Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 22, 2017

Blessed With His Presence

“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I (God) may dwell in their midst.” Exodus 25:8 (ESV)

Amazing how the holiday rush hovers as soon as calendars flip to November 1. Christmas appears in stores before the first leaf hits the ground. The frenzy to buy, wrap and bake overtakes our calendar before the turkey and dressing hits our tummy. Strategic Black Friday shopping consumes our focus. And where is Thanksgiving in the midst of all this? Perhaps the world scribbles it in just so we can enjoy football, turkey and pumpkin pie.

Quite sure that wasn’t how the Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving. This gathering was much more than an event – it was a blessing of what God provided – abundant harvest. Simply blessings offered and conversation shared – giving thanks together.

Flip back through the pages of scripture (1 Chronicles 16) and we’ll find a praise gathering in the midst of the Israelites. It wasn’t about harvest, delicious food or abundance – it simply centered on God’s presence. King David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring the ark of the Lord back to the center of where they lived. He prepared a special place – a tent – where the ark would be placed. And the enthusiasm that echoed from marching back with the ark was amazing. Shouts filled the air. Trumpets sounded. Harps and lyres were played, and David danced before the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind. And on that day, David decreed for the first time that thanks be given to the Lord by the priests. No turkey passed around the table. No mashed potatoes or dressing to share. No pumpkin pie for dessert – just simply worship filling the air.

Real Thanksgiving is found in the heart of those who chose to live in awe and wonder of the sweet presence of God. Worshipping and praising Him for who He is – the Most High, Holy God!

“Father, we are so blessed to experience the pleasure and joy of being in Your presence.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

(Women’s Life Devotionals will resume on Monday – thanks)

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Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 21, 2017

Genuine Versus Knock-Off

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)

We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. Instead of Trix, we ate Circus Balls cereal. Instead of Rice Krispies, we ate Crispy Rice. Instead of Apple Jacks, we ate Apple O’s. When we visited my aunt and uncle, they served us name-brand soda, cereal, chips … even real Oreos, not Hydrox. On those trips, I was confronted with the truth: genuine beats knock-off every time.

Our key verse delivers the same truth. As believers in Christ, Paul tells us to “really love” others, not just fake it. Easy to talk about, but tricky to live out. In this upcoming season of holiday parties and get-togethers, what are some practical ways we can “really love” others?

Show interest: How did you meet your husband? What led you to your current job? What do you like to do for fun? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? Asking an open-ended question (not a yes or no answer) is a great way to show others we care.

Listen: We’ve all been there. Someone asks you a question but their attention wanders before you can fully answer the question. In that moment, do you feel loved? Let’s make the effort to listen without preparing the next comment or question in our heads.

Pray: How can I pray for you? The ultimate act of service is bringing another’s requests before the Lord. Praying for others may lead us to action, but the service of prayer is so valuable all on its own. Just as a seed planted in the ground—watered and soaking up the sun—grows, so a prayer offered on behalf of another grows a seed of love for that person in us.

Remember: The next time you see that person you have shown an interest in, listened to, and prayed for, ask about something they shared with you. Committing something of the previous conversation to memory speaks volumes of the honor and value you place on that person.

Putting these principles into action will not be easy, but genuine beats knock-off every time. Are you ready to challenge yourself to “really love” others?

“Especially during the holidays when we are surrounded by friends, family, and coworkers at parties and get-togethers, Lord, guide us in how we can “really love” others.”

For His Glory

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 20, 2017

Jesus, Our Bridge to Heaven

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

I have always been a fan of bridge structures and am known to photograph them as I get near them. Today I had to cross a bridge to get from a small country road to a main road. It was a very simple bridge, with no special architecture detail that I cared to photograph, but that little bridge on that country road got me thinking.

As I sat on that bridge waiting for the traffic flow to decrease for me to enter the main road, I thought about what would have happened if I had gotten to that point of my journey and there had been no bridge to take me to the other side. You see, that bridge was strategically placed over a river. Had that bridge not been there, I would not have been able to get to the road on the other side. I have crossed many bridges over the years.  Some were longer than others, and some were over rivers, while others were over other types of obstacle.  But they all served the same purpose, which was to take people from point A to point B, which usually involved some kind of big dip, river or valley.

