Monday, January 31, 2011
I recently heard a disturbing story while looking for a childhood friend/neighbor. I found out he'd done very well for himself. He owned his own company, obtained all the luxuries, status and financial stability that we all seek. He had a wonderful family, a wife, beautiful teenage triplet daughters, and two grown sons.
Suddenly, when the stock market crashed two years ago, his money and dreams fell with it. He lost it all. In his despair, he ended his life.
Another lost life over meaningless, worldly treasure. His possessions and status defined him.
How much is his life worth, hundreds and thousands of dollars...millions? Can any amount of money replace the loss of a husband, father, son or friend?
The Bible says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
What are you chasing after each day? What have you put in front of your relationship with the Lord?
My friend lost sight of who he was in Christ? He lost sight of his true worth and value. His priorities were taken over by the worlds definition of value; a shallow, lonely pit of lies and deceit. Yes, we all need to live and provide for our families, but when an abundance of money, or lack of it consumes your thoughts, it's time to re-assess your priorities.
I want to remind each one of you to spend the necessary time allowing the Lord to fill your emptiness through a relationship with Him. Put on the full armor of God each morning. Don't lose your way through worldly deception.
Seek, rely on, put your faith, hope, trust and dreams in the one who is able to supply ALL your needs no matter what the circumstances appear to be.
What is the true value of your life?
YOU ARE PRICELESS!
He says to you each day, "BE STILL and KNOW that I AM GOD."
"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!"
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:13-19
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
"I Promise," no sooner had the words come out of his mouth than he realized he had no way of keeping it. How could he? It was out of his control, but what else could he say to the pleading child.
The boy had brought his dog to the shelter. His family had lost their home and could no longer keep their beloved family pet. With tears streaming down his face, the young boy clung to his dog, his best friend. Looking up at the man he begged him, "Please find him a good home, please don't let my Jack die, promise me," he stammered through sobs.
Jack was a small, mangy, mutt, a dog that he was quite certain no one would adopt and yet, he couldn't help but promise the hurting child.
The child's parents pried his hands away and said, "This man promised...he'll find him a home where a new family can love and be loved by little Jack."
The weeks passed by, no matter how hard he tried to push people to adopt little Jack, there he sat, lonely, sad and just days away from being put to sleep. The man was filled with remorse, knowing that he would have to break his promise.
After a sleepless night, he went into work early in the morning, before his scheduled time and told his manager, "I'm going to adopt Jack." "What, that ugly little dog? Why?" his manger replied. His answer was simple, "Because of a promise."
We often make promises and just as often realize that we can't keep them, forget to keep them or simply have no desire to keep them. A promise to men is often just meaningless words.
The Lord however has given us promises we can trust. Promises of hope, faith, love, healing, forgiveness, and new beginnings. He is faithful to His promises. You never have to doubt whether He will keep them. His promises are written in His word. They have been shared throughout history and proven time and time again. His greatest promise fulfilled through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Heavenly Fathers promises are in His timing, in His divine way. A promise that we can be sure is ultimately the best thing for us once it's received, even though it sometimes may not look exactly as we planned or hoped for.
Today, as you read the Bible and look for the Lords re-affirming love, know that He hears your prayers and is faithful to HIS promises!
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
"Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised."
"For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
1 Timothy 4:8
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call."
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
Life's mountains are steep, climbing them hard, but throughout the journey you're becoming stronger. You're being challenged, stretched, pushed to the limit as you climb each new peak. Once you reach the top, you barely catch your breath, enjoying the beauty...finding moments of peace, then it's time to move on again.
You have more mountains to climb.
Each one more challenging than the last, knowing that you have climbed difficult mountains before and made it through. You forge ahead, strong in this knowledge, you keep striving to achieve your hopes and dreams.
Your mountain of life, given to you by your Heavenly Father, equipped with his son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, enables you to achieve more than you ever dreamed possible if you rely on His strength not your own. Let go of your will and seek His. You will never see the true beauty He has for you...the top of your incredible, glorious mountain, until you allow Him to guide you on the right path. You will begin to grow progressively stronger, filled with a never ending peace even in the midst of trials, confident in the knowledge that the Lord is with you on this journey and He has equipped you with all the tools you need to handle the task before you.
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in His paths."
