Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 26, 2021

When We Overlook The Obvious

“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.” Proverbs 8:33 (ESV)

Hate to admit it, but I just spent days trying to figure out why I had no audio for anything on my computer. I tried every solution possible. I increased the sound 100% yet could only hear a tiny whisper. Ready to give up, I looked over to where my Bible was on my desk and found the culprit for my sound loss…my headphones were still plugged in. Total frustration wiped out by my own laughter – how could I have overlooked the obvious?

Quite the funny story? Yes. But not so funny if we find our lack of hearing obstructed not by a device but our choice to let selective hearing reign. Bet we’ve all been there when deliberate blockage of what we needed to hear felt better than the sound of truth. Ouch! Yes, moments occur when we chose to ignore, dismiss and turn from the voice we need to heed.

Wonder what God’s been speaking into our hearts lately? Has the truth of His words stirred us toward obedience or have we denied what we didn’t want to do?

Easy to judge other’s obstructions when the finger pointed out should be pointed in. Failing to admit, we attempt to blame anyone and anything for poor choices when we’ve overlooked the obvious – silencing the voice of God removes His blessings.

Yes, we’re all about the benefits and awesomeness of hearing what aligns with our agenda. Obedience isn’t a challenge when it moves us in sync with our plans. But when what we hear seems hard, difficult and contradictory to our perceived “best,” we simply extinguish the sound.

Sweet friend if we truly want His direction, guidance and protection, we must pray for ears that hear, eyes that see and a heart that is willing to be molded towards His ultimate true best. How does our sovereign God speak? Through the unfolding of His word, through godly counsel, through life experiences – God will use whatever it takes to realign our hearing so He can open us up to the divine orchestration of His will.

Whose voice are you listening to? Is it serving you well or placing you in a posture destined for failure, regrets and consequences? Draw near to the One who is already calling your name.

“Father, it so easy to drown out Your voice – to simply unplug from the narrow way when wide seems much better. Help us to cease blocking and tune into Your truth.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 25, 2021

When Moderation Isn’t A Good Thing

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:14

Moderation is a tough thing for me. From my perfectionist and control-freak personality, to my waning addictive tendencies, I am inclined to overdo—not to be moderate. In my BC days (that is, “before Christ”), I would never have used the word “moderation” for my behavior—praise the Lord for redemption and freedom. And, before several injuries (dare I say, Divine injuries) sidelined me, fitness was an idol I worshipped for hours each morning, prioritized over everything else. The battle for food moderation is a thing for me too—always has been. (This was another reason for the whole gym-rat activity—you have to balance your obsessions, am I right?) Then there’s work. I work a lot (present tense), not able to easily turn off that switch, because there are always other things that need to be done “now” and “right.”

When it comes to exercise, food, work, and—for some—even alcohol, we all would probably agree with the adage, “all things in moderation.” I certainly do for most of this list and am in constant pursuit of that philosophical balancing act.

But, for Christians, moderation is not to be chased in all things. There is no moderation of sin. We are fallen humans, living in a fallen world, and we will sin—I’m not saying that. But we are not to find some warped sense of “balance” and rationale in the “acceptable” sins of the world. We are called to be holy and pure (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:22). Believers are called to chase after perfection—not in the control-freaky way I am so familiar with—but that of perfect righteousness. It’s an impossible task, until we are perfected in heaven, but we are to move in that direction. The longer we walk in faith, the sooner we recognize our unrighteous thoughts, words, and actions, asking for forgiveness quicker. And our moment-by-moment choices become more and more aligned with God’s Word. We recognize that there are no sin scales in God’s economy—a little white lie and murder weigh the same—and we don’t look to the culture to determine which sins are “outdated” and more acceptable today.

The world will disagree. To them, there is definitely a sin spectrum, as well as moderation in ALL things. “Sin” is different for everyone, as is its level of pursuit. As long as it “doesn’t hurt anyone” or it’s “safe” or it’s “my choice”—well, then it’s ok (and “mind your own business” while you’re at it).

Sisters, let’s do a serious self-assessment. Are there sins that we feel are “ok in moderation”? That TV show that glamorizes fornication or adultery? Using cusswords at opportune times because the situation warrants it? Hating our enemy because, well, they’re evil, and when Jesus said, “Love your neighbor,” He certainly didn’t mean that guy. Ouch.

