encourage someone to come with you.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (I Thessalonians 5:11)
Just Pondering

God Is Able information is attached.
Watch this video: Northwest Church of Christ » Media (nwest.org)











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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on August 29, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

Over 40 years ago I heard Dr. Willis speak at Columbia Christian College in Portland, Oregon, on the topic, “Why Did God Chose the Jews?” He approached it by using the scriptures that pointed out why God did not chose the Jews. The lessons had a powerful impact on me and I still remember it.

The scriptures he used were mostly in Deuteronomy, which I am reading again. I came across one of them the other day that caused me to Ponder.
Deuteronomy 9:4 – 6
4 After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

I am a very proud person. I am proud of my accomplishments and proud of my family. God has blessed me beyond all measure. This passage reminds me that God uses me, not because of my righteousness or integrity. God uses me for His good will.

Does this make me a victim or a pawn in a celestial plot? Am I being used against my will or consent? Probably. I have no goodness or power or eternal prowess. Everything I have comes from God. My prayer is to make me a servant. My righteousness is from what Jesus has done for me and not what I have done for Him.

We ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Perhaps the question should be, “Why do good things happen to me, a sinful person?” We all sin. Yet we are blessed in different ways. God is to be praised no matter what happens to me.

May I be used for His Glory.

Just Pondering











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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on August 22, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16

A CNN report this week on Afghanistan had the Taliban in the background shouting “Death to America”. The reporter was confused because she thought they were nice.

This passage in Matthew 10 is when Jesus sends out the 12. He warns them that the world is not a safe place. He warns them to be shrewd and innocent. We sometimes confuse being nice with being innocent. Jesus wants us to keep our goals, our morales in all situations and to realize that others are doing the same. We cannot afford to mistake “nice” for godliness.

The Taliban was nice to this lady but their goal was “Death to America”. How can they want such evil and be nice? Reflect back on the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Was the serpent nice? He was offering kind advice that appeared to be helpful and truthful. But his goal was death for Adam and Eve.

Be shrewd as snakes. Even today there are people who say nice things, but their goal is destructive to you or to others. That is how sin works. It looks nice, but the end thereof is destruction. Take for example alcohol. It looks and smells nice. The Bible even says to take a little for your stomach. But unless we are shrewd, this nice beverage can be deadly. According to Automotive Fleet article on “Safety”, 28 people are killed in drunk driving-related collisions every day. One person every 52 minutes.

The opposite is also true. Just because someone doesn’t appear nice, does not mean that they are ungodly. God is not always nice. Jesus was not always nice. Most of us would not consider John the Baptist as being nice. Consider the prophets of the Old Testament who gave scathing prophecies – not nice, but true and Godly. Even the great apostle Paul was not nice. Be shrewd as snakes. Look beyond appearances for the goal they have in mind. Is it of God?

Can we be so caught up in honesty that we forget the goal of love? An employer gathered his employees and told them, “I know I am hard to work with. I don’t want any of you to work here if it bothers you. You can leave anytime you wish!” His words may have been honest and true to his feelings, but what does it say about how he views his employees? Does it show respect for the employees? Does it promote the well being of his business?

We are also to be “innocent as doves”. Not naive, but innocent. God wants us to be godly, loving. God says, through Paul, in I Corinthians 13:2 that if you can fathom all mysteries and you are super knowledgeable but do not have love – you are nothing. Verses 4 – 7 exemplify love -innocent as doves:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Let us be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.

Just Pondering









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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on August 15, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

I am now into my second week of recovery from my hip surgery. I use a walker everywhere I go. There are great advantages to having a walker. It keeps me walking and gives the support I need. People see me with the walker and will open doors for me. At the church supper, people were dropping off food and drinks for me without me even asking. It is wonderful to be physically restricted.

As I ponder my predicament and the positive responses I have received, it makes me wonder about my serving others. Some of the people helping me are complete strangers. There is no benefit for them in helping. They just help.

The other day we went on a practice run to see if I could travel and maneuver in public. We ended up going to Hadley’s for a date shake and a little lunch. After Debbie ordered, she went looking for items. Our food was ready for pickup while she was in line. I asked the people at the table next to us if they would be willing to pick up our food. One of the young men jumped up and said, “Can I do it?” as if it was some kind of honor to bring me my food. I was humbled.

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
May we actively and enthusiastically search for ways to help others. We may be helping angels unawares.

Just Pondering









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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on August 8, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

On July 30, I had surgery to replace my left hip. As I write this I am having trouble sitting down to write as the pressure of the chair on my hip and backside, keep reminding me I had surgery and the abrasions are still fresh. I am walking gingerly with a walker at a preposterously slow pace. The worst is that the medicines are causing me to urinate most frequently with little warning for my slow paced mobility. Getting in and out of chairs is still a major effort.

Before I went under the knife, I had the opportunity to view Dr. Jesse Trice speak on zoom at the West Oakland Church of Christ Ministry Summit. He spoke about the Pandemic and Pain. Dr. Trice did a good job itemizing all the ways people may find pain from the pandemic. But then he directed our thoughts to God. The first mention of pain in the Bible is from God. Genesis 3:16: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.”

As Dr. Trice spoke, I started thinking of “pain passages” in the Bible. Consider these.
Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you, ”Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

II Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

II Corinthians 12:7 - ...I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Lamentations is an entire book of the Bible about pain. You cannot avoid pain in the Psalms.

These and other passages deal with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain.

As preachers we like to emphasize the suffering Jesus endured on the cross. The Bible doesn’t. Instead, in referring to Jesus’ pain, Hebrews records in 5:8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.

I am not afraid to die and go to heaven. What I want to do is to die in my sleep without pain. Perhaps we need to reconsider pain. As Dr. Trice said, this world is not meant to be an utopia. Maybe pain isn’t so bad.

Just Pondering








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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on August 1, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

Last week I went to the memorial services for Steven Kay who used to preach in Redlands. Steven died last November of Covid. His wife and family were unable to be with him when he died. This memorial was especially poignant. The family that expressed themselves all said that it wasn’t fair or right that Steve had to die. They were right. It never is. This is Satan’s work.

Steve had served as a chaplain for the Redlands fire department and the for the national organization of Fire Fighter Chaplains (FFC) of which he had served in several offices including President. During the presentation I learned a lot of things about Steve that I didn’t know. To many people he was a real hero. I walked away thinking, “I wish I had known that about Steven when he was alive.”

As some said after the memorial, “Steve would have been pleased.” We like to romantize death and imagine the deceased looking down from heaven at the proceedings. I am not an authority, but I kinda think that are a lot greater things to focus on in heaven than our feeble attempt to summarize a life of 65 years in an hour. Life after death is not about me, it’s about God.

At Palm Desert we have a day when we praise God for a life He has given to someone and show our appreciation while they are still alive. It is a chance for us to learn how God has worked in someone’s life to advance the Kingdom of God on earth by loving God and loving others. It is an opportunity to praise God for what He has done. We then gain a better appreciation for what is happening around us all the time and possibly motivate us to greater service. Had Luke not recorded the events in Paul’s life, we would not know about this great apostle and the letters Paul wrote would lack impact.

This event is called ERETE. ERETE is the Greek word for moral excellence that is found in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It is easier to “think about such things” if we have Christian examples to emulate.

The problem about real Christian servants is that they serve God quietly. We are looking for spies who know about someone who exudes moral excellence that is praiseworthy. Then, together, we can praise God for what He has done through this person so that we can say, “I’m sure glad I learned abut them while they are still alive. Praise God!” And we can encourage each other more and more.

Please send me the names of individuals whom God has used to bless you. Please join me as we determine how we may encourage each other more and more in determining the next ERETE recipient. And, when you are recognized, please humble yourself so we can praise God for your excellent and praiseworthy life.

Just Pondering







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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on July 25, 2021 


Paul’s Ponder

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. Genesis 50:15-18
When I read this passage I can understand the anxiety of the brothers. They had treated Joseph miserably, even considering killing him. And now that Israel had died, their only connection of safety, they were rightfully frightened. The Bible does not record what the brothers say their dad, Jacob, said to them about forgiveness, it may be a wish. So in fear they fall before Joseph knowing he has the power of life or death over them.

Not only had Joseph been abused by his brothers, he had been subjugated as a slave and imprisoned without cause. It is estimated that Joseph spent close to 30 years separated from his family in Egypt before this event (Joseph – The Biblical Timeline ). Joseph had just cause to get back at them.

Look at Joseph’s attitude toward them.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

“You intended to harm me”, Joseph recognized that he had been purposely abused. “But God intended it for good”, Joseph focused on God.

When we end up on the short end of a stick, abused, taken advantage of, chided, or wrongfully accused, focus on God. Watch the good that will come from the pain. Then glorify God instead of carrying a grudge or wanting to exact revenge.

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on July 18, 2021 



Paul’s Ponder

The other day the Palm Desert church had a book give-away. I have problems ignoring books, especially when they are on a religious topic and especially when they are free. Several of the books were authored by Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors, so I picked them up. I read his book on prayer (twice) and have started his book GLORY DAYS (Thomas and Nelson 2015) when I came across his reference to a study by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson for their book MOVE: WHAT 1,000 CHURCHES REVEAL ABOUT SPIRITUAL GROWTH (Zondervan, 2011). So I investigated the book.

According to reviewer Amy C. Rice of Northwestern Nazarene University, she reports that one of the most surprising discoveries is that involvement in church activities does not necessarily drive church growth. I had always thought that we needed to get people involved in the church to keep them active and growing spiritually. In Amy’s review she writes:

According to the data, personal spiritual practices, such as prayer, scripture study, and solitude, are the most significant catalysts to spiritual growth, with reflection on Scripture being the single most influential practice.

To grow spiritually as a body of Christ we need to emphasize, not programs or activities or even involvement in such activities, but we need to encourage prayer and Bible study. The most influential is applying God’s word to our life.

How did I miss it? I put so much emphasize on involvement and attendance that I failed to realize that the most important aspect is what we can not measure or even observe. It is personal spiritual practices. What we do alone, in the closet where only God can see. God is in control and not us. We need to back out of our control mode and spend more time in Bible study and prayer ourselves. God has always told us to spend a lot of time, day and night, in His Word, not programs. Read how the book of Psalms begins (1:1-3):

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither
— whatever they do prospers.
And remember what Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 3:16, 17:
16 All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for
teaching,
rebuking,
correcting
and training in righteousness,
17 so that the servant of God
may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Paul is telling Timothy how he can grow in Christ. This is not so I can go and Bible thump others. It is so I can be equipped. Take care of your own spiritual growth. Trust God and He will being the increase.


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on July 11, 2021 



Paul’s Ponder

A song we used to sing with the children:

Re-ve-la-tion, Re-ve-la-tion,
Twenty-one eight, twenty one eight.
Liars go to ummmh, ummmh
Liars go to ummmh, ummmh
Burn, burn, burn. Burn, burn, burn.

Of course this song was supposed to let children know that God disapproves of lying. It refers to Revelation 21:8 which reads in part: “all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” In my morning devotional I have recently finished reading Revelation and saw this passage, reminding me of this song. Along with lying there are other things listed that lead to the second death. Here is the entire passage, 6 – 8:

6 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 water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

The first adjective in the list jumped out at me: “cowardly”. The Book of Revelation was written around 95AD when there was persecution taking place among the churches. So when he uses the word “cowardly” he refers to those he mentioned earlier in the book who, like those in Sardis, “have not soiled their clothes” (Rev 3:4) or those in Smyrna who “the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution..” (Rev 2:10). This is very serious. There is a good reason to be cowardly. You could face imprisonment or even death.
It is said that there are 357 references to fear not using different terms. One for each day. Fear is a tool of the devil. It first appears in Genesis when the first couple sinned. Now, at the end of the Bible, being a coward is condemned.

I can stand before hundreds to preach. It’s like talking to your family. But I must admit, at times I cower and avoid talking to those who are not Christians about Christ. This passage is a good kick in the pants for me to remember that I need to be bold. May the Holy Spirit fill us with boldness (Acts 4:31) as we continue to grow in the spirit.


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on July 4, 2021 



Independence Day. The day some very sophisticated rabble rousers declared independence from foreign rule and ignited this great experiment of the United States of America.

Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

In Christ we have freedom. Freedom from the slavery of sin. Yet our freedom is based on dependency on Christ and not independence. We are not our own, we belong to Christ. The more dependent we become on God, the more freedom we have. The more we are servants of Christ, the more we are set free. We find freedom in not doing what we want.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” ... 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Galatians 5:13-14, 17

We have been crucified with Christ so that we are free from sin and dependent on the Holy Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Dependent independence. Slavery freedom. Dead life.

Isn’t God wonderful!?!?!



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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on June 27, 2021 



17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Mark 6:17 – 18

John stood up for morality and lost his life.
I rarely touch on political issues, but this is a moral issue. SB 357 has already passed the Senate and is going to the Legislature. According to the Bill Analysis given in the California Legislative Information (Bill Analysis (ca.gov) click on “Senate Floor Analysis”) “Senate Bill 357 repeals provisions of the law that criminalize loitering for the intent to engage in sex work. “ In other words, it legalizes prostitution. The excuse is that current laws discriminate against certain minorities which engage in prostitution. Therefore, we need to make prostitution legal.
Christianity is being battered on many fronts. It is time we all stand up and take a stand for God and morality. Contact your congress persons and let others know about this devious work in our legislature. Be an informed citizen and read before you respond.
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! II Peter 2:13-14

Just Pondering

A section of the actual Bill is given below. I added the bold.
SEC. 2.

Section 647.3 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
647.3.

(a) A person who reports being a victim of, or a witness to, a serious felony as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7, an assault in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 245, domestic violence in violation of Section 273.5, extortion in violation of Section 518, human trafficking in violation of Section 236.1, sexual battery in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 243.4, or stalking in violation of Section 646.9 shall not be arrested for any of the following offenses if that offense is related to the crime that the person is reporting or if the person was engaged in that offense at or around the time that the person was the victim of or witness to the crime they are reporting:
(1) A misdemeanor violation of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act (Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code).

(2) A violation of Section 372 or subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 647, or former Section 653.22, if the offense is related to an act of prostitution.

(b) Possession of condoms in any amount shall not provide a basis for probable cause for arrest for a violation of Section 372 or subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 647, or former Section 653.22 if the offense is related to an act of prostitution.


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on June 20, 2021 



Sunday is Father’s Day.

Since my Dad departed this world, I often have “Dad Moments”. You know, like now, when I think about my Dad and can’t stop from tearing up. I always called him “Dad” because it fit. “Father” was for God.

When I think of my Dad it is not about his accomplishments. I think about his love. I knew beyond a doubt that Dad loved me and I wanted to make him proud. I didn’t have to work very hard, he already was proud, just because I was his son.

As a teen when I would go out with my friends he would say, “Remember where you come from.” When he would do something special for us, he would say, “Don’t tell your mom.” Sometimes that special thing was to buy us an ice cream cone. Sometimes it was letting us ride in the back of the El Camino, which wasn’t very safe, but very fun.

I am blessed to have had a wonderful Dad. I have found out that in many ways I am the exception and not the rule. Too many people have absent or abusive dads. Father’s Day is not a good day for them. Dads can leave scars on us that persist through our entire life. More often than not, the children carry scars that the dad doesn’t even know he caused.

So why, of all the names God could have chosen to be called, did he decide to be recognized as “Father”? For me, I make a great connection, but for many it is difficult to not associate the relationship with their earthly dad with the heavenly Father. Even the Biblical examples of great men of the Bible shows that they were lousy dads. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King Saul, King David, Eli the prophet, Samuel the prophet… as one site says, “It would actually be a lot easier to talk about ‘good dads’ in the Bible.” (https://jesusalive.cc/bad-dads-in-bible/)

Perhaps, God desires to be the Father we never had. “Remember where you come from.” God is your eternal and original Father. There is no doubt he loves you. He is proud of you because you are his child. When all else fails and everyone deserts you, God is still your Father. You can always come home to him. He loves you and is blessing you. Focus on his love.

Romans 8:15

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Some say that “Abba” is an enduring term like “Daddy”.

Praise God for great Dads. Praise God who is our Father

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on June 13, 2021 



Last week in Palm Desert, we recognized the High School Seniors. Among several amazing people was Ashley Hodulik. You may not know that Ashley received a $2000 scholarship from the Church of Christ Foundation, to attend Pepperdine University in the Fall.

Ashley is the daughter of Todd and Lori Hodulik and the granddaughter of John and Susan Rice. I remember her as a vibrant part of the Children's Worship Hour. Now she is a leader in our Youth Group.

Ashley excels in athletics. Janet Cook, a National Professional Gymnastics Coach, writes about Ashley’s high level of dedication and perseverance. In 2014, Ashley received a silver medal on floor at the 3 State Championships. In 2018 Ashley received a bronze medal on uneven bars and fourth all around at Level 6 State Championships, qualifying her for Regional Championships. At the Region 1 Championships “Ashley focused on training diligently 16 hours per week.” She received a gold medal on the uneven bars and bronze all around.

