Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 26, 2022

When “Off” Defines Us

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway? The end of a crazy work week welcomes the release of chores and normal routines in exchange for a road trip. And that’s exactly what we did last weekend. Having a change of scenery, splurging on trip food and visiting friends is exactly what we need to recharge our souls. Only problem is – it’s just a weekend trip. The clock ticks fast and before we know it we are headed home. As soon as I opened the door to our house, I was reminded there was a lot I needed to do before Monday morning.

Keeping it real here but starting my week trying to cram and catch up on my weekend list never serves me well. My whole week has felt “off.”  Attempting to recover from just a few days away from home landed me scrambling to stay on top of my schedule. And to add to the list our air conditioning went out Monday as the last days of Summer roared in the upper 80s. Counting down the days until Friday so I can regroup and recoup my “off.” Interesting how being “off” has affected my entire week.

Ever felt “off” not because of a weekend getaway but because of a prolonged getaway from God? Yes, we’ve all probably landed there – moments when we simply excused away our relationship with Him. Busy schedules, disappointments, frustrations, distractions, false truths, unconfessed sin, doubts, bored with our routine – an endless list of ways we get “off” track. Reality is, sometimes we don’t even notice we are out of sync with God until desperation sends us to our knees.

Sweet friends even a slight sense of being “off” in our relationship with God is a wake-up call we should never ignore. It’s those little compromises that land us further away from Him than we ever imagined.

What does “off” look like:

  • Lack of hunger/passion for God’s word
  • No desire to share the gospel
  • Zeroed in on our will vs. God’s will
  • Ignoring self-examination
  • Fellowship with other believers is not important
  • Communing with God in prayer is no longer a priority
  • Settling for the old us vs welcoming God’s transformation

I think we all get the picture….having a heart not centered on the things of God throws us off balance. We easily find ourselves reacting, speaking and thinking in ways that don’t glorify God. And the longer we do life in this mode, the more we miss out on God’s best.

Love the way our God beckons and draws us back into an intimate personal relationship with Him. No matter where we land now, God’s desire is for us to get back on track and enjoy truth satisfaction and joy found only in Him. So if we find ourselves a little “off” right now let’s re-align our hearts with His and reap the blessings of walking daily in His footsteps. It’s a decision we will never regret.

“Father, thank You for welcoming us back with open arms – thank You for your amazing grace that covers all our “off” moments as You patiently wait for our return.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 23, 2022

Trusting During The Fog

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

One of the things I loved the most about living on the mountain is when I drove down to the city; I saw the most magnificent scenery. The Blue Ridge Mountains served as the backdrop to all that lies at the feet of them, including the trees, and – let me not forget to mention, the most beautiful sunsets!

One morning, the fog was so dense that there was very little visibility. I couldn’t even see the building I worked in until I was a couple hundred feet away. Looking out from the balcony, I tried to see the mountains. I was certain, 100% sure that they were exactly where I had seen them over and over again before, but I couldn’t see them. I just had to trust that I knew where they were, and keep on believing that once the fog dissipated, I would be able to see them.

Isn’t this how it happens in life, when our vision gets so cloudy because of the “disturbances” we walk through? Our minds get so crowded with the “fog” of worry, sadness, anxiety, anticipation, agony, sorrow, disappointment, and so many others, that we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many times, we can’t even feel that God is right there with us. During those times when the fog of life is so dense, all we can do is TRUST that it will dissipate, that it will melt in the warmth of the sun and show us all those things which our eyes could not see while it was hovering over the path.

“Dear Lord, God Almighty, King of Heaven, we yield our worries to You today. Whatever it is that is clouding our vision and keeping us from seeing that You are there, please remove it, Lord, and let us see You, even through the fog.”

For His Glory

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 22, 2022

Cats or Daughters

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6  (NET)

We inherited a long-haired orange tabby cat from the previous owner of our house, who abandoned her when he moved out. Although we didn’t want the responsibility of a pet, there she was, and we couldn’t let her starve. That was five years ago, and Buttercup is still hanging around. Actually, she thinks she owns us.

