PEACE AT CHRISTMAS

Here’s one from Lee! -anita

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Some of my favorite Christmas carols talk about peace at this special time of year. Songs like Hark the Herald Angels, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Holy Night, and others all mention the peace that comes with Christmas, the peace that comes, ultimately, with Christ.

What is this peace that the carols proclaim? The Bible talks about “peace” in several contexts. Foremost, it is peace with God Himself [Rom 5:1-11] While we were yet sinners and enemies of God, Christ died for us.

Christ also brings an inner peace. In John 14:27, Jesus says that He brings peace that we should not be afraid. Colossians 3:12-15 talks about peace within the body of believers. And we who are believers in Almighty God are called to live in peace with the world around us. See James 3:17-18, Romans 14:19, and Hebrews 12:14. Interestingly, in one Bible commentary I read, it notes that there is no promise in the NT of peace among nations.  Nations and kingdoms will be at war. [MT 24:6-7]

So peace is pervasive and touches all of our relationships, even that with God. One Bible commentary puts it: “Biblically, peace is no mere absence of strife but the active experience of a harmony that promotes total well-being.”

It seems to me that peace is a function of our active intent. Like the old song says: “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” We can choose to love those around us and even love our God. Of course, we love because He first loved us. Meaning that “love,” and its close associate, “peace,” are both gifts from God. As someone has said, no one can give themselves the peace of God. It is a gift. “Now may the Lord of Peace [one of the many names of Jesus] Himself give you peace at all times in every way.” [II Thess 3:16]

You may ask, how do I get this peace that God promises? As has been discussed many times in this blog, the driving force behind all aspects of our relationship with Him is TRUST. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” [Is 26:3] So peace begins with trust; trust in the One who has the power to provide peace and safety. “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.” [John 16:33] And, as we talked about in church last Sunday, abiding in Him is relational. We need to include the Lord in our day, our thoughts, our successes, our problems and issues. As the Isaiah verse above states, our mind needs to be stayed on God.

Everyone wants peace. But what the world has in mind comes from a false hope: that men can learn to live together in peace because they will want to. But the Bible is clear—and the history of mankind bears this out—man alone cannot initiate peace. It must come from God, just like every good thing!

Lee Pierce

WHAT JESUS WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS!

In yesterday’s post, I spoke about the sermon my husband preached last Sunday.  Well… here’s the rest of the story (like Paul Harvey used to say.)  Enjoy!-anita

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Christmas is all about Christ. Have you ever wondered what Jesus would include on his Christmas wish list if He had one? While we don’t have the specific answer, we can gather some insight from His prayers, specifically John 17. Jesus says, “Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am” (John 17:24).

Jesus states that His Kingdom to come, which will eventually bring justice to all, is very concerned with the poor and the underprivileged. The Bible tells us, “None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Jesus expects us, whom He has called and commissioned to represent Him as Ambassadors on earth, to share his love and concern for those in positions of need. How can we better keep the Christ in Christmas and be the hands and feet and heart of God? What is it that Jesus desires from us? 

Here are six things I think Jesus wants from us this Christmas.

  1.  Jesus wants us to love Him with the same love God has for Him.

Jesus’ goal is not only for us to see Him in all of His glory, but also for us to love Him with the same love that the Father has for Him. Jesus says, “ And I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26). Jesus’ longing and goal for us is that we see His glory and for us to be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for His Son. This doesn’t mean that we simply imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for JESUS, and our 1.fellow-man. This is what the  Holy Spirit places in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit, which is then passed on to our brothers and sisters on earth

2.  JESUS WANTS US TO help those in need.

As Christians, we are commanded to help one another but we are also called to help those who are less fortunate than we are. Proverbs 21:13 says, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” 1 John 3:17 also says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” A great way to help the poor and needy during the holiday season is by volunteering or donating to those in need. The Salvation Army, or Denver Rescue mission are great charities! Getting involved in giving to your own neighbors! What better gift to Christ than to help our fellow neighbor in need? Be sensitive to those around you and seek God to impress upon your heart where you should give. You may be surprised at what he reveals to you! How many of us declare we are going to do this year, but never get around to it because we are too busy, or some other reason? Let’s make a concerted effort to put feet to our faith this year. It does not have to be a major undertaking how about making a casserole for a sick neighbor or friend, or a small monetary donation to a shelter. That gift you bought for yourself? Give it to someone else… see how it makes you feel. It may reveal something to you about your character….

