Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Things I've Learned From My Garden . . .

In a planter on my front porch, I have four of the same kind of decorative plant.  If I told you only the name, it would give you an idea of what the plant looked like but you would need a more detailed description to get a better idea of the beauty and variety planted in the same container.  This is a wonderful visual example of community - the type of community I see here at First Pres.  When I look at my Father's creations flourishing in the same planter, I think of all of the many ways that  members of church and staff use their different gifts and talents to contribute to the whole body of Christ and create something more beautiful than they could have on their own. Many, including me, have been blessed by this beautiful community as they love and care for each other through hardship, joy and loss.  May God continue to blend the varied gifts of this community to His honor and glory. Hebrews 10:24
 - Joyce Ladd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reminders of God's Love

Sometimes it is difficult to fully grasp the Love our Heavenly Father has for us, sometimes it’s hard for us to fully receive His Love, sometimes we just need a reminder….
You were created in His image (Gen 1:27). 
He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psa 139:13). 
He knows the number of hairs on your head and before a word is on your tongue
He knows it (Matt 10:30) 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa 139:14)

God loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you. You are a daughter of the King and His love for you is perfect because He is love. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price – you belong to God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had you in mind, had settled on you as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.  Long, long ago He decided to adopt you into His family through Jesus Christ – and what pleasure He took in planning this! 
You have been redeemed and forgiven (Col 1:14)
and are forever free from condemnation (Rom 8:1-2). 
Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39). 
You are established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22). 
You can be confident in the fact that the good work
God has begun in you will be perfected (Phil 1:6). 
You can find grace and mercy in your time of need (Heb 4:16). 
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil 4:13). 
You are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10) 
He gives His angels charge over you (Psa 91).
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) 
He has engraved you on the palms of his hands (Is 49:16) 
He gives you power, love, and self-discipline (2Tim 1:7)
Mercy, Peace, and Love is yours in abundance (Jude 1:2). 
Because of the Lord’s great love you are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness ( Lam 3: 22-23) 
His Love for you endures forever (Psa 136:26). 
He has plans for you – for your welfare and not for evil
but to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11).
The Lord takes pleasure in you; He will beautify the humble with salvation.  (Psa 149:4) 
He will lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of His love
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ (2 Thess 3:5)
Listen as He speaks into the deepest recesses of your heart and satisfies places the world could never even reach. He longs for you to know how beautiful you are to Him. He longs for you to stand in awe of the wonders of His perfect, true, and unconditional love. May you live today in the eternal embrace of God knowing that you are forever His beloved.  Fully receive the constant, ever-faithful, relentless, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained love of our Father God and His loyalty toward you!

Submitted by Shelley Chaloupka 


Monday, February 13, 2017

"A Crocodile Attack and Mariah Carey by Dr. Jim Denison"

The following article was shared by Nancy Williams at a recent Women's Leadership meeting - hope it provides encouragement.

"A tourist posing for a photo beside a crocodile was bitten on the leg, according to this morning's Associated Press. Mariah Carey is still in the news after she tried to lip-sync her New Year's Eve concert but couldn't hear the music and stopped singing.What do these women have in common?  Both are facing ridicule in the news.  And both can decide whether to let what is now their past define their future.  So can we.

The problem is, we live in a culture that is fixated on yesterday and tomorrow.  Guilt over the past afflicts us in the present.  We love new year's predictions.  We even have a month dedicated to this obsession. "January" is named for the Roman god Janus.  He is depicted in ancient mythology with two faces, one able to see the past and the other able to peer into the future.  But Janus is a liar.  He can see neither yesterday nor tomorrow because neither is real.

How much does "yesterday" weigh?  What color is "tomorrow"?  Both are just words, not realities.  The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived.  Today is the only day there is.  This moment is the only moment that is real.That's why our Lord called himself "I Am" (Exodus 3:14).  Helen Mallicoat said it well:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking: My name is I Am.
When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I Was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears,
It is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I Will Be.
When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here.
My name is I Am.

All of God there is is in this moment. Here's why this fact matters:  God can help us only with what exists.  He can't help us with Martians because they're not real.  If we choose to live in the past or the future, we're on our own.  But if we'll learn to live in the present, we'll find God's power and providence ready to make us all God wants us to be.

So how do we live in the present this year?  How do we experience God's best today?

First -- give your past guilt to God's grace.  If something in the past is bothering your soul, confess it specifically to your Father.  Claim the fact that he forgives all we confess (I John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25).  Then, the next time guilt attacks, say to it:  "I have confessed that and am forgiven, and grace is greater than guilt."  Say it every time:  "Grace is greater than guilt."  And you will experience the peace of grace.

Second -- give your future fears to God by faith.  Name what worries you today.  Place it in God's hands and ask him to be King of this fear.  Then, whenever the fear comes back, say to it:  "I trusted that to God, and faith is greater than fear."  Say it every time the fear attacks, and you will know the peace of faith.

Third -- start every day by giving it to Jesus.  Surrender the only day there is to the only Lord there is.  And your peace and serenity will be a striking witness to a guilt-driven, fear-wracked culture.

No God, no peace.  Know God, know peace."