Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 30, 2021

When You Feel Left Behind – Hold On Tight To Him

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

I’m not the best gardener. Watering my flowers gets pushed further down my list than I would dare admit. Wilting in the hot, humid air describes them most days because I just simply get distracted and forget to water them. But despite my neglect, they somehow survive. And to my great surprise, I found a new flowering plant springing up amongst the weeds of an old window box. Not really sure what it is and I’m positive I didn’t water, nurture or plant it. It simply appeared in mid-summer – a beautiful shade of bright pink – my sweet late bloomer.

Wonder how many times we shortchange growth for our “late bloomer” moments? Ever stifled the gifts, callings and purposes God has for us because we should have done it sooner? It’s so easy to think we should have achieved, accomplished or surpassed where we are. We glimpse those around us running full speed ahead and become overwhelmed at our lack of progress. Sadly those words settle in and deprive us of moving forward, stretching and reaching. Lingering in the land of what ifs never serves us well.

Wouldn’t you rather bloom late than never bloom at all? Even if we appear behind schedule to others watching our arrival, wouldn’t we rather keep pressing toward the prize. God is more impressed with our obedience than He is with someone else’s time table. His plans are unique and strategic. He knows the paths our life will take and the story that will unfold from start to finish. Unlike me, He is the Master Gardener who won’t neglect His late bloomers.

So sweet friend in case you’re feeling left behind or cast aside – hold on tight to the One who knows exactly the moment for His glory to shine through. Don’t give up or step aside. Don’t listen to the voice of defeat or regret. Instead lean in close and wait for His timing. And just when we may think we’ve missed the mark, God will burst forth our greatest growth if we stay in step with Him.

“Father, You are forever cheering us on – not zeroing in on where we might have been – but completely in awe of where we are going with You.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 29, 2021

Dearly Departed (Part 2)

“And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43

I went to a funeral the other day. And it was a time of deep grief, sorrow, and wishful thinking.

We’ve known him his whole life. Through various traditions, our families spent special times together over the past decades, despite any geographical distances. This kind, creative, wholly unique (and somewhat mischievous) young man was well loved by everyone who crossed his path. Stories were shared that brought laughter at the remembrance, as well as admiration at his outside-the-box perception of life.

But the day was blanketed with tears and sadness. His life was like an amazing firework that was lit 23 years ago, emblazoning the sky with a glorious light show, only to quickly burn out, leaving us wanting for more.

The church service, however, did not celebrate the confident hope of Heaven—that, as the Bible promises, “to be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). Despite the cross at the front of the church, the message given was an antithesis to the Truth found in God’s Word. The robed man delivering the sermon spoke of uncertainties. The “hope” he did share was built not on the solid foundation of the finished work of Christ, but on the shifting sands of church traditions originated to delude and fleece believers.

“Is he in heaven? I don’t know,” the robed man said. “But he is likely in purgatory, being purified for Heaven.” He stated that because of our sin in life, we are not perfected at death to enter into God’s glorious Kingdom. The man went on to tell the crowd of tear-stained faces that action was required—we must pray the departed soul through that time of purification in order for him to be perfected for Heaven.

There was a depiction of Jesus on the cross right in front of the congregation. And I wanted to shout, “You’ve got it wrong! Yes, we are sinners, and our unrighteousness forbids us to stand in the presence of a Holy God. But Jesus! Jesus died on that cross and rose again, defeating sin and death! Through His action—not ours—we are made perfect when we accept the gift of grace through faith.”

Jesus, although mentioned throughout the service, was not proclaimed as Savior, Conqueror, King or the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is the responsibility of those of us left behind (along with our prayers to Mary, Jesus’ mother, and other “saints”), he said, to help usher this young man into God’s presence.

Friends, this is not so! No work on our behalf is required—He did it all. No penalty is owed—He paid it. No post-death suffering must be endured—His suffering was sufficient. This is the Gospel—the GOOD NEWS!

We are all separated from God by our sin. But Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived the perfect life we could not live and died to take the punishment we deserve. He rose again, defeating sin and death. And when we surrender to Jesus, He exchanges our rags for His righteousness, so that we can live eternally with Him. (Romans 5:8; 6:23; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 4:10)

Sister, you can have confident hope—knowledge that this life is fleeting, and upon death, you’ll be in the eternal presence of the Lord. Won’t you accept the free gift of salvation—of soul restoration—provided by Jesus?

