Monday, March 31, 2014

Seventy times Seven

Jesus Forgives You
On a certain Sunday I visited the Assisted Living home where a friend was residing.
Each time I visited, the owner of the home would stop me, and ask if I have been to church.  Then I would proceed to tell him what the Pastor had preached on this day. 
I told him that the title for today's sermon was 70 times 7. 
Jesus gave this response to Peter’s question, “Should I forgive my brother seven times? Jesus said, NO not 7 but we are to forgive 70 times 7 or in other words continually.  
I elaborated that it was not simply to forgive 7 times and stop on number 8, but to forgive as we expect God to forgive us, with unlimited measure. 
I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer that makes this very statement in Matthew 6:12  “And forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.”
The man to whom I spoke, remarked, Oh I need this so much.  I then told him, that it is good not to get into situations where we need to repent and require forgiveness. 
However the Pastor ended his sermon by reminding us that if we have received Jesus as our savior, then we have the assurance that the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin.
Isn’t it wonderful that we can actually walk in God’s forgiveness? 

It certainly brings peace instead of condemnation.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Moment

The Holy Ghost Anointed Jesus at His Baptism
Visiting today at the newest church in town Oroville Faith Center, Assembly of God.

Pastor John and his wife were dressed in casual clothing, but their eyes sparkled as if they had just come from the throne room of the King.

Pastor John was reading from Matthew 3:15-17 about Jesus requesting John the Baptist to baptize him.  John at first refused because his was the baptism of Repentance and Jesus had NO need to repent.
Jesus insisted and said, “This must be done for a declaration, and to fulfill righteousness.”
Jesus recognized that John was bringing a message from God as a sign unto the world.
The baptism of Jesus was to be symbolic of his life and soon coming death and resurrection.   As Jesus came out of the water, He had a new direction and purpose and his official ministry was to soon begin.  He also received an anointing from the Holy Spirit.

16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The sign of the dove and the voice from heaven was a supernatural declaration that the Father was pleased with Jesus.

When we follow Jesus and participate in the emersion of water, we take that first step to tell the World that we have made a change.   Baptism does NOT make us a child of God, but it is done in obedience to the Lord to show the world that we are His child.

We are to take that step into the water and identify with Christ.  We are changing directions and will leave our old life behind.

Pastor suggested that we leave our enemies (those things that plague us and hold us down) in the water and receive newness of life. 

The children of Israel were being chased by Pharaoh’s army but God parted the waters of the Red sea on either side and they marched through the river on dry land.  Then suddenly as their enemies rode into the water, the enemy army was quickly consumed as the water enveloped them.

In His younger years, Jesus was know as the Carpenter’s son, a student, a dweller in Nazareth, a reader of the scrolls in the temple, but now His direction completely changed. 

He went about preaching, teaching and healing all who were sick and oppressed. 
After his resurrection, Jesus gave a command to wait for the Baptism by Fire and to receive the Holy Ghost.  
Have you received the Holy Ghost since you have believed??

Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Unlikely Pair

Beautiful Woman
courtesy pixabay
My friend Syl was a young 65 year old beautiful widow, having lost her husband two years ago to a heart attack. 

She was faithful to her church and each week she and some of her girl friends met for lunch. 
Her deceased husband had left her his small cottage and retirement checks kept her comfortable.  Because her adult children lived near by and she was  happy to be single and to enjoy life.
One day there was a knock at her door and when she opened it, there stood a short pudgy balding man who handed her a watermelon.  He shyly said, “I thought you might enjoy this nice ripe melon,” and he left.
Syl was frightened and immediately while still shaking, she phoned her Pastor and told him what had just happened. 
Pastor said, “I think I know who he is.  His name is Homer and he attends our church.  There is no need to be scared of him.”
As she thought back, yes, she did remember seeing this man in church, but had paid him absolutely no attention.
A week later this man showed up at her door, this time with a large basket of strawberries.  Syl thanked him and gently shut the door, while she ran to phone her Pastor again, and tell him this man was stocking her.
Pastor assured her, that the man meant no harm.  He recently lost his wife to cancer and he enjoys doing good deeds.  Pastor’s words calmed my friend, but she was still wary and cautious.
On the Saturday before Mother’s day the man showed up again, this time with a flowering plant that she could later replant in her garden.  
The next day was Mother’s day, and a group from church went out to a restaurant for lunch and this man found a seat next to Syl.  As they talked, they discovered they had a lot in common and they became friends.
Homer needed a wife, and now the courting began in earnest and soon he won her heart and they were married.
They are happy, but I must say, they are an unlikely pair.
This is a true story and only the names have been edited.
This post will be shared at: Tell Me a Story on Tuesday.  Book mark Tell Me a Story site and you are invited to enter YOUR true story at the Blog Party!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Does God Avenge?

