Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 18, 2019

Keeping Us Clean

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 (HCSB)

If we’re looking for a secret formula for prayer, we may assume we need to simply recite the words Jesus offers in the model prayer. But if we carefully read His introduction (verse 9), we will get a clear understanding these words are an example – a pattern for how we should approach our Father. And right in the middle of these words we’ve all heard and spoken is the subject of forgiveness.

It’s quite easy to recite, “Forgive us our debts” and then move on. Now I will admit it’s effortless to combine all our wrongs in one word “sin” because after all, God knows exactly what we’ve done or not done right? We really don’t need to give Him a run down of the list do we? “Father forgive me for my sin.” Confession done – checked off the list. We’re moving on.

Not exactly. We wouldn’t dare lump all our wants, needs and desires into a one line statement. Specific requests are where God will find most of us. Truth be told, we usually consume a lot of our prayer time focused on what God can do for us.

The real intent here is heartfelt confession not a quick recital. A coming clean dissertation. Putting into words the things we’ve thought, done or said that were contrary to God’s word. Recognizing and admitting the sin we own. Asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten our eyes – to examine our hearts. And the beauty of it all – God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins – mercy full extended when we chose to confess and repent.

Nothing sweeter than a heart being washed clean. Psalm 32 echoes the blessing and joy of a relationship restored. “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity – You forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). The soul deeply rejoices when the anguish and devastation of sin is halted. Gracious words found in verse 10, “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.”

So let’s just pull off the mask. We all sin – we all miss the mark. As long as we live in this world, we will desperately need forgiveness and the person next to us will need forgiveness. We can learn a lot about the mercy and grace of our God and His desire for us not only to seek His forgiveness but to willing offer forgiveness to others. Sin erased, shame gone – a fresh start begins – what we truly desire.

“Father, You have covered our sins, all our wrongs with the blood of Your precious Son. How deep and wide is Your love for us – sparing nothing to restore us to You.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

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Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 17, 2019

Our Daily

“Give us today our daily bread.”  Matthew 6:11 (HCSB)

Can honestly say I’ve never gone without food, unless by choice. I’ve always had options on the shelf or in the fridge. Never lived in a country where beans, rice and water were setting my table. To be honest, it’s been a really long time since I heard my stomach growl. We live in a blessed country where food is in abundance.

Our stomachs may be full but what about our soul and spirit? Are we feasting on the things that truly satisfy and nourish us from the inside out or are we surviving on crumbs someone drops along the way? Don’t know about you, but we can easily slide through this life starving for wholeness. Our pantry may overflow but if we aren’t filling our souls with the truths of God’s word then empty will rise to the surface. And empty loves to show up in our actions and reactions. It loves to catch us off guard when words spew out of our mouth. Empty simply pushes through ultimately leaving us burned out, exhausted, disillusioned and desperate.

“Give us today our daily bread” opens our hands to receive the abundance of God’s eternal blessings. It positions us to freely come before Him, boldly and courageously, asking for what we need. For the single parent on an overextended budget, the daily could be food. For the executive carrying the weight of their company, the daily could be wisdom and strength to lead. For the nurse exhausted after a 12 hour shift, the daily could be energy and compassion to serve just one more before she leaves.

Daily looks different for us all, and Jesus knew the fulfillment of coming daily before His Father. Pulling Himself away from those He lead. Resisting the urge to be all things for all people, Jesus gained perspective, wisdom, direction, and strength for the day to day God set before Him. He didn’t rely on self but rather God.

We serve a God who longs to meet our every need. Small, large, insignificant or vitally essential, physical, spiritual, emotional – God is capable of being all, doing all and providing all we need. Maybe it’s time we settled there and opened up our hearts and watched in amazement as He fills us with exactly what we need today.

“Father, You set the table and invite us to come hungry – desiring to find You are the source of all we need for today.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 16, 2019

The Best Option

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9

Ever find yourself consumed with an agenda before your knees even hit the floor? Yes, I’ve been there where I came up with all the workable solutions. I’ve told God exactly what He should do and how He should do it and when He should do it. Sounds outrageous really – our Father who desires our ultimate best has a perfect plan for those things which touch our lives. We know we can trust Him; His very name reminds us of His incomprehensible power. Yet for some reason, we feel the urge to just let Him know what He should be doing. Despite the stark reality of God’s sovereignty there’s something wired in us (our flesh) which seeks to move the plan along our way at our pace.