She is happiest outside where she can scratch trees and roam where she pleases. She also prefers to eat her food outside on the back deck, so like inexperienced fools, we were putting her food dish out for her. Then we had neighborhood dogs coming onto the deck, followed later by a skunk and a big, aggressive raccoon. Our next-door neighbor also says there was a bear “as big as a Volkswagen” wandering through her yard recently, which means he was likely in our yard, too. I hope she was exaggerating his size. Either way, putting cat food outside in a dish is obviously a bad idea, a magnet for all kinds of critters.

Now we are trying to get Buttercup to come into the laundry room to eat, but she refuses until she is practically starving. She doesn’t understand why we have suddenly changed her routine. She is clearly irritated and resisting as hard as she can. But if we give into her and put her food outside where she likes it, animals of all descriptions will be on our back deck.

Buttercup is relying on her own understanding. She doesn’t know what we know, because she isn’t capable of reasoning as we do. We know there are dangers she doesn’t comprehend.

Don’t we act the same way when God changes our circumstances, or when He requires us to take on a new, unwelcomed responsibility? We don’t understand His ways, which are higher than our ways. Our limited human brains can’t comprehend what He knows. We have a choice. We can act like Buttercup and fight the change, or we can trust Him and submit to His will like the daughters we are.

Isn’t our best, wisest option to follow His leading?

“Father, when the unpleasant changes come in our lives, remind us of who You are and who we are. Help us to trust you more perfectly and acknowledge You in all our ways.”

For His Glory

Cherie Harbridge Williams
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 21, 2022

The Comforter

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:7-8, ESV)

“What do you mean you’re leaving? How can you leave us now? What will we do without you?”

Imagine the conversation taking place as Jesus was trying to prepare the disciples for what was going to happen. He knew his death on the cross was coming. As they enjoyed their last supper together, He spent time reassuring them that they would not be abandoned. They knew what it was like to spend time with Jesus in person. How could a helper take His place?

In the Old Testament God spoke to mankind directly through visible signs (cloud of smoke by day, pillar of fire at night.) He often spoke directly to prophets in an audible voice leaving no doubt about what He wanted His people to do. (Exodus 3)

However, a new way of communicating with believers became prominent after the resurrection of Christ. Each believer would now have access to God through Jesus. Those who had accepted Jesus as their Savior would have the Holy Spirit as their advocate. He would plead their case to the Father.

Unlike before there would no longer be an audible voice of God speaking to prophets. It would be the still small voice of the Spirit speaking to the hearts of individuals. Drawing them to God and urging them to live wisely. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman though. He doesn’t scream to get his voice heard. It takes effort to turn down the “noise” of our lives to hear Him. When bad choices are made – He convicts us. He never abuses his power though. We always have a choice. When we ignore His leading, we grieve the Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30)

Have you ever been praying and had a sense of peace wash over you? You might have even felt a gentle hug in your spirit. That’s the Holy Spirit being our intercessor – sharing our burdens with Jesus in Heaven. And Jesus through the Holy Spirit comforts us with that “peace that passeth all understanding.”  Our prayer has been heard. We are not alone.

Sometimes life devastates us. We may not know what to pray or we’re unable to pray – we just cry or groan in our spirit. In moments of weakness, the Holy Spirit advocates for us. He understands our tears and turns them into words (prayers) offered up to Jesus on our behalf. (Romans 8:26)

“Lord remind us that even though we can’t see You like the disciples did – You are with us. Teach us to call on the Comforter not the world to ease our pain. Illuminate our prayers with wisdom.”

 

For His Glory

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 20, 2022

Love On Display

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”   Ephesians 2:4-5

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, she knows I love her”? Sometimes this concept is also stated as, “I know he loves me—he doesn’t have to say it all the time.” On the flip side of that coin is a person who tells another person (even frequently), “I love you,” but their attitude and actions are neutral (or worse). The fact is, for someone to truly know we love them, words are not enough. We need to demonstrate our love in ways (big and small), by being helpful, extending grace (giving others kindness that they don’t deserve), and showing mercy (not giving others what they do deserve).