Ashley also was a Varsity Cheerleader and a Scholar. Dan Johnson wrote for the elders, “Ashley is one of the few individuals in her age group who has been able to successfully accommodate the demands of her sports and school activities, while retaining an excellent academic record... We strongly recommend and endorse Ashley Hodulik as a person of the highest character, exhibiting Christian values and a superior academic record...”

Ashley wrote: “The church is the foundation behind so many of my core ideals; it has consistently taught me the importance of gratitude, to have compassion, and to always remain humble and kind. Since I have spent the most influential years of my childhood involved with the Church, it is ultimately somewhere that I can call home.”

Wow!!! I knew we had great kids, but I didn’t know they were this great!!! And the Palm Desert church has been integral in helping shape this young lady.

That is why the Church of Christ Foundation gave over $20,000 in scholarships to members like Ashley to attend Christian Colleges. The Foundation also gives to camps, Christian Schools, orphanages, and many others. The Church of Christ Foundation is helping to pay for a seminar at Palm Desert hopefully later this year.

Please consider donating to the Church of Christ Foundation or remember them in your will. Because we have an endowment, your money will continue to give to many worthy causes. Your donation will help others like Ashley, grow in faith in Christ Jesus. Talk to me or go to: ChurchofChristFoundation.com for more information.

Proverbs 11:25: “The generous person will prosper, and whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on May 30, 2021 



This is Memorial Day Weekend. Celebrated with a day off, Bar-B-Que and ball games. But that is not the purpose. The purpose is to remember. Established after the Civil War, Decoration Day was a day set aside to decorate the burial sites of the brave men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.
Remembering is an important aspect of humanity as well as Christianity. Remembering is a time to focus on others and what they have done. Today, the most remembering people will do is to remember to bring the steak sauce. It is important to remember. Remembering the past helps us to live the future in gratitude and a bit wiser.
So how should we remember? My mind goes to the last scene in “Saving Private Ryan”, when Ryan, now an old man, returns to the grave of the Captain who saved his life. After a time to remember he says to his wife, “Tell me I have lived a good life. Tell me I am a good man.” Then he salutes the grave.
Honoring those who sacrificed for us is not having a party or even a day off. It is living a good life. Allowing the effect of the impact of the ones who died to live in us and change us. The greatest tribute to those who died is to live well.
Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? Jesus died for us, so we live for him, better people because of his influence.
Here is the link to view the scene again. It is good to remember.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) Ending Graveyard Scene | 60fps 1080p HD - YouTube
Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on May 23, 2021 



One of the subjects I teach is a credit recovery course for students who failed a required class for graduation. This week is the last week of academics for seniors. That means everything is due. It has been a very compacted week for me working with seniors who want to graduate and finally decided to turn in their work before the deadline. Family is coming to watch them walk at graduation (only three), but there is always the graduation gifts. That’s why I went to a Community College, so I could graduate again in only two years.

I have empathy for these students. I am a procrastinator. I majored in fun and minored in procrastination. It took the approaching deadline for me to complete my work, but at least I started it before “crunch time”.

Procrastination seems to be prevalent. It can be the result of poor use of priorities. This year it appears to be a lack of motivation. It is the motivation of graduating that finally moved the students to turn in work they had neglected for months.

I am a procrastinator to a large extent now. So I pondered, “What motivates me in my Christian walk?” See, I am afraid that I will not talk to someone about their salvation until they are on their death bed, or I am. The important must be urgent or I can let it slide or put it off. And I think that people are exactly the same way about their own salvation. “No need to rush things.” “I’ll get around to it.”

So if I am casual about the urgency of the Gospel, and people are reticent to do anything about their own salvation the result is that few people will become Christians. Unless, of course, there is a big calamity (spiritual or physical) to wake us up. Hmmmmmm. Something may be coming.

I call this “pinball Christianity” where we are motivated by an external stimulus what ever that is and when ever we bump against it. Just like in pinball, we bounce around, completely at the mercy of the circumstances.

What I want is to be completely at the mercy of God. I want to be motivated by internal forces, not bounced around. Stability enduring instability.

13If we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. 15And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on May 16, 2021 



Our dog is shedding. No, he is molting. Hair comes off his body in huge hunks.

Champion is our black lab. He loves being around people. Champ is definitely an inside dog. He is losing so much hair that we have to keep him outside. We can’t brush him enough! Debbie had to make arrangements with Four Paws in Banning to get the excessive hair off him so we don’t have to pick it up off our floor.

I am impressed with how God has created animals. We “molt”, or adjust to the weather change, all too simply by taking off a sweater and putting on a T-Shirt. God provides a way for Champ to cool his body in the summer and keep it warm in winter through his thick fur.
I noticed that Champ is not collecting buckets of fur to save for the winter. He totally trusts that God will provide him with fur when he needs it.
Colossians 3 tells us to put off the old so we can wear the new. There is no saving some of the old “just in case” or not accepting all of the new. We are to be transformed. He doesn’t say “molt”, Paul says, “put to death” the old and clothe yourself in the new. No looking back. Trusting God. Our life is hidden with Christ, totally encompassed in it.

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

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Posted on May 9, 2021 



24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” Acts 24:24-25

Righteousness, self-control and judgement to come…

Who talks about this anymore? Today the word is tolerance as long as you tolerate what is fashionable to tolerate. If you speak against any cultural subjects, you may find yourself labeled by a variety of unkind adjectives that are hateful and demeaning. Perhaps, they too are afraid as Felix was.

I am especially concerned today with the “sexual revolution” that continues to infest our society. It has been brewing for many years. So call me what you want, this is where I stand:
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:3-6

I am against divorce.
I am against living together when you are not married
I am against fornication and adultery
I am against homosexuality
I am against gender re-alignment
I am against abortion

This is about righteousness, self-control and judgement to come… not preference.
Yet I also know that I am the chief of sinners.

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:9-11

It is what I am without Christ. I do not condemn people engaged in such activities, that is God’s job. I do not approve of their lives. Instead of condemning I will encourage them to be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.
Righteousness, self-control and judgement to come… demands it.


Just Pondering.




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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on April 25, 2021 



Paul’s Ponder

My morning devotional readings have brought me to II Corinthians 2. Paul reviews his previous letter and the references to the painful sections of disobedience and rebuke.
Paul writes:
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Obviously Paul is talking about forgiveness. I find it interesting that Paul concludes his comments on forgiveness by talking about Satan’s schemes. Do we realize the power of forgiveness?

Last week completed a very well known trial. How is forgiveness playing in? Where there is not forgiveness there is rage and revenge. Is this one of the schemes of Satan?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. The implication is that we forgive and so are forgiven. The miracle is that we are forgiven far more than we can ever forgive. Satan outwits us when we don’t forgive. Is it because we cause such great harm to ourself? We harbor rage and revenge. Do we also restrict our being forgiven?

What power does Satan have over forgiveness? When we forgive we destroy the power of anger, jealousy, pride, envy, fear and revenge. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in our arsenal that we utilize far too often.

I attended a Crucible event a few years ago. The event was based on the power of forgiveness. We carry a lot of baggage throughout our life that forgiveness can destroy. Baggage that encumbers us from being who God created us to be.

Forgive, in the sight of Christ, that Satan may not outwit us.

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on April 11, 2021 



You receive a birthday card from someone who has hurt you badly. Do you accept it? Do you trash it? Do you get a restraining order on the person to stop them from contacting you? Does it make any difference if you know there is money in it? Do you assume the best about the intentions for the card or the worst?

The card is an inanimate object. It is neither good or bad. The only thing you dislike about the card envelope is the return address. A card by any other sender would be received with gladness, even if it was from someone you didn’t know. But this one you do know. The harm is still raw in your being and you can’t change your emotions. Even if it has been years since the original harm. Your disgust overshadows everything.

I rarely have emotions so intense as to keep me from accepting money. I am more like the lady who irritated her neighbor because she kept prasing God out loud and praying for him. Once she prayed for food for her family. The neighbor heard it and brought her enough food for several days and left it on her doorstep. When she opened the door and saw the food she praised God. The neighbor stepped out and said, “This isn’t from God. I brought this to you. There is no God!” The woman responded, “Thank you God for giving me this food and having the devil pay for it.”

Emotions are serious, God given, parts of our being. Debbie is really good at getting “feelings” about something. We have learned to trust her feelings. Emotions are neither good or bad, but they can’t be ignored. Emotions are not always logical and you cannot be talked out of them. Emotions can control us.

Mary Magdalene experienced such intense grief that she couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t see well. All she knew was that the crucified body of Jesus was missing. She talked to angels without relieving her grief. She saw Jesus and didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to her and in her grief she supposed he was someone else. Finally Jesus spoke her name and she recognized him. Her grief turned to unimaginable joy.

Most of us have emotional baggage we carry with us. It could be very deep wounds from our childhood. An ill spoken word or comment, abuse, divorce, the death of a loved one, any type of trauma and we may still harbor pain deep within us so that even the return address of a letter creates intense emotions that we cannot control.

Mary identified her emotional crisis. She talked to angels about it. Jesus stayed with her even when she couldn’t recognize him. He continued with her until her grief turned to utmost joy.

I am not a psychologist. I know this is serious and affects us in different ways. I know it is not easy to change an emotion. I also know that it can be detrimental. Jesus does not desert us, he stays with us until we can hear him call our name. Our paradigm changes and Jesus will help us deal with our emotions positively.


Just Pondering.
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on March 28, 2021 



On Sunday afternoon, Debbie and I teach a Bible class in Sky Valley, East of Desert Hot Springs. We enjoy doing it, but lately the return trip is horrible. Last Sunday it took us about an hour to drive the 18 miles from Dillon Road at Highway 62 to Banning.

For those of you unfamiliar with this part of California, the Sierra Madre Mountains form a barrier that is difficult to pass through. Just ask the Donner Party from 175 years ago. One of the major arteries from Phoenix to LA is the 10 Freeway. Most of the time it is relatively clear. On Sunday, when people are returning from their trips, anxious to get back home, there is a traffic jam heading west. There are no side roads to go around traffic in many places. You have to stay on the freeway. This week the backup was to Indian Canyon near Palm Springs and we caught it at Highway 62 near Desert Hot Springs. The most difficult part is merging on with the traffic. Some people have already been in the traffic for 5 miles and are not very happy about yielding their place in line to us new comers trying to merge. Others use the emergency lane as their private road to skirt the backup. Lane changes are just as difficult.

As I sat in traffic and watched drivers jostling for postion and refusing to let others into “their space”, I thought about a parable Jesus told in Matthew 17:21-35, the parable of the unmerciful servant. In this parable a man is forgiven a debt consisting of a large sum of money. He finds someone who owes him a much smaller amount and has him incarcerated until he can pay.

Everyone in that traffic had to merge onto the freeway at one point or another. Someone provided space for them to merge. If I refuse to let another driver merge in front of me, am I any different that the man who would not forgive the loan? Do my traffic manners reflect my Christian perspective?

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on March 21, 2021 



My study time has just taken me through the book of Acts. That Paul guy, he really can preach. Do you know what else he does? He prays. If I asked you to name a time when Paul prays, you would probably refer to the Philippian jail where he sang and prayed. Usually, Luke talks about praying and fasting in a corporate sense when Paul was involved. But you don’t have to go far into the letters to see Paul’s intense prayer life.

I like to pray using scriptures. Like any good preacher, I steal material from everywhere. So I steal Paul’s prayers and adapt them to make them my own. My favorite of Paul’s prayers comes from Ephesians 1.

...ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
This is a prayer of praise, thanksgiving, joy and petition. I love how Paul keeps the focus on God throughout. I will place someone’s name in the prayer to make it personal. You may want to try.

Ever since I heard about Liz’s faith in the Lord Jesus and her love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for Liz, so now I remember Liz in my prayer. I keep asking that you, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give Liz the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she may know you better. I pray that the eyes of her heart may be enlightened in order that Liz may know the hope to which you have called her, the riches of your glorious inheritance in his holy people, and God, your incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength you exerted when you raised Christ from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God, you placed all things under Jesus’ feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

The problem is this is an awkward way to end the prayer, so I often add Ephesians 3:14-20 (modified):
For this reason I kneel before you, Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen me with power through your Holy Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

A whole lot better than my typical, “Lord, bless us this day.” Insert the name of someone you are earnestly praying for. Make this your prayer and see if you don’t get goose bumps.

Just Pondering.
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on March 14, 2021 



Set your clocks ahead this Sunday, it is Daylight Savings Time for most of the US. That means we lose an hour. If you don’t set your clock you will miss church on Sunday.

This week I have been doing some reading on fasting and praying. I have not been much of a faster and prayer. I have rarely fasted unless the circumstances were so dire that I couldn’t eat. There have been times when my prayers were based upon the circumstances as well.
I find it interesting that Dave Clayton’s book about fasting is entitled, “Revival Starts Here”. He states that one of the problems as to why people do not fast is humanism. He says that we place our own desires and needs so high that we don’t believe God is worth any effort or discipline on our part. It goes to our perception of God and our perception of me. Which is more important, God or man?

Now before you say God is obviously more important, let me ask you some questions as to how this idea is applied in our lives. You probably spent 30 – 60 minutes for lunch today. You didn’t spend that much time eating, but it was your time to rest, relax, dine and visit. There is nothing wrong with that. How much time did you spend today in prayer? You probably spent 15 – 20 minutes in preparing for your day by showering, brushing your teeth and other such activities to prepare for the day. How much time did you spend reading your Bible to prepare for your day? We claim that God is more important, but we act like I am more important. Which is more important clean teeth or clean souls, nourished bodies or nourished souls?

You don’t expect me to give up every thing, do you? I don’t. But what does Jesus mean when he says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Mark 8:34-35

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on March 7, 2021 



I must admit, I am disappointed.

Last week I wrote about Luke getting things backwards in Acts 6:4 when he recorded the Apostles saying that they would devote themselves to “prayer and ministry” after they delegated the ministry of the widows to others. I said that the order should be ministry first and then prayer, because there is always more ministry to be done and prayer can wait.

Only Judy Mishoe challenged the thought. When asked about it later, one said that he trusts my writings and just thought it was OK. Perhaps I didn’t receive many responses because people didn’t know how to respond.

To clarify my position: Luke has it absolutely right as he is guided by the Holy Spirit. I am confident that the apostles said “prayer and ministry” and that is how they dealt with it – prayer first and then ministry.

I have dealt with it backwards. I enjoy being active. I always have more to do. Prayer seemed like an inactivity. All you are doing is, well, pray – quietly in your closet with your mind constantly being distracted while there is work to be done all around you. So, it fits to put ministry first and prayer as a left over. I remember singing the song, “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and asking, “Who does that?” An entire hour just praying? It would drive me crazy. I am one of those people who are process oriented (keep busy) and not product oriented (results). It is my activity, my program and my working that was important. Now I am able to see that it is not me at all, but God.

The apostles, like Jesus, seemed to spend a lot of time in prayer. James, the brother of Jesus and the leader of the church in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15), was nicked named “Camel Knees” because he spent so much time on his knees in prayer that they were calloused and swollen. You don’t become a leader by doing nothing. Constant prayer leads to God lead action.

I need to spend more time in prayer and less time being busy. I don’t need to do a lot; I need to pray a lot so a lot will be done. I need to pray so that I can see things from God’s perspective instead of running by and missing opportunities. I need to pray and study a lot so that instead of me working for God, God can work through me.

3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6

Just Pondering


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on February 28, 2021 



I don’t think it is because of my profession, because it seems I have always had this problem. No matter how much time I put into something, there is always more to do. If it doesn’t have to do with work, it has to do with chores around the house.

I can remember my 8th grade Social Studies Teacher, Mr. Altenberg, telling the class that with all the time saving devices that are being invented we will be able to accomplish more in less time which will give us more time for relaxation. He was accurate in being able to accomplish more, but it seems that instead of gaining time for relaxation, we gained more to accomplish.

That’s why I wonder if Luke got it backwards. In Acts 6, Luke writes:
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

The apostles did a very smart thing by delegating the work load to others. But then Luke got it backwards. He says that they did it so they could give “attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Shouldn’t it be ministry first and prayer second? There is always time later for prayer, but there is so much ministry that needs to be done that is important and urgent. Ministry never ends, whether you are a paid or volunteer, there is always more to do; sick to visit, lessons to prepare, counseling, benevolence, youth meetings, ministry meetings, Ponders to write.... And the beat goes on.

I am not degrading prayer, it is important, but I am saying that in the light of ministry obligations, prayer should be second, not first. Luke must have really messed this up.

Just Pondering

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on February 21, 2021 



It was probably 10 – 15 years ago that Dan Johnson and I were talking. I must have been complaining about the joy of getting older and not being able to move like I used to. Dan said, “I don’t know what I would do without my daily morning stretches”.

I am not a stretcher. My body is not flexible. I have never understood how people can sit comfortably with their legs crossed. Even in elementary school,” Criss-Cross-Apple Sauce” was torture. As an athlete in high school and college and would do the perfunctory stretches, but that was a time to talk to fellow athletes or meeting the requirements before the real workout began.

Debbie talked me into going to the gym about 5 years ago. I had a trainer who insisted on stretching before, during and after the workout. So, on those days that I went to the gym, I stretched. But only on those days.

