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August 22, 2016, 12:00 PM

THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE NAMES OF JESUS, THE SON OF GOD – Part 3


By Brenda Farmer

August 3, 2016

 

In our Sunday School Class, we have been studying about some of the scriptural Names of God and of Jesus Christ, The Son of God.  The study is from The Battle Plan for Prayer*.  We are encouraged to learn and use as many Names as we can as we pray and seek to know and worship the Lord more deeply.

Four Names of Jesus that I want to share with you today are:

  1.  YESHUA**

HEBREW NAME FOR JESUS – YESHUA – MEANS “YAHWEH MEANS SALVATION”

                                  

  1.  IMMANUAL – MEANS “GOD WITH US”

Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 

 

  1. THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON

John 3:16 (NLT)

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

  1.  ALPHA AND OMEGA

Revelation 1:8  (NLT)

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
    And everyone will see him—
    even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
    will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,”[a] says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

 

May you become more acquainted with God, our Most Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus to know them more personally.  I believe there is great benefit for us when we speak The Most Holy Names and quote Holy Scripture as we pray. 

 

 

* The Battle Plan For Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

**Praying the Names of God Journal by Ann  Spangler

 

-Brenda




August 19, 2016, 12:00 PM

Our Good Good Father


by Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

            Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: God is not, I repeat, NOT against you. His love letter to you says right here in Romans 8 that He is for you, that He causes everything to work together for the betterment of you. When we get to the place where we think that God is against us, that He has some sort of beef with us and is trying to ruin our lives, we know that somewhere along the way, we lost sight of His immense love for us.

            I’ve said it before that God loves us with an indescribable love. That’s really easy to type because I know it’s true in my head, but when I’m going through a rough time where all hope seems lost, I could probably still type it, but admitting it to myself would be a completely different story. I get it: we all go through hard times, some worse than others. Life is unfair, things get taken out of proportion, people leave, kids are mean (especially girls…just sayin’), adults are crazy, evil is rampant, and most of the time, that’s just the beginning of the story. We’re told that it gets easier, but sometimes it seems that it never will.

            “So, if God is working everything together for the betterment of me, why do I have to go through bad times? Why must I have troubles? Since I have trouble here and trouble there, He must not love me.” It’s simple to come to this conclusion. Anyone with any sort of knowledge of God has probably thought this before. We’ve all thought that maybe God doesn’t love us, because “it would only make sense.” Honestly, I think that this conclusion gives us an easy way out. We become the victim, God becomes the unfair Father who has favorites, and we slowly slip away into the corner as if we weren’t noticed in the first place. In actual reality, all we need is a little perspective..

            Think of the GREATEST dad you could ever have- whether he be imaginary or real. Now, great dads kind of have this thing with their kids: they love them with an undying love. No matter what the kid does, says, or feels, a great dad will always love their kid because he just will. He needs no reason to love them because from the moment he saw them, his whole world changed and began to revolve around them. A great dad doesn’t want their kid to be hurt and he’ll take every precautionary measure to make sure of that. I think of my dad and how as I made a 6 hour drive by myself a couple weeks ago, he literally tracked my location the whole entire way because he wanted to know in his heart of hearts that I was safe. But, a great dad also wants their kid to be tough. He wants them to be able to handle their own and make it in the real world. He’ll teach his kids to “shake it off” when they get a small scratch or bruise. For instance, when I would fall off of my bike as I was learning to ride it, my parents would tell me to “shake it off.” Instead of crying or whining, I would start wiggling my entire body and then get so carried away giggling at my parents faces, the pain would disappear.

            Now, our heavenly Father is a good, good Father. He is the absolute GREATEST Dad that there ever could be. He loves us with an undying love. He created an entire world to revolve around us. He cries when we cry. He watches us and is on the field cheering us on through every endeavor we wander into. Just like our earthly great dads, He takes every precautionary measure to make sure we don’t get hurt, but sometimes we fall off our bicycles. Sometimes, our best-friend doesn’t show up to the park, so we have to play by ourselves. Sometimes a bully comes around and beats us down. Sometimes we crash our go-cart into a tree (I didn’t see the tree, okay?). Sometimes, a freak accident happens on a trampoline and we shatter the growth plate in one of our knees.  Sometimes we can’t “shake it off” and we need our Dad to hold us while we heal. And sometimes, we just need to stare at our Daddy’s face until the pain disappears.

            Don’t you see? He causes everything to work together for our good and He’s there to comfort us and help us back up when things go awry! He has no intention of letting you bleed to death on the side of the road. Even if He has to send a good Samaritan to pick you up, clean you off and take care of you, He will (see Luke 10:30-37). If He has to have four of your friends carry you and then break through a roof to get you to Him, He will (see Mark 2:1-5). Life is hard and crazy things happen, things that we couldn’t even imagine until they happened, but God is working everything for our good and He’s going to make everything okay.

