Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of Dec. 26, 2011                    
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Galatians 3:18
“For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.”

Well, how was it? Did the gift meet your expectations? Forgive me, but I’m not talking about that “Black Friday” gift you received; I’m talking about the gift that has been passed down from generation to generation. Did you receive it?  Maybe you already received it in years past, awesome!  If so, did you bring it back out to share with others? Did you talk about it, show it off? Was it part of your celebration?

I told you last week that I wanted to experience this Christmas from the eyes of a child. What I decided to do was to view this Christmas as the glorious inheritance that it is. Then, I worked to share the gift forward with others. It’s much too precious, much too valuable to keep to oneself. If you haven’t been able to read my devotion writings over the past few weeks, I encourage you not to miss the packages I left for you. 

As the days drew closer to Christmas 2011, I climbed up into my Heavenly Father’s lap to better understand the law and the promise. Then, I looked at what it means to be called “Sons of God.” I encourage you to explore Galatians 3:15-29 and 4:1-7. Please do not miss Gal. 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Dr. Charles Stanley from In Touch Ministries says that “among our priceless treasures is a living hope in Jesus Christ that cannot be taken away (1 Peter 1:3)." What's more, He pledged to supply our needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). In other words, we already have all that we need for an abundant and victorious life. The question is will we choose to live like it?

The “Promise” entered the world over 2,000 years ago as the Word (John 1:1-2), as God himself.  On Christmas day we had the opportunity to reflect on this promise and I pray it re-energized your passion for Christ. As heirs we have received the ultimate gift and now we ask ourselves, what are we going to do with it? Do we take it out of its beautiful packaging and make it useful. Or, do we pack it away and bring it back out next year when the season warrants remembering it. I hope you answered, we make it useful now. As we now look to the “New Year” celebrations, I pray we can look at the future with a new sense of who we are in Christ. It has made a huge difference in the way I view the unknown. Things are changing for me, but this advent I was given this reminder.

“We are called to proclaim
    that hope is stronger than doubt,
     that love is stronger than hate.
 We are called to witness
     that goodness is stronger than evil
     and that the Word of God is LIFE.
We are called to proclaim:
     we have seen the Lord.
Whatever we do must testify in the end that:
-          Sister Carol Marek

May we look at this as an opportunity to experience God in new ways? His Word tells us that He is to be a priority in our lives. In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) we are given two very important warnings. We are told to have no other gods before God, and we are not to have idols in our lives. An idol is anything that we make more important than God. My dear friends, I have learned the hard way that when I disobey these instructions, things don’t go well for me.

God wants to be a priority in our life. He wants first-place. This is not a selfish act on His part. It is an act of love. When we are connected firmly to The Vine, we get the nourishment we need to grow into beautiful branches (John 15:5) for God’s Kingdom.Through Christ, we have so much to rejoice in, so much to look forward to. God never said this life would be easy, but He did say He would be there every step of the way. I am personally counting on Him as I desire to trust Him in all areas of my life. It’s time to move on from pure Spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) to some hearty meals of Spiritual meat (Hebrews 5:11-14). Before we go our separate ways, I have one more gift.

Thank you so much for being a part of my Spiritual journey. May God love on, protect, and encourage you every step of the way. 


In Christ by grace,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: December 19, 2011                  
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this week, may we be filled with wonder and awe. I am determined to experience Christmas this year like a little child. For children, Christmas is rather simple. Despite what is going on around them, they are primarily focused on the gifts. Whether this is right or wrong, the truth is that someone else has prepared the way for them to receive a blessing, and they are more than excited to accept the generosity. As adults, we don’t have to be left out of this excitement. Someone else has prepared the way for us to receive a blessing and now we are old enough to understand and embrace the beauty of this gift.

Matthew 1:22-23
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel –which means “God with us.”

Hope is something I am not willing to let go of.  Last week I touched on the Prophet Isaiah’s message of hope that God himself had given him to share forward.  In Isaiah 7:14 we read “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” There is a profound contrast between Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22-23 that we should not overlook. Prophecy was fulfilled just as Isaiah told his people it would be. Don’t miss the words “God with us.”

A few weeks back I shared John 10:30 “The Father and I are One.” I did this to highlight the truth that God and Jesus are one in the same. This too is an important part of prophecy. I must admit that for a very long time, I did not get this!  I was raised with the “trinity” teaching, however the words, “His One and Only Son” (John 3:16) always tripped me up. I saw them in my mind as two separate entities. That was until I took the time and was willing to see them with new eyes.  When you’re reading Scripture you have to be willing to dig below the surface.

