The Love Chapter - Christmas Style

I got this poem in my daily e-mail devotional, and I just had to share it with all of you. Enjoy!!

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas Style

©By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of your way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.


To learn more about Sharon Jaynes and her ministry "Girlfriends in God", go to www.girlfriendsingod.com.


The Wonder of Christmas

I hope you are enjoying this wonderful Christmas season with your family and friends. I want to share a poem that I wrote several years ago and remind you to that this season is about the greatest gift of all - JESUS.

Can you see the angels singing as their praise lights up the sky
Rousing shepherds from their keeping of the silent flock by night?
Glory in the highest, shepherds gazing up in awe,
Oh the beauty, oh the splendor, oh the wonder of it all.

Can you hear the wise men's footsteps trodding on toward Bethlehem?
Bringing gifts of greatest value to a baby's lowly bed -
A star their only compass, knowing not what might befall
Oh, the beauty, oh the glory, oh the wonder of it all.

Can you see the mother weeping as in her arms she holds
The One for whom all prophets and the angels have foretold?
Knowing that all God's glory rested in one so very small
Oh the beauty, oh the mystery, oh the wonder of it all.

Can you hear the voice that whispers, "Here's my great redemption plan.
I have sent my Son to earth to restore the souls of man.
Each December as you hurry, take the time to recall
The beauty, and the splendor, and the wonder of it all."

Merry Christmas!


Happy Birthday Jesus! Party

Join us this Sunday, December 6 for our annual Happy Birthday Jesus! Party. Breakfast will be served starting at 8:30AM in our fellowship hall. To celebrate the birth of our Savior, we ask that each person bring one baby item for our new mom baskets which we will donate to Come Alive Minstries. After breakfast, we will have a time of testimonies and music in the sanctuary prior to the morning service. All LIFE School classes will be participating!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Sorry, I missed posting last week. I pray that everyone had a very blessed Thanksgiving and took some time to reflect on all that God has brought you through in the past year. We had a very blessed thanksgiving in our family and even though there were some rough patches, we know that God is still in control. How many of you ate thanksgiving leftovers for days? If your family is like ours - you eat on them for several days. We turn the turkey into turkey salad, add some vegetables where needed, cook some fresh bread and feast again. Thanksgiving food is some of my very favorite, and I enjoy every morsel, so much so that I can't wait to heat it up and enjoy it all over again. As I ate my thanksgiving leftovers I thought about the wonderful feast I have enjoyed this year in God's Word. Personally, this was a year where God deepened my love for His Holy Word. I can't wait to open it up each day and see what God will say to me. Sometimes I find myself spending several days reflecting on one verse or one passage and like my thanksgiving leftovers - I come back to it again and again, looking at it from different perspectives, adding some different study tools, and asking God for new insight. Each time he doesn't disappoint. I get something new and fresh each time I open His Word. I enjoy it as much as I do my physical food. I feel full and satisfied when I spend time with God reading His word and feasting on His promises. I am grateful that God has chosen to speak to us through His word and that He never forsakes or deserts us. As we close out our study of the Counterfeit Armor I am truly thankful that God does not leave us defenseless against our enemy, but He has provided all that we need to live victoriously in this present world. Sometimes we forget that our enemy is predictable - sneaky, yes - but still predictable. His tactics have not changed in thousands of years and he continues to use deception, pride, fear, preoccupation, religion, and our own words to keep us ineffective and weak in our daily walk. Don't let him win! Now that you know his counterfeit armor, be bold and courageous and pick up God's armor to slay him. He cannot stand against the word of God for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Feast daily on God's word. Meditate on it. Then, put on your armor and be ready always to fight the good fight of faith.


The Sword of the Spirit

The final piece of armor that Paul admonishes us to use in Ephesians 6 is the "sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God". The sword is the only offensive weapon in our arsenal, so what is Satan's counterfeit sword? A sword of the flesh - or to be more specific - cutting, biting words that do not proceed from the mouth of God. Scripture warns us many times that the tongue is a powerful weapon. It is described as a fire, a deadly arrow, a world of evil, untameable, and full of deadly poison. It is my belief that we can do the greatest good or the greatest damage to the body of Christ with the words that we say. Remember the counterfeit armor is also the default armor - it is all about human nature. The armor of God, on the other hand, is all about the divine nature. Speaking out of line, complaining, grumbling, blaming - it all comes easy to the natural, sinful man. Choosing to guard our mouth and our words is choosing the divine nature over human nature. Our words can encourage or discourage, diffuse trouble or stir it up, promote kindness or promote gossip, bring life or bring death. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Satan knows that our words have power - they can bring life to those who hear them or death. How did Jesus always answer the enemy during the temptation? With the word of God. He knew that the only offensive weapon he had to defeat his enemy was every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Jesus did not use his words to agree with Satan, to debate him, or to try to outwit him. He simply answered every temptation with Scripture. We are told in James that the tongue cannot be tamed, but don't lose heart, we can make progress in this area! We cannot tame our own tongue, we must let God and His Spirit do it in us and through us. When we surrender our mouth to God and His leading, we will probably find that we will speak less. Proverbs 10:19, Proverbs 17:28, and James 1:19 all speak to this issue. I encourage you to spend some time meditating on what these Scriptures teach us. It is time to become women of the WORD and not women of the world. The only sword we should brandish is the word of God - not the cutting words of our own mouth. It is time to build up and encourage others with our words and not mince them into tiny pieces. As Christians we must stop riding the fence on this issue. We cannot talk "spiritual" on Sunday and Wednesday and then talk like the world the rest of the week. In I Timothy Paul warns Timothy to turn away from godless chatter. In our world today, we hear a lot of godless chatter. Profanity, gossip, sarcasm, flattery are just a few examples. As Christians, we should be set apart and the words that come out of our mouths should sound and be different from the world. Our own biting words will come back to bite us - of that you can be sure. It's why your enemy wants to keep you speaking words of death, discouragement, and deception to yourself and those around you because He knows you will eat the fruit of your own words. Be careful what you say to others, about others, and around others. People are watching, your enemy is prowling, and never forget, God is listening. May your heart's cry be the cry of the Psalmist in Psalms 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."