Prayer is one of those avenues where we feel inclined to give voice to our solutions and provide the perfect option. We will spend endless moments zeroed in on our idea of how God should work things out leaving no opportunity for Him to even speak. We’ve already zoned out what His will is versus ours. Sound familiar? Oh yes, we’ve been down this road too many times.

Fully aware of our tendencies, Jesus reminds us of the importance of praying, “Your will be done.” Giving up? Not quite how Jesus sees it. Surrender is more like yielding our free will to match the perfect will of God. Jesus not only prayed these words; He lived them. During the darkest moments of His life on this earth, the Son of God asked the very thing we often desire, “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me.” He totally gets our cries for another option, a different chapter and an easier journey. But Jesus didn’t stop there like we often do. “Yet not as I will, but as You will,” echoed from His lips in the garden twice. The fulfillment of Jesus’ coming to our world and laying down His life culminated on the cross – God’s will birthing a glorious resurrection!

So sweet friends the next time we are tempted to dominate the conversation and leverage our agenda let’s choose to seek His will, verbally ask for His best and rest in His peace.

“Father, You see our world from a perspective unclouded by human emotion and preferences. We can trust You to fulfill Your purposes on earth and in heaven.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 15, 2019

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 12, 2019

Aiming For The Prize

“Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” 2 John 1:8(ESV)

Years of practice…hard work…dedication…. sacrifice and it all culminates within a two week period. The Olympics keep us sitting on edge to see how our fave athletes will do – cheering the USA Team on to victory in pursuit of the gold. We love the inside story of those who have beat the odds, overcome obstacles and tragedies. And with today’s technology we can read posts, tweets and replays instantly. We know who won the medals without even watching the event.

In this thing called life – we put in a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. We give it our best shot. And as children of God, we press on for a far greater prize than the gold. But it doesn’t usually culminate within a two week period – it’s a lifetime, a journey from our first cry to our final breath. All the gaps inbetween – extraordinary moments to beat the odds, overcome obstacles and tragedies.

Aiming for the reward? How’s your prayer life? The Father rewards those who pray authentic prayers from a genuine humble heart. Not for show but for relationship. Ever fasted? The Father rewards those who don’t draw attention to their sacrifices, yet quietly cleanse their hearts and seek His face in secret. Ever given to the poor or served the broken hearted? The Father rewards those whose service to Him isn’t motivated by the praise of man.

Doubt that any of the athletes competing in the Olympics aim for second place or strive to fail? The same should be true of us – our settling for less will never reap the reward God delights in giving. We must diligently seek Him, faithfully serve Him and humbly walk after our God. Like the Olympic athletes it will require some “nos” in order to seek the “greater yes” that positions for victory. It will require denial of self, discipline, perseverance and empty praise. But when we stand before our Father and lay our crowns down at His feet it will be worth it all.

“Father, the things of this world will fade away but only what is done in Your name will last. Help us to remain faithful to the high calling of serving You.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 11, 2019

A Promise Kept

“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and to all the earth.” Genesis 9:13 (NLT)

Remember as little children peering up to an expansive baby blue sky on a beautiful, clear day and playing “cloud Pictionary?” Pointing out a particular cloud and tracing it with our finger showing our friends how that specific cloud looked like an animal, shape or thing. Dismayed when your friend couldn’t make out the same characteristics your eyes had discovered.

Huge, fluffy, white puffs of “cotton candy” floating in the sky on a canvas of the prettiest blue. Clouds intrigue me! The other day as I was driving, I couldn’t wait for a red light so I could stop and take in their beauty. It seemed the clouds were at the tips of my fingers, as if I could have plucked one right out of the sky. However, clouds are not always pleasant shapes of white fluff, but dark menacing masses of condensed water vapor ready to release thousands of gallons of water with a clap of thunder and a streak of lightening. Clouds usually tell if a storm is on the horizon when they cast dark shadows on the earth and hide the sun.

