Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | May 6, 2021

Privileged

“For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”   Galatians 3:26-28

There’s a lot of talk these days about “privilege,” defined by Merriam-Webster.com as “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.” The current narrative, of course, has to do with immutable characteristics (i.e., melanin level). But I want to focus on this weighty word as it pertains to all Christians. Because, sisters, Christians are the truly privileged of this world.

You might be shaking your head as your mind goes right to the millions of persecuted believers around the world—greater numbers now than ever. And “privileged” may not be the word you’d use to describe the countless (and media-ignored) Christians martyred daily for their faith in Jesus. Then there’s our own nation, literally founded on the freedom to worship, currently with shuttered churches and canceled voices. So, are followers of Jesus Christ truly “privileged”? Here are the top three reasons why that answer is a resounding YES.

  1. We have the Bible—whole, complete, inerrant.

The longer we study God’s Word, the clearer it becomes…there is only one theme throughout all 66 books: Jesus. The whole Old Testament points to the coming Messiah, from the Fall in the Garden to John the Baptist. And though God’s faithful prophets predicted the coming sufferings and glories of Christ, they could only look ahead in hope, knowing they were preaching something they would not experience (1 Peter 1:10-12). Even New Testament believers, although they had the message of the first missionaries and powerful letters being sent from church to church, they did not have a complete living and powerful word (Hebrews 4:12).

 

  1. We have the Holy Spirit living in us to comfort, convict, and control us.

Upon salvation (the recognition of our sin leading to repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ completed work on the cross for us), we are immediately indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit—God Himself is living in us. He is our helper and teacher (John 14:26), our strength and intercessor (Romans 8:26). The more we surrender ourselves to Him, the more we can reflect the love of God to our foolish and hostile world (Galatians 5:22-23).

 

  1. We have our identity in Christ.

As a Christian, we each have become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). We are children of God (John 1:12) and the friend of Jesus (John 15:15). Our life is hidden in Christ (Col 3:3)—our sin covered completely by His righteousness so we can ultimately stand unashamed and unblemished before a Holy God.

 

Sisters, we are all, by definition, privileged. Because of Jesus, we have “immunity” from the sufferings of hell. We have the “advantage” of God living in us as we walk through this world. And we are, in fact, “favored”: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

 

“Father, thank you for the gift of salvation, giving me the Holy privilege to be called Your daughter—the child of the King.”

 

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | May 5, 2021

Hope Has A Name

“I pray 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 his holy people,”      (Ephesians 1:18, NIV)

“He’s a loving Father.  Just as an earthly father cares for his children, how much more will your Heavenly Father do for you.”

It’s a common analogy that preachers use when explaining the attributes of God, comparing Him to a loving Father.

But what about the children whose father passed away when they were little?  Or the ones whose father walked out on them?  Consider the ones who had a father in their life, but he was emotionally distant or abusive.  It’s hard to imagine something you’ve never had.

When I was little, my Grandma Edith was a special person in my life. She was always talking about this man named Jesus.  Telling me how I could be anything in Him.

When she died a lot of things in my life changed.  I remember walking by myself to church after her death.  I heard the preacher say – –

“Do you need a friend, let Jesus be the friend who will never leave you?”

 “Do you need hope that life can be different?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – Jesus as a friend?  Jesus offers Hope?

I’d heard him talked about before as a loving father, but I had a hard time relating to that. Growing up my Dad was an angry person.  It was best to stay out of his way when he was home.  I never knew what to expect when he walked through the door.

After Grandma died, I desperately needed a friend and hope that life could be different from what I knew.

After hearing that hope had a name – it was the name of Jesus; I went forward that day at the altar call.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior and my friend. Jesus was the Hope I had been looking for.

When a father dies, there’s usually an inheritance left behind.  When Jesus died on the cross for us, He left us the best inheritance of all.  We’re quick to think about the glorious future of resurrection, and eternal life with him.  Yet, we often overlook the fact that He gives us hope for this life.

Sometimes it seems that life is stacked against us. Focusing on what you don’t have can leave you feeling very hopeless.

Be assured that what you have in Jesus, our Hope is greater than the things you don’t have. He’s able to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever ask for.  (Ephesians 3:20)

That little girl could have never imagined the life I have now.

“Dear Jesus, we thank you today that we have an inheritance through you.  We are your daughters’. Because of you we have victory in this life.  You are our Waymaker!”