The Eyes of Pride

We have been talking for a couple of weeks about pride and how it is the counterfeit helmet. Today, we want to look at a specific body part - the eyes and how pride displays itself in the eyes of individuals. Scripture has a name for this type of pride - haughtiness. Haughtiness is pride at its maximum potential. The dictionary defines it as "disdainfully proud and scornfully arrogant". Those are strong words and they illicit a strong response from a holy God. In Proverbs 6, we are given a list of things that God hates. Do you know what tops the list? Haughty Eyes. The King James Version calls it a proud look. We have already said that pride is the root of all sin; it is the ultimate anti-God state of mind. Pride shows itself through our actions but also through our eyes. Haughty eyes look down on others. Haughty eyes rejoice in others failures. Haughty eyes laugh at other's weakness. Haughty eyes don't see their own faults, but zero in on the faults of others. Haughty eyes consider themselves above certain sins. They are spiritually blind, and yet they seek to be spiritually superior. Our eyes are intricate, complex organs. The pupil of the eye can actually reflect your like or dislike for something or someone. The pupil will enlarge when you see something desirable. On the other hand, it will shrink when you see something that disgusts you. Our responses and reactions can often be seen in our eyes. Matthew 6 says that the eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is full of light then the whole body is also full of light. However, if the eye is dark, then the whole body is full of darkness. Whenever we choose to cooperate with darkness our eyes reflect that darkness, BUT, praise God that when we choose to cooperate with the LIGHT (Jesus) our eyes reflect that light. There is an old saying that says the eyes are the mirror of the soul. There is much truth in that quote. What are your eyes reflecting? Can others see Jesus when they look into your eyes or do they see skepticism, judgment, and blame? Every time that we choose our will above God's will we are reflecting the kingdom of darkness and we are putting on the counterfeit helmet of pride. The eyes of pride focus on self while the eyes of humility focus on Christ. It really does all come down to where we fix our focus. When we fix our focus on Christ, we are choosing to put on a helmet of salvation and we are free to fight the good fight of faith without hindrance. When we fix our focus on ourselves, we are blind to what God wants to do in and through our lives. If you need some help fixing your focus, then read & meditate on the following Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 12:2. The cure for haughty eyes can be found in God's Holy Word.


The Humble Heart of a Servant

Jesus the humble servant has so much to teach us and I don't know about you but I have so much to learn. I just want to share with you today this passage from Scripture and remind you that the King of all creation left His throne in heaven so that He might serve. How quickly we forget that it's not all about us. How often we have to be reminded that it's all about Him.
It was just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the FULL EXTENT OF HIS LOVE. The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel arond his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:1-5)
Can you even imagine? Jesus, the Lord of Lords, the very Son of God down on his hands and knees washing the dusty, dirty feet of those who would run away, betray, and deny Him. Such humility is beyond my comprehension. What an example we have been left from One who wasn't afraid to show the full extent of his love. Those words just pierce my heart. I would think that he showed the full extent of his love on the cross and He most certainly did, but Scripture makes a point to put that phrase in this Scripture passage. Out of the deepest well of love imaginable Jesus dipped fresh water to wash the feet of those closest to Him. I believe that they never forgot that moment - the moment Jesus knelt before them and quietly washed and tenderly dried their feet. Later in that same passage, Jesus says, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done." Jesus may not tell you to literally wash the feet of those around you (however, if he does please obey), but you can figuratively wash other's feet by praying for them or just listening to them. Ask God today to help you develop that kind of humility. Humility like that cannot be manufactured on your own, it is found in the heart of a servant - it's the heart of THE servant, Jesus, and it is a heart that will love without limits. Isn't that what our world is dying to find? Someone who will love in spite of betrayal, denial, and rejection. Someone who will follow the example of Jesus and truly love not in word only but in deed. That kind of love has no pride. That kind of love will humble itself and serve no matter the consequences. I encourage you to follow Jesus' example today. Find someone and wash her feet with kindness, gentleness, meekness, I think you get the picture. Not only will you bless others, but you will be blessed. It's a promise. Jesus himself says so. At the end of this very portion of Scripture Jesus says, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:17) AMEN.


The Counterfeit Helmet - PRIDE

This week we will look at the counterfeit helmet. In Ephesians 6 we are instructed to put on our head a helmet of salvation. Ephesians 2:9 reminds us that our salvation is not because of works lest any man should boast or be proud. Our salvation is a free gift because of God's grace. So, what does Satan want us to wear on our head? You guessed it, a helmet of pride. It just fits doesn't it? Unfortunately it does. I believe this piece of counterfeit armor is Satan's crowning glory and it is no accident that it is worn right on top of our head. Why is pride so dangerous? Because it is a heart condition that molds a mindset. Pride will affect the way you think, the way you make decisions, and the way you feel. Think about it. What gets the biggest emotional response from you? What makes you the angriest? the most annoyed? hot under the collar? What motivates you to gossip? What embarasses you? intimidates you? humiliates you? I believe if you will search your heart on these issues you will find some pride lurking. When someone speaks against your family how do you respond? When a juicy piece of gossip lands in your lap, what do you do with it? Anger, jealousy, gossip, bitterness, revenge, self-pity, conceit, vanity, slander, self-justification, defensiveness - all of these things grow on the tree of pride. The fruit of pride is poison - that's why Satan revels in it. Here is how C.S. Lewis put it, "The essential vice, the utmost evil is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison. It was through pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind." That is why pride is such a huge issue with God. It goes completely against everything that He represents. Every sin can find its root in evil pride. Every sinner who refuses to confess and repent chooses to do so out of pride. Usually pride is hardest to see in ourselves - it is every person's blind spot. What we can see so easily in someone else, we are somehow blind to in our own life. It is time to do some serious soul searching for ourselves and stop trying to "fix" everyone else. I heard a TV preacher put it this way. "The problem is not out the window, it's in the mirror." Pride in our heart leads to pride in our mind, which leads to pride in the way we talk and walk this Christian life. Philippians 2 reminds us "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he HUMBLED Himself...." The cure for pride is humility, and humility is found on our knees. While pride stands tall, humility knows to fall. Proverbs 11:2 tells us, "When pride comes then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." If there was ever a time when God's people needed wisdom it is now, but Ezekiel 28 tells us that pride corrupts wisdom. Pride is that molded piece of fruit that sits in the fruit basket and slowly but surely contaminates and rots everything else. God's Word has so much to say on this issue, and I encourage you to do some searching and reading. Get God's perspective on selfish pride and let His word begin to renew your mind so that the proud mindset can be overcome by the mindset of Christ. I encourage you to read Philippians 2:1-15 everyday and then be a doer of the word not a hearer only. Then and only then will you be able to put off the helmet of pride and put on a helmet of salvation!


