Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | August 7, 2020

Missing The Truth

“And He (Jesus) did not many mighty works there (Nazareth) because of their unbelief.”  Matthew 13:58 (ESV)

Ever been there when something is simply too good to be true?  Interesting how our minds default to questioning, doubt and disbelief when good is staring us in the face.  It’s almost like a defense mechanism attempting to prevent us from being disappointed if good is less than we imagined.  So we cower, rationalize and resist the urge to trust, accept and receive the truth.

I remember this well as a teenager in my youth group.  We had a contest and earned points for being present every Sunday. If we brought a friend, we got extra points. At the end of the contest, each point would get our name into the bucket for a free 10 speed bike.  There was one stipulation – you had to be present to win.  As I sat on the edge of my seat and heard someone else’s name called, my heart sank.  Silence filled the room ­- there were no crazy shouts of joy.  No feet running up to the platform to claim the prize.  So another name was pulled and yes, again no joy, no feet – the winner was not there.  So on the third attempt, my name was called.  Totally paralyzed in my seat, I didn’t utter a sound.  This really wasn’t happening.  I’m sure I didn’t hear my name called.  When my pastor got ready to reach his hand back into the bucket, I stood up and slowly moved to the front of the room to receive my prize.  Good was staring me in the face and it felt ever so good – absolutely loved that bike!

Matthew 13 reminds us of a group of people who chose not to move towards good – actually He was better than good – Jesus was the answer to all they would ever need.  The people of Nazareth couldn’t wrap their mind around the carpenter’s son who claimed to be the long awaited Messiah.  They knew Joseph and Mary.  They watched Jesus grow up, so how could He be the Son of God. As Jesus read the scriptures and taught in the synagogue proclaiming the “good news,” the people marveled that Joseph’s son could speak so graciously.  They totally missed the truth staring them in the face, and their unbelief carried a huge price tag.

Flip through the pages of the gospels, and we will find miracle after miracle.  Water was turned into wine. The lame walked. The blind could see.  The deaf could hear and the dead were raised.  The guilty were pardoned and set free.  All because they choose to believe.

Wonder what miracle we’re missing out on because of unbelief?   Are we allowing doubts to cloud our perspective?   Unbelief is simply defined as a distrusting skeptic, and God’s word proclaims blessed are those who believe.  It takes faith to believe what we have not seen in person, but I’d rather take God at His word than risk denying His existence.

“Father, help our unbelief…enlarge our view of who You are and help us to walk in faith courageously trusting You every step of the way.”

 

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | August 6, 2020

A Whole New Wardrobe

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10

Confession time: I’ve been kind of a mess lately. Looking at both macro and micro issues, so to speak, I feel pressed in on every side. Big-picture, way-beyond-my-control stuff—like the Orwellian dystopia that is our culture—can overtake my mind and heart like a dense black fog. And, closer to home, those I love are besieged in mighty struggles that daily break my heart.

I get it—really, I do. All these things are raging spiritual battles—the enemy’s fight is fierce for the world and its inhabitants. Despite my knowledge of this fact, as well as having confidence in this war’s ultimate outcome, my spirit is heavy.

So, when I opened the Word this morning to read Isaiah 61, the Lord spoke clearly to me of His unequivocal understanding. He gets me…and my experiences and internal struggles are not new. If you’re familiar with the launch of Jesus’ public ministry, you’ll know that He turned to this Scripture, reading aloud in the Synagogue to proclaim, “This is Me! I’ve come to heal and save you!” This is amazing, but the part of this chapter that pierced my soul today is in verse 3: Jesus also came to give those who mourn “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”

As this so accurately describes my current status, its remedy also jumped off the page: the garment of praise. This verse doesn’t necessarily mean we need to cast off the spirit of heaviness any more than we can cast off being cold. Instead, through Jesus, we are able to don a garment of praise—and by putting on praise, we don’t add another layer of heaviness…we lighten our spiritual load!

And as the chapter continues, verse 10 delivers more wardrobe advice: “My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Because of Jesus, my clothes are no longer the rags of sin, death, and unrighteousness! Despite my fallen nature, God looks upon me in garments of perfected beauty. And (popping back up to verse 3), for this I can—I must—praise Him, adding another element to the outfit. (Think of it as a great accessory.)

