Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1.3-6

My family moved to a different city to work. We left behind many people that had been taught the gospel and that had continued faithful to the Lord. We often wondered how different ones were doing, if they were still faithful. After several years, we returned for a visit. What joy we had to see many of the ones with whom we had studied still faithful to the Lord!

God provides us with encouragement. He takes care of our daily needs. He uses other Christians to make this happen. Never underestimate the good that God can do with what, in your opinion, does not amount to much. He can make the blessings overflow with whatever we are willing to give him.

Participation is key. We must be willing to participate in His mission, to be used for his kingdom, the church. God is able to carry us to perfection, or maturity, if we stay with him.

#risingjoy #Philippians #encouragement

Big Dreams

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3.20-21

Have you ever seen a dream board? Many companies encourage their salespeople to make these and hang on their bulletin board at work or their refrigerator door at home so they will be seen often. The idea is to motivate the person to get out there and do the job.

Most of us can dream really big dreams. That new car, new home, new baby for many of us are a fulfillment of our dreams.

Have you ever thought about spiritual dreams? Do you have things that you would like to see happen in the church? Numerical growth, spiritual growth, more Bible studies, planting a new congregation, or whatever it might be.

When we think of those dreams, we can become discouraged because we do not always see those things coming to fruition. We cannot do it on our own and we are right. We cannot. But, God has the power to do far more than our little dreams. His power is the same power that is working within us. That is an awesome thought!

The glory should not come our way for the things that we do accomplish in our lives. If we are in the church, then we are in Christ. The glory in the church and in Christ belongs to God! May we give it all to Him!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #dreams

Hugh’s News & Views (Thoughts, Insights…)


Mr. Robert Harper, a kind and courteous African-American gentleman, has picked up our household trash every week for over 20 years. When we moved to our present home my wife was here by herself for a few weeks unpacking dishes and other household items while I finished my work with the church in Selma, AL. She put many empty boxes in the garage and on our driveway, not knowing exactly how she would later dispose of them. Mr. Harper came by, introduced himself to her, told her of his services, broke down and hauled off all the moving boxes, and began his regular weekly pickup of our trash. He has a phenomenal work ethic. He never misses picking up our trash like clockwork every Monday. Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day—it makes no difference—Mr. Harper and his crew can be counted on! I think the only holidays he takes off are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The only time our trash is not picked up on Monday is when Christmas or New Year’s Day falls on that day of the week. Then he gets it the following day. Although he is a few years younger than I, I have never addressed him other than as “Mr. Harper.” In 20 years he has issued only one price increase for his services. A few years ago, when gas prices took a big jump, Mr. Harper increased his extremely reasonable monthly charge by 10%, which was only a nominal amount, Only a 10% price increase in 20 years! In a day when prices continue to go up and service and efficiency continue to go down, Mr. Robert Harper is a sterling example of faithfulness, consistency, being on time, efficiency, and fairness in the pricing of his services. Many other independent contractors and small business owners could learn much from his example. I try to reward Mr. Harper with a little bonus at Christmas, but I eschew tipping (and thereby enabling) inefficiency and nonsensical policies that some businesses seem to delight in adopting, all to the consternation and frustration of their customers. It is for that reason that I do not take my business back to them when I have other options, but I stay with people like Mr. Robert Harper. Continue reading


Don’t Give Up

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6.9

Everyone grows weary, perhaps from working, from cooking, or from trying to do the right thing. Paul told the Galatians to not grow weary in doing good.

Perhaps Paul was thinking about Jesus when he wrote this. Matthew 21.15 refers to the wonderful things that Jesus did. Jesus taught the people, fed them, and healed them. He went about doing good. He continued to do good even when the religious leaders of the day tried to trap him in what he said or what he did.

Jesus is our example. Doing good is a part of the life of the disciple. Just as Jesus received his reward for his life here, the disciple who does not give up, but continues to do good, will reap the results. Those results might be seen here on earth or in the future in eternity. Never give up!