            To be completely transparent, it’s taken me a long time to comprehend this fact, but that didn’t make it any less of a truth. So, if you’ve been hurt, look to your heavenly Father. Shake it off if you can, stare at His face ‘till the pain goes away, or let Him hold you until you heal. He’s good, and He has your well-being in mind at every turn. Don’t doubt Him.

 

- Haley 




August 17, 2016, 12:00 PM

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS FOR YOUR LIFE? Part 3


Submitted by Brenda Farmer

July 4, 2016

 

For the last two weeks, I have written about “COMPONENTS OF GOD’S WILL FOR HIS CHILDREN” that was taken from The Battle Plan for Prayer*.  Today, I want to share with you a story, that I was led to, called “Experiencing God’s power In a Coal Miner’s Life”.  This story was taken from Fresh Encounter by Henry & Richard Blackaby:

Evan Roberts labored as a coal miner from the age of 12.  The work was arduous, but he always carried his Bible with him to read during breaks.  For 11 years this young man earnestly prayed that God would send revival to his native land of Wales.  In 1904, when he was 26, Roberts sensed God leading him to enroll at the preparatory school in Newcastle Emlyn.  Later that fall, Roberts joined a team of young people accompanying the evangelist Seth Joshua while he conducted a meeting in Blaenanerch.  Roberts was deeply moved by Joshua’s sermon, but even more impacted by his closing prayer.  Joshua prayed, “Bend us, O Lord.”  Roberts heard the Spirit of God tell him, “This is what you need.”  Roberts prayed, “Bend me, O Lord.”  Roberts was an uneducated, untrained coal miner; but he sensed God asking him to completely surrender his life to His hands.

Roberts returned to his home church in Loughor and asked his pastor if he could address the people gathered at the evening service.   The pastor invited anyone who wished to hear Roberts to remain behind after the regular service.  With that group of 17 people, Roberts shared what God had been saying to him about revival.  The Spirit of God descended on that humble gathering, and revival burst forth.  Roberts’ motto became “Bend the church and save the world.”

Word soon spread across the country that revival had come.  Services were conducted all across the land and often lasted until late into the night.  Tens of thousands of people were gloriously converted.  It was said that the coal mines were so transformed that the pit ponies, that hauled coal out of the mines, were temporarily immobilized because they did not understand the commands that were now devoid of profanity!  By the end of December, only two months after the revival began, 70,000 people had been converted and added to the churches.  After six months, the number of converts reached 100,000.  The revival of the church spread around the world, resulting in the conversion of thousands of lot people.  One simple laborer sought to be pliable in God’s hands, and the world felt the impact.

This amazing story of one man, who followed God’s Will, brought many to salvation and changed the spiritual climate of his home land!  The people learned about God, His Son, Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit, and the Word of God.   The knowledge and wisdom that comes from God’s Holy Word transforms lives!  Evan Roberts exemplified this when he humbly followed God’s Will for his life.

You can figure out God’s Will for your life by praying, studying the Bible to learn God’s Word, and by listening to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit telling you what Jesus has to say to you personally.  The scripture in John 16:13-15(NLT)  tells us:

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’

 

Today, I encourage you to surrender your life to God’s Hands.  Pray that God would bend you, change you, and teach you to follow His Will as He guides you to become the follower of Christ as He desires for you. 

May God’s Blessings and Favor be upon you and yours!

 

- Brenda




August 16, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Best You


By – Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

 

“Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are, let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.” – (via tullipsink)

 

            Now really do it. Close your eyes. What is the best you that you can imagine? Be that person. Don’t try to be someone else, or a person that everyone likes and agrees with. Don’t try and be skinnier because that’s what the opposite sex finds attractive; if you are going to change, change because you want to, not because someone else wants you to. Really do it if that’s what is going to make you happy. If you don’t like who you are, don’t be that person anymore. It really isn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be. Usually we decide who we’re going to be when we’re 17 or 18, about to embark on the next phase of our lives. Adolescents often go on a solo adventure to  “find themselves” away from their parents and away from most of their friends after they finish high school. At high school graduations, there's usually a commencement speech given about “staying true to who you are”, but we should remember that we don’t have to be in a cap and gown to be challenged to truly find ourselves. In my opinion, you spend your whole entire life trying to figure yourself out because you change on a day to day basis. Trying to figure you out is like trying to hit the bulls-eye on a rapidly moving target. But, if you identify a trait or habit of yourself that you don’t feel is flattering or modeling the you that you want to be, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t change. Don’t make excuses based age or which phase of life you may find yourself in today.

            Recently, I watched 10 Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. It’s your typical 90’s chick-flick with awesome music, an unexpected romance, and a change of heart. Amidst the drama  and sarcastic quips, I noticed something about Julia Stiles’ character: she changed. At the beginning of the film, her character was known as brash and too straight forward. She was anti-social and often downright mean. However, Heath Ledger’s character who had started falling for her, called her out. She, of course, didn’t make any sudden changes, but ever so slowly, you watch her become humane again – a human that actually cares about the people around her.