15 years later Dan is in tip-top shape and my body is abandoning ship. Could the fact that Dan stretches daily and I do it whenever, have anything to do with it? I didn’t notice it affecting me each day, but the years teach us much that the days never tell.

The principle is the same when it comes to our spiritual health. It is in daily Bible readings, prayer and song that we remain healthy spiritually. Not perfunctory or occasionally, but constant and consistent. The only way you can do that is if you plan to do it. If you wait until you “have time” or “feel like it” you won’t do it. Once a week is not enough.

So, pull out your phone and schedule your Bible study for tomorrow and mark it so it repeats forever. Then put an alarm with it so you will remember.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

You do eat daily, don’t you?


Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on February 14, 2021 



I look at the date for this Ponder and I think I need to write about love. I certainly know love. Debbie and I have been married 333 months. I have received love from her that I certainly don’t deserve and I am afraid I can’t reciprocate. I understand love not as the romantic love of passing time but a love that passes all time and frustrations and anger and joy and peace.

We adopted a phrase that I first heard from Jerry Strealy when he was preaching for the Azusa church. He said, “My wife and I have an agreement. Divorce is not a part of our vocabulary. Murder maybe, but divorce, never.” And I’m still alive.

Love needs time to nest and root. It needs to be tested in life situations. Paul says, “Love endures all things.” Love must endure to be endearing. With that in mind, I would like to investigate Matthew 22.

Jesus starts the chapter by telling the parable of the Wedding Banquet in which he shows the beauty of grace. The undeserving are admitted. Love must have grace to endure.

Then Jesus answers attacks on him about government, finances, marriage relationships, spiritual focus and insight into who Jesus is. This little chapter hits a lot of categories. It just about covers it all.

As I read this I had to ponder how, no matter what the situation may be, or the question we may have, God provides for it in his word. Love is like that, it covers everything.

Love is not a card, a statement, a feeling or an action. Love is involved in everything that encompasses life. God is love.

Happy Valentines Day

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on February 7, 2021 



I deeply apologize for being so late with my Ponder. For those of you who do not know what happened, let me explain.

On December 17, the visible evidence of Shingles made its grand appearance on my body. It wrapped itself along half my chest and began to impose its will. Along with the nerve pain, I felt what seemed like chest compressions. I figured it all was because of the Shingles, but after the Shingles (sorta) passed I still had the compression.

Monday, February 1, Debbie took me in to Intermediate Care to check it out. They found that my levels were high, indicating a heart attack. I was then able to ride in an ambulance to the hospital. I've never done that before. Since it was just a transport, there were no sirens. Zach was the attendant who sat with me in the back and I tried to cheer him up.

I was given a room immediately and surrounded by people to check me out. It is kinda like when you are baptized and everyone wants to love on you. I was surprised and impressed because Zach lingered after all the others had their plates full and had left. Several hours later he had another run to the same hospital and stopped in to see how I was doing.

Finally, they found a room for me "upstairs" on the 3rd floor. I was surprised again (God just keeps blessing me) because I was given a private room. The told me that since I had Shingles, I had to be quarantined. Alright by me. After all was done and waiting for a doctor to show, I finally fell asleep about 4 a.m. A hospital is no place for sick people who need rest.

I was awakened at 7:00 am to begin my day. Annelise was my nurse and Britt was her assistant. They were knowledgeable, competent and very comforting. Annelise even called Debbie to explain what was gong on after my angiogram.

Finally, Wednesday afternoon they finished poking and placing and removing stickers and I was released. I was so anxious that I stole a wheelchair and started wheeling myself out before they caught me. But the good thing is, Debbie was able to meet my new friend, Britt.

There are still a lot of concerns and I will have to make a lot of changes. Still, I was back to work on Thursday.

I ponder on this episode in my life because it is so prevalent in my thoughts right now. But as I ponder I can see God working and allowing me to bless others who were blessing me. I have three new names in my daily prayers.

Romans 8:28: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on January 31, 2021 



Is there anyone who likes doing dishes?

I don’t. It hurts my back and burns my fingers. It is boring and tedious and unappreciated. Everyone likes to eat, but no one likes to clean up afterwards. At our home, Debbie cooks (and she is good too), I clean off the table and put things away, but Debbie has done the dishes. She is usually tired and full so it is easier to put them in water to soak for the night and get to them in the morning.

Recently, I was given KP. Debbie could still cook (Praise the Lord), but I had to do dishes. No problem, right? It took me twice as long and I left everything to “air” dry. Did you know there are two sides to a dish? That’s right. And you have to wash both sides. I stack the dishes to clear off the table and the bottom one gets stuff on the bottom of the top one. Sneaky. And the dip and dry method does not work. You have to actually wash both sides.
Forks are tricky. They try to hide things from you between the tines (I had to look it up). Sauces, dressings and ketchup get in there and you have to look to see them. They are hiding from you. I thought I could go “swish” and I’m done. Forks make you inspect them. Rice is the worst. Rice tries to embarrass you. Rice can get stuck between those little do-hicky tines and you will never know it. You can rub your cloth over the face of the fork and never touch the hidden rice. And it is a bland color so it doesn’t stand up and shout out at you, “Ha, ha, you missed me!” No, it hides until you give the fork to a guest and then the rice jumps out and says, “You missed me! Here I am!” It’s never quiet either.

Glasses are tricky. You take a dry cloth and put it inside a glass that is half hidden in the dish water. Your hand is trying to hold on to the cloth and get as far down as you can. The cloth absorbs water and gets bigger. Now you have to remove your hand and it is stuck. You have to go around three days with a glass on your hand waiting for the water to dry so you can get your hand out without breaking the glass.

I hate to do dishes!!! Don’t get me started on pots and pans, I don’t have the time or the space.

By now you are probably asking, “Why doesn’t he put them in the dishwasher?” We had three dishwashers at one time and they grew up and moved away. But don’t miss the point. Even with dishwashers, someone has to feed it.

I thank God for people who are willing to wash dishes so I don’t have to. As I ponder, I started thinking of all the “menial” duties that are done by others that we take for granted, in our homes and in the community. Yes, some are automated, but some are not. The point is, that these activities are important. They are not grand and glorious like a chef, but it is just as important.

20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. I Cor 12:

We have missed it. We do not give “greater honor to the parts that lacked it” as God does. It was to these people that Jesus spent most of his time and energies, the unnamed multitudes who love Him.

May we be more like God and honor those who are often overlooked.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on January 24, 2021 



“I marvel at the wisdom of my God.” These are the words from a children’s song. “When I see a little lily pushing up the heavy sod, I marvel at the wisdom of my God.”

I have talked before about the technological advances that led up to the time of Jesus such as paved roads, mail system, universality of the Greek language, the Pax Romana and so on that helped prepare the world for the spread of Christianity. I mentioned last month about the Bethlehem Star and the Cosmic preparation that took place for the time to be right. There was also the preparation of the Jewish people politically as well as religiously. Here are a few samples of how God worked in and through the people.

Around 200 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes became a ruler over Israel and he wanted to destroy their culture and religion. Some Jews tried to appease him and some resisted. The group known as Hellenists wanted to get along with him and the Hasidim (pious ones) rebelled. The Pharisees came from this group. A third group emerged that was loyal to the High Priest that evolved into Sadducees. A Jewish priest, Mattathias, killed a Syrian Officer so that he didn’t have to make a pagan sacrifice. In the ensuing war, called the Maccabean War, Israel gained its independence.

The political family of the Maccabees took over the throne and the High Priest. They were called Hasmoneans. Sadducees supported Hasmonean rule, but the Pharisees insisted that the King must be a descendant of David and the High Priest must be from Aaron. Around this time the Essenes started a community in Qumran to get away from the turmoil. They are the ones who preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand. Israel was in conflict and turmoil. When Pompey came from Roman, there was little resistance. He set a king over the Jews named Antipater. You may not know him, but you have heard of his son, Herold the Great, who murdered the children. Meanwhile, the common people were in desperate prayer for the Messiah to come.

Amazingly, all these factions would come together, if only for a short time, because of Jesus. They all wanted to kill him and fulfill all prophecy, God’s plan.

4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Galatians 4: 4-5

Nothing we are experiencing is too big for our God! I marvel at the wisdom of our God!

God’s plan did not end on the cross. It continues today. Just as God put heaven and earth, the stars and technology, kings and people in place to accomplish his will, he has done the same today. And one of those components is placing us here in this time and space to accomplish his plan. We are God’s chosen. Such a marvelous thought and responsibility. To God be the glory!!!

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on January 17, 2021 



Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a day to remember the words of a man whose life was taken because of the things he said.

His words still ring true because they are rooted in scripture.

"The time is always right to do what is right."
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude."
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"

"Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love."

These are powerful words about the power of love.

Matthew 22:36-40:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The parable of the Good Samaritan is similar to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s statement: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

How do you answer this question?

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on January 10, 2021 



Once a month the elders at the Beaumont church of Christ invite me to visit their meetings. I think it is because I bring pie, an old Albany, Oregon, Don and Avis Holland trick. Whatever the reason, they allow me to feel important and occasionally I actually contribute to the session (in addition to the pie).'
This past week we had our meeting via telephone. Yep, the old fashioned conference call. I can’t remember the last time I was on a conference call. The nice thing is, they don’t know where you are or what you are doing during the call. I am lounging on a couch listening to the call when I hear something that I think I may have something to add. So I say my piece and everyone keeps right on talking as if I didn’t exist. So I say it again, a little louder this time and they talk right over me. How rude! Why invite me if you don’t want to listen to my input, feeble though it may be.

After several attempts at adding my 2 cents, I finally realize that I am muted. Using my vast knowledge of phones I fix it so they’ll never hear me. No matter how loud I get, they can’t hear. So I just sit and listen. Finally someone says, “Where did Paul go?” They missed me. So I sent a text to them that there must be something wrong with their phones because I can hear them, but they cannot hear me. They seem to think that it is my problem and not theirs. I think it was because they didn’t get any pie.

When the meeting finished, I sent them all an email (they couldn’t hear the email either) and had my say. Not as effective as an actual audible statement, but it made me feel better.

Last week Debbie forced me to see her audiologist to have a hearing test. It was free, so I went. The conclusion was that for a 66 year old man who has spent many years in a band making as much noise as possible (musically of course), I have pretty good hearing. Then the shoe dropped. Debbie wanted to know since my hearing is so good, why do I not hear her? She trapped me.

We like to be heard. It validates what we are saying and gives us purpose. Have you ever said to a child, “Look at me when I am talking to you!” It is being polite and respectful in our culture to look at someone when they are speaking to you. It lets us know they are paying attention to what we are saying. It is more than hearing, it is listening.

There are many scriptures that validate that God listens to us. He hears us. In Isaiah 65:24 the Lord is talking about how he deals with his people.

Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.


Peter quotes from Psalm 34 when he writes:

1 Peter 3:12
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

God is attentive to our prayers. He hears. He listens. He knows. He even has the Holy Spirit express what we want to say but can’t.
It is good to know that the Lord does not have a “mute” button and is always listening and paying attention to us. Some times we may doubt it because we don’t see him working as we think he should, but be of good cheer. God hears.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on January 3, 2021 



One of Debbie’s favorite authors is Bob Goff, so when she received his new book, Dream Big, for a present, I immediately started reading it. I haven’t gotten very far.

In Chapter 5, Bob asks the question, “Where are You?” He is not looking for location. He writes, “Instead of thinking of geography, I want you to think biography. Figuring out where you really are is a big part of discovering who you are.”

In Genesis 3, Satan slithers away and God comes to visit Adam and Eve. His question: “Where are you?” Adam didn’t respond, “Hiding among the trees of the garden.” Nor did he whisper to Eve, “Shhhh. Maybe he won’t find us.” Instead, “10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”’ He was afraid, he was guilty, and he was ashamed. Shame, guilt and fear that are not addressed focuses us in the past of what we have done and not to the future of what can be done.

Where am I? I still fight sin, I am ashamed to say. I talk to God about it often. I even talk to some people. My guilt sometimes over weighs my realization of grace. It is something I am working on improving. Fear? I like to feel like I have total faith in God and I have little fear. A closer investigation and I am not so sure. When people ask, “When are you going to retire?” I respond, “Retirement is a function of money – not age.” So I am waiting for enough money to rely on before I retire. So where is the sell what you have and give it to the poor faith? God has always provided in abundance for us. My experience says, trust, my pocketbook says, store more. Physically, I am definitely lacking the physical abilities I would like to have. Emotionally, I am very happy with my wife of 533 months and I think she likes me. All in all, I am in a good place with changes ahead of me that I need to face and trust God.

So, “Where are you?” Don’t hide, confide.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on December 27, 2020 



Ho, ho, ho!! Merry Christmas!!

Quick, what is the name of the person who is famous for that line? Right! Santa Claus, a right jolly old elf.

We, as humans understand things in light of what we already know. Unfortunately, sometimes the connection that helps us to understand becomes more of the understanding instead of the aid. You gotta admit, there is a lot of God in Santa Clause: Sees you when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake and delivers good gifts. We can’t let the image of Santa Claus become our understanding of God.

My devotional time has taken me to Luke 15. You may not be able to recite the contents, but you are familiar with them; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Besides there being something lost in each of the parables, there is something else that is in each parable – a party, rejoicing! With the lost sheep there is rejoicing in heaven. For the lost coin, Jesus says the angels before God rejoice, and the lost son show us God himself as the watchful, patient father who “had to celebrate and be glad”.

Can you imagine God celebrating, laughing, being glad or throwing a party? Can you see God dance? Another lost soul becomes a Christian – God does his end zone dance.

Can’t imagine it?

You can imagine Santa Claus with an infectious belly laugh that shakes like a bowl full of jelly. The stars dance a twinkling free dance in the heavens. The planets dance a do-se-do. The streams gurggle myrth. Jesus’ first miracle was at a party. Can you imagine Jesus laughing? He told jokes. Then you can imagine God laughing. How can the author of joy not be the merriest of all?

Joy to the world!

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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on December 20, 2020 



Shellie Poindexter called. Mark Rodgers sent a text. Lulu and Travis sent a nice card. So did Jamie Kirk. The Brohamers have called. Karen Brown called. And on the list goes.

These are all people who are very special to us. I dare not try to list all the people who have called, texted or sent cards, but each one is very special and each touch is important.

The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” One of the reasons it is so wonderful is that people take the time to appreciate people. It may be someone you haven’t seen or heard from in a year, but it is still special. We have a tendency to do a very good job at Christmas, for weddings and funerals. In between, we are not so good. That seems to be true especially in CA. One of the joys of living in Oregon was that people often visited you. It was a smaller community and easier to access homes, but we rarely have people in our homes more than a few times a year. We will meet at restaurants, but not our homes. It is our castle, our safe place.

That is why we started the ERETE award to recognize people for living sacrificial lives for Christ. It is too late to talk about what they mean to us at the funeral, we need to do so before and often.

We need people to join us on the ERETE committee and get it rolling again. I get a great joy honoring people, especially those who don’t realize how important they are and the impact they have made on others. We don’t give enough sincere praise and honor to others. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of this committee for the Palm Desert congregation. I think it is a strong part of the Christian life to encourage one another.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. - I Peter 4

Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian Love.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on December 13, 2020 



Larry Meissner directed our Life Group this week. He had us compare and contrast the events with Zechariah and Mary as they responded to God’s messenger, an angel, in Luke 1.

Without going into detailed discussion, I think it is fair to say that Mary’s response to the angel was better received than was Zechariah. As an old preacher, I relate to Zechariah. I would have probably asked the same question. But this is a demonstration of faith. The old preacher, who was respected for his Biblical knowledge and trusted as a man of God did not fare as well as the young woman’s faith.

As I pondered this, I concluded that things haven’t changed much. The preacher or elder who is in a position of leadership and is respected and placed before the people publicly is often the one people look at as people of faith. Perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. Just because we have education, can talk right and are placed before people in public, does not give us the essence of a higher faith. Look instead to the Mary’s. The ones of unadulterated faith that say, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

You will find more faith in the ones who can’t conjugate a Greek verb or mold passages into a stirring sermon. You will find it where you least expect it. Look around at the ones who are not leading and see the servant who is struggling the best they can, but they have complete faith that God is able. Look for the disciple who doesn’t know they are supposed to be afraid to talk to people as they quietly share their life and faith with close friends and relatives. They are hard to find because they are just serving where and when they can and many times, only God sees it.

Make me a servant, Lord.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on December 6, 2020 



This has been a rough week for Debbie and so, of course for me. On Sunday , Debbie began having abdominal pain. She treated it the best she could, but on Tuesday we went in to see a doctor. He suggested that she have her gall bladder removed. Debbie hates the idea of surgery and decided to treat it herself for the night and see how she felt later.

The next day I took her to the emergency room. She was told her gall bladder was inflamed, but they couldn’t do surgery with it in that condition. She came home and seemed to feel better. She thought she had it under control now that she knew what it was.

Until the next afternoon. Things began acting up again. She tried to control it. At 1:00 in the morning, we started off for the hospital. On Friday they removed a stone. On Saturday, she had her gall bladder removed. You are correct, I could not stay with her during her trauma.

