God

The power of little things

Last week, I wrote about the danger of little things and how they can become destructive. Today, I want to look at the other side of that coin and show the constructive power of little things.

Little things can pack great power. It depends on whether we see them as problems or possibilities. One day, the disciples came to Jesus and told Him they had a huge problem. The people were hungry and there was nothing to eat. All they could see was a problem.

Jesus never saw a problem – He only saw possibilities! There were over 5,000 people there, but He was interested in a little boy who had a little lunch. The disciples thought he was foolish to take a little lunch and expect much. But little becomes a lot when God is in it! Jesus blessed the little lunch of five loaves and two fish and fed over 5,000 folks and had 12 basket loads leftover! (Matthew 14:13-21)

Look what God did through Gideon with a little army of 300 against thousands of the enemy. (Judges 7:2-24) Look at the big lesson Jesus taught us about the widow with one little coin. (Mark 12:41-44) Look what God did with one little shepherd boy, David, and one little rock against a giant. David had five rocks, but he only needed one! (1 Samuel 17:48-50)

Little things can produce great results. I remind you that there are only three pure colors, but look at what Michaelangelo did with those three colors. There are only seven notes, but look what Beethoven did with those seven notes. There are only ten mathematical digits, but look what Einstein did with them!

Don’t sell yourself short as being little and unimportant. God has a way of taking little things and producing big results. Problems become possibilities!

Robert Hill is a little boy who heard about Albert Schweitzer’s ministry in Africa. He decided to save his money to send medicine. He was able to buy one little  bottle of Aspirin and had it shipped to Africa. 

Robert’s dad was an army sergeant stationed in Italy. The radio station and newspaper heard about it and saw it as a great human interest story. They encouraged people to help Robert send medicine. Within a week, the Italian and French governments together flew Robert to Albert Schweitzer’s hospital in Africa, carrying with him medical supplies worth over $400,000!

Benjamin Franklin said, “Little strokes fell great oaks!” One person saw a spider web in a garden, and it became the inspiration for the suspension bridge. One person observed a tea kettle singing on the stove and had the idea of the steam engine. A lantern swinging in a tower produced the idea for a pendulum clock. One man watching apples fall to the ground discovered the law of gravity. Little things have huge consequences.

Little things pack power. One kind word – one affirming comment, one smile, one offer of a helping hand, one willingness to go a second mile with someone – these little things can make a big difference in the lives of people! If you take care of the little things – the big things will take care of themselves!

Discover the power and possibilities that God packs in little things!

God

The true Gospel message

By Ken Chester Guest author

“The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, exactly as Scripture says…— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 The Message
This message has stood every assault and attack for over 2000 years. God found you with these words: exactly as Scripture tells it. These same words changed lives then and still change lives today. The attacks will not let up. The assault on these words will increase and at times sound deafening. No matter, these words are meant to be worn on the inside and lived on the outside. The one who wrote these words tried his best to stamp them out. Instead, God stamped these words upon his heart and changed him into a word-spreader. You’ll find yourself coming alive as these words become the reality of how you are going to live. Jesus, Messiah, died for your sins (others too!), buried, raised on the third day. It’s never going to be an easy message to share. But when you do, you’ll find that God has already prepared the once hardened soil of another man’s heart. Are you letting these Scriptures be real in you today? It only takes a moment …

“He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

— Ephesians 2:10 The Message

God

Rule of 3

If you’re in the military or ever join the military every member of the branch, officer or enlisted member, or support personnel is required to memorize 2 numbers. They are appropriately part of what is referred to as the rule of 3. The rule of 3 is often a key to survival.

The two numbers are: 1.–98.6 and 2.–3

1. 98.6

98.6 is the ideal body temperature.

Maintaining the optimum healthy temperature keeps the body at its most efficient and operable condition.

Allowing our body temperature to get too low can be dangerous.

If the body temperature drops to 88 degrees seek medical attention right away.

If your body temperature falls to 82 degrees, call the family together and start picking out your favorite hymns for the service.

2. 3

  • You can survive 3 weeks without food
  • You can survive 3 days without drinkable water
  • You can survive 3 hours in a harsh environment (extreme heat or cold)
  • You can last 3 minutes without breathable air
  • You can only last 3 seconds without hope

The number 3 in Scripture

The number 3 is also an important element we find throughout Scripture. Here are just a few samples.

  • Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Three wise men
  • Jesus was in the grave three days
  • Three men were crucified on Calvary
  • Three parts of man (body, soul, spirit)
  • Justification, sanctification, glorification
  • Three gifts of the magi–frankincense, gold and myrrh
  • Jesus inner circle–Peter, James and John
  • three heavens
  • Peter disavowed Jesus three times
  • We have three of the same characteristics as God–a will, an intellect and emotions
  • Earth has three elements–sun, moon, stars

These are just a few examples of how significant the number 3 is in God’s Word. There are dozens more examples of how God’s number 3 influences the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments.

God

Getting into heaven

I believe some folks who call themselves Christians are going to be sorely disappointed on the night they hear The Midnight Cry. https://youtu.be/GhF3nXw8kIo

A recent social survey claimed that 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. I don’t think Frank Sinatra made the cut. When he knocked on the Pearly Gates on May 14, 1988 I doubt (but don’t know) if he got in.