“Lord, thank You that You paid the price for our sin, and that by Your grace through faith we can stand in Your presence immediately upon death, fully righteous because of Jesus.”

 For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 28, 2021

Dearly Departed (Part 1)

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

I went to a funeral the other day. And it was a time of joy, laughter, remembrance, and confident hope.

Because we have only been in our new community and church for just a short time, we didn’t know Candie well. But both my husband and I did have the great privilege of meeting this kind, gifted, caring (and somewhat mischievous) woman and spending a little time together. Story after story, shared among the huge crowd and from the pulpit, testified to her lifelong mission to spread the love of Jesus, disciple girls and young women, and serve others.

Don’t get me wrong, there were also plenty of tears shed. Her absence leaves a gaping hole in the lives of her family and friends—and in our community. The daily impact Candie made over the decades has created a ripple effect spreading throughout the community, across the country, and around the world.

But the crowd wasn’t grieving a permanent loss. Candie simply moved away—she went Home. As she took her last breath here, she was immediately in the presence of the One to whom she’d surrendered all (2 Corinthians 5:8). Physical pain and emotional suffering slipped off of her like a heavy winter coat discarded for summer’s radiant warmth. She is now free of all earthly burdens and the sin inherent to our broken world. And, no doubt, after she met Jesus face to face, she turned to see a line of people waiting to greet her—people who would not otherwise be in Heaven if not for her.

This funeral was a genuine celebration. Of her exceptional life on earth and her eternal life with Jesus. It was truly as if an awesome moving-away party was planned, and the guest of honor had to leave sooner than expected…but we had the party anyway. We know exactly where she is—and we know she loves it there.

Those of us celebrating her life who have accepted the gift of salvation through Calvary’s cross have confident hope that we’ll see Candie again—we’ll be joining her in Heaven when God calls us Home. And because she would want everyone there to be in that category (and the pastor knew that), he clearly shared the Gospel to close out the celebration.

What is “the Gospel”? We are all separated from God by our sin. But Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived the perfect life we could not live and died to take the punishment we deserve. He rose again, defeating sin and death. And when we surrender to Jesus, He exchanges our rags for His righteousness, so that we can live eternally with Him. (Romans 5:8; 6:23; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 4:10)

What about you? Do you have this confident hope—knowledge that this life is fleeting, and upon death, you’ll be in the eternal presence of the Lord? Or do you “think” or “wish” that heaven is your ultimate destination, but you’re not sure? Friend, you can be sure! Won’t you accept the free gift of salvation—of soul restoration—provided by Jesus? After all, I’d really like you meet Candie.

“Lord, by Your grace we can have blessed assurance of where we’ll be once we take our last breath here. Thank You that our mourning can give way to gladness.”

 

For His Glory

 

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 27, 2021

How Big Is Your Faith?

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, ESV)

 “What am I going to do? Obadiah is dead.  He was a good man.  You know he served the Lord. But he didn’t leave me enough money to live on and support the boys.  I can’t pay my bills and now they’re going to take my children from me.  You must help me.”

Imagine the desperation in her voice as she pleaded with the prophet Elisha for help (2 Kings 4:1-7). The legal system in Israel does not allow a person to file for bankruptcy. She would have to give up her sons as indentured servants to her creditor as payment.

Elisha inquires what she has of value in her house.  She responded, “nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”  Elisha gives her specific instructions to borrow vessels from everywhere.  Then once she has the vessels safely in her home, behind closed doors, she was to start pouring out what little oil she had into the vessels.

It most likely wasn’t the response she wanted to hear. But it didn’t diminish her faith.

Once the vessels were gathered, she poured out the olive oil. Imagine the fear she must have felt.

“Lord, I’m pouring out the only thing I have of value.”

As she poured from her little jar something supernatural took place.  The oil kept flowing until all the vessels were full.

In the end, she had enough jars of olive oil that she was able to sell them and pay off her debts.  It also provided enough income for her to support herself and sons – keeping them from slavery.

In this situation, the amount of work she did in obedience determined the amount of blessing and provision she received from the miracle.  If she had only collected a small amount of jars, there might not have been enough to meet her financial need.

