Worth continuing?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires. 1 Peter 4.1-2

Do you live in the past? Do you look back and wish that things could go back the way they were? As Christians we are to be like Jesus since it is his name that we bear. Christ suffered a horrible death that brought unimaginable pain. The pain was not only physical but emotional and spiritual as well. For a moment in time, he was separated from the Father, not because of sins that he had committed, but because of our sins.

Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering and questioning whether it was worth continuing. He gives Christ as the example to follow. We need to arm ourselves for battle to continue faithfully with the same attitude that Christ had.

What attitude did Christ have? He did not go about sinning, but he had one objective and that was to complete the will of the Father, Matthew 26.39. He was obedient to God. Hebrews 5.8 tells us that he learned that obedience through suffering.

Jesus spent his time on earth teaching others about God. He focused on a central thing and that was the will of God. He did not allow himself to be dominated by human desires although he was entirely human. God was his priority.

What about our time here on the earth? Do we spend it lamenting on the way things were and the sinful activities we participated in? Are we still living a life that is dictated by our sinful desires? Or have we adopted the attitude of Christ? Is God our priority?

#risingjoy #1-Peter #attitude

The world has very little of it

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave – a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf – who also told us of your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1.5-8

With what do you identify? When you analyze your thoughts and emotions, what do you find? Do you find that your faith and love have risen? Do you find that you are at the end of a dark tunnel where you see no light at the end? Do you find that you are just maintaining the status quo?

For the Christian, the realization that this world is not our home makes a huge difference. Our hope is in heaven. The gospel that is the message of truth brings us this hope making it possible for our faith and love to grow. Just as Epaphras taught the gospel to the Colossians, we should be teaching and sharing the gospel with all who will listen. This message brings hope to a world that has very little. It is a message that is not stagnant, but living and growing. Just as a seed that is planted sprouts, grows, and bears fruit, the gospel brings about growth in the lives of those who embrace its truth.

There is one other thing about this growth that is important. The gospel must be shared and taught to bring about this growth. The growth is not only for the one being taught, but occurs in the life of the one who is doing the teaching the world over. Are you teaching others about the hope that you have? Do you feel that you have stagnated in your faith? Perhaps you need to start spreading the good news.

#risingjoy #Colossians #gospel

Ebb and flow of beliefs

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2.6-8

There are people who go through life jumping from one belief system to another. In the end, these people are often confused, for many of the systems they have at one time or another staked their lives on had very differing and often opposite conclusions. The ebb and flow of their beliefs leave them with a feeling of instability.

Paul encourages the Colossians who have received Christ Jesus to continue to live in him. He even warns them from being captivated by empty, deceitful philosophies that draw a person away from the teaching of Christ. We must be like the Bereans in Acts 17.11 who examined the scriptures every day to see if what was being taught was in line with what the Bible teaches.

When we make this our practice, our faith will grow and become stronger. We will become like the tree in Psalm 1.3 that is planted by flowing streams. It is healthy with a good root system that sustains it during the time of storm. Our thankfulness will overflow!

#risingjoy #Colossians #beliefs

Differing factor

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. Genesis 1.26-27

When we look at our world, we see the results of God’s power. It is a power so great that our human minds have trouble grasping it’s immensity. There is such detail in the most minute things. The beauty of the colors can hold us in awe as we watch a sunset. Have you ever asked yourself what the most important thing was in creation?

God started creating from nothing with only his spoken word. He started with the physical location of his creation. Then he preceded to add plants and animals. He saved the best for last. On the last day of creation, God created humankind. Humans were to rule over all things. However, humans had a differing factor. God created them in his own image.

We are created in God’s image. We have eternity in our hearts. The question is where we will spend eternity. Not all will spend eternity with God. Only those who have listened to his words and responded accordingly will spend eternity with him. If we want no part of God in this life, we cannot expect to live in the next life with him. The good thing is that decision lies with me.

#risingjoy #Genesis #creation

Encouraging note, May 2020

By Christopher Underwood — Everyone who has ever caught a child jumping into their arms can witness the joy of the safe catch and laugh. The child only knows that the catcher will absolutely grab them out the air before hitting the floor.

That bond of trust can continue to grow such that the child will always believe they can trust in your real or virtual arms.

The writer of Proverbs wants you and me to see the Father in heaven as a strong tower to be trusted as a guide. It may be in the image of a lighthouse, a skyscraper or a tall mountain.