Sinatra was the poster child for independent living. In fact he immortalized the independent lifestyle in his signature song, “I did it my way.” Doing things his way was how he lived his whole life. Here’s just one verse of his song:

Yes, there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I think lots of folks are living the independent lifestyle today like Sinatra did. And are still convinced they’re still going to heaven.

I know them. I see the choices they make. I see how they’re living. Some of them are well-to-do. Ask them what they think will happen to them when they die. They can’t give a clear answer or they tell you they’ll probably return to dust or they’ll probably just go to heaven like everyone else.

Some of them (and I know one) think that their religion can include psychics and fortune tellers and crystals and golden calfs and spirits (but not the Holy Spirit) and religious paraphernalia, and doctrines from other religions, rituals, and combinations of all manor of religious beliefs and customs. And the more they can stuff into their religion pouch the more religious they believe they are and believe that their performance and beliefs will punch their ticket to heaven.

Then we have those religious folks who believe the more they do for the Lord and for other people and read their Bibles 30 minutes a day and pray 15 minutes every day and go to church at least two Sundays a month and tithe and try to be a good Christian they’ll be accepted by God and get their ticket punched to get into heaven.

We can’t get to heaven by works, because God doesn’t pick favorites. To be accepted into heaven you must admit you’re a sinner, ask for forgiveness, admit that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again, and ask Him to have a relationship with you. 

You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God

No door needed

When you open a door to walk into a crowded room what do you usually do first? Scan the crowd to see who all’s there? Look for folks you ? Immediately begin speaking? Start singing? Tell a joke? Introduce yourself?

Well, on the first day of the week after the resurrection of Christ Jesus wanted to get with his disciples so they could see that he was alive, like he said he would be. The only problem was the disciples weren’t around. They were locked in the upper room hiding from the Jewish leaders. The disciples were fearing the Jewish leaders would be gunning for them now that they thought they’d crucified their head honcho.

All of a sudden Jesus stood among them in their midst. He just appeared. He didn’t knock on the door. He didn’t open the door. He didn’t call to them to let him in. He just appeared in their midst. He didn’t need a door to go through. He just showed up.

And what were the first words out of his mouth? Not, “Hey, guys, how ya doin? or “See, fellas, I’m alive now. My Father raised me from the dead. Isn’t that cool?”

No. What Jesus said to his disciples the very first time they laid eyes on him since his resurrection was much more profound and meaningful to them.

He said “Peace be with you.” After all the drama and uncertainty and lingering doubts his disciples had faced, at that critical moment in their journey, they needed comfort more than anything else. And it came to them directly from the lips of the Creator of the Universe.

“Peace be with you!”

They were being prepared to embark on their missions to take the Gospel message Jesus had taught them to the world.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

And when they went they would be traveling with the peace of God.

God

Letter to a mother considering having an abortion


By Bryan Daniels

Reprinted with permission from the author

bryan daniels

The following is a letter from a mother to a mother considering abortion. The recipient of the letter has recently found out that her unborn child has a degenerative genetic kidney/liver condition. The thoughts outlined here are similar to the post I wrote a while back about the 1.2 million unborn Caylee Anthony’s who die each year in America.

Many pro-choicers claim no man should have an opinion on abortion since it only affects a woman and her body (I don’t really agree with that). Many would add that no one should have an opinion unless they have had to raise a child with a genetic disorder that causes lifelong suffering (I don’t agree with that either). BUT here is a woman who exceeds both qualifications. I’ll let her eloquent appeal speak for itself:

E,

I am so sorry that you received this news. Please know there are hundreds around you who have been in this same or a very similar position. We know the pain that facing this decision brings you. Many others before you have followed the advice of doctors, family, and friends to terminate such a pregnancy. I understand that the decision they make is almost always out of the highest love for their child and a desire to prevent suffering. I want to be very sensitive to that, but to also encourage you to look from a different point of view.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion in our culture that preventing suffering is the highest goal, but I think we lose sight of the fact that sometimes in our lives the greatest blessings come to us after we have gone through the greatest suffering. I was advised to terminate with two of my ARPKD daughters after their 20 week ultrasounds. The following weeks, months, and years have been difficult and even terrifying, but I am so glad that I did not follow my doctors’ advice. Yes, my daughters have suffered to some degree (though I know not as much as many other ARPKD kids do), but their pain and tears have grown them into strong little girls who do not take life or health for granted, and who know how to be thankful for the little things in life. They are more mature, more wise, more grateful, more loving, than so many other children their age who have always had “perfect” lives.

Children with special needs have a way of blessing and inspiring those around them too, in a way that healthy children never could. I know greater suffering probably lies ahead for our girls as we face esophageal bleeds and organ transplantation, but we have talked these things through with our oldest, and if my seven year old daughter can face these things with courage, then perhaps she doesn’t need to be shielded from the suffering, but only equipped to walk through it. Someday my girls will take the faith and the strength that they learned from their sufferings and use it to inspire and bless all those around them. It would have been great loss for all who know them to have ended their lives early.

I know that this is one of the most sensitive and personal topics. I pray that I do not sound judgmental in any way. I only mean to offer hope.

With love,

K.E.

I am thankful for the composed thoughtful response of this mother.

But I don’t comprehend how values have gotten so twisted in our culture; Let’s try to explain this abortion reasoning to the unborn child: “

Since when was murder no longer an extreme form of suffering?

God

I was at the resurrectiom

I was at the resurrection of Jesus. I was there.  Really.

angell
Jesus

I saw Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome come to Jesus’ grave and discover He wasn’t there. Really. I did.