During this process I noticed something about my reaction to the problem. When I did not know why Debbie was hurting I felt lost and frustrated. Once I learned the cause of the problem, my anxiety lessened.

It seems we can deal with things better when we know what is causing it, or when we put a name to it. We can sleep better if we know that the sound on the window is the scraping of the limbs of the tree and not goblins to grab us. Left to our own imaginations at times when we don’t know the cause or what to expect, we can create a possible scenario that rivals any Hollywood script. From the time we are little our favorite question is “Why?” As adults that is still of major concern. “Why did she get sick and I didn’t?” “Why did I survive the accident?” “Why do I hurt so much?” “Why is God doing this to me?”

It is frustrating that God does not tell us the “why”. Read the book of Job. Instead of giving us an answer or a label to identify the why, God says, “Trust me.” Isn’t that what faith is? Faith is not trusting God when we feel confident about what we are doing, but trusting God when we have no idea what is happening.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Trust God.

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on November 22, 2020 



Have you ever noticed that the word “disciple” and “discipline” are very similar in English? According to the Oxford Lexico, the word “disciple” is from the Latin disciplus which means “learner”. The word “discipline” is from the Latin disciplina which means “instruction, knowledge”. Obviously, they come from the same root idea.

In Greek the word translated as “disciple” most often in the Bible is μαθητής (mathetes) which means “a learner”. The word for discipline is παιδεύει (paideuei) which means “to train children, to chasten, correct”. It is the same word used in II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Interestingly, the word is not translated as “rebuking” nor is it translated as “correcting” as we might expect. But in this passage the word used for discipline is translated “training” in the NIV.

With this back ground on these words, we need to have a paradigm shift. Discipline is discipling. Its purpose is to train. Whether the discipline is corporeal or not it should be for training. Therefore, it must also be true that a disciple must be one who is in training. We need to discipline ourselves, or be disciplined, to be disciples. So, we need to show disciplined lives as disciples. Disciplined in how we react and respond. Disciplined in what we say. Yes, even disciplined in our thoughts. And this kind of discipline takes extensive training.

Is this a biblical idea? Most of what we call, “The Sermon on the Mount” Mt 5-7) is about discipline; control your ego, control your anger, control your lusts, control your selfishness, control your tongue, even control your love. To do this we need extensive training.

Where do we get this training? Our assemblies are a great place for training in discipline. We should come to worship in the same way we go to the gym, ready for a work out, to be challenged, to sweat and to cry. We don’t like discipline because it hurts, but it is the means of improving. No pain, no gain.

No matter how good the sermons are, it is too infrequent to garner sustained growth. We need to do as Jesus said and take up our cross daily. Physically, those who expect and want to be the best will work with a trainer or coach. I think we need the same. We need someone we can be accountable to and someone who can give us insights that we may not have considered. Someone to push us spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and even physically.

If you have never had a prayer partner, now is the time to start. If you leave things to your own devices, you will maintain or lose ground, but rarely can you grow stronger. Find someone who is not your spouse and ask them to be your prayer partner. Meet once or twice a week to train in prayer and Bible study. Develop assignments for the week. Be accountable. Be open. Be honest.

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Cor 9

We need discipline in our prayer life, in our study life, in our entire life. We need “strict training”. It is painful but it is certainly worth it!

Just Pondering
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PAULS  PONDER

Posted on November 15, 2020 



22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. - Mark 8

There are a lot of strange things in the Gospel of Mark. It is short and doesn’t explain a lot. This passage is one that puzzles me. It seems that Jesus fails and has to try again. Seeing Jesus as not doing what he wanted to do was something I cannot concede.
This week I gained some insight which may apply.

Debbie had her eye surgery on Monday. On Tuesday we were able to talk to the surgeon. Debbie had a detached retina. According to Medical News Today: “A detached retina happens when the retina peels away or detaches from its underlying layer of support tissue at the back of the eye. The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve cells at the back of the eye. We need a healthy retina to be able to see clearly.”

We had a lot of prayers for Debbie for a week before the surgery. God answered those prayers in many ways. The surgery went very well. The surgeon told us that the problem was in the best place in her eye for this to happen. Debbie has experienced no pain and was calm entering into surgery.

The surgeon at the post-op visit examined Debbie’s eye and then he asked her if she could see. Before the operation there was no vision in that eye, it was dark. She was blind in one eye. When she described her changed vision, she said that she could see, but not clearly. She could tell people were in the room, but they were fuzzy. Maybe they looked like trees walking around.

Could the blind man in Mark 8 have had detached retina? When Jesus first touched the man, he fixed the problem. Jesus attached the retina and he didn’t use a laser. The surgeon told us that it may take months for Debbie’s eye to return to her normal vision. With the second touch Jesus accelerated the healing process from months to seconds.

I cannot say this is what happened. For me, this explanation is easier to accept than my earlier premise. Jesus often used what we call “natural process” in his miracles. Water can turn to wine through the medium of Jesus or “naturally” through grapes over time and process. Have you ever heard or experienced the “calm after the storm”? Jesus said, “Peace, be still” to accelerate the process from a few hours to an eye blink.

Whether this is true or not seeing it as a possibility has me praising God for his awesome power instead of ignoring the passage because I thought Jesus failed. This explanation could not have been understood by the original listeners, but the power of Jesus is the main application.

It also gives me hope. If something improves but isn’t fixed, then Jesus may be working to finish it a little later. Remain faithful.

Just Pondering


Beaumont Church of Christ
Princess Warriors
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Posted on  November 14, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

I’ve been thinking today about the word “blessing”. There is a hymn we sing called “Count Your Blessings”. It was written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman. It talks about whenever life gets hard, stop and count our blessings.

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. (Refrain)
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. (Refrain)
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. (Refrain)
When my grand children were all babies and I would sing to them while I rocked them, I would often sing this song. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened to come to mind one time so I kept doing it. Later when they were older, one of them heard me singing it and he said, “That’s the baby song!”
What are blessings?
Is it a noun or a verb?
The dictionary defines blessing as a favor or gift bestowed by God. To bless is defined as asking God for His protection and approval upon someone.
David Stubbs writes in “A More Profound Alleluia”, that a blessing is “a calling for the Holy Spirit to come and transform us.”
When we are blessed, God is working in our lives to transform us. We aren’t blessed just so we will be happier. We are blessed so that we can bless others. Because being blessed carries with it a responsibility. Laura and Robert J. Keely, “Banner”
II Corinthians 9:7-11 confirms this idea:
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Paul ties blessings and good works together.
When God is generous with us, He wants us to be generous (bless) others. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Paul then begins verse four with the word “for”. This word indicates that God had a reason for blessing us. Paul goes on to say that we are to be “Holy and blameless” in His sight.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Remember the definition I gave you for “bless”. When I “bless” someone I am asking God to protect them and to give them His approval. When I make this request, I am taking on the responsibility of being part of the process.
When my son, Joey, was about seven or eight years old, Paul was preaching once a month on Sunday nights in La Habra. There was an older, wonderful Christian couple who attended there; the Browns. Her name was Dee. One Sunday after church Dee was talking to Joey. She turned him to face her, put her hands on his head and called upon God bo bless him and help him to grow up to be a good Christian man.
When she asked God to bless Joey, she also made the commitment to be as much a part of the process as she could. The rest of the time that Paul preached there she made a special effort to always make Joey feel special and loved.

Years ago, Paul and I were visiting at a church in Oregon. The preacher was rather young, maybe in his thirties. After church he was telling us that he grew up in downtown Los Angeles. He often listened to R. N. Hogan preach. R. N. Hogan was a powerful preacher in Los Angeles during those days.
At one of the services, Sister Hogan approached this young boy. He said he was maybe nine years old. She put her hands on his head and asked God to fill him with His Presence and bless him in mighty ways. He said, “I’m a preacher today because she did that.”
The more I think about the concept of God’s blessings and blessing others, the more powerful I realize the concept is. When I make a conscious effort to sit down and focus on all the ways, every day, that God blesses me, it should fill my heart with awe and gratitude. It should also fill my heart with an intense desire to reach out and bless those around me.
Sometimes it will definitely be in a physical way. God calls us to bless others in ways that meet their physical needs. Jesus talked about giving to those who are in need food, water and clothing.
We can also bless others in a spiritual way. When you reach out and touch someone and let them know you care, you are blessing them. When you look them in the eye and tell them that you believe in them and that God has great plans for them, you are blessing them. When you treat those that make you nervous and uncomfortable with dignity and compassion, you are blessing them.
Sweet Sisters, count your blessings. Name them one by one. See what God has done for you. When you have finished, look around you for someone who God is calling you to pass those blessings on to.
I think you will find it becomes a beautiful circle. God blesses us. We bless others. God blesses us more which fills our hearts with gratitude so we bless others more. Round and round it goes and where it ends, nobody knows.
Debbie







Posted on  November 7, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

When Paul and I had been married a little over a year, he accepted a youth minister position in Albany, Oregon. We were living in Azusa, CA, at the time and Paul was working as a Youth Minister with the church he had grown up in.

We were young and excited. We were beginning a great adventure in Oregon, far from our families in a place neither of us knew much about. Paul’s family lived in California and my family lived in Arkansas. We would be on our own about 1,000 miles from either of our families. It was at this point in our lives that Paul and I began to learn what it meant to be a part of God’s family.

The church in Albany adopted us immediately. Church members stepped up to help us find a small trailer to live in until we could find a place. When we found a house it was rented to us by a church member. Other church members gave us furniture and stocked our kitchen. We felt loved and cherished by a group of people who barely knew our names. We were now part of a family; not a “blood” family, but a family that showed the love of Jesus.

A year later, we found out that we were pregnant with twins. You couldn’t have found prouder grandmas and grandpa’s and uncles and aunts then the ones in our church family. Forty-two years later, now with children of their own, our twins have deep memories of the love they experienced until they were six years old in the Albany church.

Since that time we have loved and worked with other churches. Always we have had the same experience. God’s family. People who loved and accepted us because we loved and served the same God and had been redeemed by His Son and filled with His Spirit.

In John 1:12 - 13:
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John tells us that to those who believed in Jesus He gave the right to become children of God. That means to be part of a family. His family.

Jesus told the crowd in Matthew 12:50 that whoever does my Father’s will is my brother, sister and mother. God’s family.

Paul gives us a snapshot of God’s family in I Corinthians 12 when he discusses that there are may parts but one body. I especially like verse 26:
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Paul tells us that when one part suffers, the whole body suffers and that when one part rejoices, the whole body rejoices.

One of the things I love most about being a part of God’s family is that we are all accepted.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Paul repeats this concept in Ephesians 2:19:
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
Since we are adopted by God and have become part of His Family when we believe in Him and obey His will, what does that mean about how we treat each other? I’ve seen “blood” families where the members have nothing to do with each other. They don’t have any respect or concern for each other. The members of those families feel alone and afraid.

How is God’s Family different?

One of the last discussions Jesus has with His disciples before He returned to heaven, was about this issue. In John 13:34 we read:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Jesus tells us to love each other.

Philippians 2:1-5 talks about what our relationships with each other should look like:
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
As part of God’s Family, we treat each other the way Jesus treated us. John continues this concept of treating each other like Jesus treated us in I John 3:16-18:
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
John makes it very clear that we can’t just “talk the talk”, we have to “walk the walk”. As Bob Goff said in one of his books, LOVE DOES.

Paul writes in Galatians 6:10:
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Hebrews 10:24-25, encourages us to hang out together and help each other to grow in love and good deeds:
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Sweet Sisters, I’d like to conclude with a song that I think summarizes what I want you to take away from today’s lesson. It’s called “God’s Family” and it was written by Lanny Wolfe.

We're part of the family
That's been born again
Part of the family
Whose love knows no end
For Jesus has saved us
And made us His own
Now we're part of the family
That's on its way home
And sometimes we laugh together
Sometimes we cry
Sometimes we share together
Heartaches and sighs
Sometimes we dream together
Of how it will be
When we all get to heaven
God's family
When a brother meets sorrow
We all feel his grief
When he's passed through the valley
We all feel relief
Together in sunshine, together in rain
Together in victory
Through His precious name
And though some go before us
We'll all meet again
Just inside that city
As we enter in
There'll be no more parting
With Jesus we'll be
Together forever, God's family
And sometimes we laugh together
Sometimes we cry
Sometimes we share together
Heartaches and sighs
Sometimes we dream together
Of how it will be
When we all get to heaven
God's family

Debbie






Posted on  October 31, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

As most of you know the last few weeks have been quite an adventure for Paul and me.

We left on October eleventh on a road trip to Oklahoma to spend time with our Daughter, Rachel and her family and with my parents and my sisters. We arrived on Wednesday, the thirteenth. Paul was really tired and did not feel well. We figured it was because it had been a long trip and we aren’t as young as we used to be. We hung out with Rachel and our grandchildren and went to Olive Garden for dinner. We ended up going to the hotel early just because Paul felt so tired.

Thursday morning, Paul work up still feeling bad and with a fever. For some reason an “inner voice” prompted us to pull out one of the Rapid Covid tests we had brought with us and to make sure everything was OK.

It wasn’t. The test came out positive. We waited two hours and did it again. Still positive. I did one and it came back negative. But it didn’t stay that way.

WOW!!! This was not in our plans! We called Rachel and told her the news. We decided that our only course was to quarantine for the next 10 days in our hotel room. Rachel contacted the Memorial Drive church of Christ and they immediately began to call to see how they could help us. One member dropped off a small microwave at our door. Others brought food and supplies or called to let us know they were praying for us.

What do we do when the bottom suddenly falls out of our lives? Do we panic? Do we become paralyzed by fear? Or do we turn our eyes to God and trust the He is going to catch us?

I have Bible verses that I have attached to the walls and tables around the chair I sit in when I do my devotions. Before I left on our trip I took pictures of these verses so I wold have them with me. Suddenly these verses were my lifeline to God and powerful weapons in the battle I was about to engage in.

Let me share some of them with you.

Deuteronomy 10:17
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.
Zephaniah 3:17
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Psalm 86:10
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

Proverbs 3:5 - 6

5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Daniel 6:26 - 27
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27
He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

Psalm 91:1-16
1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”


I read them over and over again.

I incorporated them into my prayers.

I have mentioned before that God is faithful and He will honor His promises. There is nothing more powerful than when we approach the throne of God, armed with God’s own words.
Psalm 34:4 was especially powerful for me (see above). The Psalmist says that he went to the Lord for help and the Lord listened to him and saved him from what he feared.
Whenever I thought about catching Covid, my #1 fear was that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I have some issues with my lungs that could have made this a real possibility. So I prayed, “God you know that not being able to breathe terrifies me. Please keep my lungs free from this virus. Please keep them strong. Nothing is impossible for you. I am trusting you that you will do this for me.”
Sweet Sisters, HE DID!!!
Never once during my Covid experience did I feel any congestion in my lungs.
Let me share some exerts from a prayer I wrote to God when we first found out that Covid had entered our world:
“Father God - This is your chance to show how powerful and awesome you are. In the name of your Son, Jesus, and the power that raised Him from the dead, I come asking you to rise up and work mightily in this situation. Please keep Paul strong and healthy and give his body the power to fight this virus. I trust you and believe you have the power to do this. You have been faithful in our lives before and I know you will be now.
You do awesome signs and wonders! You protected Daniel in the lions den. You went before the Israelites into battle and defeated their enemies. You were with Gideon. You were with David when he fought Goliath.
Please be with us now. Go before us and fight this demon virus. Show Your great power and might.
Thank you for whatever you decide. I am yours regardless.
Your Princess Warrior”
Sweet Sisters, let’s go back to Psalm 91:14-16. I found such comfort and reassurance in these verses. Because I love the Lord, He will rescue and protect me. He will be with me in trouble and deliver me.
Because I totally believed this, I was completely at peace during our Covid experience. I was never afraid. I trusted God to go before us and provide everything we needed.
HE DID.
Does that mean it was all easy and a “piece of cake”? No, but it was far better than it could have been and our hearts are full of gratefulness and praise to God for that.
I can’t help but wonder why God chose the time and place He did for us to have this experience. I would much rather have been sick and quarantined for fifteen days in my own house, but that’s not how it happened. Maybe by happening like it did, it took our faith and trust in God to a whole new level. It allowed us to experience the kindness and generosity of a group of fellow Christians who we didn’t even know.
It allowed us to also feel the powerful force of the prayers being offered on our behalf by those who love us here at home. We never felt alone.
So what do I suggest you do when you feel like the bottom has dropped out of your world and you are free falling towards who knows where?
I suggest you take a deep breath and remember to whom you belong and that he will never leave you or forsake you. Like a giant eagle, He will catch you and you will find refuge under HIS Wings.


Debbie





Posted on  October 10, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

When my grandsons were younger, they used to play with action figures that were called “Transformers”. The Transformers had the capability to transform into giant fighting machines. Movies were made about the battles that were fought between the good and the evil Transformers.

The word “transform” is a verb .That means it requires action. The dictionary defines it as “a radical change in appearance, form or structure. To change in condition, nature, character.” Words that mean the same thing as transformation are “renovate” and “remodel”. Transformation requires a willingness to change/ to participate.