Whatever the image, know that safety in the Father gives us the courage and strength to live obedient lives and welcomes us in his spiritual arms to catch us from falling. Let’s make up our mind to run to the Father daily.

Have a great day.

#encouragement #ChrisUnderwood #trust

Hugh’s News & Views (Some Thoughts . . . Post-Coronavirus . . .

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE POST-CORONAVIRUS WORLD AND CHURCH

To paraphrase Amos, “I am not a prophet, or the son of a prophet” (Amos 7:14), nevertheless I have a few thoughts concerning some changes that I foresee coming in the post-coronavirus world and in the church of our Lord as to how we all might be forced to “do business.” Once again, I will remind my readers that these are “HUGH’S News & Views,” that they are only my thoughts, and are not intended to represent the thinking of anyone else. No one has to agree with me. And since I am not omniscient or divinely inspired, I may very well be wrong about some or all of my observations. Continue reading

#coronavirus, #hughfulford

Convinced in their own mind

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14.7-9

There are areas in life in which we all have differing opinions. My opinion is as good as yours if not better. When there is no direct commandment regarding a subject, Paul tells the Romans to be convinced in their own mind and act accordingly, taking care not to offend one’s own conscience. Otherwise it would be sin. As well as allowing others to hold to their opinions without judgment on our part.

When we are a part of the body of Christ, our identity is tied to him. Jesus is the head of the body. We identify with him. We do not live or die for ourselves. We live or die for Jesus. We belong to him. He came to earth, lived, died, and was resurrected for that purpose, to provide the ransom that had to be paid for my sin-stained soul. I have the ability to die to sin and rise to walk a new life that is forgiven and redeemed. What joy and peace that brings!

#risingjoy #Romans #opinions

When difficult times come

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1.11-14

God has had a plan that has existed since before the world was created. It laid the ground rules for his will to be put into action. It also determined who would receive redemption. If we obey the ground rules which are laid out clearly in the Bible, then we set our hope in Jesus and become a part of his body.

How do we become a part of Christ’s body? First we have to hear the word by reading the scriptures which is why it is so important to read the Bible. It contains the word of truth which is the good news of the gospel. However, just hearing the word is not enough, I have to believe what it says which will lead me to obey it.

Upon obeying the word, I receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the first part of the promise that God has made to those who obey him. At the end of time, we will be redeemed and collected by God to be forever with him through eternity singing his praises.

When difficult times come, and they shall, I can look forward to heaven. As the song goes, “Heaven will surely be worth it all!”

#risingjoy #Ephesians #redemption

Barely saved?

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” Hebrews 7:25.

This is why the gospel is good news! Jesus is able to save the the uttermost. Most of us hope just to squeak in past the pearly gates on our own merits or on the delusion that the sins we’ve done haven’t really been that bad to keep us from heaven. We either hope to save ourselves or have God turn a blind eye and barely save us.

Because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, though, He is able to save to the uttermost. As our mediator and High Priest who always lives (as He’s conquered death once and for all), Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede—for not just anyone—but those who draw near to God.

And what an advocate we have in Jesus! He’s the just judge who declares us guilty, sentences us to death, and then bears the penalty for our crimes so that we might share in eternity. This means that nothing can separate us from His love if only we would obey His gospel and trust in His intercession. And that is good news!

Have you obeyed for Jesus to intercede for you?

Doug Kashorek

sermonlines.com: subscribe, study, share

#devotional #dougkashorek #mediator

Had God not chosen to reveal himself

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, Ephesians 1.7-9

Without the Bible, what could we know about God? Very little could be known about God had he not chosen to reveal himself. That revelation came in the form of his son, Jesus, who often said that he and the Father were one.

Through Jesus we are able to know what God wants and expects of us. He passed to us what God told him to say. The New Testament is this message in written form. It is through Jesus that we have redemption or forgiveness of our sins. His life was given in place of my own. His blood was shed though it should have been mine.

I do not now nor will I ever deserve God’s grace. But he gives it freely to any who would agree to the terms that he set forth. Have you received his grace? Are you forgiven?

#risingjoy #Ephesians #forgiveness

Nothing lacking

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. Ephesians 1.3-4

God is generous and loving. He gives certain things like rain and sunshine both to those who worship him as well as those who do not. However, to those who are in Christ through faith and obedience, he has a special relationship. He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. There is nothing lacking.