I saw the shock and fear; then I saw their joy and celebration.

I promise.

I saw Peter and the others dashing up the path. They looked inside in disbelief. I watched them ran away from the tomb and disappear into the dawn.

For four years I played roles in the Atlanta Passion Play. The play drew thousands of people to Atlanta during its three-weekend, 12-performance, 35-year run. One year I was cast as an angel in white at the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.  I saw everything.  The lines I spoke still give me chills years later. “Don’t be afraid.” I said. “Why are you looking for Jesus? He is not here.  He is risen. Just like He said He would.  Come see for yourselves. Now go tell Peter and the disciples.”

“Jesus is risen,” I announced it to the first visitors to the tomb. How blessed I was to have been there.  How fortunate that they chose me to speak those lines and impact those audiences and call attention to the resurrection in that way

I felt like I was really there. It was real to me. That scene in the performance made the Resurrection come alive for me as never before. And I’ll never think about the Resurrection the same again.

God

Do we know Jesus?

Oh, we know a few scriptures from the bible. We pray and give, and attend bible study now and again. We know about forgiveness We’re saved. We’re going to heaven. We help people in need. We know Jesus died on the cross to save us and cleanse us from all our sins. We know who Jesus is. But do we know Jesus? Are we surrendered to Him. Are we His?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42.

You see sister Mary knew Jesus. While Martha was fretting over trivial, worldly things Mary was soaking up every word Jesus was saying. She was willing to surrender herself in humble service to the man she knew as her Master. The disciples were still trying to figure out who the number two Jesus disciple would be in His Kingdom.

God

Grave mistake

It was a grave mistake. Jesus had upset religious and non-religious people. They were determined to put an end to his movement. After an unjust trial, they crucified him on a hill called Golgotha, then thought it was over when they put His body in a borrowed grave.

But that’s a grave mistake! Jesus didn’t come into the world to wind up in a grave. He didn’t die on the cross saying, “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished.” He knew He wasn’t finished – He was just beginning!

The grave was a temporary residence for Jesus. After three days, He came out and appeared alive to hundreds of people and then ascended to God, His Father. Read I Corinthians 15 and 16.

It’s a grave mistake to think that a grave is the end. That’s merely where a body is placed. The soul of man continues to live forever. Each person chooses his/her destiny for eternity –  either in the presence of God or in the absence of God. The Bible calls the alternatives heaven or hell. It’s a grave mistake to think you can change your choice in the grave!

In Pisa, Italy, there is a very interesting cemetery. Years ago, shiploads of soil were brought in from the Holy Land so that people could be buried in that soil. They thought it would be more helpful for their salvation than reciting Masses or lighting candles. Grave mistake!

Winston Churchill planned his own funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral with stately hymns and impressive liturgy. He also arranged for what would happen after the benediction. He had a bugler high in the dome of the church to play “Taps,” a universal signal that the day is over and ended. But then he had another bugler play “Reveille,” the sign of the beginning of a new day. “Taps” is goodnight down here – “Reveille” is good morning up there!

Henri Nouwen wrote, “What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning; what seemed to be a cause for fear proved to be a cause for courage; what seemed to be defeat proved to be victory; and what seemed to be the basis for despair proved to be the basis for hope. Suddenly a wall becomes a gate.”

Easter is not about the mystery of death, but the miracle of eternal life; it’s not about the Easter bunny, but the Perfect Lamb; it’s not about the golden egg, but about the streets of gold; it’s not about who might be right, but who is right!

It doesn’t matter where your body is buried, or if it’s buried at all. What matters is where your soul goes when you die. Being buried in a cathedral or expensive soil from the Holy Land or any other place doesn’t really matter in the long run – eternity is the longest run! Don’t make the grave mistake of prioritizing the grave!

A retired lady named Dee Parrish lived in Florida. She had a terminal illness. Due to volunteers from her church, she remained at home during her last days. Church people brought recordings of old hymns. Dee was listening to the hymn, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” when she died. Everybody just knew that when the roll was called up yonder, Dee answered, “Present!”

How will you answer?

God

Things could be worse

problems

I carried around two stents and a catheter in my kidneys for five days. I had them removed at the VA recently. Those five days were the most uncomfortable, agonizing days ever.

Waiting in line to check in at the VA a man in a wheelchair next to me called attention to the bag strapped to my leg. He showed me the bag he was wearing. I told him I’d been wearing a catheter for five days and was eager to have it removed.

He told me he’d been wearing a catheter for four-and-a-half years. They had to remove it and install another one every three months. On top of that he was also waging a battle against cancer.

My problems paled in comparison to this vet’s trials. I felt ashamed for all the griping and complaining I’d been doing about my problems.

I take myself too seriously many times. I wallow in self-pity and engage in trivial grumbling. I like to make insurmountable, hopeless obstacles out of petty grievances.

This vet knocked me down a few notches. A glitch in hospital protocol caused an extra stop where I met the man in the wheelchair. God arranged that glitch and encounter to teach me something about humility. I was focused on me and my petty trial and discomfort. Not others. Not God.

In humility consider others better than yourselves, and . . .do not merely look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.. . but do all things without grumbling or complaining.

God

Grape Expectations

Jesus’ last lesson for His disciples was about — grapes.