            In my head, this goes hand-in-hand with someone we’re told about in the Bible: Joseph, a man we’re introduced to at the very beginning of his life and told more about when he’s around the age of 17. He’s said to have been his father, Jacob’s, favorite child because Joseph was born to Jacob in his old age- by his favorite wife might I add (see Genesis 29 and Genesis 37:3-4). Because of the special treatment that Joseph received from his father, Joseph had a haughty spirit when it came to his brothers and certain dreams that he was having. Instead of humbly explaining that he was having dreams where his brothers, along with his father, eleven stars, the sun, and moon were bowing down to him (explaining that sort of dream would be very difficult to explain humbly), he would lord it over them and talk about it all of the time. His brothers already hated him because of the special treatment he received, and the way in which he told them about his dreams, disregarding their feelings, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They plotted to kill him, threw him in a well, sold him into slavery, and let their father believe that he was killed by wild animals. In an amazing turn of events that only God could orchestrate, Joseph overcomes many obstacles and temptations, but gets thrown in prison anyway, only to be brought before the king to interpret a dream. In the long (very long) run, Joseph was appointed to be second in command over the entire land of Egypt. During his stay in prison, he took care of all of the warden’s responsibilities, because the warden found favor with Joseph. Somehow or another, we see Joseph caring for all of the prisoners, literally caring for their well-being (see Genesis 40:6-7). Because of the circumstances he went through, Joseph realized that he would not go anywhere in life if he did not care for those around him. Because he changed, he wound up second in command over Egypt, and helped the entire nation - including his family - survive a seven year famine. He was even able to forgive his brothers and be reunited with his father.

            Joseph realized what the best version of him could be, and he became that version. Because he made that decision, God could use him in even mightier ways. I am not saying that he stayed that way or that he always cared for people like he should have, but he tried to keep the well-being of his family and the nation that he was put over in mind when he made decisions. But, would he have ever changed, or even realized that he was being inconsiderate unless his brothers had sent him away? Well, he certainly wouldn’t have been made second in command over Egypt that’s for sure. What Joseph’s brothers did to him was beyond wrong. In no circumstance have I ever ever thought to actually kill my siblings, and we’ve been through a lot. I would never let my step-dad believe that one of his kids were dead if I knew that they weren’t. But, God allowed this to happen. Not only did it save Joseph from a life of being haughty and hated, but it saved an entire country from starving to death, because Joseph- through the insight of God- was able to interpret a dream that predicted a seven year famine on the horizon.

            You see, God created us with our well-being in mind. He gave us our own unique attitude, likes and dislikes, style, and way of thinking. None of us are the same, because God doesn’t want a world full of minions; He wants true, unending, sappy love. If we lean on our weaknesses or our “flaws” as a crutch so that we seemingly cannot walk any further into His love, then that’s our fault. If we get caught up trying to live up to the standards that other human beings put on us, we don’t focus on pleasing God, but people, and that gets us absolutely nowhere. If we try our hardest to have the same relationship with God as the person standing next to us, we’ll eventually get to a place where we don’t have a relationship with Him at all, because the way I talk to Him and hear from Him is different than the way you talk to Him and hear from Him. We can’t go through life trying to be like another person, because we weren’t created to be them, we were created in the image of God to be like Him in another totally unique and only us way.

            My challenge to you is this: find out who you are- in God and in your heart of hearts. Stop trying to be like another human being and stop trying to please everybody. JUST BE YOU and I promise you that God will be able to use the you in a much mightier way without a ton of masks getting in the way. Just imagine the best you you can be, pray about who you need to be, and ask God to reveal to you how you can be that person, and then just be them. You won’t regret it.

 

Check out this video by David Bowden as he explains it just a little bit more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw62CpjP0v8

 

-Haley




August 3, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Tree


BY GREG HIGGINS

 

Some of the prettiest scenes in a movie or a painting involves trees around a river. Picture this: It’s a hot summer day. Kids have been playing outside all day. Towards the end of the day the see this tall, beautiful tree on the edge of the river bank. They migrate towards it and, eventually, find themselves sitting under the tree in the shade.

If you think about the tree more, you come up with some interesting questions. How long has it been there? Who planted it? Was there a purpose behind planting it? These are all good questions that, perhaps, we will never know the answers to. One thing is certain, that tree is there and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

This reminds me of the scripture in Psalm 1. The Bible declares:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Think about what the Psalmist is saying here. In a world in which wrong seems right and evil is called good, the Bible still calls out those people who do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. People who will not stand for sin are those who God is looking for. The people that he blesses (vs. 3) are the people that delight in the law of the Lord. They meditate on it day and night. These are the people God is looking for.

As a matter of fact, He declares that they will be just like the tree described above. People will flock to them because they have something they need. It’s important to remember that we are not here only for ourselves. We are here to help provide comfort to those around us. Like the tree provides shade from the hot summer sun, we can help provide a place for those who are hurting by the enemies flames. Are you walking with sinners, or are you finding delight in the law of the Lord?

 

- Greg


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