The Counterfeit Shield

In addition to all this, take up the sheild of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16
We have looked at Satan's counterfeit belt, breastplate, and shoes and now we are at another important piece of armor - the shield of faith. So what is Satan's counterfeit shield? A shield of fear. I believe that Satan would rather us cower under a shield of fear than stand firm with a shield of faith. Specifically Satan wants us to focus on self-preservation rather than faith. Self-preservation is defined as "preservation of oneself from danger, injury, or death, the urge to preserve oneself, regarded as an instinct." Self-preservation is instinctual. When we encounter things to be afraid of our first instinct is to protect ourselves. In the spiritual sense, self-preservation can keep us from stepping out into our destiny. In Beth Moore's study of Esther, she says this, "We can protect ourselves right out of our calling." Isn't that what Satan wants? YES! To accomplish that goal, he will tempt us to take up a shield of self-preservation rather than a shield of faith. Does Scripture back this up? Absolutely. You don't have to look any further than Numbers 13 & 14. The children of Israel have been delivered out of slavery. God has performed miracles in order to bring them into the land He promised to give them. Camping right at the edge of Canaan, Moses sent in twelve spies to scout out the land. Ten of those spies came back with the report that while the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey it was also filled with powerful people, fortified walls, and strong cities. Because of their evil report, the people were afraid to go forward and enter the Promised Land even though God had promised it to them. In Numbers 14:33 God tells them, "Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert." An entire nation of people protected themselves right out of their calling because they feared their enemy more than they believed their God. They never got to experience all that God had for them because they chose self-preservation over faith. Are you doing the same thing? Do you look around and see so much to fear that you step back, cower down, and doubt? Is self-preservation more important to you than your God-ordained destiny? Is protecting your image, your ego, and your feelings worth missing out on your calling? God forbid. Self-preservation leads to isolation, discouragement, and depression.
2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that "we live by faith not by sight." Fear says, "we live by sight, not by faith." The enemy is cunning and he knows that all your attempts at self-preservation are in vain. When the battle rages the shield of fear is easily penetrated. I Peter 5:9 says, "Resist him (the devil) steadfast in the faith." Your first line of defense against the flaming arrows of the evil one is your faith. Don't just read God's Word, believe God's Word. When the enemy comes in like a flood with his arrows of doubt, fear, worry, and deafeat, you can raise up the shield of faith and extinguish each and every one. Isaiah 7:9 says, "...if you do not stand firm in the faith, you will not stand at all." Your calling is waiting - don't back down in fear, but stand firm in faith and be all that God has ordained you to be.


Shoes of Peace

Last week we talked about putting on the shoes of peace and how Satan's counterfeit shoes are preoccupation. (See earlier post if you missed it.) Today, I want to give you some Scriptural encouragement to help you keep your peace in the midst of a world of troubles and trials.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
1 Peter 1:2

I just have to share this devotion by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest because he says it so beautifully. Enjoy!!
"Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God's providential permission, and having, as it were, turned over the boulders of your belief, are you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; is all barren? Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus. Reflected peace is the proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed or you have a false security. Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing and receiving from Him peace? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you obliterate Him and deserve all you get. We get disturbed because we have not been considering Him. When one confers with Jesus Christ the perplexity goes, because he has no perplexity, and our only concern is to abide in Him. Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement, and sorrow, hear Him say, "Let not your heart be troubled."


The Counterfeit Armor - Part III

The third piece of armor that Paul instructs us to put on is shoes of peace. Why do we put on shoes? Because we are going somewhere. As Christians we must walk our faith out everyday, so Satan will try to keep us from walking the path of peace by occupying our time with other things. That's Satan's counterfeit shoes - preoccupation. When I looked up the word preoccupation in the dictionary here is what I found, "completely engrossed in thought; absorbed; previously occupied; taken; filled." The enemy wants to keep you engrossed in thought and absorbed in things other than the will of the Father. He wants to fill your day, your thoughts, your attitude with his thoughts and attitudes. Think about that definition, "previously occupied" he wants to get you distracted with the routine and the mundane before you fill up with the word of God. If he can start you on the path of preoccupation at the beginning of your day, he knows he is well on his way to stealing your peace before the day is over. Psalms 119:165 says, "Great peace have they who love your law and nothing can make them stumble." I just love that verse. It gives me hope that if I keep myself immersed in the word of God and OBEY it then nothing can make me stumble. If we love the word of God then we will want to obey it and when we obey it we will have great peace. I am convinced that most Christians have Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder. For some reason we cannot keep our focus fixed on Christ. We tend to burn hot or cold according to our circumstances and feelings. That is not the path to peace. Scripture tells us that a double-minded (wo)man is unstable in all her ways, so it stands to reason that we won't be able to walk the path of peace with regularity when we are constantly diverting our attention away from Christ. Many things can set us on a path of preoccupation - our job, our family, our struggles, our finances, our circumstances, but ONE thing will keep us on the path of peace - fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Ephesians 2:14 says, "for He (Jesus) Himself is our peace." Peace is attainable in this crazy world! It's attainable through a person - Jesus. As He increases in your life so will your peace. The cure for spiritual ADD is the word of God. Remember Psalms 119:165. It's the key to not just peace but great peace. Could you use some great peace today? Then spend some time with the Prince of Peace reading his Word to you.