 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice ... -Proverbs 24:17

Many years ago, our Pastor was speaking about an attorney who had done him wrong.  God spoke to our Pastor to leave it alone and allow God to take care of the vengeance.
A few days later the attorney went on a snow trip and while skiing he fell and broke his leg.
Now you probably will ask, “Did God do that?”  Honestly I do not know, but my Pastor decided that it was God doing the pay back.
Years, ago our children visited another church in search of new teen age friends.  Our daughter was 17 and a boy about a year younger than her was attracted to her and they became an item.  His mother was very upset because our daughter was “older” than him and in an effort to break them up, she sent the boy away to Bible School.  Our daughter wept tears of bitterness and was saddened to hear that he had married a girl he met there.
Within a year he and the girl were divorced (for some reason,) and my thoughts were perhaps the mother was not wise in manipulating her son’s future.
Our daughter must have liked younger men, because a similar thing happened when we moved to another city.  The boy was Greek, and although his parents loved our daughter, they wanted him to marry a Greek girl, which he did.  They had two children and he joined the family business which involved travel.  There he met a blond woman and you can guess the rest of the story.
In life there are many unjust and unfair treatments that we and others receive. 
If you believe you have been mistreated and done wrong by someone, perhaps cheated, or stolen from or even abused; God forbid - - take heart for God is the avenger and he will repay.
It is best to “Let it go,” by Forgiving the one who harmed you, and then set your mind at ease and lay aside all matters of vengeance or reprisal. 
Allow God to settle the scores, and you can live in peace with a good conscience.
Matthew 6:15,20-21  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Church Attendance Where You Can Belong

Father Son and Holy Ghost
courtesy photobucket
My blogger friend Sharon wrote a post “Almost Missed Church on Purpose” that inspired this post from me.  I do understand the hesitance of some people to stay home and not attend a church.
Several years ago, Robert and I watched early morning church on the TV instead of attending a local service. 
The reason was, we had just left a church due to pressure from the Pastor to teach something we did not believe in. 
Then our friends came to live in our town and I agreed to visit churches with her so she might find one she liked.  She did find one, but God seemed to tell me, "No not here for you." (It was just a forbidding feeling.) 
Sometime later my friend was attending a craft fair in town and spoke with a lady who informed her that she and her husband wanted to start a new church here in our town.  “Oh you must call Hazel and she will help you.”  My friend has always been helpful that way!!
I did agree to help them, and our first service was 9 people; them, me, four people they brought with them, and another couple who showed up from the Newspaper notice. 
The next week in filtered more and soon we were able to move to a building we could rent full time.  For several years I assisted where I could and sometimes preached when they needed to take a Sunday off. 
Then for health reasons they moved away to be closer to their daughter, and placed the church into the hands of a novice preacher.
Again I helped, but began to realize the new man was not wise or trustworthy with money.  His needs and the church rent were two different topics.  Pastor and I had a disagreement over this and he asked me to leave which I did.
A few weeks later the church was locked out of the building for non-payment of rent and their sound system, pulpit, chairs and teaching materials were confiscated and held by the owners of the building, resulting in the church closing.
 Now I was in need of a church so I scanned the newspaper to find a group with a short service and a fellowship time.  One church appealed to me even though it was a traditional church and unlike any church I had ever attended. 
They lit candles, sang hymns I had never heard, and celebrated Advent, Lent and other traditions.  The preaching was Bible based and uplifting; although the congregation was mostly seniors and there were few if any children and young people.

I was welcomed with open arms, and enjoyed the short service.  I still had time to pick up milk or what we needed and get home by noon. 

The minister allowed me to share a short 5 minute story once or twice a month during the Joy portion of the service, and most of the people seemed to look forward to my stories. 

About that time, my daughter suggested that I start a blog and document my stories, which later became my three books.
Robert is not able at this stage of life to be in crowds so I give him permission to stay home, and he gives me permission to go to church alone. 
Next Sunday our Pastor is taking a short vacation, and when I heard who was to be the guest speaker, I made a decision.  Not to leave my church, but to take a vacation too.
There is a new live church in town, and this will be a good time for me to visit. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Apple and the Chalice

Old Rabbi - free clip art
Pastor Jerry began his sermon reading from  Ephesians 2:13-14.  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Pastor stated that in this world, our cities, our homes and churches there is much misunderstanding and we must remember that Jesus is our peace and breaks down all the barriers. 