In life, we also have bridges we must cross in order to eliminate existing gaps, and sometimes, we must be the builders of such bridges. When God saw that the people He created were making poor decisions and needed to have a way to be redeemed back to Him, He gave us a bridge through His only Son, Jesus Christ. He sent Jesus to this fallible world so that He could remind us that God loves us and that so long as we had Jesus, we could find our way back to Him.

I am so grateful that the Lord did not give up on you and me and that He has made a way for us to find redemption from our sins. Through Jesus, we have the assurance we do not have to perish at the sight of a valley, because He can bridge that gap for us.

 

“Thank You, Lord, for Your Word, which is a lamp for our feet and a light on our paths. It helps us to stay the course and find our way to You.”
 

For His Glory
 
Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 17, 2017

Dancing The Sweet Song of Victory

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”  But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”  Numbers 13:30-31 (NIV)

It was the adventure of a lifetime – twelve leaders – one from each tribe of Israel chosen to scope out the Promised Land.  They had heard about it, probably even dreamed of the moment they would step foot on the soil. And now, they were part of the elite chosen to go first, to see first, to explore for 40 days and then report back to Moses.

I don’t know about you, but perhaps I would have felt pretty special to be one of that twelve.  What a huge responsibility.  What a great chance to taste and see the good they had heard so much about.

Isn’t that how most adventures with God start?  We love being chosen, special and first.  But like these men, we  often allow our perspective to minimize our God.  Ten chose to come running back with defeat and fear written all over them. Two lone rangers chose to inspire and motivate dancing to the sweet song of victory.

Where would we find ourselves –  proclaiming defeat or claiming victory?  Would we be willing to taste good mingled with battle, challenges and unknowns?  Or would we cower in the corner, hiding away and missing the adventure?

Forfeited opportunities rob us of the joy found in maximizing our God – viewing life from His perspective.  Are we opening our eyes to the view that says He is awesome, mighty, powerful and specializes in turning impossible into glorious?  How we long to be like Caleb and Joshua who confidently and boldly stood their ground even though the perceived wisdom of the many attempted to drown out their praise.

“Father, lift our eyes from earthly reasoning and reveal to us the power of taking You at Your Word.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 16, 2017

When Obedience Goes Wrong

He (Jesus) replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  Luke 11:28 (NIV)

Stunned.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  That someone would say such things.  Immediate hurt, confusion, disbelief.  Alternatives were considered with prayer paramount. Godly counsel suggested the Matthew 18 approach.  Phraseology rehearsed and executed with precision.  Textbook outcome.  Until the next time.  And the next time.  Obedience met with opposition and unmet expectations.  It all went terribly wrong.  I mean wrong.  Terribly.  The result not only broken relationship, but broken hopes, and seemingly an erosion of everything worked for.

I wonder if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation.  As you rush towards an opportunity, the door suddenly slams.   Misunderstanding and a friendship never really returns to intimacy.  An unexpected change and the well-honed plan is trashed.  The sting of rejection, abandonment and fear can crowd in and crowd out the Spirit’s voice of comfort.

As I’ve learned, obedience doesn’t mean that it will go my way.  From our position of love, we strive to be obedient to our Lord.  We know well His dictates to live in unity, to endure hardship, to die to self.  Are we ready when moments of testing present themselves?

“Trust is our gift back to God and He finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it” (Brennan Manning).  I am sure there are many lessons to learn and develop in my trial. At a whim, He is able to re-direct my course of action for I have chosen that He establishes my steps.  Welcome is He to show Himself faithful to others through my brokenness.   He knows the big picture, the intertwining of the pieces and how He will receive the maximum glory.  At the core of it all is to establish my ability to trust God and to declare His Lordship in my life.  When obedience seems to have gone wrong, I must decide to remain in the trial as a further act of obedience.

Rather than withdraw from my Creator, I must resolve to press into Him.  Prayers uninhibited by unrepented sin.  My heart open before the Lord and receptive to His comfort, correction and care.  To love Him at all costs, serve Him with all fervor and remain steadfast to the truths He has presented before me.  Ways not exhibited by the world, but devotion exemplified by Christ on the cross.

“Father, may I go forward in obedience knowing You have a plan and purpose for all.  In Your wisdom, You are refining this vessel and making it useful for Your glory.”