The Counterfeit Armor - Part 2

Sorry I missed last week, but I am getting back on track this week. We will look at the second piece of Satan's counterfeit armor today - the breastplate. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on a breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate covers the chest area and more importantly it is the protective piece that covers our heart, so you can know that Satan will offer a counterfeit to deceive our hearts. His counterfeit breastplate is religion. Rather than wearing a breastplate of righteousness he wants you and I to put on a breastplate of religion. Righteousness reminds me that without Christ I am nothing. Religion tells me that on my own I am pretty good. Righteousness focuses on Christ. Religion focuses on me. Righteousness is based on Christ's redemptive work on the cross. Religion is based on my own good works. How sneaky Satan is that he would offer us something that looks so good on the outside but in reality has little to do with Christ or the cross. When Jesus walked the earth over 2000 years ago, who gave him the most trouble? The religious leaders. They had their own ideas of how the Messiah would act and Jesus did not fit into their particular religious box. Religion still tries to put Jesus into a neat little box today. Religion tells you if you do this, say this, act like this, then you are acceptable. Scripture tells us that our righteousness is not based on our good works but on the blood of Christ. There is a story in Scripture of a woman who was caught in adultery. The religious leaders dragged her before Jesus in hopes that Jesus would judge and condemn her. If you have read her story, you know that Jesus' response was, "He who is without sin, let him first cast a stone." Religion is ever in the business of pointing out others' faults. When religion confronted Jesus that day, it dropped its stones, but instead of repenting it just walked away. Religion does not want to be confronted with its own sin, so it focuses instead on "fixing" others. When the piercing words of Jesus are spoken, the religious heart will cover its ears and walk away. Religion manifests itself in many ways - ways that often seem very spiritual, but are ultimately deadly. II Samuel 16:7 says that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. Religion keeps you and I from the heart of the matter - our relationship with Jesus. It is relationship not religion that God wants from us. If Satan can convince us to wear a breastplate of religion, he will keep our heart from the truth of God's Holy Word that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I want to end with this analogy that I used in class and it seemed to hit home with everyone. Isaiah 61:10 says, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." As women we may not understand all about military armor, but we certainly understand the significance of being a bride. As little girls most of us dream of the day when we will meet our prince and we will become his bride. So consider what God is saying in Isaiah when he compares a robe of righteousness to a bride adorning herself for her wedding day. Maybe it would help if every morning you mentally dressed yourself in a bridal gown of righteousness. No bride wants a wedding gown that is torn, stained, or imperfect. When we wear a breastplate of religion it is the same as putting on a tattered and torn wedding gown. When we put on a breastplate of righteousness, however, we are adorning ourselves in the most beautiful wedding dress we could ever imagine. As a result, like a bride, we will only have eyes for our Bridegroom and pleasing Him will be our only consideration.


The Counterfeit Armor - Part 1

Ephesians 5:13 - 16 says, Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Over the next few weeks we will explore the armor of God and Satan's counterfeit armor. Be on guard - Satan has counterfeit armor and he wants you to wear it.
The first piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 is the belt of truth. So, what is Satan's counterfeit? A belt of deception. Satan seeks to deceive us, and he will tinge whatever he tries to sell us with some measure of truth in the hopes that his deception will lead us to believe him and his lies. It is no accident that the belt is the first piece of armor mentioned. In battle, the soldier would use his belt to hold his other pieces of armor, so in a way, all the other pieces hang on this one - we must embrace truth - true truth - the truth of God's Word. By the same manner, Satan will start with a belt of deception and then the other pieces of counterfeit armor will follow. I know of many ways that we can be deceived by our enemy, but here are just a few. Deception says that we should live by our feelings not by faith. Deception says that prayer and studying God's word are not all that important. Deception says that life is all about the here and now and not about the hereafter. Deception says that God's love is conditional. Deception says that control is the answer. Deception will keep you isolated and prevent you from joining in Bible Study with other Christians.
None of us are immune to Satan and his deceptive ways, but I know One who is - Jesus. So it stands to reason that the more of Jesus I have, the more immune I will be to the lies of the devil and his deceptive practices. In John 14:6, Jesus makes this statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." At least 81 times in the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life he says these words - "I TELL YOU THE TRUTH." Jesus and Satan stand in complete opposition to each other. One tells you the truth, the other lies. It is time to expose Satan for the liar that he is. Here is what Jesus has to say on this subject - "You belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me." (John 8:44-45)
Friends, we are living in the last days. Jesus warned us that in the last days deception would run rampant, and I believe that even God's own people walk in deception much more often than we think. In fact, another name I have given for the counterfeit armor is the default armor. Because of our sinful human nature, I believe that if we are not consciously and deliberately putting on God's armor then we are wearing counterfeit armor by default. We must evaluate our motives as well as our actions and see how they line up with the truth of God's Word. Anytime we allow ourselves to be decieved by our enemy then we are wearing his counterfeit armor. It is time to embrace truth and stop being deceived by lies. We must become so intimate with truth that anytime Satan tries to deceive us we will either run away from the lie like Joseph (Genesis 39) or refute the lie like Jesus (Matthew 4). Just saying the armor by rote is not enough. In Ephesians 6 we are told to put on the armor. The word "put" means to bind around onself, to enter, to sink, to go in or under. We must let the truth sink into the deepest places of our heart (see Psalms 51:6), then and only then will we be ready to combat the deception of the enemy. Trust me, Satan knows your weak point, that place where you can easily be deceived and he is just waiting to exploit it. Any place where you are not allowing truth to reign in you is a place ripe for taking by the enemy of your soul. Are you consciously putting on the belt of truth everyday or is it just part of the words that you say and when situations arise you evaluate what will serve you best and then act accordingly? I would encourage you to pinpoint one area of your life where you think the enemy might be trying to deceive you. Find Scripture that will give you truth about that struggle. Begin to meditate on those scriptures everyday. Write them down, let them begin to take root and keep a little journal of positive results you begin to see as you meditate on the truth. Finally, remember these words from our Savior, "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) Put on the belt of truth daily, study the truth in the word of God, give the Holy Spirit who is the spirit of truth control in your life, and don't let yourself be deceived by the one who seeks to destroy you.


Esther by Beth Moore

We will begin Beth Moore's newest ten-week study on the book of Esther on September 13. We are offering a Sunday evening and Monday evening option. Call the church office or contact us via e-mail if you would like to participate.
Sunday classes will be from 4-6PM in our fellowship hall and will be facilitated by Nancy Pennington and Cassandra King.
Monday classes will be from 6-8PM in our fellowship hall and will be facilitated by Stacy Pennington.
Workbooks will be $10.00 each.

