Sunday Mornings (Guess Blogger)

I would like to welcome back Crystal Russell back as our guest blogger today.

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Sunday Mornings
On Sunday mornings we have a special time of prayer before everything gets started at church.

A group of women gather together to pray.

We pray over the Word that the pastors will bring, the Sunday school teachers, and everyone who will be attending that day.

“for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” – Matthew 18:20

Promise from Jesus
I often think of this verse when I think of our prayer time.

We can (and should) prayer on our own but I also think that is important to gather together for prayer as well.

We have this promise from Jesus.

Why would we not gather together. He tell us He will be with us in a special way when we do.

The prayers of the early church opened the doors of a prison for Peter (Acts 12:5-10).

It makes in difference in our lives today too.

One of the blessing of learning to pray with another is the rich friendships I have gained. My most trusted friendships are with friends that pray with me.

A Challenge
I challenge you to spend time in prayer
alone, with a friend, with a group.

Prayer is our most powerful weapon.

We need to use it.

My Prayer
Father, thank you for the privilege I have in prayer to come into Your Holy presence. I stand in awe of you as my God and Creator. If that weren’t enough, and it is, when I come before you I get to call you Father. You call me your beloved daughter. You hear every world I pray and when I have no words you know the cry of my heart. Thank you Jesus for your promise you gave us that where two or three are gathered you are with us. Prayer is powerful, may we (your church) be faithful to come before you and use it.
-Amen

Even To The End Of The Age

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Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

This Scripture gives us the assurance of the holy and continuous presence of the living Christ. Our Savior makes sure there is no doubt about it. Christ appears to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. These apostles were the founders of the universal church. Would this small group be able to carry out such a challenging task? To found and expand the church? Not if it depended on their own abilities, but it was possible with the omnipotence of the Master, who said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Christ rules His church through His Word and leads it through His Spirit. Our task is merely to contribute towards it. When is Jesus with us, in the church, and in the hearts of His believing children? Our Scripture says “always”! His promise is that He will always be present in our lives with His Spirit and with His grace, an enduring and uninterrupted Presence. 

We know that all days are different: There are sunny days, but also ominous and dark days; there are days when our hearts sing with joy, but also days when our hearts sob with misery and grief. There are days of firm and unshakable faith, but also days of doubt and stumbling, when we need to plead, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) In His supreme wisdom God broke our lives up into pieces that we call days. the days all differ, but Christ promised, “I am with you always!”

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for the promise that you will always be with us now and forever.                        Amen

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

Brokenness

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Jesus looked at them and said, ” With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”                             Matthew 19:26

They did not yet understand from the Scriptures that Jesus must rise from the dead.

John 20:9

Could there have been a greater tragedy for Jesus disciples and his followers than that Jesus was now dead. For three years they all were following Jesus and learning what it meant to Seek God’s Kingdom. To learn to have forgiveness for others, to have compassion for others and to know what it was to love, unconditionally the way the Master had loved them. And yet, here it is the day after the death of their friend and teacher. All their all knew was Jesus was dead. The Master’s body was lifeless and was buried in a tomb, they don’t yet know about the Resurrection. If we go to the Gospel of John 11:21:26 after the death of his friend Lazarus, Jesus went to comfort his sisters.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask. Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. The one who believes in me will live, even through they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

You are feeling brokenhearted and bound, entangled in webs of discouragement. Pick up the pieces of your broken heart, scattered all around you and bring them to Jesus. Place them on the altar that he provides and wait on his healing presence. Be still in His Holy Light while he cleanse you from binding webs of discouragement. Look into His face and see the great love he has for you. Because Jesus love is limitless, he never runs out of compassion. When you feel on the brink of giving up, remind yourself of his great faithfulness, and remember he will not give up on you. Through your disappointment is real, his presence with you is even more real. Stay close to the Master as he works on mending your broken heart. Of course, your repaired heart will not be exactly as it was before, but in some ways it will be much better. Your renewed heart stripped of its cherished hopes will have more space for Jesus than ever before. And as you remember the crucifixion of Jesus on this Holy Saturday just remember “Joy Comes In The Morning”