 

For His Glory,

Kathryn Hayman
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 15, 2017

A Valuable & Irreplaceable Part Of The Whole

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” Romans 12:4-6a (NLT)

It was a gorgeous day outside. My son Kaden rode his scooter up and down the driveways in our cul-de-sac with his cousins. As the afternoon wore on, fatigue combined with carelessness resulted in a heart-stopping scream. I ran outside, fearing the worst. As my eyes took in the scene, I felt my lunch threatening to make a reappearance. Limbs and scooter lay mangled at the bottom of our driveway. Gingerly holding up Kaden’s arm, I noticed one too many elbows.

With a Tarheel-blue cast to set the bone properly, Kaden tried performing his normal tasks. He was thrilled to have a pass for school for the next few weeks, but struggled to brush his teeth, eat with a fork, and shower. Everything was difficult. Before the end of the first day, he was miserable and frustrated. “I never realized how much I use my right arm,” he moaned.

The Bible refers to the church as the body of Christ. Just like Kaden struggled to do everyday tasks without his right arm, our churches struggle when individual believers neglect to serve in their own unique ways. Without a valuable and irreplaceable part playing its role, the church limps along laboring to perform normal tasks.

We don’t have to be good at everything. (Did I just hear a sigh of relief?) All we need is to be connected to a local church–a body of believers that we can serve with our gifts and talents … and be served with their collective gifts and talents.

I am so thankful for our church. I’m grateful that I can rely on others in their unique giftedness as they rely on me in my unique giftedness. Are you underestimating your value to the church?

“Father, thank You for the way You have uniquely gifted each one of us. Create in us a longing to serve our churches in the way that only we can.”

For His Glory

 

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

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 14, 2017

No Regrets

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

 

How many times do we hear people say how sorry they are for not having taken the time to enjoy the company of loved ones and now their loved ones are gone? How many times do we hear people – or even ourselves – say “I wish I’d done this; I wish I’d done that…?” It seems like we are always living in regret because of something or another. It seems seldom that we feel completely satisfied about something, content with our life as it is. It seems like we are always running after a prize or recognition that takes up all of our energy, thought, and time. We set our minds on achieving more “things” and we forget that life is not all about gathering titles and prizes. I don’t mean to say that receiving some type of accolade is not good for the soul – not at all! I mean that life is not and should not be comprised of achievements that cannot bring peace of mind and contentment.

 

Forget the “should’ve beens, could’ve beens and would’ve beens!!!” Today is a gift we can act upon. Yesterday will not return and tomorrow is only a promise. Life is a gift from God, and if we look to Him for the wisdom on how to live it while being a good steward of what he has bestowed upon us, those expressions of regret will not be a part of our vernacular.

 

Make time for what is important. Live in such a way that when you do choose to look back, you will look back at times when you laughed with your loved ones, memories were made with special people, and hearts were filled with love, hope, joy, gratitude, and faith to keep on keeping on.

 

“Abba, You bless us with so much each day. May gratitude always fill our hearts and may there never be room for regret in our hearts. ”
 

For His Glory

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 13, 2017

Seeking Beauty In The Midst of Ugly

    “He (Moses) persevered because he saw Him (God) who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27b (NIV)

Nothing I enjoy more on a beautiful Fall day than a hike.  Love seeing the leaves carpet my every step, and the sun peeking through the naked limbs warming my face.  Pure joy right in the midst of the ending of one season and the birth of another. Problem was on this particular day, I couldn’t see it. Despite my enthusiasm for a hike, the misty fog was obstructing or rather hovering over me and my view.  But instead of heading back down the rocky path, we kept pressing on.  Exercise won out over a scenic view, and when we least expected it, the fog lifted ever so slightly to reveal the orange, yellow and red hues surrounding us. Beauty unveiling itself right before our eyes.

Ever find yourself desiring “the view?”  You know the landscape of life that appears perfect, flawless, gorgeous colors of joy.  We’ve probably all been there right?  We desire, we anticipate and we expect the beauty  to unfold with every step we take.  We can feel the warmth of promises given, and we drink deep of the joy found in endings that birth greater beginnings.  But what happens when “the view” we wanted isn’t what we see?  What do we do when all that’s right before us obstructs, overshadows, and hovers over the very things we so long for?