 

For His Glory

Laura Holmes www.ephraimministries.org
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | May 4, 2021

Restoring Joy

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:12

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been a bit bummed out lately. And I have no excuse, really. Sure, my family has a current challenges and struggles (like most people these days), but, overall, we are so very blessed. Although some physical pain nags me, I am able to work to provide for our needs. We live in a comfortable home in an amazing community, and we are part of an incredible, Bible-believing church.

So, why the melancholy? Well, it could be that whenever I tune in to what’s going on in our nation and world, a flood of negative emotions rushes in. Maybe it’s because I work from home all day in my little bubble, and when I venture out, I’m smacked in the face by a dystopian reality rapidly growing around me. So, despite being in the Word daily and worshipping with others twice a week, the pops of joy and peace seem way too short lived.

But David’s prayer in Psalm 51 was brought to mind, and his words washed over my soul: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (verse 12a). Now, “joy” is a great word study in the Bible—Old and New Testament. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)…Joy is to be lived out as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)…We are to count it joy when we suffer trials (James 1:2)…Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2)…And we are exhorted to have joy (rejoice) always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

As inspiring and convicting as these (and the hundreds of others) “joy” references in God’s Word are, they can each leave us hanging with an all-important question: How do we embrace—and live out—Biblical joy? This is where David’s prayer comes in.

As believers, we have a reason to celebrate that trumps anything this life could provide. It eclipses the most amazing family events, career experiences, vacations, and worldly “stuff”—all momentary things. Sister, we have been given the greatest gift imaginable. Jesus has paid the price for our sin and handed us His righteousness. Our salvation has set us free, making us a new creation in Christ. There is no greater miracle—and no better reason for joy.

No matter the highs or lows of this life, embracing the joy of our salvation creates a soul-level undercurrent of satisfaction. See, apart from Jesus, this world, from the heights of its glitter to the depths of its folly, is as good as it gets. But once we give our life to Him, we are simply on our way Home. The beauty around us is an infinitesimal taste of Heaven, and our pain and trouble are “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 4:17) in the view of eternity.

Because of our faith in Jesus, we have a confident hope within us setting a foundation of everlasting joy. So, as we walk through this temporary world full of eternal souls, let’s not only grasp tightly to the joy of our own salvation, let’s share the Good News with others…and spread the joy.

“Father, restore to me the joy of Your salvation, reminding me daily my reason for hope and stirring me to tell others.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | May 3, 2021

Living Clean

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25 (ESV)

Saturdays are usually defined as “me” days especially if it’s a Spring/Summer day.  But last week’s Saturday cloudy, rainy weather kept me inside.  And since it was Spring and cleaning needed to be the vibe – I spent four hours in my bathroom. Yes, you got it!  Four long hours in a small bathroom scouring everything from top to bottom.  Reorganizing everything.  I ended up with two big bags of trash, exhaustion and one perfectly cleaned bathroom.

Never realized so much dust could cling to my plantation blinds and mold living within the confines of my washing machine.  Needless to say, I took extra allergy meds and wore my mask to avoid breathing in all those things I’m allergic to.  To be honest, there were many moments when I wanted to stop and skip over the dust on the light globes because no one could see it or skip over cleaning out the parts of the machine where detergent goes. But nothing felt better than walking back in that room and breathing in clean.

Avoidance and busyness found me doing surface cleaning – what was necessary to the visible eye but wow was there a lot under the surface. Find this to be so true about our lives.  We do necessary emotional/spiritual maintenance to get by, but often fail to look deep and get under the surface.

Sin especially loves to hibernate under the surface….it’s one of those tricks from the enemy which convinces us we don’t need to go deep. Or worse yet, we settle for an outward false appearance of clean when we know inside our hearts are far from God.  And what a lie it is. Blinded by our perceived view of clean, we fail to confess the sins staring us in the face. Our false clean and quick judgement of others depicts a “holier than thou” stance.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When we don’t dig deep and confess sin, it will simply manifest itself in a bigger way.  Plus cherished sins create distance in our relationship with God, they serve as pray blockers and hinder our growth.  All yuck we don’t want in our lives right?

Nothing is harder and yet feels better than breathing in confession and clean living.  So thankful for His forgiveness and grace in moments when “me” unveils the real “flesh me.”  Desiring His view of my sins rather than my own – leaving excuses at His feet and walking way forgiven – clean never felt better!