Before the world was created, God determined how he would save mankind. He made his plans and then put them into action. The Creator determined how man who has fallen from grace can return to him. He set the rules into play. We must be in Christ. In Christ, we may be holy or set apart from the world. Best of all, we are forgiven for we are unblemished in his sight. Do you have joy knowing that you are in Christ? We are blessed!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #in-Christ

Incredulous, ridiculous

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him -those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. John 1.9-13

Sometimes when I am reading a passage about Jesus that refers to the incredulous nature of the Jews during that time, I catch myself shaking my head. I think to myself how ridiculous it is that the Jews could not understand or catch their mistake. And yet, if I am not careful, I exhibit the same attitude.

There is only one of two choices to be made: either accept Jesus as the light, or not. There is not a third option. Jesus is the true light. He came to the very world that he helped to create before time began. The world certainly did not recognize him and never will. But the sad thing is that his own people did not recognize him for who he was. Why? He did not meet up to their expectations! He was not who they thought he would be.

Do I accept Jesus? Do I believe in his name? Do I obey his commands? For that is the only test to prove that I believe. Or do I refuse him because he does not meet my expectations of how he should be?

I need to tread carefully. For it is only through my belief and obedience in Jesus that I receive the precious right that only he gives. The right to become God’s child. Not everyone is. Are you?

#risingjoy #John #light

A glimpse of the joy

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way from home his father saw him, and his heart went out to him; he ran and hugged his son and kissed him. Then his son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Hurry! Bring the best robe, and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again – he was lost and is found!” So they began to celebrate. Luke 15.20-24

This is a glimpse of the joy that overflows in heaven when someone comes back to God. Let’s take a closer look.

The young man had come to his senses. In the verses prior to our reading, he had sunk to the bottom of the well. He was in a dark place and it was not going to get any better if he continued there. He had run out of options and of hope. Then he remembered… the father that had always taken care of him and loved him. Finally, he decided to make a change. He repented. He started back home.

Notice that the father was watching for his child. He was seen a long way from home. The father did not turn his back on him. But he ran to meet his son, hugged him and kissed him. The father was so happy to see his son that it seems he gave his son’s comments little importance. He called for a celebration of the return of his son!

All of us have been at the bottom of the well. Perhaps you are still in that dark place. What is important is that we remember that we have a Father who loves us more than we can imagine. He is anxiously waiting for us to decide to return to him. It must be our decision to change our direction and come back. Come back to God! Let the celebration begin!

#risingjoy #Luke #repentance

The same encouragement applies

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For the one who wants to love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from uttering deceit. And he must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3.10-12

Peter quotes Psalm 34 in these verses. The same encouragement applies today.

If you want to love life and see good days, be honest and speak only what is good. At times, our tongue can get us into bad situations. We do not always measure our words with care. James 3 compares the tongue to a fire that can flame out of control and wreak havoc.

Not only are our words important, so are our actions. Turn away from evil and do good. Not only must I do good, I must resist evil by turning away from it. That is very different from walking on the edge to see how close we can come to sinning and get away with it. By that time, we may have already committed it in our hearts.

One last thing Peter mentions here. We must seek peace and pursue it. That is acting towards peace and not stirring up the waters even more. Ephesians 4 says that we are to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. No one said that it was easy.

However, we can be assured that our efforts will not go unseen. For the eyes of God himself will see and his ears will hear the prayers that are lifted up to him.

#risingjoy #1-Peter #encouragement

In this arena called life

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. Ephesians 2.8-10

God puts everyone on an even playing field. Even though some are better equipped to do things for others, that is not what God has determined will save a person. No matter how many good works I do, I cannot earn my salvation.

We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. Faith is belief in what the Bible states about Jesus: who he is, what he did while on earth, obedience to his commands. It is and was God’s initiative. It is his gift to us.

It is true that some have the gift of service to others. Some have the financial means to help others. But our eternal salvation is not based on these things. There is no room for boasting in this arena called life.

We are the accomplishment of God in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.28 states that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We are all one in Jesus. We were created for good works that God had already prepared.

One of these is to share the good news with others. Another would be to love one another. What better way to demonstrate that love than through serving one another. Jesus said that we would be known by our love for each other. This paints a much different picture of how the world could be. Better yet, of how it should be.

#risingjoy #Ephesians #goodworks