How Are You Showing Your Gratitude for the Ultimate Sacrifice?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Have you ever wondered what it might be like if we could somehow “repay” Jesus for what he did for us by laying down His life for us?

The reality is that we can never repay Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice.  Salvation through Christ Jesus is a wonderful gift, which freely and lavishly flows from God’s amazing grace.  There is nothing we could ever do to earn His forgiveness, not now, not ever.

Think about it though.  If someone, perhaps even a complete stranger were to do something kind for us, like bail us out of some kind of trouble, perhaps even saving our very life, we would most certainly be forever grateful to that person.  We would ask with the deepest of sincerity, “How can I repay you?”  We would be searching in earnest for the best way that we knew how, to show our gratitude to that person for their unselfish act committed on our behalf.

Anything that anyone on this earth has done for us though, pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us.  He committed the ultimate sacrifice, by freely and knowingly submitting Himself to a violent, brutal death on a cross in order to save us from our sins. I don’t know about you, but I know of no one else who would be willing to do all for me that Jesus has.

So what are we doing to “repay” Jesus or show our gratitude for His unselfish act of love and mercy carried out toward us?  Do we “repay” Him with sin by living lives full of lies, envy, greed, idolatry, hate, gossip, anger, dissensions, selfish ambitions, or any of the other things mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21?  Perhaps we “repay” Him by living our lives on our own terms as though He doesn’t even exist.

Or do we “repay” Him by loving Him, by loving others as ourselves, reaching out to help those in need around us?  Are we living our lives in righteousness and continually walking with God?  What about taking up our own cross and dying to ones self on a daily basis as Jesus did during His time on earth? Are we setting a good example as believers by exhibiting godly traits such as love, humility, self control, peace, joy and compassion as ambassadors of Christ should?  Are we sharing the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world?

Repayment?  That will never happen.  We can’t.  Gratitude however, THAT is the key!  Lets show Him our gratitude.

It’s imperative as believers to genuinely examine our hearts and minds as to how we have or haven’t been showing Christ our gratitude on a daily basis for his unselfish act of love and mercy on our behalf. For me, even as I write this, I am once again feeling pangs of conviction as I’m being reminded of my own short-comings in my daily walk with the Lord.  After all, I would, as the saying goes, do cartwheels to thank and show a complete stranger my gratitude for their act of kindness that pales in comparison to the magnitude of what Christ did for me.

Unbelievers have chosen to reject and ignore the One who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Unfortunately, sometimes we, as believers, are guilty in our own right.  For we sometimes foolishly become complacent and take for granted that all too precious gift of Christ’s sacrifice.

So I ask, “What have you been doing to show your appreciation?”

 

 

 

 

 

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When Life Gives You More Than You  Can Bear 

wp-image-729923988 I had been struggling to cope with our then, barely 17 year old daughters pregnancy and her having left home against our will to live with the baby’s father.  I missed her terribly. Sometimes love hurts. On top of that, I had received a phone call from my father in law’s wife, distraught over the painful news of her daughter’s untimely death in a car accident. Sometimes love hurts.

For the time being I set my own pain aside to focus on the needs of my father in law’s wife. I couldn’t begin to imagine the immense pain she must have felt.

While praying to my heavenly Father, I thought about how He was there as that awful fatal car accident happened.  He was there when my father in law’s wife received the horrifying news of the loss of her daughter and He was there as I laid on my bedroom floor trying to catch my breath, sobbing uncontrollably after my precious daughter with child left home.  “Father”, I whispered. “I know You are a God of love and compassion. You see and feel my pain and anguish. You are witness to billions of people suffering and in pain every day; people hurting one another, hurting themselves. You are there to see the pain of marriages and relationships crumbling, of families being torn apart, people sick, starving, lonely and in despair. You see and hear the grief stricken cries of overwhelming pain when people receive the news about the death of their loved ones. You see it all, Lord!”

Our God, in His never ending love bears the pain and anguish of not just me and my father in law’s wife, but He bears the pain and anguish of the entire broken world!    From my own weak and limited human perspective I find myself asking God how He copes, how He endures the pain.

As I ponder it all in my heart, I’m reminded that my Heavenly Father sees the big picture, the final outcome of His perfect plan; the plan that I, cannot yet see.

If we could see the outcome of His perfect plan, one for our own good right up front, how different things might be for us.  But the reality is that some of our time here in a broken world will be spent in pain not finding the answers that we so desperately hoped for this side of heaven. The purpose may not be clear til we stand face to face with our Lord and Savior.

As I turn to 1 Corinthians 13, I hear His still, small voice. “Yes, Rebecca, love can cause us pain, but it’s my perfect love that gets us through that pain.”

1 Corinthains 13: 4,7,8a tells us : Love is patient, love bears up under anything and everything that comes, it’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, it endures everything without weakening and never fails.