A couple of weeks ago, Bob and Laura Winkler did a seminar in Palm Desert about transformation. I was intrigued by what they had to say about how we have to be transformed in order to become what God wants us to be. How does this transformation take place?

We often decide that we need to make changes in the houses we live in. A room is too small so we take out a wall to make it bigger. A room is too dark so we put in a window to bring in light. We fix things that are broken. We paint to add color and warmth. We call this process, “renovating” or “remodeling”. We are making old things new.

Did you know that there are scriptures in the Bible that refer to our bodies as “tents” or “houses” or “temples”? All of these terms are dwelling places. Here are two examples:
I Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
II Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

When we talk about our bodies being dwelling places, what we are really talking about is our hearts. The place where we think, feel and reason.

In Matthew 12:43-45, we find a really interesting story about our minds being a dwelling place.
43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Jesus tells us in John 14:23 that when we are willing to love Him and obey Him that He and His Father will move into our hearts and live with us.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
My Father will love them,
and we will come to them
and make our home with them.
What does Jesus mean by this? Does he move into our hearts in order to control us? To brainwash us? No! He moves into our hearts to help us know Him better.
In Romans 8:11, Paul tell us that God’s Spirit lives in us and gives us life.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead
is living in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies
because of his Spirit who lives in you.
I love what God tells Ezekiel in Ezekiel 36:26, 27. I especially like how the Easy To Read version translates it.

26 I will also put a new spirit in you
to change your way of thinking.
I will take out the heart of stone from your body
and give you a tender, human heart.
27 I will put my Spirit inside you
and change you so that you will obey my laws.
You will carefully obey my commands.

God’s spirit moves into our hearts to change our way of thinking. He changes our heart of stone to one that is tender so that we can live the way He wants us to live.
Jesus loves us too much to move into the dwelling place of our hearts and just sit on the couch and let things remain as they are. Just like the physical house we live in cannot transform itself, we cannot transform our hearts without help. Where do we find this help? We find the ability to transform by focusing on Jesus.
II Corinthians 3:18 tells us that when we contemplate the Lord’s glory, we are transformed into His likeness.
And our faces are not covered.
We all show the Lord’s glory,
and we are being changed to be like him.
This change in us brings more and more glory,
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
In the New Living Translation we read in Colossians 3:10 that we put on a new nature the more we learn about our creator.
Put on your new nature,
and be renewed
as you learn to know your Creator
and become like him.

Small children seem to instinctively understand this concept. They carefully observe the ones they love so that they can do what they do.
The other day my 14 month old granddaughter, Aurora, and her 16 year old sister, Rana, were sharing a container of Wheat Thins. Aurora carefully watched Rana pick up a Wheat Thin and pop the whole thing into her mouth. Aurora reaches over, picks up a Wheat Thin, and pops the whole thing into her mouth just like she had seen Rana do. Only thing was, Aurora was not quite ready to handle a whole Wheat Thin at one time.

That is how we become more like Jesus. We watch and observe what He does by immersing ourselves in His Word. We then do what we have seen Him do, even if we may not be quite ready for it.

Jesus loves that we try. He doesn’t expect perfection. He doesn’t mind that it’s messy. He is thrilled that we want to be just like Him. He even promises in Ephesians 3:20 that He will help us more than we can ask or imagine by His Power that is at work within us.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Sweet Sisters, it is not by our power that we are transformed to look and act more and more like Jesus. It is by His power. Allowing Jesus to radically change us into His image gives us the capability to become powerful fighting machines for Him in the battle between good and evil.
Personally, I would rather be transformed into a powerful Princess Warrior!!
Either way, when Jesus moves into our hearts, He is not willing to let us remain the way we are. He is immediately going to start knocking down walls to open up how we think. He is going to put in windows to let in light so that we can see our world better. He is going to do whatever it takes so we look more and more like Him. Remember, though, He will not force transformation on us. We have to be a willing participant. Are you willing?

Debbie





Posted on  October 3, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

Today our tour is going to take us to the book of Psalms. We will explore the 91st chapter. As we begin our tour we will pause and rest for a moment at the first verse.

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The psalmist uses two different phrases for God in this verse. “The Most High” in Hebrew is El-Elyon. “The Almighty” is El-Shaddai. He is painting a picture here of a place of absolute security and peace.

He continues this thought in verse two:

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

We see a third phrase here. “The Lord” in Hebrew is Adonai. And “my God” uses a fourth term, Elohai. (Some scholars may use different Hebrew names based on how they see it. I chose to use these.) The word ”fortress” or castle refers to a place of refuge where evil cannot enter.

When I read these verses, they bring to mind a small child who runs into the arms of a parent when they feel insecure and frightened.

As we continue our tour we come to verse three.

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

I found it interesting that “the fowler’s snare” can also be translated hidden dangers or evil attacks and “pestilence” can be translated plagues or deadly diseases. The more we explore this Psalm, the more we see how much we can trust God’s protection.


In verse four, God is compared to a mother bird who spreads her wings around her babies. His faithfulness is compared to a shield and a rampart, which is a protective barrier.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

With all that is going on around us in the world right now, verses five through eight gives us great reassurance.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

“Night” can mean secret attacks, the ones you don’t see coming, the ones that catch us off guard and unprepared. “Day” can mean open attacks; blatant, confrontational, “in your face” attacks. It may seem like your world is crashing and burning all around you, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID! God is protecting you!!!!

In moments like these, the words of verses nine and ten have got to be where we put our focus.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.



Verses eleven and twelve may sound very familiar to you.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

These are the words Satan used to try and tempt Jesus in the wilderness. You can find that scene in Matthew 4:6.

We should be aware that Satan will twist God’s words against us as well if he thinks it will confuse or distract us. We need to be familiar enough with scripture to counter attack like Jesus did.

Verse thirteen is actually much easier to understand than it seems.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Lion” is a metaphor for power or strength. “Snake” is a metaphor for sly or sneaky.

I love the way the Psalmist concludes this chapter in verses fourteen through sixteen.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”



Let me give you Debbie’s summary of what is being said here. In verse fourteen through sixteen, God says if you will love me, acknowledge me, and call on me, then I will

Rescue you
Answer you
Protect you
Be with you when you are in trouble
Honor you
Satisfy you
Show you my salvation



Sweet Sisters,

what more could we ask for? I am not just saying if we do what it says in verses fourteen and fifteen that life is going to be easy and stress free. Psalms 91 describes a battle scene. I see it as a spiritual battle scene. Scary things are happening day and night all around us.

It may look like people all around us are giving up and surrendering to Satan, but for

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

They will find refuge and protection. God promises that and our God is faithful to keep His Promises.

Debbie




Posted on  September 26, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

We have spent the last few weeks in a study of “The Trinity”. We have looked at Bible verses dealing with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus. Today I want to look at Bible verses that talk about God.

You are familiar with Exodus 3 where God appears before Moses in a burning bush. God wants Moses to go to Pharaoh and be His spokesman. Moses is not real excited about this idea. In Exodus 3:13, Moses asked God if the Israelites want to know what His name is, what does Moses tell them.
13 Moses said to God,
“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’
Then what shall I tell them?”

God replies in verses 14 - 15:
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I am has sent me to you.’”
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites,
‘The Lord, the God of your fathers
—the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac
and the God of Jacob
—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.

“I AM WHO I AM”. Hebrew scholars call this Tetragrammaton. It is written YHWH. It was considered so sacred by the Israelites that it was forbidden to say it out loud except for the High Priest in the temple.

What does it mean? That’s a question we each need to consider. I will give you a couple of thoughts to think about.
1. I am whoever I choose to be.
2. Britannia defines it as “He brings into existence whatever exists.”
I love the mystery and the awesome of what God says His Name is.

Let me pause here for a quick grammar lesson. Is, am and are, are simple present forms of the verb “to be”. They are used to describe the site, feeling or condition that something is in. They connect the subject to what is being said about the subject.

The scriptures I have chosen to use today all include the phrase, “God is”. As you read each one make a list of what that verse says about who God is.

Let’s start in the book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4:31
31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God;
he will not abandon or destroy you
or forget the covenant with your ancestors,
which he confirmed to them by oath.

Deuteronomy 6:4
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Deuteronomy 7:9
9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God;
he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations
of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Note that there are two descriptions in this verse.

Deuteronomy 10:17
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords,
the great God, mighty and awesome,
who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

This may be one of the most powerful verses about who God is in the Bible.

Numbers 23:19 - Balaam is speaking to Balak in this verse. He tells him who God is not.
19 God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

I Chronicle 16:34
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
This verse is part of a song written by David in honor of the ark being returned to Jerusalem.

The book of Psalms has several that I have chosen to show you.

Psalm 11:7
For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.

Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 50:6
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.
The Hebrew Masoretic text says, “For God Himself is judge.”

Psalm 84:11
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
How can God be a “sun” and a “shield”?

Moving into the prophets, I want to start with Isaiah 40:28.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
This is a beautiful description of who God is.

The next verse is my favorite of all the verses we will look at today.
Daniel 6:26 - 27.
26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
In these verses we see Darius, the King’s reaction to God saving Daniel from the lions den. Darius can’t seem to find enough words to describe what Daniel’s God is capable of. The God that Darius describes here is the God we serve today. I would like to suggest you copy these verses and put them somewhere you will see every day.

Nahum 1:7
The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,



Zephaniah 3:17
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Some versions read: “mighty to save” but I love, “The mighty warrior.” Our God who is “Lord of angel armies” delights in us and sings over us!

Our study would not be complete without me including some verses from the New Testament. In chapter four of John we find Jesus talking to the woman at the well. In verse 24, Jesus explains to her that God is Spirit.
God is spirit,
and his worshipers must worship
in the Spirit and in truth.”

I have to add verses 25 and 26.
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared,
“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
This is the first time Jesus makes this statement about Himself and He makes it to a Samaritan woman at a well and not to the “religious elite in the temple”.

I Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
God has your back.

I John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in them.

Revelation 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Sweet Sisters, we began today’s study in Exodus with God telling Moses, “My name is I AM” and we concluded it in Revelation with God telling the apostle John, “I AM”.

We talked about what God might mean by this statement. In this verse, from Revelation, God gives us a little clearer picture.
“I am the Alpha (the beginning)
and the Omega (the end),” says the Lord God,
“who is (now), and who was (past),
and who is to come (future),
the Almighty (El Shaddai).”

My prayer is that our study of “The Trinity” (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit), has given you a clearer understanding of the God we serve. He is awesome and amazing. He is accessible to each of us. We are His. He loves us and longs for us to love Him in return. As I close my tour of today’s lesson, Psalms 46:1-3 comes to my mind.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

With a God like this, how can I choose to be afraid?

Debbie



Posted on  September 19, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,



Last week we looked at Bible Scriptures that showed us who the Holy Spirit is and what He does. We talked about how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all part of what we call “The Trinity” but yet are all separate as well. I compared the concept to a rope with three strands. One rope, three parts. They operate as one.

Today I want to look at Bible scriptures that show us the deity of Jesus and emphasizing His “Oneness” with God. My goal is not to explain these verses to you or to give you a clear understanding of what they mean. I am a tour guide. My goal is to show you “snapshots”, if you will, of the power and might of our Jesus, who so much wanted an intimate relationship with you that He gave up, for a season the glories of heaven to come to our world and live among us. He came to physically show us how much He loved us and the extent He was willing to go through by dying on the cross so that we could not only call Him our God, but our brother and friend.

The first “snapshot” we will look at is in John 1:1-5:
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
I want you to particularly notice verse two. He was with God in the beginning and without Him was nothing made. We will see this concept again.



Let’s go to John 1:14:
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John tells us here who “The Word” is. Sweet Sisters, this verse should give you goose bumps. John is telling his readers, “God’s Son is here!”

It is not unusual for those of us who live in the Coachella Valley area to walk into a restaurant or shop and see some well known person. We get all excited. We may, or may not, actually approach them, but we certainly tell our friends, “You’ll never believe who I saw!”

John tells us that the God of the universe is here! He came to our world to live among us!!!

John 8:58 gives us another snapshot of who Jesus said He was:
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered,
“before Abraham was born, I am!”

In John 10:30 we see a snapshot that Jesus’ opponents had a lot of trouble with:
30 I and the Father are one.”

Paul gives us an amazing snapshot of what Jesus was wiling to do for us and who He is in Philippians 2:6-11:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Pay special attention to verse 8.

Colossians 1:15-20 is more than a snapshot. It is a whole album of snapshots of who Jesus is. As you read these verses, write down each description of who Jesus is and what He does.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
16 For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness
dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Our last snapshot today comes from Hebrews 1:1-4:
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom also he made the universe.
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
4 So he became as much superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Again we see the concept of “through Him He made the universe.” We saw this concept in a previous snapshot after John 1:2. Did you catch it?

Yesterday, Paul preached a sermon from Mark 15:31. The Chief Priests and the teachers of the law are mocking Jesus. They say “ You saved others, but you can not save yourself.” They were correct that Jesus saved others. They were not correct that He could not save Himself. Jesus absolutely had the power to save Himself, but He chose not to.

Jesus, the exact representation of God who was with God in the beginning, who through everything was made, chose to come to our world and live among us. He chose to be intimately involved in the lives of those He came in contact with who would let Him. He taught. He healed. He gave us a visual of how much He loved us and then He chose to die on a cross as a sacrifice for us. He chose to go to battle with Satan and conquer death by being raised from the dead three days later, all so that we could be in an intimate relationship with Him.

Sweet Sisters, close your eyes and try to to picture this snapshot in your mind’s eye:
Jesus, who was and is and always will be.
Jesus who is God.
Jesus, who came to earth
lived and died and rose again
is standing beside you.
He has His arms wrapped around you.
He is grinning and His eyes are full of love
because He adores you
and is thrilled to call you His daughter.
He loves you more than you can ever imagine
and He promises to always be with you for all eternity.


Debbie





Posted on  September 12, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

This is one of those lessons where you are going to want to grab a cup of coffee and take a little bit of time.

A few weeks ago our preacher at Palm Desert, Steve McCall, preached a wonderful sermon about how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. I don’t think we talk enough about who the Holy Spirit is and what role He plays in our lives.

The Holy Spirit is part of what we call “The Trinity”: God the Father, Jesus, the Son and the Holy Spirit.They are one but yet they are three separate personalities. It is a very difficult concept to grasp. The best way for me to visualize it is a thick rope made of three cords that are different colors but woven together as one. Together they are God (Remember if we understand everything about God, He wouldn’t be God).

The Holy Spirit appears very early in the Bible. Genesis 1:1-2 tells us “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Genesis 1:26 is a very interesting verse:
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image,
in our likeness,
so that they may rule over the fish in the sea
and the birds in the sky,
over the livestock and all the wild animals,
and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
“Let us make man in our image”, let him be like us. WOW!

We tend to think that the Holy Spirit wasn’t involved in the lives of men until the New Testament. I don’t find this to be true. In Psalms 51:10-12 we find these words:


10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
The Psalmist believed that the Holy Spirit was with him and helped him.

In Ezekiel 36:27, Ezekiel says:
27 And I will put my Spirit in you
and move you to follow my decrees
and be careful to keep my laws.
We see here that the Holy Spirit is in us and helps us follow God’s decrees.

The Holy Spirit also appears very early in the New Testament. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptizer tells the people coming out to listen to him:
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance.
But after me comes one who is more powerful than I,
whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The book of John talks about the Holy Spirit in several places. In John 3:5-8, Jesus talks to Nicodemus about the role of the Holy Spirit.
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh,
but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying,
‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from
or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
In John 14:15-17, Jesus tell us that the Father will send an Advocate to help us. He will live with us and within us.
15 “If you love me, keep my commands.
16 And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever—
17 the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him,
because it neither sees him
nor knows him.
But you know him,
for he lives with you and will be in you.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 26, that the Advocate, Holy Spirit, will teach us and remind us of everything He has said.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things
and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus continues teaching in chapters 15 - 17 of John. In John 15:26, Jesus says the Holy Spirit will testify about Him.
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

In John 16:12-15, Jesus tells His disciples that He understands that they can not “bear” (Debbie’s paraphrase - “get”) everything He is telling them but that when the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide them. He will also glorify Jesus because he will only be able to teach what Jesus taught.
12 “I have much more to say to you,
more than you can now bear.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own;
he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.
14 He will glorify me because
it is from me that he will receive
what he will make known to you.
15 All that belongs to the Father is mine.
That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me
what he will make known to you.”

The book of Acts explodes with the power of the Holy Spirit. One 18th Century Bible scholar, J. A. Bengal, is quoted as saying, “We call Acts, ‘Acts of the Apostles’. We really should call it ‘Acts of the Holy Spirit’.”

I read that the Holy Spirit is mentioned 56 times in the Book of Acts.The book of Acts starts off in chapter 1:1-2 with Luke saying that Jesus had gone back to heaven after giving instructions to His apostles through the Holy Spirit.
In my former book, Theophilus,
I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
2 until the day he was taken up to heaven,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles he had chosen.