Life’s Application Commentary for John 10:10:
“If Jesus had been merely a man, his claims to be God would have proven him insane. But his miracles proved his words true – he really was God. The Jewish leaders could not see beyond their own prejudices, and they looked at Jesus only from a human perspective – Jesus confined in a human box. But Jesus was not limited by their restricted vision.”

I have to admit that I once had restricted vision. I’m certainly not proud of it, but practicing portions of religion allowed me to keep Jesus contained in my human box. When I thought of Jesus as a separate entity from God, it kind of let me off the hook in my mind when it came to obeying all of that church stuff.  It was easier to go through the motions rather than dig my heels in to discover His Holy attributes. It was hard to grasp having a relationship with something I couldn't see, hear, or touch. I was not very different from our Jewish brothers/sisters who are still waiting for the Messiah. I figured if I did the church thing, confessed the big sins, was good to others, and helped when I could, I would get to know this Jesus that I was being told about when I finally met Him in Heaven. Pardon me, but I was pretty presumptuous back then if I don’t say so myself.

Honestly, I had no idea I could know Jesus personally and intimately “on earth as it is in Heaven.”  Furthermore, I did not grasp that God’s Word was the key to opening the door to this relationship. It astounds me now that one can hear God's voice when they truly believe He is Lord. When you become a “Child of God” things really do change. It’s like a light bulb turns on. You begin to see and hear things that you had overlooked. What I want to make sure this Christmas is that we don’t miss something really big.  I once bought into the “good works” theory and Biblically I was dead wrong. Good works are a result of salvation; they are not the way to salvation. Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6).

There is one more thing I believe we should not overlook. It’s not about how much we know about Jesus, it’s not about what we do for Jesus. No, when you know God’s Word you discover that it’s actually about experiencing Jesus as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and embracing His teachings.  It is about being so relationally connected to Him that He knows you as a precious child (John 8), 

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

This Christmas may we be blessed with the privilege, the “gift,” of moving beyond religious activity into a personal relationship with the One who welcomes His children into His throne room? I encourage you to cuddle up with the “Good Book” and allow Him to minister to your heart. Set aside all the hoopla for a bit and rest in Matthew 25:31-46.

Although “Christmas” is an important day for Christians, let’s not overlook “judgment day,” a day when we shall once again receive a promised gift. God’s Word tells us that this will be the day when He is going to separate the obedient from the pretenders and the believers from the unbelievers. It will be on this day that we receive what He has promised (John 3:16-21). How we love God and how we love others, is a good indication of our human heart.

Today’s prayer:
Father, we thank you that your love extends from the heavens to the earth. Thank you that while we were still sinners, you chose to enter humanity on our behalf. You knew the cross was necessary and you still came. Thank you Jesus! May we take this time to wish you a Happy Birthday? May it be in the form of honoring your Word and drawing close to you relationally? Father, change us from the inside out. We deserve nothing, but in your great love for mankind your gift of grace gives us another message. When we seek you with all our heart, mind and soul, we will find the gift.  In Jesus precious name we say together, AMEN!

Merry Christmas!

In Christ by grace,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: December 12, 2011                         
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Isaiah 53:6-9
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. “

This week I have been reflecting within the Book of Isaiah, chapter 53. In this chapter Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the suffering and glory of a humble servant. As I have been preparing my heart for this Christmas season, I have had my thoughts and prayers upon the Jewish people who continue to wait upon their Messiah. I think about the richness of the Old Testament teachings and I am in awe of the gift of prophecy that the people of those days had before them. However, I can’t help but ask, how did they miss Him? The answer might be that they were not expecting a humble servant.

Some Jews interpret the “suffering servant” described in Isaiah 53 as the Holy Nation of Israel. I personally believe they have missed verses 3-5. I like the KJV translation which by the way aligns beautifully to the Hebrew Old Testament Scripture. Verse 3-5 “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: And we hid as it were our faces from him; He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows: Yet we did esteem him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.” 