Jesus had high expectations that His disciples would understand their responsibility to continue His ministry. On His way to the Garden of Gethsemane He explained how they could succeed in the mission He had given them by teaching them about grapes.

Use your imagination with me for a minute.  Let’s put ourselves right in the crowd with Jesus and His disciples on their last night together.

I first

They ate the Passover meal together in an upper room. During the meal Jesus comforted them by giving them His peace and assuring them that everything would be all right. Look at the last verse of John, 14:31 …”but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded me. Get up let us go from here.”

“Get up let’s go from here.” — The very next verse: John 15:1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit.” Then in verse 4-5 Jesus says, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit on itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me bears must fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

branches

I can imagine that between John 14:31 and 15:1 they have left the upper room and are heading towards the Garden of Gethsemane together. Somewhere along the line Jesus stops at a grape vine, picks up a cluster of grapes and teach His disciples their last (and maybe most important) lesson while He’s still with them.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

We are branches. We produce nothing. We do nothing. All Jesus asked us to do is abide. Abide in Him. His life (the life in the vine) flows through us. He is our life. He doesn’t ask us to do anything but abide.  If we abide in Him (and He in us), we’re going to bear baskets full of fruit season after season.

But He said “apart from me (if you try to do things for His glory on your own, relying on your resources and your plans and your brains and efforts) all your hard work to be good for God will be in vain. We can do nothing. Nothing we do on our own will bear fruit or bring glory to God. Only what Jesus produces in us, through us and as us.

All He asks us to do is abide.  Just abide. Remain in Him. Trust Him. Depend on Him. Surrender to Him. Day by day. Moment by moment. And our fruit baskets will fill and overflow.

God

What we all want most

When I was growing up in my little hometown of Shenandoah, Iowa the place was running over with kids. Spring and summer were playground city–baseball, hide and seek, kick the can, king of the hill, red rover red rover, fireworks, swimming, sleepovers, whiffle ball, sleeping in the tent in the back yard–you name it we played it.

Baseball was our favorite. We had so many kids in two or three neighborhoods we could pick two captains and choose sides.

Wherever we played we all hoped we could avoid being picked last. Being picked last or even next to last was the kiss of death. It made us feel rejected or unaccepted.

we learned in those elementary years that acceptance was the thing we all craved more than anything else.

That desire for acceptance followed us into adulthood. Isn’t that desire to be accepted still with us. Whether it’s a spouse, or work associates, or golfing buddies, or employer, or employees, or neighbors, or church family, or Bible study group, or extended family, or in-laws.

One of the most precious feelings we can experience in life is the sense of belonging–the idea that we’re accepted. Tell me I’m wrong.

Some Christians can’t wrap their heads around the concept of being accepted by God. “He doesn’t mean me,” they say. “He doesn’t know all the things I’ve done.” (Oh yes He does.) “I’m not good enough.”

Just think about this for a minute:

  • God chose you before the foundation of the world. Not some NFL quarterback or insurance salesman from Omaha. YOU! He chose YOU!
  • God called you
  • God loves you
  • God saved you
  • God placed you in Christ
  • God adopted you into his own family

I think we can say without a shadow of a doubt that God accepts you and me and every saint just like we are.1

1A message by Dr. James Merritt, Touching Lives Ministries Atlanta, Georgia was the inspiration for this blog post.

God

Stop praying for patience

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably worn God out asking him to give you patience. Well you can stop asking. You don’t need God to give you patience. You already have all Gods patience you will ever need. How about some self-control? Do you need a little of that? Could you be a little kinder? You’ve already got all the kindness and self-control you’ll ever need.

How do I know? Read what Paul says to The Ephesians, “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. Ephesians 1:3 How man blessings? EVERY spiritual blessing.

What do we do with the blessings we receive down here on earth? We amass them. But all our worldly blessings are temporal. We’ll either use them up or leave them behind. We won’t take them with us. But every spiritual blessing is eternal. We can never run out of God’s supply.

And where do we find these spiritual blessings? In Christ. Who is in Christ? Whoever believes in him and has claimed Him as Savior.

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

You will never lack for any provision from God as long as you are in Christ.

It’s okay to ask God for blessings, Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages us to pray always. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Praying for stuff is a good thing. And remember, all we have to do is ask God for the blessings He already has and is willing to provide all the blessings you need from His eternal, limitless supply. And He will.

know?

God

3 ways we can heal

If we suffer a serious illness we can experience healing in three ways:

  • We can be healed from a medical issue such as a heart condition and seek healing from modern medicine
  • We can be healed by prayer
  • We can experience the healing power of Almighty God

 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” — Jeremiah 17:14

When I think of all the advancements they’ve made in modern medicine these days it makes me dizzy. And the wonder of it all is that the advances just keep coming.

Modern medicine

I am fortunate to have been healed of a significant heart condition in January 2011. I had open heart surgery. I will forever be grateful for the skills and medical expertise of Dr. Lance Freidland, my cardiologist who performed the surgery at St. Josephs Hospital in Atlanta.

The operation turned out to be more complex than they figured. They had to stop my heart for 18 minutes to implant a new aortic valve. (They stopped my heart for 18 minutes and replaced a damaged aorta. So they gave me a whole new aorta and a new pig valve. My heart is fine today except for my craving for bacon.

Prayer

A 13-year-old seventh grade girl named Laurie taught me about the healing power of prayer.

