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

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God’s Not Dead!

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So then woman hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”                    Matthew 28:8-10

As we recently celebrate Easter Sunday we remember the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The women after they had gone to the tomb left with great joy knowing that their teacher, friend, and Lord had risen from the dead, and could not wait to share with His disciples what they had learn. As Christians how many of us can not wait to share the Resurrection story with our family and friends, perhaps not many of us. It is okay to talk about at church on a Sunday morning but as followers of Jesus are we doing what he has called us to do and telling others about Him.

For myself, I grew up as a Christian, always going to church on a Sunday and being involved, but can I truly call myself a Christian. Let me take the time with all of my readers to share my own story and why I want to shout to the world that God is Not Dead! He is truly Alive. A couple of years ago as I was searching the scriptures for a sermon that I was going to share, I began to have a dream. I have the same dream more than once and I truly thought that it was only a dream and it never happen to me at all. After I have shared the dream with my oldest daughter she mention to me that I should google it and so I did and what I thought was just a dream, it was something that I did experience and that I witness. 

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Growing up there was a train that I went on called the Freedom Train, and on that train in all the different cars that I visited was about the history of America. However, except this one car as I followed all the other visitors this particular car had a huge class case that set down on top of something on the floor. This glass case had the Burial Cloth (Shroud of Turin) of Jesus Christ. You can see that this man was very tall perhaps close to six feet, and he also had a beard. On the top of his head you can see that their were some kind of crown that laid there, where their was drops of stain blood going down the face. The nails were not in his hands but the wrist (because the flesh couldn’t hold him up if the nails when through his hands). As I continue to walk slowly I can see that his side was pierced with something. His feet were together with holes through them, because of a huge nail that had gone through both of them. I continue to walk slowly and on his back you can tell that this man was whip many times,  (a whipped of leather thongs, which was used in Biblical times, with bits of metal or bone attached) The words from Isaiah 53: 4-5 came to my mind 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 strips we are healed. For whatever reason unknown to myself I somehow forgotten what I had seen until that one day while asking God for directions in sharing a message that I remember. Every time I think of that one day when I saw the Burial Cloth of Christ tears forms in my eyes and down my cheeks, as what is happening as I write down these words. My God, My Lord and My King you did this all for me, I didn’t deserve it, I am a sinner and I am unworthy for Jesus to suffer for me like that. And yet because of His great love for me even before I was ever born he died at Calvary in my place. As I read the words in Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us , God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For all who have read these words I did see the Burial Cloth of Christ in 1976 here in America

Since God help me to remember what I witness I can never remain silent any more, I must tell anyone that I meet the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The stories in the Bible are not just stories but, real accounts that took place, written by men and inspire by God. It is not an easy journey I am on now being a disciple of Christ, I have had even family members and friends disown me all because of what I believe and I know what is true, and yes I am fine with that. I do hope that someday if not from me the ones who say because of what I believe I am nuts, will come to know Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior and decided to follow him. My Lord would want me to tell others about him, that he overcame death and that the tomb is empty, because My God Is Not Dead, He is Truly Alive,

Ash Wednesday

25446120_10156169087488627_7353441604527499735_n    Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the Lent Season which is forty days between now and Easter Sunday, except that each Sunday in the season of lent in not counted. Ashes is a reminder that we are dust, and to dust we shall return, and repent, and believe in the gospel. Ashes were an ancient symbol of our humanity. In Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. On the first day of lent, we come before God recognizing our humanity and repenting of our sins. Lent leads to Easter the day we celebrate that though our bodies are flawed, a day of resurrection will come when we lived in the presence of God forever. On Ash Wednesday we go to church remembering who we are, with the hope of who we can become. 

Why Ashes? In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Morality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/dirt/ash/Repentance because long ago when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

Where do the ashes come from? On what we now call Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved and cheered him on. Less then a week later, Jesus would be killed. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. We get the ashes for Ash Wednesday by saving the psalms from Palm Sunday, burning them, and mixing them with a little oil. It’s symbolic.

What Do Christians do with ashes? At a service which is held on Ash Wednesday people are invited to come forward in the service and a pastor or priest make a small cross of their forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends 

 

The Heart of Worship

1 Samuel 16.pngI will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.           Psalm 57:9-11

The Lord does look at the things people look at. People look at the things at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.                            1 Samuel 16:7

Worshipping God is something Christians do each and every Sunday or many of us do it every chance we do get to Praise the Lord. However, are we truly worshipping God is Spirit and in Truth. In the Gospel of John Jesus tells a Samaritan woman that God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.  ( John 4:24), but are we doing what we are called to do, or are we just going through the motions. It seems that most Sundays we as Christians are too busy with the fellowship of one another, and at times of the latest gossip that we are not centering ourselves with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And by doing this we never realize that we are short changing our Creator as well as us when we do not worship God in Spirit and Truth.

God is the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing praises and continually celebrate His presence, just as you long to. Most of the time, however, you feel earthbound and weighed down. Worshipping God requires the engagement of your entire being, something you will delight in and yet somehow you may resist.

If you want to learn how to celebrate God more consistently, more abundantly, begin by lingering in God’s peaceful presence. Think of these words from the book of Psalm 46:10, “Be Still and Know That I am God.”  As you relax in His everlasting arms, sense how safe and secure you are. God is indeed the rock-solid foundation on which you can live exuberantly. Dancing, singing, and praying are ways you can express your delight in Him.

God’s very presence radiates Joy deep within our soul, unmeasured fullness. When you praise God, your joy increases, as does your awareness of His Holy Presence. Your body may or may not be mightily engaged in this endeavor, but God sees within our heart. This is where the ultimate celebration of God’s presence takes places.

Just empty your mind and think of nothing else but your loving Savior Jesus Christ.

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