Trust His Heart

Our church family has been reeling this month from the death of so many who were dear to us. In the last week, we lost two dear men who were faithful members of our church - Cecil Hodge and Loy Lawrence. I don't always understand God's ways, but the more I walk with Him, the more I know that I can trust Him. The song, Trust His Heart has been playing in my mind lately. Let me share the words with you ~

All things work for our good
though sometimes we can't see how they could
struggles that break our hearts in two
sometimes blind us to the truth

Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim, and you just can't see Him
Remember you're never alone

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He sees the master plan
And He holds our future in His hands
So don't live as those who have no hope
All our hope is found in Him

We see the present clearly
But He sees the first and the last
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me to someday be just like Him

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His heart

He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand trust His heart

May the words to this song bring comfort to those who are mourning and remind all of us that we have a loving Father who is always working on our behalf. May God wrap you up in His arms of love today and everyday.

Sister to Sister LIFE School

Our Sister to Sister class meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30AM in the church fellowship hall. Last week we enjoyed a great breakfast together. Thanks to everyone who came to be a part of our class. We enjoyed seeing so many new faces. We finished up the series Loved by God this past week and will begin a new study this Sunday, September 6. I am excited to be teaching a study on The Counterfeit Armor. God has shown me many truths from His Word as I have prepared & written this study and I am excited to share all that I have learned. Please take some time this week to read Ephesians 6 as you prepare your heart for our lesson. If you are not connected in a small group class, please make plans to join us. I know that you will receive the blessing of friendship and a deeper love for God and His Word. See you Sunday!


Precious to the Lord

Scripture tells us that "Precious to the Lord is the death of one of his saints." Our church family has lost one of our dearest friends with the passing of Cecil Hodge. I have known Cecil for almost all of my life and he has always been a larger than life figure to me. Over the last months as his body has undergone treatments and therapy, I have continued to pray that God would heal him and restore him to good health. God, whose ways are not mine, has chosen to do that by taking him to heaven where he has traded mortality for immortality. Now, as those who are left behind mourn his death - we don't mourn for Cecil because we know he is in a better place, but we do mourn with his family as they grieve the loss of one so dear and precious. Please lift up Cecil's family and pray that God will continue to give strength, grace, and peace to his wife, Gwynne and all his children, grandchildren, and family members. We love you, Cecil!! Enjoy your heavenly celebration!


SHHH, It's a Secret!

Our Secret Pals Ministry is starting back up under the leadership of Lora Branam. If you would like to participate, please call the church office or stop by the church foyer and pick up a questionnaire. Completed forms are due back to the church ASAP.


His Grace is Sufficient

My dad has been preaching on the Holy Spirit for the past several weeks and one thing he has taught is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace. There is so much contained in that little word. Have you ever taken the time to reflect on how much grace God has given you? I have really meditated on that for the past several days and I am overwhelmed with the grace of God. There are many definitions of grace but I guess the one that I love the most is this, "Grace is the unmerited, undeserved favor of God on a life." When I deserved justice, I was given grace. When I deserved punishment, I was given grace. When I deserved death, I was given grace. Grace gives me power and ability to live the Christ-like life. It is by grace that we are saved. What an awesome gift of God! Whatever you may be facing in your life, be assured that there is grace waiting for you. Sometimes God will allow trials and even suffering so that we might learn with Paul that His grace is sufficent. Remember Paul's words, inspired by the Holy Spirit of Grace, in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9, To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. How comforting to know that His grace is sufficient everyday and in every situation. There is a little chorus that I heard a while back and it has been playing in my mind lately to remind me that no matter what I am going through, I can trust the grace of God. When it seems like your world is falling apart, remember that His grace is enough to see you through. What amazing grace!
Lord, I am broken
My life is in pieces
But your strength is perfect
In all of my weakness.


Surrender Your Plans!

Don't you just love it when you make a plan? Well, maybe your personality is different from mine. I am one of those organized, plan makers. I like to have everything spelled out and all the possible scenarios covered. I can make a good plan, but sometimes God just comes in and changes everything on me. Anyone know what I am talking about? It seems that God is a master of taking our plans and turning them inside out for Him. There is a comedian who says when she wants to hear God laugh she tells Him her plan....boy, I know how that feels. Have you ever felt a little of what Job felt when he wrote, "My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart." (Job 17:11) I've been there. I haven't faced what Job faced, but I know the feeling of seeing all my best laid plans go up in smoke. At a time in my life when I didn't see how I would ever get my life back on track, God stepped in and showed me that my plans were not necessarily His plans. During that time a good friend of mine gave me a Scripture that I have kept close to my heart ever since. It is found in Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." God has shown me that He doesn't thwart my plans just because He can, but rather because He has a purpose that is beyond my comprehension. When we commit our plan to His loving and capable hands, He can use them for His glory and our good. Proverbs 16:3 is another favorite of mine, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." If you are plan maker like me, this verse is a beauty. We could call it - a 100% guaranteed way to successful plan making. Commit your life (all of it) to the Lord, seek His wisdom and direction, and then trust Him to accomplish His plan through you. It's time for a little plan transplant -- exchange your plan for your life for God's plan for your life. You'll be amazed at what He will do in you and through you. After all, He is just looking for surrendered plan makers.


Loved by God by Liz Curtis Higgs

Our Sister to Sister LIFE School class is in the middle of Liz Curtis Higg's series Loved by God. It is an in-depth look at the life of Jacob, Esau, Rachel, and Leah. Liz's unique and humorous approach to Bible study is refreshing and uplifting. She is definitely one of a kind. It's not too late to come be a part of this inspiring study. See you Sunday!


Jesus - what a Savior!

I know, it's been an entire month since I last posted. The month of July was packed with so many things that it all seems a blur to me now. One thing that stands out to me is my trip to Branson, Missouri with Annette Herndon. We went to Branson to be a part of the first ever Branson Gospel Music Convention. I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to the long hours in the car and the long hours standing behind a convention table, but boy, am I glad I went. I had the awesome privilege of being a part of a devotional time to encourage ladies in ministry and I met some wonderfully talented musicians. I was overwhelmed by the beautiful Spirit that permeated our week. I got to pray with women whom I did not know (and may never see again this side of heaven), and I made some new friends who I look forward to getting to know better. I just love it when God ordains that your path will cross with someone else and God did that so many times during the Branson trip that I began to look for it everyday. I believe that God wants us to do that - anticipate the moment when our lives will intersect with someone else's at just the right time. One night at the convention three guys were singing and their voices blended so beautifully that I just had to stop and listen. Then the lead singer began to tell his story of how God had brought him from the ashes of divorce and drug abuse to the beauty of singing His praise. I began to cry as I recalled once again how God had brought beauty from ashes in my life. Then he began to sing a song and the chorus ended with these words: - That's how much I need a Savior - and what a Savior Jesus is to me. The words just hit me right in the heart. It was a divine moment for me - when God just stopped me in my tracks to love on me and to remind me that HE is my Savior. I don't want to ever forget that on my own I am nothing, but with Jesus I have all I need. Take a moment today to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for being such a wonderful Savior. By the way, the name of that group was Beyond the Ashes. Look them up - they are truly anointed. Be blessed!!