Moderation is great—in most things. But when it comes to the pursuit of holiness to which we are called as believers in Jesus Christ, let us never put sin into that category.

“Lord, may Your love abound more and more in me, that I may approve what is excellent and be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1: 9-10).

 

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 24, 2021

Building An Ark

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10, ESV)

It’s so hot out here.  My back hurts. Maybe I heard him wrong. My wife’s mad at me.  My friends are laughing at me behind my back. Why am I still working on this thing every day? 

Imagine the conversation going through Noah’s mind as he faithfully worked on building the ark. God had given Noah specific instructions on how to build it. Noah immediately obeyed. But over a hundred years passed before the floodwaters came on the earth. Noah probably looked foolish to a lot of people during that time.

Many years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to do something very specific.  It seemed just as crazy as Noah building that ark.  It made me look a little radical – like Noah. At times I felt like giving up, wondering if I had heard the Lord correctly.

Then I went through a devastating season.

Just like Noah, in one quick moment the entire landscape of my life completely changed.

God knew the flood was coming and he was preparing Noah. He also knew there was a catastrophe coming my way.  He was preparing me. I had no idea what I was building.  I just knew that I was being obedient to what the Lord told me to do.  All the while being criticized and ridiculed for my foolish faith.

If Noah had not been obedient during those years of looking foolish to others; he wouldn’t have had the provision of an ark to carry his family through the flood.

In the aftermath of my devastating season, I come to understand that all those years God was teaching me to build an ark of faith.  Teaching me to listen to His voice over family, friends.

Why was that so important?

When that season hit my life, I struggled. My feelings pulled me down into the current of devastation and hopelessness.

That season should have killed me.  But wisdom taught me I could trust Jesus.  And I kept holding on, one breath at a time. My ark of faith sustained me.

Once Noah’s family was on the ark, they probably felt relieved that he had listened to the wisdom of God. Noah had shown a reverent respect (fear) of God and chose to listen to His voice over man.  In doing so, God gave Noah great wisdom and insight.

Before the tsunami hit my life, I looked foolish also.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

To gain wisdom we need to seek out the Lord’s will for our lives, above others.  Only God knows our future.

“Father help us to build a strong foundation in our lives that begins with fearing you and obeying your Word.”

For His Glory

 

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 23, 2021

Choosing Sides

“Be on the alert then, because you do not know the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:13

In looking around, listening, and reading, do you sense it? There seems to be an acceleration of, well, crazy. Right is wrong, and wrong is right. A mob mentality is creating lemmings who aren’t thinking straight—or even thinking for themselves at all. And a “cancel culture” is allowing for the silencing of opinion (or truth) if it goes against the pushed narrative.

I’m not trying to get “political” here. This has all been a cyclical pattern throughout human history. And since the first century, Christians around the world have had to stand firm in the midst of their respective anti-God cultures. Believers have been a voice for the voiceless, a light in the darkness, and a thorn in the side of government and religious leaders.

After His glorious resurrection, Jesus told his disciples He would be coming back soon. And from the first century until now, Christians have been certain that time would be during their lifetime. I believe it’s because they looked around at the insanity of their own world, and the only fitting response was praying for rescue (rapture) and Divine justice.

Sisters, are you feeling the same way today? I know I am.

The bigger question is this: If the Lord returns today, are you ready? We are in the Biblical end times—of that there is no doubt. But these “times” could be completed within the hour, year, decade, or century. We don’t know—and neither does Satan. So, as it has been since the Garden, he is racing around with his millions of minions to stir up evil and multiply his army here on earth. Ultimately, Satan is going to lose his fight against the Lord—this he does know.

But what about you, sister? Have you picked a side in the battle? Jesus won the war by defeating Death on Calvary’s cross and rising again in triumph. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the only path to peace with God—and to victory over an eternity of torment. So, on whose side do you stand? And if you are with God, are you standing firm, not to be moved if the winds of culture come against you?

Jesus is coming “soon”—it could very well be today. I’ll ask again, are you ready? You must “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:14-15). If you have not yet made a decision to surrender your life to Jesus Christ, won’t you do so now? God loves you and wants you to have everlasting life (John 3:16), so He died for you (Romans 5:8)! By confessing you are not perfect (a sinner), God is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Believe this and give your life to Jesus as your Savior (the Way the heaven) and your Lord (the Priority of your life)—and you’ll be victorious in the battle for your soul (Romans 10:9)!