I taught 7th grade English in Montgomery, Alabama public schools for several years. One of my students told me doctors told her she had a small growth on her eardrum. She told me the doctors weren’t concerned about it but they wanted to observe it, as it might go away on its own. I told her I would pray for her. Her family and her church family would pray too. I soon found out that hundreds of folks were praying for her across Montgomery and the state.

The tumor grew and soon enveloped her entire eardrum. Doctors made arrangements for her to have surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The family had to drive to the clinic because the doctors said flying could easily do more damage to her eardrum or possibly even be fatal.

They arrived at the clinic in Rochester and were preparing for this extremely complex surgery. The team of surgeons laid Laurie on an exam table. The doctors looked in Laurie’s ear.

They could not see any cancerous tumor in her ear at all. Not only could they not see any cancer or tumor, they didn’t see any evidence that a tumor had ever been there.

The doctors and attendings and staff were dumbfounded, They could not explain the phenonium.

I can. Can’t you?

By the way this story is absolutely 100% TRUE You can call it whatever you choose to believe about the story.

I call it simply “The power of God to heal”

Almighty God

God can heal anyone of any sickness or disease anywhere any time any way He chooses. It will be His choice, His method His way and in His perfect timing.

My mom was a 2-time survivor of breast cancer. The cancer returned a third time in late 2004. This time the lung cancer metastasized to her brain She and my dad spent their last days in a nursing home in our hometown, Shenandoah, Iowa. One day when I was visiting her she asked me if I would pray with her. You can’t imagine how sweet it is to have your dying mother ask you to pray with (not for) her.

When we prayed I asked God to heal her. I asked God to heal her physically completely or by taking her to heal her completely by taking her home to be with Him forever. He answered my prayer and healed her completely on March 12, 2005.

She is with Jesus now, having the time of her eternal life, waiting for the rest of our family to gather together with her and the Lord. She has no cancer–she never will. Se will never even catch a cold again. She won’t ever cry, or be lonely, tired, hungry, upset, cold, want for anything, She will be filled with joy forever.

God healed her the best way He could and better than the best medicine or prayer ever could down here on earth

God

Grace + ?

What does it take to receive God’s grace when we really really need some?

Grace +___?____ fill in the blank

  • ___obedience
  • ___surrender
  • ___repentance
  • ___gratitude
  • ___sacrifice
  • ___prayer
  • ___asking for it
  • ___serving
  • ___worship
  • ___favor
  • ___other

In fact, if you chose any one or more of the choices from the list above you’d be wrong.

You can’t get grace. You can’t barter for it. You can’t do anything to persuade God to give you one bit of grace. You can’t get any by praying for grace, but you can ask God for it.. You may not even recognize grace when you get it. You don’t deserve any grace. You can’t share grace with someone else. Why would you even ask for any grace. You don’t even deserve it any way. You can not work or serve in the church to earn grace. Grace is just unattainable on your own. Left to your own devices you’ll never lay hold of grace.

Grace is “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. It is not a created substance of any kind. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life,”1

God bestows His grace on anyone he chooses, as much as He wants, as often as He wants. He can even choose to give His grace to unsaved sinners or wicked people if he chooses. In Western Christian theology, grace is “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. It is not a created substance of any kind. … It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

1 Wikipedia

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“Good” Christians don’t exist

Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God,  to gain God’s favor and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.

But “good” Christians don’t exist. In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good”  Christian  that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a better Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?

The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort.

In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything.  The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

I taught an adult Sunday School class for years. Our focus for the lessons was always centered on our identity in Christ. Our mission statement was helping each other know, believe, understand, and live out of our true identity in Christ. We taught that allowing Christ to do everything in us and for us and through us would be all we needed to live our lives as disciples o’re going to f Christ. During one our lessons about our true identity in Christ, a lady asked me, “But don’t we have to do SOMETHING? (she was coming out of a lifelong Catholic background).

“No, ” I said. “If we’re going to become authentic followers of Christ we have to surrender our old ways of self sufficiency and allow Jesus to live his life through us and do everything.”

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5ing Christ to live His life

So, if we are allowing Christ to live His life theough us God’s Word calls us Saints, not Christians.

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He knows

Stressed out today, are you? You don’t have enough money to pay the mortgage this month. That makes three month in a row? Your nine-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with leukemia? Your next door neighbor borrowed your lawn mower and broke it.Your 15-year-old son “borrowed” your wife’s car last night and crashed it into a tree. Your brother-in-law was diagnosed positive for Covid after visiting with your family last weekend. Now the whole family has to quarantine for 14 days. You just can’t keep it all together. Quarrels persist with family members. Frustration and impatience are impacting everyone. The isolation is driving you crazy.

Guess what? Jesus knows EVERYthing you’re going through. He knew it before you did. He knows how everyone in the family feels. He’s in the boat. But he’s not sleeping. With all this stuff swirling around you he’s hard at work.

It probably doesn’t feel like it. You may even think he’s forgotten you, or think he’s asleep at the switch. But he’s not. He’s working in each of you. And in His perfect time he’s going to make His presence known and calm the storms and tell the waves to be still.

Do you know what he’s inviting you to do right now?

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

Rest. In him. He can handle everything you can give him. Tell Him everything you’re going through. Tell him how you feel. Honestly. Don’t hold back.

Pray Father, I’ve got too much to handle here. I don’t know what to do. So, I’m surrendering everything to you now. Give me the rest you promise and handle all this for me.

In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

The peace that passes all understanding is on it’s way.