In verse 8, Jesus tells them they will receive power from the Holy Spirit.
8 But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses
in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

In Acts 2:4 we see the Holy Spirit continuing to work:
4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues
as the Spirit enabled them.



In chapter 4 of Acts, Peter and John prayed. After they prayed, in verse 31 it says:
31 After they prayed,
the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God boldly.

I encourage you to continue to read the book of Acts and look for all times that the Holy Spirit “moves”.

Let me comment here that I will not be mentioning every verse concerning the Holy Spirit as we continue our study through the New Testament. As tour guide, I will show you the ones that I found particularly interesting.

As we continue to follow the Holy Spirit, we come to the book of Romans. Romans 5:5:
5 And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.
God’s love is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8 has an editorial comment next to it in my bible that says, “Life through the Spirit”. This chapter goes into a lot of detail about living with the Holy Spirit. I really like verses 1 and 2:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus
the law of the Spirit
who gives life has set you free
from the law of sin and death.

The Spirit gives life. Verse 11:
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead
is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies
because of his Spirit who lives in you.
The Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us life. And verse 26:
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.
The Spirit helps us and intercedes for us.

In Romans 15:13, Paul prays that our heart will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 6:11 tells us that we are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God.
11 And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed,
you were sanctified,
you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.

II Corinthians 5:5:
5 Now the one who has fashioned us
for this very purpose is God,
who has given us the Spirit as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
The Holy Spirit is our deposit from God.

Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:25 describes what it looks like when we keep in step with the Spirit.
25 Since we live by the Spirit,
let us keep in step with the Spirit.
26 Let us not become conceited,
provoking and envying each other.

Ephesians 1:13 - 14:
13 And you also were included in Christ
when you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation.
When you believed,
you were marked in him with a seal,
the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession
—to the praise of his glory.
Again we see that when we believe we are marked with a seal - the Holy Spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:19 is a verse that should make us pause and think.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.

We’ve looked at a lot of verses today that describe how the Holy Spirit can work in our lives. The Holy Spirit will not force us to accept His help. We can refuse it or ignore it. One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the gift of choice.

As we continue our tour we come to II Timothy 1:7. I absolutely love this verse and rely on it heavily in my spiritual battle.
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,
but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Titus 3:5-6 describes how God saved us through baptism (Debbie’s paraphrase) and being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
5 he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us generously
through Jesus Christ our Savior,

The last verse we will look at today is in Hebrews 9:14.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,
so that we may serve the living God!
Paul says that it was through the eternal Spirit that Jesus offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God.

Sweet Sisters, my goal for this lesson was to introduce you to the Holy Spirit. He is a vital, powerful part of our Christian walk. I would challenge you that as you study the passages we have looked at in this study, to go back and make a list of all the roles that the Holy Spirit is capable of performing in our lives.

If you have not taken advantage of being in a relationship with Him before, my prayer is that you will now.

Debbie






Posted on  September 6, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

I’ve been writing these lessons for so long that it is difficult sometimes to come up with fresh ideas. I have decided to not worry about it. If I re-visit something we’ve discussed before, God must feel it needs re-visiting.

Today I want to talk about prayer. I have been reading a wonderful book by Max Lucado called, Before Amen. I highly recommend you get a copy of this book.

Max observes that the disciples had figured out that prayer made Jesus powerful. In Luke 11:1-4 they ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.
When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.

Jesus gives them an example of how to pray. He follows it with an illustration of what can happen when we pray. In verse 9 Jesus says,
“So I say to you:
Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Jesus ends the lesson (Luke 11:11-13) by saying God wants us to pray so that He can answer our prayers.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish,
will give him a snake instead?
12 Or if he asks for an egg,
will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In his book Max comments on pages 6 - 7 that it seems to him that the prayers of the Bible can all be distilled into one.
“Father, you are good.
I need help.
Heal me and forgive me.
They need help.
Thank you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen”
I love this: It’s simple and easy. You can pray it anytime and anywhere.

It can be broken down even more with one sentence prayers:
God I need you now!
God heal me!
God help me!
God help them (fill in name)!
God you are good!
God, please forgive me!

I think we tend to over think prayer. Prayer is simply conversation with God.

I remember once being over my head into a renovation project in my kitchen that I probably never should have started. I had reached a point where I didn’t know what to do next. I called Paul’s Dad (who happened to love me more than he did Paul!)

I said, “Les, I’m stuck. I need help.”

He said, “Hang on. I’m on my way.” He lived in Glendora, over an hour away. He dropped everything to rescue me.

That’s what prayer is.

God, the creator of the universe, the One who controls every aspect of everything, will drop everything to rescue us when we pray. I am not saying that He will immediately “zap” whatever it is that you are afraid of (but sometimes He does). What I am saying is that He will answer in His way.

Let’s look at some scriptures that illustrate my point.

Ephesians 3:20:
Now to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,

God is able to do more than we can even ask or imagine is possible “according to the power that is at work within us.” Sisters, I have always felt that the phrase could also be written, “according to how much we believe He can do.”

We tend to put God in a box. We put human limitations on Him. We are afraid to believe that He is the God of the impossible.

Philippians 4:19:
And my God will meet all your needs
according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Paul writes that God will meet all your needs.

I John 5:14-15:
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will,
he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us
—whatever we ask—
we know that we have what we asked of him.
When we pray God hears us.

II Chronicles 7:14:
14 if my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Seek God first and pray. He will heal you. He will heal our land.

James 5:13
13 Is anyone among you in trouble?
Let them pray.
Is anyone happy?
Let them sing songs of praise.
If you are in trouble - PRAY!

Romans 8:26
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.
God gave us His Holy Spirit who helps us pray when we don’t know what to say.

Sweet Sisters, there is another very important aspect of prayer. When we pray we pray in Jesus’ Name. Jesus’ Name gives us access to the throne room of God. It is like we are presenting God with a letter, signed by the Son, asking God to help us because Jesus is our friend.

I have a friend, Jack Rowe, who sometimes ends his prayers in a way that gives me goosebumps.

He will say, “…and in the name of the One who walked on water…”
Or
“…In the name of the One who calmed the seas…”
Or
“…In the name of the One who healed the sick…”
He would use some phrase that acknowledged the power of Jesus and expressed the point of his prayer.

In the spiritual battle we are all fighting against the forces of darkness in our world. Prayer is our greatest weapon. I saw a poster recently that showed a woman dressed in full battle armor. Her head was bowed and her eyes were closed. The caption read:

When she bowed her head
Satan thought he had won,
until he heard her say
“Amen”.

Prayer is not only how we fight Satan for ourselves, it is how we fight Satan for others.

James 5:16
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James teaches us in this verse to:
1) Confess our sins to one another. Admit to someone you trust that you are struggling and you need help.
2) Pray for each other so that healing can take place. I don’t believe we are called to fix others. We are called to love them and pray for them. God handles the fixing.
3) James ends by saying the prayers of one who is walking with God the best they can (God makes us righteous) ARE POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE!

I can’t tell you how many times God has put someone on my heart to pray for that maybe I haven’t seen or heard from in a while and the next thing I know I get a phone call or a text from them or they show up on my front porch.

Sweet Sisters, God gave us the gift of prayer for a reason. It gives us access to Him and gives Him access to us.

Soooo, tell Him He is good!
Tell Him you are grateful!
Tell Him you messed up and you need forgiveness.
Tell Him you need His help.
Tell Him you need His healing.
Ask Him to help and heal others.
And do it all in the powerful name of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing.
17 pray continually

I like to think that prayer does for us spiritually what breathing does for us physically.

Without it we can not survive.

Debbie






Posted on  August 29, 2021 

Sweet Sisters

I have been characterized by many adjectives throughout my lifetime: Loud. Opinionated. Obnoxious…. The one adjective that I’ve never heard used about me is “graceful”. In fact, I’ve been told I could trip over my own two feet.

The older I have gotten, the greater this tendency has become. Tripping is an almost everyday occurrence. One of Paul’s Physical Therapists recently told us that falling is the number one cause of older people ending up in the hospital. It is also the number one thing we fear as we grow older.

Because of this, I adopted Jude 24 (ERV) as one of my favorite scriptures.
God is strong and can keep you from falling.
He can bring you before his glory
without any wrong in you and give you great joy.
Some verses use the word stumbling instead of falling. I find comfort however it reads, in knowing God promises to catch me when I trip.

Sweet Sisters, for many of us, physically stumbling or falling is a very real issue in our lives, but what about spiritually stumbling or falling? I think, for me, this is an even bigger issue.

I remember an incident when my two grandsons, Nicholas and Caleb, were babies. They are only 17 months apart. Caleb was just learning to walk. Nicholas was a little over two years old. Caleb was struggling to take a few steps across the floor. Nicholas was lying on the floor beside him. Thinking no one was watching, Nicholas reached over and grabbed Caleb’s foot as he walked by purposely causing him to fall. That is exactly how Satan works in our lives.

Today I want to explore some Bible verses that promise that God will be there to keep us safe when Satan tries to trip us up. I want to point out that from my experience, God doesn’t promise that we will look graceful in the process. He promises that He will keep us from falling.

Since I brought up Jude 24 go back and look at it again. Jude tells us in the previous verses to stay focused on doing what is right and then he says to give praise to the one who not only keeps us from falling but will present us without fault and with great joy before God. I love that the Easy to Read Version says that Jesus will present us before God with nothing wrong with us. We will be perfect.

II Samuel 22 is an interesting chapter. It was written after David was older and after David’s men had finished killing what some believe to be the brothers of Goliath. It is a song of praise written by David. Parts of it actually appear in Psalm 18. I want to focus on verses 36 and 37:
You make your saving help my shield;
your help has made me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
The words “stumble” or “fall” are not in this passage, but the concept is. God is my shield and my help and He goes before me and clears the way so I don’t twist my ankle.

Psalm 37:23-24 promises that God will make firm the steps of those who delight in Him:
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Please understand, Sweet Sisters, God promises to help those who are walking with Him. If we decide to take off on our own and choose our own path, then we choose to face the consequences. We make ourselves vulnerable to uneven ground and traps set up by Satan to trip us up.

I discovered something really interesting while preparing for this study: Psalm 56:13 and Psalm 116:8, 9 are written very much alike.
Psalm 56:13
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Psalm 116:8, 9
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
Notice that, once again, we see the concept of walking with God.

Psalm 118:13 - 14 is another one of my favorite passages of scripture.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
I have this passage on my prayer wall. Have you ever been in a situation when you have been pushed and pushed and you are absolutely at the edge of what you can handle and if God doesn’t rescue you then you are going to totally lose it and may end up going to jail? That’s what this passage is talking about. Of course, I live with Paul so I have it easy.

The verses before talk about the psalmist’s enemies surrounding him on all sides and swarming like bees around him. God comes to his rescue and was his strength and defender.

God will do the same for you!! It doesn’t have to be some life or death situation. Any situation where you feel threatened or overwhelmed qualifies.

The last passage I want to explore today is Psalm 119:165. I think we see a really important principle in this passage if we want to avoid stumbling.
Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.

Sweet Sisters, if you want to have peace (another thing that can cause us to stumble is panic!) and avoid stumbling, you have to know God’s Word. I don’t mean being able to quote the books of the Bible and a few scriptures. I mean a really deep knowledge so that God’s Word is active and living inside of you. The kind of knowledge that when crisis strikes and you feel yourself about to stumble, a passage of scripture suddenly pops into your head and gives you the power you need to recover and gracefully continue your journey.

Physically, I will always be apt to stumble and be somewhat like a pregnant woman in her ninth month with twins in a China Shop, but praise be to God that spiritually if I stay in tune with God and let Him lead me, I can gracefully move through my life.

Debbie





Posted on  August 22, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

One morning I was thinking about all the drama that is going on in our world. We’ve been dealing with Covid for well over a year and now we have the Delta variant sweeping across our country. By the way, I saw a wonderful quote: “I’m not afraid of the Delta, I have the Alpha and Omega.”

People are becoming more and more intense it seems about the issues of masks and vaccinations . There always seems to be political drama. We have the drought and that brings with it the threat of fires.

What I have learned to do when thoughts like these start bombarding me, is to reach for my Bible. I headed for the book of Psalms. Sisters, one of those “moments” happened that always makes me grin and think to myself, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” My Bible fell open to the book of Psalms and my eyes immediately picked out this verse.
Psalm 16:1
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
My safety comes from my God.

Oxford dictionary defines safe as: “protected from or not exposed to danger or risk. Not likely to be harmed or lost.”

Did you know that the name Jesus means “He who saves”?

We understand that salvation is deliverance by redemption from the powers of sin and the penalties that it brings.

Today I want you to grab your Bible as we look at the concept of safety and salvation from God a little differently.

The psalmist definitely believed in a God who saved or offered salvation. I looked for verses that mentioned save, safety and salvation. I did not even include the concept of deliverance.

I decided to start in Psalm I and “scan” for verses that mentioned these words. I am sure I missed a bunch. I stopped after about 14 verses in the book of Psalms. I encourage you to continue the study on your own. I also wanted to include some of my favorite verses outside of Psalms.

O.K. The tour bus is heading out…

Psalm 3:7 (KJV)*
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God:
for thou hast smitten all mine enemies
upon the cheek bone;
thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Here we see a God who doesn’t mess around with the enemies of those who call upon Him.

Psalm 7:1,20 (ERV)**
Lord my God, I come to you for protection.
Save me from those who are chasing me.
I love how it reads here, “Save me from those chasing me.”

Psalm 12:7-8 (NIV)***
You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
8 who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race.
Does this not sound like our world today? The wicked who strut about. What is vile is honored by the human race.

Psalms 17:7
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
God saves those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18:2 (NIV)
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
“Horn of my salvation.” In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, great power would come to the aid of the children when they blew the horn given to them by Aslan.


Psalm 18: 47-48 (NIV)

He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
48 who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
God saves me from my enemies.

Psalm 31:2 (NIV)
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
A strong fortress to save me.

Psalm 34:4 (ERV)
I went to the Lord for help, and he listened.
He saved me from all that I fear.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Do you feel “crushed in spirit”? God saves you.

Psalm 40:9 - 10 (ERV)
I told the good news of victory
to the people in the great assembly.
And, Lord, you know that I will never stop telling
that good news.
10 I told about the good things you did.
I did not hide these things in my heart.
I spoke of how you can be trusted to save us.
I did not hide your love and loyalty
from those in the great assembly.
When we experience God’s saving power, we can not hide it in our hearts. We have to share it!

Psalm 62:1 - 2 (ERV)
I must calm down and turn to God;
only he can rescue me.
2 He is my Rock, the only one who can save me.
He is my high place of safety,
where no army can defeat me.
These verses make me smile. Calm down and turn to God. He will defeat the army.

Psalm 68:1-2 (ERV)
He is our God, the God who saves us.
My Lord God saves us from death.
Our God saves!!!

Psalm 69:29 (ERV)
I am sad and hurting.
God, lift me up and save me!
When you are sad and hurting, God will save you.

Psalm 119:94
I am yours, so save me!
I have done my best to know your instructions.
Save me - I am yours! This reminds me of how we are His sheep and He knows our name.

Now we are going to step out of Psalms. The first passage I want to show you is Isaiah 12:1 - 6. In these verses we learn about God’s salvation and what should be our response to it.
12 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
I have this passage on my prayer wall.

Jeremiah 17:14 - Such beautiful words.
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.

The last stop we will be making on our tour today is Micah 7:7:
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.

Sweet Sisters, God’s love for us and His willingness to save us is a huge theme in the Bible. No matter what this world may throw at us, remember, if you love the Lord your God, with all you have He will hear your cries and He will save you.

Debbie



* KJV = King James Version
** ERV = Easy to Read Version
*** NIV = New International Version

Verses not marked are New International Version




Posted on  August 8, 2021 

Sweet Sisters,

In the early years of our marriage, Paul preached a sermon from Deuteronomy 9:1-3:
Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. 2 The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” 3 But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

And Deuteronomy 20:1-4
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

That sermon spoke in a powerful way about promises that God made to His people, the Israelites, and that we as His People today can also claim.

Let’s look at Deuteronomy 9:1-3 first. Moses tells the Israelites you are about to cross the Jordan River and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you. “Dispossess” means to eject someone from real property; to banish; to evict.”


In Max Lucado’s book, Glory Days, he describes the Israelites at this time this way:
Two million inexperienced Hebrews. They had never passed this way before. They could fight snakes, leopards and windstorms. But breach the walls of Jericho? Resist the iron wheeled chariots of the Canaanites? Wage war on the blood thirsty barbarians across the river? Perizzites, Hittites, Canaanites, Amorites . . . Just odd names to us. But names that struck fear of the hearts of the Hebrews.

Moses continues to explain that their cities have walls that reach to the sky. The people are strong and tall (giants) and that they have heard about them. Moses then says, “but…”
(9:3): But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

I love what Moses goes on to say about why God is going to do this for them. It is not because of how good they are or have much integrity they have for they are a “stiff necked people”. Deuteronomy 9:6:
Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
It is because of who God is and what He wants to accomplish.