Sweet friend this is the place where perseverance kicks in.  We keep doing the right thing –  we continue moving in the right direction despite difficulties, failures or opposition (1 Corinthians 15:58). This is when we actively choose to trust what we can’t see (Isaiah 26:3). We keep pressing on instead of turning away from the One who goes before us.  We don’t give up even if it means wrestling through.  We cling to every promise, and we put one foot in front of the other even if we end up crawling.  We surrender our ideals of “perfect” and embrace His greater glory.  We choose to see the beauty God is orchestrating in us rather than seeking the beauty we thought was birthed in ease.

Our Heavenly Father hovers over us whispering His love.  He showers us with comfort, hope and peace.  He awakens us with songs of rejoicing (Zephaniah 3:17).  And when we least expect it, He unveils the most incredible plan.  Sweet friend don’t settle for “the view” choose to wait expectantly, hope courageous and faithfully pursue His leading – you’ll never be disappointed.

“Father,  when ugly floods my journey help me to remember that Your loving kindness has approved what is truly best for me – teach me to choose Your view.”

 

For His Glory

 

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 10, 2017

When Listening Is Essential

“The Lord came and stood there calling as at the other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel said, Speak for your servant is listening.” I Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

Grocery shopping used to be uneventful, but now I know all the drama consuming the girl standing in line behind me. Too much information, but she is oblivious to the fact that everyone is hearing her conversation, including several giggling toddlers. Me, I just want to checkout and go home.

Tuning out all the excess chatter takes practice, but if we’re not careful we may start to  tune out the wrong things. Listening is a dying art – one that we proclaim we do – but our actions reveal we don’t. Multi-tasking works great in juggling schedules, managing our homes and being productive on the job. But buried beneath tasks, lists and noise, we often find ourselves missing the real silent message given by our children, our spouse or co-workers.

Wonder how many times we’ve sat at the feet of Jesus and then walked away with no information? Oh, yes we came with questions. We even poured our hearts out – our live drama was for His ears alone. But when we finished, we were all done – we got up and walked away. Feeling better for our unloading of emotions, yet lacking His words because we failed to listen. Maybe we’d already decided what direction to take. Maybe we were too distracted to give Him our full attention. You know that’s what real listening is all about – giving someone else our attention. Slowing down and being intentionally focused so we don’t miss what they are saying.

Wonder what opportunities we may have missed because He called our name, but we weren’t listening?

“Father, it is so easy to glide through my day tuning in and out to the noise – listening to bite size conversations. Help me to know, linger and hear Your voice.”

For His Glory

Janet Martin
TRBC Women’s Life

 

Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | November 9, 2017

Our Brothers’ Keepers

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.”  Zechariah 7:9 (NIV)

Usually, when people go on vacation, they do not make any plans other than those involved in the “fun” category. It is not uncommon to see tourists walking down the street with a map in their hands, looking for restaurants, museums, amusement parks, and other tourist locations. This is exactly what my son André and I were doing, with his kids in tow, as we walked the streets of Washington, DC, while visiting town.

That Sunday evening we were heading towards the White House, when we heard loud screams coming from a few feet away. By the sounds of it, it was not hard to discern that it was the sound of a female in distress. My boy (yes, I still call him that) looked at different directions and realized that the screaming was coming from the tour bus parked alongside the curb that led to the South Lawn part of the White House.  He ran towards the bus and found a young male beating on the female bus driver. That demonstration of wrong use of force was disturbing for two reasons. First, the young man was much stronger than the woman and he just kept on beating her up.  Secondly,  bystanders did nothing to help and instead stood and watched. André was able to get the seemingly drugged man away from the bus driver and keep him restrained until the Secret Service officers arrived at the scene and detained the assailant.

We never anticipated having such an eventful outing. What occurred that evening on that sidewalk was definitely not anywhere in the maps we held in our hands. Nonetheless, because my son believed in defending the powerless, the situation was soon brought under control. We are all a reflection of Whose we are. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). When we see injustice, we must step forward and defend those who cannot defend themselves, just as Jesus did.

“Lord, thank You for being our source always. We pray that we will look to You each time our faith is put to the test. Help us to remain in You ”

 
For His Glory
 

Luska Natali
TRBC Women’s Life

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