When we look in the mirror, sisters, is this the ensemble we see? Or do we wake up daily and pull on a t-shirt of fear, leggings of despair, and a sweater of uncertainty—despite the clothes given to us by our sweet Lord?

You know that awesome feeling when you find that rare (and often elusive) outfit that fits perfectly and brings a sense of joy and confidence—maybe for a job interview or special occasion? Think about that and multiply that awesomeness by about a billion. Sisters, whatever is going on in our world, our home, or our minds, we have what we need for joy and confidence. We have salvation that cannot be taken away. We have righteousness, despite our sin. We have reason to praise in all circumstances.

God has given us a whole new wardrobe. So, go ahead, flaunt it.

“Lord, remind me daily that You have given me the spiritual garments I need to take on each day with hope and joy—thank You!”

For His Glory

Julianne Winker Smith
TRBC Women’s Ministry

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | August 5, 2020

God’s Mystery

“I don’t think the way you think.  The way you work isn’t the way I work”. Isaiah 55:8 (MSG)

I have a confession to make.  Lately, my husband and I have been watching Hallmark movies.  Watch enough movies and you know how the plot will begin, turn and land.  Attractive, talented, everything you wish you were girl meets whatever you need me to be guy.  In two hours, well actually usually within the final fifteen minutes of the film, their lives are perfectly re-configured for an eternity of togetherness and bliss and positioned for a follow up story next season.  No mystery, no surprises with an ending exactly as expected.

If only life were this way! And we try!  We specify, itemize and organize.  Craft timelines, goals and milestones.  Leave out no detail lest the outcome be altered.  Compare our path with others and adjust to come out ahead.  Control is our driver as we blindly make plans with no promise and serve a god void of vision.   We would be well advised to heed the words spoken through the prophet Isaiah that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways not His.  Does this mean that all of my preparation is in vain?  No, a devotion to God’s purpose is a critical first step.  As a plan unfolds, the basic framework needs to be established.  However, in our zeal to accomplish and our haste to attain, we often fail to leave room for God.

Do we allow God to go before and prepare the paths we will take? Surrendered, we trust He is good and that He delights to give good things to His children.  Are we willing to be uncomfortable and wait until He gives direction and purpose?  In obedience, we study His Word, commune with Him and follow His decrees. He will not fail or forsake and carries us even into the most difficult places of life.  With preconceived ideas as to how things are to play out, we will miss out on God’s response and solution if we’re not open to seeing Him work in unexpected and unique ways.  Many times, I’ve delayed or circumvented my healing because God was doing a work in a way that I wasn’t receptive to receive.

Will we deny self, pick up our cross He created us for and daily follow our path’s light, as dim as it may seem?

“Father, we are a people in need of You for we so easily go astray.  Today, moment by moment, may You guide our steps, may we listen for Your voice and choose obedience over want.”

 

For His Glory

Kathryn Hayman
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | August 4, 2020

Inscribed

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.”  Isaiah 49:15-16

Mom. What a weighty word that is. To some, it’s a beautiful word and instantly brings a smile. To others, the very mention of the term evokes pain, sorrow—even anger. Maybe your mother and you are close. Maybe you’re completely disconnected, the mother-child bond disrupted by geographical distance, purposeful decision, or inevitable death.

Just in my current household of three, we’ve got a variety of “mom issues” going on. My mother and I had a pretty tumultuous relationship, thankfully mended just months before she very suddenly died (over 25 years ago). When my dad remarried, I gained a second mom, who stepped into the role of advisor and then grandmother to my boys. Then there’s my husband’s mother, from whom we’ve lived around the corner and thousands of miles away, but by whom we’ve consistently been emotionally pummeled. Suffice it to say, my husband must daily confront the scars of trauma she initiated. Then there’s our almost-18-year-old adopted son, who deeply struggles with the abandonment by his birth mother, despite the endless depth of our love for him.

Regardless of whether you have a wonderful, strained, or nonexistent relationship with your mom, there is good news! We have a Heavenly Father who is always loving and compassionate. He will never abandon or forsake us. In fact, as Isaiah writes, we are inscribed on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).