Have you ever had a need you didn’t have the resources to meet?  And this lack was threatening to take away what little you did have? Immediately fear starts to grip us and all we can focus on is what we don’t have.  We forget that God will always meet our needs.  But He won’t always drop manna from heaven like he did for the Israelites. (Exodus 16) His desire is for us to exercise our faith.

It was her great faith in the Lord that led to freedom – a new life for her and her children.

Instead of letting fear paralyze you, let me encourage you today seek the Lord first and then get busy growing your faith. Little is much with God.

“Father thank you for always providing for us.  Help us to remember that you will always meet our needs.  Teach us to exercise our faith as we trust in you.”

 For His Glory

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 26, 2021

The Best Change Ever

“…and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:24 (ESV)

If you’re like me there are a lot of things in our closet we didn’t even wear in 2020.  In fact, comfy clothes pretty much describe my attire during the quarantine. So now that I’m back working in the office, I’ve noticed this weird trend – some of my clothes just don’t fit like they used to fit.  Maybe you’ve been there too when the desire to put on “old” stuff just simply no longer works.

Bet we’ve all ridden the wave of our old sin nature seeking to dominate us. Great reminder tucked away in Ephesians 4:24 to put off our old self compelling us into action.  Taking off the old and embracing the new sounds inviting. When we believe in Jesus we become a new creation – one totally washed in His cleansing blood.  Purely white and free from the ugliness of our sins.  Clothed in His righteousness. Our salvation was sacrificially paid for by the Lamb of God – nothing we have to do other than choose to belief.

Amazing how quickly we default back to our old selves.  Without even much thought or intention, we slip back into grabbing habits and actions which never served us well.  Jealousy, covetousness, envy, pride, impurities, etc.   Not exactly what God intended when He declared us “new.”

Colossians 3 invites us to “put” to death the worldliness in us and “put” on holiness, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love.  Now that sweet friends is exactly what new looks like – reflecting the image of our God in right living and holiness.  Purposefully choosing to exchange what we used to be like for what God designed us for.

Now I have to admit grabbing old is so easy and putting on new takes great intentionality.  We truly need to depend on the Holy Spirit to empower us.  We can’t do it in our own strength, but it is doable if we rely on God and cooperate with His transforming work in us.  And our secret weapon
is found in renewing our mind daily with the knowledge of our God. Immersing ourselves in scripture illuminates our thoughts and teaches us about the character of our God – the very One we are to reflect. Partnering up with a sister in the Lord who we can foster accountability with us gives us the perfect advantage over sin.

Bottom line – the best change we ever make is to accept Jesus as Savior and then allowing His Spirit to  cultivate the “new” us step by step.

“Father, while we struggle to embrace new, You are right there beside us guiding us each day and teaching us how to be more like You.”

 

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 23, 2021

A Feast For The Spirit

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Imagine getting ready to eat a delectable buffet dinner—yet when you reached for a plate someone said, “This food is off limits!”  Disappointment would be an understatement.  I wonder, though, if my spirit feels the same way when I reach for my Bible, only to be distracted by the phone.  Some days I find myself being carried on a raging river of busyness.  Life is often so hectic that I feel like Mr. Incredible when he says, “I can break through walls, but I can’t find my socks in the morning!”  So here’s the rub: even when I’m running around like the proverbial chicken—I never forget to feed my body three square meals a day.  The sad truth is that there are days when I spend more time feeding my flesh than my poor, emaciated spirit.

Thankfully, Jesus is way ahead of me!  He knew that I could not survive without “manna” or bread from heaven.   Lovingly, He reminds me that if I stay in His Word, I won’t be trying to flesh out this life while starving to death in my spirit.  The Bible is there to give us all strength, guidance, and encouragement:  – food for the soul!  Open God’s Word today—there is a delicious buffet among those pages that will bring life to our innermost beings.  The more we hunger for every word that comes from the mouth of God, the more we are filled with bread from heaven!

“Dear Lord, Help us to spend time in Your word, fueling our spirits and finding sustenance in the “Bread of Life”, Your son, Jesus Christ.”