Happy 4th!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy fourth of July. As we celebrate our nation's independence, may we also take time to ask God's mercy on our land. This Sunday, we will participate in a national Call 2 Fall. Churches from all over this nation will be calling out to God and falling on our knees to ask God to forgive us and heal our land. I am confident that God will hear our collective petition, and that a revival will spread across our country that will draw the hearts of all people back to the one, true Lord. It is time to declare our dependence on our Heavenly Father and recognize our need for Him in every aspect of our lives. As you celebrate our nation's independence, I pray that you will take a moment to renew your personal dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Secret Place

Don't you just love it when God tries to get your attention? I know I do. I can always tell when God is trying to direct me to a particular destination becuase it seems every road sign in my life will point in that direction. This past week it has been about spending more time in the secret place communing with him. First, I was asked to teach a Sunday School lesson on prayer so I began evaluating my own prayer life. Second, I have just wrapped up the study Can We Talk? by Priscilla Shirer. (I strongly recommend this study to anyone who is looking to dig deeper into God's Word.) Priscilla ended our last teaching session by quoting from Matthew 6:6, "But you, when you pray, go into your room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." The whole week everything I read, studied, or heard was about prayer. The signs were clear. The directive had been issued. The only question was whether I would heed the call. I don't know about you, but I let the busyness and noise of life crowd into my life and take me from my secret place with Him. I can tell almost immediately when that happens. My prayers become cold and quick, and instead of desiring to spend time with Him, prayer becomes one more thing on my to-do list. Scripture directs us to "pray without ceasing." To me, that means to maintain an attitude of prayer throughout my day, but to enter into the secret place requires that I actually take time out of my busy day and sit alone - just me and my Father. Then the secret place becomes a sacred place - a place where perfect holiness meets imperfect man - a place where sinners are met with grace and forgiveness - a place where unrighteous becomes righteous - a place where a hungry soul is filled. What an awesome privilege we have to meet in the secret place with a heavenly Father who loves us and longs for us. Don't let a day go by without making time to meet with your bridegroom in the secret place. I am making it my prayer that the secret place becomes my favorite place to be. How about you?


Overcoming by the Word of our Testimony

For the last several weeks in our Sunday School class, different women have shared their testimony. It has been an awesome time of transparency. Isn't that what it is all about? Hearing of how God has worked in the others lives and seeing how they have claimed victory from defeat encourages me that God is at work in our world and He is ever in the business of transformation. Scripture tells us in Revelation that we "overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." The first part to overcoming does not depend on us. The blood of Jesus was shed so that you and I could be free and could be overcomers. All we have to do is accept that the atoning blood of Jesus covers my sin and sets me free and we are halfway to overcoming. However, the second part to overcoming depends entirely on our willingness to step out in faith and share the word of our testimony with others. The dictionary defines testimony as witness, evidence, proof of fact, a declaration or profession of faith. Our testimony is witness to the proof that Christ has changed us from the inside out. It is our declaration of faith and it must be spoken aloud. There is power in the spoken word (see one of our earlier entries entitled The Power of our Words) and when we speak the word of our testimony aloud, that power is loosed to work not only in our life but in the lives of others. Never underestimate the effect your faith journey can have on others. Growing up I always struggled with sharing my testimony. I remember being asked as a senior in high school to share my testimony while we were in Europe, and I was terrified. I didn't think I had much to share and I always struggled in that area. I always wanted one of those dynamic testimonies that I had heard from other people. Well, be careful what you ask for - the testimony God has given me is not one I necessarily wanted, but I have been blessed to see that every time I have been given the opportunity to share my story, God has used it to encourage and set others free. You may not have one of those "flashy" testimonies you see on television, but praise God you have a story to share of how God brought you from darkness into light. Now, be an overcomer and share it!


Walking in Freedom

Galatians 5:1 says It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The word slavery in that verse means bondage. Bondage is anything that keeps us from enjoying the freedom that Christ has given us. Paul implies that we can accept God's free gift of salvation and still live under bondage. Salvation opens the prison door for us, but we must choose to walk outside of the prison walls and LIVE in freedom. Why did Christ set us free according to Galatians 5:1? For freedom. Christ does not want us living under the burden of bondage in our life. It all begins with a choice. We must choose to surrender whatever it is we are holding on to (or that is holding on to us) and walk in the freedom that Christ purchased for us. After surrender comes submission. We must submit to God's will for our lives. Where do we start? By studying His word. Psalms 119:45 says, I walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The Word of God is 100% true and it is the way to our freedom. The more we allow God's truth to penetrate our heart and soul, the more freedom we will experience in our lives. I encourage you to dig into the Word of God. Let it take root in your life and remember that it is for freedom that Christ has set you free so stand firm and don't let yourself be burdened by the yoke of slavery. Be blessed to know that freedom is within your grasp.