 

“Lord, I pray that even one woman has chosen Your side “this day”—and that we, the army of God, be in constant recruitment mode.”

 

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 22, 2021

When Opting Out Isn’t An Option

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12  (ESV)

I’m definitely a lover of sports.  Growing up, I was all about being outside shooting some hoops, tackling the neighborhood kids, swinging the bat and slamming that little yellow ball across the net.  Never been a fan of watching – being on the team, participating was my go to.  The thrill of competition energized me, and the agony of defeat slayed me. Being a spectator was never on my radar.

One sport I never was tempted to play was wrestling.  Main reason was it just simply looked painful, and I’m not a fan of pain.  Quite the combat sport, wrestling is upclose and in your face with your opponent. Clinch fighting, throws, take downs, joint locks, pins and grappling holds – not exactly my style.   Guess I will pass and sit the bench on this one.

While we can choose to opt out of wrestling, we can’t excuse ourselves from combat with our scheming enemy.  Strategic, intentional and pre-meditated, Satan seeks to devour and destroy believers – his ultimate opponent.  Relentless in his attacks, our enemy loves to divert our attention away from him and onto the people in our lives.  Forgetting the real source of conflict, we go head to head – wrestling with flesh and blood totally unaware of who the instigator really is (Ephesians 6:12)

Absolutely love this reminder in Ephesians 6 to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (vs 10).  If I’m relying on self, I’m facing an uphill battle and that won’t be pretty.  The enemy’s tactics require total reliance on our Lord.  Half-hearted wrestling will not work.  We have to clothe ourselves in the full armor of God from head to toe (vs. 14 – 17).  And then we pray at all times in the Spirit remaining alert, persevering and interceding for all believers. No one is exempt from Satan’s schemes and attacks – we’re all in this battle together – no spectators allowed.

While the very thought of combative, face to face opposition with our enemy is frightening and paralyzing, we must keep our eyes fixed on our Lord.  He is the One who fights for us (2 Chronicles 20:17).  He is the One who strengthens us and girds us with truth.  He is the One whose faithfulness covers us extinguishing the firey darts of the evil one.  He is our helmet of salvation protecting our minds from straying and fearful thoughts.  He is the very Word of God which equips us to pin Satan down. When we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with the real enemy clothed in God’s armor, we will be victorious.

“Father, You have taught us how to stand firm against the evil forces seeking to devour us.  Help us to choose daily to take up your armor and march into battle victorious because You are with us.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 19, 2021

Making Our Mind to Mind

“And we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Co. 10:5b (NIV)

I love to reminisce about special times. Bringing back to mind those things that once brought me joy and happiness is something I often do. Unfortunately, every once in a while, my mind also recollects events and words that were not so kind to my heart. When those thoughts begin to creep in, I immediately put on first gear on making my mind to mind by not allowing it to control my mood and take me down a path of sadness and blues, thus, away from God’s will from me.

Who does not remember the woman mentioned in the Bible as Lot’s wife? When she and her husband were ordered to leave Sodom and not look back, because that city, along with Gomorrah, was going to be destroyed by God due to the sins of their people, she looked back and turned into a statue of salt.

Sometimes, our disobedience can cause us much doom, as did the disobedience of Lot’s wife. I wonder if we disobey because we think too much, sometimes we allow our minds to wander and to question the reason why we were told to do something in the way we were told to do it. I wonder if that is what caused Eve to sin in the garden. After all, she and her husband Adam had been told not to eat from one specific tree when they had an entire garden to enjoy. She questioned and she sinned.

God created us for His pleasure. He created us in His own image, so that we could be excellent in every aspect of our lives, and act excellently in our actions. But somehow, that did not stick with Adam and Eve, as they allowed their minds to wander and then followed the unworthy path that took them down.

As children of the Almighty God, we are given specific instructions on how to live our lives. If we trust His leadership and obey His commands, we will be blessed. Let us keep our minds synced with His Word and live the bountiful life He wills for us.

 

“Father God, we often stray from Your instructions because we allow our minds to wander. Please help us, Lord, to stay the course and to align our will to Yours.”

 

For His Glory

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 18, 2021

Just Passing Through

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

As I sit down to write this, I’m actually taking a respite from unpacking boxes and trying to figure out—once again—what we really need and where we should put it all. You see, over my 26-year marriage, we have lived in three states, nine towns, and—seriously—16 addresses. (And, nope, not military…just crazy.) Our homes have varied widely, from an 1890 Victorian minor’s cottage in Colorado to new construction in Virginia—and assorted era styles in between!