3.  Jesus wants to be first in your life.

Anything or anyone other than Jesus that holds first place in your life is an idol. This Christmas, Jesus would want you to choose to make Him first, ahead of your finances, interests, relationships and schedule – even your troubles. OUCH… this one hit home for me. I have no troubles giving when the Father impresses me, but I do like my ” things” as my wife will tell you….but all idols aside, This starts by giving Him your heart. The Bible tells us, “Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Your heart is what you love, value and care about most. One way you can give Jesus your heart this Christmas is by giving your resources to His work. This doesn’t mean that Jesus needs your money, but He wants what it represents – your heart.

4.  JESUS WANTS YOUR TRUST

One thing that would probably be at the top of Jesus’ Christmas wish list is your trust. Do we really trust God? Remember, faith is a voluntary matter. And easy sometimes, but Jesus doesn’t have your trust unless you give it to Him. Trusting in Christ means that you’re not relying upon yourself but on Jesus. This is another area where I personally struggle. If things are to get done, I have to do them, or so my thought process is. The most important part of following Christ is to learn from Him. By relying on Christ as our Teacher, He shows us how to change our thinking and leads us into living a new life that is more in line with His will and truth. Jesus shows us how to live and will even guide us in how to pray. When we learn what Jesus wants from us, then we rely on His strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, to do be able to accomplish His will.

5.  HE WANTS US TO WITNESS

What better gift you can offer Christ than to be a powerful witness to His life and

what He has done for us and bring others into the family of believers. He wants followers who choose to love and trust Him. This is the very reason we celebrate Christmas. You can invite someone to Jesus this Christmas by telling them what Jesus has done in your life. We know from Scripture that the Wise Men didn’t just give Jesus whatever they had leftover when they visited Him on the first Christmas. Instead they gave Him three very significant and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). As you bring other people to Christ, you are giving Jesus a gift far more valuable than the ones the Wise Men brought. JESUS values souls over any other gift we can offer. 

6.  JESUS WANTS US

One of the greatest gifts you can give Jesus this season is the gift of you. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Closer and deeper than the past. Of course, Jesus wants other people too, but you are not in a position to give other people to Jesus. They have to make that decision for themselves, realizing that we all need a savior. However, you have the power to witness. God will do the rest to bring others to Christ. This first begins by truly giving yourself to Christ. You can begin by taking these four steps. First, you can give yourself to Christ by giving Him your time, your talent and your money. Second, you can give yourself to Christ by serving others instead of yourself. Third, you can give yourself to Christ by living a holy life in an ungodly world, spending time in His presence, listening to Him. Finally, you can give yourself to Christ by teaching others about Him.

What better gift can we offer Christ this Christmas than seeing Him in His fullness and accepting all that He has to offer us. Christ is always showing us His glory, but we have to find satisfaction in His glory and delight in it. This Christmas, be committed to growing in your relationship with Jesus and doing all that you can to reflect His love and greatness to those who do not know Him or need , or desire a closer more intimate relationship with him!

Michael Mondragon

THE ROAD TO SALVATION…

Yesterday, my husband, Michael, brought the sermon.  It asked the question, “What would Jesus have on HIS Christmas list?”  There were a few different things on that list…but the one that stuck out in my mind was about witnessing to the lost.

Some of us have attended the many classes offered at church on ‘how to witness effectively.’  They had books that gave all the verses in order-the Romans Road (the road to salvation),  the way to talk to others of a different culture or religion, etc.  These are all great ‘pointers’ to take into consideration, but the most effective way to witness is to pray and let the Holy Spirit do the talking!

