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Archive for the ‘God's grace’ Category

Hunched over person, in the shadows.

We have the victory over discouragement and depression in Jesus!

WE HAVE THE VICTORY IN CHRIST JESUS!

Our shield of FAITH will extinguish ALL the flaming missiles of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). Our adversary is defeated but persistent in his attacks. He cannot touch us (I John 5:18), but he does tempt us to believe lies.

Dear Friends, please remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? God empowers us to be overcomers and conquerors in this battle of life. But the key is to do it in HIS POWER and not lean on our own understanding.

Hebrews 12:3 says, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I find that focusing my attention on Jesus and worshipping Him revitalizes my spirit and renews my mind. It’s amazing what praising can do! I want to encourage you to worship our Lord—loudly and joyfully, as you sing of His power and His strength and His forgiveness and His grace and His mercy and His love and His purpose and His plan and His will.

Fixing our eyes and minds on Jesus is the spiritual transforming perspective that lifts us up and gives us wisdom from above to deal with life’s trials and challenges.

I pray that you are experiencing His glorious presence right now!

“In His presence is the fullness of Joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

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Don't give up!

Persevering is a burden of my heart! I see too many people quit, give up and stop living for Christ! I want to encourage you that we can persevere! Anyone can burn brightly for a short time, but that is a poor stewardship of one’s life. Godly stewardship of our lives is to live every day for His glory throughout all of life. We need to pace our lives so that we can maintain faithfulness to the end.

The letter to the church in Smyrna acknowledged the tribulation that they were experiencing, but challenged them (and us) to, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10b). What a rich reward—not based on merit, but a gift received by faith.

To be faithful until death does not mean we will all be martyred for our faith. It is exhorting us to live fully devoted lives to Jesus Christ until our final breath on this earth. That is my passion friend! I want to fight the good fight! I want to finish well! I want to keep the faith! I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful slave!” We can do this only through the Holy Spirit’s power that mightily works within us.

As Paul spoke of the glorious resurrection that awaits Christians in I Corinthians 15, he concluded the chapter with these words: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). In these days of uncertainty and economic upheavals, remember that our toil is not in vain in the Lord!

Don’t throw in the towel! Don’t abandon your post! Don’t resign to a meaningless existence! God has a great plan for each of us as we trust Him to persevere through us! Take time now to ask God to refresh you and invigorate your passion for Him, your love for people and your zest for life!

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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

When the rich young ruler approached Jesus with the question, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus got to the heart of the issue. He told the man to go and sell his possessions and give to the poor so he would have treasure in heaven and to follow Jesus. Is Jesus stating that the selling of his goods was merit for heaven? No! He exposed the man’s idol. The only way to heaven is through trusting Jesus. The rich young ruler trusted his riches. That is why Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.”

The man went away grieving! Did you notice that? He was grieving. He was not happy and fulfilled. He walked away from the only One who could grant him true fulfillment. It was at this point that Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) His disciples were astonished at this and asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With people this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Be encouraged, Friend! There are some things that are impossible for people—like earning salvation, but Jesus came to offer eternal salvation as a free gift. We only need to humbly trust in Him as Savior and Lord. He is the one who gives true satisfaction, genuine love and everlasting forgiveness.

No matter what circumstances you face, as you focus your attention on God, He will make a way. The key is to keep our faith fixed on God! Trust in Him. Pray to Him. Seek His face. As the old chorus states, When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Have a blessed day!

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Ending the Journey of a Lifetime at Golgotha

Our last day began with a brief tour of the hospital where Tom Gronewald volunteers as a missionary servant to Israel. It was very enlightening to hear about and to see the medical facilities and preparations done by this hospital.

We went from the hope of holistic medicine to the sobering reality of the Holocaust! Touring the Yad Vashem museum and the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust leaves you an ache in your heart. The staggering scenes and video-taped interviews with Holocaust survivors left a grim reminder of the evil that is in this world. It ignites the passion for showing love and restoring the dignity and value of every human being. People matter to God and people matter to us too!

Our final journey took us to the Praetorian where Jesus was flogged, mocked and spat upon. He went through all the agony of Gethsemane, the beatings and the crucifixion for us!

Wow, what a Savior!

We wept as we stood on the stones in which Jesus received His cruel thrashing. We followed the Via Dolorosa , the way of suffering where Jesus carried His cross with the help of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21).

Along this busy road we came to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. We were truly standing on holy ground as we saw the Skull in the rocky cliff and personally witnessed the empty tomb. We gathered to read, worship and celebrate Holy Communion. What a special time of personal renewal and spiritual intimacy with our Lord. Richard played his violin and Kyler led us in worship as we spent an hour and a half just praising God for His gracious sacrifice on our behalf. This is the fitting conclusion to an amazing tour.