God loves us—He is love (1 John 4:8). We can read all about His love for us from Genesis to Revelation—He tells us clearly using His words. We can also see His love expressed to us through Creation. A breathtaking sunset, the intricacies of a flower, the miracle of a newborn baby. And this is truly amazing and breathtaking.

But did you know, friend, that it is not God’s love for us that reconciles us to Him? His love does not make a way for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven. That may sound strange. But it’s true. God does love us—all of us. We can read it; we can see it. But He demonstrated that love for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent His Son—Jesus—to die on our behalf (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the price for our sin—a price we could never pay—so that we can be righteous, holy, worthy to stand before God. It is this grace and this mercy that saves us from eternal suffering and separation from God. This is God’s love on display.

God does love all of us. And all of us have an opportunity to accept God’s gift of love on display. He loves you. But no matter how much you read about it, see it, or “know” this fact, it’s not enough. If you haven’t said, “Yes” to God’s grace through faith in Jesus, won’t you do that right now?

“Lord, Your love maintains the breath in our lungs and the earth’s rotation…but it’s the demonstration of Your love through Jesus that saves us. Thank You for this gift.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 19, 2022

The Secret To Thriving

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,”  Psalm 92:12-14 (NIV)

Cruising down I-95, I absolutely love the moment when I see palm trees swaying in the breeze. It’s my cue – the beach and Florida warm weather are getting closer. Despite how tired I am of driving, I’m always mesmerized by the view. Majestic, towering trees welcoming me to my fave place.

What makes those trees thrive? Lots of water, probably the reason why palm trees grow in abundance near the ocean.

What makes us thrive? “The closer our hearts, minds and souls are connected to God, the deeper our relationship grows. Relationship + obedience nourishes our souls in abundance. Living in sync with God’s will allows us to flourish – totally mesmerized by His work in us.

Psalm 92 beautifully illustrates how the righteous (doing life in obedience to God) not only flourish but grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Frequently mentioned in scripture, cedar trees were large, aromatic trees growing in abundance in Palestine. Valued for its durability, cedar was used to build the temple and the palaces of David and Solomon.

Sweet friends if we are growing like a cedar, we will be:

A sweet fragrance of God’s love
Able to withstand wear, pressure or damage
Stable – exhibiting enduring faith
Existing for a long time (eternity)

Wow, I never knew being like trees (palm and cedar) could be so appealing, but it is to God. And it all happens when we are planted firmly in our faith. Drawing strength and guidance from God’s word. Aligning our will with His. Seeking to draw close to the source of everything we need. And the best part, verse 14 reminds us that we will still bear fruit in old age – fresh and flourishing. Now if that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

Keeping it real here – aging isn’t exactly what I’m looking forward to – wrinkles, aches and pains. We can often discount the value of a life lived well, but God doesn’t. He knows that despite our calendar age, those who maintain connection with Him will bear an abundance of fresh fruit. No sitting on the sidelines allowed sisters, we are destined to flourish on this earth from our first breath to our last. And the benefit of that ever growing, flourishing life is the sweetest reality that we are glorifying our God.

Oswald Chambers states it well, “A life of intimacy with God is characterized by joy.”   Vibrant and passionately devoted to our God all of our days – can’t think of a better way to live.

“Father, I love the plans You have for each of us to flourish and grow all the days of our life.  Help us to stay connected to You and walk faithfully in obedience.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 16, 2022

The Great I Am

“I Am…” Exodus 3:14

At the burning bush in Exodus 3, God reveals His name to Moses as “I am,” from the Hebrew  root ה.ו.י, which is “being.” The name YHWH derives from the Arabic term for love, desire or passion. Since the beginning, YHWH never had vowels; so it was never Yahweh as normally written or seen in today’s society.

Pronouncing YHWH is simply a breath! Yes…breathing! From the beginning of time, each breath mankind, you and I, take is YHWH. Try this exercise…breathe in (inhale) is YH, breathe out (exhale) is WH. Brilliant! In God’s sovereignty, our very breathing alone declares the name of God. Each and every breathe in and breathe out…YHWH! Without getting too deep into the process of respiration, rest assured all living organisms…humans, plants and animals breathe oxygen. Therefore, all creation testifies to the name of the Lord (Rom. 1:20).