I love that word, inscribed. It connotes such permanence. And then to envision myself eternally etched into the Saving, Protecting, Providing, Sovereign Hand of Almighty God—well, that’s pretty awesome. (It makes me think of how I write something on my hand, so I don’t forget it, but it inevitably smears or washes away—whether or not I’ve taken care of that something. The inscription of me onto God’s hand is NOTHING like that.)

Moms are forgetful. Moms abandon. Moms have moments of lost compassion. Moms fail. So, if you are a mom or if you have/had a mom—and that would be all of us—be encouraged! Our God never forgets us. He will never forget us. He is always compassionate. God never fails us. We are inscribed in the palm of His hand.

“Lord, thank You for Your steadfast love, protection, and provision. May I never forget that you will never forget or forsake me.”

 

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Ministry

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | August 3, 2020

Stronger Than Ever

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about Him went out through all the surrounding country.”  Luke 4:14 (ESV)

Challenges and trials totally zap our strength.  Way too many examples here…I’m sure we can all relate.  The work deadline which keeps us awake at night calculating how we can get it all accomplished.  The prodigal child missing from our dinner table leaving us empty and fearful.  The dreaded test results from the doctor leaving us speechless.  Moments when our mind races ahead, stalls and even becomes forgetful. Overload manifested physically, mentally and emotionally.

Wonder what that would have looked like in the life of Jesus?  Luke 3 unveils the beautiful moment when John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove and God proclaims, “You are my beloved Son.  I take delight in You!”  Sweetest words to One who at age 30 is beginning His public ministry.

And right when all seemed glorious, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by the Devil.  Talk about mental, physical and spiritual exhaustion.  Jesus battles the enemy of His soul with the Word of God and emerges victorious – not a single slip.  And when the Devil finally departed, Jesus returned to Galilee in the Power of the Spirit.

Now lets’ just be real here friends – how many times do we land empowered at the end of intense temptation, trials and challenges?  I’m more like totally depleted, vulnerable and weak.  But I love the way the Spirit empowered Jesus  to keep moving forward – to not give up when ministry got hard and unbearable.  Love the way Jesus didn’t allow the fear of the one trying to silence Him to derail God’s plan for His life.  With boldness Jesus taught in the synagogues, met rejection and hostility in His hometown of Nazareth, rebuked an unclean demon, healed the sick and stayed on track with God’s purpose (Luke 4:43). How?  He was empowered by the Spirit.

As believers, we have access to this same “dynamic” power (Holy Spirit) living and breathing within us.  When we choose to fight our battles with the Word of God and remain diligent in defeating the enemy’s schemes, we can emerge stronger than ever. Resisting the urge to depend on self, we are more than conquerors in His power and might.  And the lessons we will learn will prove crucial to our spiritual growth, ministry and God’s divine plans.

None of us are immune from feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and on the brink of giving up.  So take heart dear one, don’t allow the enemy to silence your future.  Dig in deep to God’s word.  Stay connected to godly counsel.  Avoid the mindless chatter of defeat, doom and despair.  Recall His faithfulness and depend on His power to birth victory even in the midst of your toughest battle.

“Father, You take great delight in our total dependence on You.  Despite the trials, temptations and struggles we may face, You have overcome the world. We will win as long as we tap into Your endless power.”

 

For His Glory

 

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 31, 2020

Carving In Margin For Rest

“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day, you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” Exodus 34:21 (ESV)

Ever feel like you’re just trying to stay ahead of the game but the game is going faster that you dare imagine? Most days can feel like that – from sun up to sun down. Amazes me the speed of 24 hours, and the tasks that just keep getting carried over. I’m a planner kind of girl so I love checking things off my list even if I just added them a few minutes ago. Frustrating to hit Friday and the reality of what never was tackled is staring me in the face on Monday morning. To be totally honest that list can haunt me all weekend – releasing margin for catchup robs me of peace.

Love this sweet reminder from the One who knows how to carve in margin for rest. In awe of the example God set before us with creation – six days of creating and one day of rest. The One who holds it all together challenges us to let it go, to take on His yoke which is light and embrace margin for rest.

Wish it was ever so simple to release agendas, lists and busy. Ever find yourself in that trap – desiring rest yet resisting still?

Plowing time and harvest were busy seasons for farmers. No Walmart or Target around the corner. Critical times to plow, plant and tend the fields. Doing the next thing from sun up to sun down – maximizing daylight to the fullest. And when the crops come in, you can’t just ignore harvesting, picking and storing up for tomorrow.