God

My wheelchair is my Ebenezer

EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually I stole the title of my post today from Joni Eareckson Tada. She calls her wheelchair her Ebenezer because of all the blessings and God’s favor she has realized. She has been confined to it since she was a teenager.. Click here to read her incredible story

I call my wheelchair my Ebenezer for the same reason Joni Eareckson Tada calls hers her Ebenezer. I have been blessed beyond words since I was confined to one after my stroke in February, 2018.:

Consider just a few things:

  • Physical therapists told me the folks that have this kind of stroke usually die. Yet, here I am.
  • People who have strokes usually have them on their dominate side, yet God spared my left side (my dominate side) so I can still use my left side to write and cook and use Israelitess about the Lord and our perspective relationships with him.
  • I’ve returned to a regular schedule of blogging three days a week (Mon-Wed-(Mon-Wed-https://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/
  • My wife has become the greatest caretaker on the planet.
  • So these are some of the reasons I call this wheelchair my Ebenezer.

In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel Samuel took a large stone and placed it in plain view so all the Israelites could see it after God helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines so they would be reminded and always be grateful to God for his help.

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When I knew for sure

Lots of authentic Christ followers can tell you the time and place when they were saved. Or where they were on 9-11, or where they were when MLK was assassinated, or the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.

I can tell you the time and place I was when I learned my true identity in Christ. I was in Al Scardino’s bible study class with Marie at First Baptist Church Atlanta. It was August 13, 2000. We were studying Dan Stone and Greg Smith’s powerful book, The Rest of the Gospel.1 Page 90 to be specific.

It was one of those unforgettable revelation moments when the light flashes and all of a sudden you get it. You realize that you live in Christ and Christ lives in you. And that’s the only identity you need.

Satan hates it. Because at that moment in your life he realizes that he has absolutely no chance of EVER persuading you to reject God and follow him. It means he has lost that believer forever to victory in Jesus.

We exist and live in one of two realms. The eternal realm of the Spirit of Almighty God. IT’s where things simply are. Everything is completed, unseen, changeless and timeless. No fear. No pain. No loss. Just never-ending peace and love always in the presence of Almighty God living as his beloved children.

The other realm we call the natural or temporal realm. If you live in this realns. m you are dying every day. There is a beginning and end. There is good and evil. There is a past, present and a future. There is birth, life and death. Wealth. Poverty. Failure. Expectations. Limits and experiences. Consequences. Trauma. Fear. Hate. Rejection. But the worst part about living in the natural realm is you are separated from God.

Are you still living in the natural realm? If you are, how’s that working for you? Things are going to become progressively worse. Any happiness you may experience will eventually turn to disappointment, futility and loss. You will eventually have to admit that this life sucks. Nothing works out the way you thought it would. Failures mount. So does your emptiness and feelings of worthlessness.

Do you want to swap realms? Do you want a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe? Wouldn’t you love to have all your sins forgiven forever? Would you like to know your eternal home?

IF you’d like all this stuff you get by living in the realm of the Spirit, have all your sins forgiven and become a child of God and join his family forever just say this simple prayer and it will be a done deal.

“God, I confess to you that I have sinned and I am genuinely sorry. I confess that my life has fallen short of your glory because of the way I’ve been living.  I want to know you. I want a personal relationship with my Savior. I believe by faith in You that Christ died for my sins. I ask you now, Jesus, to forgive me of my sins and come live in my heart.  I trust you as my Savior and receive you as my Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.”

Congratulation. You have a new Father and a new life in Christ. Your old self is dead and your new life is alive in Christ forever.

1The Rest of the Gospel; One Press, Dallas, Texas, c 2000

2000; pg. 90

God

Taking scripture out of context

Talk about a stupid, futile thing to do. More times than I care to admit I’ve watched men engaged in discussions (sometimes heated) about scripture. They have their bibles locked and loaded and they’re chomping at the bit to prove their point (and be right) and prove their hapless adversary wrong. I call these scenes “battles of the egos.

A case in point was a bible battle I witnesses between two friends of mine at a men’s retreat. One friend was a committed Christian I had known for years. The other guy was a brand spankin’ new Christian who thought he was a biblical scholar right out of the shoot because he could read the bible and tell you what it said.

These guys swapped biblical barbs for 45 minutes tossing out verses and passages to convince the other guy that he was right.

It was sad. Neither one made a case to prove his point. That’s because taking scripture out of context never works to prove a point or explain what scripture means.

I was visiting a friend in the hospital several years ago and an out-of work pastor came to visit the friend we both knew. He spent 30 solid minutes flipping back and forth between the Old and New testaments pulling out verse after verse trying to convince me that the Masons were a Satanic cult.

He kept going until I finally interrupted him. “Let me ask you a question, John. What on earth difference does it make?

He couldn’t give me an answer. He finally said, “So we’ll know.”

It never benefits anyone to take scripture out of context.

God

Did Paul consider himself a sinner?

Was Paul, the apostle, trying to identify himself as the “worst” of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15? Did he consider himself just a “sinner saved by grace” like many evangelical Christians do today. I know I thought that for most of my Christian life. This post is in response to comments from my last post, […]

Did Paul consider himself a sinner?
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My favorite attribute of God

Of all the attributes of God, my favorite one has to be God’s omnipresence. Of course I am totally incapable of understanding how God could possibly be omnipresent. But you could add that to the library full of other things I am incapable of understanding about our heavenly Father. God is everywhere in all of His creation at once. There is nowhere in the spiritual world God isn’t.