“Father thank You for the incredible gift of grace and forgiveness.  Help me to avoid the trap and lies of the enemy convincing me I’m clean enough.  Remove the scales from my eyes and help me to dig deep, confess and live clean.”

 

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 30, 2021

In The Waiting

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6

Our house has a small front porch with an overhanging roof.  A white column supports one end of the overhang, and several bird families have declared the top of the column to be the best place to build a nest.  Over the years, we’ve had a front row seat for watching our feathered friends build their nests, raise their young, and encourage their fledglings to take their first flight.

A few days ago, we noticed that an old nest built by barn swallows was taken over by a familiar pair of house finch.  The birds spent the day adding twigs and feathers to the muddy nest, and soon the mother bird filled the nest with eggs.  For the next few weeks, the mother bird’s only task is to sit on the eggs and wait for them to hatch.

Not too long after the eggs had been laid, I caught glimpse of a tender act of love: the father bird had brought a worm to the mother bird, and she was delighted!  The father bird knew that the mother bird needed nourishment while she waited.  He provided for her when she needed it the most!

Isn’t that a wonderful picture of God’s love for us?  In our own seasons of waiting, God knows our needs.  He knows that waiting can be long, lonely, and discouraging.  The good news is that if we put our hope in God, He will give us refreshment while we wait.

In Psalm 130:5, the author states that while he waits on the Lord, he puts his hope in God’s word.  The Bible tells us that God gives us strength when we are weak (Isaiah 40:31), He gives us rest when we are weary (Matthew 11:28-30), He turns our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11), and He gives us a citizenship in Heaven (Philippians 3:20-21).  All of these promises provide such sweet nourishment during our seasons of waiting!

Not only does the psalmist put his hope in God’s word, he compares waiting to a watchman who waits for the morning.  During biblical times, watchmen guarded a city at night for potential threats.  They stayed up all night long waiting for the dawn, for they knew that the sun was guaranteed to rise.  In Psalm 130:6, the psalmist stated that he waited on God more than watchmen waited for the morning.  In other words, he really believed that God would do what he said he would do!  May we learn to wait on God as if we are watchmen expecting the dawn, knowing that God’s word is true.

“Lord, help us turn to You and Your word during times of waiting.  Teach us to wait with expectant hope, so that we can receive Your refreshment.”
For His Glory

Aubrey Carrales
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 29, 2021

Unbound

“Out came the man who had died, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:44

Don’t you love it when rereading a familiar Bible passage reveals new insights into God’s amazing grace? Most Christians probably know the account of when Jesus resurrected His friend Lazarus from the grave. This powerful chapter in John’s gospel includes one of our Lord’s bold—and crystal clear—declarations that He is the Christ, the Son of God…the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-27). Amen!

Beyond the proclamation of who Jesus is, this chapter has much to say about who we are. This is what struck me afresh. We are like Lazarus. As fallen humanity, we were all dead in our sins (Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:1). We were bound up in our own depravity and failures, despite our best efforts. And, although we go to great lengths to cover ourselves in spices (good deeds) and wrappings (the trappings this world), we still wreak of death.

But Jesus has called us out of our grave! And when we accept that call of the Savior, we can walk away from our past, trading a life in darkness for one in His glorious light (1 Peter 2:9). We are made alive in Him, not just now but for eternity (John 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13).

Then, there are two little words in the account that leapt off the page to me. Well, these words aren’t “little” at all, but rather a command from the Creator of the Universe Himself. Jesus says, “Unbind him” (vs. 44). Do you get this? When we are called out of the mess of our self-centered, idol-worshipping proverbial grave, we are not only given new life, we are set free (John 8:36)! In my sanctified imagination, I picture Jesus delivering those two words with His eyes piercing my very soul…but, sweet sister, He’s talking directly to the enemy, Satan.

When we trust the Lord, surrendering everything to Him, Jesus’ victory is ours. We are hidden in Christ (Col 3:3) and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-29). Satan has no more power over us. Sure, he does his best to condemn us—but there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). He’ll pull out every tool from his evil arsenal to trip us up, soil our testimony, and keep us from telling others about Jesus. But he’s already lost his grip on our soul.

We have been unbound.

What about you? You don’t have to stay wrapped in the stench of sin and death. Jesus is calling you out of your grave. Take the step toward life in Christ and be free.