If we let Jesus say what He wants to say to the person we are witnessing to…the outcome will be accomplished.  Oh, we may not see it at that particular time…but it will come to pass!  Jesus said that His Word does not return void, but it accomplishes that to which He sent it.

If you are speaking to someone about their soul, and let Jesus speak through you, He may never once use one of the things taught in those books you had at class!  Then again, maybe He will use them.  The verses may be in the order you learned them…or He may decide not to use any of them…but use another verse that will speak to that particular individual and his/her situation.

Jesus said: “Not by (your) power…not by (your) might, but by MY Spirit, says the Lord!” –   Parenthesis are mine.  We need to take our knowledge out of the equation, trust God to speak through us, and let the Lord have HIS way!

Jesus knows well the verses in The Romans Road, or what we call the Road to Salvation.  He wrote those passages…and afterall…He paved the road to Salvation with His own blood!

Just a thought…

Anita

 

 

HE IS WITH ME…

The following is a poem, written by a young girl from a church we used to attend.  The words are very special to me.  It’s good to know that someone so young could have such a great trust in Jesus!  Enjoy!-anita

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I am scared of the dark

But I should not be,

Because a very special Person

Is with me.

His name is

Jesus!

He whispers in my ear

“There is nothing to fear!”

So I lay back because

Jesus

Is with me.

Written by Tiffany Penn

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

“I will praise you O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all of your marvelous works.”  -Psalm 9:1 KVJ

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On this Thanksgiving day…

I thank YOU, Jesus,  for Your willingness to leave Your throne in Glory, come to earth, and die on a cruel cross for my sins!

I thank YOU, Jesus, for taking me out of darkness; for setting my feet on the right path!

I thank YOU, Jesus, for your daily provisions of shelter, food, clothing…the things that so many in the world don’t have…the things I take for granted!

I thank YOU, Jesus, for a loving husband, good, obedient children, and all of my extended family…including my Church Family!

I thank YOU, Jesus, for health…for life…for the Peace that only YOU can give!

I thank YOU, Jesus, for all that You’ve done in my life thus far…and for all that you are going to do as I live from day to day.

I thank YOU, Jesus, for saving my entire family…for You promised that You’d not only save me…but that You would save my entire house!  I trust You for that!

I praise you O Lord…MY Lord…with my whole heart!  I give blessing and honor and glory to YOU on this Thanksgiving Day!

Anita

 

 

THE TRUE BODY OF CHRIST…

12 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 -MSG

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I remember my dad preaching on this text many times.  He would give this  illustration:

“When you hit your thumb with a hammer, everything in you RUNS to help that injured part of your body…that is how we are to be in the Body of Christ!  When you see your brother or sister hurting…fallen…extend your hand to help them up…then pray for them…don’t gossip!”

Since we are nearing Thanksgiving Day, I’ve been thinking about all of the things I have reason to give “thanks” for.  I woke up this morning thinking about all my friends and family in Christ.  They are all such a blessing to me!  They are scattered out in various parts of the country…but we are all in one accord.  It’s amazing to me how that works sometimes!

There have been times in my life when I’ve been is some low places, and a Christian brother or sister will call me from another State to say, “God put you on my heart, and I’ve been praying for you!  What else can I do to help you?”  They didn’t know what was going on with me; but God did and he gave them a burden to pray for me!

My husband and I have been attending The Gathering for almost four years now, and I would like to take this opportunity to say, “THANK YOU!”

Thank you to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, who have been my ‘head’ at times…giving me sound advice when I was in ‘the heat of the moment’ and ready to do the wrong thing.

Thank you to those of you who were willing to be the ‘ears’ and listen.

Thank you for being the ‘heart’ of God and having compassion on me when I didn’t deserve your love!

Thank you for being the ‘hands and feet’, spreading kindness and goodness to all around you…especially ME!

Thank you for being a loving church family…for when seeing my faults, not gossiping…but going to God in prayer on my behalf!

