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


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: February 15, 2016                    pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

DEADLY FLAMES 
February 12th represents the darkest day of my life thus far. It has been over 30 years since that fatal morning when a fire destroyed our family home and claimed the life of my brother and cousin. I can’t help but remember how badly I wanted that scene to be a bad dream. Sadly it was not and we began living out the new reality before us. I tell you this for sole purpose of giving hope to anyone who does not believe they can overcome their greatest pain in this life.                                                                                                       

There is a saying in the Bible that indicates that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16). I am here to tell you that that Scripture is an accurate statement. Without God’s help this gal would never have survived the charred ruins of that day. I still cannot fully understand the loss of someone you love through a tragedy that is so difficult to wrap your mind around.

Back in my 20’s when this happened I did not know God in the manner that I know Him today. So, you can imagine the anger and disappointment I experienced towards Him. How could a loving God that I had been taught about for so many years let that happen? Did he not know how hard it would be to rise from those ashes and move on? Did he even care? Where was he!? Are these questions familiar to anyone?

It has taken me a very long time to come to the place that I am today. However, I can tell you that I have no doubt that February 12th played a huge role in making me into the woman of faith I am today. Wrestling with God was a necessary element for spiritual and personal growth. This journey has led me to a "peace that surpasses one's understanding." I pray for everyone experiencing the sting of death. That they will be gifted this same blessing as they do the work necessary to rise out of the pit of grief.  

A genuine surrender of my personal expectations enabled me to work through the pain and disappointment of experiencing something I could never have imagined. I have to tell you that I no longer question God as I have determined in my heart that it is a waste of valuable energy going forward. God's plans and His purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:21) despite my best effort to understand or change them. As I have studied the Word of God over these past 15+ years, I have come to recognize that some things will remain a mystery this side of Heaven. 

In the Book of Isaiah 55:8 we are told “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”  What I do know is that God’s way, his original plan for that which He created was good. The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:31 that “God looked over all that he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way” (NLT).  Sadly as you read on in Genesis chapter 3 you discover the sin that lead to the fall of mankind. Satan wormed his way into the head of Eve and caused her to second guess God. Well, the truth is Satan wormed his way into my head on February 12, 1984. He proceeded to tell me all kinds of lies about the goodness of God. And, had it not been for the encouragement to fight against those lies, I would not be encouraging you today.

Thankfully, the way I have battled back against Satan’s attempt to “kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) me and the future God had planned for me; was to journey through the Word of God with an attentive ear and an open heart. What I learned about God, His character and His attributes over the past 30 years has led me to a more solid foundation of faith; something we must have to withstand Satan’s constant method of attack.

Satan is clearly the father of lies (John 8:43-44) but he only has the power that we give him. In my 20’s I had collected a lot of religious knowledge through attending church, but I really didn’t know the Creator of all things good. I was no match for the enemy when I was physically and emotionally beaten down. If I was to survive my pain I would have to tap into a power greater than myself. On my own I was failing miserably and that was evident by a nervous breakdown of sorts and years of battling depression. A result of extreme sadness. 

As I reflect this year on the death of those I hold close to my heart; I believe God allowed that season of testing to eventually show me how strong I could become connected to Him. My Heavenly Father who sacrificed Jesus in my place so that I can live life to its fullest (John 10:10b) this side of Heaven; will continue to walk me through the tough things of this life. I now know that in my heart learned through personal experience. As I anticipate future loss because no one lives forever, and God has the right to call His children home as He pleases; I pray for the ability to always remember how God's light sustained me and got me through. I pray for the power and strength to reject the whispers of the evil one going forward. 

God is and has always been right there every step of the way just as He promises in His Word (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). We just have to be willing to look for Him within our sadness and grief. When I did that I saw a loving Father who extended His loving arms to rescue His two boys from the flames that charred their earthly bodies. He spared them from physical pain and a life-time of mental suffering. For that I am forever grateful.

My brother knew the Lord at a young age and this brings me great peace. Through the gift of salvation I know that one day I will set eyes on him again and I imagine that my heart will burst with joy. For now I continue to move onward in life as I know he would want me to. As a memorial to my brother, I do my best to help others understand the value of a genuine surrender to Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. The Bible is clear there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). 

Friends, you can be a "good person" and still miss the Heavenly reunion through the rejection of Jesus. Why waste another day questioning the goodness of God or trying to figure it all out before you surrender your life to His. Instead step out in faith and look forward to living forever with the One who created you and loved you enough to die for your sins. Invite Jesus into your heart and watch how He transforms your life. I am so grateful that God helped me take this advice. And for those of you who know this truth too, I celebrate with you. 

Some say I'm wrong about this Jesus stuff but I would simply respond, "what if I am right?" I would rather err on the side of salvation and celebrate my status as a child of The Most High God; than to err on the side of the father of lies and spend eternity with him in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15). There is just too much at stake here to make a deadly decision like that. Choose life and be blessed. 