Isaiah 53:4-5 reveals the prophetic truth of our Messiah Jesus:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

Our group has truly become a family and many are already planning to join us on our next trip to Israel and Greece from July 8-22, 2011. Please pray about joining us as well. You will never be the same!

Shalom!

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It's an amazing gift to walk where Jesus walked and pray where Jesus prayed.

An early morning after a late night was well worth the effort as we walked along the Dan River to Tel Dan. This hike invigorated everyone with the beauty and splendor of this land. This resembles the land that the Israelites of old found:

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).

These eight items listed in this passage of fruitful produce are still national crops today as well. We also could look into the Lebanese and Syrian borders where so many military conflicts have occurred.

Caesarea Philippi was our next stop, the most northeast place that Jesus traveled. Like the Dan River, another spring flows as a head water tributary for the Jordan. It was here that Jesus questioned His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (read all of Matthew 16:13-20).

This Roman colony was the place where they worshipped the false god Pan, of lower Echo. Here they had the “gates of Hell” where they performed sacrifices to their pagan gods. It was also here that Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus was the Master teacher who utilized visual illustrations to impact His listeners with spiritual truths. Praise the Lord that He is the One who is building His church!

Back in Galilee, we ate a St. Peter’s fish lunch and then came to Capernaum, the place where Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry (Mark 1:21-3:14). It was here that Jesus called five of His disciples; therefore, we learned about what being a disciple really looks like.

Passages of John 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:8-11 and Luke 14:25-27 all point out key qualities of being a biblical disciple! We had a spiritual time of worshipping God right there on the sea shore of Galilee. It is remarkable to walk where Jesus walked, pray where Jesus prayed, teach where Jesus taught and worship where Jesus worshipped. Please pray that our lives will never be the same as I pray for you too. Thanks!

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At the top of Mount Sinai

Following the Exodus of Israel through Sinai desert!

Leaving Cairo, we traveled under the Suez Canal and spent the day going through the Sinai desert on our way to Mt. Sinai. According to tradition, it was on this mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19 and 20), which we reviewed with our family on the bus. The mountain is also reputed to have served as the site where Moses was commissioned from God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). The alternative mountain is in Saudi Arabia (formerly Midian).

The hike to the top of Mt. Sinai was grueling, but well worth it. We had a full moon as we started hiking at 2:00 a.m. to climb for more than four miles. God provided an amazing site of the sunrise to the east and the full moon illuminating mountain ranges to the west.

Chelsea took a picture of the full moon and a brilliant blue cross appeared in the photo. As we waited to see the sunrise, there appeared a bright blue light just above the rising sun. It seemed as if God was affirming His manifest presence to us.

We left Egypt and entered the “Promised Land” of Israel and there seemed to be a lighter spiritual atmosphere. It was here that we felt like we were standing on holy ground. We greeted our good friend and tour guide Ido Keynan and “Yoshea,” our driver from the last tour. It was a great time of fellowship and laughter driving up to the Dead Sea.

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Greetings from Egypt

Our tour family is bonding well as we experienced our first day of touring, even with some jet-lag! Ancient history filled our eyes and ears as our Egyptologist guided us through the fascinating Egyptian Museum spanning over 5,000 years. We learned that headdresses and eye liner were originally used as protection from the sun and sand of Egypt—only later did they become fashion/religious coverings and cosmetics.

The forty day mummification process was explained and then “dead” results viewed in the Royal Mummies Hall—this same embalming process was used on the Patriarchs, Jacob and Joseph, signifying their high standing in Egypt at their deaths (Genesis 49:33-50:3, 26).

The word “Egypt” occurs over 600 times in Scripture with about 150 times signifying to get “out of Egypt.” However there is one time that God commands to “flee to Egypt.” Matthew 2:13-15 tells the story. After the museum, we ate lunch on the Nile. Next we made a quick trip into the Coptic Christian section of Cairo. The Church of St. Sergius is believed to be one of the places where Joseph, Mary and Jesus stayed during their flight from Herod.

The Giza plateau was our next destination to view the impressive Pyramids and Sphinx, as well as “Cheops Boat Museum,” housing one of the large boats buried next to the pyramids to be used in the afterlife. There was drama unfolding as our group arrived after the gate was locked to enter the Sphinx viewing/photo area, but our tour security guard convinced them to open up the gates for us.

Throughout this day, I kept thinking about how much time, energy and effort these ancient people took to prepare for the afterlife. WOW! Scriptures emphasize the fact that we will all give an account of our lives before God one day. My question after today is, “Are we preparing for our eternal home with the same kind of passion?” Obviously, we don’t need to build a pyramid, nor be mummified to secure eternal life. But we do need to repent of our sins, and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord to obtain salvation. Then we make our lives count for eternity by our ministry for His glory.

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