Yet God commands, invites us to a better way – a day of rest. Right in the midst of crazy, chaotic and endless lists, He knows rest soothes the soul, rejuvenates our spirit and clarifies our mind. Pulling away gives us a clearer perspective – a God perspective – trusting His agenda and His plans. Even when urgents seek to steal away still, we can resist the tendency to cast aside rest. Awesome moments without a list and totally free to relax, reflect and receive the sweetness of His presence.

Won’t you join me? Carve in white space for rest. Resist the urge to keep doing. Enjoy a prayer walk. Read a great book. Remove distractions. And when Monday comes, we’ll be amazed how much gets done.

“Father, You have set the pace now help us to obey and receive the blessings of rest.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 30, 2020

Heaven Rules

…the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses.  Daniel 4: 25

In today’s era of social media and cults of personality, “leaders” are thrust into the culture to direct the masses, whether in politics, entertainment, media, or even some unsuspecting citizen. I don’t know about you, but I can get rather anxious about the individuals and/or ideas being pushed as someone(s)/something(s) “everybody” wants—or should want. Moreover, “heroes” of the day seem to come and go at the speed of light given the Twitter culture.

And then you’ve got the whole election-year drama (because, 2020 doesn’t have enough insanity already). And all these things (plus the additional fallout from them) are creating a generalized angst and pervasive despondency—it’s almost palpable when one actually ventures out from the bubble of home.

What’s the spiritual point here? Two simple words from the book of Daniel sum it up: Heaven rules (Daniel 4:26).

See, global political leaders and flash-in-the-pan cultural heroes will come and go. Some walk with God and shine a light into the darkness of this world. Others are tools of Satan—the prince of this world—and do his bidding to keep its citizens under his thumb. Throughout history, and certainly from one end of the Bible to the other, this good-versus-evil battle for power has been constant.

And it will continue until that glorious day when Satan is cast into the lake of fire forever—and Jesus, seated on the throne, makes all things new (Revelation 20-21).

As we live on this earth in the present day, what are we Christians to do? How can we find peace as we watch the social and political struggles for power and influence? Where do we turn for Truth when it seems so nebulous?

We hold fast to the omnipotence of our great God, who created everything (Gen 1:1, Psalm 121:2, Col 1:16) and rules over it all (Hebrews 1:3, Prov 16:9, Heb 2:8). We stand in confident knowledge that He will sustain us through the rollercoasters of this life. Most importantly, regardless of how the story of our time on this earth unfolds, we know how it ends.

(Spoiler alert)

God wins.

“Lord, may I remember that You rule it all—the good, the bad, the ugly. Nothing is out of your grasp, and, for that, I am so grateful!”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Ministry

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 29, 2020

Celebrating Transformation

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

Morning is my favorite time of day.  Fresh-brewed coffee, the quiet sunrise…the time of day when I read my Bible and pray.  Hoping to enter my day equipped to handle whatever comes my way.  But, still there are so many days when I stumble.  So little evidence of transformation.  Some days it can be downright discouraging.

After reading the Bible and praying, I often go to my favorite devos or blogs for further encouragement.  Some of my favorites are My Utmost for His Highest and desiringgod.org (in addition to TRBC Women’s Life, of course!).  Saturday morning is a great time for reading a little extra…so today I was perusing articles to choose another to read.  I came across an article about how to live a happier life…for years this has been my goal…to be happier. Not just for myself, but for those who have to live with me!  But this morning, another article captured my attention…how to live a holier life.  Without giving it much thought, I eagerly dove in to that article…and as I was reading it, the Lord revealed that this was the transformation He was cultivating through my daily prayers and Bible reading.  In my inner life, I am beginning to choose holiness over happiness.  And, realizing this made me…happy! Still patiently waiting for this transformation to exhibit itself more in my outer life, but choosing to celebrate what I see the Lord doing in my heart.

Sweet friends, if you are like me and struggle to see the ways God is transforming you, I pray that He will show you.  When you catch a glimpse of how your heart and mind are being transformed, celebrate…be glad and rejoice before God; be happy and joyful. (Psalm 68:3)

“Lord, thank you that you are always at work redeeming and transforming those who love You. As we seek more of You, help us to see and celebrate the ways that You are transforming us.”