For His Glory

Ruby Sand
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 22, 2021

From Strength To Weakness

“God arms me with strength, and He makes my way perfect.” (Psalms 18:32 NLT)

Why would you want to be that? Why would you want to be strong? My, how the Lord had changed my perspective. I remember struggling over the very same issue. Moments of weakness that I wanted to run from drove a need to set aside weak and pick up strong. If only I could.

Barely a teenager, as one parent left and then the other, a teacher declared that one day I would be so strong. I equated that to work, and work I did. Picked up talents that I admired that were never mine to perfect. Studied for career heights that I couldn’t quite grasp. Thought travel, money and title would bring contentment; that didn’t. And with a mess I called my life, behind the façade of strength and accomplishment were disappointment and struggle. Slowly, my empire would tumble. And in the rubble of lost hopes, dreams and plans was my God.

My Bible teaches that God is strong: He is strength in times of trouble; all things are possible; God is the saving refuge of His anointed; vindication is in His strength. As I ran to Him in heart and attitude, I was markedly aware of my weakness. And in time, realized that my weakness was good. Good because it allowed Him to be strong. I was able to set aside my need for strength and rely on His abundant ability to be strength for me. And in His strength was the protection, peace and purpose which was the very place I had longed and searched for so long.

Now, this middle-aged woman sat before me detailing the events of a hard life of lack. She had lost much and found such pride in her strength. But, why would you want to be strong? I knew better. I knew the struggle. I knew the loss. But, I also knew that I am weak. My only strength that is lasting, sure and worthy of mention is the strength of my Creator who knew all about me and still chose to love; love to the point of death. As the world thrust its weaknesses on Him, He chose strength that would last into eternity and be indestructible.

“Father, may I be weak knowing that You are strong. May I let a lost and dying world know the One whose strength is the only answer to sin and selfishness.”

For His Glory

Kathryn Hayman
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 21, 2021

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

“When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and let him go.” (John 11:43-44, ESV)

 “Girl, why are you so down?  You just need to give it to God.  To let go and let God. You just need to rejoice in the Lord.  He’s going to work it all out for you.”

Ever had someone utter those words to you when you’re in a season of darkness and can’t seem to find a way out. I have. Those words while spoken with good intentions, failed to offer me a lot of guidance. Instead, they falsely give the assumption that because you’re saved – everything will always be well in your life.

As Christians, life on this earth is hard. Sometimes we need help getting out of the yoke of our circumstances.

Lazarus is a perfect example of this lesson.  He had been dead in the tomb for four days. Then Jesus spoke his name and called him out of the grave.

Raising him from the dead was instant – like salvation. But when he came out of that grave, he still had remnants of the ordeal he had just experienced.

The linen cloths were wrapped so tightly he could barely walk.  His vision was also hindered. Jesus could have spoken the words and had the grave clothes fall off.  Instead, he told the crowd to “loose him”.

In the same manner, there are remnants of our previous lives that we will need help taking off as we “work out our salvation” (Phil 2:12).  Not everyone grows up in an environment that perfectly models God’s love.  We are not all taught God’s Word correctly.  Salvation forgives us of our sins.  But it doesn’t automatically teach us how to “walk like a Christian”.  It doesn’t instantaneously change negative thought patterns developed over the years. Some things will require a community to “take off”.  Thus, we are urged in Hebrews 10:25 to “not neglect meeting together”.

As we continue to grow on our journey of faith – life will continue to throw obstacles at us.  Salvation doesn’t keep us from experiencing hardships.  Utilizing the resources in your community like Christian counseling and support groups should not been as a negative.  Lazarus was alive but he would have never been able to interact with others in a healthy way because his hands were bound.  He needed assistance getting out of the bondage of death.

It’s okay to not be okay. To admit you need help.

“Jesus, we thank you for raising us from death to life through salvation. As life throws obstacles that cloud our vision and inhibit us from walking in faith, teach us to reach out to the Christian community around us for help.”

For His Glory

 

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 20, 2021

The Grace Excuse

“For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude 4

The other day, during an early-morning gym conversation about spiritual things, I invited a relatively new friend to church. (I know what you’re thinking, “early-morning gym spiritual conversation”? But we actually cover all types of intense topics, from politics, culture, and guns to parenting and familial drama. It definitely helps my treadmill time fly by though!)