Imagine when we breathe in taking “YH” deep into our lungs knowing the Almighty is encircling our very beings then breathing out “WH” declaring it’s because of YHWH we have our very life (Job 33:14). From the moment of creation, every Christian declaring the goodness of God, every agnostic who is searching and every atheist who doesn’t believe…breathes the same, even if unaware, in testifying to God. There is a mighty God, and His name is YHWH. Quite frankly, how can we take breathing for granted anymore? With each breath, we are made aware of the great I Am!

Our every breath is a simplistic way of realizing God has left NOTHING to chance! For the hurting…He mends. For the lonely…He’s with you. For the abandoned…you’re His. For the lost…He finds. For the weak…He’s strong. For the sick…He’s Healer. For the confused…He’s peace. For the penniless…He’s Provider. For the sinner…you’re forgiven!

Nothing has been left for chance!

“Father, You are the all knowing I Am. You have left no one or our situations to chance. We may suffer for a while, but we’re confident because of Your great love and mercy joy comes one dawning morning.”

 

For His Glory

 

Kim Lacey Shock (www.KimLaceySchock.com)
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 15, 2022

A Puff Of Dust

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”   Revelation 3:5  (NKJV)

When my husband and I moved from Florida to Virginia, we bought a little retirement home on ten acres on the slope of a hill. It’s so unlike our sunbaked house in the Sunshine State. Our land sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and has hundreds of trees on it. We’re at an elevation that seems like a lofty mountaintop to a long-time Florida flatlander. We often sit outside and listen to the birds chirping and the wind whispering through the tops of the trees. We love living here.

The only disadvantage that came with this little spot of heaven is the dusty unpaved road. From the road, the driveway slopes downhill to the house. With every passing vehicle, clouds of dust whoosh up, filling the air, then filter down toward us. We can sit in our deck chairs and watch the gray-brown cloud slowly float down and dissipate, eventually coating our cars and outdoor furniture. Thank God for water hoses.

Look at what the prophet had to say about dust. Jeremiah 17:13 says, “…Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord…”

Imagine taking a stick and writing someone’s name on our road. The first puff of wind would blow that name away, to be seen no more. If there were no wind, the first car that came along would obliterate the name. And if there were no cars, the first passing dog would leave tracks, making the name impossible to read. That’s a pretty good illustration of having your name written in the dust. That name wouldn’t stand a chance.

Don’t we want to be among the overcomers whose names are in the Book of Life, not in the dust? I want to wear those white garments we’re promised in Revelation and not be concerned with a gust of wind that would take away my name. Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, giving us that assurance that, as overcomers, our names are safely inscribed in the Book of Life.

“Heavenly Father, we thank you that your love and protection are everlasting for those of us who have turned to you as our Savior and Lord. We thank you that we can know our names are in the Book of Life not to be erased, and that we belong to You.”

 

For His Glory

 

Cherie Harbridge Williams
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 14, 2022

One Way Only

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)

 “God is in everything. There are many paths to Him.”

WAIT. What did I just hear? My heart sank a little.

I had looked up to this person. Listened to them teach the Bible for over twenty years. I have dozens of their books in my office. I couldn’t believe that they were now sitting on a TV talk show and saying these words.

This person was talking about the message of inclusion. It started off sounding wonderful. Saying things like we should love everyone and treat everyone the same. But then it took a dangerous turn.

Inclusion has become the new mantra of our time.

But the message of inclusion sweeping across our land has a deeper meaning and a spiritual agenda.

In the book of Revelation, John warns us about how there is coming a time in our history when our society will be pushed into one global government. Inclusion is the message at the forefront of global minded thinking – urging us to be inclusive towards others.

The world would have us believe that if we just love everyone, we can do whatever we want and believe in any type of god – everyone goes to heaven. Inclusion says come as you are and stay as you are.

But let us not be deceived.

Christianity is a message of exclusivity.