A portion of Psalm 139 hints of God’s omnipresence

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

It is unfathomable to me that our God can be everywhere in his universe and beyond all at the same time.
God

The “mights” of life

You know, Christ might come back tonight at midnight and take us all home. Your cousin Vinnie might have a heart attack tomorrow at work and die. Your daughter might start smoking dope. She might become an addict. Your son might win a full football scholarship to the University of Alabama. Your brother-in-law might win the lottery. You might lose your job with the pending merger. You might test positive for Covid. Your wife might catch it from you and die.

Who knows what “might” happen? When you use that little helping verb in a sentence you’re projecting the possibility of things happening in the future. Good or bad. But you don’t have a snowball’s chance of predicting (what you’re really doing) what will happen in the future, (in an hour or tomorrow or any time.) Most of the time (north of 85%) things we think might happen never do.

But do you know who does? Make your pick

___Mark Zuckerberg

___President Biden

____Donald Trump (He only think he does)

____Almighty God

One of Almighty God’s most amazing attributes is His omniscience. He knows everything there is to know. How can he know absolutely everything? Because he made absolutely everything. That breath you just took–was a gift from God. God is never surprised. He knows every person better than they know themselves; and he knew them before they were born. He knows what every person thinks, feels, does and says.

And everything God knows he will ultimately use in his purpose and plan for each of our good and His glory.

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. Romans 8:28

God

Make the most use of your name

The name of Judas has become synonymous with "traitor."

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NAMEAbout twenty years ago, I received a phone call from a Mrs. Ima Peace from Magnolia, Arkansas. She watched our worship services on television. She invited me to come to her church to deliver a lecture series that she had endowed.

I told her that I had a policy to be away from Frazer for a preaching mission only once each quarter. She asked me when I could come, and I told her it would be four years. She said, “That will be fine. I just want to stay alive until you get here.” I then asked about her age, and she proudly said that she was ninety-two. That put some pressure on me.

Lynn and I went to Magnolia four years later. Mrs. Peace came to the airport in Shreveport to meet us. She had us staying in a nice bed-and-breakfast. She gave Lynn an envelope with two $100 bills and said that she wanted her to buy something in Magnolia. That had never happened before or since!

Mrs. Ima Peace still lived by herself. She insisted we eat one meal with her, which she cooked. It was delicious.

When I inquired about her name, Ima Peace, she proudly told me that she was named after one of the daughters of the 20th Governor of Texas, James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg. She smiled and told us that the Governor had two daughters – Ima and Yura. She was glad that she was named Ima!

I didn’t know if she was kidding. Governor Hogg did have a daughter named Ima, but most people thought Yura was just a fictional character created by writers unfriendly to the Governor. Mrs. Ima Peace was proud of her name!

Each of us needs to be proud of our name. A Nova Scotia man has been told that he cannot use his vanity license plate, which bears his surname, “Grabher,” because it’s socially unacceptable.

It’s special to him because his son, Lorne Grabher, had the vanity plate made especially for his father in 1991, but now the Registry for Motor Vehicles has informed him that he can not use the plate anymore because it sounds like “Grab her.”  Grabher has challenged the ruling because he says, “My father always instilled in us that we should be very proud of our name.”

You had little to do with the name you received, but each of us has everything to do with whether or not we are proud of that name. And, more importantly, that we make other people proud of that name.

Whatever your name meant in the past, we need to make it good for the future. The very mention of a person’s name places a picture in the mind of everyone who hears it of what that name has come to mean. A good name produces good images. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches. Favor is better than silver or gold.”

There are two Biblical characters who could have made something good of their names but failed miserably. Jesus picked “Judas” to be a disciple, but his name became known as “traitor.” Paul selected “Demos” to help him, but Demos left him because “he loved the present world more.” Met anybody lately named Judas or Demos?John Ed Mathison |Leadership Ministries


There are two Biblical characters who could have made something good of their names but failed miserably. Jesus picked “Judas” to be a disciple, but his name became known as “traitor.” Paul selected “Demos” to help him, but Demos left him because “he loved the present world more.” Met anybody lately named Judas or Demos?

Don’t miss our Weekly Video Message from John Ed on “Got A Minute”.

God

The Healer

By Helen Murray

Guest Author

“…a ruler came and knelt before him (Jesus) and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.‘ Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.” Matthew 9:18-22 and Luke 8:40-48

healer

That was me. Oh, that day. I think my life began that day. That was the day that Jesus raised that man’s little girl from the dead – it was a day that everyone in our town talked about for months. She was dead! She had been ill for a while and she got worse and worse and then she passed away. I didn’t know them well but word spreads quickly and that morning as I lurked by the roadside waiting for him to pas by I heard that she had finally died. Nobody told me, but I overheard. Of course, nobody would come and talk to me. Not for a long time. Far too much hassle to talk with or touch someone like me. Unclean and had been for ages. If you spent time with me you had to go and be purified afterwards.I think they thought that I deserved it, though nobody came out and said that. At first people had been sympathetic but then it just went on and on and nothing changed and here was I, the woman who couldn’t be purified. Surely I’d done something to deserve this outcast label. It was my comeuppance for some crime. Some act, some words that condemned me to constant, draining illness. That’s what they thought, I’m sure. And if they associated with me too much, it might be catching.I thought it would kill me, to be honest. You can’t bleed incessantly for so long, can you, and still live? I felt so ill. Always weak, no energy. Even fetching water was a struggle and there were days when I could barely function, but I had to keep going. It was a half-life. Physically and emotionally. I longed for company and acceptance and affection just as much as I longed for health.Maybe I had done something wrong. I’d tried everything but nothing helped. Night after night I went to bed hoping that maybe the morning would not come for me, but it did.And then I heard rumours of this man, who was doing amazing things. Things that made people marvel and wonder. The stories arrived in our village way before he did and that’s why the road was busy that morning. I wanted to see him, this miracle worker.