“Father, if there is anyone reading this who has not accepted the gift of eternal life, I pray you call them out of their grave to new life.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 28, 2021

Thou Anointest My Head With Oil

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

David wrote Psalm 23 as a metaphor guiding the reader to see the Lord as having traits like that of a shepherd.  David had spent his younger years caring for sheep.  Sheep were a huge part of the economy. He knew how valuable they were.  He also understood how vulnerable they were to predators (large and small) and needed to be protected.

One of the reasons the shepherd anoints the sheep with oil was to protect them from flies, gnats and parasites.  The shepherd would make sure that the oil would run around the sheep’s eyes, ears, and noses. A sheep could break its’ own skull while trying to seek relief from these brain-eating parasites.  When the shepherd applied oil, it brought peace to the sheep.  An instant barrier of protection against the evil trying to destroy them.

A shepherd also knows that sometimes sheep will clash with each other. Often the males butted heads. He couldn’t stop them from clashing, but the oil would allow their heads to bounce off without doing a lot of harm to each other.

David writes about the Lord putting him in a place before his enemies and his head being covered by oil.  I don’t know about you but when I have to be around my enemies, I want to look my best. I’m not sure having a greasy head would be it.

But I believe David was trying to teach us a deeper lesson.

Have you ever been in a hurtful situation in life?  Feeling mistreated? Are you butting your head against the wall (like sheep) trying to get relief from what’s taking place in your life?

Just like the sheep had enemies that caused them great mental anguish so do we as children of God. You are even more important than sheep in God’s economy.  When life and others mistreat you, He is there.

The prophet Isaiah also tells us that when we focus on Jesus, he will keep our minds in perfect peace. He is our oil that gives immediate relief.  We just simply call on the name of Jesus. Demons flee at the sound of His name.  The blood of Jesus protects us from those parasites after our soul.

It’s also important to note that David didn’t write about what God was doing in the presence of his friends, but his enemies.  David was rejoicing that the Lord had placed him in a position to where he was sitting at a table with his enemies and felt perfect peace.  “Thou anointest my head with oil.” (Psalm 23:5-6)

You can have peace in the midst of great heartache.

 

“Father, you are our shepherd.  Remind us today that we can call on Jesus our instant barrier of protection from the evil that tries to destroy us.”

For His Glory,

Laura Holmes www.ephraimministries.org
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 27, 2021

Keep It Simple

“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25b

My Bible reading this morning brought me to one of my favorite places: the ninth chapter of John’s gospel. If you’ve read the gospels, the story here is probably familiar to you—it’s when Jesus heals the blind man on the Sabbath by making clay for his eyes and having him wash in one of the temple pools. There is so much to unpack in every word and action. But one reason it’s so special to me is that, after 30 years of churchgoing, this was this passage that finally opened my own eyes to the Truth of Jesus Christ.

This man’s entire life was transformed by Jesus, yet no one celebrates with him. Instead, they were too busy worried about the fact that his healing took place on the Sabbath—and whether or not the One who healed him sinned because of it. But this guy’s responses to the whole thing were awesome. (Some of his retorts to the Pharisees were rather snarky, so maybe that’s why I like him so much.)

First, his neighbors were quarrelling among themselves whether this was actually the blind guy whom they knew to be a lifelong beggar. When they asked him directly, he simply told them what happened, which no one could argue or deny (v11). Probably out of fear, they brought him to the Pharisees—no work (including healing) allowed on the Sabbath, and rules were rules. And when the Pharisees asked and he told them what happened, they didn’t believe that he was once blind. So, they sent for his parents, who did confirm he was their son and that he was born blind. But because they were also fearful of the Pharisees, they left it at that, saying, “He’s an adult, ask him!”

When the Pharisees turned back to the (likely exasperated) healed man, demanding he agree that Jesus was a sinner, he gives the most concise and eloquent response: “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (vs 25).

Sister, if you are a Christian, this is your testimony too. It’s mine. And it belongs to every believer, regardless of where, when, or how we surrendered to Jesus as Lord. We were once blind to the Truth, and now our eyes have been opened. This is an indisputable fact, a powerful evangelism tool we each possess to share the Good News with others. No theology or apologetics degree required. Of course, we must always be maturing in our walk with the Lord. And we need to know God’s Word and be ready to provide an answer for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).

But whether we’re talking to someone who’s never heard the name of Jesus (like the healed man’s neighbors) or to a belligerent, vitriolic hater (like the Pharisees), this simple—and profound, lifechanging—truth is an irrefutable place to start. No fear required. “I once was blind, but now I see.”