This is what the body of Christ is supposed to do!  I commend you at The Gathering for striving to be ‘Like Jesus’!

I pray God’s  blessing upon you all!  Have a great Thanksgiving!

Anita

 

COUNSEL FROM OUR GOD…

As I reached into my Promise Box this morning, I heard God’s gentle voice whisper, “Take the one I” give you…but take the one before it, and after it.”  I did.  I share them with you now.

“Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory.” -Psalm 73:24

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” -Psalm 1:

“Behold, I give unto you power…over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”- Luke10:19

 

“My knowledge of that life is small, the eye of faith is dim; But it’s enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with Him.” – Unknown

“Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine; Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne.” – Unknown

Let us take these verses…PROMISES, to heart today and trust in God that He will give us the counsel we need, and keep us from the enemy!

Have a wonderful, blessed day!

Anita

OLD AND IMMATURE

The following is another good one from Lee.  Enjoy! -anita

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As I get older (notice I didn’t say “old”; I’m still in process) I’d like to think I’m gaining in years and in maturity, also. But, then I do things which make me question that fact! Clearly, an increase in age doesn’t necessarily equate to an increase in maturity. By “maturity” here I’m thinking of acquiring the wisdom required to act wisely and respond appropriately in a given situation.

One would think that, as we accumulate years and the experiences that make up the days of those years, we would gain some wisdom. We go through various life experiences and see the consequences of words said, actions taken, and decisions made, and one would think there would be some learning taking place. Well, let me be the first to say: Not so! At least not all of the time. If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again. Saying the same things, reacting the same ways.

In an article written by Rev. John P. Sartelle Sr., he says that most of us spend our lives using faulty information. Our starting point is wrong, due to our sinful nature that colors everything we say and do. As he puts it: “All too often, it is the worldly culture around us that sets our standards in the march to maturity.” And even worse, he says, “When we follow Christ…we have the tendency to simply baptize our worldly paradigms and idiosyncrasies and name them ‘Christian.’”

Too often, attaining years or position/title in life seduces us into thinking such attainment is synonymous with maturity. I can think of way too many leaders or people of great office or position who astounded me with their levels of immaturity, at least in some situations. And I certainly see such immaturity rise to the surface in my own life, at least in some situations.

It seems to me that maturity is a component of sanctification—the process whereby we slowly become holy and more like our Savior. Two key words here: 1. Process and 2. Slowly. Given that the process of sanctification takes our whole life, I guess it follows that maturity attainment may take my whole life, as well.

And while the world will tell you (and show you with money, affection, and subservience) that attaining titles, position, office all are indicators that you are now mature, to believe that is to believe a lie. We’re using the world’s standards, not God’s. Our model for maturity is Jesus Himself, the One who taught that the first shall be last and the last first!

Rev. Sartelle goes on to say that, when Jesus next appears, we will be like Him [1 John 3:2]. “We will take on the maturity of Jesus….” according to Sartelle. And he makes this observation, which I love: “I cannot imagine living with no sin in my heart.” And further, “…for now, there remains the need to repent every day.”

Sartelle’s closing observation gives me great hope: “It is ironic—confessing our ongoing immaturity in itself is a sign of maturity.”

Lee Pierce

Sermon Notes: “The Gracious Hand” by Pastor Danny Leavitt

Thanksgiving 2016

The First Thanksgiving

1 Chronicles 16:7 (HCSB)

On that day David decreed for the first time that thanks be given to the Lord by Asaph and his relatives:

1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:43 NIV

Then all the people left, each for their own home, and David returned home to bless his family.

 

A prophecy

Isaiah 45:1  (NLT)

This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower.

Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear.

Their fortress gates will be opened never to shut again.

 

TALIM Ministries

 

Ezra 1  (NLT)

1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:

2 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:

“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! 4 Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”

5 Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. 6 And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings.

7 King Cyrus himself brought out the articles that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his own gods. 8 Cyrus directed Mithredath, the treasurer of Persia, to count these items and present them to Sheshbazzar, the leader of the exiles returning to Judah.