Grace and Peace to You My Friends 

Holy Thursday

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Then came the day of unleavened bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” Where do you want us to prepare for it? they asked.” He replied, As you enter the city a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said. “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays me!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the young and the one who rules like the one who serves?  For who is greater, the one who is at the table? You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelves tribes of Israel. Simon, Simon (also know as Peter) Satan had asked to sift all of you was wheat. But I prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death, Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”           Luke 22:7-35

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Today is Holy Thursday or as some call it “Maundy Thursday, the night in which our Lord and Savior is betrayed by one of his disciples, as well as being deny three times by another, and others scatted when he was arrested. By the end of this night many Christians from around the world will gather together to celebrate “Holy Communion ” while remember the night in which Jesus would be betrayed and handed over to the chief priests, and the elders. Jesus will full the Scriptures that many years ago that Isaiah foretold us.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes we are healed.                      Isaiah 53:3-5

Do we even take the time to try to understand this night, or just sit and listen in a church pew? Could it be that on the hill of Calvary in which the cross that held God’s greatest gift his son Jesus, who whip, tortured, and crown of thorns laid upon his head ( and not a crown of jewel) He will then carry his Cross to the Place of the Skull also known as Golgotha, then my friends look deep into his eyes and hear Jesus whisper to you and me:                                                                       “I DID THIS FOR YOU”

 

Blessings to You On This Holy Thursday 

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

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Jesus is preparing his disciples for when is to die and leave them behind, read his words from the Gospel of John 14:23-27  “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 

When we die, we leave everything we own behind. But we also leave behind memories, traditions, experiences and relationships. Sometimes there are small gifts, treasures and photos.

Jesus had no possessions to leave behind. But he had other things that would never spoil and were more precious than anything else. One of them was peace. When conflict was rife outside the Upper Room; while violence was being planned; when death was knocking at the door, Jesus gave them peace.

This was the peace created by complete trust in the presence of God. It was absolute faith in His omnipotence and the acceptance of His holy will. It was also Christ’s own peace. By this gift of peace, He gave them something of himself. He knew they would be confronted with danger, opposition, suffering and even death. They would need peace more than anything else.

Open up your heart now to receive Jesus’ gift. Like the disciples, you probably need them more than anything else. If you are grappling with problems, confusion, opposition, resistance, ridicule, temptation, loneliness, pain or suffering, cling with all your might to this gift that Jesus gave his disciples. Allow his peace to calm your anger. Allow his peace to take over prejudices, your doubts and your grievances. Let it take over your entire attitude, your speech and your relationships. And whenever possible, give this peace away to someone else. The more of it you give away, the more it grows inside of you.

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

I Will Testify Your Love

Isaiah 54.pngThough the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor his covenant of peace be removed. Nothing on earth seems enduring or immovable as huge, majestic mountains. When you stand on their heights breathing in the glorious air, you can almost smell eternity. Yet God’s love and peace are even more enduring than the greatest mountain on earth!

Think deeply of God’s unfailing love. One of the meanings of “unfailing” is inexhaustible. No matter how needy you are or how many times you fail him, his supply of love for you will never run low. Another meaning of “unfailing” is constant. God does not love you more on days when you perform well, nor do he love you less when you fail miserably. God’s love is more persistent, invariable, and steadfast than you can comprehend. Open your heart to received this gift in full measure.

 

I come to your Holy sanctuary, as I bend down on my knees my Lord, to ashamed at first  to look upon your face for great and worthy of my Praise are you. As I begin to center myself on your Holiness the world around me becomes dim, and I don’t see or hear anything but long to hear your voice upon my heart. My tears of joy run downs my face as I lift up my eyes upon your face with all of it’s glory, so much for me to understand or comprehend, as I seek your face. My soul Praise the Lord all my life, I will praise the Lord all my life, and tells others his love for all of his children. I will shout it from the mountain top for all to hear and I will continue to testify his love. I will not put my trust in any human being who simply cannot save me from my sins. How good it is to sing praises to you God, how pleasant and fitting to praise you.