For His Glory,

Ann Skalaski
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 28, 2020

Rest Easy

“The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.”  Acts 12:6
I wish I could say I wrote this, but it was penned by another: There is no softer pillow than the Sovereignty of God.

God is in control. But are we, as Christians, able to rest in this fact—truly rest? The Apostle Peter sure was. In Acts we read about the birth of the Church. It’s a great book, if you haven’t delved in—full of action, adventure, and miracles (and persecution and martyrdom). In fact, just after James (the brother of John, those “Sons of Thunder” and besties of Jesus), was put to death by Herod, Peter was arrested. I’ll let you read about his angelic-led escape and the shocked prayer warriors, but three words in the saga that speak volumes to us: “Peter was sleeping.”

Huh? I don’t even sleep when I’m worried about work stuff, so I’m confident that if I were in prison, chained between guards, knowing I was to die the next morning…well, sleep would certainly evade me.

Not Peter. He was sleeping like a baby. He knew what Jesus had accomplished on that cross. He knew he’d been forgiven for his many sins and failures. He’d experienced the power of the Holy Spirit promised him by the Risen Lord. He had no idea what dawn would bring. God had not promised him rescue—he believed his death was hours away. But he wasn’t planning a verbal plea for Herod to spare him. He wasn’t terrified of impending physical pain, should torture precede his death. And he certainly wasn’t afraid of what would happen to him on the other side of this life. He simply rested in the confidence of God’s Sovereignty.

As a Christian today, it is easy to toss and turn in bed with the tumult of the world swirling in our head. There is uncertainty (and plenty to fear) about the future, short- and long-term. But let me remind you (and myself) of a few Big Truths:

  • We know what Jesus accomplished on that cross.
  • We’ve been forgiven of our many sins and failures (past, present, and future).
  • We have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit—the power that has saved and transformed us.

So, sisters, lay your head on the soft pillow of faith…and rest confidently in the Sovereignty of our great and awesome God.

“Lord, You are always in control, even when the world seems out of control. Help me rest in Your Sovereignty, regardless of my circumstances.”
For His Glory,

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 27, 2020

Blessed In The Midst of Unknowns

“When I called him (Abraham), he was only one; I blessed him and made him many.” Isaiah 51:2b (HCSB)

Leaving familiar behind is not quite my easy stride. I love the comfort zone. I enjoy repetition. I don’t get bored with same. Routine is my best friend. But moving away from what fits me pushes me into uncharted territory. Places I feel uncomfortable. Places that stretch me. Places that dare me to be bold and courageous.

Have you ever been there when leaving what seems ordinary and easy beckons you to come? Perhaps it’s a new job. Maybe it’s a move to another area. Perhaps it’s stepping out to share your faith. Maybe it’s taking the next step to be all that God has called you to be. Perhaps leaving means different things in different seasons of our lives – navigating through the stages of our lives.

Abraham’s leaving was the ultimate sacrifice. Leaving everything he knew. Leaving his inheritance. Leaving his relatives. Walking with God faithfully to a place he had never seen. Following after God in a direction he didn’t even know how to take. Goggle maps couldn’t lead him. Facebook couldn’t connect him. Twitter couldn’t encourage him. Instagram couldn’t remind him. Totally uncertain of whether he would ever return to his homeland, yet faithfully trusting the unknown to the One true God who called him.

Scripture is filled with over 200 references to Abraham’s faith journey. Was he without fault? Absolutely not. Like you and me, Abraham had moments of reactive fear. Like you and me, Abraham learned how to trust God completely. Like you and me, Abraham was faced with God’s supreme test in laying down the one he loved so dearly. Like you and me, he sometimes failed.

Love the promises of God sprinkled throughout Abraham’s life. Constant reminders that He is the rewarder of those who live righteously. He blesses those who remain faithful to the very end of life in this world. And our God knows precisely when and how to stretch us out of familiar.

Is God beckoning us to a deeper walk? Has he nudged us to leave comfort and easy? Is God inviting us to trust Him more with each wobbly step toward the unknown? Sweet friends, let’s answer when God calls and embark on an incredible journey of faith.

“Father, help us to be women who aren’t afraid to step out of our comfort zone and joyfully follow your leading even towards the unknowns.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

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