After hearing her rationale for why her family doesn’t attend any church, I walked away discouraged—but also with the recognition that it’s a very common reason: She knows all too many people who consider church their Sunday social club; their cars proclaim their church du jour, but their ungodly actions reveal a life no different from the rest of the world. Then there are all those exposed “Christian leaders” who have fallen hard, again giving the Church a bad rap. Despite my responses of, “Well, we’re all hypocrites—no one is perfect,” and, “Sadly, pride goes before the fall,” I do get it. But there’s no quick-fix proof text to counter such negative experiences.

The fact is, Christians can give Christianity a very bad name. I’ve written a lot about the ubiquitous wolves (false teachers) today, as well as very popular movements that pervert the Truth but are very attractive—especially to young people. But I want to bring this issue down to the individual believer. You and me.

As followers of Jesus Christ (Christians), we recognize that because of sin (our inability to be perfectly holy), the perfection of this world and the intended relationship between Man and God is broken. We cannot be good enough to restore that relationship. But Jesus, fully God and fully man, paid the penalty for our sin, exchanging His righteousness for our unrighteousness. Our sins are forgiven, and, through the grace of God, our slate is wiped clean. As the Apostle Paul puts it, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:21).

Ah, but this is the slippery rope many Christians use to try and maintain their tight grasp on the world. Their thinking is, “Well, it doesn’t matter how I live, I’m covered by God’s grace—so let’s party!” But they need to read the very next verse from Paul: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1).

When we truly understand the Great Exchange of the Gospel and the fact that we can relinquish our valiant (and exhausting) strivings to earn our way to heaven, we are truly free (John 8:36)! And it’s out of our grateful joy that we choose to live righteously. Will we miss the mark? Every day! Will we be seen as hypocrites? Yes! The difference is, though, that we quickly recognize our failings, ask forgiveness, and change course. Every day, month, and year, we strengthen our walk with the Lord, becoming more and more like Him.

Grace is not meant to be a justification to live however we want. If you attend a church where habitual sin is acceptable and tolerated “because of grace,” either within the congregation or from the pulpit—run. But, more importantly, let’s look in the mirror. Are we using God’s amazing grace as an excuse to maintain worldly living? Or does His grace motivate us to pursue holiness with a thankful heart?

“Lord, Your grace is amazing and Your mercy unfathomable. Help me never use these to justify my selfish ambition and desires.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 19, 2021

Charting My Course

“They make their hearts like a rock so as not to obey the law or the words that the Lord of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore, great anger came from the Lord of Hosts.” Zechariah 7:10 (HCSB)

Nothing uglier than a defiant spirit. One bent on doing life its own way. Determined to chart its course the way known only to them. Postured for “my way” is the best way. Unwilling to be changed, deterred or re-routed. No ones’ opinion or view has merit.

Wish those words described others, but I can remember clearly when they were mine. You see, as a young teen, I thought I had all the answers. And my parents, well they were holding back, restraining me from best. Too old fashioned, overbearing and set in their ways to know what was cool.

Interesting how quickly a soft heart can grow cold and hard. Set in stone – carved out to prove it’s right. Decision after decision, compromise after compromise building a mighty fortress barricading truth from edging in. Ignoring the obvious staring us straight in the face.

One huge issue with defiant – it comes with an overwhelming set of consequences. Resisting God’s truth will always land us on the short end of the stick. We will reap whatever we sow, even if we thought our crop was ours to plant. As a young teen, I learned some pivotal lessons. Some of those reckonings were doable, yet uncomfortable. Some of the repercussions were difficult, costly and excruciatingly painful to bear. And some unfortunately left scars deep within that hard, calloused heart.

Best solution – resist the proud road! Yes, pride convinces us we have all the answers. Pride opens wide the door to block God’s best and it masquerades as, “I know exactly what to do.” Said those lines too many times. Digested those words and spit them out too in the stark reality of “ I didn’t know what to do.” Cultivate a soft heart, a tender heart bent towards God’s commands. Resist the tendency to exclude godly wisdom and discernment. Admit our lack of and rely totally on God. Heed His warnings and desperately cling to His ways. Now that’s truly the best way to do life.

“Father, You loving and patient guide us – help us to resist the urge to demand our own way.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

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