Today we were to have continued serious conversations about the future of our small church.  There would be discussion of options if we continue to loose members in death.

To illustrate how there can be two different opinions about the same subject, he told this fictional story.  The Pope and the Rabbi:
About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Italy. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community.

So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave.

The Jewish people met and picked an aged but wise Rabbi Moishe to represent them in the debate. However, as Moishe spoke no Italian and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they all agreed that it would be a silent debate.

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked at him and raised one finger.

The Pope waved his hand in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.

The Pope stood up and said, “I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay.”

The cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what happened.
The Pope said: “First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity.  He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions.

“Then I waved my hand around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us.

“I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?”

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe; amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! “What happened?” they asked.

“I haven’t a clue,” said Moishe, “First he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one Jew was leaving.

“Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here.”

“And then what?” asked a woman. “I don’t know,” said Moishe. “He took out his lunch and I took out mine.”
   ~ ~ ~ ~
This world is rapidly changing and churches must change along with it.  New methods must be considered for church growth.  The church is assigned to bring about holiness, and share the love of Christ to hurting people.  There are many fragmented families with division and confusion that need comfort and direction. 
What is the greatest need of mankind?  The answer is simple, people need to hear and receive the good news of the Gospel.  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and is not willing that any should perish but that they should come and receive Him.
Somewhere there is always war and seemingly no peace except in the hearts of those who follow Christ Jesus.  Jesus prayed that we be united and be as one.  It may take our every effort in the Spirit to be of like mind and heart.
Jesus reminded his disciples to love one another and as he offered the bread he said, “This is my body broken for you.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Celebrate Life

Jesus Promised to Return
The night before, I had baked four pumpkin nut breads and wrapped up one loaf with pink colored plastic wrap.  It fit into the bottom of a pretty gift bag I had on hand, and on top I slipped a copy of my “Rescue the Stories Book One” along with a sympathy card cradling some money.
A memorial service was to be held in a near by city for our former Pastor Carl who had recently lost his battle with cancer. 

He had come to our church as a “Retired Lutheran minister,” to fill our pulpit as a part time Pastor.  For two years he preached his heart out with the true gospel and although he went along with the formality at our church, he was gung ho on Jesus whom he shared with all his might.
When he was being diagnosed I made a folder of many of the digested sermons that he had been preaching at our church, and mailed it to him.  He wrote a lovely thank you letter and said this was the nicest gift anyone could have given him.
Today we met with many friends and family to remember his life.  His wife Marilyn and two daughters along with their husbands stood in a receiving line as we signed the visitor book.  Marilyn remembered me and asked if I was still taking notes.
During the message the minister spoke about the “Empty Chair.”  The chair that Pastor Carl loved to sit and watch the ball games, western movies and chat with friends who came to visit.  His chair now sits Empty.

The minister reminded us of the “Empty Tomb,” and the resurrection and the proof that Jesus was indeed alive by the words of so many witnesses.
Jesus had encouraged his disciples that although He must go away, that He would be “Preparing a Room,” for those who receive Him as Savior. (The room is Empty now but it is ready and waiting.)  Jesus promised to return and take his followers to be with him for ever more.
Pastor Carl was not with us today (except in spirit) and he has received his Room and it is no longer Empty.
Appropriate hymns were sung and four close friends gave a short talk.  One lady was from our church and she shared some delightful memories. 

Perhaps there is an Empty Chair at your house-hold !! 
Be encouraged and always remember we have the knowledge of the empty tomb.  Forget not the promise that Jesus gave to return and bring us to our room that He is preparing for us.
Make sure your way to that room while you wait, for Jesus is returning soon perhaps today or even tomorrow.
This post is shared with Charlotte’s Spiritual Sundays


Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Nice Day

 A Food processor needed to be returned to Cost-Co and yesterday seemed a good time to do so.

A few weeks earlier, the gadget looked so intriguing and interesting that we purchased it and took it home.  

Without opening the box, my husband did an internet search and read comments from other buyers.  

One comment was, "The cutting blades did not seem to last long" and other negative remarks caused us to decide not to even open the box.

Looking over my Mystery Shop offers, I discovered one for a bank shop in a close by city that would pay a bonus.  