We are all God’s creation, but we are not all His children. We become a child of God when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Anyone at any time can come to Jesus, just as they are. Once a person has acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God and confessed their sins – they are saved. Then they begin the process of changing old thinking patterns and walking away from sin.

Christianity isn’t a religion. It is a personal relationship with God.

God doesn’t exclude anyone from having a relationship with Him.

It makes no difference where you are from, what you look like, how much money you make or how many mistakes you have made. Access is open to EVERYONE – this is the only part of the gospel that is inclusive.

God’s Word tells us clearly there is one way only to have a relationship with God and that way is through His Son, Jesus (John 14:6). By simply inviting Jesus into your life, believing He is the Son of God and asking for forgiveness of your sins you too can experience a personal eternal relationship with God. Heaven rejoices every time someone believes. . .there’s still room for one more.

“Father, please help us to not be taken captive by the deception that surrounds us in our society. Help us to hide your Word in our heart so that we can discern the lies of the enemy.”

 

For His Glory,

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

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | September 13, 2022

What’s New?

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The word “new” can be used in a lot of ways. I’m a huge fan of recycled clothes, hitting thrift stores and consignment shops regularly. When I make awesome finds (which I do too often), I have “new” pieces in my wardrobe. This clothing had been purchased and worn by others, but it’s new to me. Maybe you’ve bought a “new car” that was preowned by one or more people—but it’s your new mode of transportation. There are “new-new” cars too, of course, fresh off the factory floor and complete with that new car smell. For all of these things, we have one word in the English language: new.

Other languages have lots of words to a single English word that helps distinguish meanings and differentiate subtleties. New Testament Greek is a wonderful example of this. We see it with the word “love” parsed out into: eros (passion), philia (friendship), storge (family), and agape (unconditional). Also in the New Testament, we find a word for “new” that is completely different. In fact, it means “completely different in quality or kind.” The Greek word “kainos” is used in some form 44 times to describe “new” throughout the New Testament. One of my very favorite verses—2 Corinthians 5:17—uses this word not once, but twice. And the implications are pretty awesome.

First, the definition of this word for new: unprecedented, novel, unheard of; previously non-existent; far different from what they were before; completely new in form or quality.

Upon salvation—our recognition that we’re sinners and our total surrender to Jesus as Lord—we are transformed. Completely. Not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated. We’re resuscitated—we were dead and now we’re alive. We don’t turn over a new leaf, we receive new life in Christ. The “old has passed away”—gone.

Secondly, “new things have come”! What are these new things, exactly, that come to everyone who is transformed by the saving grace of Jesus? Theologian James Butler succinctly delineates three specific new things that occur:

  1. A change in devotion and interests—a saved person will be devoted to Christ and have interests in spiritual things (like a desire for God’s Word).
  2. A change in demeanor and behavior.Reconciliation with God changes everything—our thinking, our words, and our action.
  3. A change in destiny. This is the greatest and most important change. The eternal destiny of the reconciled soul is heaven. The unreconciled soul is headed for eternity in hell.

For three decades, I attempted to make my life “new”—year by year, week by week, day by day. I tried my hardest. I even bargained with God regarding my good/bad list…promising to “do better” next time. But, friend, this effort is impossible on our own—it’s a losing battle because every one of us is wholly unrighteous, fallen. But we can be transformed and made new! And the only “effort” involved is accepting the free gift of God’s grace, salvation through Jesus. When I finally recognized this, everything did indeed change. I was made a new creation, with new devotion, demeanor, and destiny. I finally had peace with God—no more battling against Him. Completely new in form and quality. Not perfect, mind you, but continually growing and maturing in my walk of obedience and holiness.

What about you? Are you done trying to “renew” your life on your own terms and by your own efforts? You can be made new—a new creation in Christ—right now. Just believe that Jesus paid the price for your sin, exchanging His righteousness for your sin, freeing you from the penalty of death and hell. You can stop fighting now, the battle’s been won.

“Lord, if there is just one person reading this who is tired of the struggle to “renew” their life, let them turn to You for rebirth…to be recreated as something entirely new and beautiful.”

 

For His Glory

 

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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