 

The Returned

Ez 2:61 Three families of priests—Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai—also returned. (This Barzillai had married a woman who was a descendant of Barzillai of Gilead, and he had taken her family name.) 62 They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but they were not found, so they were disqualified from serving as priests. 63 The governor told them not to eat the priests’ share of food from the sacrifices until a priest could consult the Lord about the matter by using the Urim and Thummim—the sacred lots.

So a total of 42,360 people returned to Judah, 65 in addition to 7,337 servants and 200 singers, both men and women. 66 They took with them 736 horses, 245 mules, 67 435 camels, and 6,720 donkeys.

68 When they arrived at the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, some of the family leaders made voluntary offerings toward the rebuilding of God’s Temple on its original site, 69 and each leader gave as much as he could. The total of their gifts came to 61,000 gold coins,6,250 pounds of silver, and 100 robes for the priests.

70 So the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, the Temple servants, and some of the common people settled in villages near Jerusalem. The rest of the people returned to their own towns throughout Israel.

 

Overwhelming Gratitude

Ezra 3:10 When the builders completed the foundation of the Lord’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets. And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the Lord, just as King David had prescribed. 11 With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord:

“He is so good!

His faithful love for Israel endures forever!”

Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.

12 But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. 13 The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.

 

Ezra 7 (NLT)

Ezra Arrives in Jerusalem

7 Many years later, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, there was a man named Ezra.

6 This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.

 

A Letter from the King

21 “I, Artaxerxes the king, hereby send this decree to all the treasurers in the province west of the Euphrates River: ‘You are to give Ezra, the priest and teacher of the law of the God of heaven, whatever he requests of you.

 

The Gracious Hand of God

Ezra 8:18 Since the gracious hand of our God was on us, they sent us a man named Sherebiah. He was a very astute man and a descendant of Mahli, who was a descendant of Levi son of Israel.

 

Demonstrate a compelling passion for God

Ezra 8: 22  I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and cavalry to protect us against the enemy on our way; since we had told the king that the hand of our God is gracious to all who seek him, but the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”

 

“We fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer.” Ezra 8:23 (NLT)

 

 

  1. Be resolute in living God’s word
  2. Demonstrate a Compelling Passion for God
  3. Rest in God’s Gracious Hand

 

2 Corinthians 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 136The Voice (VOICE)

 

Psalm 136

This hymn of praise recounts God’s actions in the past: creation, exodus, and the giving of the land to Israel. A repeated refrain indicates this psalm was chanted responsively.

 

1 Let your heart overflow with praise to the Eternal, for He is good,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

2 Praise the True God who reigns over all other gods,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

3 Praise the Lord who reigns over all other lords,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

4 To Him who alone does marvelous wonders,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

5 Who created the heavens with skill and artistry,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

6 Who laid out dry land over the waters,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

7 Who made the great heavenly lights,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

8 The sun to reign by day,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

9 The moon and stars to reign by night,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

10 To Him who struck down the firstborn of the Egyptians,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

11 Who set Israel free from Egyptian masters,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

12 With fierce strength, a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

13 To Him who split the Red Sea[a] in two and made a path between the divided waters,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

14 Then allowed Israel to pass safely through on dry ground,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

15 To Him who crushed Pharaoh and his army in the waters of the Red Sea,[b]

for His faithful love lasts forever.

16 Who guided His people through the desert,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

17 Who struck down mighty kings,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

18 Who slaughtered famous kings,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

19 Sihon, the king of the Amorites,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

20 And Og, the king of Bashan,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

21 To Him who gave the conquered land as an inheritance,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

22 Who made the land a heritage to Israel, His servant,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

23 To Him who remembered us when we were nearly defeated,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

24 Who rescued us from our enemies,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

25 Who provides food for every living thing,

for His faithful love lasts forever.

26 Let your heart overflow with praise to the True God of heaven,

for His faithful love lasts forever.