Unfortunately, we will experience storms of life, but as with storms of nature after the fury passes be looking for that spectacular rainbow following the storm God has brought us through. A glorious, breathtaking visual covenant adorning the skyline. An arch of seven colors caused by rays of light from the once hidden sun dancing off water droplets decorating the sky. A spectrum of color displaying the permanent promise from God. A promissory note stretched across the wide blue yonder illuminating the words “I promise.”

A prominent exhibit for the whole world to see. A reminder to all creation that God is a Promise Keeper. To see a rainbow, you have to experience the storm and when the storms of life rage; God is our calm in the eye of the storm. We can be confident just beyond the turbulence of life there is a rainbow colored with His love and His promises.

For His Glory

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 10, 2019

When Today Triggers Yesterday

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 (ESV)

Can honestly say every time I drive past this landmark, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. Nothing unusual or unique about it – it’s simply a group of picnic tables near a rest area before you get to Charlottesville. A quiet peaceful spot. Perfect for a picnic. Great place to just enjoy the calm and hear the water in the creek trickling by. Soothing to a weary soul.

I was that weary one many years ago. On my way to UVA to meet with specialists, we stopped for a quick break and ate our lunch without a word ever spoken between us. Some moments are like that – dread and exhaustion leave little room for conversation. Got back in our car and headed on our way.

Quietness filled a room occupied with sick women where smiles were scarce as many entertained the shadows of death. UVA would provide little answers and ultimately a major surgery would occur before healing could happen. Definitely difficult and painful days. Ones I will never forget. And nestled right in the midst of them is a clear reckoning of the sweetness of our God. Priceless moments when He drew me closer than I had ever been to Him. Simple reminders of His love, peace and grace overflowing me.

Triggers of the desperation I felt that day resurface when I travel up 29 North evoking those precious memories. Gratitude rises to the surface when I pass by the one spot where peace and quiet settled my chaotic soul.

That my friends was over thirty years ago and the sacredness of life never escapes me. God answered many prayers – some were no’s and some were yes’ – none were out of the scope of His power and might. Countless ways God showed up when I needed Him the most. Memories of His promises spoken to my heart – deep lessons learned in the midst of suffering propelling me forward – flourishing rather than simply surviving.

Maybe you’ve been there too – when landmark’s recall God’s faithfulness. His love story to you unfolding one page at a time. Snapshots of where He’s taken you in this journey and reminders of His protective hand guiding and leading you along the way. Cherish the landmark. Share the story. Encourage someone else who’s shadows loom larger than life. Steward what God has entrusted to you and you’ll be amazed at how He births fresh joy and renewed hope in others who desperately need His touch.

“Father, not a single tear is ever wasted in Your sight. You are ever present in the midst of our storms, and Your faithfulness serves as a constant reminder – Your love is extravagant and beyond comprehension.

Praising You for giving us the story of us to share with our world.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 9, 2019

Walking In Humility

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.” Matthew 5:5 (NLT)

John the Baptist was a bit different. He wore camel hair clothes with a leather belt. His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey, and he lived in the wilderness. He denounced the religious establishment. He once called the Pharisees and Sadducees (religious leaders) a “brood of snakes” while throwing down the gauntlet: “’Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.’” (Matthew 3:8)

John was also meek.

Meek? When we think of meekness, we might not picture a man like John. In our key verse, those who are humble (or meek) are those who are willing to view themselves as they really are and submit to God and His Word.

John had reason to be proud. An angel announced his birth, proclaiming that John would have the “spirit and power of Elijah” as he prepared the way for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. However, when given the opportunity to brag of his place in the kingdom of God, John responded to queries about his identity with this statement: “’I’m not even worthy to be his [Jesus’] slave and untie the straps of his sandal.’” (John 1:27)

John recognized himself for what he really was—“a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!’” He submitted himself to God and His Word as he spoke the truth with boldness and clarity.

Do we have to live on the outskirts of society or eat locusts and honey in order to possess humility? How can we realize who we really are? “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 NLT) Jesus is our Good Shepherd (John 10:11 NLT), Who sacrifices His life for us. Without Him, we are lost sheep.