#risingjoy #Galatians #doing-good


Number 565 • September 23, 2020


There was a time – I remember it well – not really all that long ago as we measure time, when the missionary journeys of apostle Paul were a favorite topic of study, when we looked forward to the visit of some missionary who would justify our support of his work with reports of the wonderful results being enjoyed in the places to which we sent him, and would stir our hearts with desire to “go and do likewise.” A once popular spiritual song, ubiquitous in mission-minded congregations, urged us to hear that “Macedonian call,” reminiscent of Paul’s experience (Acts 16:9-10), to feel that we too are “called” preach to the unevangelized people in every place – even in places that might be a threat to our peace and safety. We would sing, “Oh Lord, prepare me to be a missionary.” We would acknowledge hearing the call and would have some ephemeral dreams of going forth to conquer the world and win it for Christ. Remember those days? Remember how the thoughts of a “lost and dying world” tugged at our hearts? Remember how those visiting missionaries with their witness of souls being won would ignite a fire in us that had us digging deep into our pockets to make sure the Macedonian call could be and would be answered? Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #light

Needed: Encouragement

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 2.6

There are some things that are easier to bear by sharing with others. Paul had just mentioned in verse one about the Christian who had been overtaken by a sin. Other spiritual Christians were to go to that person and with a gentle spirit, help him to be restored to Christ. Paul alerted them of the necessity of paying close attention to themselves that they were not tempted also. No one is above temptation. Peter compares the devil to a roaring lion who is on the prowl for its prey, 1 Peter 5.8. If one is not careful, you can fall to temptation and its consequences.

Christians are to help one another. One way this happens is by helping to share the burden of another. Romans 12.15 says to rejoice with those who rejoice , weep with those who weep. It is during trying times that encouragement is welcome. A hug, a note, or a phone call to say that you are praying for that person can be a source of encouragement and strength to continue in the right path.

#risingjoy #Galatians #burdens

Punching holes in the darkness

Number 564 • September 20, 2020

I am a hole in the darkness. Are you?

As a child Robert Louis Stevenson was looking intently through his window at dusk, watching a lamplighter lighting gas lamps one after another on the street. He exclaimed to his nurse, “Come here and look at this. There is a man who is punching holes in the darkness.” Punching holes in the darkness! That’s a provocative statement isn’t it? Stevenson was a poet even in childhood. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #light

Never a Power Outage

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13

Do you have a friend or spouse that knows you so well that it is funny, sometimes scary? They will finish your sentences or you can tell what they are thinking just by looking at them? It is a situation that is not common with everyone.

Just think how well your Creator knows you. He created your inner being and knit you together in your mother’s womb, Psalm 139.13. He knows you better than you know yourself. He understands what makes you tick!

If you believe in him, he is the God of hope that can fill you with all joy and peace. The more your faith in him grows, the more hope you will have, to the point that you will have an abundant supply.

I am thankful that I do not have to produce this hope on my own power. This abounding hope is powered by the Holy Spirit, whose power is unlimited. He will never suffer a power outage.

Do you believe in God? Does your hope and power come from him?

#risingjoy #Romans #power

Read For Hope

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. Romans 15.4

What encourages you? Is it a friend or a family member? Maybe it is a song or a favorite saying or verse. Is it that pod cast that you like to listen to every week?

Paul explained to the Romans that the purpose of the Scriptures was to teach. Everything that had been written before in the Old Testament was for our instruction.

In the Old Testament, you read about the creation and how this world came to exist. You read about Abraham and God’s promise to him and how it came to fulfillment. You read of Moses who lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. You read of the kings, both good and bad, that ruled Israel and Judah after the tribes were divided. You read of the prophets who kept calling a disobedient people back to God.

The New Testament tells of Jesus, his life, his death, and his return to life. His victory over evil. We read of God’s patience that will one day come to an end.

These things help you to endure, to realize that you are not alone, that others have gone through the same trials that you also face. That even though you stumble and fall, you can get back up, and keep going.

The scriptures give hope. Hope that you will continue to stand with your faith strongly anchored in Jesus, who is the author of salvation. God wants to talk to you. Will you listen?

#risingjoy #Romans #Bible

It Will Work Out

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8.28

Many people believe that if you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, all of your problems will be solved and life will be smooth sailing from that point on. There exist religions in the world that teach that you can make a bargain with God and basically get what you want in terms of health and wealth.

This is far from the truth. Jesus taught in Matthew 7.14, that the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. Few find it. Most people do not want difficult. In Matthew 7.21-23, Jesus taught that just calling him “Lord” is not enough. You have to obey the will of the Father. Many will say that they are doing many powerful deeds in his name. But, Jesus will answer with the sad statement that he never knew them. Obedience is a serious business.

The book of 1 Peter talks about the certainty of suffering in the Christian’s life. That suffering needs to be as a result of doing what is good and right, not because of consequences of sin in our lives. Peter wrote in 4.16 to not be ashamed if you suffer as a Christian, but glorify God that you bear such a name.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.12 that all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Persecution brings suffering.