Who is this Lord in which I seek all the days of my life. The Lord builds up Jerusalem, he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power, his understanding has no limits. The Lord sustains the humble but cast wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.

 

You had chosen me my Lord long before I had decided to follow you all the days of my life, and you never gave up on me. When others decided to forsake me and give up on me, you stood right by my side and your love never fail me. How can I remain silent any longer, I cannot Lord, for others need to know about your great love that you have for all of your children.  You who are brokenhearted, you who are lonely, the dying ones, the ones who have such anger within your soul, the ones who loss all hope in this world, I say Come, Come to the Lord and bow down before His throne, His love for you is and will always be unshakable for his children, for He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Grace and Peace To You My Friends

No Compromise

Matthew 6c.pngOur God is a holy God, and He makes no compromise with sin, He doesn’t tolerate it at all! In this day and age, even the idea of punishment is becoming outdated. Children must not be punished anymore because it infringes on their personal right. But sin remains sin before God and we pay a high price for it. Now the sinful human grabs at straws. Is God not merciful? He is after all, love. But He is also just and holy! We must not play His holiness off against His love. Of course God is merciful, The fact that we are alive is proof of God’s mercy. But His love is by no means weak, it is strong and holy. It gives much but also demands much. God is merciful, but God is also just! God is just, but God is also merciful! Do you see the difference between the two concepts? Come with me to Golgotha, there the impossible became possible! There the tension was broken when Jesus was broken. Their righteousness and mercy flowed into one.

Jesus had to die for the sake of God’s righteousness. He paid the highest price so that we, the rebels, could be set free. He endured God’s wrath that we could experience His love. He was forsaken against by God so that we could know God, never to be forsaken again. He carried our curse so that we might be showered with blessings. The message of Golgotha is: God is righteous! God is Love! That is why Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our trespass, or sins or some Christians may say debts, it all means the same, we have all sin and have fallen short of the Glory of God. But through God’s love that he sent His one and only son Jesus into this world to die for all sinners (all of mankind) so that we will never be separated from God.

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Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Your Identity in Christ

colossians_quietmoments.pngThe Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him.                                                  Colossians 1:15-16

You were created to become like Christ. From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. This is your destiny and the third purpose of your life. God announced this intention at Creation. “Then God said, let us make human beings in our image and likeness.” Genesis 1  In all of creation, only human beings, are made in God’s image. This is a great privilege and gives us dignity. Like God, we are spiritual beings, our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies: we are intellectual we can think, reason, and solve problems, like God, we are relational, we can give and receive real love, and we moral consciousness, we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering, And so condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.                                             Ephesians 2:19-22

It’s extremely easy to lose our identity, furthermore, to find ourselves searching all over to find out who we are. We hear stories on the news and we see it in the people we associate with. Additionally, we certainly deal with it in a very private as well as personal way we hear voices, voices which tells us and then projected into the world. We tell the world what we think about ourselves and don’t think for a minute we’re fooling the entire world. We may fool some people, but overall, we aren’t fooling everyone. We hear the voices in our heart, spirit and mind telling us good and bad. We hear the good from those who really love and care for us, we hear that good from God–yet we tend to believe the bad which comes from Satan and from those who don’t care for us. We hold onto that bad stuff. We hear things like, you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, not skinny enough, not rich enough, not with the right family. We’re told we’re not enough! And countless other lies. Hearing those lies long enough and your identity will be formed by it. You feel rejected. Eventually you believe you’re not enough, and they play over and over in your mind. Then we begin to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We realize in our heart, spirit, and mind we need Jesus to help us through life. My dear friends a recently preach on this exact topic your identity in Christ, below is the link through face book please feel free to watch and listen.https://www.facebook.com/pg/ButtzvilleUMC/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