Isaiah, once considered to be one of the greatest Prophets, was speaking of the Messiah, long before He would enter the world to suffer for the sins of all people. Through Isaiah, God was pulling aside the curtain of time to give people a foreshadowing into the suffering of the future Savior. More importantly, God wanted them to understand that this suffering and the forgiveness which would be made available through Him was near. I imagine it was very difficult for people of that day to believe that God would choose to save the world through a humble servant over a glorious king. They were looking for something really big. What they missed was the strength of the servant that God would send. They missed it because the description of this Savior was contrary to human expectations.  Who would expect a humble, suffering servant to be selected by God himself to save sinners? I believe what they missed was that God often works in ways we would not expect.

Not much has changed since Isaiah’s day except that his prophecy was fulfilled when God entered history as a baby in a small town just south of JerusalemBethlehem, which means “the house of bread,” became worthy of its name. One lonely, cold winter night a baby changed everything. From that town was born the “Bread of Life,” but not many recognized Him as Savior and sadly, He is still being rejected today. There are many who still argue that Jesus was never born. If you want to be prepared for such an argument yourself, check out the following resource which I personally found helpful as I worked to prepare myself for the opposition. 

My friends, what a gift we have been given through Jesus!  If you have not yet embraced the Savior, may I ask you to do me a favor this Christmas?  I promise it won’t take much of your time. Find yourself a Bible and open it to the Gospel of John, chapter 10. I encourage you not to miss the “Good Sheppard” in this story or the promise He brings. I was once the “lost sheep” within this story, but Praise God; by the grace of my Lord and Savior I have been found! If this is you, let’s celebrate together the ability to “recognize his voice.” (John 10:27).  Let’s not keep this gift to our self as it is way too precious. I am encouraged today to know that the “Good Sheppard” is out there actively pursuing anyone who has missed Him. His Word tells us in 2 Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

This Christmas let’s take some time to reflect, repent if necessary and rejoice!  A child has been born and His Name is JESUS. And for our Jewish brothers and sisters, let’s pray that they would allow the veil to be removed.

Merry Christmas!

In Christ by grace,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: December 5, 2011                                  
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

John 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was God in the beginning.”

Isaiah 9:6
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 10:30
“The Father and I are one.”

Something is very different this year. Do you feel it?  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m sensing a stirring in the hearts of God’s people. With our world and so many families in turmoil, could it be that God might be attempting to remind us of who He is? As we prepare to celebrate a Christian tradition, “Christmas,” I would ask that we take some time to fix our eyes upon the baby.

For over 2000 + years there has been conflict and confusion over this gift of a baby. Some have chosen to embrace the gift and celebrate it, while others choose to reject it. Then there are those who decide it’s just not for them right now, so they just choose to ignore its value. Occasionally they will consider the gift, but unwrap it; well that might be too costly. I say this with a tender spirit, the cost of rejecting the gift will cost more than I imagine one would be willing to pay if one grasped the true value.

Could it be that we really do not understand that it was GOD himself who entered humanity? Are we missing that it was GOD who took on flesh to walk among us for the purpose of saving us from eternal destruction? Are we missing that it was the flesh of GOD himself that hung on the cross at Calvary? Have we overlooked that the rejection of Jesus (GOD in the flesh) leads to eternal destruction? Do we care? With all due respect, we better care!

John 3:18-21
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

God’s Word, His breathed instruction “useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting” (2 Timothy 3:16) illustrates for us the existence, identity and power of God. It would be suicide to continue on the path our nation is taking leaving God out.  As one who has embraced the gift, I encourage you to open the Gospel of John and rest within it. Bookmark chapter 14 verse 6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him!”

Life’s Application Commentary:
Some people argue that this way is too narrow. In reality, it is wide enough for the whole world, if the world chooses to accept it. Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying “Thank you, God, for providing a sure way to get to you!”

This Christmas I am praying for a “revival” in the hearts of mankind. We have been quiet for way too long! I am praying that many would have their eyes opened to the truth of the Gospels. I’m praying that many would rise up to protect the identity of the Christ-child. I would be excited for you to join me in praying for our nation and its people. 


Today's prayer:
Father, I praise you and desire to show you gratitude for your selfless act of leaving the heavens to come to this earth to make a way for sinners to be rescued. Forgive me for how long it has taken me to find the value in what you willingly did for myself and all mankind. Thank you for the gift of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I am not worthy, but your birth, death and resurrection changed all that. Today I offer a sacrifice of praise. I acknowledge that you are the "only way" and I celebrate You. May many hearts find refuge in you. I lift up all those who deny Your Name. 


In Christ by grace,