The good news is that if we are called according to God’s purpose, all things will work together for good, Romans 8.28. That does not mean that bad things will not happen. However, we have the Spirit who helps us in our weakness interceding for us when we do not know how to pray, Romans 8.26. That, my friend, is a marvelous thing!

#risingjoy #Romans #good

Why keep Jesus weeping?

Number 563 • September 13, 2020


Scripture records three occasions on which Jesus wept. Each teaches a different lesson and raises a different question about our relationship with Jesus. We will look briefly at each of the three and then ask a few direct and pertinent questions. Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #jesus

Hugh’s News & Views (Words Of Encouragement)


Christians are to encourage one another and build up one another (I Thessalonians 5:11, NASB). This week’s edition of “News & Views” is intended to give encouragement in two important areas.

First, to my friends, neighbors, and loved ones who have only had water sprinkled or poured on them (whether as an infant, in childhood, or as an adult) and such action called baptism, let me urge you to pick up your Bible, turn to the first book in the New Testament, the Gospel according to Matthew, and read chapter 3, verses 13-17. After reading that account of Christ’s baptism ask yourself, “Is that how I was baptized?” Then check out Mark’s account of the matter. Mark is the second book of the New Testament. Read Mark 1:9-11 and ask yourself, “Was I baptized the way Christ my Savior was baptized?” Continue reading

Heaven’s Worth

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8.18

Paul, the apostle, had suffered many things because of his preaching. The Jews made plans numerous times to have him killed. They did not agree with his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. In the past, Paul had been where they were in their disbelief, traveling to imprison any one he could find that was following Jesus.

However, Paul was converted to the truth. He suffered many of the things that he had once been guilty of doing against the disciples of Jesus. He wrote to the Galatians that he had been crucified with Christ and no longer lived, but Christ lived in him, Galatians 2.20. He had crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, Galatians 5.24.

Paul placed his hope in the life to come. He awaited the crown of righteousness that was reserved for him and all who remain faithful until death, 2 Timothy 4.8. He believed that all the suffering that he had endured could not begin to compare with the glory to be revealed in heaven.

Heaven will be worth whatever the price that has to paid here on this earth. Pay the price. You will be glad that you did!

#risingjoy #Romans #heaven

Be a Paul

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

After the disturbance had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left to go to Macedonia. After he had gone through those regions and spoken many words of encouragement to the believers there, he came to Greece, where he stayed for three months. Because the Jews had made a plot against him as he was intending to sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Acts 20.1-3

Paul had been in Ephesus preaching and teaching. Demetrius, a silversmith by trade, had caused an uproar in the city due to greed. Paul was drawing people to the truth, away from the idol worship which was the way Demetrius made a living. The uproar was so great that the disciples would not allow Paul to enter the public assembly.

Afterwards, Paul decided to continue on his journeys, going to Macedonia. He went about encouraging the believers. He decided to stay in Greece for three months continuing to teach the truth. Having made plans to go to Syria, he had to go a different route, once again due to the Jews plotting against him.

No doubt, Paul had been influenced by Barnabas, who was instrumental in his being accepted by the disciples in Jerusalem after his conversion. The name, Barnabas, meant “son of encouragement”. Paul was also an encourager, strengthening the disciples where ever he went.

Today, more than ever, we need people who are encouragers. It is so easy to complain about everything. Be a Paul. Go about encouraging the disciples!

#risingjoy #Acts #Paul

Be a Barnabas

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 9.26-28

Can you imagine how the disciples in Jerusalem felt when Saul, otherwise known as Paul, returned to the city? The last thing that many had heard of him, he was on his way to Damascus to bring disciples back to Jerusalem to put them in prison. Is it any wonder that they were all afraid of him and just a little skeptic of his change of heart?

However, there was one who was willing to talk to him and listen to his story. Barnabas took Saul to the apostles and told them what he had learned. Afterwards, Saul associated openly with the disciples speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.

It must have been difficult for Saul to return to Jerusalem knowing what awaited him there. He would be returning to a familiar place, but associating with people that were not in his old circle of friends. Most importantly, his message and his life had changed drastically!

Do not let fear stand in the way of service in the kingdom. Be a Barnabas and take the one, who is different from who you knew, under your wing. Help pave the way for their acceptance from the brethren. Help to dispel the fear. The gospel has the power to change lives drastically, for the better!

#risingjoy #Acts #Barnabas