A Tribute to Johnny

It's been several weeks since I posted anything new. Life has been a little busy lately. I have just returned home from Colorado where I spent two weeks with my family celebrating my oldest nephew's graduation from high school. High School graduations are always inspiring but I don't think I have ever attended one as uplifting and gratifying as this one. You see my nephew, Johnny, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in February of this year. With the diagnosis came the realization that his goal of obtaining first place in the state track meet was probably going to go unrealized. He has trained relentlessly for two years improving his technique and his time with the goal of winning state his senior year of high school. Needless to say, once chemotherapy started his strength and his energy deteriorated to the point where he could not even practice with the team. He had to sit back and watch his younger brother continue to train and ultimately take fifth place in the Colorado state track meet. I don't think Jacob had a bigger fan than his older brother. Johnny encouraged his brother and was truly excited for him and his success. Even though his senior year did not end the way he had anticipated, I could not be prouder of him. On the night of his graduation, he stepped up to the podium and gave a eloquent speech thanking his family, his teachers, his friends and challenging us all to never give up and to always trust God. Of course, we were all in tears. What God has done in his life in eighteen short years is truly amazing and I am excited about what is still to come for him. His chemotherapy treatments are done and his cancer is gone. He still has radiation treatments ahead of him, but I am confident that God will complete His perfect work in Johnny's life - just as He will in all our lives. God has blessed me with a nephew who is a beautiful reminder to me that we have a God who loves us and who will see us through even the worst of circumstances. I pray that you will rest in the truth of God's word that "blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence." Jeremiah 17:7. Amen.


With Gratitude

We have just finished our seventh Women's Seminar at The Church at Winder, and I am still basking in the glory of God's love, provision, and care for His people. God truly met with us this weekend and I could never begin to name all the people who were such a huge part of this ministry outreach. I am truly humbled and honored to serve alongside all of you and I am blessed that God has placed you in my life. At this time, we have reached a fork in the road and are seeking God's wisdom about how to proceed. I have felt God's clear leading that this year was my last as director, but I am very excited about what God will do next. We know that God will continue to guide our women's seminars and use them to bring glory to His holy name. Join with me in praying for future fulfillment of this vision. I am grateful for each person God has brought into my life as a result of our seminar, but I am most grateful for the facets of my Lord that He has shown me as I worked diligently to honor Him through these weekends. As women, we must constantly remind ourselves that we are beautiful in His eyes. It is my prayer that our seminars have reinforced the truth of God's love to each woman who attended. I know that His word is true and that as you and I delight ourselves in Him, he will indeed give us the desires of our heart. Thank you to everyone who worked, attended, taught, sang, danced, and served, but most importantly, I am grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who made it all possible - falling in love with Him is the best thing I have ever done.


Trust in the Lord

We have all read, heard, and memorized Proverbs 3:5-6, but have we really let it sink in deep inside our heart. Have we personalized it? It is easy to tell others to trust in the Lord, but when it comes to our own lives, have we truly decided to trust in the Lord with ALL our heart? God has taught me a powerful lesson in trust over the past few weeks. Just when I think I have it figured out, a test comes, and guess what? I fail. Praise the Lord that He does not throw me away when I fail to trust Him. No, he gently shows me where I am leaning on my own understanding. Then, he mercifully leads me to the path of trust once again. Many of you know what I am talking about. God gives us a promise, and we trust Him to fulfill it. But when it doesn't come in our timing or in our way, we start to lean to our own understanding and we try to make the promise come true on our own. Reminds me of a lady named Sarah who was promised a child and when it didn't happen in her timeframe, she figured out a "better" way. We know now that her "better" way was a disaster - a disaster that is stil bearing fruit in our world today. I pray that we will learn from Sarah's choices that trusting in God is always the best way. Personalize Proverbs 3:5-6, write it out, and post it in a place where you can see it everyday. TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL MY HEART. LEAN NOT TO MY OWN UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL MY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM AND HE WILL DIRECT MY PATHS. Keep trusting in Him and I promise He will direct your path, and His direction is always best.


The Power of our Words

I am in the middle of a new Bible study by Priscilla Shirer entitled,
Can We Talk? The first week was on the power of tongue. Oh, no, I thought, why do we have to start there? We all know that great fires are started from small sparks and yet when it comes to our words, we forget the powerful impact they have in our lives. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Nineteen words that pack a powerful punch. We can choose to speak death or we can choose to speak life - it's within the power of our tongue. Think about all the words you speak in the course of one day. How many bring life and how many bring death? I know from experience that I can tell immediately when my words have encouraged someone. On the other hand (and to my regret), I can also tell immediately when my words have brought discouragement to someone. How many times I have longed to take back words spoken in haste, but once the spark is lit, the fire is hard to contain. One thing that we can always count on to encourage and bring life is the word of God. Speaking God's word aloud is a powerful tool that is always at our disposal. Try it sometime. Open the Bible to your favorite verse or passage of Scripture and begin reading it aloud. There is tremendous power in the spoken Word. The Word of God brings life and speaking it out loud over your children, your spouse, your family and yourself has more value than you may realize. According to Proverbs 18 we will eat the fruit of our words. I don't know about you, but I would prefer that fruit be pleasant and sweet not bitter and sour. Keeping our tongue tame is not easy (see James 3), but with God's help we can begin to be more constructive with our words and less destructive. Fill your mouth with words of life, words of praise, and words of encouragement, and you will have less room for words of death, defeat, and discouragement. Like Priscilla says, "The praises of God cannot fit in a mouth that is already filled with other things." May our words be few but life-giving.


God of the Details

What a wonderful Easter celebration we had. I pray that each of you celebrated Easter with a heart full of gratitude to our Wonderful Savior. As I pored over the gospels in preparation for Easter, I was reminded that our God is a God of the details. Each and every prophecy that had been proclaimed about the death and resurrection of Jesus was fulfilled - to the smallest detail. Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial, the beating, the mocking, the gambling, the crown of thorns, the crucifixion, the death, the resurrection, everything happened just as God had said -down to the tiniest detail. Let's just look at one detail - the sign posted on the cross. Seems kind of insignificant, doesn't it? John's gospel tells us that Pilate had a sign made that read "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." He asked that it be written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek and hung on the cross with Jesus. When the religious leaders asked Pilate to change the wording of the sign, he dismissed them. This was the same Pilate who gave in to their plan to crucify Jesus, but on this issue, he stood firm. So, the sign was posted for all to see and all to read. Why? Because our God is into the details. In His perfect plan, God knew that this sign was one more way He would confirm to the world the authenticity of His Son. It was no accident that it was written in three different languages. Aramaic was the language of the Jews. Latin was the official language of Rome. Greek was the common language of the people in the Roman empire. Thus, everyone who gathered in Jerusalem that day would be able to understand what was written on that sign. What an awesomely deliberate God we serve! What He has said, He will do and He will do it completely. You don't have to worry that God has forgotten you or that He is leaving you hanging. No, be encouraged to know that what He has started in your life, He will finish (Phillippians 1:6) because that's the kind of God He is. He leaves nothing to chance. When He makes a plan, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will work that plan to fruition. He even makes sure that the smallest details are accomplished according to His will. Praise God that He is a God of the details!