Yes, that’s how our loving God endures the pain of love. We can too, through His perfect love for us!

Which God Will You Choose?

wp-image-313851332Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!   Psalm 34:8

For me, as a Christian, God is love and God is all things good.  From the precious baby just born to proud, weepy eyed parents, to the stars he so carefully placed in the sky for us to enjoy, even to the refreshing breeze that blows through your hair on a hot summer day.

Most importantly, God takes great care of those who have called upon Him in the name of His son, Jesus, and surrendered their lives to Him.  For You O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Psalm 86:5

God’s grace is amazing in the life of the believer.  Remind you of a song?  We don’t deserve His love, His forgiveness, or His grace, yet, because of Jesus, He lavishly bestows it upon us.  Because of that, as a Christian, I can confidently say the following about God.

When I am down, He lifts me up.  But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3 *******  He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. Psalm 113:7

When I am treated wrongly He is on my side.  The Lord is on my side, I will not fear.  What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper. I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.  Psalm 118:6,7 ******* If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:31b

When I need someone to talk to, He is always there to listen.  He is my friend.  When the righteous cry for help the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 ***For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayer.  1 Peter 3:12a

When I make a mistake or do wrong,  He lovingly convicts me, and bestows mercy on me time and time again.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22,23

He is my rock, my refuge, my strength, my fortress, my salvation.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

He brings me unending peace and joy in a dark, troubled, chaotic world.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7 ******* You make know to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.  Psalm 16:11

Lastly, my God will never forsake me or let me down so I need not fear.   Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

That is the God that, as a believer,  I am so blessed beyond measure to know!

Tragically, many people will never have the astounding privilege of knowing the God that I know.  For there will be those who choose to reject the God of love, peace, joy, refuge and hope.  For them, God will be a God of unspeakable wrath.

For, the same God who so amazingly created this earth, with all of it’s splendor for us to enjoy, will one day, in judgement, bring it to total destruction.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and it’s works will be burned up.  2 Peter 3:10

The same God who lifts me up will be the downfall for the proud and rebellious.  “Behold,  I am against you, O proud one,” declares the Lord of hosts.  “For your day has come, the time when I will punish you.  The proud one shall stumble and fall with no one to raise him up.” Jeremiah 50:31,32a

The very same God who is on my side will be against those who have refused Him and the same God who listens to me and is my friend, will not hear when those who refused to listen to Him try to futily explain their “case.”  “As I called and they would not hear, so they called and I would not hear.” says the Lord of Hosts.  Zechariah 7:13

The God who convicts me lovingly and bestows mercy upon me time and time again when I do wrong, will condemn harshly and show no mercy to those who refused to believe in Him or acknowledge Him even though they so desperately cry out for mercy.  Therefore, I will act in wrath.  My eye will nor spare nor will I have pity.  And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.  Ezekiel 8:18

The God who is my rock, refuge and fortress, will one day be the reason why people cry out for the rocks to fall on them in order to find refuge from His wrath, but they will find no refuge.  Calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?”  Revelation 6:16,17

Finally, the God who is my peace and joy, will be the God of sorrow, distress and eternal damnation for those not written in the book of life.  In flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  2 Thessalonians 1:8 ******* Anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:15

Before it’s too late, ask yourself, “Which God do I want to know?”

Live Like the Dandelion!

The dandelion. Probably one of the most disliked, unappreciated “weeds” in God’s creation.

But did you know that the dandelion is also considered an herb?   It’s greens are sometimes used in salads and it’s flowers to make dandelion wine. The dandelion also plays a very important part in the pollinating of fruit trees.

I, for one, love dandelions!  I enjoy seeing their bright yellow round flowers poking up through the grass giving a nice contrast to what would otherwise be a very boring all green lawn.

And have you ever closely inspected a dandelion? So many beautiful, intricate petals that God not only so carefully and lovingly designed, but He also knows exactly how many petals each one has!

We have a lot in common with the dandelion. We too have been carefully and lovingly created by that same God who like the petals of a dandelion,   knows the number of hairs on each of our heads.

Eventually though, those beautiful bright yellow petals, as they age and mature,  turn to a silver gray. The winds of time blow on the dandelion and one by one the beautiful petals which have now turned to seed, leave it’s life giving stem, and are carried off to an unknown destination.

Yes, that dandelion may seemingly  be gone, but it’s life giving seeds, having been carried away by the winds, have landed in new soil, in new locations. Some are taking root right in its own yard, while other seeds having taken root in places much further away, will give life to new dandelions, helping trees elsewhere to bear fruit.

We too, age, mature and turn gray just like the dandelion. Eventually the winds of time will blow over us and we will be no more. We too, like the dandelion will leave some sort of seed behind.