The funny thing is that every time we found a new place, we’d fall in love and think, “This is it! Our forever home!” And then some years later, we’d move on (for different “reasons” but always in an effort to listen to the Holy Spirit…that’s another story altogether). What we thought was permanent turned out to be merely temporary. We weren’t there to stay—we were just passing through. Plus, every time we start packing up to go, we lighten our load, giving away what we once thought was indispensable. Our grasp on “stuff” has gotten looser and looser.

Sisters, God’s Word tells us we should have this same mindset as we walk through this world. We are temporary residents here, just passing through (1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 13:14). As believers, our ultimate home is in heaven, and the Lord wants us to keep our eyes on that destination. We are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), getting all cozy in the ways of the flesh.

The fact that we are sojourners here can also help us to lighten our grasp on the things of this world. We are exhorted to not love our “stuff” and make idols of it. Even Jesus warns us that we can’t serve money and God—being mastered by both is impossible (Matthew 6:24). But the “things of this world” go beyond home baubles, big toys, and bank accounts. It’s also the intangibles of culture that can keep us abiding in the wrong place. This is especially true today, when so many are looking to social media for affirmation, joining the various mob mentalities for acceptance, and even depending on the government and politics for salvation. (Satan is loving every minute of this, for sure.)

Christians, we are citizens of heaven, awaiting our Savior, who will transform our broken, sin-inclined selves and usher us into our true forever Home (Philippians 3:20-21). No matter how much “everything is falling apart” here, we should expect it, because the Bible tells us it will! But while we are here, our purpose is to serve and glorify God by loving others and sharing the gospel with them. We must ensure that, regardless of how many states, cities, or homes someone has lived in, that they’re ready for their ultimate relocation.

“Lord, help me hold on loosely to all the things of this world, staying focused on You—and sharing the Truth with others that this is not our home.”

 

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 17, 2021

Count It All Joy

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness, have its full effect,  that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 2-4 (ESV)

Many years ago, I had a pastor make a decision concerning me that was hurtful.  It was so devastating, there was no way I could stay at that church and sit under his teaching.  I left and went to another church. For years I replayed conversations in my head of things I would say to him if I ever saw him again. I had been wronged. I wanted to be vindicated for what he had done. Then one day many years later, I received a phone call from this pastor’s wife. She and her husband both wanted to apologize.

For a year prior to this hurtful thing happening, the Holy Spirit had been prompting me to leave.  My husband and sons wanted to leave. We talked, prayed and debated over it for a year. But the hold up was me.  Simply because this little church was my “comfort zone.” The people in this church had been more like family to me than my own biological family. This was all I knew. Fear kept me stuck in what was comfortable. Then this thing happened and leaving was the only option. When we started at our new church, my sons and husband fit in immediately.  It took me a little longer to adapt. I felt so broken. I didn’t want new relationships I wanted to go back to my old friends and way of doing things

By the time the apology phone call came, I had already made peace with what had been done. An apology wasn’t necessary.  While my heart hurt deeply over what had happened, the steadfastness of my walk with Jesus had produced a peace in the pain. In time, I found strength to reach out to others and start over.

I had come to understand what James was saying.

At the time it wasn’t joyful. My heart broke, and I cried for a long time over it. But years later I could see how I could count that trial as joy because it propelled me to move out of my comfort zone.  And once I embraced that trial and significant change in my life, my life changed for the better in ways far too numerous to share. It was a catalyst for growth and a whole new life.

When God tells me to do something now, I do not allow fear to hold me back.

“Father, Your Word tells us our trials have purpose.  Help us to expect trials and when they come to not give up.  Remind us that it is okay if we don’t know all the answers because You do.  Help us to seek You for wisdom to handle the trials that come our way.” 

For His Glory

Laura Holmes (www.EphraimMinistries.org)
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 16, 2021

Convicted, Not Yet Imprisoned

“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”  Psalm 2:12

Here’s a strange (and disturbing) thought: What if one of the world’s most evil criminals, having instigated horrific atrocities against men, women, and children, was finally convicted. However, after the judge’s gavel fell and a sentence of life imprisonment given, this heinous person was given the freedom to continue his evil pursuits until an undetermined time to come. Eventually, he will be locked away, never to escape or be freed—and his sentence includes excruciating torment to repay his actions through the years.