Before I go into what his means to us I want to also look at Deuteronomy 20:1-4:
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

Once again, Moses tells the Israelites that when you go to war against your enemies and you see horses and chariots and armies stronger than yours, DO NOT be afraid for the Lord your God will be with you. Especially notice verse 4:
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

Moses says God will fight for you and He will give you victory. Moses doesn’t say God might give you victory, He says He will.

This was an incredible time in the history of the Israelites. To quote once again from Max’s book:
For seven years they were virtually untouchable. Seven nations conquered. At least 31 kings defeated. Approximately 10,000 square miles of choice property claimed. Seven years of unbelievable success. They were outnumbered, but not overpowered. Under equipped, but not overwhelmed. They were the unquestionable conquerors of some of the most barbaric armies in history. They were unstoppable.

Sweet Sisters, you may be reading this and thinking “Wow, what an amazing story! God accomplished powerful, incredible things in the lives of the Israelites. But what does all of this have to do with me?”

Let me tell you what this has to do with you and with me. Do you have giants in your life that are bigger and stronger that you? Do words like cancer, addiction, child abuse, spousal abuse, depression, anxiety, financial devastation, death, divorce, same sex attraction, cause you to tremble with fear? Do you feel overwhelmed and powerless to fight these giants? Do you look at the world you live in and feel like a huge tsunami is bearing down on you?

I am here to tell you that your life does not have to be like that. The Lord your God goes before you and will fight for you and you will be victorious. He is faithful and He keeps His promises. He promised the Israelites and He promises you.

I have written about the fear I struggled with as Paul was approaching his hip replacement surgery. I worried that all kinds of things would go wrong because of his very slow heart rate. I worried about the anesthesia. I worried the surgeon would make a mistake. I worried about MRSA. I was “what-iffing” myself into some really dark places.

Finally, I remembered Paul’s sermon and these verses. I prayed for God to go before us and handle everything that was terrifying me. I prayed that it would all go well and God would be honored.

Let me tell you how that prayer was honored.

I was allowed to be with Paul just about everywhere he went. I waited with him to go to pre-op. Once they got him settled, I was allowed to be with him. I stayed with him until he went to surgery. I was allowed to come into the recovery room. I was allowed to stay in his room with him while he was in the hospital.

Remember my fears about anesthesia? I was able to see the anesthesiologist. He was concerned about Paul’s low heart rate (37 bpm) and at first wanted to postpone the surgery. But once I described Paul’s working out at the gym three days a week and his efforts on the rowing machine, the anesthesiologist agreed to go ahead with the surgery, but he would make modifications to accommodate Paul’s heart rate.

The surgery went well.

When it came time to go to his room is when God spoke to my heart and said, “Let me show you what happens when you trust me!” Eisenhower has a wing called the Greg and Stacy Pavilion. It is the Ritz Carlton of hospital rooms. The room in this Pavilion are actually suites. They include perks like a special menu that you order from and the food is prepared by a special chef. There was an in-room refrigerator stocked with soda and juice. The shower was big enough for 4 - 5 people to be in at once.

A very sweet friend without telling us, arranged for Paul and me to stay in one of these suites while he was in the hospital. We had no clue such hospital luxury even existed.

Sweet Sisters, never again will I doubt the goodness and the faithfulness of the God we serve. Our God wants us to bring every little fear we have to Him. He doesn’t promise to make life easy or to take away the pain and the heart ache. The Israelites still had to go to battle and trust God to be with them. But He does promise to go before us and fight for us and that ultimately the victory will be ours.

Debbie





Posted on  July 12, 2021 

Sweet Sister,

As the day for Paul’s surgery approaches, my heart is filled with conflicting emotions. They range from anxiety and borderline terror to peace and confidence that God is in control. I believe that considering all that is involved in this situation, such emotions are normal. The unknown is always a scary place to be. Satan understands this as well and takes full advantage of the time to weaken my faith.

It is a time of choice. What emotions will I choose to dwell on? What emotions will I allow to control me? Will I listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit or the voice of Satan?

Psalm 23:4 says:
Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
I found out in my research that there is an ancient trail up to Jerusalem which climbs above a deep precipice the Jews call, “The valley of the shadow of death”. It is a steep, dark canyon where the sun only shines when it is directly overhead. David tells us that even when he faces the darkest, scariest times possible, he will not be afraid for God is with him.

II Timothy 1:7 is one of my favorite “go to” verses when I feel out of control.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
This verse tells me that when I am feeling overwhelmed by fear that the feeling is not coming from God. God does not cause us to be fearful. He causes us to feel powerful.

Sweet Sisters, as I write this I am reminded of a scene from a possible cartoon from my childhood. The main character is walking down a dark scary street. Neon signs keep popping up along his path. One sign says, “BEWARE DANGER AHEAD!” Another says,”KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! EVIL LURKS IN THE DARK!” There is sign after sign warning of danger and despair. But, there are other signs as well. Signs of hope and reassurance. Signs that promise guidance and protection.

Today I want to share with you some of the “good signs” that God has posted along the dark and scary paths that we travel.

The first big sign God posts is:

“DO NOT BE AFRAID.
I AM TRAVELING WITH YOU”


Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God
will be with you wherever you go.”
Deuteronomy 31:6. “Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Another sign God posts is:

I’VE GOT THIS!
I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU!


Isaiah 12:2 “Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself,
is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
Psalm 34:17-18 The righteous cry out,
and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 18:28-30 28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
29 With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.

The next sign we see is:

I WILL BE YOUR GUIDE


Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you
with my loving eye on you.
John 16:13-14 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own;
he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.
14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
II Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting
and training in righteousness,
God has posted many signs that we can choose to focus on. The last one I want to point out to you is one you really don’t want to miss:

OVERFLOW WITH HOPE


Hope is mentioned approximately 129 times in the Bible. In Hebrew the work (TIKVAH) means expectation - it also means cord of rope which come from a root word to bind or to wait for or upon. Remember the old quote “When you’ve reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on”? It is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His Faithfulness.
Ephesians 1:18 - 20 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope
we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

These two passages give us great insight into the power of hope, but my favorite passage is found in Romans 15:13. It was Paul’s prayer for the Roman Christians and it is my prayer for you:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is the prayer I chose to focus on as I travel this emotional journey of conflicting emotions over the next few weeks. Please keep Paul and me in your prayers during this time that in all ways God will be honored.

Debbie





Beaumont Church of Christ
Peter's Message
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Posted on  November 21, 2021
 

The annual celebration of Thanksgiving is highlighted by families and friends enjoying food and fun together—many traveling great distances. Thanksgiving is not only a time to remember all one’s blessings but also to be thankful to God for His love and provision. There are many ways to express our thanks to God; daily prayers at home around the dinner table and before bed, weekly remembrance of Jesus death, burial and resurrection in communion, and more.

Here is a list of ten expressions of thanks to God:

Thank You, Holy Father, for loving us and calling us Your children.

Thank You for sending Jesus Christ, Your Son, to enrich us in this life but also the life to come.

Thank You for giving the Holy Spirit as a seal of Your promise.

Thank You for establishing the church; the body of Christ, and revealing Your will for us.

Thank You for providing our daily needs in abundance.

Thank You for hearing our prayers and for acting upon them.

Thank You for encouraging us and for the hope and peace that is in You.

Thank You for keeping our friends and family safe and the bonds we enjoy.

Thank You for blessing us and also allowing us to experience things producing compassion.

Thank You for calling us by name and giving us value and purpose.

Dear God, we are thankful for our country and for those leaders who ensure peace and safety. For life, liberty and justice, for inspiration to succeed and grow, for the wonders of the world and universe, for simple pleasures of song birds, seasonal colors and rainbows, for joy even in sorrow, for life after death, for revealing Your will—wisdom and understanding, for clean air and fresh water, for sunshine and rain; sunsets and sundowns, food and clothing, for knowing when we were born and being with us in our death—knowing all our days. Your divine providence demonstrates Your constant love—we are richly blessed. Let us now be a blessing to others.









Peter's Message
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Posted on  November 7, 2021
 

Scripture: Ephesians 5:25-29
Sermon: ‘Washed by Water of the Word’
Song: ‘How Great Thou Art’ #76

The Bible, God’s written word, has two volumes; the Old and New Testaments, with 39 individual books. It was written by 40 writers over a period of 1,500 years. A dominant feature of the Bible is its longevity, consistency and unity.

The Oxford Dictionary, ‘the last word on words’, has 12 volumes taking 70 years from conception to completion in the 1800’s. It was compiled by a man representing a body of overseers with several assistants, who invited people from all walks of life to contribute unique words and their etymology. The author was a self proclaimed autodidactic (self taught) man, skilled in most of the western and mid eastern languages. At its completion it included 414,825 words and 1,827,306 illustrations. The most illusive word to translate was ‘art’, taking several pages to explain. Art, in all its simplicity means ‘skill’. An artisan is a ‘skillful worker’.

The main reason for the Bible; covering the beginning of time to the end of time, was to give all people knowledge of God’s will pertaining to His promises of redemption and eternal life. One of the main reasons for writing the Oxford Dictionary was to ensure an accurate translation of the newest version of the King James Bible. At the time, Great Britain had colonies throughout the world and the KJV Bible was widely used as a standard for English use.

Both the Bible and Creation are art forms; evidence of God’s unlimited capacity to demonstrate His power and creativity. He made both magnificent. The Bible and creation reveal the majesty of God. Artists, skilled in their chosen fields of expertise; writing, painting, building, designing, and more, reveal their nature and devotion. God’s divine nature, demonstrated in His art, reveals His love; a sweet smelling fragrance, filling the senses with wonder and awe. We exclaim, ‘How great You are!’ …Peter.








Peter's Message
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Posted on  October 3, 2021
 

Sermon: Choosing to Believe
Scripture: Mark 16:1-8
Song: ‘He Lives’ (346)

He is Risen!

The disciples of Jesus, at the time of His death, knew Him as a young man, in His early thirties, full of life and without ‘spot or blemish’. Throughout their lives they had two distinct images of Jesus: as a young man speaking with authority, performing miracles changing the lives of many, and as man resurrected to eternal life changing the lives of countless millions giving them a living hope. Their last sight of Jesus was of Him returning triumphantly to heaven.

During the final period of Jesus life on earth the disciples and those who followed Him witnessed His resolve to endure great hardship, punishment and death, but also new life at His resurrection and ascension. Some, like Joseph of Arimathea ‘gathered up courage’, others, like Mary were ‘trembling with astonishment’, some were ‘weeping and mourning’ and some had a ‘hardness of heart’ refusing to believe.

Knowing ‘the end of the story’ we joyfully celebrate both the death and resurrection of Jesus. The bread we eat at communion reminds us of His body while the cup we drink reminds us of His shed blood. Each participant in the ‘Lord’s Supper’ is filled with emotion—we mourn His loss but also celebrate Jesus as ‘our risen Lord’ with an undying belief and joy of salvation.

There are several things Jesus accomplished at His death and resurrection, including the following: 1) He kept His promise to rise from death after three days, showing that He keeps all His promises. 2) He is a living, resurrected Savior at the right hand of God in heaven, 3) He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and 4) those who believe Him are assured that they, too, can be ‘born again’ and resurrected to new life.







Peter's Message
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Posted on  September 26, 2021
 

Sermon: Change
Scripture: I Peter 1:3-5
Song: Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand (613)

Born Again to a Living Hope

Change comes! My witty father used to say, ‘if things don’t change, they will stay the same’. Things change, people change. King Solomon wrote of ‘a time for everything’ knowing that we change. Unexpected change is a cause for worry. A well known writer once said, ‘most of the things I worried about never happened’. Known change also brings on frustration. Keeping up ‘with the times’ means that I must adapt or fall behind. Learning to adapt is key to change.

Paul, an apostle, wrote about focusing on ‘things eternal’ (what does not change) and encouraged us ‘not to lose heart’ adding that ‘while our outer man is aging that our inner man is being renewed day by day’. He went on to say that ‘while we look for things that are seen we know that they are temporal while the things not seen are eternal’ (II Corinthians 4:16-18). In the kingdom of heaven, Paul said, ‘we will be raised imperishable—we will be changed’ (I Corinthians 15:49-51).

Hope in God makes it possible to endure every change. As Christians we believe that God understands our trials and ‘comforts us in our affliction’. Having been comforted we are able to comfort others with the comfort of Christ. The Hebrew writer stated that ‘faith (trust) is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen—we believe that God made the world (what is seen), and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:1-6).

Peter, also an apostle, speaks of ‘being born again to a living hope’ through the resurrection of Jesus Christ to obtain an imperishable (unchangeable) inheritance that will never fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by God’s power’ (I Peter 1:3-5). Knowing God means that we love Him. Even though we do not yet see Him we believe in Him because of what He has done and, because of this, we are able to ‘rejoice with a joy inexpressible’ (1:8).






Peter's Message
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Posted on  September 12, 2021
 

Sermon: Jesus, the Christ
Scripture: Mark 14:3-9

‘Remembering Jesus’

The Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion, was instituted by Jesus during the Jewish Passover Supper, also known as the Feast of Passover. At the Passover, ‘an innocent’ lamb was prepared and served. This had been done since the time of the Exodus from Egyptian captivity. The Jewish Passover was held once a year to commemorate ‘salvation from slavery’ while the Christian Communion is held weekly to commemorate ‘salvation from sin’.

During the Exodus, a first born male lamb without blemish was killed and eaten (Exodus 12:5-8). Blood of the lamb was sprinkled on door posts as a sign for first born children to be ‘passed over’ (the last of the ten plagues upon Pharaoh and Egyptian captors). The Passover lamb was cooked and eaten hastily as the Jews were preparing to escape. Jesus is referred to as the ‘Lamb’ (Revelation 5:8) and ‘the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29, 36). Jesus and His disciples ‘ate the Passover’ (Luke 22:14) before His crucifixion. Paul said, ‘Christ is ‘our Passover’ and that the meal is eaten with ‘unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

Mark wrote, ‘when it was evening, He (Jesus) came with the twelve and they were reclining at table and eating’ (Mark 14:17-18). Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and said to His disciples, ‘take it, this is My body’ (14:22). Then Jesus took a cup and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them; and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘this is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many’ (14:23-24). Finally, Jesus said, ‘I shall never drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’ (14:25). The Lord’s Supper is celebrated worldwide by Christians every first day of the week in remembrance of Jesus Christ who took on ‘the sins of the world’.






Peter's Message
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Posted on  September 5, 2021
 

Sermon: ‘On the Alert’
Scripture: Mark 13:33-37

Citizens of the United Stares of America have experienced great trials at home and abroad. The War of Independence, Civil War, two Great World Wars, conflict in Asia and the Middle East have taken their toll, along with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and destruction of the Twin Towers in New York. Through all of these conflicts, our resolve and determination, and our belief in God has inspired us to be ‘on the alert’.
Traveling from New York to Memphis in 1971, I had a unique opportunity to see the Twin Towers from a helicopter that shuttled me from Kennedy International Airport over Queens to LaGuardia. My attention was drawn to many sights along the way including the Statue of Liberty. Thirty years later, as I lay in bed watching the morning news, I was shocked to see two civilian aircraft crash into the towers. Even now I am amazed at the extent of destruction, loss of life and ensuing battle in Afghanistan. For years many people never thought that the towers were vulnerable or a target. On that day, September 11, 2001, people went about ‘as usual’. Some continue to reflect on the purpose of the attacks with a resolve that they should be ‘on the alert’ for any future occurrence, knowing that a bombing could happen again like that at the Oklahoma Federal Building in 1995.
Jesus predicted that there would be wars and rumors of wars. Churchill wrote that ‘history is written by the victors’ but marked by war. The Old Testament prophet and king, David, wrote, ‘why do the nations rage and people devise vain things?’ (Psalms 2:1-12). Understanding the uncertainty of this life, we look forward to the coming of Christ without fear, but with a readiness, knowing that God is in control.





Peter's Message
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Posted on  August 29, 2021
 

Sermon: The Greatest Command
Scripture: Mark 12:28-34

True Love

Love is the ultimate demonstration of God’s relationship with people. Some have defined love as being ‘tough’, ‘unconditional’ or ‘common’. The word ‘love’ is used to express our deepest thoughts. The greatest of these is to say to God or a friend ‘I love you’, and the greatest act of love is in giving oneself—‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross; that whosever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).

Love is defined in many ways throughout scripture, dictionaries and commentaries. A Biblical definition of love is to ‘seek another’s highest good’. In New Testament Greek the word AGAPE is used to speak of the highest form of love. There are three basic forms of love: brotherly affection, marital intimacy and personal sacrifice. The ultimate form of love is selfless and seen in the endless and tireless love of a parent for a child, or the willingness to give one’s life to save another. Jesus humbled Himself and gave His earthly life so that ‘His friends’ may have eternal life.

Love is the basis of God’s goodness—He created ‘out of love’. God’s love for mankind demonstrated His willingness to allow Jesus, His Son, to sacrifice His life taking on the sins of all people. God’s gift of love is freely given, expressed in the words of a popular song: ‘amazing grace that saved a wretch like me’. God accepts our love—that honors Him as Lord and Savior. Our worship of God is a demonstration of our love for Him, and our love for others is a reflection of how God loves us as His friends. Love is the greatest gift—it is limitless—it never fails—it is true.