Will we choose to submit to God and His Word? Which door will we open? Door #1: We can take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. Our reward is superficial praise and temporary adoration. Door #2: We can submit to God, seeking His will, obeying His commands, and praising Him along the way. Our reward is inheriting the whole earth. I choose door #2. I’m with John.

“Lord, I recognize that without You I am a lost sheep. I choose to submit myself to You and Your Word in everything I do.”

For His Glory

Tammy Randlett (http://staletoast.com)
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 8, 2019

Moments of Surprise

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 (HCSB)

Surprises can be a wonderful thing! Just recently sprang one on my husband for his birthday. Priceless to see the joy of discovering an unknown special trip. What he didn’t know, I was fully aware of. All the details he would have loved to have, I already had planned out. I knew exactly where we were going….he did not. That is the element of surprise, and I loved every minute of leading him to our destination. Mission accomplished.

Much easier to be the one in control, the one who sees and knows where we’re headed than sitting in the seat of one who is along for the ride. Probably the exact reason I love surprising others but cower at the thought of being surprised myself.

Sounds a lot like faith doesn’t it? We place our faith in One who we have never seen visibly with our eyes. We trust in One who leads and guides us towards purposes we often don’t understand. We chose surrender over knowing and acceptance over fear because we know the heart of the One in control.

Doesn’t make it easier…definitely challenges even the strongest believer in moments of surprise happenings. How will God ever get glory out of this we wonder? Where will this take us? Is there any purpose in this? Questions love to loom large when we can’t see ahead. And if we’re not careful those moments will zero us in on what we don’t know rather than what we do.

Best solution – embrace what we do know. Take the step God is already showing us and trust Him with all the rest. It’s exactly what Abraham did. He left his home and family to journey to a destination unknown to him. It’s exactly what Noah did. He built an ark without an idea of what rain looked like. It’s exactly what twelve men did. The disciples left everything and followed Jesus for the journey of a lifetime.

Yes, surprises can catch us off guard. But nothing is unknown to our God. He knows our story from start to finish and the best part is we are not journeying alone. God is with us each step of the way.

“Father, Your surprises are a wonderful thing because they position us to be more like You. Help us to zero in on Your faithfulness and accept the unveiling of your plan one step at a time.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 5, 2019

Common Threads

“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (HCSB)

Unintentionality never serves us well. I’ve often chosen to slide past versus backtrack and deal with. Why? Because confrontation is not my strength even when the one I am confronting is staring back at me in the mirror. We want to think we’ve got it all together but there’s a common thread which continues to rise to the surface. It’s seemingly insignificant or so we convince ourselves to believe. But at the least unexpected moment It gains momentum and reveals itself and it isn’t pretty.

One wrong action births another. One lie attempts to cover half truths. One slip of the tongue reveals bitterness buried deep. One season of envy births multiples of jealousies capitalizing on insecurities. One doubt breeds inaction. One journey to discontent welcomes negativity and emotional empty. One unprayed for decision eases into a lifetime of choices without His wisdom.

So easy to allow the common thread of sin to stitch ugly in our soul. What we thought could be excused, dealt with later or not really that important now has seized our attention. Consequences always speak loud when the results land us flat on our face.

Intentionally failing to examine our heart opens the door for the common thread of sin to take root and multiply. What isn’t extinguished flourishes repeatedly out of control, and the pattern it weaves stifles pretty right out of our life.

Solution – confront ugly head on. Search deep asking God to uncover seeds of shoved down remnants of sin. Breathe confession early morning. Breathe confession late night. Leave each day cleansed, forgiven and resist the urge to simply slide past our ugly. Hold on tight to God’s promises and lean in to hear His guidance. Zero in on His truths, write them on our hearts and keep them in front of our eyes. Being intentional in confronting us will always serve us well.

“Sweet Jesus, I am so thankful for Your grace and Your promise to scatter to the depths of the ocean sins confessed. Amazed at the way You forget, restore, and redeem our ugly transforming it with the beauty of forgiveness.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

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