But unlike the dandelion, we have the ability to be more purposeful in where and whom we plant our seeds.  By letting God’s light and love shine through us, we can plant good seeds; seeds of truth, righteousness, love, kindness, and forgiveness,  in those closest to us or in the farthest of places that we can’t even begin to imagine!

I don’t know about you, but I want to plant seeds that will help those after me to grow and bear much fruit for God and His kingdom.
Why not let God’s love and light shine through you while you are still in full bloom!

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Two Dear Old Faces

20170725_121037Pastor William Toyer and his wife Joan. 

 

I recently saw a picture of my former pastor and his wife from the church that I had attended as a child. It was at that very same church that I first came to know the Lord and was baptized.  Now, I know that God is the only one who can save, but there is a special place in my heart for my former pastor and his wife who willingly served God and preached the truth that I so desperately needed to hear all those years ago. Seeing their faces so many years later was the inspiration for this poem.

 

I saw a picture today of two dear old faces, more aged than years before for time had left it’s traces.

Yet, when I look at those faces I will forever see, the much younger faces of my memory.

A memory very precious to my heart where it’s stored, for it was through their dedication and obedience that I came to know the Lord.

Many years have passed since I’d seen them back then, but I know some day up in heaven we will meet once again.

Until then my prayer for them both will be, that God will bless them and their family.

Yes, may He bless them both in their remaining days, for teaching and guiding us in all of God’s ways.

Thank you dear Pastor for preaching the truth, the truth that saved me back in my youth.

I’m still standing in that truth this very day, and the gratitude that fills my heart is more than words can say.

Yes, two dear old faces so precious to me!

 

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ODE TO MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE 

 

By Rebecca Berschwinger

 

I went for a ride the other day with my husband and son. We took a ride out to my grandparents old house where the visit really touched upon my heart. My grandparents are no longer with us, nor is my mom and several great aunts and uncles, but oh how the memories from those moments with them at that house live on, which is what inspired me to write the following poem.

 

Drove to my Grandmother’s old house; opened the car door and got out, and walked around the place where my fondest childhood memories were lived out.

I looked around and gave a heavy sigh, deep down inside I wanted to cry.

For what was once a lively and friendly home, now stood silent, broken down, abandoned, alone.

I peered through the dirty windows to see what I was able,  and there I saw the dining room where we all as a family had sat at the table.

Grandmother and Grandfather, Mom and Dad, cousins,  uncles and aunts; sounds of songs and laughter echoed through my mind as I gave a final glance.

Funny how much bigger that room seemed back then. I found myself wishing I could go back and relive those moments once again.

Those moments when precious loved ones now gone still lived, to hear their voices, see their faces, oh, what I would give!

I saw the stairs as I peered through the old front door, funny how much taller and longer they seemed years before.

The living room with the red carpet where I received the news that my little sister had been born, was now just a dirty empty shell, the carpet stripped, looking oh so forlorn.

And the little kitchen where the delicious foods Grandmother so lovingly prepared, now sits dirty, empty and bare.

I remember when we went there all the delicious treats; I always asked for fruits and vegetables, my brother for sweets.

The big willow tree out back with its long droopy branches touching the ground that my brother and I loved to play under has since then been cut down.

Then there’s the old well out front and barely visible now in the concrete, are the outlines of what we’re once my little baby feet.

After I had looked all around I shed more than a tear, for the treasured memories there that I hold oh so dear.

The foundation has caved in, is crumbling, soon that dear old house will be gone, but the wonderful memories stored in my heart will forever live on.

So thank you dear old house, to our family you’ve certainly been a treasure. Because for years you gave our family a place to make memories beyond measure!

 

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Lessons From a Wildflower Part One

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I’m always amazed by the way God speaks to me and reveals Himself through His creation!  I was strolling through the long grass in my unmowed yard the other day, looking heavenward, talking with God and fretting about my current circumstances.

I happened to glance down at my feet and noticed a small yellow wildflower, so I bent over and snatched that little yellow wildflower from its life giving stem and twirled it around between my fingers, closely studying it as I did so. I was awestruck by its beauty, delicacy and intricacy!

My gaze then shifted to the rest of the unmowed yard and my eyes were suddenly opened to many more wildflowers; pinks, purples, whites……all just as beautiful, delicate and intricate as the little yellow one that first caught my attention.

I began to walk around and snap pictures of them with my phone. “Wow!  You made these Lord!”, I exclaimed. It struck me at that moment of how often when I think of God,  I think of Him in terms of His power and grandeur; His bigness.

Yes, God is a big, big, God in terms of His power and might. He created and rules over heaven and earth!  There is nothing too big for Him!  Yet, God is also a gentle, caring God of even the smallest of things. That’s His other side that I sometimes neglect to meditate upon.

Through those tiny flowers in the grass I’m reminded of what a glorious God, a creative artistic Father in heaven He is and I’m so amazed, so thankful.

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