Sound familiar? This is not just a what-if scene. It is very real. The heinous criminal is Satan. And he has been wreaking havoc on mankind since the Garden of Eden when he hissed that first accusation against the Creator: “Did God really say…?” And as the centuries passed, Satan and his millions of minions worked tirelessly to separate people from the Lord and thwart the promises of God.

But Jesus.

Jesus came to the earth, fully man and fully God, to live the life we cannot (sinless and perfect). Satan, knowing exactly who Jesus is and why He came, made valiant efforts to foil the plan of salvation throughout Jesus’s earthly ministry—he (Satan) was getting desperate. So, when our precious Lord was hanging on the cross, bleeding and dying to pay the penalty we deserve, Satan was probably doing a celebratory dance, thinking himself victorious. But a few days later, Jesus came out of the grave, forever conquering death and making a way to the Father for anyone who believes and trusts in Him.

So, this is where the scene described above kicks in. Friends, Satan has been defeated. He has been convicted—and he knows it. And he knows exactly how it all ends for him, and it’s not pretty (he’s read the Bible too—see Revelation 19:11-21). Although it’s been 2000 years since his sentencing, he and his troupe of terrorists have spent every moment accusing us to God and accusing God to us in his efforts to keep people from Christ and to keep Christ-followers ineffective.

I don’t know about you, but I believe that Satan’s incarceration time is near. As his time is running out and his ways and means of warfare are exponentially escalating, here are some things for us to take to heart: (1) Jesus already won. (2) If we believe that Jesus won and give our lives to Him, we are victors with Him and can rest in the peace of this truth. (3) For those who do not know Jesus or believe Him and His Word, the fear is real…because the coming horrific judgement isn’t just for Satan.

Sisters, Satan’s time may not yet be up—but, if you’re reading this, neither is yours! If you have not yet accepted Christ, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Although God’s judgement is coming, He is (and has been since the Garden) in relentless pursuit of you. Won’t you choose victory today?

“Lord, the battle for souls is real, and the enemy’s time is almost up. Give me an urgency to share the gospel with others to replace fear with peace, eternal sorrow with endless joy.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 15, 2021

Where Our Conversation Begins

“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.” Matthew 6:9b (HCSB)

There’s just nothing sweeter to me than the mental picture of my Dad sitting in his favorite chair doing what he always did on his day off – reading God’s word. It’s a memory which sustains me especially in this crazy world. Sometimes I can close my eyes and hear his soft voice praying over us – best gift ever.

While the frame of my Dad is warm and fuzzy, I totally realize there are many who never knew their Dad. And for some even worse is the reminder of who their Dad wasn’t or who they wish he had been. The picture of protector, provider, and defender fade in the recognition of reality.

We can easily get lost in our world if we regulate to our Heavenly Father the attributes we witnessed from our earthly Dad. We will miss much if we choose to ignore the truth that our Heavenly Father is the perfect Daddy not one caught up in a sinful world just like us. One who is caring, approachable, honest, trustworthy, faithful, merciful……the list goes on and on. The One who formed us in our mother’s womb is ever present, all knowing and divinely holy. Words can’t even come close to expressing the glories of our Heavenly Father.

Love the way Jesus teaches His disciples to pray…..reminding them who they are praying to….our Father in heaven. The ideal place where our conversation with God should begin. Simple, heart felt words demonstrating affection and reverence. Acknowledging the closeness of a Father and the vastness of His majestic name. A relationship guaranteed by the death of His Son. A deep soulful worship of the powerful name of our God. Indescribable, yet fully approachable. Accessible, yet beautiful perfection beyond our comprehension.

Still yourself away for a moment and quiet your spirit. Come confidently and boldly into His presence. Praise the amazing name of our Father – the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Unchanging. Untouched by the sinfulness of our world. Pure and unblemished. God’s character seals our conversation with love and mercy. Desiring to reveal to us the riches of His holiness. Let those words settle in us…we have an audience with the Creator of the universe who whispers, “Come to me, rest your soul and welcome the wonder of who I am.” Best gift ever to relish sweet moments with our Father while praising His holy name.

“Father, Your name exemplifies Your character. The very essence of Your name touches even the darkest soul. The perfect conversation starter acknowledging Your holiness.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

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