The Passion Week

This week is commemorated around the world as the week of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His last supper with his disciples, His prayer of surrender in the garden, and His beating, crucifixion, and death. May we never lose sight of all that Christ endured so that we could be free. Many times, we come to these special seasons without taking the time to properly remember them. The beauty and significance of Christ's final week becomes lost in the shuffle of Easter egg hunts, shopping for new outfits, preparing lunch for family, and the list goes on. This year may we purpose to take time out of our busy schedules and just be still in His presence. Take some time to read each of the four gospel accounts of Jesus' final week on earth. Ask God to show you something new about our Savior as you read. The Easter story is so rich and significant and it should never become just another day or event that we celebrate. It is the fulfillment of God's great redemption plan. Jesus Christ was the lamb who was slain to take away the sins of the world. When Christ began His journey to Jerusalem that final week, he sent Peter and John ahead to prepare the place for the Passover Meal. Preparing for the Passover was a huge undertaking and I often wonder if Peter and John understood that this was not just another annual celebration, no, this was THE Passover Lamb sitting down at the table with them. The Jewish celebration of Passover has such rich meaning and I challenge you to research it yourself if you haven't already. Imagine Christ in the father role re-telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, dipping his finger into the cup of deliverance and recounting the 10 plagues that befell Egypt. Can you imagine his emotions as he recounted that tenth plague when the death angel passed over every house covered by the blood of the lamb? When the meal was over and it was time to drink from the third cup - the cup of redemption, Christ instituted a new practice. It is the cup of redemption that is the new covenant in His blood. In Exodus 6, God told Moses that He would redeem Israel with an outstretched arm. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see Christ fulfill that promise to the uttermost. With an outstretched arm against a wooden cross, he offers full redemption to anyone who will believe. Celebrate Christ this Easter - our great Redeemer.


The Christ of God

This week, let's take a close look at Luke 9:28-36 - the transfiguration of Christ. How can we apply this phenomenal event to our own relationship of Christ? While we may not understand nor can we fully grasp all that took place on that mountain that day, I believe that one of the main things God is saying through this event is that He wants to readjust our vision of Him. To see Christ transfigured before us requires that we be willing to receive all that God wants to reveal. The more we are willing to receive the more He will reveal to us. Colossians 2:2-3 says,"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." You can know that your spiritual vision is being properly adjusted when you come to see Christ alone. Once Peter, James, and John were fully awake, Elijah and Moses disappeared and they saw Jesus alone. In our busy world full of responsibilities, schedules, and distractions, it is easy to let our vision of Christ become obscured, so we must make a conscious effort each and every day to keep our focus on Christ first and foremost. To me, one of the most important parts of the transfiguration was the voice of God. Luke 9:35 says, "A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen, LISTEN TO HIM.'" I added the capital letters because I believe that God spoke those words with extra volume. When our spiritual vision is being readjusted our hearing is as vital as our sight. As we keep our ears and eyes open to the voice and vision of Christ, we will see Him transfigured in our own lives. May God shatter your present perspective and reveal Himself to you as bigger, greater, and more powerful than anything you could imagine.


Ladies Night Out

For April, our Ladies Night Out will be a special time of ministry by Angela Thomas. We will leave the church at 5:30PM, pick up a quick bite to eat on the way, and travel to Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula. Angela is a gifted speaker and teacher. If you have never heard her before, don't miss this exciting opportunity. Call the church office at 770-867-8888 if you would like to go. Deadline to sign up is
April 20th.


The With Us God

This week in our class, we began a four-part series on Jesus, the One and Only based on the Bible study by Beth Moore. On Sunday, we focused on Jesus' birth and childhood. We have all read the nativity story and sometimes it becomes routine and mundane and we miss the beauty and mystery of God becoming "flesh and dwelling among us." Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies that had been told for years about the coming Messiah. We won't recount them all but one bears repeating. Matthew 1:22-23 says, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel' which means God with us." The Greek word Emmanuel is translated from the Hebrew Immanu'el. El means God. The rest of the word means with us. Literally, the terms means the with us God. Amazing how a little word reversal can bring such a big impact. He is a with us God. Think about it. Wherever you may be in your life - whatever season you may currently be walking through - Jesus is with you. He is the "with" of God. AMEN. Be blessed in knowing that whatever need you have, Jesus has the answer. He is Emmanuel, the with us God.


Close to His Heart

Every lady is invited to attend our seventh annual Women's Seminar. This year's theme is Close to His Heart and will feature three dynamic topics ~ His Heart: A place of Satisfaction, His Heart: A place of Safety, and His Heart: A place of Strength. Call the church office at 770-867-8888 to register or learn more.


Entangling Relationships

This week in our Beth Moore study When Godly People do Ungodly Things we talked about entangling relationships. I think it really hits home - especially in today's society. Unhealthy relationships are rampant. We are wise to ask God if we are in an entangling relationship with anyone. Entangling relationships can be costly. When we are desperate for someone else's approval, we are in an entangling relationship. When we are looking to someone else to fill needs in our life that only Christ can meet, we are in an entangling relationship. To untangle unhealthy relationships is hard work, but it is not without benefits. As we begin to untangle our relationships, we will find freedom and peace. We must do our part to make sure all our relationships are balanced and healthy. Even if the other person in the relationship never changes, we can change. Remember that the most important relationship we have is horizontal - the relationship between us and Christ. Once that relationship is right, the vertical relationships in our life will begin to work correctly.


Thank You!

Dear Ladies,

I am still overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity to me at Christmas! I am blessed by each of you all year long, not just at Christmas. I love my new Bible! I have already started making it mine. The pages are so fresh and new that it made writing in it a little hard, but I got over it. I will treasure this Bible forever because it came from you. I can’t wait to use the manicure/pedicure certificate and the Hallmark card. You really went over the top, and I am very grateful.
The generous soul will be made rich, and she who waters will also herself be watered. Proverbs 11:25
I look forward to serving God with you this year. My prayer for our ladies comes from Ephesians 1:15 – 19 which says,
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

You are greatly loved,