In Christ by grace,
Pam
                                  “Praise is the song of a soul set free.” 

©2014 Getting The Word Out. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Getting The Word Out.


Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Pam Crawford. ©2014 Getting The Word Out. Website: pmcrawford.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: February 8, 2016                                 pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford


"Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; 
instead, rebuke and expose them."
-Ephesians 5:11

ENLIGHTENED
It is my personal belief that a church is not the fancy building we step into each week. It's not about the Pastor's style or the Priests standing. It's not about the type of music we prefer or the many wonderful programs offered within the many buildings. No, I believe the church is so much more than that. Biblically I understand it to be about a body of believers who are passionate about knowing and growing close to God through His Holy Word. It's about learning all we can about God in His triune form and aligning our lives to His. It's about discovering His character, His attributes and the directives He gave to the body of believers so that we can effectively live in His light. If we want to be a part of a church that experiences blessings; I would encourage a look at Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount found in the Book of Matthew Chapter 5. Here we are introduced to the Beatitudes. 

According to the Life's Application Commentary "there are at least four ways to understand the Beatitudes: (1) They are a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers. (2) They contrast Kingdom values (what is eternal) with worldly values (what is temporary). (3) They contrast the superficial "faith" of the Pharisees with the real faith that Christ demands. (4) They show how the Old Testament expectations will be fulfilled in the new Kingdom. These Beatitudes are not multiple choice - pick what you like and leave the rest. They must be taken as a whole. They describe what we should be like as Christ-followers."

Christ-followers are the church! So why do we have such a difficult time being the church? Could it be we really don't fully grasp what the church is? Way too often we go through the motions of church without really living as people who are the church. This is evident in modern day Christianity. Could it be we are so focused on our individual denominations, traditions, rituals, doctrines, programs, etc. that we are missing the central theme of the Gospel?  

I have often wondered what the church would look like if we collectively lived as "Children of the Light." How might we live differently if we truly understood that God really does care about how we conduct ourselves beyond our Sunday morning services? The Apostle Paul was trying to get this very point across to the people of Ephesus long ago when he said "Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are his dear children." (Eph. 5:1 NLT)

The Bible goes to great length to spell out how we are to live as "Children of Light." Paul goes on to say "Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him." (Eph. 5:2 NLT) 

I do life everyday with people who profess Christ and live very differently than His example. When you attempt to point out something that doesn't align to His Word, you are accused of judging. Frankly I have been that professed Christian and have used that same "judging" excuse so I'm not pointing fingers, I am illustrating a point. I would sit in my church on Sunday mornings and hear about God and what He expected. But, when it came down to living it out I continued to do what I wanted to do and be what I was accustomed to in my environment, until one day I stumbled upon this Scripture. "With the Lord's authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. But that isn't what you were taught when you learned about Christ."               - Ephesians 4:17-20

God had my attention. I had been taught so I read on. "Since you have heard all about Him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness - righteous, holy, and true." - Eph. 4:21-24

That new nature as part of the body of Christ will look very different than that of this world. Paul finishes chapter 4 by telling these believers in a sense to walk away from their old ways and begin to allow God to change them from the inside out. "So put away all falsehood and tell your neighbor the truth because we belong to each other. And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil." - Eph. 4:25-27 

Change is a process and it doesn't happen overnight. As we determine to become obedient to what we discover in the Word of God, our light will begin to become brighter before God. We will be better representatives of God's church, His people set apart for His glory. The devil will have less and less of our heart as we give ourselves over to Christ. 

Let's end with some specific examples that Paul gives us to strive for as the church. "If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need. Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you." - Eph. 4:28-31

Friends, God's Word has much to say about our actions. If you jump down to chapter 5 of Ephesians you will read the following. "Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes - these are not for you. Instead, let there be a thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships things of this world. Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. Don't participate in the things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord." - Eph. 5:3-10

Now we make a decision. There is no more "this is how I am" statements. Or "I don't believe ..." The first step in a unified body is determining what you do believe. Probably one of the most important questions to wrestle with is "do you really believe that the Bible is God's Holy instructions (2 Timothy 3:16) to His church," which is you and me? If you do not believe the Bible is God's truth it will not be your plumbline for physical, emotional or spiritual morality and thus you will continue to find all kinds of excuses for not adhering to it and darkness will remain. So, do we continue to do it our way? Or, as part of God's holy church, will we allow Him to help us transform from darkness to light?  Will we do it His way? Be blessed. 

In Christ by grace,
Pam

"As people filled with light, our actions should reflect our faith. We should live above reproach morally so that we will reflect God's goodness to others. Jesus stressed this truth in the Sermon on the Mount." - Life's Application Commentary. 

©2014 Getting The Word Out. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Getting The Word Out.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Pam Crawford. ©2014 Getting The Word Out. Website: pmcrawford.blogspot.com