Peter's Message
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Posted on  August 8, 2021
 

Sermon: God Hears
Scripture: Mark 9:16-29

The story of a boy possessed by a spirit in Mark’s Gospel is also a story of a concerned father who could find no help for his son. The New American Standard Bible heading is ‘The Cure of the Epileptic Boy’. Epilepsy is a neurological disease causing seizures. Jesus called it a ‘deaf and mute spirit’. The spirit’s intentions were ‘to destroy him’ and mercilessly dashed the boy to the ground resulting in him foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth and stiffening out. The spirit also threw him into convulsions; often into water and fire. When Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the boy it cried out, throwing the boy into a terrible fit, resulting in the boy looking like a corpse—some saying ‘he is dead’.
Watching a child suffer is traumatic for any parent. The father had brought his son along in a crowd, and addressed Jesus as ‘Teacher’, saying, ‘I brought my son, possessed with a spirit’. He explained the boy’s condition and said ‘I told Your disciples, but they could not cast it out’. The cure to the boy’s malady, however, was within the father! Jesus healed the boy but not after saying, ‘all things are possible to him who believes’ and, ‘this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer!’
It is not uncommon for parents to go to great lengths to get help for children when they become ill. A principle learned is that people need people—children need nurturing parents, friends need close companions, and the sick need caregivers. Mark shows the child in a disturbing state from which there was no relief. The father acted calmly under the circumstances. A second principle to be learned is that Jesus, while concerned for the sick, also goes to extraordinary lengths to heal people from sin and separation from God. Jesus is presently acting on our behalf as our advocate with the Father, while the Holy Spirit is within us to assist in our prayers—John adds, ‘we know that God hears us’ (I John 2:1, 5:15, Romans 8:26). Lets draw near to God in prayer; believing.



Peter's Message
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Posted on July 4, 2021
 

Sermon: Heart Belief
Scripture: John 20:30-31, Romans 10:9

Jesus performed miracles, signs and wonders to encourage belief in Him as the Son of God. He healed the sick, calmed the sea, raised the dead and fed the hungry. Some doubted and tested Him.

1. Mark 8:12 ‘Why does this generation seek for a sign?’

People are often hesitant to make changes or go against the norm. In order to accept something different they want to be confident and may ask for additional proof. Jesus asked the question (above) shortly after feeding a multitude of four thousand people who had not eaten for three days. He had compassion and performed a miracle using what was available: seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. After eating and being satisfied there were seven full baskets of broken pieces left over. Some, however, wanted more signs to test Him. Having received much from God, should we continue to doubt?

2. a. Mark 8:27 ‘Who do people say that I am?’

People claim to be many things; some true, others not. In reality, we are a mix of who we say we are and what others see in us. Jesus, the Son of God, God’s Anointed and God with Us (Immanuel) wanted to hear from His disciples what the multitudes thought of Him—He already knew their heart, but wanted to hear from Peter. Many thought of Jesus as a prophet; a good man, perhaps as Elijah or John the Baptist, but did not believe in Him as the Son of God. What, then, should we believe?

2. b. Mark 8:29 ‘Who do you say that I am?’

Individuals often respond differently to groups of people. As a group, people may go along with everyone else. When alone, they may feel free to speak openly about what they really believe. Peter believed that Jesus was different and said, ‘You are the Christ’ (the Messiah; God’s appointed). Matthew records Peter as saying, ‘the Son of the Living God’ (Matthew 16:16). Jesus said that this understanding was given to Peter by the Father (not the crowd). What we believe about Jesus and confess in our heart matters; with heavenly implications. We are encouraged to listen to Jesus, believe His works, and follow Him.









Peter's Message
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Posted on May 2, 2021
 



Sermon: ‘Words to Live By’
Scripture: John 20:30-31

Jesus was brought before the Roman governor who questioned Him saying, ‘are You the king of the Jews?’ (Matthew 27:11). Pilate asked the crowd, ‘What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ (27:22). Peter and John, after healing a lame man were taken before Annas, the High Priest, and asked, ‘by what power, or in what name have you done this? (Acts 4:6). Later, Paul was taken before Festus and King Agrippa, accused of ‘teaching about a certain dead man, Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive’. Paul demanded to be taken before Caesar, the Roman Emperor (Acts 25:21, 24-25).

In life we may be called to justify what we believe by making a public statement. Jesus responded to His accusers by saying, ‘It is as you say’. Pilate felt compelled to ask, ‘do you not hear haw many things they testify against You?’ Jesus remained silent and did not answer to a single charge (Matthew 27:13-14). Peter and John were instructed not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). They responded, ‘whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard’ (19-20).

Peter and John had confessed publicly that ‘there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Those who heard, observed their confidence and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, and they were marveling and recognized them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Peter and John had been labeled as ignorant since they came from Galilee and were fishermen, however, their education was not only from life lessons but from Jesus. While many longed to sit at the feet of Gamaliel, like Paul, imagine having the Son of God as a teacher?

Jesus, the greatest teacher and judge of all, knowing the hearts of people, was able to ask questions of eternal importance: He asked Martha ‘do you believe this?’ referring to the resurrection, and asked Peter ‘do you love Me more than these?’ referring to things of this world (John 11:26, 21:15). By believing, Jesus told Martha that ‘she would see the glory of God’ and by loving, Jesus told Peter ‘to care for My sheep’. Belief and love are principles that shape our lives and frame our decisions—they are words to live by. Jesus knew that His disciples needed to be eye witnesses of His resurrection from death. He appeared to them while locked in an upper room for fear of the religious leaders—believing in Jesus was a threat to their lives and they were fearful. Having seen Jesus, and having touched the wounds on His hands and side caused them to have confidence and they ‘began to speak the word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). They were ‘rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name… and kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ’ (Acts 5:41-42).







Peter's Message
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Posted on April 4, 2021
 


Sermon: Rise!
Scripture: II Thessalonians 2:13-17

At the birth of Jesus Christ to Mary, there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather, was with Mary. Shepherds of Israel and wise travellers from the east came to worship. They arrived with exceedingly great joy. Jesus was, soon after, presented in the temple and welcomed by a devout man named Simeon who was looking for the consolation of Israel. He took Jesus in his arms and blessed God and Jesus’ family. Anna, an eighty four year old widow and prophetess who spoke to those looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, was also there to see Jesus.

At the death of Jesus Christ He was betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter, assisted by Simon of Cyrene with His cross, followed by a great multitude, by women mourning and lamenting Him, crucified with two robbers, by soldiers and spectators and those who came to mock Him—a Roman soldier recognized Him to be ‘the Son of God’. Mary, the mother of Jesus was at the cross with John, a beloved disciple, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Joseph, a member of the Jewish council who was waiting for the kingdom of God and a secret disciple of Jesus, along with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, took Jesus from the cross, and with a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes wrapped Him in a linen sheet placing Him in Joseph’s tomb.

At the resurrection of Jesus Christ, after arriving triumphant in Jerusalem and having been tried, crucified and buried, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, came early on Sunday morning—the third day, to the empty tomb where Jesus was laid. Jesus presented Himself to Mary Magdalene, to His disciples, to travelers on the road to Emmaus, to five hundred others and, lastly, to Paul. Jesus’ resurrection from death assures all those who believe that He made it possible for the 1) forgiveness of sins, 2) the gift of the Holy Spirit, 3) hope of heaven with God, 4) peace that passes understanding, 5) great joy, 6) the true love of a friend, 7) confidence in knowing that sin and death are overcome, 8) the promise of all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, 9), victory as conquerors in the protection of God, and 10) confidence that He will come again.

At the second coming of Jesus Christ, He will come victorious as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Those who look for His coming will see loved ones who have died in Christ rise jubilant from their graves. They will hear His welcome call ‘Come’; each by their own name, and then, they too will ‘rise to meet Jesus in the air’ and with many others, given entrance to their eternal home praising God.







Peter's Message
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Posted on March 14, 2021
 


Sermon: Heaven My Home – Jesus My Hope
Scripture: I Corinthians 15:12-19

People everywhere want to ‘reach for the stars’. People are explorers at heart willing to cross the seas and skies. Leaving the safety of home and venturing into the unknown is considered all part of the experience. Modern astronauts, like ancient Pharos, are attracted to the heavens and the chance ‘to go where few have been before’. At great cost and preparation, voyagers are eager for the chance to spend even a few hours above the earth. Some have been fortunate to walk on the Moon spending days in a cramped shuttle while others have volunteered to spend months traveling to Mars.
Space travel; enduring long days of boredom, does not deter many from one day leaving the safety of Earth. Earth is a blue planet in the Solar system called the ‘third rock from the Sun’. It is blue because of water—Mars is called the Red Planet. The earth has both salt water and fresh water that have remained constant over time. Water evaporates, condenses and then falls back to earth as rain. It is a liquid, vapor (clouds) and ice (snow). There are land and ocean rivers transporting water from one part of the earth to another. Water we drink today existed at creation. Hikers often take water purification kits and know the importance of filtering water, boiling it and adding chemicals (chlorine) to kill harmful bacteria. Water is a combination of hydrogen; the most abundant element in the universe, and oxygen which is the third most abundant element. It is transparent, tasteless, odorless and nearly colorless. Water is essential for survival.
Water is a symbol of life and constancy. John speaks of heaven as our eternal dwelling in the Book of Revelation, describing its many attributes. He was a fisherman and saw water as life giving and concluded his writings using water figuratively to describe how God has not overlooked anything in heaven that will make life there possible and pleasurable. God says to those seeking an eternal home, ‘I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost’. John adds, ‘and He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God, and of the Lamb, in the middle of the street, and on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding fruit every month and the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations’ (Revelation 21:6, 22:1-2). Our life in heaven will be abundant; perfect for our needs, made possible by Jesus who said, ‘the water that I shall give shall be a well of water springing up to eternal life’ (John 4:14). He encouraged His disciples saying, ‘I go to prepare a place for you, and where I am there you may be also’ (14:3). Jesus, who went before us, is our hope of heaven.






Peter's Message
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Posted on February 7, 2021
 


Scripture: John 20:24-31
Sermon: Fixing Your Eyes and Believing in Jesus

Article:

The battle between Jesus and Satan was not fought with swords, sticks or stones. It was a battle fought over loyalty to God’s will. Jesus, ‘the Innocent’ and Satan, ‘the Deceiver,’ entered a ‘three round’ contest after Jesus had been led into the wilderness for forty days of fasting and prayer. Jesus was in a weakened state while Satan was at his peak. Satan was on the attack while Jesus was on the defense. Satan sought to trick and mislead Jesus in an attempt to entice Him away from God—perhaps to challenge Jesus to ‘be your own man’ and to ‘use scripture for your own benefit’. In His defense, Jesus honored God by accurately and confidently quoting His word.
There is a story of a farmer who hired a worker to do three specific things while he was away. On his return he found that two things were done to his satisfaction but the third was not. When he asked for an explanation the worker said that ‘his way was better’. As a result, the farmer was not pleased with any of his work—disobeying one thing is the same as disobeying them all! Jesus, in order to fulfill His mission, determined to do all things God’s way. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, contemplating the crucifixion, Jesus asked God ‘to remove this cup (burden) from Me,’ but then said, ‘not My will but Yours be done’. Satan, who came to destroy, had the upper hand in that he could lie, steal and cheat, while Jesus, who came to save, could not make a single mistake. In the final battle, when Jesus was on the cross, having been falsely accused, mocked, beaten, and then shamefully crucified, many who saw Him had no pity. They insulted Him, overlooking all the good He had done and all the comforting things He had said, demanding ‘that He come down from the cross and prove, once and for all, that He is who He claims to be’. The battle, however, was not yet over and three days later Jesus Christ rose victoriously from death to life.
The ordeal Jesus faced on the cross, experiencing excruciating physical and emotional pain, was the challenge to endure to the end, while carrying ‘a sinful world on His shoulders’. In His mission to save people from their sins, Jesus had to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice; as an innocent lamb before slaughter that does not cry out, or lash out. Even though Jesus was alone in His final moments He demonstrated His desire to save sinners by requesting forgiveness for a thief crucified with Him, and then forgiving His tormentors saying ‘they do not know what they are doing’. In this final act, Jesus showed that His sacrifice was for all people. He is now seated at the right hand of God, victorious, having regained His rightful place, where He continues to act as our advocate, able to receive all who fix their eyes and believe in Him.





Peter's Message
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Posted on January 31, 2021
 



Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-3
Sermon: ‘Fixing Our Eyes and Hope on Jesus’

The Hebrew writer calls on all his readers to live ‘fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith’ and gives Jesus’ motivation: ‘for the joy set before Him’ (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus experienced human life, as we do, and willingly went to the cross because of what He believed the outcome to be. Peter continued the thought by adding ‘fix you hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’ and later added ‘if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God’ (I Peter 1:13, 4:16). Paul also gave thought to the manner of our lives. First, he said, ‘conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and then gave the example of Jesus who ‘humbled Himself to become obedient to the point of death’ (Philippians 1:27, 2:8) - Jesus submitted to the will of God. In doing so ‘God highly exulted Him, and bestowed on Him the name above every name’ (2:9).

Luke says that Peter and John acted confidently since ‘they had been with Jesus, rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer shame for His name, and were obedient to God rather than men’ (Acts 4:13, 5:29, 41). Our hope is in Christ as we fix our eyes on Him. When we encounter various challenges in life our thoughts must focus on the good we have learned, seeking advice from others, observing Jesus’ example, while waiting on God’s guidance. Those who prepare beforehand are most likely to succeed. Therefore, we commit ourselves to God when times are good, anticipating that there may be rough times ahead. From life, we accept that all people experience difficulties from one time or another, and one kind and another. Listening to parents at the ballpark encouraging their children is the well-known phrase, ‘You can do it’. With a little help from friends and family we, too, can do it, and do it well. We are encouraged to try our best knowing that we may fail, also knowing that ‘striking out’ is not a failure; in fact, it is expected.
In our spiritual battle, Christians put on the ‘armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-19) knowing that their fight is ‘not against flesh and blood’ but against the ‘forces of darkness in heavenly places’. We focus on Jesus, study His word, show ourselves approved of God, obey Him, give Him glory, and shine brightly in the world knowing that He is in control. We are able to say, then, ‘it is well with my soul’. Christians fix their eyes and hope on Jesus ‘for the joy set before them’.




Peter's Message
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Posted on November 15, 2020
 



Sermon: Friendship with God
Scripture: Ephesians 2:19-22 – 3:1-6.

Friendship with God is a bountiful gift; a cornucopia of spiritual blessings producing endless possibilities of wellbeing, including love, joy, hope and peace. It is a spiritual understanding of a heavenly treasure given freely to all who earnestly seek God that cannot be taken away, and a serendipity that results unexpectedly creating surprise and awe—like an unspeakable happiness that is found in its pursuit! As a young man I marveled that Pacific Islanders living in Fiji were very content with their apparent ‘meager’ surroundings.

Happiness, to them, was because of something that was of much greater importance. As the ‘illusive butterfly’ that avoids capture yet brings joy to the one running after it, so God’s friendship surprises us. We peruse happiness and find peace—we search for meaning and find contentment. The Fijian people found meaning in what they had and who they were—among the most notable were God, family and friends.

Driving down the road I see people busy with their lives. I am glad to see many meeting together to worship God. It occurs to me that those who attend small, large or mega churches are all in the pursuit of God and spiritual fulfillment, and come to Him desiring meaningful relationships. It is heartwarming to note that Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in God’s name that He is among them. The Apostles of Jesus; sent out as a small band of believers, went with the knowledge that Jesus, their friend, was with them ‘to the end’. Likewise, the God we have come to know and love we call Father and Friend. It is not surprising then, to believe that we are His Family.
Considering all the friends that we have known throughout our lives we notice that not all friends are the same. There are friends that are casual, friends that are momentary, friends that are constant, and friends that are closer than a brother. Jesus, the creator of the universe calls us His friends—we may wonder what that means and realize that His friendship is based on the highest form of love—sacrificial love; demonstrating that His love is pure and real—His life is bonded with ours. We conclude that if Jesus is our friend what kind of friend are we to be? When Jesus asked Peter ‘do you love Me?’ Peter responded, ‘Yes; as a brother’. Jesus was insistent and asked two more times. Finally, Peter responded by saying ‘with all my being’ (heart, soul, mind and strength). It is up to us to determine what kind of friend we are to Jesus knowing that friends seek each other out; they walk together, encourage each other while talking of shared hopes—friendship inspires them on. The greatest gift of friendship Jesus gives to us is Himself! He first gave Himself; the best of heaven! Friends, likewise, generously give themselves highlighted by words and acts of kindness.


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Friendship with God, as described by Paul to the Ephesian Christians, means that we are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow-citizens in God’s household… being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Paul adds that, as God’s friends, we are fellow-heirs, fellow-members, and fellow-partakers… of the promise of Christ through the Gospel, and in the unfathomable riches of Christ.
tion.

It also gives me hope. If something improves but isn’t fixed, then Jesus may be working to finish it a little later. Remain faithful.




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