 

You Belong to God

Ephesians 2b.pngConsequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

You are called to belong, not just believe. When we read in the book of Genesis it is not good for man to be alone. We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purpose by ourselves. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship. The Bible says we are put together, joined together, and held together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up  together. You are not on your own anymore. While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. I am sure there are many of you out there longing to be a part of a family, having your own family, and without you even knowing that once you accept Christ into your heart you have been connected to the rest of his family. Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing. We are members of his Body–the church. C.S. Lewis noted that the word membership is of Christian origin, but the world has emptied it of its original meaning. Stores offer discounts to “members” and advertisers use member names to create mailing list. In churches, membership is often reduced to simply adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations. To Paul, being a “member” of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body, not a building, an organization. Whenever a child is born, he or she automatically becomes a part of the universal family of human beings. But that child also needs to become a member of a specific family to receive nurture and care and grow up healthy and strong. The same is true spiritually. When you become born again, which means flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John3:5) you need to become a member of a local expression of God’s family the church, his church. The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ, it includes a commitment to other Christians. The Christians in Macedonia understood this, Paul tells us, “First they gave themselves to the Lord, and then, by God’s will they gave themselves to us as well. Joining the membership of a local church is the natural next step once you’ve become a child of God. You become a Christian by committing yourselves to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourselves to a specific group of believers. And believe me being a part of a church, the family of true believers makes our journey in life a little easier to bear with that family and with God.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends.

Seek God Always

1 Chronicles 16.jpgGive praise to the Lord, proclaim his name, make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him, tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, you his servants, the descendants of Israel, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. He is the Lord your God; his judgments in all the earth.

(1 Chronicles 16:8-14)

The book of 1 Chronicles which is from the Old Testament and opens with the most genealogical record in the Bible, and then adds many incidents from the life of David. It was written for the exiles who had return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. It’s purpose was to remind them they were from the royal line of David and that they were God’s chosen people.

Did you know that you and I are God’s chosen people, isn’t that amazing to hear, that you are not a nobody you are someone that God has already chosen even long before you were born or hear about who God is!  This is what we as Methodist call Prevenient Grace: the Grace that comes to us before we know God-the porch before we enter into a house. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Through prevenient grace, God takes the initiative in beginning a relationship with us. Prevenient grace is God’s way of showing us that no matter who we are or where we are, God is already there ahead of us, waiting for us. God’s prevenient grace precedes us wherever we go.  As I was read and meditating on this book from the Old Testament it is telling us to seek God’s face always, not only when a need arise and we need God at that very moment in time, but to always seek God’s face. To sing your praises to God and God alone, not an human because they are never worthy of anyone praises. Remember what he has done for us. You maybe saying to yourself, what has God done for me, let me go ahead and tell you my friend. God loves us so much he sent his one and only son Jesus into this world to die for the sins of all mankind (John 3:16) Everyone good and perfect gift that you have ever receive has come from God: such as food, clothing, housing, job, family, friends and the list truly goes on for all of us. Let us remember that God has never and I mean never broken a promise to his children, I can’t say that for us, we have all broken many promises that we have made to God over the years. In spite that we continue to sin against one another and God doesn’t stop God from loving us, because he truly knows our hearts. Once you have accept his son Jesus Christ as your personal Savior forever I can tell you that Never will He leave you, nor Never will He forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) Jesus has already taken the first step long before you were born to die for you because of your sins, won’t you take the next step and ask him into your heart forever, and believe me when I tell you that you will never regret of become a Christian, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Jesus

Thank you for dying on the cross for all my sins and loving me even when I have not  love myself. I ask you into my heart to live forever, help me to become the person that you has design me to be.

In Jesus Name I Pray

Amen

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends