Tuesday With Karen

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It’s Only By God’s Hand

It’s only by God’s hand, circumstances get better

Knowing Him Master is how things will stay together;

For we must seek Him, earnestly asking His lead,

Then He will lovingly supply to us every need.

It’s only by God’s hand, we’re led in the right direction,

He guides by teaching, in love makes corrections;

He always has strength when we’re weak & frail,

In every situation, God’s leadership prevails!

It’s only by God’s hand, victory is ours to proclaim,

He brings things to pass words cannot explain;

We will see sights that leave our heart in awe,

But we’ll know it’s the hand of God we just saw!

It’s only by God’s hand, things turn out as they should,

For He is the Author of all holy, righteous, & good;

When our heart allows Him to lead & command,

What rich blessings we’ll see, only by God’s hand

Written after I tried to explain to Sharon

about the 2 trees struck by lightning.

Overflow

By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”  Proverbs 11:11
 
This verse tells me that others benefit from the overflow of God blessing His people.  This song from 1924 came to my mind.  “Make Me A Blessing” was written by Ira B. Wilson.  Let’s look in the mirror of God’s Word and see how we can be a blessing to others.
 
“Make Me A Blessing”
 
Out on the highways and byways of life,
Many are the weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.
 
CHORUS
Make me a blessing, make me a blessing;
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

It’s The Little Things

by Meagan Davis

Only Two Things that Matter

Just this morning, one of my friends passed away. He was only 23 years old. This is just two years older than I am now, and he was doing something I do almost every week and more so at home: driving in a car.

When someone so close to your age dies, it makes you realize the brevity of life, and the importance of living a life that counts. So, what am I really living for?
This summer at camp one of my friends said this: “There are only two things that matter in this life, God and people.”
As I go throughout my days, I want to remember that I’m here to love God and others, no matter what that cost may be. It may not be easy. It may not be convenient. It may not always be what I feel like doing. But in the end, it will be totally worth it.
I can honestly say that my friend loved God and loved his campers this summer. He was a true example of the joy found in serving Jesus Christ. Though he is not with us any longer, I know God will use his life and his death to bring glory to Himself. (By the way, I know my friend doesn’t want to come back here!)
I pray that at the end of my life, whether it’s tomorrow or 50 years from now, I will have a testimony of a genuine love for God and people.

Power of God’s Love

The Scriptures tell us, For He has delivered me from all my trouble, And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.
In, 1 Samuel 23:26–29, God intervened to protect David from his enemies.
Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain; and David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them. But a messenger came to Saul, saying, Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing David and went to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape. David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of Engedi.
Suddenly, perhaps as soon as David said, “ I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.”. (Psalm 54:6), the enemy turned tail for home, removing the threat of immediate danger. Furthermore, David said his eye could now look “upon my enemies” (54:7). This  phrase means, “with satisfaction” to bring clarity to this Hebrew idiom. David’s choice of words reflects a man without bitterness. He could look his enemies squarely in the eyes without malice or resentment. He had released them to God and God had dealt with them in His own sovereign, perfect way.
Let’s declare war on those longstanding habits we cultivate against others—negative feelings, un-forgiveness, resentment, competitiveness, grudges, jealousy, revenge, hatred, retaliation, gossip, criticism, and suspicion. Let’s leave this rugged, ugly, well-worn road forever! The only alternative route to take is love. The longer I live and the more time I spend with the Lord (and with others), the more I am driven back to the answer to most people’s problems: sincere, Spirit-empowered, undeserved love. It’s called living by grace. Once Christ is in full focus, it’s amazing how powerful love can be!

 

Friday Funnies

Can Your Dog be Trusted?

At a workshop on dog temperament, the instructor noted that a test for a canine’s disposition was for an owner to fall down and act hurt.

A dog with poor temperament would try to bite the person, whereas a good dog would lick his owner’s face or show concern.

Once, while eating pizza in the living room, I decided to try out this theory on my two dogs.

I stood up, clutched my heart, let out a scream and collapsed on the floor.

The dogs looked at me, glanced at each other and raced to the coffee table for my pizza.

REMOTE

Mrs. Smith was fumbling in her purse for her offering when a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle.

The curious usher bent over to retrieve it for her and whispered, “Do you always carry your TV remote to church?”

“No,” she replied, “but my husband refused to come with me this morning, and I figured this was the best way to get his attention.”

NEW JOB

A pastor fell out with his church council over various church policies and procedures, including how the finances were handled. After bitter arguments and many nights of lost sleep, he decided to leave the congregation to take a job as a prison chaplain. He preached his last sermon at the church on John 14:1: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Bible Study

STILL LIVING IN PAST CHURCH Revelation 3:1-6

The church in Sardis had taken on the character of the city in which she resided.  A little background on the city will help us understand the condition of this church.

·         It was founded about 1,200 BC. Sardis was the capital city of Lydia. 

·         The original city sat on the top of a 1,500 foot high plateau.  There was one narrow road leading into the city. The other sides of the plateau were just steep cliffs.  This made the city nearly impenetrable by invading armies.

·         Sardis was the home of Aesop, who’s fables we all heard as children.

·         Gold and silver coins were first minted here.

·         The city of Sardis was famous for the industries that operated there.  Carpet, wool and dyed cloth were their primary products.  It is said that the art of dyeing was invented at Sardis.

·         At one time, Sardis had been one of the greatest cities in the world.  It reached its zenith under King Croesus. King Croesus and Sardis were famed around the world for their wealth.  In that part of the world, it is still common to hear the phrase, “As wealthy as Croesus”.

·         While Sardis reached its zenith under Croesus, it also fell under his reign.  He and the people of the city became complacent in their wealth, their power and their city’s apparent invincibility.  When that region where Sardis was located came under attack by Cyrus the Persian, King Croesus and his people retreated to their city, believing they were safe.  One night, one of the Persian soldiers saw a Sardinian soldier drop his helmet over the wall of the city.  He watched as that soldier followed a hidden path down the side of the mountain to retrieve his helmet.  When nightfall came, Cyrus and his troops followed the hidden path up the side of the mountain, entered the city while the guards slept and conquered Sardis.

·         Sardis regained some of its former wealth under the reign of Alexander the Great, but was invaded and defeated by Antiochus the Great, who also entered the city at night while the guards slept.

·         When the Romans came, Sardis was still a wealthy, powerful city, but it was just a shell of its former self.  By John’s day, Sardis was just a shell of what it had been.  The people had grown lazy, degenerate, immoral and complacent. Sardis was dying through apathy and indifference.

·         The city was proud of its past; it was proud of its reputation.  But, its reputation was all it had left.  For all intents and purposes, the city of Sardis was dead, even while it lived.

 

Apparently, the church in Sardis had adopted the atmosphere of the city.  The church had become a thermometer that registered the temperature of the city instead of a thermostat that changed the temperature of the city.  It is to this church that had become lazy, apathetic and complacent that the Lord Jesus comes.  Just as surely as the city of Sardis was dying, so was the church if Christ in that city.  Jesus has no words of commendation for them, but He does have some words of counsel.  I would like for us to look at our Lord’s words to this dying church.  There is a word of warning for us in these verses as well.

Let me just remind you that these letters can be viewed three ways.  1.) Practically – These letters were written to real churches with real issues.  2.) Prophetically – These letters picture the church at various stages of church history.  This particular church pictures the period between 1,500 and the Rapture.  It pictures the Protestant Reformation.  It pictures dead orthodoxy.  It pictures the state of many churches in our world.  3.) Personally – These letters have something to say to every church and every believer who comes under the sound of their message.

I. THE GREAT PHYSICIAN’S PRONOUNCEMENT    v. 1     

A.  He Comes Proclaiming His Deity – Jesus comes to this church as One Who has the “seven Spirits of God” and as One Who is holding the “seven stars”.  

The “seven Spirits of God” refer to the Holy Spirit in His complete ministry.  The seven-fold ministry of the Spirit is defined in Isaiah 11:2.  In His hand is the plentitude of the Holy Spirit. This is a reminder to the churches that we are to operate, not under the power of human skill, leadership and organization, but under the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. When the church walks in the power of the flesh, we will surely fail, but when we walk in the power of the Spirit, there will be success. There will be glory and there will be power and life instead of deadness and ineffectiveness!

The “seven stars” are the Pastors of the churches, Rev. 1:20.  They are the messengers who bring the people the Word of God.  Jesus appears as One Who has everything the church needs to succeed.  His Spirit has all the power the churches need.  His Word has all the direction His churches need. Jesus is saying, “If you will submit to me, you will find in me all you need to accomplish my mission in this world.”

  

B.  He Comes Proclaiming His Discernment – Jesus tells them, “I know thy works”.  He comes as One Who sees all and knows all.  He does not commend their works and He does not condemn their works.  He merely tells them that He knows everything they are doing.

He knows everything we are doing too!  He sees it all, along with the motives that drive us to do what we do, Heb. 4:12-13; Psa. 139:2.  He sees us as a whole, and He sees the individual as well.  He knows your heart.         

C.  He Comes Proclaiming His Diagnosis – Apparently, their works gave them the appearance of life.  Jesus tells them that they have that reputation.  They were a busy, working church with a great reputation among men.  From all outward appearances, this church was everything a church ought to be.  They believed the right things and they were busy to good all over the community.  Everyone who saw them  said, “That church is on fire!”              

But, things were not as they seemed!  The Great Physician placed His finger on the pulse of this church and pronounced them dead!  No matter what others thought, Jesus knew the truth. Regardless of what others may have thought about this church, Jesus knew the truth.

He tells them that even though everyone thinks they are alive, they are, in fact, dead! This word means just what it says! Like a dead man, the church at Sardis was “destitute of force or power. They were ineffective and inoperative.” They were dead! There was activity, but it was not spiritual in nature. There was busyness, but they were bringing nothing eternal to pass. They were busy, but they were operating in the energy of the flesh and not the energy of the Spirit of God. Everyone looked at them and spoke of their life. Jesus, the One Who knew then better than anyone, looked at them and pronounced them dead!

Here are some of the signs that a church is dying.

·         A dying church rests on its past accomplishments and is satisfied with its presence state.

·         A dying church is more concerned about their rituals and their formalities than they are about spirituality.

·         A dying church is more concerned about social change than seeing people changed by the power of God.

·         A dying church is more concerned with material growth than it is with spiritual growth.

·         A dying church is more concerned with pleasing men that it is with pleasing God.

·         A dying church clings more tightly to its creeds and confessions that it does to the Word of God.

·         A dying church is one that loses its conviction that the Bible is the Word of God. 

Those are some of the signs of a dying church, here are the signs of life in a church.

·         Growth – All living things are characterized by growth. As long as you and I live in the bodies, we are maturing; we are changing; and we are growing.  When the growth stops, it means we are dead!

      The church is no exception.  When people think of growth in the church, they immediately think of numerical growth.  I think that is part of it.  But, the primary way a church demonstrates life is through spiritual growth.  A church that is alive will continue to develop spiritually.  When a church ceases to grow spiritually, it is degenerating and dying.

·         Harmony – When a physical body develops problems, it is because there is disharmony in the body.  Cancer is a good example of this.  Some of the cells become infected by the cancer and they attack other cells in the body.  If this is left unchecked, the result will be disintegration and death for that body.

      The same is true in the church.  When a church is alive and well, there will be unity and harmony in the fellowship.  When there isn’t, the body is diseased and is headed for trouble, unless the infected parts come back into harmony.  When a church becomes fractured, it is headed for disaster and death.

·         Emotion – Another mark of life in the physical realm is emotion. Because I am alive, I can laugh; I can cry; I feel pain; I feel joy; I have emotions and they demonstrate the fact that I am alive.  When a physical body dies, one of the clearest indications is the total lack of emotion.  The deceased person does not show one sign of emotion.  They can’t because they are dead.

·         Motion – Another sign of life is motion.  Physical bodies are bodies in motion.  One sure sign of death is the absence of motion.

      So it is within the church.  When there is live in a church, there will be motion.  The church will be active in the world doing the work of the Lord.

I.  The Great Physician’s Pronouncement

II.  THE GREAT PHYSICIAN’S PRESCRIPTION  v. 2-3    

The church in Sardis is in sad shape, but not all is lost!  It appears that there is still hope for them to make some changes and get back where they need to be.

A.  They Are Commanded To Watch – They are told to “be watchful”. Literally, this means that they are to “chase sleep”. This church is a church with a glorious past. They have allowed their past success to lull them into a state of complacency and spiritual slumber.  His command is for them to wake up and realize that the victories of yesterday are not sufficient for this day!  We must fight the tendency to become still, satisfied, complacent and apathetic.

 

B. They Are Told To Work – The Lord gives this church four activities that they are to be busily engaged in. These things will help any church that has been caught napping on Jesus!

1. Revive – “strengthen the things which remain” – He tells them that not everything about them has died. There are still some things that have a spark of life in them. These things are to be revived before they die out. (Ill. The phrase, “that are ready to die”, literally means, “that are knocking on death’s door.”) This is a call for them to get stirred up again for the things of God! It is a call to revival! 

2. Remember – “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard” – These people are counseled to remember where the Lord brought them from and what He has done for them. They are to remember the days when they served the Lord out of a glad heart and wanted more than anything to do His will! They are to remember what it was like to walk in the power of God while the fire of His glory burned in and He used them for His glory! 

3. Resolve – “Hold fast” – This church is told to hold on to the things that are still alive in their midst. They are to resolve before the Lord that they will not allow those things to die as well.

4. Repent – “Repent” – In this verse, they are confronted concerning their sin. When the things of God are allowed to die, the only recourse the church has is repentance!

What does it mean to repent? It means that we come to a place where we experience a change of mind about our sins that results in a change of direction. We turn from our sins and we turn toward God. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action! How long has it been since we as individuals and we as a church have repented before the Lord for our laziness, our complacency, out apathy, our wickedness, our deadness, etc?

 

C. They Are Told To Wait – “I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” – This church is told that if they will not do the serious work of changing themselves, the Lord Himself will come into their midst and take away the things that remain alive and that church will be totally and fully dead!  Like a thief, He will come in and take the best, and they will not even know when He comes and when He goes.  They will be in a state of total death.

  

I.  The Great Physician’s Pronouncement

II.  The Great Physician’s Prescription

III. THE GREAT PHYSICIAN’S PROMISES   v. 4-6 

A.  v. 4  His Promise To The Remnant – As bad as things were in Sardis, there were some there who were saved and seeking to serve the Lord.  They are given the Lord’s promise that they will walk with the Lord in white.  They have lived out the truth in this world, and they can be confident that they will share His glory in that world.

White clothing was worn in Roman times during festivals and times of celebration.  It was a symbol of purity, victory and festivity.  What a promise to the faithful members of that church.  Jesus says, “You folks are standing faithful.  You have not defiled your garments with the deadness that exists all around you.  You are saved and you are serving.  One day, you will walk with Me in My Heaven.  It will be a time of victory, festivity and purity.”  That is His promise to all those who are saved by His grace.

B.  v. 5  His Promise To The Repentant – Jesus tells the rest that is they will repent, and turn to Him, they will receive some precious promises.

·         the same shall be clothed in white raiment” – They will be made pure and victorious. 

·         I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” – They will be made secure in the relationship with Him.  By the way, God is not saying that He blots out names.  This verse is often used by people who try to say that Christians can “lose their salvation”.  It is not a verse that serves as a threat of loss.  It is a verse that offers a precious promise of absolute security to all those who believe in Jesus.

      There is a lot that can be said about these books.  It appears that there is a book of life that contains all the names of those living, Ex. 32:32.  It also appears that there is a Lamb’s Book of Life that contains all the names of the redeemed, Rev. 21:27.  When a person is saved, there names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Jesus said that this was the real reason for rejoicing, Luke 10:20.  It may be that when a person dies lost, their name is blotted out of the book of the living.  So, when the end comes, the names written in both books will match.

Victory Baptist Church 24 April 2019 victory palmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

Why the Resurrection Still Matters

By Dr. Charles Stanley

What does Christ’s resurrection mean to you?  Is it simply an event in the distant past with little relevance for [today] or does it affect how you think and act each day?

Many people look at Easter as an occasion for purchasing new clothes and going to church. But, it’s not just a day to celebrate the empty tomb and then move on as if nothing has changed.

Since we didn’t personally witness the risen Christ after His burial, imagining that first Easter morning is difficult. Not only that, but our traditional celebrations and familiarity with the story make it easy to overlook the stunning magnitude of what transpired. Then we run the risk of taking the resurrection for granted and missing the impact it still has today.

In Corinthians 15:13-17, the apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of the resurrection’s importance by describing what would have happened if Jesus had not been raised. Our Easter celebrations would be a big lie, and our faith would be worthless. Worst of all, we’d still bear the guilt for every sin we’ve ever committed—with no hope of forgiveness, salvation, or eternal life in heaven.If Jesus hadn’t been raised, His death would have accomplished nothing.

That’s why Easter is an awesome reason for celebration. Jesus died in our place to satisfy the requirement for our atonement—a price far too high for us to pay. His resurrection proves that the Father was satisfied with His sacrifice (Romans 3:25) and counted it sufficient for the forgiveness of all our sins (1 Cor. 15:20-23). And because of Christ’s victory over death, we too will be resurrected and receive an imperishable inheritance reserved for us in heaven. This hope enables us to rejoice every day, even in the midst of trials and suffering (1 Peter 1:3-9).So, if we attend an Easter service but remain unchanged for the rest of the year, we’ve missed the purpose of the resurrection.

Each day is an opportunity to let the living Christ impact our character, conduct, and conversation as we “put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him” (Col. 3:10). In essence, we are displaying God’s nature with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love (vv. 12-14).

Jesus resurrection should also direct and motivate our mission. Christ told His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21))  Having seen the risen Lord and being filled with His Spirit, those first Christians spread the message of salvation throughout the Roman world. The impact of their witness was so great that they were described as “men who have upset the world” (Acts 17:6).

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

The Tomb He Borrowed

Jesus Christ came forth to live among men,

Knowing His life would pay the price for sin;

He knew it, but He came down, anyway,

For His heart longs for all souls to be saved!

He shed His blood upon Calvary’s rugged tree,

It would be all man, for salvation, would need;

Even when He said, “It is finished” back then,

It would in no way, mean it was the end!

The tomb He borrowed, He didn’t need long,

“He Lives!” would soon be a brand new song;

The stone wasn’t strong enough to hold Him in,

He arose victorious over death, Hell, & sin!

The tomb He borrowed is still empty today,

A beautiful picture of God’s love & grace;

Three days is all Jesus needed it for,

He is our risen, living, Victorious Lord!

 

Meagan’s Monday

Thankful Mondays: You Are Beautiful

Have you ever looked in the mirror in the morning and thought something like this?

Oh, man. It’s going to be one of those days. 

Or maybe, it was more like something like this:

One day, I’ll be beautiful.

I have news for you. You already are.

You are beautiful in God’s sight.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise thee; for I am beautifully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

On this Thankful Monday, I am thankful that God is the Creator. Even on those days when you don’t feel very beautiful, you are beautiful in His sight. You can always praise God for the way He made you. The world doesn’t define beauty the way that God does. It’s not about how skinny you are, how smooth your skin is, or how perfect your hair looks. God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you; He loves you just the way you are.

I’m so thankful that God is the Sovereign Creator.

Meagan Davis