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. And instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed"
Monday, January 10, 2011
story by: lisa petrarca
Our Husky, Allie, howls at us every night at a certain time, letting us know she's ready for her walk. Last night as we did the nightly duties she demands, I walked passed a large, black, rectangular leather fold with two silver snaps on it. It was right on a corner next to a house, so I figured it must be one of the kids who lived there's toy wallet (it was larger than a real wallet.)
My husband, Anthony, decided to go back and check it out. Upon opening it, he found, money, a mans license and several credit cards. We looked for an address on the license and realized that it was a house at the very end of the cul de sac.
We knocked on the door and a small, blond haired boy, about three years old opened it and out rushed a pit bull and a boxer, charging me and Allie. I tried to pull her away as the dogs continued to pursue us. Anthony shouted, "Get Allie out of here!"
He waited at the door for an adult to come. A woman quickly appeared as he told her, "I found this wallet down the street and wanted to return it."
"Where did you find it," she replied.
"On the corner at the end of the street," he said.
"Oh thanks," she nonchalantly responded. Then she began yelling for her dogs to get back in the house.
We turned the corner and headed home without much conversation about the whole incident. I couldn't help but feel that she didn't show very much gratitude, just an, "Oh thanks." I mean, she acted like it was everyday that someone finds a wallet with money and returns it.
Then I stopped and thought, "Who am I serving? Why was it so important to me that she made a big deal about us returning the wallet?" I was looking to a person to make me feel special and important. I wanted her to realize and acknowledge what honest people we are. I expected her response to be something like, "Oh my gosh, thank you so much! We were so worried and looking everywhere. We would've had to cancel all our cards, close our bank account, get a new license, not to mention the money that would've been lost!" Or something to that effect. That's what I was secretly hoping for, so we could head home feeling so proud of ourselves.
I realized I needed to check my motives, "Who am I serving, man or God? Whose approval am I looking for?" When I accepted Christ into my heart, I chose to live a life that reflected His selfless, (not) self serving, love. I chose to seek His approval, not mans. Yes, it's nice to receive approval from people. But if that's what we are looking for each day, it will come in direct conflict with your desire to seek the Lord's approval first and foremost. Living a life for Christ is completely opposite of what the world thinks is cool.
Sometimes it takes moments like this to check your heart and remember whose approval matters most in every situation!
Jesus said, "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?"
"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2 Corinthians 3:18
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Do not walk around with anger, frustration and malice in your heart. For I am doing a work in you that you cannot see.
I'm stretching you in your faith.
For hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Hope and trust for that which you do not yet have. Wait patiently without grumbling and murmuring and you shall see the glory of God as He blesses your life!
"In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me." I said, "I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple."
"The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." Jonah 2:1-7
"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your maker is your husband the Lord Almighty is his name the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer: he is called the God of all earth." Isaiah 54:4-5
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
While reading John 6:35-51, I thought about how the people of Jesus' time were listening to Him talk about how He is the bread of life, sent down by the Father. He goes on to tell them that anyone who eats of this bread will live forever. "This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of this world."
At that time, Jesus knew that He would be giving His life for all of us to be saved and raised again on the third day, however, no one else knew this. I can't imagine what they were thinking? I'm sure many thought He was crazy. As they argued, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat." They were looking at the literal meaning of His words.
Jesus goes further saying, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you." (Read John 6:53-59) Even the disciples, His faithful, trusting followers had a hard time with this, saying, "This is hard teaching, who can accept it?" (John 6:60)
Jesus was aware of His disciples grumbling and said, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." (John 6:61-64)
Jesus knew which of His disciples did not believe and who would betray Him. Hearing this particular message would be difficult for anyone to truly understand. Many of His disciples turned from Him at that time, but the twelve did not.
Jesus went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father enables Him."
This new year, let's re-commit our lives to getting to know the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray daily and read the word so that the Father will enable you to see the truth on a deeper level. There is so much waiting for you. So much more the Lord has for you this coming year. He wants you to seek Him on a more intimate level. He wants to speak life into you. Feed your hurting, broken soul with the life giving, 'flesh and blood' of Jesus Christ. Eat of His bread this coming year and let the Lord fill you up so that you will no longer be hungry.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:18-19
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13