In the same city there was another offer for a free lunch for one, plus a small fee.  The fee would cover Lunch for Hubby, so I signed up for both Mystery shops and was accepted.

Lazily we took off to do the bank shop first which only takes about 20 minutes and Robert could read the newspaper and the grocery ads.  As I left the bank the associate said, “Have a nice day;”  And I intended to do so.

Soon it was time for our lunch and we enjoyed a delicious burger, yummy fries and a cold soft drink, then a drive through for another free item on my mystery shopper list.

Then we were off to Chico to return the Food Processor and also pick up some groceries.  We left with one of their frozen Chocolate Moco drinks and headed for Safeway where some more specials waited for us.  Boned chicken breasts were available at 99 cents a pound and we stocked up.

Finding a place to store our specials took energy and we were ready to enjoy a bowl of homemade soup and our two free tacos as our supper.

The reports for the two shops took awhile because receipts and business cards must be scanned and placed into the report, along with a story about the shopping experience and any problems along the way.  One problem was the ladies bath room faucet was broken and that was duly noted in my report.

Evening was restful with a movie from Net-Flix and our homemade apricot, banana and yogurt smoothie

All in all, we enjoyed a very nice day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Birth, Wind, Spirit, Gift

Pastor Jerry began his sermon by stating that after 40 years in the ministry he knows less about preaching than he does today. 

There is a divine calling to preach and teach.  God chooses to speak to the people through the minister and often God uses the people to speak to the minister.
As a Bible Student he was taught to formulate a sermon with a Title, topic, illustration, 3 points and an end.  Yet during a sermon, often a new thought will come and the direction is changed. 

He does not understand how the Spirit of God can bring across a message to each member that is different than the one he is preaching about. 
He admits that after all his study and searching he still does not fully understand Jesus and then he asked if any of the congregation fully understood Jesus?
Today Pastor was reading from John 3:1-17   I quote a portion.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?  15 That whosoever believeth in him (Jesus) should not perish, but have eternal life.
The Bible setting was the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus under the cover of darkness.  He was full of questions ‘how to reach the kingdom of heaven,’ and the answers he received were perplexing.  Jesus gave him the WORDS of life “Ye must be born again.”
These words were a puzzle because Nicodemus could only hear the word “AGAIN.”  He was not able to grasp the spiritual significance and could only understand birth in the natural, which would make the statement from Jesus impossible.  He was hearing sideways and not directly.
Jesus explained that He must be born of the Spirit;  A spiritual Birth from above
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews and he needed something tangible, and absolute.  He had seen and heard of Jesus doing some impressive things, and he tried to pin Jesus down for a straight answer that he could be satisfied with.
Jesus used the wind as an illustration.  We can feel the wind and its effects but we cannot understand or control it.
There are times when we are guilty of not hearing the message and missing the point. 
Perhaps our antenna is not set to pick up the truth.  Jesus gave the message of Life;  A New Birth, the Wind, by the Spirit and receive the Gift from God.
Pastor stated that often during the service something drifts, and we catch insight.  It may be the sermon, or a song, or the responsive reading, but it is God speaking. 
What an amazing God we serve.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Catching the Ball

I must have been in the third grade, and our class was learning the game of baseball. 
I was out in right field and the baseball was coming right to me, but the sun was in my eyes.  

I can still see! - photobucket
My hands were held over my eyes, but my fingers were spread apart so I could still see. 
Alas, my coordination was not good enough and when I reached out to catch the ball, I dropped it to the pavement.

All my classmates began to jeer and yell at me for my clumsiness and tell me what I should have done; and how much better they would have made this catch.
I felt like a fool and was so embarrassed that I was unable to even mumble a feeble apology for letting them down.  Of course our team lost the game, and then it was time to return to our class room.
In life isn’t that the way it is when others criticize and find fault.  What great arm chair football players we could be if we were in charge.
Sin is sin, but when I begin to fanaticize how the sinner should never have gotten into this mess, I realize my feet will not fit into their shoes.
Then I remember what Jesus told those men who accused the woman, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
Which sin is the greatest?  We all can begin a nice list of terrible sins, but honestly the biggest sin of all is to NOT receive Jesus as our Savior. 
Perhaps we need to just preach Jesus and not point so many fingers and allow Him to do the clean up. 

Maybe our eyes are covered by our hands and we cannot see the Son because we have blocked out the light.
May we catch the ball and not let it drop!
This post is shared with Charlotte’s Spiritual Sundays