helen bio image

The women were talking about the little girl who had died. Far away in the crowd someone was wailing and the word was that the girl’s father was too late; the healer was busy with the living. I saw his face, this grieving daddy, and it was set with determination. He had pain in his eyes but not despair. He believed in this man, Jesus. He thought that it wasn’t too late at all.I was amazed. I couldn’t take my eyes from him. He followed the slow progress of Jesus through the throng. Jesus wasn’t coming quickly enough, and the man pushed through. A few people knew who he was and stood back to let him past, while a few others pulled at him and told him not to be so stupid – it was too late for his daughter; he teacher had better things to do; but he was not having it.He fell in front of Jesus and opened his arms wide. Looking up at him, the father laid it out.‘My daughter is dead, but I know that you can still help. Touch her, and bring her back to life?’A hush fell as the crowd waited to see what the healer would say. He looked into the man’s eyes for a moment and smiled. He turned to go with the man, who rose to his feet.In that moment I knew. I knew that the little girl would be fine, I knew that her daddy would be celebrating this afternoon. I knew that the stories were true. I knew that I needed Jesus to help me too.I don’t think I really had any idea what I was going to do, at that pivotal moment in my life. I just lurched into the crowd towards the healer. Me, the one who is unclean, supposed to keep my distance for everyone’s protection – I pushed my way through the throng. I used my elbows and my shoulders and with my head down, I weaved my way towards Jesus before he disappeared.There he was. He was saying something to the man whose little girl lay dead. It’s a good job the crowd was so thick that they made slow progress, for I was so weak that I could not have kept up my pursuit for long. I reached out. I reached for him, and my fingers closed around a fold of his cloak as it fell in folds over his shoulder. I didn’t mean to pull at him, I wouldn’t have dared. I just needed to touch him. I just needed to be near. If he could raise a child from the dead then he could give my life back to me too.The moment I grasped the rough fabric of his cloak, he stopped. I let go immediately and shrank back. It wasn’t difficult to disappear as the crowd was a living thing that swelled around the healer and straight away I was consumed. He turned.Jesus turned and looked around him. His friends were close by and he asked them, ‘Who touched me?‘The big guy with the beard laughed. He gestured to the crowd.‘You’ve got to be kidding. They all touched you!’ But Jesus knew something. I don’t know if he felt something, or sensed something, or he just felt the little brush of my fingers against his clothes. I stood, frozen.‘I know someone touched me. Who touched me?’ The crowd slowed and quieted. The teacher was doing something else. People shook their heads and looked around. Nobody deliberately touched him. What did he mean?Oh no. Oh no. It was me. What on earth should I do? At that moment my head was full of noise. What would this man think when he found out who had touched him? I shouldn’t even have been there, let alone in the middle of a crowd. Let alone brazen enough to touch this man that they were calling holy.Not me, approach the holy one?My knees gave way and I fell down. The couple in front of me stepped aside and there he was, standing by me. The tears came, then. They started to fall and I couldn’t stop them. I covered my face with my hands in shame and humiliation and I sobbed. There was nothing else I could do.I told him who I was and what was happening to me. Ill for so many years, ostracised and shunned by family and friends and people at the synagogue. Pushed away, weak and lonely and unwanted. I told him that I’d seen him and known that he was my only hope. I confessed that I’d pushed my way through the crowd because I selfishly wanted to touch him. I told him that I was sorry, that I was undeserving. It all came out; the hopelessness, the shame. My nose was running and I could barely speak for sobs. I was aware of the gaze of the people around me. A few recognised me and I saw disapproval in their eyes.I finally raised my anguished face to the healer.  He was gentleness. He looked intensely into my eyes, and I knew at that moment, I knew. I’m not sure what I knew, but it all seemed to come together; it was alright. Time stopped. I held my breath. For a second it was as if he and I were the only people in the world. I saw honesty and compassion and pain in his eyes. There was recognition – he knew me; he saw me. He knew what I’d been through and he felt for me. He understood me, he forgave me, he loved me…He had healed me.I felt something, or the lack of something. My hand flew to my stomach and my eyes widened as I stared at the One who had made me whole again. Suddenly there was no ache, no dragging, no burning – no pain. I felt a surge of strength. and hope. I knew that it was over, after all this time; that life was perhaps worth living after all.‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’I will remember those words all my life. I treasure them. I will never forget his low, clear voice. The intimacy of that moment. I can remember the kindness of his eyes as they crinkled at the corners with his smile. He gave hope to a hopeless woman.You know that peace? The peace in his blessing? It never went away. I have it still.I looked into his face and I knew who he was. I will tell my story to anyone who will listen. I will never stop praising the One who healed me.That day he healed me; he saved me.Jesus. My Saviour.

‘Heal me and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.’