“Lord, You rescued me, opening my eyes to Your grace, mercy, and love. May I confidently share my testimony with others, so You may do the same for them.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 26, 2021

It’s Not All About Me

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I (God) will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 (NIV)

They did this just for me – wow!  The best seat on the front row was saved just for me.  The song was meant for me.   Prettiest sunrise ever just for me.  We love to personalize everything and make it all about us.  Isn’t that our default.  We fall into making it all about us so easily without even trying hard. Been ever so guilty of the “it’s all about me” syndrome.

Hate to burst our bubble here – but it isn’t all about us.  Found myself unpacking this revelation just the other day.

Sunday school flannelgraph was my fave and my teacher could really tell a great story.  The visuals on that board captivated my attention and left a permanent image in my mind. Noah, his family and all those animals doing life in the ark rocking back and forth. God opening wide the door and then painting the most gorgeous rainbow in the sky.

Noah’s pre-flood world was wicked, corrupt and full of violence.  Because he walked faithfully with his God, Noah and his family were spared (Genesis 6:9) from the devastating floodwaters.  Can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear the screams and the rushing waters outside the ark.  To realize you, your family and all these animals are all that is left. Divine favor, heartfelt gratitude and reverential awe would definitely flow from my lips.

Can’t even tell you how many rainbows I’ve seen after the storm.  Each one uniquely different and radiant.  Have to admit I thought this string of pastels painting the sky was all meant for me.  A reminder of God’s promise to me that He would never again destroy the whole world by flood . A sign of God’s unconditional covenant promise (Noahic covenant) to me.

But it’s not all about me or you – it was for God too!

Our Creator sealed His covenant (divine charter) with a beauty only He could design – a dazzling bow arched across the sky.  Genesis 9 details God’s conversation with Noah emphasizing His promise and commitment to Noah and his descendants.  He, the Faithful One, would see the rainbow and remember His everlasting covenant to us and all living creatures.  And just in case Noah didn’t get it, God repeated his covenant promise numerous times.  Perhaps it was to alleviate any fear Noah may have about the flood that devastated the earth. Maybe it was to reassure him of God’s love and presence. Regardless God knew Noah’s mind and heart so He didn’t leave anything unanswered – He gave Noah exactly what He needed – total assurance.

Love gazing up into the sky, after a storm,  and being reminded that God is remembering His covenant with us.  Love knowing His reassurance and promises are everlasting.  We have exactly what we need.

“Father, Your word is faithful, true,  and trustworthy.  Your promises and covenants with Your people are everlasting.  We have no reason to doubt.”

For  His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 23, 2021

Beauty In The Desert

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.” Isaiah 35:1 (NIV)

 

In early April 2021, I had the privilege to travel to Tucson, Arizona, to spend Easter with my oldest son and his family. I went for morning walks while there and went on car rides with my family to do typical tourist sightseeing. I was in awe of all the desert beauty.

I ended up with hundreds of photos on my iPhone. I was impressed by the vast variety of cacti, or cactuses. From round, bulky, short plants, to long, tall ones, achieving several feet in height, they were all deserving of my attention. Some even had colorful blooms on them. Magnificent, different, and beautiful were those plants, with lots of thorns all over them. Yes, thorns. If one were to fall against a cactus plant, the encounter would not be pleasant, and would, undoubtedly, leave some scars.

I went up a mountain with my brood to watch the breathtaking sunset, and I could not stop admiring all the rocks, plants, tree stumps and other desert vegetation. Everything was beginning to show the signs of Spring. And I could not stop praising God for creating them all for me to enjoy at that time.

To cross a desert on foot without the proper necessities to maintain one alive, such as food and water, would be a voyage that no one would volunteer to embark upon. In our lives, the difficult times or tribulations that we often go through are referred to as “deserts,” exactly because during those times we are needy of God’s attention and help for us to be able to survive the journey.

The beauty I experienced at the Arizona desert served as a reminder to me that it does not matter if we are in the desert and all is dry. There is always a lesson to be learned amidst the mountains, rocks, the sand, and the typical plants. It is the same God that cares for us in the desert as when we are elsewhere.

 

“Dear Lord, thank You for the many reminders You give to us that no matter where we are, like the cacti in the desert, we will stand tall.”

 For His Glory

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

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