Getting Personal

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in meand my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5-8 (NIV)

This year, I have the opportunity to join four other amazing women of God and lead the women’s Bible Study at Hope Community Church. It’s a new look with a new format. Each of sharing personal stories of failure and how God was glorified through it all. Whether you have participated in dozens of Bible Studies or never attended one in your life – VineLife is for you. Through the power and study of God’s word we will begin to see Him at work in our lives, hear His whisper, sense His calling for each of us and draw closer to Him like never before. This year it’s personal! I hope you will join us!

The ten week fall session begins Monday, September 24. No advance sign up is required and you can come any time, no commitment and no mandatory homework!  It’s a win – win! Meet in the high school room in the Crossroads building for teaching and to get the notes handout sheet with suggested Bible study for the week. If you would like to be a part of a small group, you can sign up following the teaching time each week. If you would like to register now or need childcare go to www.gethope.net/class/vine-life.

Vine Life Speakers

  •  Allison Cain
  •  Lacrecia Bell
  •  Ginger Warner
  •  Mary Ann Sibley
  •  Julie Biggs
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Lights, Camera, Action!

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“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matthew 25:30-32 ESV

After a great weekend with family, my daughter said “Mommy, I hope that when you get to Heaven you can go back and watch yourself in a video and see all the fun stuff you did.” “Oh, we will.”, I replied,  “Unfortunately,  there will be times that we won’t want to see again because we made the wrong decisions and will regret them.” She said, “Oh, yeah! There are a few memories I would like to erase.”  It doesn’t matter if we are 9 or 90 years old. There will always be sin in our lives. Sin that Jesus will gladly cover with His blood if we ask with humble repentant hearts.
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of  my covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:27-29 ESV

We don’t have to shed blood with our vengeance, deceit, regret, anger, shame or hate – Jesus has done that and God continues to do it on our behalf.  When we belong to Him, He will edit out those regretful, angry, sinful moments of our lives.   He covers them with His blood. It takes mighty faith and trust to leave our adversaries, tongue, heart and actions in God’s hands, but it is only then that we begin to live without the strongholds and trouble of sin that creep in and entangle our hearts. There is a reason Solomon wrote “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23. Allow God into your heart.  He will mend it, clean it, strengthen it and edit out all that hinders you from serving Him and His people with a heart full of love.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. Nahum 1:7-8 ESV

Must be nice!

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I overheard my son talking on the phone to a friend recently. “It must be nice to be single!” he said. I was wondering what in the world a six-year-old knew about marital status when he continued, “It must be really nice to have your mom and dad to yourself and no brothers and sisters to worry about or fight with!”

Now about your love for one anotherwe do not need to write to you,for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia.Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands,just as we told you,so that your daily life may win the respect of outsidersand so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:9

Ah, family!  They can bring out the worst and the best in me. A friend and I recently had a conversation about how sometimes it can be easier to forgive or help a stranger or acquaintance than to do the same for a family member. We discussed the many reasons there might be behind that. For example, when you know someone as well as we do most family members we have  higher expectations. We also have less patience and sometimes we feel like their actions reflect on us.  We are quick to judge and we take it personally because we think they should know better. We just expect more, but why? We do this with our Christian friends as well. We often hold them to a different standard than unbelievers. We can’t forget that being a Christian does not make us perfect. It only ensures we are forgiven when we ask and enables us (through the Holy Spirit dwelling in us) the ability to try and live in step with God instead of this world. Pleasing God certainly includes forgiving, loving, kind, patient hearts that seek to love and treat all others (family too) as we want God to treat us.

It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. John 6:45

We can’t handle this task without our Heavenly Father’s power. Living each day with a little joy with a touch of peace can only be God taught and God given! I pray He gives each of us the power and desire to live our lives in a way that brings glory and honor to Him. For it is by this love that we change the world in His name.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.As I have loved you, so you must love one another.John 13:34

Knock! Knock!

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In a recent sermon on the power of prayer (by Pastor Mike at Hope Community), we looked at Luke 11 as a reminder about how it pays to be persistent in our prayer lives.  That God may answer – not because of His love, but just to get us to stop asking!  Asking over and over again can work. Just like a child whining for that toy in Target. Sometimes just to make it stop we give in. Not because we want to buy them the toy, not because they deserve it or even because we feel like rewarding them, but just to get them to shut up! Been there?

Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. “Here’s what I’m saying:  Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?” Luke 11:5-13 (The Message)

However, as I listened I was reminded about how I took the persistence approach for years with God about the forgiveness of sins. I prayed for years for the forgiveness of a certain sin that I was so convicted about I couldn’t let it go. Persistence for forgiveness is futile because God forgives after just one request! It took me years to determine I was wrong in my approach because I had not studied His word carefully for myself. I had relied on the wisdom of men and on Satan’s whispers instead of God’s.

It’s important that we understand prayer and repentance are two different issues. In prayer, it’s not a cat and mouse game, but persistence can pay off. Unless God has given you a clear answer continue to seek Him and place your request before Him. He may give you the desires of your heart. However, in repentance, you can take rest in knowing you don’t need persistence. You are forgiven the moment you ask God with no special forms or fees to pay. Just like that – He takes your burden and your trash. Just don’t be tempted to go digging back in the landfill to find that trash and carry it back to your heart! Let it remain with our Heavenly Father because He is able to carry the burden and we will only be crushed by it.

so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5